Kenya, Jews, and Zionism—through the Eyes of the Late Kenyan President’s Jewish Personal Physician

Last month, the former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi—who governed his country from 1978 to 2002—died in Nairobi. Among the many speakers at the funeral was an American Jew named David Silverstein, who was Moi’s personal physician for over four decades. Kenya and Zionism have a long history: the so-called “Uganda plan,” presented to Theodor Herzl by the British colonial secretary in 1903, would have created a Jewish homeland in what is now Kenya; since Israel’s creation, Kenya has had better relations with the Jewish state than have most African countries, and Moi visited it several times. Interviewed by Geoffrey Clarfield, Silverstein elaborates:

The first Jews [in Kenya] were largely of East European origin, some of whom came through South Africa. Most became businessmen and middlemen of various sorts, like hoteliers, but some were also ranchers and farmers, and there were a few doctors and lawyers. Although they were never fully accepted by the British and were excluded from their private golf and social clubs until 1954, they married among each other, worked hard, abided by the law, fought for the British in two world wars, and built three synagogues. They also fought very hard to help bring to Kenya 1,000 German Jewish refugees who were fleeing the Nazis during the late 1930s.

Kenya had good relations with Israel until the 1973 Arab oil embargo, when Nairobi severed ties with Jerusalem in the hope of getting cheaper oil.

Moi managed to restore official diplomatic relations with the state of Israel before the Oslo Accords and before Israel established embassies once again in the non-Arab League Muslim [countries]. Moi was particularly wary of the money, the radical preachers, and the mosques that the Libyans and Iranians were pouring into Kenya. He feared that would give a reason for local Muslims to engage in acts of terror. He was right.

In 1998, local members of al-Qaeda bombed the U.S. embassy in downtown Nairobi, killing 213 people, with an estimated 4,000 wounded. Moi called in the Israelis, who brought in search and rescue teams and a portable field hospital to help the victims.

I find that most Kenyans are more pro-Israel than the average European. Even many among the various Kenyan Muslim communities are sympathetic to Israel in a way that cannot be imagined anywhere else. Many Kenyan Muslims have gone to Israel for agricultural training.

Read more at Tablet

More about: African Jewry, Al Qaeda, Israeli history, Theodor Herzl


How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus