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Culture

Looking Back: October 5, 2012

100 Years Ago

1912 The infamous gangster Big Jack Zelig, was shot Saturday, October 5, at 8 p.m., on the corner of 14th Street and Second Avenue, as he sat in his car. Zelig, who was scheduled to testify as a major witness in the trial of vice cop Charles Becker, slithered to the floor of the car and died instantly. Immediately, a huge crowd surrounded the car, trapping the shooter, who jumped on the hood and yelled, as people tried to grab him, “Get back or I’ll shoot you, too!” The crowd backed off, and the killer leaped from the car and took off running down 14th Street. He ran right into a policeman who, after a short struggle, arrested the man and brought him into the precinct. There the shooter gave his name as Philip Davidson and claimed that he shot Zelig because he’d robbed him a few weeks ago on the corner of Eldridge and Grand Streets. Most suspect, however, that the murder has to do with the Becker trial.

75 Years Ago

1937 It has been officially decreed that Polish institutions of higher learning have “ghetto benches.” According to the official decree, Jewish students must now be forced to sit on specially marked benches, located on the left side and rear of the classroom. Those Jews who refuse to sit on the benches can be subject to disciplinary action. As a result, Jewish students have met with Jewish parliamentarians and have formed a committee to fight their forced separation from Polish students. Polish fascists have reacted with joy over the decree and consider the separation of Poles and Jews a victory that has been a long time coming. Polish socialists, on the other hand, are adamantly opposed to the separation and have joined the Jews in solidarity on the ghetto benches.

50 Years Ago

1962 The Israeli government has rejected the United Nations Special Rapporteur’s recommendations for the resolution of the Arab refugee problem. Although the U.N. report was not published, it is rumored that one of the recommendations was that Arab refugees be permitted to decide for themselves whether they want to return to Israel or remain where they are. Israeli pundits of various stripes all came out against the plan.

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