Jacques Lipchitz, Tuscany’s Great Jewish Sculptor

In the second and third decades of the 20th century, Jacques Lipchitz (1891-1973) was considered one of the leading practitioners of Cubist sculpture; as his style evolved later on, and until his death, he continued to produce celebrated works. Dovid Margolin writes:

The [sculptor], born Chaim Yaakov Lipchitz in the resort town of Druskininkai, today in Lithuania [and then in Russia], spent the pre-World War II years in Paris, where he was friends with Pablo Picasso, posed for Amedeo Modigliani (whom he introduced to Chaim Soutine), and met Ernest Hemingway at one of the parties he regularly attended at the home of Gertrude Stein (although back then he didn’t know enough English, or Hemingway enough French, to communicate).

He escaped from Paris just before the Germans marched in, eventually making his way to New York. Lipchitz made his first visit to Tuscany in 1962, drawn by the millennia-old marble quarries of Carrara—“Michelangelo’s territory” he called it—and the foundry of Luigi Tommasi in Pietrasanta. He and his wife spent six weeks there, with almost all of the artist’s time consumed by work, going from the place he was staying to the foundry and back. “I didn’t see anything [of] Italy,” he said.

But he was smitten, with the work [and] with the place, and told his wife, Yulla, that they had to return. Unable to find [a workspace he could rent, he purchased what he described as] “a very beautiful house.” The renaissance structure, formally known as Villa Orsucci di Bozzio, sometimes spelled Villa Bosio, stands . . . overlooking the town of Camaiore and offering stunning views of the Tuscan countryside. Lipchitz set up shop there, working on smaller pieces in his indoor studio, and larger ones in the field outside.

Late in life, Lipchitz returned to Jewish religious observance, and in accordance with his wishes, his Tuscan estate is now used as an Orthodox summer camp.

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More about: Arts & Culture, East European Jewry, Italian Jewry

The U.S. Must Maintain the Kurdish Enclave in Eastern Syria

Aug. 16 2018

Presently only two rebel enclaves remain in Syria, and both are dependent on outside powers: one in the northwest, under Turkish control, and an area in the east controlled by the U.S.-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Only by continuing its support for the latter can America prevent Iranian domination of Syria, writes Jonathan Spyer. Officials in Washington have made various statements suggesting that the White House has no intention of ceding the country to Iran, but haven’t clarified what this means in practice:

Actions . . . are a better guide than sentiments. And it appears that the SDF leaders remain skeptical regarding America’s long-term plans. Last week, the first direct negotiations took place between their representatives and those of the Assad regime, in Damascus.

It is not quite clear where things are heading. But Israel’s interest in this is clear. Maintenance of the east Syrian enclave and the [U.S.] base in Tanf means keeping a substantial physical obstacle to the Iranian hope for a contiguous corridor [connecting it to Lebanon via Syria and Iraq]. It would also prevent an overall Iranian triumph in the war and give the West a place at the table in any substantive political negotiation over Syria’s future. . . .

Specifically, efforts should be made to ensure a formal U.S. declaration of a no-fly zone for regime and regime-allied aircraft east of the Euphrates. This move, reminiscent of the no-fly zone declared over Iraqi Kurdistan after the Gulf War of 1991, would with one stroke ensure the continued viability of the SDF-controlled area. There should also be a formal recognition of the SDF zone, or the “Democratic Federation of Northern Syria,” as it is formally known. This entity is not seeking independence from Damascus, so Western concerns regarding the formal breakup of Syria need not be raised by such a move.

As the strategic contest between Iran and its allies and the U.S. and its allies in the Middle East moves into high gear, it is essential that the West maintain its alliances and investments and behaves, and is seen to behave, as a credible and loyal patron and ally.

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More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Kurds, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy