Remembering a Heroic Rebel against Soviet Tyranny

On Sunday, the nuclear physicist and former Soviet dissident Yuri Orlov died in Ithaca, NY at the age of ninety-six. Orlov’s signature idea was to use the Kremlin’s signing of the Helsinki Accords—a 1975 international agreement that included pledges to protect human rights—to call attention to the USSR’s own wrongdoings. While not Jewish himself, he worked closely with such activists as Natan Sharansky, who writes of his late friend:

In May 1976, eleven people led by Uri Orlov founded the Moscow Helsinki Watch group. In the next nine months, we had created and published nineteen official reports about human-rights violations in the USSR, presenting hundreds of concrete cases. We made them public through press conferences, and passed them on to various international bodies, including a special committee that the American Congress created to monitor the application of the Helsinki Accords. For the first time, we didn’t have to smuggle information out: we were invited instead to pass it officially to the American embassy.

Eight months later, Orlov—on the run from the KGB—met with Sharansky and a few other collaborators:

“I want you to arrange a press conference,” [Orlov] told me. “But the second I come back here with foreign reporters the KGB will arrest you,” I said. “They’re searching for you all over the Soviet Union!”

Orlov waved my objection away. “We cannot hide. All our strength lies in our public stand, in our appeal to the world’s public opinion.”

The next morning, Yuri was arrested. Three weeks later, so was I. But thanks to Yuri’s vision, our work didn’t disappear, and the truth couldn’t be buried in the KGB’s dungeons. We made the USSR’s crimes public, and they could not be hidden again.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Natan Sharansky, Soviet Jewry, Soviet Union

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