Ukraine’s Jewish History, Its Present Crisis, and Where Israel Fits In

Jan. 3 2023
About Ruth

Ruth R. Wisse is professor emerita of Yiddish and comparative literatures at Harvard and a distinguished senior fellow at Tikvah. Her memoir Free as a Jew: a Personal Memoir of National Self-Liberation, chapters of which appeared in Mosaic in somewhat different form, is out from Wicked Son Press.

In conversation with Eli Lake, Ruth R. Wisse considers the long history of Ukrainian Jewry—including the many episodes of violent persecution Jews suffered at Ukrainian hands from the 17th century until the 20th—and the way this history is portrayed in such great works of Yiddish literature as Sholem Aleichem’s Tevye the Dairyman. The two then go on to explore the moral significance of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, what it means for the Jews, the significance of the fact that this country is now being led in a fight for its freedom by a Jewish former comedian, and, finally, what risks Israel should and should not take to aid it in this fight. (Audio, 68 minutes.)

Read more at Re-Education

More about: Anti-Semitism, Sholem Aleichem, Ukrainian Jews, Volodymyr Zelensky, War in Ukraine


Iran’s Options for Revenge on Israel

On April 1, an Israeli airstrike on Damascus killed three Iranian generals, one of whom was the seniormost Iranian commander in the region. The IDF has been targeting Iranian personnel and weaponry in Syria for over a decade, but the killing of such a high-ranking figure raises the stakes significantly. In the past several days, Israelis have received a number of warnings both from the press and from the home-front command to ready themselves for retaliatory attacks. Jonathan Spyer considers what shape that attack might take:

Tehran has essentially four broad options. It could hit an Israeli or Jewish facility overseas using either Iranian state forces (option one), or proxies (option two). . . . Then there’s the third option: Tehran could also direct its proxies to strike Israel directly. . . . Finally, Iran could strike Israeli soil directly (option four). It is the riskiest option for Tehran, and would be likely to precipitate open war between the regime and Israel.

Tehran will consider all four options carefully. It has failed to retaliate in kind for a number of high-profile assassinations of its operatives in recent years. . . . A failure to respond, or staging too small a response, risks conveying a message of weakness. Iran usually favors using proxies over staging direct attacks. In an unkind formulation common in Israel, Tehran is prepared to “fight to the last Arab.”

Read more at Spectator

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria