How a Leading Hebraist Party Boosted Israel’s Yiddish Press

Beginning in 1949 and throughout the 1950s, Israeli leaders frequently pressured the citizens of their new state to speak and read Hebrew. But as Rachel Rojanski documents, they also recognized the importance of catering to the country’s Yiddish-reading public. Because of this, the ruling socialist party, Mapai (the precursor of today’s Labor), “became the first public body in Israel to publish a Yiddish newspaper.” Despite the fact that Mapai’s “leaders held the reins of power . . . and spearheaded the country’s militant Hebraist policy,” she notes, they ultimately published two.

Few Jews in Israel or abroad today know that during the 1950s, about 100 Yiddish newspapers and periodicals were launched in the Jewish state. Some were short-lived, while others came out for a number of years, even decades. Between 1948 and 1970, 20 to 30 Yiddish newspapers and periodicals were published in Israel each year.

Only a small number of these periodicals were privately owned; the most prestigious of them being the leading daily, Letste nayes (“Latest News”), which went out regularly for five decades. Most private owners of Yiddish newspapers were new immigrants, often Holocaust survivors, who had been journalists or newspaper editors in Europe and wanted to renew the publication of an older paper in Israel.

But these privately owned newspapers were in the minority. The overwhelming majority of publications in Yiddish were issued by public organizations and institutions, such as Israel’s national trade-union center, Histadrut, or by political parties who were interested in reaching out to Yiddish readers, especially the immigrants, because throughout the 1950s the Yiddish-speaking public was regarded as highly literate, making it attractive to publishers looking for political or financial gain. Of course, to attract that audience and hold its attention, these had to be quality papers with a range of content, including literary and cultural content.

In paradoxical fashion, then, many of the same people and organizations that were opposed to Yiddish for ideological reasons actually contributed to the development of a vibrant Yiddish press in Israel.

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Read more at Forward

More about: Israeli history, Israeli media, Yiddish

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship