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The Grave of a Great Yiddish Poet Has Been Found in Siberia

In the aftermath of World War II, Joseph Stalin began to adopt policies of official anti-Semitism, which included the arrest and eventual execution of many leading figures of Yiddish theater and literature. Among them was Pinḥas Kahanovitsh, known by the pen name Der Nister (“the Hidden One”), whose poetry, short stories, and novels are considered exemplars of Jewish modernism. Two researchers recently discovered his grave in the coal-mining village of Vorkuta above the Arctic Circle. The Jewish Telegraph Agency reports:

Ber Kotlerman, a professor of Yiddish language and literature at Bar-Ilan University, . . . along with a Russian colleague, Moscow State University’s Alexander Polyan, pinpointed the Kahanovitsh’s burial place, . . . using testimonies and blueprints of the gulag that existed there. . . .

Kahanovich was a member of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, [assembled by Stalin during World War II for propaganda purposes]. Most of the committee’s members were rearrested in the 1950s, convicted on trumped-up espionage charges, and killed.

Most of the bodies of the victims were dumped in mass graves, but Kahanovich was buried separately because he fell gravely ill while serving a ten-year sentence in the gulag and was transferred for health reasons to a camp for disabled prisoners. He perished in the village of Abez, near Vorkuta, on June 4, 1950.

Many of Der Nister’s colleagues from the Anti-Fascist Committee were killed in August 1952 in what is known as the Night of the Murdered Poets, including Itzik Feffer, Peretz Markish, David Hofshteyn, Leyb Kvitko, and David Bergelson.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, History & Ideas, Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, Joseph Stalin, Soviet Jewry, Yiddish literature

Germany’s Bid to Keep Israel off the UN Security Council

March 21 2018

The Jewish state has never held a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council. For the first 50 years of its existence, it was denied membership in any of the UN’s regional groups, which control candidacies for these rotating seats. Then it was finally admitted to the Western European and Others Group, which promptly agreed to wait another twenty years before approving Jerusalem for a Security Council candidacy. Now, Benny Avni notes, Germany is poised to block action:

As a good-faith gesture, the Western European and Others Group promised Israel that it and Belgium would run uncontested for the two open 2019-20 [Security Council] seats. Then, in 2016, Germany announced it would also run—even though it already served as a council member [multiple times, including] as recently as 2011-12. . . . [U]nless Belgium yields, Israel’s hopes for UN respect seem doomed for now—and maybe for the foreseeable future.

Why? Diplomats have been telling me Israel violates too many Security Council resolutions to be a member—as in the one passed during the last weeks of Barack Obama’s presidency, which marked Jewish holy sites as occupied Palestinian territory. But is building a porch in [the West Bank town of] Ma’ale Adumim really such a huge threat to world peace?

How about, then, a report released last week by UN experts on the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions? It found Germany violated a council ban on sparkling wines, exporting $151,840 worth of bubbly and other luxury goods to Kim Jong Un’s cronies. Or how about, as the Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal reports, German companies exporting to Iran banned materials that were later used in chemical attacks in Syria?

Never mind. Germany (and Belgium) will surely benefit from the UN’s habit of magnifying Israel’s violations beyond all proportion. Thus, Israel’s petition to join the most prestigious UN club will likely be rejected, thanks to a late entry by a shameless [and] cynical German power play against the Jewish state.

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More about: Germany, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-German relations, United Nations