Germany’s Jewish Mathematicians on the Eve of the Holocaust

Born in Germany in 1891, Abraham Fraenkel embarked on a highly successful career as a mathematician. In the 1960s, while living in Israel, he wrote a memoir about his life up until the early years of the Third Reich. At one point he reminisces about some of the outstanding mathematicians he knew in pre-World War II Germany and their reactions to the changing climate there, including one of the rare Gentile professors who stood up for Jewish colleagues:

In his time, David Hilbert (1862–1943) was the most significant mathematician in the world. . . . Students flocked to him from all over Europe and the United States. . . . Hilbert always remained free of all national and racist prejudices. After the turn of the 20th century, he had a large number of Jewish students, both in absolute and relative terms. In his own working life, he was greatly influenced by two Jews, Adolf Hurwitz and Hermann Minkowski. His authority and tenacity managed twice to break through the [pre-World War I] prejudice in the Prussian Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs against appointing Jews to full professorships: Minkowski in 1902 and Edmund “Yechezkel” Landau in 1909. . . .

Hilbert’ s response to a question [posed to him by] Bernhard Rust, the Nazi minister for science, education, and popular culture, was typical. At a banquet in 1934 in Göttingen, Rust asked: “Is it really true, Herr Professor, that [the mathematical institute you direct] suffered so much from the departure of the Jews and their friends?” to which Hilbert replied, in his characteristic East Prussian dialect: “Suffered? No, it hasn’t suffered, Herr Minister. It simply doesn’t exist anymore!”

Read more at Tablet

More about: German Jewry, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Mathematics

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