Hilde Zadek: Soprano, Proud Jew, and Zionist

In February, the singer Hilde Zadek, whose career spanned decades at the Venna State Opera, died at the age of one-hundred-one. Born to a Jewish family in eastern Germany, Zadek made her formal debut at the Opera in 1947 in the title role of Aida, to an audience including no small number of recent Nazis. Jay Nordlinger writes:

An important incident had occurred in 1934: Hilde Zadek overheard a schoolmate say, “Es stinkt nach Juden”—“It reeks of Jews.” She punched the girl in the face, knocking out her front teeth. Hilde was expelled from school and then had to flee—not to another city but to another country. She went, age sixteen, to Palestine.

There, she trained as a pediatric nurse. She also studied singing—with Rose Pauly, a Hungarian soprano who had [also] fled there. Eventually, the rest of the Zadeks came to Palestine, too. This was after [her father], Alex Zadek, had been imprisoned in a concentration camp, Sachsenhausen. Others in the family—the extended family—were not so lucky.

In 1945, when the war ended, she returned to Europe [to pursue her musical career]. She never lost her connection to Palestine, or Israel—in fact, it strengthened. She taught in Israel a lot, pro bono. She worked to put voice instruction in that country on a solid footing. She was constantly concerned with the development and success of Israeli singers.

From official Austria, she garnered many honors. . . . In her last years, she was asked a simple question: do you want anything? She said she would think about it, overnight. And, in fact, she did want something: as Austria had honored her, she would like to be honored by Israel. After a process, Israel did agree to honor her—but this was never consummated: Hilde Zadek never got back to Israel and did not receive the honor.

She had one final wish: “After I die, tell my friends that Israel offered to honor me.” She wanted them to know. It was important to her.

Read more at National Review

More about: German Jewry, Nazi Germany, Opera, Vienna, Zionism

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood