The Extraordinary Life and Times of George Weidenfeld

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.

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Read more at Spectator

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

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

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Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin