How Jews Helped Create the Bourbon Industry

Bourbon may not generally be regarded as a Jewish drink, but Jewish immigrants played an important role in its history, Reid Mitenbuler writes. Among the highly successful labels founded by Jews was I.W. Harper:

In 1867, a Jewish immigrant by the name of Isaac Wolfe Bernheim arrived in America from Germany. He rode in steerage . . . and survived on potatoes—a humble beginning to the bootstrapping success story he would tell decades later. . . . Bernheim was always ambivalent about the liquor business, a trade he had fallen into in 1868 after two distillers from Paducah, Kentucky, enlisted him for his bookkeeping abilities. After earning enough money to bring his brother Bernard over from Europe, the two began their own distillery in 1872. The new operation needed its own brand, which presented a dilemma: what should Bernheim call it? . . .

[M]any of his contemporaries—such as the Beam or Pepper families—were able to use their frontier ancestors for marketing purposes. But Bernheim didn’t have such an ancestor . . . [and] felt that his ethnic surname would draw prejudice if he used it as a brand. He compromised by placing the Anglo-Saxon “Harper” after his own first two initials to create I.W. Harper bourbon. In 1944, a year before Bernheim’s death at age 96, he would admit that he borrowed the name from John Harper, a popular horse trainer. At that point the brand was huge and still ascending—by 1966 it could be found in 110 countries worldwide.

Read more at Atlantic

More about: Alcohol, American Jewish History, History & Ideas, Immigration

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy