The Jewish Salonnières of Vienna

In the late 18th century, Jewish women played a crucial role in developing Germany’s salon culture, which incubated the German Enlightenment. One such woman, Fanny von Arnstein, brought the salon—along with the Christmas tree—from Berlin to Vienna. Reviewing a new exhibit at the Jewish Museum of Vienna that tells the story of the city’s many Jewish salonnières, from Arnstein until the eve of World War II, Marina Gerner writes:

The woman who interested me the most was Berta Zuckerkandl, as soon as I saw a photograph of her sitting at her desk, writing. She glances at the camera with the look of one who is inspired and inspires others. Zuckerkandl was born in 1864, the daughter of an influential publisher. Her father ran the Neues Wiener Tagblatt, one of Austria’s leading liberal daily newspapers. He was a friend of Crown Prince Rudolf, whose political articles he published without naming the author. Only Berta was privy to the secret, as she was her father’s right hand by the age of sixteen, and she became a journalist and cultural critic in her own right.

The Viennese culture we know today flourished in her salon. She had a poignant way of telling stories and the ability to portray characters deftly in a few words. She ran her salon from 1888 to 1938. The gatherings, which took place on Sundays, had up to 200 guests. The food was known to be meager, consisting of sandwiches with coffee and tea, as Zuckerkandl focused on nourishing the intellect instead. It is said that the art movement [known as] the Vienna Secession was founded at her salon, as were the influential design group the Wiener Werkstaette (Vienna Workshop) and the Salzburg Festival. . . .

The first woman to bring the salon culture to Austria was Fanny von Arnstein at the end of the 18th century. At the time, Jews had been granted permission to live in Vienna, but had to pay very hefty taxes for this privilege, so only the most successful businessmen managed to settle there. Originally from Berlin, Arnstein was highly educated and inspired by the ideas of the Enlightenment.

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More about: Art, Austrian Jewry, Enlightenment, History & Ideas, Vienna

Palestinian Leaders Fight Economic Growth

Jan. 15 2019

This month, a new shopping mall opened in northeastern Jerusalem, easily accessible to most of the city’s Arab residents. Rami Levy, the supermarket magnate who owns the mall, already employs some 2,000 Israeli Arabs and Palestinians at his other stores, and the mall will no doubt bring more jobs to Arab Jerusalemites. But the leaders of the Palestinian Authority (PA) are railing against it, and one newspaper calls its opening “an economic catastrophe [nakba].” Bassam Tawil writes:

For [the PA president] Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah officials . . . the image of Palestinians and Jews working in harmony is loathsome. . . . Instead of welcoming the inauguration of the shopping mall for providing job opportunities to dozens of Palestinians and lower prices [to consumers], Fatah officials are taking about an Israeli plan to “undermine” the Palestinian economy. . . . The hundreds of Palestinians who flooded the new mall on its first day, however, seem to disagree with the grim picture painted by [these officials]. . . .

The campaign of incitement against Levy’s shopping mall began several months ago, as it was being built, and has continued until today. Now that the campaign has failed to prevent the opening of the mall, Fatah and its followers have turned to outright threats and violence. The threats are being directed toward Palestinian shoppers and Palestinian merchants who rented space in the new mall. On the day the mall was opened, Palestinians threw a number of firebombs at the compound, [which] could have injured or killed Palestinians. The [bomb-throwers], who are believed to be affiliated with Fatah, would rather see their own people dead than having fun or buying attractively-priced products at an Israeli mall.

By spearheading this campaign of incitement and intimidation, Abbas’s Fatah is again showing its true colors. How is it possible to imagine that Abbas or any of his Fatah lieutenants would ever make peace with Israel when they cannot even tolerate the idea of Palestinians and Jews working together for a simple common good? If a Palestinian who buys Israeli milk is a traitor in the eyes of Fatah, it is not difficult to imagine the fate of any Palestinian who would dare to discuss compromise with Israel.

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More about: East Jerusalem, Israeli Arabs, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian economy