The Jewish Heroes of the Tulsa Massacre

This week, Americans commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre, when white residents of the Oklahoma city—sometimes with the assistance of public officials—attacked the black neighborhood known as Greenwood. According to historians’ estimates, between 100 and 300 were killed and over 1,000 homes destroyed, along with myriad businesses and churches. Phil Goldfarb describes some instances of Jewish heroism from this shameful episode of U.S. history:

While relatively few whites exhibited empathy and compassion for the persecuted African American community of Tulsa—largely due to the influence of the Ku Klux Klan and others—many Jewish families made efforts to help African American families by taking them into their homes or businesses, feeding and clothing them, as well as hiding them during and after the atrocity. [Some] went into North Tulsa to secure their black employees, friends, and their families.

Many of the Jews in the city were recent immigrants from Eastern Europe who remembered firsthand suffering through violent pogroms and anti-Semitic policies in the Russian empire and elsewhere.

The Tulsan Abraham (Abe) Solomon Viner (1885-1959) and his wife Anna (1887-1976) owned the Peoples Building and Loan Association. On the day of the massacre, Abe went to all of the homes on his block, collected all of the maids from their quarters, and assembled them in his living room. He then sat by the front door with a shotgun in case anyone broke into the house.

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Read more at The Librarians

More about: American Jewish History, Racism, U.S history

Europe-Israel Relations Have Been Transformed

On Monday, Israel and the EU held their first “association council” meeting since 2012, resuming what was once an annual event, equivalent to the meetings Brussels conducts with many other countries. Although the summit didn’t produce any major agreements or diplomatic breakthroughs, writes Shany Mor, it is a sign of a dramatic change that has occurred over the past decade. The very fact that the discussion focused on energy, counterterrorism, military technology, and the situation in Ukraine—rather than on the Israel-Palestinian conflict—is evidence of this change:

Israel is no longer the isolated and boycotted outpost in the Middle East that it was for most of its history. It has peace treaties with six Arab states now, four of which were signed since the last association council meeting. There are direct flights from Tel Aviv to major cities in the region and a burgeoning trade between Israel and Gulf monarchies, including those without official relations.

It is a player in the regional alliance systems of both the Gulf and the eastern Mediterranean, just as it has also become a net energy exporter due to the discovery of large gas deposits of its shoreline. None of this was the case at the last council meeting in 2012. [Moreover], Israel has cultivated deep ties with a number of new member states in the EU from Central and Eastern Europe, whose presence in Brussels bridges cultural ideological gaps that were once much wider.

Beyond the diplomatic shifts, however, is an even larger change that has happened in European-Israeli relations. The tiny Israel defined by its conflict with the Arabs that Europeans once knew is no more. When the first Cooperation Agreement [between Israel and the EU’s precursor] was signed in 1975, Israel, with its three million people, was smaller than all the European member states save Luxembourg. Sometime in the next two years, the Israeli population will cross the 10 million mark, making it significantly larger than Ireland, Denmark, Finland, and Austria (among others), and roughly equal in population to Greece, Portugal, and Sweden.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Abraham Accords, Europe and Israel, European Union, Israeli gas