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July 17, 2009

100 Years Ago in the forward

Jumping up onto a tabletop in the mess hall of Ellis Island, one of the immigrants yelled out: “No one could eat breakfast today. The food they give us here isn’t fit for pigs. We are treated here like wild animals, kept in cages and given rotting food to eat.” The speaker, who recently had written a letter to the Forward regarding the poor conditions on Ellis Island, is one of those slated to be shipped back to Europe because he didn’t have the $25 now required to enter the United States. His speech made a deep impression on the rest of the immigrants, who decided to stop eating and start a hunger strike. The atmosphere frightened immigration officials, who must have thought that a revolution was in the works, so they sent guards into the mess hall with their revolvers drawn. Needless to say, this didn’t help the situation.

75 Years Ago in the forward

It is well known that Yorkville is the Manhattan neighborhood with the largest number of German immigrants. The Yorkville, the only movie theater in the neighborhood, caters to these immigrants. As a result, it is the only theater in the city that openly screens Nazi propaganda films as “art.” One would think that the owners of this theater would be German Nazi sympathizers, or even party members. But it turns out that one of the controlling partners is actually a Jew by the name of Joe Sheinman, who put up the money to buy the theater last year, exactly at the time when the press was full of stories about the terrible persecution Jews were suffering in Germany. The “Yidl of Yorkville,” as Sheinman is known, showed the first Nazi talkie in America — a film that every other movie theater in the United States rejected.

50 Years Ago in the forward

Although he recently made a special trip to Egypt, United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold received mixed messages from different members of Gamal Abdel Nasser’s government — some, on the one hand, saying that the illegal Suez blockade against Israel would be lifted, and those on the other, saying that the blockade would remain. Hammarskjold, who returned to Geneva, refused to discuss the issue in detail and said only that his trip to Cairo was “useful.” Forward analyst Leon Kristal concluded that this response meant that Hammarskjold returned from Cairo empty-handed. In the meantime, the Swedish ship Inge Toft, which was seized by the Egyptians after entering the canal loaded with Israeli goods bound for the Far East, still sits in Port Said, surrounded by Egyptian soldiers.


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