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Powerful Play Questions Whether a Jewish Father Gave Secrets to Russia

Charlotte Cohn and Roger Hendrick Simon as Alina and her father Hillel with her husband Moses (Simon Feil) behind. Photo: Steven Pisano.

“I’m a Jew,” an elderly man named Hillel declares to an unknown voice in This Is Not a Time of Peace at Manhattan’s Theatre Row on 42nd Street.

Roger Hendricks Simon delivers a fine performance as Hillel, a man with anxiety, guilt, and memory problems, yet who is still cogent much of the time. The audience wants to know whether or not he betrayed America by giving away secrets to a Russian man named Daniil, who stayed at his home one night.

Charlotte Cohn stars as his daughter, Alina, and gets things moving with a powerful opening monologue. She wants to help her father find out the truth and she wonders if he was a communist, though it shouldn’t matter. Cohn is excellent in depicting a woman who has insight into her actions, but struggles to fight her temptations.

One of the most shocking elements of this play is not only that the infamous Joseph McCarthy is a character, but that actor Steven Rattazzi is able to depict the senator so well, with the proper cadence, diction, and oratory gusto. He is mesmerizing. I wanted to get on stage and hit him, but an actor in the show takes care of that.

“It gave me such pleasure to write that,” playwright Deb Margolin told me in an interview.

The play is a fictional account based on some true tribulations that Margolin’s father, Harold, had — namely that he was accused of being a communist later in life. He was defended pro-bono by famed attorney Adolf Berle, a chief speechwriter of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

“My father died at 100, less than a year ago,” Margolin said. “He knew I was writing this play.”

McCarthy’s hearings led to many being blacklisted, and he pressured people to offer up names of communists. Here, Hillel begrudgingly reveals a list, but what’s on it is quite surprising.

Alina claims to love her husband, Moses (Simon Feil), but is having an affair with Martin (Ken King), who says he loves her. Feil is masterful as a cocksure man who is not always emotionally available to his wife and hasn’t bothered to read her article in Harper’s Bazaar. King, besides providing eye candy when he shows off his muscular physique, is on point as a lover willing to dastardly tell Alina he will give her secret documents she has been seeking, if she gives him what he wants. Alina wears a Magen David necklace, and isn’t sure if her father betrayed his country, but she’s sure she betrayed her husband.

Richard Hollis adds a jolt of electricity as Daniil, who shocks Hillel by explaining that if he doesn’t get the required information, he will be “terminated.” It is impossible to watch this and not think of Alexei Navalny, who survived being poisoned, but flew back to Russia, knowing the worst could happen to him. And as we found out last week, it did.

The technique of having characters sit on the stage the entire time, but sometimes motionless and in the dark when the focus is on others, is a metaphor for the fact that evil inclinations may sit dormant and pop up after years. We must be prepared to confront them.

This Is Not a Time of Peace is also timely, as Oppenheimer, a film that spends a good deal of time showing J. Robert Oppenheimer being questioned for his communist connections, will likely win the Oscar for Best Picture on March 10.

Directed by Jerry Heymann and written by Margolin, this show will make you think about the things we take for granted. Alina utters the play’s title once, and it comes from the words of McCarthy.

“Hitler said the problem is from within, McCarthy said it, and we’re seeing the same thing today,” Margolin said.

This Is Not A Time of Peace is a timely and compelling slow burn with a powerful payoff. It runs through March 16.

The author is a writer based in New York.

The post Powerful Play Questions Whether a Jewish Father Gave Secrets to Russia first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Hamas Remains Obstacle to Gaza Ceasefire, Israel Has Moved in a ‘Significant Way,’ US Says

Israeli soldiers operate in the Gaza Strip amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas, in this handout picture released on Jan. 2, 2024. Photo: Israel Defense Forces/Handout via REUTERS

Hamas is the barrier to a ceasefire being implemented in Gaza, according to US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller.

Israel moved in a “significant way” to submit a reasonable and “incredibly significant” proposal in the ongoing talks to reach a ceasefire and release the Israeli hostages still in Gaza, Miller told reporters during a press briefing on Monday.

“There was a deal on the table that would achieve much of what Hamas claims it wants to achieve, and they have not taken that deal,” Miller added. “The bottom line is that they have rejected it, and if they did accept it, it would allow for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza of at least six weeks, which would benefit the Palestinian people whom they claim to represent. It would also allow us to continue improvements in the delivery of humanitarian assistance.”

Miller said the US is still pursuing a deal that would implement a ceasefire lasting at least six weeks, allow more aid into Gaza, and secure the release of the hostages kidnapped by Hamas during the Palestinian terrorist group’s Oct. 7 invasion of southern Israel. The Hamas atrocities, including the massacre of 1,200 people, launched the current war in Hamas-ruled Gaza, which borders Israel.

The US, Egypt, and Qatar have been mediating ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas. Over the past few months, Hamas has rejected all ceasefire offers, while Israel agreed to a deal that would end fighting for six weeks and release 700 Palestinian terrorists from jail, in exchange for 40 hostages seized during Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

More recently, Hamas rejected the latest Israeli proposal that had been discussed over the past week.

Israel has said any truce must include the release of all remaining hostages and be temporary, warning that a long-term truce would allow Hamas to regroup and strengthen its position to continue attacking the Jewish state. Hamas leaders have pledged to carry out massacres against Israel like the one on Oct. 7 “again and again.”

