Emmy Noether Was Kept Out of German Universities First Because She Was a Woman, and Then Because She Was a Jew

This year marked the 100th anniversary of the publication of a groundbreaking paper in the area of mathematics known as ring theory by a German Jew named Emmy Noether—whom Albert Einstein would later describe as a “creative mathematical genius.” When Noether completed her doctorate in 1909, at the age of twenty-seven, women were barred from the faculties of German universities. She only obtained a position as a lecturer in 1919. Tamar Lichter Blanks tells her story:

Noether made important contributions to theoretical physics and Einstein’s theory of relativity. . . . Noetherian rings, [a category of mathematical phenomena she discovered], show up all the time in modern mathematics. Mathematicians still use Noether’s [methods] today, not just in ring theory, but in other areas such as number theory and algebraic geometry.

Noether published her famous ring-theory paper and other important results in mathematics while she was a lecturer in Göttingen from 1919 to 1933. But in the spring of 1933, the University of Göttingen received a telegram: six faculty members—including Noether—had to stop teaching immediately. The Nazis had passed a law barring Jews from professorship.

Noether’s response, it seems, was calm. “This thing is much less terrible for me than it is for many others,” she wrote in a letter to a fellow mathematician. But she was out of a job, and no university in Germany could hire her.

Help came from the United States. Bryn Mawr, a women’s college in Pennsylvania, offered Noether a professorship through a special fund for refugee German scholars. . . . Noether’s time at Bryn Mawr was, tragically, short. In 1935 she had surgery to remove a tumor and died unexpectedly four days later.

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Read more at Conversation

More about: Albert Einstein, Anti-Semitism, German Jewry, Mathematics, Nazism, Sexism

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism