Categories
Middle East

Wrong-Headed Boycott

It would appear that the American Studies Association is striving to be more Catholic than the pope himself, so to speak. The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has publicly rejected a boycott of Israel per se, while supporting a boycott of products made in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Yet a […]

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Arts

A Land of Raw Grandeur and Timeless Beauty Explored by Documentary

Greenland, the world’s largest island, is an ice-bound, treeless expanse of raw grandeur and timeless beauty. Although it has been inhabited for about 1,000 years, it’s still sparsely populated, and much of its vast, forbidding terrain remains unexplored. In Expedition to the End of the World, a Danish documentary now playing at the Bloor Hot […]

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Middle East

Israel Seeks a Role in Shaping a Future Iran Nuclear Accord

Israel has mounted a serious diplomatic and public relations campaign to shape the contours of a future comprehensive agreement on Iran’s controversial nuclear program. Having lost the battle to toughen the interim accord — which was signed on Nov. 24 in Geneva and is widely seen as a step in the right direction to resolve […]

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Arts

Inside Llewyn Davis is Bright, Effervescent and Musically Intoxicating

A bare microphone in a dimly-lit nightclub gives way to a young, curly-haired folk singer named Llewyn Davis sitting mournfully on a stool. Strumming his guitar, and looking quite rumpled, he belts out a soulful song, the first plaintive line of which is, “Hang me, oh hang me, I’ll be dead and gone.” It’s 1961 and […]

Categories
Travel

Istanbul is Exotic and Alluring

Istanbul can be likened to a Turkish delight, the popular candy that Turks and foreigners alike find so hard to resist. Bite into it and you’re hooked. Istanbul, once known as Constantinople, has drawn tourists since time immemorial. Touring it in the 12th century, the traveller Benjamin of Tudela was stunned by its sheer vitality. […]

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Jewish Affairs

A “Decent” Nazi

Udo Klausa regarded himself as a “decent” Nazi. From 1940 to 1942, he was the principal civilian administrator of Bedzin, a mid-sized town in Poland that, in September 1939, was the scene of one of the very first Nazi atrocities against Jews. Klausa was not at his post in Bedzin when these crimes were committed, but […]

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Jewish Affairs

Egyptian Documentary Film Revisits Egypt’s Jewish Community

On my last visit to Egypt 14 years ago, I could sense that the Jewish community was already a relic of history. Doomed by the Arab-Israeli conflict, in which Egypt was deeply enmeshed by virtue of its pan-Arab foreign policy and its four wars with Israel, Egyptian Jews became the scapegoats of regional politics. The […]

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Arts

Nicky’s Family Documents a Heroic Rescue

Nicholas Winton, 104 today, is a hero in the deepest sense of the word. On the eve of World War II, he saved 669 Czech and Slovak Jewish children, who would have been murdered had they remained behind in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. Winton, a British stockbroker, facilitated their escape to Britain within the framework of the […]

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Arts

Blood Brother — a Documentary Film Suffused with Pain and Joy

Rocky Braat is that rarest of individuals: a selfless person who gives of himself completely, day in and day out. Braat, a young American who works in an Asian orphanage filled with HIV-infected children, is the subject of Steve Hoover’s moving documentary, Blood Brother, now playing in Toronto. The film, plodding at first, builds to an […]

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Jewish Affairs

A Trip to Apartheid South Africa

Six years before South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela was released from imprisonment on Robben Island, launching his career as South Africa’s future first Black president and starting the historic process of phasing in Black majority rule, I visited South Africa in my capacity as a journalist. It was 1984 and South Africa, a pariah […]