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.

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Read more at Spectator

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

Iran’s Responsibility for West Bank Terror

On Friday, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli police officer and was then shot by another officer after trying to grab his rifle. Commenting on the many similar instances of West Bank-based terror during the past several months, Amit Saar, a senior IDF intelligence officer, predicted that the violence will likely grow worse in the coming year. Yoni Ben Menachem explains the Islamic Republic’s role in fueling this wave of terrorism:

The escape of six terrorists from Gilboa prison in September 2021 was the catalyst for the establishment of new terrorist groups in the northern West Bank, according to senior Islamic Jihad officials. The initiative to establish new armed groups was undertaken by Palestinian Islamic Jihad in coordination with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, implementing the strategy of Qassem Suleimani—the commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards who was assassinated in Iraq by the U.S.—of using proxies to achieve the goals of expansion of the Iranian regime.

After arming Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Iran moved in the last year to support the new terrorist groups in the northern West Bank. Iran has been pouring money into the Islamic Jihad organization, which began to establish new armed groups under the name of “Battalions,” which also include terrorists from other organizations such as Fatah, Hamas, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. First, the “Jenin Battalion” was established in the city of Jenin, followed the “Nablus Battalion.”

Despite large-scale arrest operation by the IDF and the Shin Bet in the West Bank, Islamic Jihad continues to form new terrorist groups, including the “Tulkarem Battalion,” the “Tubas Battalion,” and the “Balata Battalion” in the Balata refugee camp.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Palestinian terror, West Bank