The German-Jewish Émigré Philosopher Who Saved Nietzsche from the Nazis

By the 1930s, the thought of Friedrich Nietzsche had been effectively coopted by the German far-right, largely through the mediation of his sister (who belonged to a proto-Nazi group) and his younger cousins (outright Nazis), who were responsible for inserting racist and anti-Semitic ideas into his posthumously published work. While Nietzsche was a critic of both Judeo-Christian morality and modern liberalism, he was hardly what Hitler’s admirers made him out to be. Hugh Drochon gives credit for the rejection of this view of Nietzsche to the scholar Walter Kaufmann:

Kaufmann . . . arrived in the U.S. in 1939; after graduating from Williams College he interrupted his doctoral studies at Harvard to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Force and served as an interrogator for military intelligence during the war. In Berlin he chanced upon an edition of Nietzsche’s collected works and was immediately—like so many before and after him—captivated. Having discharged his duty, he returned to Harvard resolved to write his PhD on Nietzsche.

One point of disagreement [with his subject concerned] religion. While the “death of God” is still one of Nietzsche’s most famous pronouncements, in 1961 Kaufmann wrote Faith of a Heretic. Born in Freiburg in 1921, Kaufmann had been raised a Lutheran, but realizing he didn’t understand the Holy Ghost and that all his grandparents were Jewish (his father had converted, but not his mother), he abjured Christianity and set off to study under the Reform rabbi Leo Baeck at the Berlin Institute for Judaic Studies in 1938. Those studies were cut short by emigration, but the interest in religion would continue.

Read more at Times Literary Supplement

More about: Friedrich Nietzsche, German Jewry, Judaism


Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

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