Tom Stoppard’s Conservative Reckoning with His Jewish Past

March 20 2020

In his recent play Leopoldstadt, Tom Stoppard tells the story of two upper-middle-class Viennese Jewish families during the first half of the 20th century. Stoppard—who was born Tomáš Straussler in the Czech city of Zlin in 1937, but did not learn until the 1990s that he had not one Jewish grandparent but four, and numerous relatives killed in the Holocaust—based the play loosely on his own family’s story. In his review, Wynn Wheldon stresses that the play puts on display Stoppard’s small-c conservatism (a term Stoppard himself has embraced), which has long been an aspect of his work. But it also tackles something entirely new for this celebrated dramatist: the irreducibility of Jewishness, the persistence of anti-Semitism, and his personal family heritage:

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Read more at Commentary

More about: Anti-Semitism, Austrian Jewry, Conservatism, Holocaust, Jewish history, Theater, Zionism

 

Israeli Sovereignty Would Free Residents of the West Bank from Ottoman Law

To its opponents, the change in the legal status of certain areas of Judea and Samaria is “annexation;” to its proponents, it is the “extension of sovereignty” or the “application of Israeli law.” Naomi Khan argues that the last term best captures the practical implications of the measures in question. Since the Six-Day War, the Jewish state has continued to uphold the Ottoman legal system in areas of the West Bank under its jurisdiction—despite the fact that the Ottoman empire ceased to exist in 1922; “annexation” would end this situation. Setting aside the usual questions of foreign policy, security, and the possibility of Palestinian statehood, Khan argues that this change would be the one most felt by those who live there:

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Read more at JNS

More about: Annexation, Israeli law, Ottoman Empire, Palestinian Authority, West Bank