Canceling Confederate Jews

Last summer, Princeton University agreed to host an exhibit of works by Jewish-American artists active during the Gilded Age; more recently, the university cancelled the exhibition, citing the inclusion of works by two Confederate soldiers, Theodore Moise and Moses Ezekiel. The curator for the cancelled exhibit, Leonard Milberg, discusses the controversy surrounding the university’s decision.

I have held eleven exhibitions at the Princeton Art Museum and Firestone Library and donated ten collections to the University over the past 40 years without the slightest controversy. Five years ago, the Art Museum held a widely acclaimed show, By Dawn’s Early Light, devoted to the contributions to American culture by American Jewry from 1580 to the Civil War. There were paintings by the very same Theodore Sydney Moise, which included portraits of his aunt Penina Moise—“the Poet Laureate of Charleston, South Carolina”—(whose rare first American Jewish hymn book was also on display) and Henry Clay, borrowed from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The accompanying catalog fully disclosed Moise’s Confederate background. The exhibit subsequently moved to the New York Historical Society where it was seen by several thousand people and given favorable reviews by the New York Times. I was not aware of any complaint about Moise’s Confederate past.

The figure Faith, sculpted by Moses Ezekiel, was intended to be displayed for the canceled exhibition this fall. Ezekiel’s monument “Religious Liberty,” which includes the figure “Faith,” has been on view in Philadelphia since 1876 and now stands near the Liberty Bell. We planned to borrow Ezekiel’s marble copy of “Faith” from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore for the exhibit. . . . Other Ezekiel figures that were to be included at Firestone were of the composer Franz Liszt, Abraham Lincoln, and Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, who helped bring Reform Judaism to America.

Several years ago, Firestone held an exhibit of my Irish prose collection, which included a number of letters and works by prominent Irish writer Francis Stuart. Stuart was an extreme Nazi sympathizer, as were his wife Iseult and mother-in-law William Butler Yeats’s beloved Maud Gonne. Stuart spent World War II in Berlin where, at Hitler’s request, he made a number of scurrilous anti-Semitic broadcasts. Tom Paulin and Oliver St. John Gogarty are two other notable anti-Semitic Irish literary figures whose works were part of my Irish collection and have been exhibited at Firestone. [Despite their abhorrent views,] I felt that I should not erase history but learn from it.

Read more at Daily Princetonian

More about: American Civil War, American Jewish History, Art, Cancel culture

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy