Categories
Arts

Borscht Belt Resorts in the Catskill Mountains: An Incubator of Comedy

From approximately the 1930s to the 1960s, the idyllic Catskill Mountains in upstate New York occupied a special and unique place in the American travel industry, being the single largest resort area in the United States. With its multitude of hotels, the Catskills attracted a mainly Jewish clientele who were drawn to the food, lots of […]

Categories
Middle East

Iran Will Be Judged By Its Actions

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird told the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 30 that Iran’s current charm offensive is more show than substance. “Sound bites do not remove threats to global security,” he said in a reference to Iran’s militarized nuclear program. Canada will judge Iran on the basis of  its actions rather than […]

Categories
Jewish Affairs

The Blood Libel Accusation During the Soviet Era

The toxic blood libel accusation, rooted in medieval Europe, emerged with a vengeance several times during the interwar period in the Soviet Union. This may come as a surprise to those who assume that such primitive manifestations of antisemitism would have been inconceivable  in a supposedly progressive country like the Soviet Union.   But a […]

Categories
Jewish Affairs

Golden Dawn: A Criminal Gang

To its credit, the Greek government has arrrested the leader of the neo-fascist Golden Dawn party, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, and a number of his senior associates on charges of having formed a criminal organization. Greece took this drastic decision, the first of its kind in decades, after police raided Golden Dawn’s offices in Athens and Greek […]

Categories
Jewish Affairs

Hassan Rouhani and the Holocaust

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has launched a public relations blitz. Two weeks ago, he sent Jews a Rosh Hashanah greeting from his Twitter account. In the past few days, while in the United States, he has tried to convince the international community that he is a moderate and a breath of fresh air compared to his clownish yet […]

Categories
Arts

Wadjda Reveals Unpalatable Truths in Saudi Society

Wadjda is a cinematic rarity, the first Saudi Arabian feature-length film to be directed by a female Saudi woman. Haifaa al-Mansour’s movie, shot entirely in Saudi Arabia,  one of the world’s most closed and theocratic societies, is ostensibly innocuous. Wadjda (Waad Mohammed), a spunky 1o-year-old Saudi girl, has her heart set on a green bicycle. […]

Categories
Travel

Toronto’s Ravines: A City in an Urban Forest

  Gouged out by the crushing forces of nature during the last Ice Age 12,000 years ago, the ravines of  Toronto form an enchanting urban forest in the heart of Canada’s biggest city. More than a century ago, when wilderness areas were usually regarded as expendable, the ravines were ravaged by logging and industrialization. But […]

Categories
Travel

Hanoi Leaves Vietnam War Behind

  When I was a university student in the mid and late 1960s, the war in Vietnam was big news. Rarely a day passed that the local newspaper, the now-defunct Montreal Star, did not carry at least one story about it, sometimes displaying it on the front page. As portrayed in the media, Vietnam was […]

Categories
Arts

Ida, a Polish film, delves into the Holocaust

Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida explores a dark and miserable period in Poland’s history: the Holocaust. Polish films have embraced this theme with increasing frequency since the end of the communist era, as scholar Marek Haltof  has written. Ida, which was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival this month, is part and parcel of this genre. Filmed […]

Categories
Arts

The Railway Man Conveys Deep Emotions

Fifty six years after the appearance of David Lean’s The Bridge on the River Kwai, Australian  director Jonathan Teplitzky serves up a movie remarkably like it with respect to theme, content, spirit and locale. The Railway Man, screened at the Toronto International Film Festival last month, is based on a true story by Eric Lomax, […]