Yuval Waldman, the Violinist Who Made Israeli Tank Operators Weep in the Sinai

March 1 2021

On February 1, the conductor and violinist Yuval Waldman—a protégé of Isaac Stern—died at the age of seventy-four. Besides being an accomplished performer, Waldman dedicated much of his energy to reviving the works of Jewish composers who were murdered in the Shoah, or whose work was suppressed by Soviet tyranny. Neil Genzlinger recounts some episodes from his remarkable life:

Vladimir Waldman was born on December 21, 1946, in Lvov, which was then part of the Soviet Union (and is now in western Ukraine, with the name usually rendered Lviv). He changed his first name to Yuval after the family had settled in Israel, taking the name of a figure from the Hebrew Bible associated with music.

In July 1973 Mr. Waldman interrupted his career to join the reserves of the Israel Defense Forces. Because of all of the languages he had mastered through his multinational upbringing and touring, he was assigned to the intelligence unit. His musical skills had gotten him assigned to the entertainment unit as well. When the Yom Kippur War broke out that October . . . he was assigned to play for tank units in Sinai.

Waldman’s son, [Ariel], said he told the story of the time he clambered onto a tank when a commander ordered him to play something to soothe the troops after a particularly intense bombing. He played Bach. Many in the unit were recent Moroccan immigrants to Israel and had not heard Bach before.

“My father remembered a moment when he was playing the Chaconne of Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D Minor,” Ariel Waldman said, “and looked up to see tears streaming down their faces in the dust.”

Read more at New York Times

More about: Bach, East European Jewry, Jewish music, Moroccan Jewry, Music, Yom Kippur War

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy