The Lost Notebooks of Elie Wiesel’s Mysterious Mentor

In more than one of his works, Elie Wiesel mentions a “Mr. Shushani” (or Chouchani), whom he knew in Paris after World War II. Wiesel describes him as a polymath of extraordinary erudition and intelligence, who “looked like a hobo turned clown, or a clown playing a hobo” and who kept his personal history shrouded in mystery. Yet Wiesel considered himself Shushani’s student, as did the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. No less a figure than Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook praised Shushani’s intellectual abilities. The National Library of Israel has recently acquired some 50 notebooks that belonged to Shushani, in which he recorded his reflections on Jewish theology and numerous other topics. Zack Rothbart writes:

Shushani zealously guarded his identity and few details about his personal life are known today, more than 50 years after his death. Even his name is something of a mystery. Wiesel concluded it was Mordecai Rosenbaum, while most leading scholars today, including the philosopher Shalom Rosenberg, also a disciple of Shushani’s, [and who donated the notebooks], believe that it was Hillel Perlman.

Shushani traveled across the globe throughout his life, apparently penniless, and—according to Wiesel—without a passport. . . . Shushani’s travels brought him throughout Europe, the United States, allegedly to North Africa, and elsewhere—including Mandatory Palestine and the young state of Israel, where for a few months in the late 1950s, he wandered among religious kibbutzim sharing his knowledge and perhaps gaining some too.

Ultimately, Shushani landed in Uruguay.

Probably born in Russia in the early 20th century, Shushani died in Uruguay in 1968.

Read more at National Library of Israel

More about: Abraham Isaac Kook, Elie Wiesel

Why the White House’s Plan to Prevent an Israel-Hizballah War Won’t Work

On Monday, Hizballah downed an Israeli drone, leading the IDF to retaliate with airstrikes that killed one of the terrorist group’s commanders in southern Lebanon, and two more of its members in the northeast. The latter strike marks an escalation by the IDF, which normally confines its activities to the southern part of the country. Hizballah responded by firing two barrages of rockets into northern Israel on Tuesday, while Hamas operatives in Lebanon fired another barrage yesterday.

According to the Iran-backed militia, 219 of its fighters have been killed since October; six Israeli civilians and ten soldiers have lost their lives in the north. The Biden administration has meanwhile been involved in ongoing negotiations to prevent these skirmishes from turning into an all-out war. The administration’s plan, however, requires carrots for Hizballah in exchange for unenforceable guarantees, as Richard Goldberg explains:

Israel and Hizballah last went to war in 2006. That summer, Hizballah crossed the border, killed three Israeli soldiers, and kidnapped two others. Israel responded with furious airstrikes, a naval blockade, and eventually a ground operation that met stiff resistance and mixed results. A UN-endorsed ceasefire went into effect after 34 days of war, accompanied by a Security Council Resolution that ordered the UN Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to assist the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in disarming Hizballah in southern Lebanon—from the Israeli border up to the Litani River, some 30 kilometers away.

Despite billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer support over the last seventeen years, the LAF made no requests to UNIFIL, which then never disarmed Hizballah. Instead, Iran accelerated delivering weapons to the terrorist group—building up its forces to a threat level that dwarfs the one Israel faced in 2006. The politics of Lebanon shifted over time as well, with Hizballah taking effective control of the Lebanese government and exerting its influence (and sometimes even control) over the LAF and its U.S.-funded systems.

Now the U.S. is offering Lebanon an economic bailout in exchange for a promise to keep Hizballah forces from coming within a mere ten kilometers of the border, essentially abrogating the Security Council resolution. Goldberg continues:

Who would be responsible for keeping the peace? The LAF and UNIFIL—the same pair that has spent seventeen years helping Hizballah become the threat it is today. That would guarantee that Hizballah’s commitments will never be verified or enforced.

It’s a win-win for [Hizballah’s chief Hassan] Nasrallah. Many of his fighters live and keep their missiles hidden within ten kilometers of Israel’s border. They will blend into the civilian population without any mechanism to force their departure. And even if the U.S. or France could verify a movement of weapons to the north, Nasrallah’s arsenal is more than capable of terrorizing Israeli cities from ten kilometers away. Meanwhile, a bailout of Lebanon will increase Hizballah’s popularity—demonstrating its tactics against Israel work.

Read more at The Dispatch

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden