Hitler’s Plan to Exterminate Middle Eastern Jewry

While its story is less well known in the U.S. than that of the West European or Pacific theaters, North Africa constituted a crucial front in World War II, and the Middle East figured large in combatants’ strategic calculations, especially during the German general Erwin Rommel’s campaign to push the British out of Egypt. The covert aspects of this part of the war constitute the subject of a recent book by the Israeli journalist Gershon Gorenberg. In his review, Efraim Halevy writes:

The battle in North Africa also has critical significance for the Jews of the Middle East, including in Mandatory Palestine. Gorenberg explains that had Rommel tasted victory in Cairo, a German SS unit charged with carrying out “executive measures” would have been sent in the general’s wake to exterminate the 75,000 Jews of Egypt and subsequently the half-million Jews in Palestine, the 25,000 Jews of Syria and Lebanon and, if Rommel realized his “oriental strategy” of conquering the entire Middle East, the close to 100,000 Jews of Iraq.

One of the many stories told by Gorenberg relates to a group of Egyptian officers who were preparing for Cairo to fall to Rommel, whose forces were close to overrunning Allied positions. One of them was a young signal officer, Anwar al-Sadat, who was caught together with his diary that proved he had been sending messages to the Germans. Sadat was a member of a group of young officers who had teamed up to discuss the pros and cons of the two warring European powers. They determined that the Germans, then advancing successfully on Cairo, stood the best chance of success and would emerge as the ultimate winners. . . .

That same group of officers discussed in the book—led by Gamal Abdul Nasser—ultimately seized power in post-war Egypt.

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Read more at Fathom

More about: Holocaust, Mandate Palestine, Middle East, World War II

Reforms to Israel’s Judiciary Must Be Carefully Calibrated

The central topic of debate in Israel now is the new coalition government’s proposed reforms of the nation’s judiciary and unwritten constitution. Peter Berkowitz agrees that reform is necessary, but that “the proper scope and pace of reform, however, are open to debate and must be carefully calibrated.”

In particular, Berkowitz argues,

to preserve political cohesiveness, substantial changes to the structure of the Israeli regime must earn support that extends beyond these partisan divisions.

In a deft analysis of the conservative spirit in Israel, bestselling author Micah Goodman warns in the Hebrew language newspaper Makor Rishon that unintended consequences flowing from the constitutional counterrevolution are likely to intensify political instability. When a center-left coalition returns to power, Goodman points out, it may well repeal through a simple majority vote the major changes Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition seeks to enact. Or it may use the legislature’s expanded powers, say, to ram through laws that impair the religious liberty of the ultra-Orthodox. Either way, in a torn nation, constitutional counterrevolution amplifies division.

Conservatives make a compelling case that balance must be restored to the separation of powers in Israel. A prudent concern for the need to harmonize Israel’s free, democratic, and Jewish character counsels deliberation in the pursuit of necessary constitutional reform.

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Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Judicial Reform