Categories
Television

Mo: A Palestinian In Texas

Netflix’s new, mildly entertaining eight-part series, Mo, comically focuses on the trials and tribulations of a displaced Palestinian refugee family in Texas. It could very well be the first American television production exclusively about Palestinian migrants in the United States. The American standup comedian Mohammed Amer plays the central character, Mohammed Najjar, who lives in Houston […]

Categories
Middle East

Israel Normalizes Relations With Turkey

Less than three weeks after Israel and Turkey officially restored full diplomatic relations, following an acrimonious break of four years, a Turkish naval vessel docked in Haifa in an unmistakable sign that the normalization process has begun in earnest. The Kemalreis, a frigate, arrived in Haifa on September 3 to participate in a NATO exercise alongside […]

Categories
Television

Paris Police 1900

Fabian Nury’s Paris Police 1900 is set against the backdrop of the sensational Dreyfus affair, which split France down the middle in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A moody police procedural and a taut political drama, it will be available in Canada and the United States on the MHz Choice streaming platform on September 20. […]

Categories
Commentary

Mikhail Gorbachev’s Indelible Legacy

When he died on August 30 at the age of 91, Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, left an indelible legacy as a bold and courageous visionary who upended the stultifying political and economic status quo in his country. Through his innovative policies of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring), he gradually dismantled […]

Categories
Books

An Unchosen People

Nine months after Adolf Hitler assumed power in Germany, a Polish Jewish socialist named Mikhal Astour published an article in a Warsaw Yiddish journal warning of the dark future that awaited Poland’s 3.3 million Jews and the three million Jews of Hungary, Romania, Latvia and Lithuania. “That which has happened in Germany … is only […]

Categories
Film

The Optimists: The Survival of Bulgarian Jews

Amid the dark clouds of the Holocaust, there was a remarkable silver lining. Not a single Jewish citizen of Bulgaria, an ally of Nazi Germany, was murdered. Indeed, all 49,000 Bulgarian Jews survived this unfathomable ordeal. Jacky and Lisa Comforty, whose ancestors hail from Bulgaria,  explore this asterisk in the annals of the Holocaust. Their […]

Categories
Film

Ship Of Fools (Revisited)

Fifty seven years had elapsed since I watched Ship of Fools, and now I had the chance to revisit it thanks to the Turner Classic Movies channel. Would Stanley Kramer’s 2 hour-and-29-minute feature film be as absorbing, perceptive and impressive as it had been in 1965? Or would it be an outdated and kitschy relic best […]

Categories
Film

Closeness — A Russian-Jewish Family Drama

Kantemir Balagov’s somber Russian-language movie, Closeness, set in the North Caucasus town of Nalchik, is a tense drama with a twist. Currently being screened online by the Toronto Jewish Film Foundation, it takes place in 1998, seven years after the breakup of the Soviet Union, and focuses on a Jewish family suddenly facing a crisis. Avi […]

Categories
Film

Hitler’s Hollywood

Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Germany’s minister of propaganda, recognized the importance of movies as the regime’s primary method of communicating with and winning over the masses of Germans. From the moment Adolf Hitler ascended to power, Goebbels calculatingly used the film industry to his and the Nazis’ advantage. During an eventful period of 12 years, he was the […]

Categories
Books

Free As A Jew

Ruth Wisse was one of the lucky ones. As she writes in the first paragraph of her wide-ranging, stimulating book, Free As A Jew: A Personal Memoir Of National Self-Liberation (Wicked Son), “I was four years old when my parents engineered our escape from Europe … Had they not managed our flight in the summer […]