A Chinese Diplomat’s Crusade to Save Jews from the Nazis

March 25 2021

By 1938, it was clear to most German and Austrian Jews that there was no future for them in Germany, but they soon found that there were few countries that would take them in. Enter Ho Feng-Shan, the Chinese consul-general in Vienna. Harold Brackman tells his story:

Ho . . . was born in rural Hunan in 1901. Ho grew up poor. His mother was a devout Christian; his father, a Confucian scholar, died when he was seven. Helped by the Norwegian Lutheran Mission, Ho was educated at Yali College. He received his doctorate in political economy at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Ho then entered China’s diplomatic service. . . . Fluent in German, he made friends with many Jewish intellectuals [while stationed] in Vienna.

In the wake of 1938’s Evian Conference—where only the Dominican Republic agreed to accept a significant number of Jewish refugees—Ho acted. Against the orders of his superiors, he started to issue visas to Shanghai to Austrian Jews for humanitarian reasons. He gave panicked Jews, fearing internment in concentration camps, visas with almost no questions asked. Eventually, tens of thousands of Jews fled Austria for Shanghai. . . . Ho continued his one-man crusade until he was ordered to return to China in 1940.

During World War II, Ho served on military and diplomatic missions to the Allied powers. After the Communist victory in 1949, he followed the Nationalist government to Taiwan.

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More about: Austrian Jewry, China, Holocaust, Righteous Among the Nations, Shanghai Ghetto

 

Why the Leader of Hamas Went to Russia

Sept. 30 2022

Earlier this month, the Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh and several of his colleagues visited Moscow, where they met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russian officials. According to Arabic-language media, Haniyeh came seeking “new ideas” about how to wage war against the Jewish state. The terrorist group has had good relations with the Kremlin for several years, and even maintains an office in Moscow. John Hardie and Ivana Stradner comment on the timing of the visit:

For Moscow, the visit likely reflects a continuation of its efforts to leverage the Palestinians and other issues to pressure Israel over its stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia and Israel built friendly relations in the decades following the Soviet Union’s dissolution. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Jerusalem condemned the war, but made sure to tread carefully in order to preserve working ties with Moscow, lest Russian military forces in Syria disrupt Israel’s strategically important air operations there.

Nevertheless, bilateral tensions spiked in April after Yair Lapid, then serving as Israel’s foreign minister, joined the chorus of voices worldwide accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine. Jerusalem later provided Kyiv with some non-lethal military aid and a field hospital. In response, Moscow hardened its rhetoric about Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian issue isn’t the only way that Russia has sought to pressure Israel. Moscow is also threatening, on seemingly spurious grounds, to shutter the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency.

Moscow likely has little appetite for outright conflict with Israel, particularly when the bulk of Russia’s military is floundering in Ukraine. But there are plenty of other ways that Russia, which maintains an active intelligence presence in the Jewish state, could damage Israel’s interests. As Moscow cozies up with Hamas, Iran, and other enemies of Israel, Jerusalem—and its American allies—would do well to keep a watchful eye.

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More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Russia