Prince Philip and His Jewish Best Friend

April 28 2021

Until 2018, no member of the British royal family had ever visited Israel in an official capacity, but the first to do so unofficially was Prince Philip, the late husband of Queen Elizabeth, who came in 1994 to a ceremony at Yad Vashem honoring his mother, Princess Alice of Greece, for rescuing Jews from the Nazis. Philip indeed had a long record of sympathy for Jews and Jewish state. While researching a book about Anglo-Jewish photographers, the historian Michael Berkowitz interviewed the duke of Edinburgh, and recalls the meeting:

Sterling Henry Nahum, [the Jewish photographer] known as “Baron,” asserted that he was intimate with the royal couple and especially friendly with Prince Philip. . . . Baron’s account, though not exactly a literary masterpiece, struck me as sincere, [and] his photos of then-Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip . . . inspired me to dig deeper. The couple appeared relaxed, even jovial when Baron was behind the camera. I thought this revealed a level of comfort they didn’t share with other photographers. I wondered: what were their own feelings about Baron? So I wrote to the queen in November 2011 and she suggested that I contact her husband separately.

I met with Prince Philip in his library, in Buckingham Palace, for some 45 minutes. . . . Prince Philip confirmed that Baron’s account was solid and that Baron was, indeed, his best friend—and squash partner. He did not recall if he ever knew about Baron’s specific ethnic or religious background, except for him being foreign. . . . One of the [other] questions I had for the duke was, in fact, about his wife’s relationship with photographer Annie Leibovitz. . . . He said they got on “like a house on fire.”

I appreciate, immensely, the honestly, generosity, and humility of the duke of Edinburgh. He shook my hand (what a grip!), we sat down (alone), talked seriously and quickly, and had more than a few loud laughs between us.

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More about: British Jewry, Photography, Queen Elizabeth II

 

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

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More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror