The Historian, Partisan, and War Hero Who Led Yad Vashem

Born in the Polish shtetl of Swieciany (now Svencionys) in 1926, the great historian of the Holocaust Yitzḥak Arad died in Tel Aviv on May 6. Arad, himself a survivor of the Shoah, was the director of Yad Vashem from 1972 to 1993, and authored several important historical works on Hitler’s war against the Jews. Joseph Berger tells his story, beginning with his teenage years in a Nazi ghetto:

[Arad] survived, at first as a forced laborer—cleaning captured Soviet weapons in a munitions warehouse—and then, sensing what fate awaited, by smuggling weapons to partisans in the nearby forests and forming an underground movement in the ghetto. He, his sister, and their underground associates eventually stole a revolver and escaped, meeting up with a brigade of Soviet partisans.

Acquiring the lifelong nickname Tolka (diminutive for Anatoly), he took part in ambushing German bases in what is now Belarus and setting up mines that blew up more than a dozen trains carrying German soldiers and supplies. Among his exploits was a battle with pro-German Lithuanian partisans in fields and forests covered in deep snow in the village of Girdan.

A Zionist since childhood, Arad made his way to Palestine, [where he] joined the fight for an autonomous Jewish land, serving with the Palmaḥ, the elite fighting force that was eventually incorporated into the Israeli army after Israel declared its independence in 1948. Assigned to an armor brigade, he rose to the rank of brigadier general, retiring in 1972.

He was among the first scholars to study the Jewish partisans in the forests and the ghettos and the systematic murder of Jews by killing squads as the German Army moved deeper into Soviet territory. . . . Arad remained active with Yad Vashem until his last weeks.

Read more at New York Times

More about: Holocaust, IDF, Jewish history, Yad Vashem

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy