Category Archives: Jewish

Isherwood’s Snapshots of Weimar Berlin

25/2/2014 – this post is still being edited and fussed over.

Weimar Out, Nazis In

Robert Liebman

Liza Minelli, Cabaret

For British novelist Christopher Isherwood (1904-86), Berlin during the Weimar era had its attractions. Then Hitler arrived.

In 1929, Isherwood moved to Berlin, lived in rented rooms, taught English to support himself, and kept a diary which served as the basis for his short-story collection Goodbye to Berlin (1939). The publication date is deceptive. The book was effectively written in the early 1930s before the Nazis came to power but while they were rising in power—and, a feral force, roaming the streets. Isherwood captures the ethos of a German capital undergoing massive change. By the time (January 1933) Hitler became Chancellor, Isherwood’s Berlin sojourn was effectively over. Continue reading

The Jewish Daughter

Posted 30/1/2024

Polina, Molotov’s Jewish Wife

Robert Liebman

Polina-MolotovaHitler needed it, to pave the way for his powerful Wehrmacht to attack Poland. Stalin needed it, to buy time to bulk up his Red Army.* On 23 August 1939, their foreign secretaries delivered it: the non-aggression Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact.

Bitter enemies—Communist Soviet Union and Fascist Germany—instantly became allies.

A week later, on 1 September, Germany invaded Poland. The Second World War in Europe had begun.

Continue reading

Kosher Nobels, Literary Division

[20 January 2024: This post is still being tinkered with.]

[27 January 2024: The tinkering is just about done.]

Nobel Prizes for Literature: Explosive

Robert Liebman

Nobel PrizeIn literature as in the sciences, a disproportionately high number of prizes have gone to Jews.

This particular collection is a bit meshuganah.
Continue reading

Photographers and World War II

Shot by a Jew

By Robert Liebman

A gaggle of American GI’s (Government Issue = soldier) raise the Stars and Stripes on a bomb-damaged hilltop.

A sailor and a nurse enjoy a passionate kiss in Times Square.

General Douglas MacArthur returns, knee-deep, to the Philippines.

The truly iconic photographs from the Second World War are instantly familiar. We can picture them from a brief description alone; we do not actually need to see them. Continue reading

Broadway: Birth, Bar Mitzvah and Beyond

[20 January 2024: This post is still being tinkered with.]

By Robert Liebman

The movie industry was launched a little over a hundred years ago by entrepreneurs who are household names today, such as Szmuel Gelbfisz, Karl Laemmle and Adolf Zukory.

Gelbfisz? Laemmle? Zukory? Household names? In whose house?

Szmuel Gelbfisz became Samuel Goldwyn, and MGM became MGM. Zukory dropped his Novelty Fur Company and the last letter of his surname to oversee, as Adolph Zukor, Paramount Pictures. Continue reading

Literary Talent and the Unforgiving Scoreboard

Schemers and Dreamers, Ids and Yids

In October 1947, a Jewish-American writer, grandson of a Russian rabbi, completed page 721 of his 721-page novel and set off for a year in Paris with his wife. First novel. First wife.

His novel, published while he was in the French capital, met with widespread acclaim and he started a new novel, which he completed after returning home to New York. Short where his first novel was long, symbolic instead of realistic, and with a skimpy contrived plot, novel number two fell flat on its face.

Nobel Prize

When he died at the age of 83, his totals were ten novels, six wives and numerous awards—but the gong he yearned for most eluded him.

In September 1948, another young Jewish-American writer (the born-in-Canada variety), also the grandson of a Russian rabbi, went to Paris with his first wife. He already had two accompished but modest novels under his belt and was well into his third. He never finished it. Instead, he abruptly ditched it and started an entirely new work which he completed after returning to America several years later.

His original third novel, the one he jettisoned, would have been in the same competent but dreary league as his previous novels. His new work was a different species altogether, stylistically as well as in subject matter. It provided him with a lush new vein and he mined it to the hilt. When he died, aged 95, his tally was 13 novels, a mere five wives, and one Nobel Prize.

The futures for both writers turned on the novels they started in Paris, but why did this most inspirational of cities prove poisonous for one of them and utterly magical for the other? Continue reading

Identical Twins Reared Apart


The Contenders:

“As a Jew…” v “We the undersigned….”

