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The War Of Return

Of all of the thorny issues exacerbating Israel’s protracted conflict with the Palestinians, the “right of return” is doubtless the most complex one. It turns on the unwavering demand by Palestinian refugees to go back to their original homes in what was Palestine and what has been Israel since its declaration of statehood in 1948. This […]

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The Last Million: Displaced Persons In Europe After World War II

When World War II ended in May of 1945, several million displaced Europeans, ranging from forced laborers to prisoners of war, found themselves in Germany, which Allied bombing raids had devastated and which was now occupied by American, British and Soviet armies. The vast majority of the refugees were repatriated to their respective homelands in […]

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Head Of The Mossad

Shabtai Shavit worked for the Mossad, Israel’s vaunted external intelligence agency, for 32 years. From 1973 to 1976, he was head of operations. And in the homestretch of his career, from 1989 to 1996, he was its director. Appointed to his post by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, he was the first director of the Mossad […]

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The Shadow Commander

Until his assassination last January, Qassem Soleimani was one of Israel’s deadliest adversaries. As commander of the Quds Force, the external operations arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, he coordinated attacks against Israel from Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. Arash Azizi, an Iranian journalist and historian, describes him as “a larger than life” […]

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Ghost Citizens

Tens of thousands of Polish Holocaust survivors returned or reappeared in Poland after World War II, hoping to resume their lives and reclaim their properties. Some had gone into hiding, others had endured Nazi extermination camps, and still others had fled into the Soviet Union after Germany’s invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. The […]

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Theodor Herzl — Visionary And Statesman

Theodor Herzl, the founder of the modern Zionist movement, was proof of the theory that one man can make a difference. Against the greatest of odds, he laid the foundation for the birth of Israel, an event he presciently predicted at the turn of the 19th century. A visionary, prophet and leader, Herzl was an […]

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The Tailor Project Brought Holocaust Survivors To Canada

An old photograph I treasure, taken by a person whose identity will never be known, shows a solemn young couple and their two children sitting on the grass in Montreal’s Fletcher’s Field, a stone throw’s away from heavily-wooded Mount Royal. The woman, a hint of a smile on her face, balances a toddler on her […]

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Glorious Middle Eastern Food

Until my first visit to Israel shortly after the  Six Day War, I knew absolutely nothing about the magnificence of Middle Eastern cuisine. Raised on a steady diet of Jewish-style Polish food, lovingly cooked and baked to perfection by my mother, Genia, I could look forward to such simple and tasty dishes as lima bean-and-onion […]

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Coffeeland: An Impressive Work of Scholarship

Coffee, perhaps the most common word on the planet, is a lucrative cash crop that provides employment for more than 25 million people in over 7o countries. Originally gathered from wild plants in Ethiopia in the 15th century, it was first cultivated commercially in Yemen, its supply strictly controlled by a clique of Arab merchants who […]

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Lebanon’s Jewish Community

Franck Salameh describes his bitter-sweet book, Lebanon’s Jewish Community: Fragments of Lives Arrested (Palgrave Macmillan), as a “memorial” and “act of remembrance” to commemorate what was arguably the oldest and most indigenous community in Lebanon. Fourteen thousand strong at its height in the 1940s, it was the smallest of Lebanon’s 20 legally recognized ethnic-religious groups, […]