Why Anti-Semitism Has Not Blossomed in Eastern Europe

When the totalitarian regimes of the Eastern bloc collapsed in 1989, some predicted a return of virulent anti-Semitism. Certainly, it has not disappeared. But the new governments have been overwhelmingly less hostile toward Jews than their predecessors. Paul Berman argues that this is because anti-Semitism and liberty are incompatible:

The anti-Communist revolutions of circa 1989 turned out to be one of the greatest moments of liberation the Jews have ever known: a magna-event in the history of anti-anti-Semitism, and likewise in the history of anti-anti-Semitism’s political subset, which is anti-anti-Zionism. . . .

It was liberalism that brought [this] about. Naturally not everything that took place during the East-bloc revolutions drew on liberal inspirations, which meant that, here and there, populists and priests with old-fashioned manias about the Jews rose to prominence and issued denunciations in a 1930s style, or in a 12th-century style. But the manias did not seem to get anywhere. The larger trend in Eastern Europe veered in liberal directions, even if vaguely; and a malign obsession with the Jews is antithetical to the liberal principle.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Anti-Semitism, Communism, Eastern Europe, European Jewry, Ukraine, Vaclav Havel

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security