Looking for a Great Jewish Writer in Wartime Ukraine

100 years ago, Joseph Roth, a Jew from what was then the Austro-Hungarian empire, was one of the most well-known journalists in Europe. He also wrote 17 novels and novellas, among them Job, a modern tale based on the biblical story, and  The Radetzky March, widely regarded as one of the finest European novels of the 20th century.

But, as Edward Serotta points out, Roth’s “personal life was one of catastrophe; aside from his oeuvre, he would leave behind nothing but debts and a schizophrenic wife locked away in Austria.”

Serotta narrates this tragic story while visiting Roth’s hometown of Brody, now in western Ukraine. Though spared the worst impacts of Russia’s invasion, Brody hasn’t fared too well either:

The town sat close to the Austrian-Russian border, and I was tickled to see an old photograph on the wall taken of that border. We see civilian couples, men in a variety of uniforms, two middle-aged women dressed nicely, and a row of barefoot children mugging for the camera, one of them wearing some sort of military uniform. Welcome to the empire, they could be saying.

The Jews of Brody, who comprised over 80% of the population by the mid-1800s, were mostly engaged in trade. That was when Brody had the status of a free trade city, but when it lost that right in the 1880s, Jews began drifting away. Quite a few settled in Odesa, and they named their synagogue the Brody Shul in honor of their former city. The Brody Shul still stands and functions, which is more than one can say about the synagogue that is actually in Brody, which is a burned hulk crying out for some sort of restoration.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Arts & Culture, History & Ideas, Jewish literature, Joseph Roth, Ukraine

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security