A New Exhibit on the Jews of Fin-de-Siècle Vienna

Vienna’s grand boulevard, the Ringstrasse, which encircles the center of the city, was home to a large number of well-to-do Jewish families between its construction in the 1850s and the Nazi Anschluss in 1938. Reviewing a new exhibit on the lives of these families at Vienna’s Jewish museum, Liam Hoare writes:

Of the 55 percent of lots on the Ringstrasse that were acquired by private individuals, 44 percent had Jewish owners. Through rock and stone, construction of the Ringstrasse placed Jews at the heart of Viennese economic and cultural life. . . . A new synagogue, the Leopoldstädter Tempel, was built near the Ring in 1858. . . .

[The exhibit] focuses on the lives of this small band of wealthy Jewish families who made their home and their name on the Ring. A house here meant recognition and acceptance, which was achieved through a combination of political and religious liberalism, loyalty to Austria, and a tremendous contribution to the life of the city through patronage of the arts and sciences and charitable donations. . . .

These lush buildings, palaces for the Jewish bourgeoisie, cannot tell the full story of Vienna’s Jewish community during the golden age [of Austrian Jewry], though. While it was a period with many winners, others were not so fortunate. A swath of the Jewish population who arrived in Vienna from the rest of the empire in an attempt to escape the shtetl in the second half of the 19th century faced housing shortages and poverty, while being denied access to state aid.

The architecture also cannot capture what was going on in the wider society, namely, the growth of anti-Semitism in Viennese society that was a consequence of enlightenment, assimilation, and immigration. At the turn of the 20th century, the vile anti-Semite Karl Lueger (for whom a street in the city was named until as recently as April 2012) was mayor of Vienna.

Read more at eJewish Philanthropy

More about: Anti-Semitism, Austrian Jewry, History & Ideas, Jewish history, Vienna


As Hamas’s Power Collapses, Old Feuds Are Resurfacing

In May, Mahmoud Nashabat, a high-ranking military figure in the Fatah party (which controls the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority), was gunned down in central Gaza. Nashabat was an officer in the Gaza wing of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist outfit that served as Fatah’s vanguard during the second intifada, and now sometimes collaborates with Hamas. But his killers were Hamas members, and he was one of at least 35 Palestinians murdered in Gaza in the past two months as various terrorist and criminal groups go about settling old scores, some of which date back to the 1980s. Einav Halabi writes:

Security sources familiar with the situation told the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Gaza is now also beleaguered by the resurgence of old conflicts. “Many people have been killed in incidents related to the first intifada in 1987, while others have died in family disputes,” they said.

The “first-intifada portfolio” in Gaza is considered complex and convoluted, as it is filled with hatred among residents who accuse others of killing relatives for various reasons, including collaboration with Israel. . . . According to reports from Gaza, there are vigorous efforts on the ground to contain these developments, but the chances of success remain unclear. Hamas, for its part, is trying to project governance and control, recently releasing several videos showcasing how its operatives brutally beat residents accused of looting.

These incidents, gruesome as they are, suggest that Hamas’s control over the territory is slipping, and it no longer holds a monopoly on violence or commands the fear necessary to keep the population in line. The murders and beatings also dimension the grim reality that would ensue if the war ends precipitously: a re-empowered Hamas setting about getting vengeance on its enemies and reimposing its reign of terror.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Fatah, Gaza War 2023, Hamas