Extracts from the Oct 2003 Journal

Butchers, beauties and bigots (editorial)

With parliament in recess, August usually lives up to its journalistic nickname 'the silly season'. The year 2003, however, was different. This August saw the start of the Hutton Inquiry, the end of the infinitely deplorable lives of Diana Mosley and Idi Amin, and the emergence of Mel Gibson as a purveyor of a hoary tale of deicide on screen. [more...]

Breaking into a Mail preserve

Like all newspaper publishers, Jewish ones are a disparate bunch. Some, for example Josef Pulitzer (of Pulitzer Prize fame), were on the side of the angels - others, like Robert Maxwell, in the opposite camp. Where exactly does Richard Desmond fit in? He left school at the age of 14 without any qualifications, went into music journalism at the time of the 'pop explosion', and became a mini-tycoon in his late twenties. Having diversified into vastly profitable soft-porn publishing, he had the inspired idea of launching OK as a home-grown rival to the best-selling Spanish-based celebrity magazine Hello. The next step in his dizzying career was the acquisition of the Express group of newspapers. [more...]

End of an era at Eleanor Rathbone House

First opened in 1964 to provide sheltered accommodation for elderly Jewish refugees, Eleanor Rathbone House, a strikingly modern 12-storey block of studio flats in Highgate, North London, has been sold at auction for £5.7 million. Named after the social pioneer and MP who fought for the entry into Britain of refugees from Nazi persecution, it no longer serves the needs or preferences of today's potential clientele. Vacant flats have not been reoccupied and the remaining tenants have already been provided with appropriate accommodation. [more...]

East German property list to be published

After several years of equivocation and following recent requests from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the New York-based Claims Conference has agreed to publish a list of properties and other assets once owned by Jewish families in the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany). [more...]

Jews as muse

I think there is huge symbolism in the fact - first revealed by AL Rowse - that Shakespeare's Dark Lady of the Sonnets was an Italian Jewess by the name of Emilia Bassano. In fact, Jewish women of talent have acted as the muse to an amazingly large number of Europe's most creative spirits for centuries. Though the sphere in which this has been most pronounced is literature, it is in music that it has had the best-known effect. Leos Janacek, who lived in a loveless marriage, had declined into fallow middle age when the encounter with Kamila Stösslava re-energised him, and spurred him on to compose his outstanding operas Jenufa and Katya Kabanova. (In passing, one might also mention the dedication - and political manipulation - with which Prokofiev's second wife, Mira Mendelson, helped him to turn Tolstoy's War and Peace into an opera.) [more...]

Claims Conference - benefactor or villain?

As a representative of the AJR (under the aegis of World Jewish Relief) on the Board of the Claims Conference for some years, I have become only too aware of the misconceptions and misunderstandings of its activities. [more...]

Central Office for Holocaust Claims

Hungarian compensation claims - a clarification
Two of the most recent pieces of legislation in Hungary, laws adopted in 1992 and 1997, have provided some compensation for Holocaust victims. The 1992 law (to cover the enforced wearing of a yellow star and confinement in a ghetto or concentration camp) provided $50 worth of local vouchers to survivors that had to be spent in Hungary. The deadline for the 1997 legislation 'Compensation for Loss of Life by Political Persecution' was limited to survivors who had already applied for and received their first payments. Applications had to be submitted between 7 June and 7 October 1997. [more...]