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.

Read more at Algemeiner

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


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount