The Extraordinary Life and Times of George Weidenfeld

Jan. 21 2016

After the 1938 Nazi annexation of Austria, the young George Weidenfeld, who died yesterday at the age of ninety-six, fled his native Vienna for Britain, where he was taken in by a Christian family. As an adult, he founded and directed a prestigious British publishing house. Most recently, he devoted his efforts and financial resources to rescuing Middle Eastern Christians, inspired by a sense that he could thus repay “a debt of gratitude” to those who helped him in his youth. In addition to being a great philanthropist and a passionate Zionist, writes Douglas Murray, he was also “one of the greatest receptacles and advocates for high European culture, [and] also perhaps one of the last”:

No one else could speak with such insight and with such personal experience of Nabokov, Picasso, Isaiah Berlin, and a thousand others besides. . . .

George Weidenfeld was also a passionate Zionist. At a recent public talk on Theodor Herzl he spoke of his own association with the state of Israel since its inception, during which he had been at Chaim Weizmann’s side. But he also focused on what an extraordinary thing it was that in any single human lifespan such a magnificent and necessary vision could have been achieved.

Yet perhaps even more than the past, George Weidenfeld was passionately concerned with the future. He never stopped befriending, encouraging, and inspiring the young. . . . He set up countless scholarship schemes and similar learning opportunities for students in the UK and abroad. . . .

In recent years he was desperately concerned by the rise of Islamic fanaticism, concerned for the state of Israel, and concerned for Christian civilization—indeed concerned for civilization everywhere. A proper estimate of George Weidenfeld’s life would require many, many words from many, many writers. . . . In the Jewish tradition people say of the dead, “May his memory be a blessing.” George Weidenfeld’s long life was, and his memory already is.

Read more at Spectator

More about: British Jewry, Chaim Weizmann, History & Ideas, Middle East Christianity, Philanthropy, Western civilization, Zionism


Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, Mossad, U.S. Foreign policy