When a German-Jewish Artist and Zionist Activist Met the Jews of Eastern Europe

March 19 2020

Born in Berlin in 1876 to an Orthodox Jewish family, Hermann Struck was an enthusiastic and prominent Zionist who by 1910 had established himself as a leading figure on the German art scene. He was commissioned to create lithograph portraits of such prominent persons as Henryk Ibsen, Oscar Wilde, and Friedrich Nietzsche, and his art was displayed at the Fifth Zionist Congress in 1901. When World War I began, Struck encountered new artistic opportunities, as Amit Naor writes:

Then thirty-eight years old, Struck wasn’t required to enlist. Nevertheless, like many other Jews, he eagerly volunteered to serve his country. . . . After undergoing basic training, he worked as a translator and censor assigned to the press department of the German Supreme Command on the Eastern Front.

Later on he was sent to the frontlines, where he took part in combat against the Russians. His actions during this period resulted in Struck being awarded the Iron Cross for “courage in the face of the enemy.” In July 1917, he returned to headquarters and served as the officer in charge of Jewish affairs in the [formerly Russian territories under German military occupation]. It was in this role that Struck came face to face for the first time with the Jews of Eastern Europe. . . . In his wartime sketches, Struck drew portraits of the Jews he met, their towns, and their way of life.

After the war, Struck also served as a consultant to the German delegation at the Paris Peace Conference on issues pertaining to East European Jews. He continued his activity in the religious-Zionist Mizraḥi movement and in 1923 . . . settled in Haifa, where his former home [now] serves as a museum for his work and that of other artists who work with printing and lithography.

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Read more at The Librarians

More about: East European Jewry, German Jewry, Jewish art, World War I, Zionism

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy