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.

Read more at New York Sun

More about: Art, Holocaust, Literature, Western civilization


If Iran Goes Nuclear, the U.S. Will Be Forced Out of the Middle East

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported in May that Iran has, or is close to having, enough highly enriched uranium to build multiple atomic bombs, while, according to other sources, it is taking steps toward acquiring the technology to assemble such weapons. Considering the effects on Israel, the Middle East, and American foreign policy of a nuclear-armed Iran, Eli Diamond writes:

The basic picture is that the Middle East would become inhospitable to the U.S. and its allies when Iran goes nuclear. Israel would find itself isolated, with fewer options for deterring Iran or confronting its proxies. The Saudis and Emiratis would be forced into uncomfortable compromises.

Any course reversal has to start by recognizing that the United States has entered the early stages of a global conflict in which the Middle East is set to be a main attraction, not a sideshow.

Directly or not, the U.S. is engaged in this conflict and has a significant stake in its outcome. In Europe, American and Western arms are the only things standing between Ukraine and its defeat at the hands of Russia. In the Middle East, American arms remain indispensable to Israel’s survival as it wages a defensive, multifront war against Iran and its proxies Hamas and Hizballah. In the Indo-Pacific, China has embarked on the greatest military buildup since World War II, its eyes set on Taiwan but ultimately U.S. primacy.

While Iran is the smallest of these three powers, China and Russia rely on it greatly for oil and weapons, respectively. Both rely on it as a tool to degrade America’s position in the region. Constraining Iran and preventing its nuclear breakout would keep waterways open for Western shipping and undermine a key node in the supply chain for China and Russia.

Diamond offers a series of concrete suggestions for how the U.S. could push back hard against Iran, among them expanding the Abraham Accords into a military and diplomatic alliance that would include Saudi Arabia. But such a plan depends on Washington recognizing that its interests in Eastern Europe, in the Pacific, and in the Middle East are all connected.

Read more at National Review

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy