How the Soviet Union Created the Greatest Yiddish Repertory Theater, Used Its Director for Propaganda, and Then Murdered Him

In 1943, the Kremlin sent the lawyer-turned-actor Solomon Mikhoels, in his position as chairman of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, to the U.S. to raise support, and money, for the Soviet war effort. Mikhoels was chosen for the job because he was a Jewish celebrity, the lead actor and artistic director of the state-sponsored Yiddish theater in Moscow, and also a Yiddish film star. Five years later, he was shot dead by the precursor to the KGB. Many other members of the Anti-Fascist Committee were eventually executed as well, along with other major figures of Jewish literary life. They were, as Dara Horn puts it in her recounting of Mikhoels’s remarkable story, “disposable Jews” who had served the regime’s purposes and were no longer necessary. (Audio, 54 minutes.)

Read more at Adventures with Dead Jews

More about: Anti-Semitism, Soviet Jewry, USSR, Yiddish literature, Yiddish theater


Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

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