The Zionist Heroes Who Weren’t Afraid to Tell the Truth

In his book And None Shall Make Them Afraid, Rick Richman provides eight portraits (parts of which first appeared in Mosaic) of courageous Jews who played a role in the creation of the state of Israel. Alongside such better-known figures as Theodor Herzl and Chaim Weizmann, Richman examines the playwright and screenwriter Ben Hecht, who turned his considerable talents and extensive show-business connections first to alerting Americans to the Holocaust and then to raising financial support for the nascent Jewish state—in ways that were far too bold for the American Jewish establishment. Seth Mandel writes in his review:

Hecht did not live an avowedly Jewish life, and that is important. . . . In fact, the Herzls and the Hechts were the perfect Paul Reveres for precisely that reason. The observant Jew could tell you that assimilation would not save you from anti-Semitic regimes, but the plight of the secular, integrated Jew proved it. A novella published by Hecht seven months after Kristallnacht features a “global pogrom,” after which its narrator says: “We who had gone to sleep the night before on the borrowed pillow of civilization woke in the Dark Ages. . . . We were Jews again.”

Hecht himself recounted a telephone conversation with Rabbi Stephen Wise, trying to talk him out of staging his 1943 pageant about the Holocaust, We Will Never Die. Wise, then the foremost representative of American Jewry, believed it poor taste for American Jews to call public attention to the mass-murder of their coreligionists in Europe:

Hecht hung up, annoyed and unbowed. Wise may not have liked the script, but First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, in the audience when the play came to Washington, was blown away. Perhaps Hecht knew better than Wise how to get the attention of those in power: not with meek flattery but by making “the free world” stare right into its own hypocrisy and using the money from ticket prices to make sure that the Jews fighting for their survival might have the necessary guns and ammunition to do so. Ben Hecht was not sorry to bother you.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Ben Hecht, Israeli history, Theodor Herzl


Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy