The Jews Who Helped Vincent van Gogh Get into the Mainstream

Even after Vincent van Gogh’s death in 1890, his works were considered too avant garde for most of the art market. It was largely thanks to Jewish dealers and connoisseurs that his work reached its current fame. In an interview with Matt Lebovic, Charles Delheim—author of a recent book on Jews and modern art—explains this role:

The process of commercializing van Gogh started 120 years ago, when the German-Jewish art collector Paul Cassirer staged the first showing of the Dutch painter’s works in Berlin. After that exhibition, van Gogh’s legacy — and modern art, in general—became intertwined with the trajectory of European Jews.

Dellheim spoke about the “risk-taking” qualities of Cassirer and other Jews who helped van Gogh achieve posthumous fame. More than a century later, van Gogh paintings that were once owned by Jews still make headlines in connection to having been looted by Nazi Germany.

Among the modernist painters adored by Jewish collectors, van Gogh figured prominently. Within two decades of the artist’s death, a good deal of his paintings and drawings had been purchased by Jewish collectors. . . . For years, Cassirer had been imploring Johanna van Gogh—the widow of Vincent’s brother and sponsor, Theo—to permit him to show some of van Gogh’s paintings. A breakthrough came in 1901, when Cassirer was able to show five of van Gogh’s works in an annual “Berlin Secession” exhibition of modernist artists.

Beginning in the 1920s, [by contrast], racial propaganda branded Jews and modern art as “alien elements” to be eliminated. The post-World War I “stab-in-the-back” myth, for example, included the backstory of Jews “poisoning” Germany’s “racial community” with influences such as “degenerate” art and social movements.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Art, German Jewry, Jewish history

The Arab Press Blames Iran Rather Than Israel for Gaza’s Woes

Following the fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad over the weekend, many journalists and commentators in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia didn’t rush to condemn the Jewish state. Instead, as the translators at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) note, they criticized the terrorist group for “operating in service of Iranian interests and thus inflicting suffering on the Gaza Strip’s residents.” One Saudi intellectual, Turki al-Hamad, wrote the following on Twitter:

It is apparent that, if at one time any confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian organizations would attract world and Arab attention and provoke a wave of anger [against Israel], today it does not shock most Arabs and most of the world’s [countries]. Furthermore, even a sense of human solidarity [with the Palestinians] has become rare and embarrassing, raising the question, “Why [is this happening] and who is to blame?”

I believe that the main reason is the lack of confidence in all the Palestinian leaders. . . . From the Arabs’ and the world’s perspective, it is already clear that these leaders are manipulating the [Palestinian] cause out of self-interest and diplomatic, economic, or even personal motives, and that the Palestinian issue is completely unconnected to this. The Palestinian cause has become a bargaining chip in the hands of these and other organizations and states headed by the [Iranian] ayatollah regime.

A, article in a major Arabic-language newspaper took a similar approach:

In a lengthy front-page report on August 7, the London-based UAE daily Al-Arab criticized Islamic Jihad, writing that “Gaza again became an arena for the settling of accounts between Iran and Israel, while the Palestinian citizens are the ones paying the price.” It added that Iran does not want to confront Israel directly for its bombings in Syria and its attacks on Iranian scientists and nuclear facilities.

“The war in Gaza is not the first, nor will it be the last. But it proves . . . that Iran is exploiting Gaza as it exploits Lebanon, in order to strengthen its hand in negotiations with the West. We all know that Iran hasn’t fired a single bullet at Israel, and it also will not do this to defend Gaza or Lebanon.”

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Read more at MEMRI

More about: Gaza Strip, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israel-Arab relations, Persian Gulf