One of the 20th-Century’s Greatest War Correspondents Was Also a Committed Zionist Who Helped Expose Nazi Crimes

One of the great war correspondents of the 20th century and a gifted writer, Martha Gellhorn (1908–1998) may be best known because of her five-year-long marriage to Ernest Hemingway. Gellhorn also had Jewish ancestry on both sides, and on the eve of World War II she expressed—in Rachel Shteir’s words—“growing moral outrage about the Nazis’ intentions and the absence of heroes to stop them.” Shteir writes:

It was after the Munich Pact that [Gellhorn] began to understand the crisis of the refugees who had fled Germany to the Sudetenland, now being annexed by the Nazis. She made two trips to Czechoslovakia, which she wrote about for Collier’s. No one listened. So, she wrote a polemical novel, A Stricken Field, published in 1940, about a writer reporting on the crisis of Jewish refugees in Czechoslovakia. The book contains horror stories based on Gellhorn’s experience pleading with the League of Nations high commissioner for refugees for help to no avail. Like the journalist who was one heroine of the book, Gellhorn judged herself inadequate to help the world stop the tragedy. “What I have is patience, care, honor, detail, endurance, and subject matter. And what I do not have is magic.”

After sneaking herself onto a U.S. navy ship so she could witness, and report on, D-Day—something her famous husband wished to do but was unable to—she went on to be one of the first journalists to visit Dachau. But it was not until after the war that she became a committed Zionist:

This brave soul who never thought of herself as a mother or a wife until midlife also never thought of herself as a Jewish writer, or even a Jew. But the same year [1949] she adopted [an Italian orphan], she made her first trip to Israel, where she felt that “something good” would come out of the war. She would write many pieces about the country and even considered writing a book about it. She was enchanted by Israel in a way she had not been by a country since Spain: it served as a hero for her, filling in where individual people had failed.

In one of her most famous pieces, “The Arabs of Palestine” she drew attention to Arab leaders’ efforts to turn Palestinian refugees into pawns in their war with Israel—and to deluge them with anti-Semitic propaganda. Shteir continues:

In 1967, Gellhorn returned to Israel to write about the Six-Day War. She filed pieces on it for the Nation, the Guardian, and Vogue, [publications that have since turned relentlessly anti-Israel]. She still considered Israelis heroes and Arabs villains. She admired Israelis’ informality, the way they comported themselves in war, and seems at times more Zionist than her friend Moshe Dayan. In the Vogue piece, she writes of “the glorious, incredible, matter-of-fact, Israeli army” which “seems to operate on the revolutionary principle that everyone is glad to be there.” She writes that “the secret weapon of Israel is Israelis.”

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Ernest Hemingway, Holocaust, Journalism, Moshe Dayan, Palestinian refugees

Will Costco Go to Israel?

Social-media users have mocked this week new Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich for a poorly translated letter. But far more interesting than the finance minister’s use of Google Translate (or some such technology) is what the letter reveals about the Jewish state. In it, Smotrich asks none other than Costco to consider opening stores in Israel.

Why?

Israel, reports Sharon Wrobel, has one of the highest costs of living of any country in the 38-member Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

This

has been generally attributed to a lack of competition among local importers and manufacturers. The top three local supermarket chains account for over half of the food retail market, limiting competition and putting upward pressure on prices. Meanwhile, import tariffs, value-added tax costs and kosher restrictions have been keeping out international retail chains.

Is the move likely to happen?

“We do see a recent trend of international retailers entering the Israeli market as some barriers to food imports from abroad have been eased,” Chen Herzog, chief economist at BDO Israel accounting firm, told The Times of Israel. “The purchasing power and technology used by big global retailers for logistics and in the area of online sales where Israel has been lagging behind could lead to a potential shift in the market and more competitive prices.”

Still, the same economist noted that in Israel “the cost of real estate and other costs such as the VAT on fruit and vegetables means that big retailers such as Costco may not be able to offer the same competitive prices than in other places.”

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Costco, Israel & Zionism