The Surprising Return of Yiddish to Film and Television

Over the past decade, writes Rebecca Margolin, there has been a “small renaissance” of movies and television shows that employ the Yiddish language. These include films produced in the U.S. and Europe featuring actors that have learned Yiddish for their parts, brief Yiddish-language scenes in the movie A Serious Man and the television series My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, an all-Yiddish Internet comedy series, and an action movie produced by and for Ḥasidim that features no profanity, no women, and a redemptive ending. Margolin describes the last of these:

A Gesheft (A Deal) was produced fully in what might be termed a “vernacular mode”: its directors, actors, and viewers were all members of a Yiddish-speaking ḥasidic community that produces and consumes media in Yiddish. . . .

The film, which follows the story of a corrupt ḥasidic character who ultimately finds redemption, abides by ḥaredi norms of behavior and morality . . . . Likewise, the moral conflicts of the film are resolved when the anti-hero achieves the forgiveness of the man whom he has wronged by devoting himself to the study of sacred Jewish texts until the end of his life. . . .

The relative moral turpitude of a character can be ascertained by how much English—a symbol of American integration—he incorporates into his Yiddish; the only character to die on screen uses extensive English slang.

Read more at In Geveb

More about: Arts & Culture, Film, Haredim, Popular culture, Television, Yiddish

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security