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.

Read more at Forward

More about: Israeli history, Israeli media, Yiddish

Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security