Yaffa Eliach, Child Survivor and Historian Who Tried to Humanize Hitler’s Victims

Born in 1937, Yaffa Eliach—who died last Wednesday—survived the Shoah with her family by hiding with Christian peasants. She then came to the U.S., where she became an influential historian and Holocaust educator. Joseph Berger writes:

Her mission, she said many times, was to document the victims’ lives, not just their deaths, to give them back their grace and humanity. She determined to do so as a member of President Jimmy Carter’s Commission on the Holocaust, . . . when she realized that the victims were [often] portrayed only as bulging-eyed skeletons in ragged striped uniforms, not as the vital people they once were.

Professor Eliach decided to recreate the shtetl she had known in Lithuania—Eisiskes, known in Yiddish as Eishyshok—where 3,500 Jews, almost the entire Jewish population, were killed, by collecting photographs of its inhabitants.

Starting with a nucleus of family photos she and her older brother had squirreled away in hiding, she spent fifteen years traveling to all 50 states and many countries searching for photographs, diaries, and letters of other shtetl residents. . . . Some 1,500 were selected for the Holocaust museum’s “Tower of Faces,” . . . where photographs are arranged in a narrow, soaring chasm that visitors walk through. The faces render the lives of so many ordinary Jews intimate and vibrant.

Read more at New York Times

More about: East European Jewry, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Holocaust Museums, Shtetl

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy