Something unusual has begun in the Washington-New York corridor. Journalists and policy analysts have begun a critical public discussion about President Obamas understanding (or misunderstanding) of the significance and nature of the anti-Semitism of the Iranian regime. They are asking how his view on that subject affects prospects for a nuclear deal to stop the ayatollahs from getting the bomb. Insights about the history and nature of anti-Semitism that we historians have elaborated over the years are finding their way into the pages of several of our major newspapers and at least one important policy-related international relations journal.
The President himself, apparently stung by criticism that his approach to Iran is facilitating rather than preventing its path to the bomb and that he bears primary responsibility for the tensions in American-Israeli relations, initiated this discussion when he recently gave an extensive interview to The Atlantic magazine journalist Jeffrey Goldberg. The interview was published on May 21. Then, on May 22, the President spoke at Adas Israel, a Conservative Washington, D.C. synagogue whose congregants include many of the citys politics and policy leaders. There, the President spoke of unbreakable bonds and a friendship that cannot be broken between the United States and Israel. He said he was interested in a deal that blocks every single one of Irans pathways to a nuclear weapon every single path. The President eloquently recalled the role American Jews played in the Civil Rights Movement and spoke of the values we share. A week later, foreign policy analyst Michael Doran, whose excellent commentary about Iran I have discussed previously in this blog, wrote a Letter to My Liberal Jewish Friends in which he argued that the existence of shared values, though important, was not the key issue. It was, instead, the necessary criticism of Obamas policies towards Irans nuclear program.
In the interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, the President finally laid out in public for the first time his view of the role of anti-Semitism in the government in Tehran. As a historian who has written a great deal about anti-Semitism, I welcome this terribly belated public discussion of anti-Semitism in the American foreign policy world. A year ago almost to the day, on June 2, 2014, I published Taking Irans Anti-Semitism Seriously in the American Interest magazine. Adam Garfinkle, that journals fine editor, combines an insiders grasp of US foreign relations with an understanding of the nature of anti-Semitism, which he discussed in an essay in 2012. In my essay, I wrote:
The scholarship on the history of anti-Semitism hasnt yet had a significant impact on the policy discussions in Washington about Iran. Perhaps too many of our policymakers, politicians, and analysts still labor under the mistaken idea that radical anti-Semitism is merely another form of prejudice or, worse, an understandable (and hence excusable?) response to the conflict between Israel, the Arab states, and the Palestinians. In fact it is something far more dangerous, and far less compatible with a system of nuclear deterrence, which assumes that all parties place a premium on their own survival. Irans radical anti-Semitism is not in the slightest bit rational; it is a paranoid conspiracy theory that proposes to make sense (or rather nonsense) of the world by claiming that the powerful and evil Jew is the driving force in global politics. Leaders who attribute enormous evil and power to the 13 million Jews in the world and to a tiny Middle Eastern state with about eight million citizens have demonstrated that they dont have a suitable disposition for playing nuclear chess.
On April 6 I returned to these themes in this blog: The Iran Deal and Anti-Semitism. Here I expressed concern about Obamas reference to the practical streak in the Iranian government. So I was very pleased to see that Goldberg had decided to raise precisely this issue in his now much-discussedwithin some circlesinterview with the President. Goldberg thought it was difficult to negotiate with people who are captive to a conspiratorial anti-Semitic worldview not because they hold offensive views, but in his words because they hold ridiculous views. Obama responded as follows:
Well the fact that you a re anti-Semitic, or racist, doesnt preclude you from being interested in survival. It doesnt preclude you from being rational about the need to keep your economy afloat; it doesnt preclude you from making strategic decisions about how you stay in power; and so the fact that the supreme leader is anti-Semitic doesnt mean that this overrides all of his other considerations.
In reply to Goldbergs oblique comment that anti-Semitic European leaders had made irrational decisions, Obama stated:
They may make irrational decisions with respect to discrimination, with respect to trying to use anti-Semitic rhetoric as an organizing tool. At the margins, where the costs are low, they may pursue policies based on hatred as opposed to self-interest. But the costs here are not low, and what weve been very clear [about] to the Iranian regime over the past six years is that we will continue to ratchet up the costs, not simply for their anti-Semitism, but also for whatever expansionist ambitions they may have. Thats what the sanctions represent. Thats what the military option Ive made clear I preserve represents. And so I think it is not at all contradictory to say that there are deep strains of anti-Semitism in the core regime, but that they also are interested in maintaining power, having some semblance of legitimacy inside their own country, which requires that they get themselves out of what is a deep economic rut that weve put them in, and on that basis they are then willing and prepared potentially to strike an agreement on their nuclear program.
Because Goldberg spoke vaguely about European leaders, the President either did not have to or did not choose that moment to speak about his understanding of the role of anti-Semitism in the Nazi regime and during the Holocaust. That is unfortunate, because it seemsto this historian at leastthat his grasp of the subject leaves something to be desired. The consensus among the numerous scholars who have worked on the subject is that for the Nazis, anti-Semitism was not primarily a form of discrimination or an organizing tool. It was an ideology that justified mass murder and did so not for the ulterior purpose of organizing others but because they believed that exterminating the Jews in the world would save Germany from destruction and eliminate the primary source of evil in the world. The extermination was carried out for the sake of these beliefs. Nor was this ideology at the margins of Nazi policy; it was at its center. The Presidents comments to Goldberg raise questions about whether the President fully or accurately understands the link between ideology and policy during the Holocaust. As I wrote in The Jewish Enemy, the Nazi leadership interpreted the entire Second World War through the prism of anti-Semitic paranoia in such a way as to interpret the war as one, incredibly, launched by world Jewry to exterminate the German people. Anti-Semitism then was a key interpretive framework that the Nazis employed to misunderstand the political realities of the time. If the President understands this dimension of anti-Semitism it was not evident in his interview with Goldberg.
Of course, Nazi Germany is gone and Hitler is dead. So a policy question facing any President of the United States now and in years to come remains the following: What is the place and the nature of anti-Semitism in the Iranian regime, and what impact does this ideology have on its foreign and military policy toward the United States and its allies, including Israel? For the first time in his six years in office, the President publicly acknowledged what scholarly observers of Iran, such as Tel Aviv Universitys Meir Litvak, among others, have pointed out for the past two decades, namely that indeed there are deep strains of anti-Semitism in the core regime. Aside from the obvious rejections of Mahmoud Ahmadinejads Holocaust-denial circus, this may have been the first time that any official of the United States government during the Obama years has said anything remotely approaching the Presidents remark about deep strainsin the core regime. On the contrary, during this era of euphemism, even pointing to the regimes radical anti-Semitism could raise suspicions of Islamophobia. So President Obamas long-overdue acknowledgment of what has been obvious to informed observers for decades is most welcome. Yet, in the same sentence in which he acknowledged this inconvenient truth, he suggested that the ideological imperative would give way to practical and rational interests in maintaining power. In so doing, he diminishes the impact of the ayatollahs radical anti-Semitism on the whole spectrum of Irans foreign and military policy.
By Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. Adapted by Wendy Kesselman. Directed by Jillian Keiley. Until Oct. 10 at the Avon Theatre. 1-800-567-1600
STRATFORDHow can one of the most powerful stories of our time, acted by a superb cast, wind up as a less than satisfying theatrical experience?
Ask Jillian Keiley, because it was her direction that turned Thursday nights premiere of The Diary of Anne Frank into such a mishmash.
My heart sank as soon as I saw Bretta Gereckes set, a large, looming box made out of wooden slats. It looked nothing like the cramped garret where eight hunted Jews hid out from the marauding Nazis in the Amsterdam of the 1940s.
It didnt take a major act of clairvoyance to see that it would probably be transformed in the plays final minutes into the lethal boxcars that took people to the death camps, but why destroy any sense of realism or mood for the two hours before that?
My heart continued plummeting when the entire cast came out and addressed us all with personal anecdotes that tried to tangentially connect them to the world of the show and then vanished upstage to become part of a wordless a cappella chorus that crooned Jonathan Monros sentimental music for far too much of the show.
If there ever was a story that needed no adornment, no sentiment and no fixing of any kind, its that of Anne Frank, the precocious young woman who kept a diary chronicling the brave struggle of her family and other companions in that attic in solitude for several years.
As originally dramatized by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, then later amplified by Wendy Kesselman, its a work of great power that cant help but wring the heart . . . unless its meddled with.
Even in this production, there were some long, extended scenes, like the touching Chanukah celebration that ends Act I, when the script and the actors were allowed to work their magic.
And what actors! Sara Farb continues her winning streak of Stratford performances with an Anne who is honest and feisty and totally real, someone we love because of her faults, not despite them.
Polish Jews Polscy ydzi Total population est. 1,300,000+ Regions with significant populations Poland 80,000+ (~12,000 in registered communities)[verification needed] Israel 1,250,000 (ancestry, passport eligible); 202,300 (citizenship) Languages Hebrew, Polish, Yiddish Religion Judaism Related ethnic groups Other Ashkenazi Jews: Lithuanian Jews, Russian Jews, Ukrainian Jews, German Jews, also Sephardi.
The history of the Jews in Poland dates back over 800 years. For centuries, Poland was home to the largest and most significant Jewish community in the world. Poland was the centre of Jewish culture thanks to a long period of statutory religious tolerance and social autonomy. This ended with the Partitions of Poland which began in 1772, in particular, with the discrimination and persecution of Jews in the Russian Empire. During World War II there was a nearly complete genocidal destruction of the Polish Jewish community by Nazi Germany, during the 19391945 German occupation of Poland and the ensuing Holocaust. Since the fall of Communism there has been a Jewish revival in Poland, characterized by the annual Jewish Culture Festival, new study programmes at Polish high schools and universities, the work of synagogues such as the Nozyk, and the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
From the founding of the Kingdom of Poland in 1025 through to the early years of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth created in 1569, Poland was the most tolerant country in Europe. Known as paradisus Iudaeorum (Latin for “Paradise for the Jews”), it became a shelter for persecuted and expelled European Jewish communities and the home to the world’s largest Jewish community of the time. According to some sources, about three-quarters of all Jews lived in Poland by the middle of the 16th century. With the weakening of the Commonwealth and growing religious strife (due to the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation), Polands traditional tolerance began to wane from the 17th century onward. After the partitions of Poland in 1795 and the destruction of Poland as a sovereign state, Polish Jews were subject to the laws of the partitioning powers, the increasingly antisemitic Russian Empire, as well as Austro-Hungary and Kingdom of Prussia (later a part of the German Empire). Still, as Poland regained independence in the aftermath of World War I, it was the center of the European Jewish world with one of world’s largest Jewish communities of over 3 million. Antisemitism, however, from both the political establishment and from the general population, common throughout Europe, was a growing problem.
At the start of World War II, Poland was partitioned between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union (see MolotovRibbentrop Pact). The war resulted in the death of one-fifth of the Polish population, with 90% or about 3 million of Polish Jewry killed along with approximately 3 million Polish non-Jews. Although the Holocaust occurred largely in German-occupied Poland, there was little collaboration with the Nazis by its citizens. Collaboration by individual Poles has been described as smaller than in other occupied countries. Statistics of the Israeli War Crimes Commission indicate that less than 0.1% of Polish gentiles collaborated with the Nazis. Examples of Polish gentile attitudes to German atrocities varied widely, from actively risking death in order to save Jewish lives, and passive refusal to inform on them; to indifference, blackmail, and in extreme cases, participation in pogroms such as the Jedwabne pogrom. Grouped by nationality, Poles represent the largest number of people who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.
In the postwar period, many of the approximately 200,000 Jewish survivors registered at Central Committee of Polish Jews or CKP (of whom 136,000 arrived from the Soviet Union) left the Communist People’s Republic of Poland for the nascent State of Israel and North or South America. Their departure was hastened by the destruction of Jewish institutions, post-war violence and the hostility of the Communist Party to both religion and private enterprise, but also because in 19461947 Poland was the only Eastern Bloc country to allow free Jewish aliyah to Israel, without visas or exit permits. Britain demanded Poland to halt the exodus, but their pressure was largely unsuccessful. Most of the remaining Jews left Poland in late 1968 as the result of the Soviet-sponsored “anti-Zionist” campaign. After the fall of the Communist regime in 1989, the situation of Polish Jews became normalized and those who were Polish citizens before World War II were allowed to renew Polish citizenship. Religious institutions were revived, largely through the activities of Jewish foundations from the United States. The contemporary Polish Jewish community is estimated to have approximately 20,000 members, though the actual number of Jews, including those who are not actively connected to Judaism or Jewish culture, may be several times larger.
Jews originated from the Israelite tribes of the Middle East. Initially, large numbers moved and lived in Greece (including the Greek isles in the Aegean and Crete) as early as the early part of the 3rd century B.C.E. The first recorded mention of Judaism in Greece dates from 300-250 Before Common Era (BCE) on the island of Rhodes. and in Rome at least since the 1st century B.C.E. (Although They may even have established a community there as early as the second century B.C.E, for in the year 139 B.C. the pretor Hispanus issued a decree expelling all Jews who were not Italian citizens). Then by late antiquity Jewish communities were found in modern day France and Germany. Afterwards, due to various pogroms that took place during the Middle Ages, they fled mostly to Poland and Lithuania, and from there spread over the rest of Eastern Europe.
The first Jews arrived in the territory of modern Poland in the 10th century. By travelling along the trade routes leading eastwards to Kiev and Bukhara, Jewish merchants, known as Radhanites, crossed the areas of Silesia. One of them, a diplomat and merchant from the Moorish town of Tortosa in Spanish Al-Andalus, known under his Arabic name of Ibrahim ibn Jakub, was the first chronicler to mention the Polish state under the rule of prince Mieszko I. The first actual mention of Jews in Polish chronicles occurs in the 11th century. It appears that Jews were then living in Gniezno, at that time the capital of the Polish kingdom of the Piast dynasty. The first permanent Jewish community is mentioned in 1085 by a Jewish scholar Jehuda ha-Kohen in the city of Przemyl.
The first extensive Jewish emigration from Western Europe to Poland occurred at the time of the First Crusade in 1098. Under Bolesaw III (11021139), the Jews, encouraged by the tolerant regime of this ruler, settled throughout Poland, including over the border in Lithuanian territory as far as Kiev. Bolesaw III for his part recognized the utility of the Jews in the development of the commercial interests of his country. The Jews came to form the backbone of the Polish economy and the coins minted by Mieszko III even bear Hebraic markings. Jews enjoyed undisturbed peace and prosperity in the many principalities into which the country was then divided; they formed the middle class in a country where the general population consisted of landlords (developing into szlachta, the unique Polish nobility) and peasants, and they were instrumental in promoting the commercial interests of the land.
Another factor for the Jews to emigrate to Poland was the Magdeburg Recht, or Magdeburg Law, a charter given to the Jews, among others, that specifically outlined the rights and privileges that Jews had coming into Poland. For example, they could define their neighborhoods and economic competitors and set up monopolies. This made it very attractive for Jewish communities to pick up and move to Poland.
Gesta principum Polonorum states that Princess Judith of Bohemia, wife of Polish Prince Wadysaw I Herman ransomed many Christians with her own money from the bondage of the Jews.
Nicols Fox moved to the Radio Quiet Zone to escape electromagnetic forces
Courtesy of Christine Fitzpatrick
You can turn your phone on in Green Bank, W.Va., but you wont get a trace of a signal. If you hit scan on your cars radio, itll cycle through the dial endlessly, never pausing on a station. This remote mountainous town is inside the U.S. National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13,000square-mile area where most types of electromagnetic radiation on the radio spectrum (which includes radio and TV broadcasts, Wi-Fi networks, cell signals, Bluetooth, and the signals used by virtually every other wireless device) are banned to minimize disturbance around the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, home to the worlds largest steerable radio telescope.
For most people, this restriction is a nuisance. But a few dozen people have moved to Green Bank (population: 147) specifically because of it. They say they suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity, or EHSa disease not recognized by the scientific community in which these frequencies can trigger acute symptoms like dizziness, nausea, rashes, irregular heartbeat, weakness, and chest pains. Diane Schou came here with her husband in 2007 because radio-frequency exposure anywhere else she went gave her constant headaches. Life isnt perfect here. Theres no grocery store, no restaurants, no hospital nearby, she told me when I visited her house last month. But here, at least, I’m healthy. I can do things. I’m not in bed with a headache all the time.
The idea that radio frequencies can cause harm to the human body isnt entirely absurd. Some research has suggested that long-term exposure to power lines and cellphones is associated with an increased chance of cancer, although most evidence says otherwise. But what these people claimthat exposure to electromagnetic frequencies can immediately cause pain and ill healthis relatively novel, has little medical research to support it, and is treated with deep skepticism by the scientific mainstream.
That hasnt stopped them from seeking to publicize the dangers of wireless technology. One of the most prominent activists in the field, Arthur Firstenberg, gained notoriety in 2010 for suing his Santa Fe neighbor for the effects of her Wi-Fi network. But he began organizing EHS-sufferers way back in 1996when digital cellular networks were initially installed across the countryforming the Cellular Phone Task Force and publishing Microwaving Our Planet, one of the first books on the topic. In the years since, a fringe movement has grown around the idea, with some 30 support groups worldwide for those affected by radiation. The purported epidemic is particularly concentrated in the United Kingdom and Sweden, where surveys have found that 1 to 4 percent of the population believes theyre affected.
Here in the United States, West Virginias Radio Quiet Zone has become a gathering place for the hypersensitive since the mid-2000s, when they first began arriving. Most find out about the area through EHS groups, at conferences, or by reading about it in the handful of news reports published over the last few years. Diane Schou estimates that, so far, 36 people like her have settled in and around the tiny town to escape radiation.
When you walk in the Schous two-story brick house, 4 miles up a forested road from the Green Bank post office, the first item you see might be a radiation meter they keep in their living room. She and her husband, Bert, moved here from Cedar Falls, Iowa, because they believe Diane is sensitive to very specific radio frequencies. She first began noticing her sensitivity in 2002, she says, when U.S. Cellular, a wireless provider based in the Midwest, built a tower near their farm. I was extremely tired, but I couldn’t sleep at night, she said. I got a rash, I had hair loss, my skin was wrinkled, and I just thought it was something I ate, or getting older.” After she started getting severe headaches, she heard about EHS from a friend and did some reading online, and eventually came to believe the tower had triggered her latent sensitivity. She went for a consultation at the Mayo Clinic, but doctors refused to consider the possibility, and when she wrote to the FCC complaining about the tower, they simply replied by saying it was safe.
Over the next four years, she repeatedly left the farm to search for a safe place, traveling through Scandinavia (where their son was studying abroad) and logging more than 75,000 miles driving across the United States in their RV. Shed find relatively safe spots but still got pounding headaches and chest pains from a range of triggers: if someone nearby turned on his phone, if she drove past a signal tower, if a neighbor next door used a coffee maker. It would be like a sledgehammer on top of my head, she said. Initially, only U.S. Cellular phones had harmed her, but eventually, being near any electrical device was a risk. (Virtually all devices that use electricity, even if they dont rely on wireless signals, emit a low level of radiation.)
Then, in 2007, she learned about the Radio Quiet Zone. When she visited, she finally started to feel better. She and Bert sold half of their Iowa farmland and bought the house in West Virginia, unfinished, and have since installed wiring with thick insulation to reduce radiation. (Bertwho gets much milder symptoms of EHS, including tinnitusstill goes back to their farm every summer to conduct corn research.) Over time, living without exposure reduced Dianes sensitivity, and she can now tolerate many devices without pain. The Schous use a landline and an Internet-connected computer (without Wi-Fi). But they still havent found a refrigerator with low enough radiation emissions, so Diane manually fills an icebox with ice each day. Even now, if she leaves the Radio Quiet Zone, exposure can set her off: I’ll say, Oh, I have a headache, and then someone’s cellphone will ring, she said. This happens time and time again.
The State of Palestine[i] (Arabic: Dawlat Filasn) is a de jure sovereign state in the Middle East.Its independence was declared on 15 November 1988 by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Algiers as a government-in-exile. The State of Palestine claims the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and has designated Jerusalem as its capital,[ii] with partial control of those areas assumed in 1994 as the Palestinian Authority. Most of the areas claimed by the State of Palestine have been occupied by Israel since 1967 in the aftermath of the Six-Day War. The State of Palestine applied for United Nations (UN) membership in 2011 but in 2012 was granted a non-member observer state status. The October 1974 Arab League summit designated the PLO as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” and reaffirmed “their right to establish an independent state of urgency.” In November 1974, the PLO was recognized as competent on all matters concerning the question of Palestine by the UN General Assembly granting them observer status as a “non-state entity” at the UN. After the 1988 Declaration of Independence, the UN General Assembly officially “acknowledged” the proclamation and decided to use the designation “Palestine” instead of “Palestine Liberation Organization” in the UN. In spite of this decision, the PLO did not participate at the UN in its capacity of the State of Palestine’s government. In 1993, in the Oslo Accords, Israel acknowledged the PLO negotiating team as “representing the Palestinian people”, in return for the PLO recognizing Israel’s right to exist in peace, acceptance of UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, and its rejection of “violence and terrorism”. As a result, in 1994 the PLO established the Palestinian National Authority (PNA or PA) territorial administration, that exercises some governmental functions[iii] in parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In 2007, the Hamas takeover of Gaza Strip politically and territorially divided the Palestinians, with Abbas’s Fatah left largely ruling the West Bank and recognized internationally as the official Palestinian Authority, while Hamas has secured its control over the Gaza Strip.
MEET THE SISTER ANNE FRANK HARDLY KNEW IN “ANNE FRANK: BEYOND THE DIARY” PREMIERING SATURDAY, APRIL 18 AT 10/9c ON AMERICAN HEROES CHANNEL – Eva Schloss, Auschwitz Survivor and Childhood Friend of Anne Frank, Later Became Stepdaughter to Otto Frank – – One-Hour Documentary Premieres During U.S. Holocaust Week of Remembrance, Around the 70th Anniversary of Anne Frank’s Death – On June 12, 1942, Anne Frank received a diary for her 13th birthday and, over the next two years, created one of the most well-known works of literature the world has ever seen. Around the 70th anniversary of her death and the end of the World War II, ANNE FRANK: BEYOND THE DIARY sheds light on Anne’s life and wartime experience through the incredible first-person story of the stepsister she hardly knew.
RAMALLAH, West Bank Following the reelection of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian leaders say they will press ahead with moves to isolate, embarrass and prosecute Israel in international arenas, as well as begin to implement a risky disengagement from decades-old security cooperation with Israel in the West Bank. Palestinian officials who spent years negotiating with Israeli counterparts in fruitless U.S.-led negotiations have in recent days said they were not surprised by Netanyahus vow, on the eve of his electoral victory, that he would no longer support the creation of an independent Palestinian nation. The officials assert that the Israeli leader, in fact, finally revealed his true face to the world.
Where Islam and Judaism collide, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (my tour) PLEASE SUBSCRIBE! Here's my tour of Temple Mount, from the Old City of Jerusalem. At the time of my visit, the conflict between the Jews and the Palestinians had erupted once again and this… By: Vic Stefanu
ZIONISM IS NOT JUDAISM and WARFARE BY POLLUTION The frequent attacks on Gaza (14) is a continuation of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine begun in earnest in 1947-8. All this time homes and farms have been bulldozed as well as bombed