An Egalitarian Democracy in Syria?

by Ralph Seliger Discussed in this essay: A Road Unforeseen: Women Fight the Islamic State, by Meredith Tax. Bellevue Literary Press, 2016, 336 pages. EVENTS IN DISTANT LANDS sometimes elicit the hopes, and then disillusionment, of progressive minds — e.g., the Soviet Union at its inception in the early 1920s, the anarchist workers movement in […]

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Jewish Ghosts in Poland

by Ralph Seliger POLAND IS HAUNTED by the Holocaust and the very charged history of Polish-Jewish relations. This is metaphorically dramatized in Demon, a modern-day adaptation of the dybbuk legend, made famous in a variety of literary and dramatic versions (most notably in Sh. An-ski’s oft-produced Yiddish play, The Dybbuk), in which a dead person’s […]

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Did Stalin’s Death Save Soviet Jews?

by Ralph Seliger JOSHUA RUBENSTEIN impressively combines his career as an author with eight books to his credit (written, co-authored or edited) with thirty-seven years as an Amnesty International staffer currently overseeing branch activities in New York, New Jersey and New England. He’s published biographies of Leon Trotsky, Ilya Ehrenburg and Adolf Hitler, plus books […]

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Tikkun, the Movie

by Ralph Seliger Reviewed in this essay: Tikkun, a new film by Avishai Sivan. TIKKUN is a well-made, well-acted film that’s difficult to watch — at times painfully so. It is not about the kind of social change that the kabbalistic term, tikkun olam, has come to mean in Jewish liberal circles. Instead, the film […]

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The Rightwing Bugaboo: Political Correctness

by Ralph Seliger DONALD TRUMP’S demagogic populist candidacy has included bombastic attacks on “Political Correctness” (PC). This concept has had resonance for at least twenty-five years, mostly as a convenient punching bag for Republican politicians and right-leaning commentators — their easy substitute for actually confronting issues. But is “Political Correctness” just a rightwing slur, or […]

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Auschwitz, In Focus and Out

by Ralph Seliger Reviewed in this essay: Son of Saul, a film by László Nemes. Sony Pictures Classics, 2015, 107 minutes. VIEWERS OF THE OPENING SCENE of Son of Saul, Hungary’s contender for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category, see blurry images that make many think there’s a technical problem. But once […]

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