Remembering the English Schindler

Nicholas Winton was a British stockbroker of Jewish origins who, in December 1938, devised a plan to rescue Jewish children in Prague and bring them to England. He died earlier this week at the age of one-hundred-six:

Nicholas Winton rescued 669 children destined for Nazi concentration camps from Czechoslovakia as the outbreak of World War II loomed. His death . . . came on the same day 76 years ago when the train carrying the largest number of children—241—departed from Prague.

The reluctant hero worked to find British families willing to put up £50 to look after the boys and girls in their homes. His efforts were not publicly known for almost 50 years. More than 370 of the children he saved have never been traced and do not know the full story. . . .

The humanitarian goals of Winton, who was born in the Hampstead district of north London in May 1909, were helped by a 1938 Act of Parliament that permitted the entry to the UK of refugee children under the age of seventeen, as long as money was deposited to pay for their eventual return home.

He set up an office in a hotel in Prague where he was quickly besieged by families desperate to get their children out before Nazi Germany invaded Czechoslovakia. . . . Winton . . . worked with relief organizations to set up the Czech Kindertransport, just one of a number of initiatives attempting to rescue Jewish children from Germany and the Nazi-occupied territories. He organized a total of eight trains from Prague, with some other forms of transport also set up from Vienna.

Read more at BBC

More about: British Jewry, Czechoslovakia, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Kindertransport, UK

Syria’s Druze Uprising, and What It Means for the Region

When the Arab Spring came to Syria in 2011, the Druze for the most part remained loyal to the regime—which has generally depended on the support of religious minorities such as the Druze and thus afforded them a modicum of protection. But in the past several weeks that has changed, with sustained anti-government protests in the Druze-dominated southwestern province of Suwayda. Ehud Yaari evaluates the implications of this shift:

The disillusionment of the Druze with Bashar al-Assad, their suspicion of militias backed by Iran and Hizballah on the outskirts of their region, and growing economic hardships are fanning the flames of revolt. In Syrian Druze circles, there is now open discussion of “self-rule,” for example replacing government offices and services with local Druze alternative bodies.

Is there a politically acceptable way to assist the Druze and prevent the regime from the violent reoccupation of Jebel al-Druze, [as they call the area in which they live]? The answer is yes. It would require Jordan to open a short humanitarian corridor through the village of al-Anat, the southernmost point of the Druze community, less than three kilometers from the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Setting up a corridor to the Druze would require a broad consensus among Western and Gulf Arab states, which have currently suspended the process of normalization with Assad. . . . The cost of such an operation would not be high compared to the humanitarian corridors currently operating in northern Syria. It could be developed in stages, and perhaps ultimately include, if necessary, providing the Druze with weapons to defend their territory. A quick reminder: during the Islamic State attack on Suwayda province in 2018, the Druze demonstrated an ability to assemble close to 50,000 militia men almost overnight.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Druze, Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy