A Literary Investigation into European Civilization’s Betrayal of the Jews—Including Those Who Appreciated It the Most

The novel Pollak’s Arm, by Hans von Trotha, is based on the real story of a Jewish art expert named Ludwig Pollak. In his review, Ari Hoffman writes:

Translated from German by Elisabeth Lauffer, Pollak’s Arm is a love letter to art and an indictment of the barbarism that all the beauty in the world was powerless to stop. It centers on a conversation between Ludwig Pollak and a German narrator tasked with ushering him to safety.

An archaeologist, art dealer, and director of the Museo Barracco di Scultura Antica [in Rome], Pollak was born in Prague and died in Auschwitz. In 1906 he discovered the long-lost right arm of Laocoön and His Sons, one of the most extraordinary statues of the ancient world.

Pollak’s Arm translates this historical material into fiction by imagining two conversations. The first is between the narrator, known only as “K.,” and an unnamed monsignor in the Vatican about an earlier conversation K. had with Pollak in the latter’s apartment, urging the art dealer to take the Roman Curia up on its offer of refuge for him and his family in the face of an imminent roundup of Jews by the SS.

While K. urges Pollak to rouse his family and flee behind the high walls of the Vatican, Pollak refuses to leave. Instead, he embarks on a string of disquisitions on Jewish and European history and the beautiful things that they made together and apart. . . . We don’t know why Pollak refused the offer of sanctuary. It could be because he saw clearly that a Rome in the process of answering the Jewish question had already betrayed everything on which Ludwig Pollak had staked his life.

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Read more at New York Sun

More about: Art, Holocaust, Literature, Western civilization

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy