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Arts

Survival in a Brutal Environment

A camera pans over an expanse of impenetrable jungle before zooming in on the boughs and leaves of a soaring tropical hardwood tree. Birds chirp and trill, and in the distance, an airplane trailing smoke and fire crashes into a body of water in a fiery explosion. It is 1942 and the Japanese army is […]

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Arts

The Tragedy and Glory of Nathanael West

Nathanael West (1903-1940) was a promising but under-appreciated novelist during his brief lifetime. His four novels – The Dream Life of Balso Snell (1931), Miss Lonelyhearts (1933), A Cool Million (1934) and The Day of the Locust (1939) – sold fewer than 5,000 copies, garnered mixed reviews and earned a pittance. Tragically, he did not […]

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Arts

Italy and the Holocaust

Fascist Italy, led by Benito Mussolini from 1922 to 1943, was the model of Adolf Hitler’s totalitarian state, as well as Germany’s major European ally before and during World War II. But unlike Hitler, Mussolini was not a rabid antisemite and had Jewish followers and friends. Indeed, Mussolini praised Italian Jews as good citizens and […]

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Arts

French culture under Nazi occupation

German armoured divisions rolled into Paris on June 14, 1940, inaugurating  Germany’s four-year occupation of France. An armistice, signed eight days later in a forest clearing near Compiegne, where Germany had officially conceded defeat in World War I, carved up France into a patchwork of zones. Despite France’s ignominious capitulation, theatres, cinemas, opera houses, art […]

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Jewish Affairs

Quebec’s Charter Of Values

In unveiling the Charter of Values recently, Quebec Premier Pauline Marois optimistically predicted that it would unite Quebeckers. Much to her distress, it has become a political football, a source of deep division in the province. Judging by a Leger Marketing poll, the charter is supported by only a plurality of Quebeckers, 43% to 42%. […]

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Arts

Watermark Is Visually Stunning

The myriad and inventive ways in which human beings interact with water, the planet’s life-sustaining resource, is the subject of Watermark, which premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. Scheduled to open in Toronto on Sept. 27, Watermark, co-directed by Jennifer Baichwall and Edward Burtynsky, is visually stunning. Cinematographer Nicholas de Pencier uses the […]

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Arts

Leon Uris Reconfigured Israel’s Image

Leon Uris, a high school dropout, was 34 when he achieved fame. With the publication of his novel, Exodus, he blazed a path to celebrity. Selling more copies than any other American book since Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, Exodus, published in 1958, was a world-wide sensation, printed in 50 languages. Exodus, transformed into […]

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Jewish Affairs

An Important Milestone

A German official who prosecutes Nazi war crimes has recommended that prosecutors in Germany lay charges against 30 men and women who worked as guards in the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, where 1.5 million people, mainly Jews, were ruthlessly killed. “This is really an important milestone in the effort to bring Nazis to justice,” observed Efraim Zuroff, […]

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Middle East

Yom Kippur War Memories

Forty years ago, I saw my first corpse. Or rather corpses. In October of 1973, with the Yom Kippur War raging, I joined an Israeli government press tour of the Golan Heights, captured by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War. I was a freelance journalist in Jaffa and jumped at the opportunity to visit […]

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Middle East

The Oslo Accords 20 Years On

Twenty years ago this month, the Arab-Israeli conflict, one of the most protracted and debilitating disputes in the Middle East, finally seemed on the verge of being resolved through peaceful means. On Sept. 13, 1993, Yitzhak Rabin, the prime minister of Israel, hesitantly shook hands with his arch nemesis, Yasser Arafat, the chairman of the […]