Welcome to White Rose Magazine.

An Open Letter to President Shafik (April 22, 2024)

Dear President Shafik:

“In Lumine Tuo Videbimus Lumen”—In Thy light shall we see light. As an arriving Columbia College freshman in 1972, I read these words on the Seal of the University not really understanding what they meant. During the ensuing four years, however, I came to appreciate their meaning—that the pursuit of knowledge illuminates our path to truth and understanding and that Columbia would shine that light. Some fifty years later, I am heartbroken to see that the lights have gone out at my alma mater.

Immediately following the horrifying terrorist attacks of October 7, 2023, and before Israel had even responded, Columbia erupted in pro-Hamas demonstrations that stunned the campus Jewish community. The worst attack upon Jews since the Holocaust was literally being celebrated by significant numbers of students and faculty. Your response was to take the easy way out, i.e., to denounce the terrorist attacks while affirming the demonstrators’ free speech rights and paying lip service to your concern for the safety of all students on campus. What you failed to understand last October was that university presidents have free speech rights as well. You could and should have unequivocally condemned both the terrorist attacks and those who were celebrating it on campus. Not doing so was a failure of leadership.

Two fundamental lessons of history and parenting are that the absence of leadership is always perceived as weakness and the refusal to correct bad behavior inevitably results in more. You apparently have never learned either lesson.

Thanks in no small part to your weak response in October, the climate of antisemitism at Columbia has only worsened on your watch during the intervening six months. Over the past several days, including at the very moment when you were testifying on this issue before a House committee, the campus has turned into something resembling a full-throated antisemitic pogrom or a Nuremberg rally. Hundreds of individuals, many masked to conceal their identities, have been permitted to verbally and physically assault Jewish students based solely on their religion. Calls for further violence and terrorism against Jews in general and Israel in particular are screamed across campus, including throughout an impermissible encampment on South Lawn, and just outside the gates on Broadway. The situation has become so dire that just yesterday a rabbi at Columbia advised Jewish students to flee the campus and complete their studies online due to “extreme antisemitism.”

I am a First Amendment attorney in California. I devote a significant portion of my law practice to protecting the free speech rights of university students and faculty. Your insistence upon couching what is happening as a “complicated” tension between the free speech rights of pro-Palestinian protesters and the feelings of Jewish students is both incorrect and merely an excuse for inaction. Indeed, much of what we are seeing at Columbia constitutes incitement and true threats and is not protected speech. The conduct is severe and pervasive and so objectively offensive that it has denied its targets—Jewish students and their supporters—access to their educational opportunities at Columbia. Therefore, it constitutes unlawful harassment under both the university’s code of student conduct and the applicable law. The university’s attorneys have surely said as much to you; yet the crisis steadily worsens with no meaningful action on your part.

The university has the right to take steps to expel any student and to fire any employee engaging in harassment or violent conduct directed at members of the Columbia community based on their protected class, in this case toward Jewish students. Furthermore, the university has the duty to protect its students from outsiders who come to campus to prey upon them. 

There isn’t the slightest doubt that if this revolting and intimidating conduct were being directed at any other group of students based on their religion, race, or gender, Columbia would have put a stop to it on day one. It is only because the victims are Jews that Columbia has abandoned its moral compass. Shame on you for that, and shame on your entire administration. I am calling upon you to resign your office. You have had over six months to steer the university on the right course; instead, you are taking it and the brand over a cliff.

Finally, I am not some billionaire donor who can make headlines by turning off the donation spigot. I am simply one of thousands of alums disgusted with what the campus has become in recent months. Perhaps more importantly, this climate of antisemitism clearly could not have begun overnight in October but was years in the making yet was unnoticed or deliberately ignored by Columbia. Therefore, I am returning my diploma to you. After nearly fifty years, it is no longer a source of pride for me. I realize it is probably a meaningless gesture to you; but it is of tremendous symbolic importance to me.

Sincerely,
Arthur I. Willner (’76)

The Eye of God

The Sataf spring in the hills near Jerusalem. (Perach; courtesy of the author)

Nine years later, I found the spring. Without any maps. Without any one-to-fifty-thousand scale. It was my nose that guided me there: the road signs exuded their smells, and I followed them. I’ve always been hooked on signs.

The spring doesn’t appear on any maps; I had to scrape up its name from the depths of my memory. All kinds of names went through my head: Ein Eshkaf. Ein Sapir. Ein Shalosh. Ein Kubi. Ein Tamar. Einot Uzi. Einot Telem.

It’s hard to find, you told me, but I found it. Me. Not a tour guide or geologist, not some random hiker, but me, a lab rat who finds markers and traces in ammonia, ether, gray field-mice, who can do a dissection with her eyes closed, who carves things up and studies them. Me.

When you left—it was after the High Holidays, and life had returned to normal. Tasks that had been postponed lined themselves up in front of me, waiting to be completed. The days were marked by routine and uniformity.

When you took the car that night, I didn’t sense anything. And it is this void that reboots my acrimony every night, that coats my tongue with bitterness.

And this land, which knows all about leaving signs, could have made a little more effort on my behalf, could have sent a light breeze or a strangely shaped cloud. A colorful butterfly, maybe, or a mouse that refused to die on the sacrificial lab bench. It had happened before. But now, it wasn’t making an effort, it didn’t show me any signs. Not even when you took the car. So many times, when my hands reached out to give you the keys, my mind would reach out as well: to images and visions, hallucinations and fears. But this time? Not even the tiniest spark of electricity. No extra heart beats. My breathing was neither deep nor shallow, it was just normal: air going in, inflating my lungs, then escaping in a reflexive exhale of carbon dioxide. A process that was all drabness and dreariness.

* * *

There are so many words, my son, to describe what you did to me. You slipped away. You were called up to the heavens. You died. You were killed. You passed. You went. You ended. You were taken. You were cut short.

And it wasn’t a stray bullet that stole you away, my son, but the driver’s villainous sleep. A murderer, a master of her craft, she loaded a bullet, and there, between four and five in the morning, led you to your execution.

* * *

There are so many words, my son, to describe what you did to me. You slipped away. You were called up to the heavens. You died. You were killed. You passed. You went. You ended. You were taken. You were cut short.

The signs came later. Too late.

But first came the announcement. The knock on the door. Who goes to visit someone at this hour? A short argument between me and Ya’akov over who would get the door. It must be someone looking for a neighbor who hadn’t bothered to hang a name plate. Ya’akov gets up and lets them in. A frigid silence fills the room, and Ya’akov’s baritone voice disappears. I stay on the couch, flipping through the newspaper.

Ya’akov comes in. They stay outside. His face isn’t closed, it’s open, and me? Not yet. He tells me, straight out. And all I can think is, I am bereaved. A bereaved mother in Israel. An angry mother bear.

What does a newly bereaved mother feel?

Nothing. Nothingness bloomed inside me. A field of nothingness took hold of my heart.

And then, only then, did small signs start cropping up. A little rain here, a little rain there. A rainbow arched over the village like an evil omen. The store ran out of bread and milk. A stopped-up sink unclogged on its own. Those kinds of signs, which we, in all our wisdom, associate with some kind of disaster.

* * *

Then, much later, millions of hours after the identification, it occurred to me that you were killed the week we read the story of Noah in synagogue. Words from high school, from the army, from my youth movement, floated around in my head and tried to activate my still-tied tongue: All flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. The end of all flesh has come. The earth is filled with violence. I will bring floodwaters upon the earth to destroy all life under the heavens.

But God didn’t come to me. He didn’t equivocate and he didn’t offer alternatives. And I didn’t build an ark to rescue your body.

Case closed. Casket sealed.

* * *

I wasn’t trying to cancel the evil decree. 

A lab woman is all too familiar with that moment when a living thing becomes inert. The laxness signaling the end. The loosening of the taut threads that had been connecting the now-limp limbs.

What I wanted was a deferral. If God had come to me, or sent one of his angels, I would have postponed everything. I would have turned the world’s activation dial, the one that illuminates the sun and turns the stalks green, and extinguished the light. I would have mixed the sugar into the water before putting in the coffee, like you did when you were in the army. One lethargic stir, then another. The coffee, my son, would cool down very slowly. The air would separate into tiny molecules, clouds of air would drift through space, and you—who always complained of being too hot—would ask for a sweater. With lazy, languid patience I would choose the big sweater with all those dozens of buttons, and I would button you up, one button after another. The words would come out smoothly and deftly, as if an invisible pen was writing it all down, so that if I ever wanted to find the spring, I would remember your precise instructions. Slowly, slowly, we would wrap ourselves in this interval of prolonged, and prolonging, time.

And then, only then, would I make the identification.

But the identification came quickly. Instantly. The people around me were saying something about hysteria. They were holding up Ya’akov. My daughters converged around me like a chorus of cicadas. I wanted to make sure. To feel your mole—the concave crater the size of a nutmeg seed—that had been left intact. To check your birthmarks. To see for myself that you were indeed released from your body, while the whole time my heart is waiting for the moment, that wild, benevolent moment that would prove that it wasn’t really you, that it was a case of mistaken identity, that you’d simply disappeared once again, losing yourself in some godforsaken spring.

* * *

Even before I found the mouth of the spring, I knew I was in the right place. I could hear tiny echoes resonating in my head. A rustle. A murmur. The original name of Eilat, Umm Rashrash.  The Hebrew word for poor, rushash. A weak heart. Tree roots. But the syllables didn’t fuse into a single, solid word that could illuminate the dark corners of my memory. Well-meaning branches spread their arms out to me, and, unencumbered by fear, I cleared out a spot and planted myself there.

* * *

In my bereavement support group, they said it was important to “let it out.” Let out the pain. Let out the agony. Let out the thoughts. As if it were actually possible to clear away the anthills of thoughts that had piled up over the years.

They warned me not to keep it in my belly, and I was reminded of a myth from my childhood: if you kept something inside, a film of white fuzz would grow on your tongue.

But in my case, my son, there is nothing to let out.

The patch of grass in my heart gets caught on the rough edges of my soul, and a terrible, silent nothingness takes over. Even my eyes aren’t working properly. My eyes used to generate tears on command. They would get me excused from boring classes. They would release tears when I was waiting my turn at the doctor’s office, when I found the book I wanted at the library, when I didn’t find the book I wanted at the library. Torrents of tears, at every opportunity. “If you’re going to cry, you could at least do it next to the Kinneret watershed,” you used to tell me whenever my eyes would swell up.

Now, even artificial tears don’t help. I am dry as dust.

We meet once every few months; Ya’akov drags me with him. I can’t interpret words anymore. Mumbled syllables move through my ears, and only later can I decipher “My heart told me” and “I had a feeling.” I study the faces around me; we have nothing in common but the thin, purplish bereavement circles around our eyes.

Once I nodded, unintentionally, and when the facilitator gave me an encouraging smile, there was no turning back. Grass and shrubs flew off my tongue, and everyone at the meeting stared at me with a look I recognized from the lab, a scientific look. They analyzed me; I was a synthetic sample. After that I never went back.

* * *

I study the faces around me; we have nothing in common but the thin, purplish bereavement circles around our eyes.

I’m here, my son, it’s me—your tall, fastidious mother who would never leave the house without make-up—stretched out on a barren patch of earth, curled up in your oversized sweater.

I didn’t pack any cosmetics; make-up is nothing more than an attempt to obliterate time. Among the dense, aging trees, wrinkles are a valuable asset.

* * *

Infinity is incomprehensible. And this year, the ninth, when the days started sliding and spinning around me, nameless and timeless, I decided it was time to take action.

The memorial service is uninspiring: one cliché chasing another over the grave. That teacher of yours repeats the eulogy he gave last year, word for word. The soldier who had been your girlfriend—the one who always reminded me of a deer in headlights—is chuckling with her boyfriend, sporting him like a bracelet on her wrist. I examine them with a new fondness, as if I were a photographer, floating above them while at the same time monitoring their every motion.

And suddenly, among the words and the eulogies, lovely sounds start playing through my head. A small, delicate bell resonates in my brain, lucid and pure. And between the “destroy the earth” and “the end of all flesh,” the sound of water flows through my body. And the earth filled with water.

Now I know that I am going.

A person who knows something is a different person altogether. Decisiveness floods the bones. The legs that drag me to the lab, day in and day out, are filled with tiny pulses of life. Instead of greeting my colleagues with a non-committal tilt of the head, I hold my head still. The nose that used to recoil from the smell of ammonia takes in deep breaths, and the hands that pour the borax are no longer trembling.

Decisiveness rushes into me, and that evening, Ya’akov asks what’s up with me.

* * *

Feverish from the unexpected joy, from the actions that would, at long last, latch onto my stagnating body, I packed a small suitcase. I didn’t tell Ya’akov what was up with me, I just hugged him happily; he didn’t ask questions or press me. Maybe he was so pleased with this new wife of his, he didn’t want to spoil anything.

Actually, I didn’t say anything to anyone. I wasn’t going to return to my boss’s kind eyes. For years now, he’s been afraid to fire me. After all, his gaze says, she lost her only son. I will do his dirty work for him. Surely my son’s death is not his fault. 

Nor, son, did I say anything to your chirping sisters, the quintet that used to huddle around you so adoringly. I worked quickly and quietly, like a lab-rat.

* * *

When I discovered traces of a campfire, I was filled with a joy I hadn’t felt in a long time. I gathered up the twigs that were piled on the ground; they seemed to be the remnants of birds’ nests. With expansive movements, I threw them into the fire, adding one small branch, then another, just like you taught me. Resisting the temptation to toss in the whole forest. Feeding a fire requires patience.

* * *

Once, when I was young, we—your grandfather and I—came upon a chilling sight. We were driving, and at one of the intersections, we saw a car go up in flames. People had gathered around, calling out to each other. I stared, enrapt, at the circle of fire, red tongues shooting out of it haphazardly, ruining the symmetry. 

Your grandfather tried to help. He got out of the car, a long iron rod in his hand, but he, too, was unable to break through the circle of fire. He returned to the car flustered and defeated.

The next day, the front page of the morning paper featured the circle of fire. And the family—there were two babies—that had burned to death. And the VW Beetle’s rear engine. And the time that was wasted before help arrived.

When you died, there was no circle of fire. The papers didn’t report it. Death, banal, in a tie and jacket, just came and took you.

* * *

I am sitting here, trying to count the days, but I can’t. Days have been broken, cut in half. Some hours go roaming through space, others hurry off like they can’t get away from me fast enough. I am enveloped in ambiguity, and it is suddenly imperative that I find the name of the spring. My damned memory, however, covers it up artfully, seducing me instead with false associations that only intensify the forgetfulness.

The food is gone. I do have money, and I could run over to the main street and buy myself something to eat, but the fasting has filled my bones with a dizzying heaviness, and I stay where I am, close to the ground.

These days, I am utterly fearless. Like you, who never experienced fear, who shook his head scornfully at the depth of the water in the Yehudea River and jumped. Who hiked through every village. Out there, in the world, they call this irresponsibility, but now that I’m here, only now, do I recognize that it was simply a lack of knowledge.

Fragments of time pass, and the heaviness in my body gives way to lightness. My stomach grumbles softly with an agreeable emptiness, and my tongue is coated with a thick, white film. There are many, many things inside, and I…  I don’t know how to let them out.

* * *

These days, I am utterly fearless. Out there, in the world, they call this irresponsibility, but now that I’m here, only now, do I recognize that it was simply a lack of knowledge.

From the spring whose name I’ve forgotten, I drink until I’m sated. Sometimes I think about the outside world. About the note I left for Ya’akov. About his neck tensing up as he tries to understand, about his whole body clenching. I think about the warmth of his voice when he told the girls. Whenever I feel the urge to stand up, I distract myself with images of policemen, sniffing dogs, signs with my picture on them posted across the country. There is something wild and exciting about these thoughts, and my bereavement assumes a different demeanor.

* * *

I wasn’t alone for long; you had talked to me about this, too. I remember the image you used: “This land is a well full of people. If you throw a stone, you’re bound to hit someone.”

I knew someone was coming. A new wind was blowing in my direction, and fine dust was rising up from the earth.

The man arrived during one of the fragments of time. A man whose legs were very familiar to him, always ready to move, to walk, muscles and tendons bursting out, eager to help.

I didn’t light a fire; I just sat there, shivering, clutching my food to my chest. That was how he found me. He looked alarmed, but quickly erased the shock from his face, and, just as quickly, turned away, as if he had caught sight of something forbidden.

My body was weak but my mind was clear. I looked at the slender branches protruding from the trees, at the small animals scampering around my feet, sights that I normally couldn’t have seen without my glasses. The moon looked close. Distant sounds were getting closer.

The man appeared again, his arms full of branches. Mumbling to himself, he added them to the fire and lit the kindling, just like you used to do, my son. He moved slowly, patiently, until the fire was finally ignited and I could see a cotton beard, with a nose and two eyes swallowed up inside it.

In a soft voice, he asked if he could sit with me. He looked like a ventriloquist, the way his lips moved, hidden inside his beard.

* * *

The fragments of time came together, and words floated in space. Soft, soft words. He was sixty. Traveling through the country. Incapable of staying in his house: he’d always had a hard time inside walls.

And he didn’t ask, “And you?” He didn’t ask for anything in return. Every now and then he’d toss a couple of twigs into the fire and shift his position. He’d smoke a cigarette. Back when things were normal, I couldn’t abide smoke; even the smell of a wick in the lab would make me cough. But now I was breathing it in. Expanding my lungs to get them used to it.

Even as I sat there in my shabby clothes, I saw him looking at the gold bracelet on my wrist. I’m fifty-three, I told him. And he didn’t wrinkle his brow in horror, and he didn’t say, “You look great for your age.” He just sat there quietly, letting the information sink in. We didn’t bother each other. Sometimes he’d get up and go wherever it was that he went. I didn’t even crane my neck to see where he was sleeping.

I wasn’t afraid.

The fragments of time came together, and words floated in space. Soft, soft words. He was sixty. Traveling through the country. Incapable of staying in his house: he’d always had a hard time inside walls.

I didn’t ask him about his life, or where he was going. In the evenings I fell asleep curled up in your big sweater, empty with hunger, and a sudden flame would shatter the darkness in front of my closed eyes.

What did I do for all those days? I don’t have an answer. Time slipped away. Sometimes I would exercise. I’d go down to the nameless spring and immerse myself in the water, fully clothed. Sometimes I’d drift through the small forest and look for signs. Maybe you’d left a letter or a short note. Maybe you’d sat down to eat, right here, next to the tree.  It’s been nine years, but, my son, some people survive for thousands of years. Such are the foolish thoughts of bereavement.

The wanderer disappeared. Between the trees, the sun and the moon changed shifts, promptly, without wasting any time on friendly banter. And I didn’t care that he’d gone. The same way I didn’t care about how my skin was wallowing in layers of dust.

* * *

Then one evening, he came back. I was barely conscious, but somehow my mind managed to soak up the last sunbeams that burst through the leaves. My blurry vision doubled and tripled the man into a multitude of silhouettes. Cotton beards, soft and thick, came at me from every angle.

He bent down to me, looked deep into my eyes, and said, “You have to eat something.” His look wasn’t soft and consoling, but something in him looked familiar. There were purplish rings around his eyes, and I recognized him, and I identified him.

* * *

Then came the tears. Long years of drought had come to an end. Big round tears fell, and in my mind I could see them filling up the small spring.

He didn’t say a word, and he didn’t offer me a shoulder to cry on. And I remembered a phrase from the long-ago days, back when I liked to read: “A comforting indifference.” I couldn’t remember who said it, and I didn’t care.

The wanderer made me campfire soup, with a big potato floating on top of it. I chugged it down in big gulps, replenishing my reservoir of tears.

He bent down to me, looked deep into my eyes, and said, “You have to eat something.” There were purplish rings around his eyes, and I recognized him, and I identified him.

He knew I had identified him. Someone who has lost a child has a particular mark, and without introduction he said: “Twins.” They left me in Lebanon. And the words “left me” sounded so right, I almost laughed.

He smoked, and the combination of smoke and soup made me nauseated. Later, I fell into an intense, heavy sleep, the kind I haven’t had since you left.

When I woke up, I was ready to rejoin the world, which had already come to an end; perhaps it would never be destroyed again. My only worry was that I wouldn’t be able to find my Ya’akov in this new land.

* * *

He disappeared. Like a kind, old uncle with excellent manners and good taste, with a hollow voice like that of a withered tree in the desert. I thought of Elijah the prophet rising up to heaven in a whirlwind.

And all at once, the name of the spring came back to me: Ein Rashosh. The Spring of Hardship. A reckless, jagged name.

* * *

I emerged from the spring shabby and dirty. I could feel my body bounding with a new elasticity and lightness. The world looked different. Softer. Less angular.

And I knew that nothing had changed.

I didn’t know if it was the beginning of the week or the end, but either way, they would report more car accidents. In a dry voice, the announcer would tell us about the scandalous life of the driver responsible. I was familiar with all the predictable components: the rollovers, the sharp turns, the DWIs. All the factors that led to this one outcome, which resulted in so many purplish bereavement rings.

I knew. But I missed the girls. The way they gathered around me.

I missed Ya’akov. His warm baritone. His playful voices. Our Saturday night squabbles over the crossword puzzle. His large, kind hands. His longings.

I’m not alone, I repeated to myself, making sure my vocal cords still worked after so many hours of idleness. I’m not alone. There is a sun that is completely shining, and a gentle breeze escorting me out of Ein Rashosh. There are grandchildren who will, someday, gambol through the country, in springs, on hikes. There is a time for everything. Everything. And He will never again smite every living thing as He had done. And it is not yet the end of all flesh.

I am not alone, I thought, and I tried to unthink it.

Translation by Shira Atik

Cult Conformity is Un-American

This cultural export—the Hollywood Western—framed a perception about the people who lived on the opposite shores of the Atlantic Ocean. It was an image of frontiersmen of quiet dignity, a people who could think for themselves and possessed the self-sufficiency to go it alone. Rugged nonconformists.

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The Power of Dissent

Dissent is intolerable to tyrants. Yet, such regimes have been romanticized by too many: Western leftists, including Jews, feminists, academics, gays, and government officials–the whole bleeding lot of them.

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The Elegance of True Non-Conformity

It is not uncommon for Jihadis to create an international outrage, debate, and narrative around human rights, brotherhood, right to religion, etc. They get people engaged in loud debates around these while they silently indulge in their favorite hobbies of severing heads and blasting bombs.

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Anochi

A poem by Darren Glick

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Trained-Seal Jews

I am back in the times where you couldn’t turn on the radio or open a newspaper (and you had to open a newspaper to get your “political information” school credit) without hearing (or reading) “we, proud Soviet citizens of Jewish Ethnicity, thoroughly condemn the militarism and barbarity of the Zionist State.”

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When You Cannot Create New Music: A Warning from History

Today, we are living through a time when, even in a democracy, conformity of the artist or composer’s role in society to a “social justice” agenda is becoming the paramount qualification for acceptance. The corollary, shared with all dictatorial societies of both Communist and Fascist persuasions, is to subordinate the artist’s individuality to the collectivity. In today’s increasingly anti-democratic, anti-individualistic environment, artistic autonomy and freedom are being undermined by tendentious ideology. When art serves it, the result is often bombastic kitsch combined with misappropriation of the great artistic achievements of the past. Here is a lesson from history.

In my 1999 Cambridge Handbook on Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, I cited Goebbels’ claim that, “The artist undeniably has the right to call himself non-political in a period when politics consists of nothing but shouting matches between parliamentary parties. But at this moment when politics is writing a national drama, when a world is being overthrown—in such a moment the artist cannot say: ‘That doesn’t concern me.’ It concerns him a great deal.”

With this quote, I introduced a discussion of how the Nazis instrumentalized masterpieces of classical music—in this case (the Slavic) Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique—to promote its ideology when its “own music” proved unequal to the task. In his diary entry for April 11, 1933, Goebbels noted the important role music would play for the new regime: “the agitation of the Jewish press still has an impact today. People think we are good politicians but bad art lovers. The future will show how deeply wrong they were.” In the October–November 1934 issue of Musik und Volk, reprinted excerpts from Hitler’s November 5 “cultural speech” at the Nuremberg Rally announcing that the artistic production of “God-gifted” geniuses would be stimulated by commissions from the state, enabling them to express their gratitude by singing praises to the “greatness of the epoch.” 

Otto zur Nedden’s program accompanying Hans Severus Ziegler’s June 1938 exhibition of “Degenerate Music” attempted to unpack the implications of Hitler’s statement. Under the headline, “A Nazi Campaign Against ‘Musical Microbes.’ More ‘Degenerates’ in the Pillory,” the Manchester Guardian reported on the planning of this exhibition published in Goebbels’ newspaper Der Angriff:

An “exhibition of degenerate music” is to be opened…. It will be recalled that an exhibition of degenerate art was opened at the same time as the German House of Art revealed the treasures of orthodoxy in Munich last year. Since then this exhibition in various forms has been on tour in Germany…. The purpose of the degenerate music exhibition is, as the “Angriff” declares tonight, to put into the pillory musical composers who are alien in spirit to the people, to reveal their supporters, and to divest many of them of the preposterously assumed title of master. The exhibition is also directed against slogans and catchwords of musical degeneracy, such as atonality and jazz, against the crowding of opera repertories with the works of foreign composers and against the irresponsible praise or condemnation by silence of musical criticism.

On June 8, shortly after the exhibition opened, The Guardian described in detail how Ziegler and zur Nedden’s “sound examples” were projected to create a cacophony of sound, corresponding to the visual chaos of the cluttered and haphazard hanging of paintings and presentation of sculptures in the companion exhibition in the visual arts. Their aim was to contrast Sibelius’ racially sound, “healthy” strains in Finlandia with Stravinsky’s degenerate cacophony in the “sick” music of Sacre:

War is being waged against atonal music as a phase of “Jewish cultural Bolshevism” with great vigour at the exhibition of “degenerate music” at Düsseldorf. The object of the exhibition is to teach the German public to appreciate the beauty of what is accepted by National Socialism as orthodox music. The public is given an opportunity of hearing both “orthodox” and “unorthodox” music, much as it was given the opportunity at Munich last year of seeing “orthodox” art and the “degeneracy” of expressionism, Cubism, and Dadaism…. Visitors to the exhibition enter the doorless cubicles and press white buttons in each of them, whereupon a gramophone plays atonal selections from Stravinsky, Arnold Schönberg, Hindemith, Ernst Krenek, and other composers whose works are either frowned upon or fully prohibited here. The result is a tremendous clash of muddled atonal sound when several cubicles are in use at once. 

Richard Strauss participated in the “Reich Music Days” by conducting his opera Arabella (1930–1932) just three days after the opening of the “Degenerate Music” exhibition. The message was clear: Arabella was exactly the kind of “healthy” music that the Third Reich would promote as opposed to that of the “degenerate” Modernists. Strauss then graciously provided the musical backdrop for Goebbels’ speech at the same event by conducting a version of his Festliches Präludium with expanded orchestration, after which the Reichsminister hectored his audience of German performers and composers that no longer would the regime tolerate “the bare constructivism of Jewish experiment displacing clear lines and melody from the heart.” A year later, at the next Reich Music Days (in 1939), Goebbels summarized state policy to “cancel” all non-conformist music, insisting that “it is a particular responsibility of the state, her various bodies, and of the trade organizations of musicians in Germany, to remove the encroachments by alien elements which endanger our musical creativity. Here the nation and her responsible bodies act as the gardener who must pull out the weeds in order to let the real fruit grow, ripen, and flourish.” 

But what happens when you “cancel”—persecute and exile—the majority of the individualistic geniuses active in Germany and Central Europe—for example Schönberg, Berg, Hindemith, Stravinsky, Bartók, Křenek, and a whole host of Jewish composers—who do not fit your conformist mold? Who will replace them?

The answer is to lionize the two remaining internationally recognized “German-friendly”—Nazi-supportive—composers, Richard Strauss and the Finn Jean Sibelius, and underwrite a whole cadre of ideologically compliant mediocrities like Gottfried Müller (1914–1993). Today, Müller is virtually unknown—not even meriting an entry in either the Revised New Grove or the new MGG—but during the Third Reich he was regarded as a poster-boy genius. In 1934, at the tender age of 19, he attained prominence for his Deutsches Heldenrequiem (German Heroes Requiem), op. 4, dedicated to Hitler. In December 1934, a German newspaper boasted that “already a generation of composers arises in Germany that creates entirely in the spirit of National Socialist Germany. There is the young Gottfried Müller who, among various things, has created the German Heroes Requiem, a work of vivid greatness and meaningful beauty.” Goebbels had high hopes for Müller; in his diary entry for November 17, 1936, he remarked, “Evening in Berlin. Rehearsals for the yearly meeting of the Chamber of Culture. A number of modern works, …especially Variationen über Morgenrot by Gottfried Müller—a memorable evening. The Berlin Philharmonic plays wonderfully. I give them good praise.” On December 2, 1936, Goebbels noted happily in his diary concerning Müller that he was “a great national hope,” who, in order to compose, had been exempted from his second year of military service by the Führer. In April 1937, Goebbels and Hitler attended a rehearsal of the Requiem sung by the Bruno Kittel Choir; Goebbels noted: “he [Müller] wrote it when he was 19. [He is] one that is still immature, but volcanic, skillful, bold, modern, but musical. Maybe a really great talent for the future. The Führer is very impressed by it. Furtwängler, who is there, is also very positive. Müller is still young, he still seems completely unconscious and not at all experienced. But that is also his strength.” In November 1941, the conductor Elmendorff wrote to Gerda Troost, widow of the architect of the House of German Art in Munich, who belonged to Hitler’s private circle. Proposing to play Müller’s setting of “Five Führer Words” for the dictator, he described the piece as “the greatest musical glorification of the Führer’s genius for this century. Tietjen is planning the premiere of the work under my direction in Bayreuth after the war in the presence of the Führer. Müller and I would like to know the Führer’s point of view. Should we wait or should we present this brilliant piece based on five sayings of the Führer to the German people as soon as possible?”

While Strauss, Sibelius, and Furtwängler, as the regime’s musical superstars, were awarded huge sums for their cooperation, the lesser lights were not forgotten. Even during the increasingly desperate war years, state largesse continued unabated. In the 1942 financial year, for example, the amount of 100,000 RM from the state budget was devoted to subsidizing composers of “serious” music. Two committees awarded 6,000 RM each to Paul Graener, Hans Pfitzner, and Strauss; 4,000 RM each to Theodor Berger, Johann Nepomuk David, Werner Egk, Ottmar Gerster, Kurt Hessenberg, Karl Höffer, Karl Höller, Joseph Marx, Ernst Pepping, Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek, Max Trapp, Julius Weismann, and Hermann Zilcher; 2,000 RM each to Cesar Bresgen, Hugo Distler, Wolfgang Fortner, Harald Genzmer, Hermann Grabner, Armin Knab, Gottfried Müller, Carl Orff, Kurt Rasch, Friedrich Reidinger, Georg Schumann, Heinz Tiessen and Richard Trunk; and 1,000 RM each to Edmund von Borck, Hans Chemin-Petit, Gerhard Frommel and Egon Kornauth. This extravagance is compounded by the fact that 6,000 RM was the average upper-middle-class yearly salary during the Nazi period.

But what do you do if your favored composers are only able to deliver third-rate ideologically-conformist music bordering on kitsch? To fill in the lacuna, your only remaining option is to recontextualize and repurpose the great music of the past to glorify your ideology. I shall show that is exactly what was done with, for example, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Sibelius’ Seventh Symphony, and Liszt’s Les Preludes.  

During the Third Reich, Sibelius was lionized as the quintessential “Nordic” composer. Lucien Price (1883–1964), an American Harvard graduate who interviewed Sibelius in the late summer of 1935, sheds significant light on the ideological parallelism between the “Nordic Concept” promulgated by the Nazis and their allies, including in America, and Sibelius’ own thinking at that time. It is noteworthy that Price’s account, “Portrait of Sibelius at Järvenpää,” with its clear white-racist overtones, was published in the Winter 1935 edition of The Yale Review and reprinted at the end of his book We Northmen, published in 1936. 

What do you do if your favored composers are only able to deliver third-rate ideologically-conformist music bordering on kitsch?

Price’s book, as its title suggests, espouses a hypothesis strikingly similar to that of Alfred Rosenberg, namely that all real culture traveled from north to south. According to this view, the upsurge of Judeo-Christianity from the ancient Mediterranean world that accompanied the decline of the Roman Empire had a negative effect on “true” pagan Nordic culture, and, hence, on civilization itself. For Price, this problem was compounded for WASPs transplanted from Europe to America: “What had we North Americans lost of our ancient cultural heritage, more recently by transplantation overseas, more remotely through the stifling of our indigenous thought by Oriental religions [i.e. Judaism and Christianity]? …[T]he music of Sibelius seemed to me to say the same: ‘This is what we Northmen would have been if allowed to develop in our own way. This is what at heart we remain. Listen, and know thyself.’” Here, Price evokes Wagner’s notorious essay of February 1881, in which he urges Germans to “know themselves” and thereby understand the nature of what is German so they can better resist Bismarck’s emancipation of the Jews in 1871—an essay that enjoyed wide currency in Nazi circles. 

By suggesting “that the true religious expression of us Northern Europeans, as distinct from our borrowed Hebraic cults, is and always has been in the form of artistic creation,” Price implies that Christianity is not deeply rooted in Europe and America, and remains essentially foreign to “Nordic” peoples. Like Rosenberg, Price seeks to peel away a veneer of a thousand years or more of Christian history in Northern Europe and “return” to a new paganism. The term “Hebraic cult” in this context is obviously pejorative: Jews are to blame for a bad Christian superstition imposed upon a previously healthy Nordic stock. Then, perhaps most significant for any investigation of Sibelius’ own ideology at the time, Price reports: “I was startled to find this territory of thought by no means unfamiliar to Sibelius. It was discussed repeatedly and with more frankness than I feel justified in reporting fully [my emphasis]; not only by him but by Madame Sibelius, a most remarkable woman, and so in harmony with him intellectually that one finds himself involuntarily speaking to and thinking of them as one.” Price remains somewhat coy regarding his “repeated” and “frank” discussions of race, religion, and culture at Ainola (Sibelius’ house) probably because he fears that, in reporting them, he might offend Anglo-American sensibilities. 

There can be little doubt that the neo-heathenistic white-Nordic rhetoric emanating from Ainola at the end of 1935 is closely related to that being promulgated by Rosenberg and his myriad followers in Nazi circles, and also in American ivies at the time. It is unsurprising, then, that these same ideas are embodied in the speech Rosenberg delivered preceding the performance of Sibelius’ Seventh Symphony under Furtwängler at the “Nordic Festival” held in Lübeck on June 8, 1935 (Plates 1–2). Published photos show a large contingent of troops forming a square-within-the-square of the marketplace, lending the entire proceedings a martial character (Plates 3–4).

Plate 1: Alfred Rosenberg delivering his speech preceding the performance of Sibelius’ Seventh Symphony, June 8, 1935, in Lübeck.
Plate 2: Furtwängler rehearsing Sibelius’ Seventh Symphony at the Nordic Festival, June 8, 1935.
Plate 3: The Nordic Festival in Lübeck at which Furtwängler conducted Sibelius’ Seventh Symphony, June 8, 1935.
Plate 4: SS Men playing lurs to initiate Rosenberg’s speech.

Another photo shows SS men playing lurs (Bronze Age horns) to initiate the ceremony and Rosenberg’s speech precisely at noon, with Hitler Youth, who perform trumpet fanfares thereafter, standing behind them. It is noteworthy that lurs were used by Otto zur Nedden—the same man who three years later would organize the “Degenerate Music” exhibition—to illustrate his lecture entitled “Tonal and Atonal Music in their Historical and Racial Fundamentals,” to prove the natural connection of the (ancient) Germans to the triad and the Jews to atonality.

Rosenberg began his speech referring to the “elemental force” of Germany’s internal embrace of Nazism, which he hopes the Nordic nations will come to understand. A “healing metaphor” is evoked with reference to “recovery from a serious illness,” a rejuvenation dependent not only upon the rejection of its fundamental cause, i.e. the Weimar Republic, but the affirmation of “a continually radiating power emanating from the peoples of the North.” Thus, for Rosenberg, like Price, the driving force of civilization migrated not from the Middle East to Europe as the religion and culture of the Jews, transformed by Christianity, moved northwest, but the inverse, as waves of Nordics colonized the ancient civilizations of India, Iran, Greece, and Rome (a false and ahistorical claim). The same “Nordic energy” that led to the flowering of these Mediterranean civilizations would now regenerate Germany and the other Nordic countries, leading to the triumphant “rebirth of all of the form-creative peoples of Europe.”

The music critic for the Lübecker Volksbote, one Dr. Paul Bülow, described the concert conducted by Furtwängler as linked with the Rosenberg speech:

The external picture at the beginning of the Festival Concert already pointed to the special significance of this evening. …When Furtwängler appeared, the public rose from its seat—only brief applause, stilled by the raised hand of the conductor as he began. The order of the programmed performances in the opening concert of a Nordic Music Festival was clear and unequivocal, and avoided any experimentation… the Finnish Sibelius, bound to Nature in a Nordic manner; Beethoven as the warlike-heroic type of Nordic man. What the three preceding sessions of the Reich Festival offered in terms of the content of their lectures regarding the Nordic type, found here in the tones of the Master their artistic glorification [my emphasis].

Surely, it cannot be coincidental that the second half of the program presented two symphonies, Beethoven’s Fifth and Sibelius’ Seventh, with the same key-scheme, C minor resolving to C major, both following the per aspera ad astra narrative. The “triumph of light over darkness” paradigm in both symphonies in the same key was now revalued to represent the triumphant epiphany of the National Socialist revolution and the “Nordic” within the overall “healing metaphor” of the body politic, exactly as articulated in Rosenberg’s speech. In the realm of music, then, the turgid openings of both symphonies would parallel the heroic struggle of the nascent movement to the “seizure of power.” The C minor openings were the grim determination of the “old fighters,” the C major conclusions the final victory of the “New Germany” and “Nordic man.” If there was any equivocation in the ending of Sibelius’ Seventh Symphony, this would be completely dispelled by the triumphant Finale of Beethoven’s Fifth. Writing also in the Zeitschrift für Musik, Bülow again foregrounds the parallelism between Rosenberg’s narrative of “Nordic Rebirth” and the sequence of the Sibelius symphony culminating in the Beethoven to represent the rebirth of “the warlike-heroic type of the Nordic man”: 

Alfred Rosenberg gave this important festive cycle its cultural-political direction in his speech on the Lübeck marketplace. The Reich Leader called attention to the manifestation of art drawing the peoples together in this Festival, “that should become a symbol of these Nordic fundamental powers that everywhere had once found their victorious echoes in the peoples of this Nordic sphere.” He also wished that in the realm of music, “the Nordic rebirth would not be [just] a slogan but a great experience with formative power.” …Over the individual days of performances, this rousing indication and proclamation of the significance of this music festival achieved a striking cultural and political fulfillment totally in the spirit of the binding words of the Führer: “the cultural monuments of humanity were always the altars of consciousness of their better purpose and higher worth.”

To summarize, this revaluation is created by these performances within the context of a ritualized event, whereby the choice and sequence of the Sibelius and Beethoven symphonies plays out, musically, the Nazis’ “Nordic rebirth” concept.

Let us now turn to our second example of the repurposing of classical music, namely Goebbels’ use of the opening fanfare from Liszt’s tone poem Les Preludes for propagandistic purposes. Liszt prefaced the score with a quotation from Lamartine’s Méditations Poetiques:

What is our life but a series of preludes to that unknown Hymn, the first and solemn note of which is intoned by Death?—Love is the glowing dawn of all existence; but what is the fate where the first delights of happiness are not interrupted by some storm, the mortal blast of which dissipates its fine illusions, the fatal lightning of which consumes its altar; and where is the cruelly wounded soul which, on issuing from one of these tempests, does not endeavor to rest his recollection in the calm serenity of life in the fields? Nevertheless man hardly gives himself up for long to the enjoyment of the beneficent stillness which at first he has shared in Nature’s bosom, and when ‘the trumpet sounds the alarm,’ hastens, to the dangerous post, whatever the war may be, which calls him to its ranks, in order at last to recover in the combat full consciousness of himself and the entire possession of his energy [my emphasis].

For Lamartine and Liszt, these martial references have a figurative significance representing the necessity for the jilted lover to rouse his “cruelly wounded soul” from its melancholy lethargy to rejoin life’s battle. For Goebbels, however, Liszt’s musical alarm is reinterpreted to become a literal call to arms against the Soviet Union. It is noteworthy that on April 20, 1941, roughly two months prior to the attack on Russia, Hans Knappersbusch conducted a special performance of Les Preludes to introduce the premiere of Goebbels’ anti-British propaganda film Ohm Krueger. Perhaps, this performance inspired Goebbels to leverage the opening of the Liszt as a musical metaphor to “sell” Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Russia; in any event, Goebbels lit upon the initial fanfare of Liszt’s Les Preludes as his “Russia Fanfare.” He decided that when the invasion of the Soviet Union was launched, all news bulletins related to it would be preceded by the Lisztian “fanfare.”

For once, the Nazi penchant for hyperbole seemed justified. On June 22, 1941, about four million Axis soldiers invaded the Soviet Union along a 2,900-kilometer (1,800 mile) front—the largest invasion force in the history of warfare. In addition to troops, the Germans employed some 600,000 motor vehicles and between 600–700,000 horses. However, Goebbels was unsatisfied with simply repurposing the Liszt fanfare; rather he would “update” it by splicing it to a newly composed “hit” song to provide a soundtrack for the attack. Therefore, he commissioned three librettists—Heinrich Anacker, Hans Wilhelm Kulenkampff, and Hans Tieszler—to produce a suitable text, entitled Von Finnland bis zum Schwarzen Meer (“From Finland to the Black Sea”), which he himself revised, and then two composers, Herms Niel (1888–1954) and Norbert Schultze (1911–2002), set it. Niel, well-known for his marches and martial songs, including Sieg heil Viktoria (1941) composed for the Waffen SS, was a true “Piefke” in Viennese slang, named after Johann Gottfried Piefke (1817–1884), a rigid Prussian band leader and composer of military music.

Schultze was a more versatile composer, who had already achieved fame for his “pop” song Lili Marleen (1938), which became popular in both Axis and Allied camps. More notoriously, however, his 1939 song Bomben auf Engeland was deployed in 1940 to glorify the “Blitz”—a composition which, post-war, would, poetically, land him a sojourn in an English prison.

The final text for the new song reads as follows:

We stood for Germany at our posts
and kept the long watch.
Now the sun rises in the east
And calls millions to the battle.

Refrain:
From Finland to the Black Sea:
Forward, forward!
Forward to the east, you storming army!
Freedom the goal, victory the banner!
Führer, command! We follow you!

What started with the March of Horst Wessel
In the brown uniforms of the SA
Is fulfilled in the gray columns:
The big moment is here!

Now surge eastward, armies,
Into the Russian homeland.
Comrades, now to the guns!
The victory will be ours!

In his diary entry for June 30, 1941, Goebbels noted, “The new Russia song is here. Norbert’s setting is better than Niel’s. So we take the former…. It airs for the first time… and arouses great enthusiasm throughout the country.… Our new song is liked everywhere. It will be a big hit.”

It is important to note that the invasion had begun already on June 22, but Goebbels decreed no official announcement until the song, which he dubbed the Schicksalslied des deutschen Volkes (“Song of Destiny of the German People”), was ready for broadcast on June 30. By calling it a Schicksalslied, Goebbels again reached back to nineteenth-century music, this time to Brahms’ setting of Friedrich Hölderlin’s poem. But, whereas, for Hölderlin and Brahms, the Schicksalslied concerns the fate of all humanity, Goebbels twists it to signify that it is “the destiny” of the German people to attack Communist Russia, its “natural” enemy. That Goebbels delayed announcing the largest invasion in history a full eight days until he had succeeded in producing what he considered its optimal anthem testifies to the importance of music for his propaganda campaign.

Whereas, for Hölderlin and Brahms, the Schicksalslied concerns the fate of all humanity, Goebbels twists it to signify that it is “the destiny” of the German people to attack Communist Russia, its “natural” enemy.

Nor was an important composer like Richard Strauss above contributing to Goebbels’ soundtrack. But one looks in vain under the entry for Strauss’s piece Feierlicher Einzug der Ritter des Johanniter-Ordens, op. 103 (“Ceremonial Entry of the Knights of the Order of St. John”) in Franz Trenner’s Richard Strauss Werkverzeichnis (“Richard Strauss’s Worklist”)—published in 1985—for any mention of its 1937 reworking. This version is as a piece for men’s chorus and large orchestra, renamed Feierlich Anruf (“Solemn Appell”) with a text by Rudolf G. Binding (1867–1938) and dedicated to Hitler: Grossen Volkes heiligen Rach—tief im Schlafe dumpf in Fron (“The Holy Revenge of a Great People, in Deep Sleep, Lumbering in Drudgery”). This arrangement, which, for copyright reasons, could never have been made without Strauss’s express permission, was premiered on April 18, 1934, in Berlin at an SS concert with Hitler and Goebbels in attendance. The poem includes this sycophantic stanza: 

To one was the word granted
To one only was the call and the seeding.
Through strength he bestows peace.
And he gives more than that:
To unify his people, that was his most beautiful deed.

Surely, the existence of this version should not be concealed—but Trenner obviously felt it just too embarrassing to include in the list of works. Strauss went on to contribute pieces such as his Japanische Festmusik (1940), Festmusik der Stadt Wien (1943), settings of regime poet Josef Weinheber (1942), and Der Donau (a large-scale tone poem left unfinished with the fall of the regime) to provide music for official Nazi celebrations. 1942 was the highpoint of public honors for Weinheber. His fiftieth birthday was the occasion for important festivities; he was awarded the honorary ring of the City of Vienna, and two song settings by Strauss were premiered. He received a wallet containing 5,000 RM from Goebbels and an honorary award of 3,000 RM from the Reich Post Minister Wilhelm Ohnesorge, who, incidentally, was also connected with German efforts to build a nuclear bomb. In 1942, when Koichi Ehara, the Japanese power behind the throne at the Manchurian Embassy in Berlin, wanted yet another ceremonial piece from Strauss to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the “Manchurian Empire,” Strauss demurred, observing that he had already produced his Japanische Festmusik. Nevertheless, he helpfully proposed that their mutual friend, Eakte Ahn (Korean-born Japanese collaborator and composer of South Korea’s national anthem), compose something new. Then he, Strauss, as Ahn’s mentor, would be happy to look through anything Ahn might write and make suggestions (Plate 5). Thus was born Ahn’s Symphonische Fantasie “Manchukuo.” 

Plate 5: In 1942, Strauss gives his friend Korean Japanese collaborator Eakte Ahn some friendly advice concerning his Symphonische Fantasie “Manchukuo.”

After the war, Ahn destroyed the score of the Manchukuo Fantasie and deleted it from his works’ list; while he boasted about his relationship with Strauss, he never breathed a single word concerning his collaboration with Ehara under Strauss’s tutelage, and even falsified his account of the Berlin concert at which he conducted Manchukuo, their joint project, pretending that he had performed Beethoven’s Ninth instead! Fortunately for researchers interested in historical truth, the program of the performance of Manchukuo in Vienna on February 11, 1943 (Plate 6), has survived, as has film of the Berlin concert on August 18, the triumphant conclusion of which is preserved in Goebbels’ weekly newsreel.

Plate 6: Program for the performance of Eakte Ahn’s Symphonic Phantasy Manchukuo,” Vienna, February 11, 1943. Ahn is falsely identified as the “Japanese composer” Ekitai Ahn; in fact, he was Korean collaborator.

Indeed, on November 8, 2009, after eight years of intensive historical investigation, the Korean Institute for Research into Collaborationist Activities published an Encyclopedia of Korean Collaborators with Japan (친일인명사전), which included Ahn on its list of “cultural traitors.” At a press conference held on April 29, 2008, at the Seoul Press Center, the committee discussed Ahn’s activities in Europe between 1937 and 1944, stating that, “Although Ahn did not collaborate with Japan within Korean territory, abroad he continually and repeatedly praised Japanese imperialism, and it is clear that he collaborated with Nazi power. Therefore, there was no hesitation in including him on the list.”

Strauss enjoyed excellent relations with SS-Brigadeführer Hanns Blaschke (1896–1971) who, immediately after the Anschluss of Austria in 1938, was appointed the assistant mayor of Vienna, the head of its Cultural Office, and the editor of the culture journal Die Pause. On June 10, 1943, Strauss conducted the premiere of his Festmusik der Stadt Wien after a speech by the Mayor of Vienna Philipp Jung (1885–1965) celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Anschluss. That day, the Viennese press, acclaiming the event, crowed that

The fifth return of that memorable historic hour—in which Adolf Hitler in 1938, buffeted by the cheers of the people of Vienna when entering the Vienna City Hall, accepted the pledge of loyalty from the city, and proclaimed in the great festival hall “the Day of the Greater German Reich”—was celebrated by the city of Vienna with an uplifting ceremony, at the heart of which was a speech by Mayor Jung. The memorial celebration received a special consecration from an artistic event of the highest order: the world premiere of the most recent work by the composer Dr. Richard Strauss, through a Festive Music for the City of Vienna under the personal direction of the Master [my emphasis]…. Mayor Jung spoke and called to mind once more the historic utterances…..of the Führer Adolf Hitler, and continued, “With this deed the dream of all good Germans was fulfilled, namely of one Reich under one strong leadership.”… The special greeting of Mayor [Jung] was then extended to Dr. Richard Strauss, “who wished to ornament this memorial day through a new work of his high art [my emphasis].” The speech closed with the words:… “We wish to recall that day as the most important milestone in German history, to give fresh impetus to the great event, and to renew our vow to follow the banner of the Führer in good and bad times, and to be loyal unto death.”

After conducting the premiere, Strauss symbolically handed the manuscript of the new Nazi ceremonial piece to Blaschke, a moment captured by the photographer (Plate 7). There are several performances posted on YouTube which discretely fail to mention the work’s Nazi historical context and semantics. Neither is there a word about it in the program booklet for the 2021 Chandos recording.

Plate 7: Strauss gives the autograph score of the Festmusik der Stadt Wien to Hans Blaschke, June 10, 1943. Philipp Jung, Mayor of Vienna, stands behind Blaschke. The conductor of the Trumpeterchor der Stadt Wien, Hans Heinz Scholtys (to whom the work was officially dedicated) is standing behind Strauss, with his face partly covered.
Plate 8: A photograph taken on June 10, 1943, on the steps of the Vienna City Hall after Jung’s speech and Strauss’s premiere shows (from right to left) composer Richard Strauss, Mayor Jung, Assistant Mayor Prof. Dr. Blaschke, and Higher SS and Police Leader Rudolf Querner, who was fully initiated into the methods of the mass gassing of Jews as early as 1941 (i.e. two years before this photo was taken). German historian Christian Gerlach has discovered documents disclosing that, in 1941, Querner ordered large quantities of Zyklon-B gas from Hamburg to murder Jews in Mogilyov. According to his SS file in Berlin, Blaschke’s career in the SS was warmly supported by fellow Austrian Ernst Kaltenbrunner, later hung at Nürnberg for crimes against humanity; Blaschke’s application to be promoted from SS-Oberführer to SS-Brigadeführer in January of 1944 was recommended by Querner.

In Plate 8, Strauss’s son Franz appears with raised hand behind his father, while Rudolf Querner’s right hand partially obscures a bust of Hitler. Blaschke, responsible for artistic affairs, is proudly holding in his left hand the autograph score of Strauss’s new work, the Festmusik der Stadt Wien, just premiered under the composer’s baton; indeed, Blaschke liaised with Strauss regarding the organization of the composer’s contribution. Both Blaschke and Querner appear in the uniforms of senior SS officers. Of course, many contemporaries, who should know better, will always capitulate to the ruling orthodoxy that Strauss did such things for a host of different reasons including fear, cowardice, desire for advancement and power, greed, opportunism, fame, etc. Still, a brave and stubborn few will invariably resist. The great music theorist Heinrich Schenker (1868–1935) and his friend, composer Reinhard Oppel (1878–1941), expressed their disdain for musical conformity to Nazi ideology. At the end of 1933, Oppel, who taught at the once world-famous Mendelssohn Conservatory in Leipzig (founded in April 1843 by Mendelssohn himself when Germany was still something of a meritocracy), wrote to Schenker in Vienna that “Hitler is enthusiastic about Richard Trunk (one of the state-supported mediocrities mentioned earlier), the conductor of the Cologne Men’s Choir, who now… of course produces mass choirs.” On February 19, 1934, he further reported that

many things that I see and experience do not please me at all. In music much hasn’t changed; the Gewandhaus [Orchestra, also made famous by Mendelssohn] just produced, under [Günther] Ramin [as conductor], [Johann Georg] Reutter’s The Great Calendar, a terrible piece, unmusical; it is criminal that so much money, time, and energy must be sacrificed for such unproductive stuff. Fashionable folly and progressive blather!

Approximately four months later, on June 17, he wrote to Schenker:

…[C]oincidentally, during the days I spent on the Rhine, the Cologne men’s choir sang in Kreuznach under Trunk, who is persona grata with Hitler. It was terrible what the man did as a choir director and as a composer, and as an accompanist to his singing wife. Still worse that such a donkey of a male-choir [leader] should be co-director of the Cologne Conservatory. But these people are “successful.” For art they remain ephemera [my emphasis].

Oppel’s dim view of such conformists was shared by Schenker. When the Nazis initially banned both “white and Negro Jazz” on German radio, Schenker quipped to his student Anthony van Hoboken (the famous cataloguer of Haydn’s works) that “the recently repudiated dynamic of jazz was almost more fun than that of today’s folkish art [lustiger als die der völkischen Kunst].” 

A striking example of yet another intelligent musician who should have known better yet disgracefully sought to ingratiate himself with the Nazis is provided by the ethnically half-Jewish Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno (1903–1969). Adorno was a student of Alban Berg, one of the few non-Jewish Modernists smeared as “degenerate”—though, ironically, Berg tried unsuccessfully to opportunistically curry favor with the Berlin authorities in order to replace his teacher Schönberg. On September 11, 1933, Adorno learned that, as a half-Jew, he had been deprived of his venia legendi and was unable to continue teaching in Germany. 

In Oxford, in 1934, surrounded by a flood of refugee scholars, mostly Jewish, who were in the same awkward if not desperate circumstances as himself, Adorno nevertheless—in hopes of facilitating his permanent return—still attempted to ingratiate himself with the Nazi authorities by praising Nazi choral music in the anti-Semitic, anti-Modernist Nazi journal Die Musik. In his shamefully laudatory review of Nazi composer Herbert Müntzel’s choral settings of Hitler Youth chief Baldur von Schirach’s poetry dedicated to Hitler, which was published in the June 1934 issue, Adorno enthused: 

Herbert Müntzel’s cycle stands out in the most recent choral publications by the Merseburger Verlag, mostly celebratory choirs for German [nationalist] occasions. Not only because it [the cycle] is characterized as deliberately National Socialist through the choice of [von] Schirach’s poems, but also because of its quality: [evidence of] an unusual creative will. It is not about patriotic mood and vague enthusiasm, but the question of the possibility of new folk music itself that is seriously projected through the composition…  [The aesthetics of] the fighter’s club and Neoclassical are both repudiated, and the image of a new romanticism is evoked, perhaps of the kind that Goebbels has defined as “romantic realism.”

Later, in 1963, when finally confronted with published proof of his collaboration, Adorno admitted in an interview that he deeply regretted celebrating von Schirach, and also that he should never have adopted Goebbels’ idea of “romantic realism.” Most tellingly, however, he lamely attempted to excuse his behavior by suggesting that he had tried to return to rescue German culture: “The real mistake lay in my misjudgment of the situation: if you will, in the folly of a man who found it infinitely difficult to decide to emigrate. I believed that the Third Reich couldn’t last long, that one had to stay and save what was possible.”

Müntzel’s music—for which Adorno sacrificed his personal and professional integrity—was, in fact, so ephemeral, so inconsequential, even by Nazi standards, that its print run must have been relatively small, and, as a result, it has proven impossible (in spite of this author’s sustained search) to locate even a single surviving copy of the score. To be sure, Gottfried Müller—the poster boy of Nazi music—has been largely forgotten, and the full extent of the collaboration of real talents like Strauss and Sibelius suppressed.

Myriad bombastic, ideologically conformist pieces, whether composed by mediocrities or geniuses, have been almost completely erased—whether deliberately or not is ultimately immaterial. If history may serve as a guide, one suspects that, three quarters of a century from now, all or most of today’s voluminous ideologically tendentious art and music will be similarly either forgotten or deliberately deleted.


To Hold Together: Meaning, Anti-Semitism, + “Us”

If today’s ascendent Islamic supremacism is more openly anti-Jewish than Nazism, more misogynist than the “patriarchal West” at its worst, sexually repressive beyond any church or cult, and imperialistic in its very self-definition, it has counted on the complicity of what philosophy superstar Judith Butler proudly identifies as the anti-racist, anti-sexist, pro-queer, anti-imperialist “progressive global left.”

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Judean Non-Conformity: Tradition + Modernity

Israel’s embrace of non-conforming national pride and religious tradition has not only enabled the Jewish state to survive but to thrive despite facing 75 years of continuous aggression from various enemies bent on its destruction.

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Architecture of Film: The Conformist (1970)

In director Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1970 Il conformista (“The Conformist”), based on Alberto Moravia’s 1947 novel of the same name, we follow the life of Marcello, an ordinary if psychologically damaged man in Italy in the 1930s.

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Marching to the Beat of Each Other’s Drum

It is profoundly uninspiring to realize that in the United States we have willfully, yes willfully, jettisoned our individualism in favor of group identity. The notion that marginalized groups must think alike is detrimental to the very groups.

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Knocking on G-d’s Door: The Heart of True Activism

The essence of activism and advocacy isn’t a fundraising and marketing game. It isn’t staying up to date on the latest social media trends. It isn’t avoiding certain truths as to not lose donor dollars, and it isn’t a popularity contest. It is knocking on G-d’s door.

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The Righteous Battle for the Soul of Black America

Right now, your adolescent is fed that their hair color, their nose and lip shapes, their body shape, the way they look, the way they dance, the way they dress is more important than their character, than how they treat people and how they treat themselves.

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The Social Psychology of Conformity

Being a nonconformist is not about fighting for the sake of fighting. Nonconformists do not seek to burn things down and watch the smoke settle. They desire to create transformation and positive change.

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Insufficient Zeal for the Jihad

C / ALAN: What? No. Jews, we’re loud, but we don’t, we’re not violent [sic]. We don’t engage in violence.

A / DAHNA: Oh no?

—Jason Grote, 1001 (2007)

Lauren Eicher as Dahna, Nael Nacer as Alan. (Liza Voll / Company One)

Against hindsight’s superior judgment, in the summer of 2011 I enrolled in a five-week acting class at Emerson College in Boston. It lasted from 9:00 in the morning to 8:30 at night, and then for several hours more each Saturday. It was exhausting, humiliating, and revealed permanently that my dramatic talents lay elsewhere. That such a grueling, ultimately fruitless self-incurred adventure should have occurred at 17, and not later, is a blessing for which I am grateful.

The night of July 27, our class was slated to see a play at the Plaza Theatre on Tremont Street in the South End. It was called 1001 by Jason Grote, a playwright whose work, in retrospect, I am surprised that my lunatic high school drama teacher never inflicted upon me along with Jean Genet and myriad other Marxist luminaries unknown to people with normal educations.

1001 is a remarkable play that is hilarious, seductive, and alarmingly relevant,” Company One’s artistic director Shawn LaCount wrote in the program. “At times dizzying in its approach, Grote has a style of storytelling that we think you’ll find surprising and enticing. You’ll want to buckle up for this magic carpet ride.” Fair enough.

Little did 17-year-old me know, however, that standard acting curriculum in first-rate art colleges included lewd, anti-Semitic screeds against the country in which they stood, received with all the solemnity of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). This was normal fair, apparently, as the tenth anniversary of 9/11 approached—and the most unorthodox people in society, as subsequent events would illustrate, brooked no unorthodox observations. The previous decade was apparent proof that the West needed a restorative herbal bath of jihad to warm its icy heart, and the inhabitants of the land between the Nile and Fertile Crescent had far too much of it for there to be peace on earth. K–12 education wasn’t indoctrinating children against civilization quickly enough, so it needed some sophisticated collegiate cavalry. “Woke” had awoken long before everybody knew that men were really barren women, and, as I learned, anybody under 30 daring to opine otherwise was not to be trusted.

I was to endure a ride indeed that evening, but with no means of buckling up, and even less magic than allowed in the Dursley household. And in the space of about 100 minutes, I would be privy to more reasons than the title’s zeroes represented why Jews should never go to the theater.

Original program for the Boston Plaza Theatre and Company One’s production of Jason Grote’s 1001, which ran from July 15 through August 13, 2011.

A tale of noble Arabs, a Jewish putz + fat crusaders

The convoluted, deliberately confusing play concerns two main intersecting stories: the first of The Thousand and One Nights, in which clever Sheherazad cheats death by enchanting the Persian king Shahriyar with 1,001 stories, the second of the incompatible lovers Alan, a Jewish hipster, and Dahna, a Palestinian-born Kuwaiti, set in New York City in 2001. Six actors play all of the many parts, but actors “A” and “C”—as the (typo-ridden) script calls them—exclusively play both Sheherazad-Dahna and Shahriyar-Alan respectively.

The first scene opens with an ensemble comprised of actors “B,” “D,” “E,” and “F” describing Sheherazad, dressed as a modern-day Arab businesswoman, walking through Times Square, mocked deliberately as the “center of the world.” “This is it? The land of milk and honey?” Sheherazad thinks through the ensemble’s narration, while she tip-toes “through the throngs of fat crusaders.” The narration continues, driving any meandering points home:

Here [in New York City] all is ifrits [demons] and djinns, flitting to and fro, illuminating an infinity of idols.

She has been told of them, these djinns and ifrits, conjured by the infidels.

This is why she bears the story that weighs so heavily on her back and her hips. It moves inside her. Feel it? Feel it move. It is the story of a final jihad against the infidel (insh’Allah)[.]

Or it is the story of a monstrous carriage crashing into one of these great fortresses…[?]

The scene eventually shifts to the story of Sheherazad and Shahriyar. King Shahriyar discovers that his unnamed queen has committed adultery “with a filthy blackamoor slave… for debauched women prefer the Moors on account of the size of their parts,” a “One-Eyed Arab” informs the audience. While Shahriyar sits seething in front of a television on which video of his wife’s exploits is imagined to play, he, now believing that all women shall similarly betray him, resolves to procure, marry, and ravage a new virgin every night only to behead her in the morning. When the thousand-and-first such bride (“a young girl of 13 or 14,” the script notes, “who trembles, crying”) has been so surgically altered, Wazir, the king’s chief minister, tells him that the kingdom is now nearly denuded of virgins to sacrifice to his royal neurosis. Though the king may, perhaps, have achieved his goal of forever eradicating adultery from his realm, the resentful commoners—no doubt wishing to dispose of their daughters less wastefully—slide toward revolt. Sheherazad, Wazir’s daughter, then tells her father that she has a plan to save the king, the kingdom, and its virgins, from the wrath their lord’s madness will surely heap upon them. She herself shall marry the king and rescue him from himself.

Face-to-face with the gynophobic monarch, a fearless Sheherazad playfully licks the dried blood off her fiancé’s fingers and admires the manly “sinew in your arms” on account of “lifting a heavy sword” with such regularity. A dazed Shahriyar responds that “You totally remind me of my girlfriend.” Upon their marriage, Sheherazad conducts him to bed, and, with her sister Dunyazad’s help, convinces the king to hear a story before she receives the same fate as the fifty-score-and-one who have gone before her. Sheherazad proceeds to tell him a gawdy story of an Arab prince who lusted for his lisping sister, then, before the end is reached, she insists that she is exhausted, “And we have business to attend to this night, do we not?” Haltingly and still confused, he begs to hear the end of the story; she assents, but informs the king that this story “then may only be understood if one first hears another story.”

I was to endure a ride indeed that evening, but with no means of buckling up, and even less magic than allowed in the Dursley household. And in the space of about 100 minutes, I would be privy to more reasons than the title’s zeroes represented why Jews should never go to the theater.

Nael Nacer as Shahriyar, Lauren Eicher as Sheherazad. (Liza Voll / Company One)

Alan the Jewish hipster (his regal robes shed for a rumpled plaid shirt and jeans) then appears. He wanders the labyrinth of his own unconscious, sporting a conspicuously bandaged head wound. He is inarticulate, shabby, and makes little sense. He then stumbles upon the same “One-Eyed Arab” who introduced the character of Shahriyar. After the man shows Alan an incomprehensible TV program featuring Usamah bin Laden reciting lyrics from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” Alan is transported to his apartment with his Palestinian girlfriend Dahna.

Another NC-17-rated story from Sheherazad, this time smeared with unsubtle anti-colonial admonitions, transitions into Dahna and Alan’s awkward meeting story. In a lecture hall at Columbia, Dahna, a graduate student, appears at a microphone during the Q&A session after a panel discussing academic boycotts of Israel. Alan Dershowitz—“a learned and powerful Jew, advisor to the Christian kings of America,” a character called the “Horrible Monster” narrates—begins babbling empty, patronizing evasions over a brave, undaunted Dahna. She attempts to ask a polite question about why he does not support “a campaign for justice” modeled after the “successful campaign against Apartheid in South Africa.” Dershowitz will not let her speak, wheedles that she is an “extremist,” and talks over her until the moderator says that “we’ll have to move on to the next question.” After Dahna storms out, Alan, also a graduate student, follows her and tells her how much he admired her courage: “So that was uh great in there,” the slow-witted admirer blithers. “In that uh in the lecture you uh/ really held your own [sic].” He tries to make clear that “we [Jews] weren’t all like that. You know.” Their tedious dialogue is interrupted by the appearance of a livid Orthodox student, his tzitzit waving. He shouts at Dahna and accuses her—without reason, of course—of supporting “murderers and cancer,” since boycotting Israel will deprive sick people of life-saving Israeli medical technology. Alan shouts back at the crazed Chasid, who, now exposed in public as a coward who harasses women, retreats, defeated. Alan apologizes to Dahna on the man’s behalf; “I’m used to it,” she says stoically, adding that “It sounded like you were going to get violent.” Alan is rattled: “What? No. Jews, we’re loud, but we don’t, we’re not violent [sic]. We don’t engage in violence.” “Oh no?” the less than convinced yet ironically charmed Palestinian responds.

After calming down, Alan and Dahna embark on a flirtation, one which takes them from the clumsy romance of an illegal rave to the play’s defining location: Gaza.

Gunfire rocks and deafens the stage as Dahna ducks for cover holding a baby. The Israelis bombard Rafah while Dahna and Alan endeavor to aid the Strip’s besieged, destitute Muslims. Alan insisted that he and Dahna go there, seemingly out of moral obligation to prove that “We’re not all” like his namesake Dershowitz. Bullets careen left and right as Dahna narrates the hellish scene:

This is a bad night. We’re walking home after curfew with Mostafa, our translator, who has just taken his little girl to the Doctors Without Borders doctor. Something bad must have gone down today because soldiers start firing on us, that or they’re just bored maybe, or scared, but we hear, pok [sic]! Pok! Pok! Little chunks fly out of stone walls over our heads, small clouds of dust appear at our feet.

Dahna and Mostafa then see Alan the Jew standing frozen in front of the unseen Jewish soldiers. Ignoring their screams for him to run, Alan stands there, refusing to move, as the bullets fly over his head, slowly and purposely descending in height toward his skull. Finally, Mostafa runs and tackles him; he (the “One-Eyed Arab”) is shot in the eye. Though he lives, Alan is racked with guilt:

C / ALAN: I couldn’t move.

A / DAHNA: You were scared. It happens.

C / ALAN: It wasn’t that. I wanted to draw his fire. I felt like he knew, the soldier, somehow, that you and Mostafa were Arabs and I was a Jew, that if I stood there he wouldn’t kill me and you guys would. Get to safety [sic]. But then it was a game of chicken, like I was calling his bluff. I had this whole fantasy where he kills me, it makes the news, a Jew kills another Jew, they argue about it in the Knesset [sic].

Mostafa might die because of me.

Lauren Eicher as Dahna, Ben Gracia as Mostafa, Nael Nacer as Alan. (Liza Voll / Company One)

Alan and Dahna move in together after they come home. But they are not happy. Alan is boring, immature, and immersed in not working on his dissertation, supposedly “about postcolonialism and internet porn.” Dahna’s sister Lubna has heard that she is living in sin with a Jew—however “exciting”—and she desires better for her. Lubna sets her up via the wonder of instant messaging with Asser, a rich Palestinian currency trader living in England. The two flirt half-heartedly; Dahna is tempted by his appearance and wealth in contrast to Alan’s nerdy, nose-picking idealism, but admits to herself that Alan was unlike other Jews enough to be “ready to die for me” in Gaza. She decides, however, to tell an oblivious Alan that she is interested in somebody else, and insinuates that she can’t stay with him anymore. When Alan finally figures out that she wants to leave him, he begs her to stay. She points out that he, of the two, is the one far more obsessed with post-colonial studies and anti-Israel politics; “Sometimes I wonder if I’m just some kind of Orientalist project for you,” she sighs. “I can’t be who you want me to be.”

At that moment, the first plane roars into the North Tower. A deafening blast rocks the entire world. The Lower Manhattan apartment nearly disintegrates. The scene melts away to medieval Persia, with Dahna and Alan transformed back into Sheherazad and Shahriyar. The crusaders are coming. They are savages who “know little of civilization, for theirs stopped evolving centuries ago and they remain as in ancient times,” Wazir warns his lord. Shahriyar’s realm is too weak to fight the onrushing murderers, but he refuses to flee, as he must hear just one more story before the barbarians “cut us all and fornicate with our bleeding wounds.” Sheherazad tells of “Alaeddin and His Magic Lamp.” The famous jin finds a dirty, lovesick Alan desperately looking for Dahna as the sirens blare and the city crumbles into wasteland. Alan says that his only wish is to find Dahna; the jin says that he can and will see her again, but it will come at a terrible price. Alan agrees, and then rushes to a bus stop where Dahna is getting off the M106 from the Bronx, wearing a blue silk scarf as a mask (or a veil). She is civil but not pleased to see him. The Orthodox student from Columbia then bursts from the shadows. As before, he starts shouting at Dahna, but now he tears the scarf off her face. He shrieks that she—“Arab scum”—is a “terrorist c—t.” He pulls out a brick to kill Dahna. Alan tries to stop him. The man smashes Alan in the head, who falls down bleeding and senseless. He then raises the brick against Dahna, the witness. She opens her duffle bag and pulls out Shahriyar’s sword, hacking off the bloodthirsty Jew’s arm. He scuttles away, groaning, into the smoke of 9/11. The final scene sees Dahna reading to Alan from The Thousand and One Nights, he lying comatose in a hospital bed with his head wrapped in bandages. She leaves the room and then returns as Sheherazad, Alan emerging from the bed as Shahriyar. They dance together as an eternal couple—united forever as schmuck and heroine.

Why do Jews find magic carpet rides so offensive?

The next morning, I arrived at the Paramount Center hoping—perhaps assuming—that the teachers and my fellow students would share my shock and disgust. We sat, as always, in a close circle on the filthy gray dance mats to say what we each thought of the play. I have no specific memory of what anybody else said, but such a blank is indicative of their obedient, fascinated approval. Then my turn came.

I recall my heart sinking and doubling in temperature, somehow sensing what was coming. Yet, I had to tell the truth: with a sheepish smile on my face, trying to stay calm and keep my language temperate, I launched into how “offended” I had been (a word I know I used), that the play was anti-Israel propaganda (if anybody knew what that meant), and that it was filled with bizarre anti-Semitic fantasies and self-satisfied anti-American nonsense. Then I remember awkward, surprised silence. Nobody said anything for a few eternal seconds. Maybe one girl, who was also Jewish, perhaps agreed with me faintly, or did so with sufficient brevity or moderation that my memory never preserved her opinion. One of the teachers, who had served as part of the play’s production staff—an otherwise decent woman who, before and after, was always kind to me—smiled and said something diplomatic. Then we moved on to the next kid. Or maybe I was last.

I do not remember the rest of that specific day, but I will never forget my “friends”’ polite, belittling reaction. My “five-week family,” as one of the girls had christened the group, looked at me as if I had eaten of the insane root that takes the revolution prisoner. If one were to dislike a play, I was learning quickly, the only acceptable reasons were technical: bad actors, ineffective directing, unwise lighting choices, a script which failed to build tension. My reason—that the play presented delusional lies about Jews and Israel dressed up in arch, high-brow avant-garde—was not on the list. A greater faux pas was that I displayed a lack of zeal for what almost every accredited acting teacher will tell you is theater’s highest purpose: to disturb bourgeois sensibilities—distaste for PLO misinformation apparently among them. If actors were going to make the world a better place someday, lippy Jews like me shouldn’t be so self-righteous. Israel, as everybody knows, is a tiny SS outpost only quadruple-chinned long-ago-decomposed Republican Klansmen support. “Artists” and people with brains and feelings—unlike quadruple-chinned long-ago-decomposed Republican Klansmen—value “Palestine over profits,” so to speak, so they understand that Dahna pulling an Obi-Wan Kenobi on the Wandering Jew is the only way to end a rollicking good magic carpet ride.

She opens her duffle bag and pulls out Shahriyar’s sword, hacking off the bloodthirsty Jew’s arm. He scuttles away, groaning, into the smoke of 9/11.

Said said so

Jason Grote, of course—who describes himself as “a white, secular Jew” of a “Marxian” persuasion—is, not surprisingly, as his Facebook shows, a supporter of Ilhan Omar, prone to wearing a terrorist kufiyah scarf, and promised once that “I will find a way to urinate on you” if anybody accuses Bernie Sanders of advancing anti-Semitism—which, the socialist Forward says, he has. Yet, he, the crass literary snob who holds the most chic ideas in the wind, according to academia, is a non-conformist. Only people mad enough to see a commercial for the Hamas-supporting International Solidarity Movement—whom Grote’s own activism indicates he supports—and bother to complain are the stiffs.

And a pompous justification for jihad against Israelis is the only way to describe 1001. Since the same actor plays both Shahriyar and Alan, it cannot be irrelevant to Alan’s character that Shahriyar is a mass serial (child) rapist and serial killer, whose motivation is based purely upon petty sexual humiliation. Shahriyar is not only among the most pathetic characters imaginable, he is the ultimate coward. Due to tawdry penile envy and terror of female rejection, the tiny, weak, spineless king can only sooth his ego by massacring the most innocent and defenseless of his subjects. Israel, to Grote, appears to be the same: an evil, deranged tyranny so despicable and cowardly that it can only feed its thirst for power and security with the blood of Arab children. Alan the wimpy Jew is a righteous character only because he explicitly rejects his Jewishness and allegiance to his people’s nation-state. Further, Alan’s “fantasy” that a Jew killing another Jew would “make the news”—meaning that a Jew killing an Arab supposedly would not—lends fake evidence to the immortal anti-Semitic hallucination that the media are pro-Israel. He thus finds courage only when confronting Jews who do not reject their Jewishness, namely the unhinged Orthodox student and the murderous Israeli soldiers—who, like Amon Göth in Schindler’s List, kill when “bored.” As Jew-hating Columbia professor Joseph Massad once described Israel’s greatest achievement, 1001 can be summed up as “the transformation of the Jew into the anti-Semite and the Palestinian into the Jew.”

An even greater insult to human decency concerns the fact that, as some writers have mused in recent years, there are slight parallels between The Thousand and One Nights and the Book of Esther. Both depict beautiful, fearless heroines who hatch cunning schemes to rid the Persian Empire of an all-consuming evil. Both women marry dim, vain, thuggish potentates who believe they can preserve their rule only through mass slaughter. Both women successfully trick their degenerate emperors into giving might a rest and right a chance. The twisted irony of 1001, though, is that it seems to invert the holy story of Purim back on itself: Sheherazad as Esther (combined with Dahna the Arab) seduces the king (in place of wicked Israel) in order to free Muslims from the yoke of Jewish genocide. Considering that a comfortable majority of Muslims in both the U.S. and “Palestine” think that genocide against Jews is the most effective solution to Middle Eastern unrest, this fevered moral indulgence is as obscene as it sounds.

A pompous justification for jihad against Israelis is the only way to describe 1001.

The script’s extensive “Selected Bibliography” section also memorializes Grote’s debt to anti-Israel propagandist Edward Said, whose infamous 1978 tirade Orientalism appears second down. Said, a staple of Columbia University for 40 years (and certified fake Palestinian), was arguably the founder of “anti-colonial studies” and the great-grandfather of American academic anti-Zionism, whose professorial progeny includes shameless Columbian anti-Semites like Joseph Massad, Hamid Dabashi, Rashid Khalidi, and George Saliba. The stories Sheherazad tells throughout the play preach Said’s well-debunked but academically beloved thesis that Western people, by definition, cannot interact with Islamic civilization in a way that is not distorted by racism. In fact, one character points out that the text of The Thousand and One Nights is actually the work of a Frenchman who compiled a collection of famous Islamic stories, which was then translated back into Arabic, and then into English—meaning that the story itself is really an imposition of the imperialist Western imagination upon Arab culture. This slyly tempts the audience into wondering if Shahriyar’s brutality is nothing more than a projection of the perverse Western mind onto innocent, beautiful Islam. That Muslim violence is really all America’s fault, and Israel (a “creation” of Western imperialism) is far more Shahriyar than he is himself.

The play’s use of language, too—hokey and dull though it may be—suggests another layer of propaganda. Shahriyar and Alan, in contrast to Sheherazad and Dahna, are deliberately idiotic. The script gives actor “C” the word “uh” 29 times throughout the play. Alan especially can barely speak in complete sentences, whereas Dahna speaks clearly, eloquently, and intelligently. Because Alan is an echo of Shahriyar, he cannot truly understand words, so his Sheherazad, goddess and mistress of verbal inspiration, must educate him. Also (with two exceptions), only the Muslim characters consistently speak well or mellifluously. Only people from the culture of the Qur’an—poetry so sweet, Muhammad argues (absurdly, as it turns out), that its beauty must be proof of Islam—grasp the value and power of words. Where Western characters transplanted into Sheherazad’s stories like Gustave Flaubert are informed that they think “every word is [but] a word in a menu,” the Muslim characters’ lines are drenched in rich silks, crisp pastel colors, beguiling perfumes, fruits unknown to the primitive wilderness of Europe, and all the passion and pleasure of an Allah-fearing world without capitalism. The word “crusaders,” too, is equally telling, for it is an undisguised euphemism for Americans—the mocked victims of 9/11 included. And it is always used in contexts which imply that jihad directed against the United States is all the American people can expect after the events of the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries. What’s more, just after the first plane hits, “crusaders” invade Shahriyar’s kingdom. The historical inaccuracy intimates Grote’s intentions: the crusaders never came anywhere near Persia, therefore, their appearance is a crude caricature of the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Invoking the once-fashionable slogan of George Bush the “crusader,” Grote makes it very clear who he blames for an Islamic terrorist attack: “It’s Bush’s fault,” Alan fumes, “the f—ing idiot.” Grote even reverses basic, obvious reality to demean a wounded West yet further: the Americans “know little of civilization, for theirs stopped evolving centuries ago and they remain as in ancient times”—a common, objective observation many have made of Islamic civilization. No shock, then, that the introduction declares the play itself to be no less than the “story of a final jihad against the infidel (insh’Allah).”

Where Western characters transplanted into Sheherazad’s stories like Gustave Flaubert are informed that they think “every word is [but] a word in a menu,” the Muslim characters’ lines are drenched in rich silks, crisp pastel colors, beguiling perfumes, fruits unknown to the primitive wilderness of Europe, and all the passion and pleasure of an Allah-fearing world without capitalism.

For such a slime as this

Since 2011, every one of the lies contained within 1001 have become sacred writ within American academia, and “educated” youth culture. It is taken for granted that Israel’s entire existence has been the longest “holocaust” in human history, Islam is simultaneously both peaceful and should destroy America, and Jews can only be allowed to exist if they burn the Israeli flag. Even bin Laden’s abhorrent rationalization for massacring innocent Americans has gained wet-eyed worship all over TikTok.

Though it appears 1001 has mercifully fallen into obscurity since the production I saw that far-off Arabian night, in its younger years, it enjoyed great popularity, being produced across the country and receiving praise from The Boston Globe, L.A. Weekly, New York Times, Village Voice, and Washington Post. So, too, as my program further revealed, Company One could not have edified me so without generous support from the taxpayer-funded Massachusetts Cultural Council and Boston Center for the Arts. This can only mean that a sizeable chunk of the American theater-going public—including patrons affiliated with city and state governments—thought anti-Semitic, pro-jihad plays a welcome night’s entertainment years before the Iraq War ended (though there is no evidence that the ear-splitting 2018 musical adaption took off). Only natural, then, that violent pro-Hamas protests should have paralyzed both Columbia and Emerson during the jihad-speckled 2024 spring semester. With polling now consistently showing support for Israel nearly gone amongst American leftists, that a full house would have clapped for such a play as this so long ago is less of a surprise.

Theater itself, my teachers told me endlessly in various ways, was about speaking truth to cowards, but this trauma planted the first seed in my mind that they, like all Marxists, were liars. Were the instructors who ran my class—people I had to trust—too stupid to notice that they had taken me to see a play which seemed to blame America and Jews for 9/11? The magic of the theater, as we all know, makes anything possible; but, at least, nobody with that many degrees has an excuse—especially to smile and tell me that my eyes need to buckle up for the “intifadah.” But, unlike Alan, I understand words, and I don’t need to become a dhimmi to learn their power.


Is Israel Committing Genocide in Gaza?

Hamas, as a triumphalist idea of ridding the world of Israel and Jews, may never be defeated. But it’s at least possible that it can be roundly defeated as an armed entity aiming its Iran-supplied weapons at the heart of Israel. Hamas as an idea, like the Hydra, may grow more heads when its head is cut off. But those heads, without a body—a functional infrastructure of war—will be de-fanged.

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An Open Apology to My Erstwhile Friend

The rabbis say that the gates of repentance always stand open. And I hope and pray that one day you will walk through them, and realize the error that drove you to moral depravity and useful idiocy.

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The Sound of the Divine

In this write-up, we explore the world of Rudra Veena with one of its greatest contemporary exponents, Vidushi Jyoti Hegde. Jyoti Hegde is the first female exponent of this grandiose instrument.

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Hamas Did Not Invent Jihad

Sadly for the same Western media which constantly blame Israel for its enemies’ depravity, the post-9/11 love affair with the “greater” and “personal” jihad is supported by neither the Islamic sources nor historical fact.

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Are Communal Leaders Up to Fighting Anti-Semitism?

The worldwide Jewish community is doing all it can to combat anti-Semitism, right? It’s comforting to believe that. It means you can carry on with your day-to-day life, certain in the knowledge our leadership is working flat out on your behalf.

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A Feminist Open Letter Justifies Hamas Rape

There were too many fact-based condemnations of Hamas’s sadistic barbarism on October 7. The left-wing and lesbian feminists could stand it no longer. They finally had to speak out against what they call the “weaponization” of rape by those who dare to oppose Hamas.

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Candace Owens + ‘America First’ anti-Semitism

The threat Candace Owens presents is tangible. She has millions of followers and has decided that her main targets are the Jews. She is a channel for Nick Fuentes and his call for an America First, Christian Nationalist “holy war against Judaism.”

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The Strings of the Divine: Orchestrating the Cosmos

J. Robert Oppenheimer carried a huge fascination for the Indian scripture “Bhagvad Gita.” Looking at the fireball of the explosion of the test nuclear bomb, Trinity, he exclaimed a quote from the book: “Now I am become the Death, the destroyer of worlds.” (Video reference) J R Oppenheimer reminiscing his quote from Bhagvad Gita: ‘Now…

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The 10/7 Feminist Silence

I did not hear these pro-Hamas marchers, especially the lesbian, “queer,” and feminist ones, calling for an end to rape, woman-battering, or the persecution of homosexuals and “queers” in Gaza. I saw no signs that condemned honor killing or polygamy. No one called for reproductive freedom for American women or for an Equal Rights Amendment.

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Undercover with Liberated Ethnic Studies

Liberated Ethnic Studies activists are well connected, highly organized, and deeply committed to establishing a radical pedagogy that seeks to undermine the liberal order by using our public school system as a vehicle to normalize their ideology.

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Hamas Supremacism in Boston

I walked into the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC) on Malcolm X Boulevard to attend a fundraising gala where three black Muslims—two radical imams and a Boston city councilor—were scheduled to appear. Frankly, I was more than a little bit nervous.

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White Rose: The Musical

A new theatrical production devoted to telling the story of the White Rose—from their inception to their demise—has come to Theatre Row on 42nd Street in New York City for a 12-week run.

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Am Yisrael: Jews are from Judea

Jews should de-colonize and re-indigenize both their rhetoric and minds. They should understand that identity matters; and that how they identify themselves matters.

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Judeans: Faith + Ethnicity

It is often ignored that Jerusalem is also the national ethnic center of the Jewish people. Whereas Christianity and Islam’s attachments to Jerusalem are only religious, there is a dual Jewish religious and national-ethnic attachment to the city. Jerusalem has been the national capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years and continues to serve as the capital of the modern State of Israel.

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Judean Ethnicity: The DNA Evidence

Genetics has proven that modern Jewish populations carry their Israelite ancestors’ ancient Middle Eastern DNA.

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The Eternal Jew

A poem by Darren Glick

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Jewish Assimilation Never Works

Jews, put bluntly, are not in need of the nations’ failed ideas. This is to say that Judaism, while open-minded and welcoming, is an entity unto itself, and does not require fundamental transformation.

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Judean Ethnicity: Rooted in Torah + History

What do they have in common? Though they live in far-flung countries all over the world, they share common ancestry with the ancient Israelites. Though they may speak different languages, they all share the Hebrew language.

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Ethnicity But Not Ethnocentric

to be a Jew goes beyond just your DNA. While no Jew can ever stop being a Jew according to our tradition and Jewish law, there are some basic minimums each Jew must uphold to be considered a Jew who is still part of the community.

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In the Image of a Hand

My mother told me that the Jewish people are like a hand because I asked her why she was crying. “You see my hand,” she said. “If I cut one of my fingers, where do you feel the pain?” I must have said, “the entire hand,” because this is when she told me that the Jewish people are like one hand; that if the Jewish people are hurting in Israel, we hurt everywhere.

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My Name is Judea: The Story of a People + a Girl

This is a story about Judea, a girl who faces bullying in school by a group of kids who purposefully call her not by her given name. The more that Judea tries to show to the students that her name is Judea, the more proof she brings, the bullying increases.

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Video: Halleluya

In honor of my Grandfather Stephan Igra and his brothers and sisters. Each of them deserve recognition and respect for their actions during the war in Warsaw. Where they “lived” outside of the Ghetto. I say “lived” because it’s nothing we can ever imagine. Some were in hiding being shuffled to different safe houses, others were fighting for the underground. I say Thank you and Halleluyah…for I am because of you!

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The Canvas of The Divine

In this edition, we explore the finer intricacies of Indian art and spirituality through the paintings and poetry of Lakshmi Ambady, an artist based out of Bangalore.

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An Introduction to the Civil War within Islam

It is overly simplistic to refer to “the Israel-Palestine conflict.” Hamas belongs to the Islamist “resistance” camp, whose ideology began to leave its stamp on the Islamic world in general, and Palestinian society in particular, during the first half of the 20th century.

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Jihad

Jihad is a global “struggle,” by all necessary means—physical violence included—against the non-Muslim world.

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First, I am a Jew

For centuries this phrase has been used against us. But now many of us state it proudly, with all the pride Herzl envisioned. And those Jews who haven’t yet gotten there should now understand the tremendous gift it is to finally define ourselves, proudly.

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Blasphemy, Fatwas + Jihad

The language of Jihad is confined to the spreading of terror. It is not an invitation to a debate or civil discourse of any kind. It forsakes the presentation of ideas in favor of mob veto, the silence of intimidation.

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Jihadi Journalism

As one honest Jordanian editor noted, “fake news has a long and distinguished pedigree in the Arab world.”

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The West Must Defeat Islamism

The forces of Jihadi evil are gaining ground exponentially because the forces of good refuse to go on offense against Jihad.

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Neighborhood Bully

Well, the neighborhood bully, he’s just one man | His enemies say he’s on their land | They got him outnumbered about a million to one | He got no place to escape to, no place to run | He’s the neighborhood bully.

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Jihad: The Genocidal Force Threatening the Free World

Hamas is not interested in living in peace with Israel. Hamas wants Israel’s 7 million Jews to rest in peace and establish an Islamic state on the ruins of the Jewish state.

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Academic Fascism is Nothing New

Radical Islamist countries understand that to defeat Western democracy, they must first conquer the academy.

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Silence is Indeed Complicity

Is there any other identity group about which it would be acceptable to celebrate their mass slaughter, and campaign to bring that slaughter to your campus? What exactly are all those diversity and inclusion administrators paid to do, if not to prevent this?

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Behind Pretty Masks: The Mechanism of Jihad

There cannot be any camaraderie, fraternity, brotherhood, or co-existence with one who has an explicit intent of annihilating you. The eligibility for receiving humane treatment is to be human.

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Triad of Terror

Iran, together with Russia and China, form a Triad of Terror. Western Civilization is the common enemy that strengthens their malleable but unbreakable bonds.

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Jihadism + Nazism

The passing down of Nazi ideology from the Muslim Brotherhood to the more modern-day Islamist organizations truly casts the entire region heavily, and depressingly, under Hitler’s shadow. But it also presents a ray of hope.

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A Cancelled Professor Reflects on Academic Nazism

The only surprise: that anyone should be surprised.

Academe, and especially the American ivies, have long had a soft spot for extremist anti-Semitism. Like Hamas’s ideology today, in the 1930s, Nazism penetrated the universities throughout the “civilized” world. Because of the mass firings of Jewish professors, and on-going reports of the perversion of science and learning at German universities, on February 2, 1936, Dr. Hensley Henson, the Anglican Bishop of Durham, wrote a letter to the Times of London. It called for a boycott of the Heidelberg Celebration—an academic parallel to the 1936 Olympics organized by Goebbels—by all British universities and learned societies:

The essential solidarity of academic purpose, the broadly human interest of science, the supreme and universal claim of truth, the indispensableness of liberty in its pursuit – these are the postulates which govern the policy and practice of civilized universities, and, apart from their honest acceptance, no genuine academic fellowship can exist… …Neither the mind nor the conscience of the individual is to stand outside the manipulation and control of the totalitarian national State. The present rulers of Germany would echo the cynical speech of Lenin: “It is true that liberty is precious—so precious that it must be rationed.” This demented nationalism of the Nazis and Fascists endangers not only the peace of the world, but also the ultimate franchises of self-respecting manhood. In the victimized minorities—religious, academic, racial, and political—humanity has its true champions. That is their claim to the homage and assistance of all who value liberty. It cannot be right that the universities of Great Britain, which we treasure as the very citadels of sound learning, because they are the vigilant guardians of intellectual freedom, should openly fraternize with the shameless enemies of both. 

Bishop Henson’s call for a boycott initiated a debate deemed so important for consideration by American universities and colleges that it was immediately published in book form by Viking Press with the title Heidelberg and the Universities of America, with a foreword by Samuel Seabury, Charles C. Burlingham, Henry Stimson, and James F. Byrnes. All four men were influential lawyers; Stimson and Byrnes went on to become important members of the Roosevelt administration, Stimson as Secretary of War (1940–1945) and Byrnes as a key advisor to both Presidents Roosevelt and Truman. Stimson supported Roosevelt’s policies of supporting England and France against Germany in 1939–1941 and containing Imperial Japanese expansion. Later, he was responsible for the Manhattan Project—urged by Einstein—to build the atomic bomb, and argued successfully for the Nuremberg War Crimes trials after Germany’s defeat.

Academe, and especially the American ivies, have long had a soft spot for extremist anti-Semitism.

Henson’s call for a boycott went “viral.” The administrations at a number of ivies—including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Vassar, and Cornell—had accepted the Heidelberg invitation routinely, only to be confronted with angry protests from some faculty, students, and alumni. An editorial entitled “The Rumor Confirmed” in the Cornell Daily Sun of March 3 typifies the negative responses elicited by news of acceptance of the Heidelberg invitation at that university:

President Farrand has confirmed Cornell’s acceptance of the German invitation to attend the 550th anniversary of Heidelberg. He has further stated that he does not regard an exchange of courtesies between two institutions of learning as involving an expression of judgment as to the policies of the political regime in Germany or as to the attitude of the German government toward the universities of that country. We understand that the President is in a very difficult position. Having accepted the invitation without due consideration, he is, so to speak, between Scylla and Charybdis. He has chosen the course of reaffirming his former position. We feel he would be wiser and better serve the interests of the University by choosing the difficult path of retraction… …It is argued that by being a party to this celebration Cornell will be honoring an institution of learning with a position of the greatest historical importance. We feel that the Heidelberg of the Hitler regime is no longer an institution of learning, and in honoring it we will not be honoring the Heidelberg of President Farrand’s student days, the Heidelberg that has for centuries stood as a prominent center of the best in culture and learning. No amount of sentiment or talk of tradition can excuse Nazi persecution of scholars and students. The Heidelberg of today is an illustration of the exorcism of academic freedom by Nazi censorship and repression.…

But—shamefully—most of the American universities crossed the picket line! Why? Firstly, money; namely financial support for faculty and student exchange programs from both German-American and German sources, such as the Carl Schurz Foundation, the DAAD (Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst, the “German Academic Exchange Service”), and wealthy German-American benefactors. Secondly, pro-Nazi and pro-fascist professors and students. And, thirdly, the influence of some senior administrators who were themselves anti-Semitic, refusing to hire Jewish professors, whether they were “local” Jews or German-Jewish émigrés.

Regarding money—and the influence it could buy—in 1934, the German-based Carl Schurz Verein poured 60,000 RM (a very significant sum at that time)—half from Goebbels’ Propaganda Ministry and half from the Nazi Foreign Office—into the effort to influence American academe. Monies flowed from the chemical conglomerate I.G. Farben (both the German parent company and its American subsidiary) to pay for academic exchanges, travel, and awards. I.G. Farben was the same company the Nazis contracted to build a synthetic rubber factory at Monowitz-Buna within the Auschwitz camp complex, staffed mostly by Jewish slave laborers—Elie Wiesel among them. It also developed and, through its subsidiary Degesch, manufactured Zyklon-B, the tinned hydrogen cyanide crystals the SS poured into the gas chambers.

Regarding money—and the influence it could buy—in 1934, the German-based Carl Schurz Verein poured 60,000 RM (a very significant sum at that time)—half from Goebbels’ Propaganda Ministry and half from the Nazi Foreign Office—into the effort to influence American academe.

Caricature of a Nazi professor by Jewish artist Arthur Szyk, entitled “Ph.D.”

Another channel for funding was the DAAD, Nazified in 1933 under the direction of Ewald von Massow. In addition to serving as president of the DAAD, von Massow had a stellar career in the SS, rising from Untersturmführer (“junior storm leader,” the equivalent of an American second lieutenant) in 1933 to Gruppenführer (“group leader,” a major general) in 1939, only three ranks below Heinrich Himmler himself. Given this level of support, American university and college presidents were loath to break ties with German institutions. Some Vassar alumni saw the promise of scholarships as a form of bribery, writing, 

Obviously, the invitation to the Heidelberg celebration is but a transparent ruse to get foreign universities to put their stamp of approval on education in the Third Reich. In the case of Vassar, the offer of six scholarships at Heidelberg cannot, in the circumstances, be regarded as anything but a bribe and as such an insult to the intellectual integrity of the college. In the interest of Vassar’s standing and its liberal tradition we cannot stand by and see the college used as a tool by political forces which deny the very existence of freedom of thought and speech for which Vassar and the American system of education stand in the eyes to the world.

Today, the American campus organization Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) supports the dissemination of Hamas’s anti-Semitic rhetoric on approximately three hundred American campuses.

Today, the American campus organization Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) supports the dissemination of Hamas’s anti-Semitic rhetoric on approximately three hundred American campuses. We know this much about its funding: American Muslims for Palestine (AMP)—a Hamas money-laundering operation manned by the old guard from the now-defunct Holy Land Foundation (HLF) and its affiliate KindHeartsfunds SJP, which, in turn, organizes pro-Hamas protests on campuses across the U.S. SJP also receives money from organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild, J Street, and its mother organization, the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA), a major Muslim Brotherhood front group.

There is much that we still do not know about the funding for the Hamas movement in America; billionaire donors may well include the Hamas leaders themselves.

It was in the climate of anti-Semitism metastasizing onto university campuses—nurtured by identity politics, Black Lives Matter (BLM), critical race theory (CRT), diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and the riots sparked by George Floyd’s death—that in July of 2020, the present writer was cancelled for publishing an opinion piece in the Journal of Schenkerian Studies. The crime was defending the Austrian-Jewish music theorist Heinrich Schenker (1868–1935).

There is much that we still do not know about the funding for the Hamas movement in America; billionaire donors may well include the Hamas leaders themselves.

In the article (see pp. 157–166), I had argued that Philip Ewell, a professor at Hunter College, who self-identifies as black, and his allies, tendentiously falsified music history to transform Schenker into a “white oppressor” responsible for the paucity of blacks in the field of music theory. After I pointed out that Schenker was a Jew, with all that entailed in the Austro-German context of the 1920s and ’30s and the rise of Hitler, Ewell and his cohorts pivoted to recasting Schenker as an anti-Semitic Jewish Nazi. Since Jews are “white,” and, as such, must enjoy “white privilege,” Schenkerians must have colluded to eliminate non-whites from the field of academic music theory, just as “white” Jewish Israelis have persecuted non-white Palestinians. Labeling Jews “white” and “white framing” them, as Ewell did to Schenker, is historically false and profoundly inimical to Jews who, like Schenker, value their religion and cultural heritage. Of course, as an Eastern European Jewish “other” in Vienna, Schenker was always an outsider. He and his émigré students fleeing Nazism played no part in preventing the advancement of blacks in music theory in America. Such claims scapegoating Schenker and his mostly Jewish émigré students fall under the broad rubric of the infamous Nazi phrase die Juden sind unser Unglück (“the Jews are our misfortune”). This song from 1931, An allem sind die Juden schuld (“It’s all the fault of the Jews”), explains the anti-Semitic strategy. So it was then for the Nazis, and so it is now for the Islamofascists in Hamas and their fellow travelers who cast Jews as Nazis.

Since Jews are “white,” and, as such, must enjoy “white privilege,” Schenkerians must have colluded to eliminate non-whites from the field of academic music theory, just as “white” Jewish Israelis have persecuted non-white Palestinians. Labeling Jews “white” and “white framing” them, as Ewell did to Schenker, is historically false and profoundly inimical to Jews who, like Schenker, value their religion and cultural heritage.

Like Cassandra forecasting the fall of Troy, in my rebuttal to Ewell, I had explicitly warned against the academic ideological justification for a second Holocaust of Israeli Jews: “The great danger of lending academic imprimatur to these demagogues is that it establishes the requisite ideological foundations for a second Holocaust of Israeli Jews, just as Nazi academic literature in 1920s and 1930s laid the groundwork for the (first) Holocaust” (p. 163, n. 7). I specifically pointed out the true meaning of documented anti-Semite Jasbir Puar’s book Right to Maim (2017), published disgracefully by Duke University Press, which egregiously, and falsely, claims that bodies of Palestinian children were mined for organs by the Israeli military, and that recent conflicts in Gaza were driven by organ harvesting. The teaching of this naked blood libel at Princeton and other universities has subsequently given rise to controversy. Post-October 7, 2023, through a psychotic inversion, the imaginary perpetrator of such mutilation—the Israeli Jew—now becomes the real-life victim of maiming, as realized by Hamas through decapitation, etc. Exactly as I predicted three years ago, it has come to pass that eliminationist anti-Semitism has triumphed at Columbia, at CUNY—which hired similarly well-documented Jew-hater Marc Lamont Hill (who has parroted Hamas slogans and defended Louis Farrakhan)—at Harvard, Yale, Penn, UCLA, Cooper Union, and even at my own public University of North Texas near Dallas.

Post-October 7, 2023, through a psychotic inversion, the imaginary perpetrator of such mutilation—the Israeli Jew—now becomes the real-life victim of maiming, as realized by Hamas through decapitation, etc.

My alma mater, the CUNY Graduate Center, has been designated the most anti-Semitic university in America—although, in light of recent events, it is unclear whether some other ivy-league schools now surpass it in that distinction. In today’s climate, there is a ubiquitous tendency to view everything in terms of the present, as if anti-Semitism at American universities in general, and at CUNY in particular, arose suddenly, just like Athena, fully formed, out of the head of Zeus without a long gestation period. In fact, the roots of anti-Semitism at CUNY reach back to the 1980s, and probably earlier, to black nationalist discourse in Africana Studies departments at Hunter and City Colleges, and analogous departments at some ivy-leagues. In this context, Professors of Africana Studies Leonard Jeffries and John Henrik Clarke at CUNY and Tony Martin at Wellesley College should be mentioned as influential Afrocentrists who promulgated the anti-Semitic canard that Jews were primarily responsible for the slave trade (in conjunction with Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam), and the “Black Athena” myth that Greeks stole Western culture from Africa. The historical context for Black anti-Semitism at CUNY to which I was alluding in my 2020 journal article is established by many reports, including a 1991 article from The Washington Post, “In New York, A Bigoted Man on Campus,” which describes a speech delivered by Jeffries on July 20, 1991:

Apparently the speech was just about as long as an address by Fidel Castro—two hours!—and even loonier. Ostensibly speaking to the question of Afro-centric education, Jeffries launched into a tirade against whites generally and Jews specifically [my emphasis] But if you doubt that Jeffries possesses a scholarly mind, tell that to the ranking officials of the City University of New York, of which City College is a part. Although Jeffries’ race-baiting harangues have been a familiar part of CUNY life for years, this has not prevented him from gaining both tenure and the chairmanship of his department, not to mention a following at City College as, in the Times’ description, “a popular, flamboyant lecturer.”

Clarke taught his thousands of students at Hunter that, contrary to the Jews’ claims, there was not, and had never been, an historical alliance between Blacks and Jews. From the beginning, the Jews had always betrayed the African peoples who befriended them. Already in the 1980s, Clarke defined the beast as

bicephalous, white America joined with Zionist Jews, together bent on strangling the people of color in the United States, Africa, and the Middle East. The Jews, who, according to the nationalists, had perfected the “modern evil of neo-colonialism,” now conspired with the U.S. government to deploy Zionist-Dollarism to subjugate them. This time the Satanic Jews were not driven to overthrow Christendom, to destroy the Aryan race, or even to undermine Islam and poison its prophet, but to colonize all people of color.

In a speech at Wayne County Community College, Clarke stated that “A mere handful of people [i.e., the Jews] utilized the word ‘Holocaust’ and made the entire world weep for them, making Black people forget that it was this same handful who participated in the African holocaust.” He added that the “evil” genius of Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx and Albert Einstein has “colonized” the minds of the world. We have Ewell and his friends to thank for adding Schenker and his students to this list of demonic Jews.

These claims, based upon egregious falsifications of historical facts, were debunked by scholars in the 1990s; but now, infused with a new lease on life by CRT, they have morphed into new ideological malignancies presenting, for example, in the assault on Schenker. One of the main early critics was Mary Lefkowitz, a Jewish professor of Classics at the same college as Martin. Her book, History Lesson: A Race Odyssey (2008), which Ewell attacks in his recent book, tells the story of her academic and legal battles against Martin. Lefkowitz, too, analyzed the Afrocentrists’ anti-Semitism in some detail (see her chapter “A New Anti-Semitism,” pp. 82–94). Another important critic was the black historian Clarence E. Walker, who argues in his book We Can’t Go Home Again (2001) that “Afrocentrism offers not an empowering understanding of black Americans’ past but a pastiche of ‘alien traditions’ held together by simplistic fantasies” (p. xxx).

Let us return to June 1935, where we find Bishop Henson writing in his private diary about the importance of historical truth in the battle against Nazism and Fascism, and the fact that all ideologues must censor the past. “In order to achieve its objects,” Henson observes, “Fascism has been obliged to dismiss the Past, or, when it remembers it, to slander history, which remains a silent but ever mocking observer”:

Happily, it is not entirely possible to destroy the cultural harvest of so many generations. The arts of printing and reading have made “totalitarian” and long-enduring Dictatorships impossible. If the Dictator is a well-read man they weaken even his resolution. The denunciation of democracy, for example, to the children simply arouses their curiosity. For the sake of efficiency Fascists are compelled to honour and admit intellect; and too many of them know that they have themselves not produced enough to justify the repudiation of the past. The libraries are still the organised opposition in the Fascist State. Yet the full effect of literature and history cannot be brought to bear upon the public mind. Only the parts that support the Fascist view can seep through to form the mind of the adult population and the young. Half a brain is worse than none.

If one looks up John Henrik Clarke on his Hunter College website, there is no mention of his anti-Semitism. Indeed CUNY’s “sanitization” of his biography recalls the Persilscheine (“clean bills of health”) given to ex-Nazis in West Germany: no mention of their anti-Semitic Nazi pasts ought to contaminate their biographies either.

I must add a dark post-script to this chilling account of parallelisms between the rise of Nazi ideology in the 1930s and the woke jihad in our own time.

In 1988, I visited Schenker’s grave in Vienna’s New Jewish Cemetery, the Neue Israelitische Friedhof (pictured). At that time, I had just completed my doctoral dissertation in music theory at the CUNY Graduate Center under Prof. Carl Schachter and had won an Austrian Intercountry Exchange Post-Doctoral Fellowship to spend a year studying Bruckner manuscripts in Vienna. On that visit, I recited the traditional prayer (Kaddish) over Schenker’s grave and placed a memorial stone upon it. On November 1, 2023, in the wake of the October 7 massacre and Israel’s war against Hamas, Austrian anti-Semites felt empowered to desecrate the Jewish cemetery where Schenker is buried. The cemetery walls were daubed with swastikas in bright red paint. The small chapel in the cemetery, located not far from Schenker’s grave, was burned a second time, the first by the Nazis in 1938. Valuable books and manuscripts were destroyed. If it were not enough for Ewell to deface Schenker’s spiritual and intellectual legacies with the false attribute of pro-Nazism, now his burial place must also suffer the further indignity of being branded with the swastika. Even his bones are allowed no peace.

The author standing in front of Schenker’s grave in the New Jewish Cemetery in Vienna, 1988.

The numbing symbolism of the cemetery’s desecration—once by Nazis, now by unknown barbarians in the crimson wake of an Islamic massacre, cheered on (again) by collegiate bigots—is palpable. Diaspora Jews, once secure in their hard-earned prominence in the Western world’s meritocracies, are now hounded out—unwelcome even in their graves.

A swastika painted on the wall of the New Jewish Cemetery, barely 20 feet from Schenker’s grave—November 1, 2023.

Could Juden raus, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free [Judenrein],” and the “Jews are white oppressors” all lead to the same abyss? I fear that asking the question in first place reveals the answer.

The numbing symbolism of the cemetery’s desecration—once by Nazis, now by unknown barbarians in the crimson wake of an Islamic massacre, cheered on (again) by collegiate bigots—is palpable. Diaspora Jews, once secure in their hard-earned prominence in the Western world’s meritocracies, are now hounded out—unwelcome even in their graves.

As he watched the intensifying persecution of the Jews in Germany and Austria in the late 1930s, Bishop Henson recalled the words of Ecclesiastes 4:2–3 in the King James Version. Writing in his forward to the English translation of The Yellow Spot (1938), he lamented that

The bitter words of the Preacher of Israel rise on the memory: “Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive; yea, better than them both did I esteem him which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.” It is no matter for astonishment that among the German Jews suicides are now numerous.

Ominously, he added, “But the Jews are only the first victims of a Calamity—the Ice-age of the human spirit—which is coming on civilized mankind.”

The only surprise: that anyone should be surprised, especially the Jews.

Hamas on Campus

It has become increasingly clear in recent years that administrators at many of our most prestigious institutions of higher learning are lost in a fog of political correctness. Their indulgence of anti-Semitic incitement is not a surprise. It is merely the latest in a long line of politically correct failures.

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The Great Occupation Lie

The de-colonization narrative in regard to Israel is not only false but dangerous. And just as in the Soviet Union it provided the necessary support for anti-Zionism to become fully operational, it is currently being used to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish people and Israel

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The Wolf + The Fox

This poem is an exposition of an ideology that is often accepted as an embodiment of “universal brotherhood” and “peace,” but if you dig deep into the history, you would find that most exponents of this ideology considered themselves warriors of Jihad, and the primary role it has played in history is to serve as a pretty mask for extremism, terrorism, and Jihad.

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The Flow of Divine

Jayeeta has woven disparate yarns of themes, stories and movements which are very Indian and very Kathak, with the surreality of Western classical music to create a confluence which is absolutely sacred.

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The Beloved of the Divine

Exploring the art of Indian classical dance, particularly Kathak, through an interview with renowned dancer Simran Godhwani.

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The Apology Statement as Literary Genre

The canon of apology statements from Hamas supporters keeps growing richer and more diverse.

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Free Palestine? No thanks!

A video by travelingisrael.com

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The Instrument of the Divine

We present a brief conversation with the global Bharatnatyam icon, Harinie Jeevitha.

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Israel at War II

“Palestine” does not exist.
The English word “Palestine” comes from the Latin Palaestina, the name the emperor Hadrian gave to the Land of Israel after the Romans crushed the Second Jewish Revolt in 135 c.e.

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Israel at War

Israel is under attack from the Gaza Strip by a terrorist group called Hamas, funded by Iran and Qatar. Both Iran and Qatar have publicly made clear that they wish to destroy Israel. Hamas has killed hundreds of Jewish civilians.

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‘Die by Suicide’: Averting an American Nightmare

The politics of hate, demonization of the opposition, and grievances can animate and mobilize political armies for a number of years, but they do nothing to form a common national vision and identity on which future generations can build. They lead us to the precipice of a second Civil War.

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Hybrid Terrorism: The Return of Christian Nationalism

There is nothing new in the Christian Nationalist brand. The lust to mix piety with political power is just too tempting. The jealousy embodied within replacement theology is apparently too powerful for many Christians to overcome.

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Trump, Tucker + Tate: The Triumph of Anti-Conservatism

The Republican Party teeters on the edge of no longer being the party that freed the slaves, made America rich, and crushed Soviet communism.

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Arise Redux

Elixir of the masses Addicted, strung out Crave their fix A historical roundabout

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Uncivil War

Hopes for America are problematic, since there isn’t much brotherhood (or sisterhood) around now. With civilized avenues for debating issues closing down, the prospects for both American and Israeli society are indeed grim.

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Whither Conservatism?

It’s hard to think of a moment in the past 40 years in which American conservatism itself—as well as the Republican Party—has been more riven.

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The Ramaswamy Trilogy

Vivek’s trilogy of books can be useful for understanding how wokeness has penetrated American businesses and allowed the victimhood mentality to spread. It can also serve as a warning: that being a political outsider and successful businessman doesn’t make a good conservative politician.

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Breaking the Cycle of Identity Politics + Anti-Semitism

The anti-Semitism on the right is like a heart attack—it’s violent and fast moving. The right has guns and is hence more dangerous to our immediate security and wellbeing. The anti-Semitism on the left is like a cancer—it’s slow moving and corrosive. It threatens to disenfranchise Jews from politics and society. And both forms seem to be feeding off each other.

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#BanTheADL Hashtag Only Benefits Anti-Semites + Jews Who Want to be Liked by Them

Attacking the ADL is a proxy for ending censorship of Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism and making anti-Semitism mainstream all under the guise of “free speech.”

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Authoritarian Angst

Our fears of a creeping authoritarianism are not just a spasm. Both the left and the right have become embroiled in Orwellian tactics to curb speech and censor those with whom they disagree.

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First, Teach Them How to Read

In order for schools to meet their most basic mandate—educating students—they must first refocus on just that. And to do that, school administrators and educators need to stop playing partisan games and get back to teaching kids.

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A Journey into Indian Art + Spirituality

In Indian spiritualism, you just can’t escape God. Even turning away from God is a path to God. A total disbelief in and denial of an anthropomorphic form of God is a valid path to God too. In the Hindu point of view, you cannot escape God because, God is all there is.

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Stay Quiet? Psht!

People like me have grown very, very tired of people like Weiner, telling us to sit down and shut up, lest we “divide” the community—or ruin a nice party.

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Instaporn: The Self-Degradation of Women

Women of all ages are being lured by the power of social media to use their bodies and sexuality to gain attention in ways that the original feminists would find incomprehensible.

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Lost in the Mirror: Soft Porn + the Trashed Body on Social Media

In our world of soft porn, we decide to turn ourselves into a means of another person’s end. In a real sense, this is the act of destroying or trashing our own dignity.

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In the Age of the Influencer

Curiosity compelled man to know more and reach outside of oneself.
Conversely, in the age of the influencer, we are retreating further and further into the self. The worship of the ego paramount in selfies, filtered videos, and numbers of followers is taking us further from the pursuit of truth.

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Once Upon a Time

Once feared, now trendingA Scarlett letter of the proud Taboo become viralVice, the end goal Ideology, a pronounPhilosophy, a trigger Nomenclature banishedTo a sideshow of A failed exhibitShame…

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Instaporn: The Normalization of Hyper-Sexualization

As a society we have let our guard down, as we have let the voices of strangers into our homes to have unfettered access to our children.

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The Woke War on Puberty

While the Constitution, the government, the educational system, and other institutions remain in place, they have been reduced to merely an external shell. The underlying values and procedures have been gutted and replaced by a hybrid of corporate fascism and cultural Marxism.

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License to Internet

Children deserve their innocence to be protected and respected. Children should be validated by the development of their character and intellect, not by their appearance or talent.

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Pornography in the Age of Gender Confusion

Had the feminist movement been honest, it could have quickly achieved greater equality between the sexes without doing away with sexual morality and the kind of modesty that is borne of not wanting to be sexualized.

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Instaporn at Auschwitz

“Would you mind taking a picture of me?” a random young woman asked me a few weeks ago. I froze, disgusted and horrified by her cheerful request.

I was on the floor below the Longacre Theatre in New York City. I had just emerged from the play Leopoldstadt, Tom Stoppard’s masterpiece depicting how the outside world will never care how “assimilated” Jews become, let alone insist they are.

The play—while witty, and making use of lighter-hearted drama, like a baby boy’s b’rit milah being “on” and “off” again multiple times due to his bewildered, secular mother’s inability to choose whether her son should bear the indelible mark of Jewishness—is not a comedy. It is a sobering story of how Jews must never trust that the abnegation of their identity will save them from others’ envy and bloodlust. That they must stand unconquerable in the face of the nations’ fraudulent promises of acceptance and safety in exchange for their Jewish souls.

I could therefore think of no cogent reason why this girl, let alone anybody, would feel the least bit jovial after seeing Stoppard’s lovable family of Viennese semi-crypto-Jews subjected to every sadistic humiliation the years 1899 to 1955 had to offer.

What appeared to have prompted this incident was that I had taken a picture of a poster for the show, which leaned against a wall behind an empty merchandise stand. The girl apparently saw this and was inspired to ask me to take a picture of her in front of that same poster.

As my moment of utter shock died away, a guttural “Yes” croaked itself out of me; I did mind. Taking my response for agreement, however, she thrust her phone into my hand and did what I immediately knew was coming. She posed in front of the poster, smiling without a care as if it were a gorilla behind glass at a zoo, a distant Great Pyramid whose pinnacle she was “pinching,” or a dutifully unmovable Buckingham Palace guard.

The very dear friend with whom I had seen the play looked at me in despairing amusement. “In New York, you have to be a little more direct than that,” she admonished me as we moved toward the stairs which led to the exit.

The disgust I felt, mixed with the weighty brew of emotions with which the play had left me, made my stomach tighten. As my friend and I turned back from the sidewalk into the main lobby to buy copies of the script, my legs trembled. I knew I had experienced a phenomenon of which I was aware, but which I never thought I would ever witness personally, let alone like this.

As my friend and I began the long walk through the sweltering night back to my hotel, I recalled an article another friend had texted to me the evening before I left for New York. Coming from The Daily Mail, it, suitably, was as lurid as it was blood-curdling: “Look at ME… I’m at Auschwitz!”

“Dozens of tasteless photos of tourists posing at Auschwitz have surfaced online after the memorial museum called on visitors to show respect at the former death camp where over a million people were killed,” wrote the Mail’s Ed Wight. “From a glamour model who claims to have Spain’s biggest breasts posing beneath the ‘work sets you free’ sign at the entrance to the death camp,” the article continued, “to tourists posing tastelessly on the tracks that transported over a million to their death, MailOnline has uncovered some of the vulgar snaps taken at one of the world’s most important sites.” Though the article itself—like most things today—neither surprised nor even shocked me when I first saw it, its full horror only broke through when I saw its subjects’ pathology played out before me.

While none of the pictures the Mail’s researchers found spread across Instagram and Twitter—some even of male tourists—were revealing or sexual, all of them laid bare with blatant nudity the social plague which had just harassed me.

As I already well knew, men and women the world over believe that it is appropriate to degrade themselves in front of the Internet for attention. Some debauched men sit around complaining about the female promiscuity they personally encourage, while some women—including, atrociously, those who are not yet women—produce “Instaporn.” Others, as the Mail article informed me, take pictures of themselves—some happy, some fashionably detached—at a place where nearly all of the 216,000 Jewish children deported there were gassed to death and rendered to ashes.

Men and women the world over believe that it is appropriate to degrade themselves in front of the Internet for attention.

“My face in this picture is not very happy,” Spain’s supposedly best-endowed model told her 1.2 million Instagram cultists, though, she reassured them, “I fulfilled one of my dreams by coming here.”

In this sense, Instaporn does not have to be sexual to be degrading. Making a trip to Auschwitz all about you rather than the millions murdered there, all for faceless living millions’ glassy-eyed stares, is as degrading as any “kink” site’s members-only content. The callousness of making a pilgrimage to the site of so many innocents’ suffering in order to glorify oneself is a form of narcissism perhaps unprecedented in the history of human barbarism. 

Auschwitz is a place to cry, outwardly or inwardly. It is the sump of the universe; the place where all the evil possible in human nature found the fulfillment of its own depraved dreams. The unique place where Jews and non-Jews alike can feel the ache every human soul feels when it contemplates a million ghosts’ un-mourned deaths. Only true, undiluted narcissism is impervious to that ache.

The callousness of making a pilgrimage to the site of so many innocents’ suffering in order to glorify oneself is a form of narcissism perhaps unprecedented in the history of human barbarism.

Still, how can we penetrate such a twisted yet rampant affliction? What do we mean by “narcissism”—a term nearly as mutilated today as “capitalism,” “liberalism,” or “nationalism”?

The word itself comes from the Greek story of Narkissos, found in Book III of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The handsomest youth ever born, the seer Teiresias had told Narkissos’ mother, Liriope, that the boy would live to ripe age “if he never knows himself.” As he approached manhood, the dashing huntsman, desired by many, spurned all suitors male and female. His disinterest in others was not, however, in pursuit of something higher than promiscuity. As Allen Mandelbaum’s masterful translation reads, “he / had much cold pride within his tender body: / no youth, no girl could ever touch his heart.”

One day, while hunting deer across “lonely fields,” Narkissos caught the eye of the beautiful forest nymph Ekho. Though a curse from Hera—enraged by Ekho’s talkative diversions whenever Zeus was chasing her fellow nymphs—had barred Ekho from being able to utter anything but an “echo” of another’s last words, she still “was inflamed with love.” When Narkissos asked “Is anyone nearby?” Ekho could only repeat his question. Finally, the youth, “stupefied,” cried out “Let’s meet.” As Ovid writes,

…And with the happiest reply
that ever was to leave her lips, she cries:
“Let’s meet”; then, seconding her words, she rushed
out of the woods, that she might fling her arms
around the neck she longed to clasp. But he
retreats and, fleeing, shouts: “Do not touch me!
Don’t cling to me! I’d sooner die than say
I’m yours!”; and Echo answered him: “I’m yours.”

“So, scorned and spurned,” Ekho retreated to a cave, where she wasted away in love, her bones “turned to stone,” and nothing remaining of her but the echo which greets wanderers’ voices.

Cold and proud Narkissos, for his part, met a rightful end; having rejected one suitor too many, the young man in question beseeched the gods that Narkissos should “fall in love,” but “be denied the prize he craves.” Sure as Teiresias’ oracle, a thirsty Narkissos came upon a quiet pool “whose waters, silverlike, / were gleaming, bright.” Quenching one thirst, yet another arose as he beheld the “twin stars that are his eyes” as well as “his ivory neck, his splendid mouth, the / pink blush on a face as white as snow.” In Ovid’s famous words,

in sum,
he now is struck with wonder by what’s
wonderful in him. Unwittingly,
he wants himself he praises, but his praise is
for himself; he is the seeker and the sought,
the longed-for and the one who longs; he is the
arsonist—and is the scorched.

Bewitched by lust only for his own reflection, Narkissos—just like the lonely woman whose love he had so cruelly repulsed—wasted away until only a white-petaled flower—the narcissus—remained where his “entrancing flesh” once lay.

Narcissism is self-destruction through an all-consuming obsession with the “me” we see in the mirror. The reflection itself exists, but only as the optical illusion our eyes behold. It is the mind which transforms that mere storm of photons hammering polished glass or a still pond into an exact clone of oneself. That face, beautiful or hideous, is our only concern. The real “you,” which cannot be “seen,” is not just invisible but irrelevant. We fall in love not with ourselves, but with a false self. A self no one, not even we, can love; for, as Ovid says, it “does not exist.”

Narcissism is self-destruction through an all-consuming obsession with the “me” we see in the mirror.

A narcissist is immune to love from or for real people. Narkissos died as alone as any person for whom others, let alone their deaths, are a mere distraction from his or her own self-idolatry. Fittingly, they die as alone as those whose suffering could never reach them, then or now.

A narcissist is immune to love from or for real people.

The grotesque glint I saw in that young woman’s eyes came from a soul six million stolen lives—even the small, named, human children she had just seen onstage—could not move, even to courteous reverence.

The very last line of Leopoldstadt is “Auschwitz.” That anyone aches to gaze at his or her own reflection at its end should pierce every human heart. All the more so that twerking “influencers” at the site of humanity’s most diabolical crime are now no longer impossible.

Black Excellence Is Not White Supremacy

The Woke Dogma of modern times tells us that “being on time,” “correct math” and “research” are White Supremacist. This is uncannily similar to the Reconstruction-era racism that forbade African Americans to get an education.

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Just Because You’re Paranoid

The show is Rabbit Hole, the first and closest update I’ve seen to the paranoia flicks of the last golden age of movie-making.

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A Nation of Fools

Our Constitutional system of government is appropriate only for a moral and religious people.

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The (Un)Democratic Party

The party has become undemocratic, representative of the elite, not the people. Instead of being the political party with the largest diversity of voices, positions taken by Democratic leaders are representative of a minority of the population.

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The Great Nakba Lie

A few years ago, I was asked to write a curriculum on the history of the Jewish people, the wars against Israel, and anti-Semitism. In this professional field of Israel Education, dominated mostly by youth programs, social media influencers, summer camps, and non-profit Israel advocacy groups, I encountered educational leaders calling for teaching the Palestinian narrative. Claiming that the American Jewish establishment was guilty of raising an entire generation of Jews to blindly love Israel, the pedagogical intervention, they argued, is to teach the Palestinian narrative. And what is this narrative? The Nakba, a word which in Arabic means “catastrophe.”

What was the catastrophe? According to Al Jazeera, an international news channel which amplifies Holocaust denialism, the Nakba is the “Palestinian experience of dispossession and loss of their homeland” in 1948. Every year, Palestinian Arabs around the world commemorate “the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.” In sum, the catastrophe is the creation of Israel. 

On the “Nakba,” a plethora of material exists online, in scholarly articles, and books. But becoming an Israel educator meant becoming, to the best of my abilities, an expert on the history of Israel and the Middle East. And what I found is that the entire Nakba narrative is built around lies and manipulations created by… wait for it: Israeli Jewish academics.   

I began to trace the history of the Nakba and found that the term was first used by Syrian historian Constantin Zureiq. But for Zureiq, Nakba meant something entirely different. In his book, Ma’na al-Nakba (The Meaning of the Disaster), Zureiq described the flight of the Arabs from the region as a direct result of the pan-Arab attack on the nascent Jewish state. “We [Arabs] must admit our mistakes,” he wrote, “and recognize the extent of our responsibility for the disaster that is our lot.” The mistake Zureiq is referring to is that instead of accepting the 1947 U.N. partition plan to divide the British Mandate for Palestine into a Jewish country and another Arab country, the surrounding Arab countries waged a war, thus putting Arab civilians on the ground in direct danger. Years later Zureiq doubled down in his book published after the Six Day War, The Meaning of the Catastrophe Anew, once again employing the term “nakba” to mean the pan-Arab inability to “confront Zionism.” At that time, Dr. Raphael G. Bouchnik-Chen writes, “the term ‘Nakba’ was glaringly absent from Arab and/or Palestinian discourse.”

“We [Arabs] must admit our mistakes,” he wrote, “and recognize the extent of our responsibility for the disaster that is our lot.”

The shift from blaming the Arab world for the Nakba to Israel occurred in the 1980s. And it was orchestrated by Israeli Jewish academics who called themselves the “new historians.” That’s right. The Nakba narrative was crafted by Israeli Jews ashamed of Zionism, which they saw as a form of racial nationalism. At the helm of this new movement was Ilan Pappe, whose book The 1948 Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, shifted the blame from the Arabs to the Jews. Unearthing what he believed to be the motherload of dirty secrets, known as Plan Dalet, Pappe revealed that “Zionism’s ideological drive for an exclusively Jewish presence in Palestine” led to ethnic cleansing and expulsion of the Palestinian Arabs. To this day, Plan Dalet is much debated. And applying common sense, any rational people create a plan to defend themselves and secure a majority country.  

Israel educators well-informed on the origins of the first Arab-Israeli War will tell you that the war did not begin in 1948. Before the five Arab countries attacked the fledgling Jewish state, violence had been erupting in British Mandate for Palestine for years. The Arab Liberation Army, whose logo is a sword which cuts through a Jewish star was formed in 1947 and wreaked havoc on the streets of Jerusalem and Jaffa. 

Arab Liberation Army logo
Arab Liberation Army logo

Understanding that all-out war was imminent, David Ben-Gurion, then the leader of the Jewish Agency, put together a plan in preparation for war. We know now that Ben-Gurion was neither delusional nor wrong. A full-scale war did break out. This is important. Any country or people who embark on legally forming and declaring a country when hearing of imminent war or confronted by a deluge of violent attacks would put together a plan for self-defense. One would have to be a complete moron not to take violence seriously and not have a plan of action. Plan Dalet was just that: a plan of action to safeguard a country legally secured to the Jewish people by the League of Nations San Remo in 1920.

Furthermore, any honest and well-versed Israel educator would also teach that when deliberating on a name for the modern Jewish country, David Ben-Gurion was vociferously opposed to the name Judea. Why did Ben-Gurion veto the name Judea? Understanding that a modern Jewish country would inherit many Arabs civilians, the name Judea which means “Jew,” would automatically exclude future Arabs citizens. The irony is that in his desire to be inclusive to all minorities of a re-established Jewish country, Israeli Jewish academics would accuse Ben-Gurion and his advisors of colonialism and ethnic cleansing. 

It did not take long for Palestinian Arabs and most notably, for PLO chairman Yasser Arafat to appreciate the gift that lay before them. In 1998, Arafat proclaimed May 15 to be a National Day of Remembrance of the Nakba. Twenty-five years later, the United Nations held a commemoration for the 75th anniversary of the Nakba at the UN Headquarters in New York, and Democratic Representative Rashida Tlaib is pushing for the Nakba to be recognized by the United States. 

Heeding calls from Israel educators to teach the Palestinian narrative and talk about the Nakba, I do not shy away from recognizing that such a narrative exists, but I challenge students to apply their critical thinking skills to it and most importantly, to the history surrounding its design. To do this, I begin by asking if truth exists; that is, is there something that is true no matter if I am in Bangladesh, Singapore, or New York? After the first Arab-Israeli War, were there 700,000 Arab refugees? Yes, there were. Next, I tell students two stories:

Version 1: My house was flooded. I woke up and found that my kitchen cabinets are in water and my fridge doesn’t work. We’ve been having horrible rain and last night, there was a very big rainstorm. I am so upset. How will I fix this? I immediately call my home insurance company and begin to ask what, if anything, they will cover. 

Version 2: My house was flooded. I woke up and found that my kitchen cabinets are in water and my fridge doesn’t work. We’ve been having horrible rain and last night before we went to bed, I went outside and meddled with the pipes and unscrewed the pipe that goes into the washing machine. I hate my kitchen and for a long time have been asking my husband for a remodel. He refuses. Now he will have no choice but to change the cabinets and that old fridge!  

In the first scenario, students feel terrible for me. In the second scenario, they are shocked at my scheming. I tell them: but in both scenarios, there was a flood. This is undeniable. Of course, it does not take them long to figure out that we are speaking about the flight of the Arabs to neighboring Arab countries during the war in which those same neighboring Arab countries attacked the fledgling Jewish country. Arabs did flee their homes, some because they were running from war zones—but most because the local Arab leaders encouraged them to leave, ensuring a swift victory. It is therefore undeniable that Arabs became refugees, even though prior to 1947 they were not citizens of a sovereign Arab-Muslim country. It is also undeniable that had the Arabs of the British Mandate for Palestine accepted the 1947 U.N. Proposal and had the five Arab countries not attacked the Jews, there would not be an Arab refugee problem. 

Arabs did flee their homes, some because they were running from war zones—but most because the local Arab leaders encouraged them to leave, ensuring a swift victory.

It is educational malpractice to teach a narrative built on omissions and present it as an impermeable truth. So why is this being done? It made me mindful of a conversation I had with a senior Israel educator. “We must teach from empathy,” he instructed me. Here, we arrive at the heart of the matter: learning objectives. Are we teaching history? Do we pursue truth? Or is the goal to foster empathy? Many would say, why does this have to be an either-or scenario. Can we not be empathetic to the plight of the Palestinian Arab refugees while remaining true to the history? But here we run into a dilemma: the “Palestinian narrative,” predicated on the Nakba, is being used today as a weapon against Israel’s very existence. So why teach it and more importantly, how will it remedy the predicament of “loving Israel blindly?”

It is educational malpractice to teach a narrative built on omissions and present it as an impermeable truth.

In the end, it is all rather simple and comes down to the recurrent tension born of the diasporic Jewish experience: discomfort with Jewish particularism, with a majority Jewish state, with borders and by extension, Jewish nationalism. Under the aegis of tikkun olam and mind you a very progressive reading of it, we have eschewed Jewish particularism and gravitated toward universalism. Feeling personally responsible for the catastrophe of forming a Jewish majority country, Israel educators who call for teaching the Nakba in many ways parrot teachers in the United States who advocate for the 1619 Project, a revisionist history of America that seeks to undermine the significance of America’s founding fathers and unearth the original sin of the United States as being founded on chattel slavery. 

Teaching the “Palestinian narrative,” as such, may lend empathy for the Palestinian Arabs but at the cost of delegitimizing Israel by acknowledging two lies: that the creation of the Jewish country was founded upon the sin of expulsion and ethnic cleansing. Used as a vehicle to demonize and delegitimize Israel, how exactly would teaching it solve the problem of “loving Israel blindly?”

“I know the facts, I know the truth, we know the truth, but how about all the students and my peers who are not knowledgeable and will encounter this propaganda defenseless?” asks UCLA student Natalie Masachi, who attended the UCLA Center for Israel Studies’ screening of “Israelism,” a movie whose singular aim is to undermine the Jewish people’s claims to their ancestral and legal homeland. Masachi’s question reveals exactly the pedagogical intervention needed in Israel education: a robust education steeped in facts and driven by the pursuit of truth. American Jewish youth do not need to learn a narrative centered around manipulation of history deployed by anti-Jewish movements to demonize the sole Jewish country on this earth. The only reason they should know it is to be able to fully discredit it. 

What do they need? They need to know about Constantin Zureiq; they need to know about the Arab Liberation Army and their anti-Jewish logo; they need to know about Plan Dalet and its true purpose; they need to know that Palestine was never a country nor a kingdom and that the word comes from the Roman renaming of Judea to Palestina; they need to know about the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and his ties to the Nazis; they need to know that the Arabs would never become refugees had they accepted the 1947 U.N. Proposal; they need to know that the Arabs would never become refugees had the five Arab countries not launched a genocidal war against the Jews in 1948; they need to know that the PLO was established, in part, by the Soviets in order to fight the Americans during the Cold War; they need to know that in addition to Israel, five Arab countries (Jordan, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon) were created out of British and French mandates, and that none of them are asked to provide their country’s legal or ancestral right to exist. 

They need to become truth seekers.


Reflections of the Looking Glass

Bitter and Sweet

Victorious and defeat
Time will marinate
To the Truth it will beat

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The Moral Depravity of Third Worldism

Genuine liberation from foreign tyranny is one of the noblest struggles there is. Unfortunately, modern postcolonial ideology is more about social vengeance than true freedom.

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The Nakba of the Democratic Party

The Democratic Party’s break with Israel and its unabashed endorsement of those intent on killing Jews is symbolic of the Party’s overall progressive agenda—indeed, Israel is fast becoming its most passionate plank.

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The Renaissance of Truth, Beauty + Virtue

The hope of this issue of White Rose Magazine is to not only describe the many problems extant within K–12 and higher education, but to inspire a renaissance within the Humanities.

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The War on Academic Freedom

This casual assumption that a diverse adult student body is not merely incapable of hearing or intelligently discussing disagreeable or even offensive words or concepts but is at risk of psychological harm should be regarded, frankly, as an insult to these very same students.

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Public Schools Went Broke–and Hired Woke

Parents looking to understand how far-left Neo-Marxism entered American public education should read James Lindsay’s and Luke Rosiak’s recent books for the whole sordid story.

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The School Where I Studied

I passed by the school where I studied as a boyand said in my heart: here I learned certain thingsand didn’t learn others. All my life I have loved in vainthe things I didn’t learn. I am filled with knowledge,I know all about the flowering of the tree of knowledge,the shape of its leaves, the…

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Paulo Freire and the Marxist Transformation of the Church

In this podcast, James Lindsay, a mathematician and cultural critic, who has been studying how Marxist ideology has taken over institutions of learning, turns his attention to how the Church is being transformed by Marxist and black liberation theology in order to “get to a new reality.” The erosion of Christian values, Lindsay argues, ironically stems…

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Getting Authentic about ‘Authentic Education’

Rossi, once a beloved high school math and philosophy teacher, was “canceled” from an elite private school in Manhattan for blowing the whistle on his school’s indoctrination tactics.

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Our Secret Resource for Liberal Education

Rather than educating to build an informed citizenry, we have entered an era of constraining dogma in which there is little to no room for free thought; where everything is political; where the goal of building an informed citizenry has been replaced by an environment in which thinking for oneself is not promoted.

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