The British Royal Family and Jewish Refugees

In honor of the recent platinum jubilee celebrated by Queen Elizabeth II, David Herman briefly surveys the numerous interactions between those Jews who fled Central Europe for England after the Nazis’ rise to power and the House of Windsor. Herman cites the observation of the historian Anthony Grenville that these refugees “developed a surprising degree of regard for the British royal family.” One story, not about Queen Elizabeth but about her mother, stands out:

Gretel Salinger . . . was invited to a garden party held at Buckingham Palace in 1945 for those who had done notable war work. She spoke to the queen (later the queen mother): “‘Where have you come from?’ [the queen asked]. I ought to have said: ‘From Paddington,’ but what did I say? I said: ‘I come from Germany.’ She looked at me and said: ‘And you are invited here to this party?’ I said: ‘Yes, Your Majesty. I have worked very hard during the war and I have collected millions [sic] of pounds for the war effort.’ ‘Oh,’ she said, ‘You mean you are a refugee from Germany.’ ‘Of course, Your Majesty.’ ‘That’s different, my dear child. I’m glad you have escaped and made your way here.’

“Where I took my courage from I still cannot say, but I said: ‘Yes, Your Majesty, but may I tell you what happened to my family?’ She said: ‘Yes.’ ‘All my family have been killed in Auschwitz.’ She made a gesture, [as if] shielding herself. She said: ‘If only I hadn’t asked you.’ I said: ‘On the contrary, Your Majesty, ‘this is my kaddish, the prayer we Jews have for the dead, that I could tell their fate to my queen.’ She took both my hands and she pressed them and said: ‘My darling child, I hope nothing else bad will happen to you and that you will enjoy your life and God bless you.’ I stood there crying, crying.”

Read more at AJR Journal

More about: Anglo-Jewry, Holocaust, Queen Elizabeth II, Refugees, United Kingdom


Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy