Danny Kaye: Actor, Singer, Dancer, Comedian, and Zionist

March 5 2019

Sunday marked the 32nd anniversary of the death of Danny Kaye, who had a series of leading Hollywood roles in the 1940s and 50s, in addition to a successful career onstage and on television. In 1956, he made the first of many visits to Israel, a country he supported staunchly throughout his life. Meirav Kaminsky—the granddaughter of Kaye’s Israeli cousin—describes Kaye’s commitment to the Jewish people and the Jewish state:

[Kaye] is fondly remembered for having conducted the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra at a number of benefit performances for Israel, which he . . . unconditionally supported during difficult periods, including wartime. . . .

In the . . . television drama Skokie (1981), based on a true story, Kaye played the role of Max Feldman, a Jewish Holocaust survivor who was one of the leaders of the protest against the proposed neo-Nazi march through the suburb of Skokie, Illinois, home to many Jewish Holocaust survivors. The elderly Kaye was already suffering from heart disease, but he insisted on playing the part despite his declining health. . . .

On leaving Israel after his first visit, he said:

As the moment of my leaving this country approaches, I am filled with more and more sadness. I want you to know that I leave Israel a different man than when I arrived. My visit to Israel was the greatest experience of my life. I was given a new perspective. My faith is renewed. . . . I plan to return to Israel soon, maybe even sooner than you think. But then I won’t come as a representative of the UN or as an American “star,” or even as a tourist—I will come as a simple Jew.

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More about: American Jewish History, Arts & Culture, Hollywood, Israel & Zionism

War with Iran Isn’t on the Horizon. So Why All the Arguments against It?

As the U.S. has responded to Iranian provocations in the Persian Gulf, various observers in the press have argued that National Security Advisor John Bolton somehow seeks to drag President Trump into a war with Iran against his will. Matthew Continetti points out the absurdities of this argument, and its origins:

Never mind that President Trump, Vice-President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, and Bolton have not said a single word about a preemptive strike, much less a full-scale war, against Iran. Never mind that the president’s reluctance for overseas intervention is well known. The “anti-war” cries are not about context, and they are certainly not about deterring Iran. Their goal is saving President Obama’s nuclear deal by manipulating Trump into firing Bolton and extending a lifeline to the regime.

It’s a storyline that originated in Iran. Toward the end of April, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif showed up in New York and gave an interview to Reuters where he said, “I don’t think [Trump] wants war,” but “that doesn’t exclude him basically being lured into one” by Bolton. . . . And now this regime talking point is everywhere. “It’s John Bolton’s world. Trump is just living in it,” write two former Obama officials in the Los Angeles Times. “John Bolton is Donald Trump’s war whisperer,” writes Peter Bergen on CNN.com. . . .

Recall Obama’s deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes’s admission to the New York Times Magazine in 2016 [that] “We created an echo chamber” to attack the Iran deal’s opponents through leaks and tips to the D.C. press. . . . Members of the echo chamber aren’t for attacking Iran, but they are all for slandering its American opponents. The latest target is Bolton. . . .

The Iranians are in a box. U.S. sanctions are crushing the economy, but if they leave the agreement with Europe they will be back to square one. To escape the box you try to punch your way out. That’s why Iran has assumed a threatening posture: provoking an American attack could bolster waning domestic support for the regime and divide the Western alliance.

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More about: Barack Obama, Iran, Javad Zarif, John Bolton, U.S. Foreign policy