Stoppard Britain Jewish people 

“Hineini”, says Sir Tom Stoppard; here I am, a Jew

The first play to be written by the Jewish writer Tomáš Straussler is shortly to open in London. Actually, it’s the latest play by the acclaimed playwright Sir Tom Stoppard, who was born Tomáš Straussler in Czechoslovakia in 1937. But Leopoldstadt is the first of his plays which reflects the fact that he identifies himself — deeply, emotionally, viscerally — as a Jew. He told the JC last week that he realised what this meant to him only in late middle age. The play, which I have seen in preview,…

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antisemitism Global conflict Jewish people 

Holding hostage the memory of the Jewish dead

A profound and bitter battle between Israel and Poland has been brought to crisis point by the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, which is being commemorated by world leaders this week at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem and next week at Auschwitz itself. The roots of the row lay in remarks made last December by Russian President Vladimir Putin. He claimed that Poland helped start World War II, and accused it of being an antisemitic country that had welcomed Hitler’s plan to liquidate Europe’s Jews. A few days later, Polish…

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Jewish people 

The west mourns the Jewish dead. But what about the living?

At Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on Jan. 23, some 46 political leaders and royals, including Britain’s Prince Charles, will be attending the fifth World Holocaust Forum to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. At this and doubtless other such memorial events, many eloquent, important and heartfelt observations will be made about the evils of Nazism and Jew-hatred. In today’s climate, however, there’s something disquieting about such memorializing. Given the eruption of physical and verbal attacks on Jews in Britain, America and Europe, it…

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Holocaust Britain Global conflict 

We’d rather champion dead Jews than live ones

Back in 2016 the prime minister, David Cameron, decided that a Holocaust memorial and learning centre should be built near the Houses of Parliament. Three years on, the scheme is mired in an increasingly bitter row. Objectors say that the memorial’s brutalist design is inappropriate for the gardens and that its thousands of anticipated visitors would destroy one of London’s green oases. Many have cited security concerns. The Victoria Tower Gardens site, however, was chosen because it was next to parliament, thus making a highly visible and pointed statement about…

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launches My books 

The legacy of Polish Holocaust denial

The legacy of Polish Holocaust denial The controversy over Poland’s role during the Holocaust has exploded yet again. Remarkably, a joint statement issued by the Polish and Israeli governments intended to draw a line under the row has been denounced by Yad Vashem. Embarrassingly for Israel, it claims that the statement hailed by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu as “safeguarding the historic truth about the Holocaust” includes “grave errors and deceptions” and contains “highly problematic wording that contradicts existing and accepted historical knowledge in this field”. By coincidence my novel, The…

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synchronised Europe 

The toxic reality of antisemitism in Europe

Antisemitism in Europe has become mainstream and normalized at a level “not seen since the Second World War.” So says the president of the European Jewish Congress, Dr. Moshe Kantor, who states: “There has been an increase in open, unashamed and explicit hatred directed against Jews.” It’s as if a veil lowered after the Holocaust has now been lifted to reveal that little has changed. Poland is seeking to deny its own history of antisemitism, with a new law criminalizing anyone who accuses Poland of having been complicit in the…

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