Isaac Stern: Great Violinist and Devoted Zionist

Reviewing David Schoenbaum’s new biography of the famed Jewish violinist Isaac Stern, Amy Spiro writes:

Stern, who died in 2001, was born in what is now Ukraine, and moved with his Jewish parents to San Francisco when he was a baby. At age eight he began studying the violin, at ten made his debut with the San Francisco Symphony, and by eighteen he was crisscrossing the United States on tour. At twenty-three he took the stage triumphantly at Carnegie Hall—an event he referred to as his “professional bar mitzvah” in the 1999 memoir he wrote with Chaim Potok.

While Stern quickly became one of the most in-demand violinists around the world, Schoenbaum focuses much of the book on his societal and philanthropic ventures, including his love for, and extensive ties to, the state of Israel, [where], he writes, “the self-assured informality of Israeli audiences in shorts and khaki shirts, score in hand, immediately enchanted him.”

He met with Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, developed a close friendship with the Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek, and repeatedly canceled concerts elsewhere to rush to Israel and entertain its war-weary citizens, in 1967, again in 1973—and at an infamous 1991 concert interrupted by an air-raid siren, and carried out with the audience wearing gas masks.

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Read more at Jewish Insider

More about: Chaim Potok, Israeli culture, Music, Persian Gulf War, Teddy Kollek

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

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Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin