March 12, 2010


Published March 03, 2010, issue of March 12, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Albania: Righteous Among the Nations

In her article on the arson attack on a synagogue on the Greek island of Crete, K.E. Fleming wrote that the fact that the three immediate responders to the fire were two Albanian immigrants and a Moroccan “complicates assumptions” (“Arson Attack on a Synagogue of Peace,” February 26).

Assumptions aside, it should be noted that the only war-torn nation on the European continent to have more Jews at the end of World War II than it did at its start was Albania.

Shelly Wallman
New York, N.Y.

Not Printing Cartoons Lets Extremists Win

In her February 12 editor’s note “To Print, or Not To Print?” Jane Eisner attempts to explain the Forward’s decision to publish an offensive cartoon of New Israel Fund’s president, Naomi Chazan, while choosing not to publish the Danish “Muhammad cartoons” to accompany a review of Jytte Klausen’s book, “The Cartoons that Shook the World.” Eisner tries to justify the decision by arguing that the New Israel Fund controversy is ours (Jewish), while the cartoon controversy isn’t.

I was by happenstance living in Denmark during the controversy over the Muhammad cartoons and wrote about it for the Forward. Let me propose an alternate explanation to Eisner’s: The New Israel Fund is unlikely to issue a fatwa. By contrast, Flemming Rose, culture editor of the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, which published the cartoons, received death threats and was forced into seclusion in an unnamed location. Cartoonist Kurt Westergaard was recently the target of a murder attempt by a Somali Muslim.

It is hardly coincidental that Yale University Press, which published Klausen’s book, refused to include the cartoons. The Forward has now followed suit.

The goal of the Islamic fundamentalists who fomented violence was to intimidate the press into self-censorship. It appears they have succeeded.

Jeffry V. Mallow
Evanston, Ill.

The writer is a member of the board of the Forward Association.

Setting Things Straight About Celan and Sachs

As a longtime subscriber, I’ve followed Benjamin Ivry’s articles and garnered a lot from them. So I was grateful to see his moving January 15 column “Paul Celan’s Letters,” which opens by citing my literary biography “Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew.” (Incidentally, 2001 is a misleading date for my book, as that’s the second paperback edition; 1995 is accurate.)

I’m curious, however, as to what Ivry had in mind in calling the 1995 volume of the Celan-Sachs letters “a shoddy presentation” from “an obscure Bronx publisher”? Stanley Moss’s Sheep Meadow Press has been publishing important books since 1977. That collection (to which I contributed the introduction) contains naturally voiced translations; well-reproduced engravings by Celan’s wife, Gisèle; careful notes and a valuable index and chronology; an afterword by one of Germany’s most experienced Celan scholars; a handsome cover, and an appealing format.

And Ivry’s calling Nobel laureate Nelly Sachs “not his close friend,” with regard to Celan? Maybe not as a Paris companion, God knows. But I’d call her an intensely close friend and comrade. Take Celan’s fervor on joining her in Zurich in 1960, when she shrunk at crossing into Germany to receive a major prize. Later she visited him in Paris, and he also went to Stockholm to try and succor her post-Holocaust anxieties. In 1966, trembling with emotion, he read her poetry at a Nobel Prize celebration in Paris. On her deathbed in 1970, hearing of his suicide, she was profoundly shaken and heard to speak of his “going before her.”

John Felstiner
Professor of English
Stanford University
Stanford, Calif.

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • Meet Alvin Wong. He's the happiest man in America — and an observant Jew. The key to happiness? "Humility."
  • "My first bra was a training bra, a sports bra that gave the illusion of a flat chest."
  • "If the people of Rwanda can heal their broken hearts and accept the Other as human, so can we."
  • Aribert Heim, the "Butcher of Mauthausen," died a free man. How did he escape justice?
  • This guy skipped out on seder at his mom's and won a $1 million in a poker tournament. Worth it?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.