The Contest:

Mirror mirror on the wall/Who is the smarmiest of us all?

“As a Jews” have an at-best tenuous link to the Jewish religion but invoke it cynically and dishonestly in political discussions. (On questionnaires I suspect most of them fill in the Religion line with ‘none’ or ‘atheist’)

“We the undersigneds” are superficially secular but are actually as faith-based as the “As a Jews,” maybe more so.

Obediently following the progressive line—”No enemies on the left”—they demand ‘rights’ and ‘justice’ for the Palestinians.

If, once, they could actually provide rational and compelling evidence—which rights, which injustices, and crucially, who is truly culpable?—instead of periodically repeating, mantra-like, these buzz words, the case would be closed. They could declare victory, and spare us their blooming letters.

Anti-Israel leftists insist on key emotive words—rights; justice; ethnic cleansing; pinkwashing—and the self-styled progressive flock intones them, in letter after letter after letter. Their obedience is sheep-like, and why not: they have much to lose. Express one doubt, make one false move, and your fellow progressives label you a ‘fascist.’ You are drubbed out.

Mirror Mirror Contest result: Dead heat.

Next contest: Big prizes for anyone who correctly guesses tomorrow’s new progressive buzzword.


“Racist Endeavour” Coming to a Bus Stop Near You

“Racist Endeavour”

A new anti-Israel slogan recently rode into town: “racist endeavour,” as in: “Israel is a racist endeavour.” Anti-Israel activists get a good bang for their buck with this compact phrase. “Racist” accuses Israel of being, well, racist.

“Endeavour” suggests that this racism is not accidental or incidental but is intentional, an integral part of Zionism. Continue reading

Prime Time, Ready or Not: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

The Gaffe Collection: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

On June 26, 2018, 28-year-old political novice Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez soundly (57-43 per cent) defeated ten-term Democrat incumbent Joe Crowley in the primary contest for a seat in Congress. Continue reading

Princeton Profs Reveal Bias

Garden Variety Israel Bashing in the Garden State

By Robert Liebman, originally published by SPME (Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, December 10, 2014; this version slightly modified and images added, August 2, 2018.

More than fifty tenured Princeton academics recently signed a petition urging divestment from companies which supply military-related equipment to Israel. The organizers hope that many more of their colleagues will join them. The petition threw the local Jewish community into uproar. Continue reading

Oy-ometer

The Biased Article that Send my Oy-ometer off the Scale

By Robert Liebman, Jewish Chronicle, May 9, 2014, this version slightly modified, and images added, August 1, 2018.

oy vey Alongside notifications of jumble sales and concerts, an article in the newsletter of my local church propelled the needle on my Oy-ometer off the scale.

Israel, this article proclaimed, was cruelly and arbitrarily mistreating the residents of a Palestinian Christian village. The writer supported her contentions with evidence that was weak (where it was comprehensible) and blatantly biased. Continue reading

Six Day War: Unfinished Business

The Left’s Hate Affair with Israel

By Robert Liebman

This is a slightly modified version of an article that originally appeared in algemeiner.com, June 10, 2015.

June 10, 1967 marked the end of the Six Day War and the beginning of the radical left’s hate affair with the Jewish State.

Although Israel neither welcomed nor wanted this conflict, the Left declared that Israel, not the invading Arabs, had been ‘militaristic,’ ‘colonialistic,’ and ‘fascistic.’ Continue reading

Supermen Schlemiels

Rabbis or Rakes, Schlemiels or Supermen? Jewish Identity in Charlie Chaplin, Jerry Lewis, and Woody Allen

by Robert Liebman

Film/Literature Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 3, 1984

Adenoid Hynkel (Charlie Chaplin) holding a globe of the world.

Adenoid Hynkel (Charlie Chaplin) and the world he wants to conquer.

In the topsy-turvy world of Yiddish and, later, Jewish-American narrative, the schlemiel reigns supreme, while the superhero who frequently accompanies him is largely ignored.

This larger than life-size, obviously compensatory doppelganger offers startling insights into Jewish fears of inadequacy, inferiority, and powerlessness—fears which are not necessarily unjustified. Continue reading