The Housewife Who Bucked the Anglo-Jewish Establishment to Fight for Soviet Jewry

In the early 1970s, the American movement to ease the plight of Jews in the USSR was in its early stages, while among British Jews there was little interest in the subject at all. Barbara Oberman, a thirty-three-year-old Jewish housewife, decided to change that, writes Abigail Klein Leichman:

[First], Oberman tried to persuade the Board of Deputies of British Jews to commit itself to helping Soviet Jews. “They more or less told me to go home and bake cakes,” she recalls. . . . In May 1971, Oberman began recruiting women brave enough to go against the grain and form a grassroots movement that came to be known as “the 35s.” The name referred not only to the approximate age and number of the women involved but also, and more importantly, to Raiza Palatnik, a thirty-five-year-old Jewish woman who had been imprisoned in an isolation cell five months earlier in Odessa.

Palatnik’s case galvanized the young mothers. Dressed in black, they demonstrated outside the Soviet embassy in London demanding Palatnik’s release, which finally happened in December 1972.

At first, the 35s were a thorn in the side of the Jewish establishment. . . . Oberman’s style of protest was headline-grabbing. For a demonstration against Soviet Communist leader Alexander Shelepin, who was in England for a visit, Oberman declared that the ladies would haunt him. Her husband’s factory made them white “ghost robes,” which they wore outside in the freezing cold. “It was raining, and the red lettering on our signs ran, and that was very effective in the photographs,” she notes.

Like many of the refuseniks whose cause she championed, Oberman eventually settled in Israel, where she lives to this day.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: British Jewry, Refuseniks, Soviet Jewry


The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7