Meanwhile, Hamas has demanded that any truce must include a permanent ceasefire and full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. Hamas has reportedly presented its own hostage release proposal to mediators in which it demands a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, implemented over three six-week phases. The proposal suggests that Israel would need to observe a six-week ceasefire before receiving any of the roughly 130 hostages still held by the terrorist group since Oct. 7 — a likely non-starter for Jerusalem.

According to Miller, the onus is on Hamas to explain why it didn’t accept the latest Israeli proposal.

“The bottom line is Hamas needs to take that deal, and they need to explain to the world and to the Palestinian people why they aren’t taking it because it is Hamas right now that is the barrier and the obstacle to a ceasefire in Gaza,” he said.

The post Hamas Remains Obstacle to Gaza Ceasefire, Israel Has Moved in a ‘Significant Way,’ US Says first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Pomona College Faculty Condemn Arrest of Anti-Zionist Protesters, Continuing Attack on Black Officials Who Resist Anti-Israel Pressure

Anti-Zionist protesters being arrested at Pomona College on April 5, 2024. They had taken over an administrative building. Photo: Screenshot/Students for Justice in Palestine via Instagram

The faculty at Pomona College in Claremont, California have censured their school for calling the police to arrest nearly two dozen anti-Zionist students who illegally occupied an administrative building to protest Israel’s military offensive against Hamas, the campus’ official newspaper reported over the weekend.

“The faculty condemns the present and future militarization and use of police on the campus,” said a resolution passed with the approval of 92 professors, while 39 voted no and four abstained. “It insists that the college immediately drop criminal charges and reverse the suspensions and all related consequences against student protesters for their actions of civil disobedience.”

The faculty’s volley of criticism came after dozens of students, many of whom were members of the anti-Zionist campus group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), began occupying Alexander Hall on campus earlier this month. At least 18 of the students commandeered the office of Pomona College president Gabrielle Starr.

According to Starr — the first African American in the history of the school to hold the position — the students spoke impertinently to their superiors and, along with refusing to provide identification, uttered an “anti-Black racial slur in addressing an administrator.”

In total, 20 students, including one who allegedly attempted to stand in the way of a police officer escorting a student in custody, were arrested and later released.

The demonstration was reportedly prompted by the administration’s dismantling of an “apartheid wall” that activists mounted earlier that week — SJP partisans have cited that as the reason the group unlawfully occupied Alexander Hall and disparaged Black administrators.

Since the incident, numerous campus groups have criticized Starr’s method of restoring order on campus, which included levying suspensions against any student who participated in the demonstration. SJP has demanded that Starr, who is African American, resign from her position, and the school’s student government, Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC), has accused her of violating the students’ right to due process by “circumventing” a disciplinary process in which students render the final judgement. The Middle East Studies Association (MESA), which supports the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, has maintained that the students acted peaceably but did not mention Starr’s accusation of anti-Black racism, which progressives in higher education have previously described as tantamount to violence.

“We ask you to refrain in the future from bringing the police to campus to coercively [sic] suppress student activism,” MESA said in a statement. “Finally, we urge you to publicly and vigorously reaffirm Pomona College’s commitment to respecting the right of your students and all other members of the college community to freedom of speech and assembly, and to academic freedom, including with regard to advocacy for Palestinian rights and divestment by means of peaceful protest and civil disobedience.”

This is not the first time that anti-Zionists have hurled abuse at a Black figure who refused to be browbeaten by anti-Zionist protesters.

Last week, an SJP spinoff group at George Washington University (GW) in Washington, DC handed out pamphlets accusing US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield — who was on campus to give a talk encouraging Black youth to pursue careers in foreign affairs — of being a “puppet” because she has vetoed UN Security Council resolutions calling for a ceasefire to the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. They also compared Greenfield to Black enslaved persons who had been assigned, against their will, to work as overseers of other enslaved persons on cotton plantations, arguing that she represents “Black bodies as puppets to carry out repression and dissent.” The students also surrounded a Black GW dean, Colette Coleman, screaming that she should resign while one student clapped their hands in her face.

US colleges and universities are taking action against students who hold unauthorized demonstrations in defiance of school rules, reversing a decades-long trend of lax enforcement of rules governing such student protests.

Earlier this month, Vanderbilt University suspended and expelled anti-Zionist students who participated in occupying an administrative building last month. Several had “assaulted a Community Service Officer” to gain access to the building and others “pushed” officials who suggested having a discussion about their concerns, according to the school’s administration. Those students also verbally abused a Black official, shouting, “Shame on You!” at him and insisting that this racial identity demanded his becoming an accessory to their action.

On the same day, Columbia University president Minouche Shafik confirmed that up to six student members of an anti-Zionist organization that invited a terrorist to campus have been suspended. According to The Columbia Spectator, their scholarships have been cancelled and they are evicted from campus housing.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Pomona College Faculty Condemn Arrest of Anti-Zionist Protesters, Continuing Attack on Black Officials Who Resist Anti-Israel Pressure first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Eighty years after it was stolen, a German curator returned Nazi-looted silver to a museum in London, Ontario

A long-lost chapter of the Holocaust found a resolution as silver plundered by the Nazis from Mina and Adolf Ackermann made its way back to London, Ont., the home of their sole surviving child. A small silver bowl crafted in the 17th century and a ceremonial lamp were two of Mina and Adolf’s cherished possessions, […]

The post Eighty years after it was stolen, a German curator returned Nazi-looted silver to a museum in London, Ontario appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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