(New York Jewish Week) — On Hester Street between Orchard and Allen, tucked away among trendy cafes, high-end clothing boutiques and a smattering of mom-and-pop shops, a green storefront with gold lettering that reads “Mendel Goldberg Fabrics” proudly boasts its year of establishment: 1890.
When Goldberg began his eponymous business more than 130 years ago, the Lower East Side was a neighborhood teeming with Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe — Goldberg and his wife, Chana Henna, had themselves arrived in New York City in the late 19th century, fleeing antisemitism in Poland. Like so many other entrepreneurial immigrants, he sold thread from a pushcart. Eventually, the pushcast turned into a brick-and-mortar store at 72 Hester Street — where the business has remained ever since.
Today, the business is owned and operated by Alice Goldberg, Mendel’s great-granddaughter and the fourth-generation owner of Mendel Goldberg Fabrics. Over the decades, the shop has expanded its inventory from threads and tailoring supplies to silks and other high-end fabrics.
“The store is completely different now, because every generation did something different in this business,” said Alice Goldberg, who grew up watching her father at the store. “Mendel was selling thread from a pushcart. Alexander, his son, started selling silks and other tailoring supplies to the fur trade. My father, Samuel, was selling to Macy’s and Gimbels, who at that point had large fabric departments in New York, as well as starting to import from Europe.”
When Goldberg joined the business about 30 years ago, the store had already been around for a century. So, like her father and his father before him, she pivoted. “I went in the direction of the only thing I knew, which was high-end couture,” she said. “It was my background and all I was used to wearing. When I came in, the wall was a whole row of polyester fabric. It was selling very well; my father did very well with what he sold. But I needed to do what I knew, which was high-end designer.”
Goldberg sources most of her fabrics from Europe — Italy, Switzerland and France — which she purchases on yearly solo trips. These days, the store’s customers run the gamut from Broadway and television costume designers to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and anyone else in need of luxury fabric. Both the recent season of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and the upcoming season of Netflix’s “Bridgerton” feature dresses made from fabrics bought at Mendel Goldberg. Another high-profile client, Elaine Kaufman, the late proprietress of Elaine’s Restaurant on the Upper East Side, had 400 dresses custom made from fabrics bought at the store.
“The neighborhood is completely different,” Goldberg said, referring to the influx of boutiques, bars and cafes that have moved into the area since she started working there.
In 1890, the year Mendel Goldberg established his business, thousands of Jewish immigrants were arriving in New York from Eastern Europe. At the same time, the American garment industry was undergoing a rapid expansion, with New York City and the Lower East Side, in particular, emerging as a center. Many of these Jewish immigrants found jobs in the garment industry, in particular; according to the historian Howard Sachar, “By 1897 approximately 60 percent of the New York Jewish labor force was employed in the apparel field, and 75 percent of the workers in the industry were Jewish.”
Inside Mendel Goldberg Fabrics, the inventory may have changed, but the family’s integrity and dedication to the business remains the same. The walls of the store are covered in heaps of high-end, boutique colorful fabrics: silk, brocade, bouclé, wool, viscose, cotton, lace and linen. Family photographs from every generation are tacked up with pride.
Every weekday, Goldberg drives from her Upper East Side apartment to the store. There, she and manager Louis Ortega — who has been with Mendel Goldberg even longer than she has and is considered a member of the family — pull fabrics, cut orders and ship them out across the world, from California to Vietnam to New Zealand. They handle orders by phone and FaceTime, through an online system, as well as by appointment and from walk-in foot traffic in person. Goldberg’s daughter, Josepha, also works at the store and is likely to take over one day as the fifth-generation owner.
Goldberg pointed out that the store has always had a large Jewish clientele. “The Orthodox need fabric for shul, for yontif, for aufruf, for sheva brachot, for weddings, for bar and bat mitzvahs,” she said.
In fact, Goldberg’s first memorable sale was to a Hasidic mother who was buying fabric for her 16-year-old daughter. “I knew less than nothing,” Goldberg said, adding that she was able to find her a pink and green cotton fabric that would breathe and stay airy in the summer while still following community standards of tznius, or modesty.
After that, “I knew I had to shop for special fabrics for this clientele,” Goldberg, who is Modern Orthodox, said. With Hasidic and Orthodox men and women in mind, she sourced fabrics with a more conservative style — navys, blacks and whites, with elegant floral prints. To this day, many of Goldberg’s sales are in Hasidic Williamsburg, she said.
What’s more, the business is infused with Jewish values: “My father taught me to follow the Jewish laws of business,” Goldberg said. “It’s critical; the laws of the weights and measures; always pay your help and your suppliers before you take any money; close Shabbat and yom tov [holidays].”
Every fabric is also checked for shatnez — meaning that if it contains both linen and wool, it is prohibited by Jewish law. “If you follow the laws, you’re gonna do OK,” she said. “That’s what he [my father] taught me.”
“The truth is, the fact that I can carry this on and be a fourth-generation owner and keep the legacy alive for my family means everything to me,” she said. “My father left me the responsibility with confidence. So I’ve never let him down.”
To that end, Goldberg is a constant presence at the store. “When she wants to take a vacation, she only lasts three days,” Ortega said.
“I’m not a vacation gal,” responded Goldberg unabashedly.
In 2012, the store suffered from a devastating electrical fire. Despite the damage, Goldberg insisted she had to stay open: She rented a temporary location on Broome Street and set off for Europe to replace her damaged inventory, with the assistance of her younger daughter, Alexandra, while Josepha helped run the temporary location. “They worked like dogs, selling from boxes because we didn’t have enough shelves,” Goldberg said, marveling at her daughters’ dedication and their teamwork. A year later, they were back in the original building.
For Goldberg, living up to the legacy of her great-grandparents Mendel and Chana Henna; her grandparents, Alexander and Ida; and her parents, Samuel and Illean, is what keeps her going.
“This business survived because of the family. Mendel and Chana were immigrants. Every generation just ran with it and did well with it,” said Goldberg, tears welling in her eyes. “We’re going to continue. Family is the essence of this business.”
The post This tight-knit Jewish family has run Mendel Goldberg Fabrics since 1890 appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
London Anti-Zionists Convicted of Terrorism Charges
A London judge convicted three British women of terrorism charges on Tuesday, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) announced in a press release on Tuesday.
The verdict’s rendering concluded an investigation that began on Oct. 14, when three women — Heba Alhayek, 29, Pauline Ankunda, 26, and Noimutu Taiwo, 27 — brandished images of a paraglider while marching in an anti-Israel demonstration held in London just one week after Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel, which resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths, abductions of the young and elderly, and numerous sexual assaults of Israeli women.
In one of the most reported on atrocities of that day, Hamas fighters paraglided into an electronic dance festival and proceeded to slaughter hundreds of the young people, many of whom they burned alive, attending it. It is believed that the women displayed the images to celebrate Hamas’ violent killing of the innocent, and in the United Kingdom, it is illegal, per the Terrorism Act, to behave in any manner which suggest that one supports terrorists.
According to The Independent, photographs and video of the women parading the offensive symbol went viral on social media, outraging the London Jewish community and drawing scrutiny from MPS. Initially, when interrogated by MPS, two of the women, Ankunda and Alhayek, denied that they had equipped themselves with the images. In court, The Independent reported, an attorney representing them argued that they believed they were promoting “a well known nationalist symbol of peace.”
“This was a unique case examined in detail by a senior judge, and the case built by officers has led to guilty verdicts,” MPS Counter Terrorism detective chief superintendent Hayley Stewart said in a statement on Tuesday. “In the context of the pro-Palestine protests we have seen in London, we have always been clear that showing support for a terror group is a criminal offence, and anyone who does this faces arrest and prosecution.”
Despite convicting the women of violating the UK’s terrorism laws, the judge who presided over their case, Tan Ikram, emphatically stated during their sentencing that he does not believe they are supporters of Hamas. Ikram sentenced the women to a conditional discharge of 12 months, a penalty which, for now, is effectively not a punishment although it will be documented in their criminal records. However, should they be convicted of another offense in the next year, they could be sentenced for both the new charge and the old one.
“I do not find a reasonable person would interpret the image merely as a symbol of freedom,” Ikram said. “I want to be clear, there’s no evidence that any of these defendants are supporters of Hamas or were seeking to show support for them.”
Judge Ikram is at odds with Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) head of Special Crime and Terrorism Division Nick Price, who insisted in a statement issued after the sentencing that the women’s actions amounted to expression and encouragement of support for Hamas.
“All the women knowingly displayed the images of paragliders in central London, therefore arousing suspicion that they were supporting Hamas,” Price said. “The fact that these images were being displayed in the context of a protest opposing the Israeli response to the Hamas attacks demonstrates a glorification of the actions taken by the group. Displaying these images could be viewed as celebrating the use of paragliders as a tactic the breach the Gaza/Israel border, and creates a risk of encouraging others to support Hamas.”
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
The post London Anti-Zionists Convicted of Terrorism Charges first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
The Israeli Military Made Strategic Mistakes Before Oct. 7; Here’s How to Fix It
Until the 1980s, the occupation of territory and the transfer of warfare to enemy territory for the purpose of removing the threat of infiltration were central components in the IDF’s perception of warfare. But combat against guerrilla warfare in the security zone in Lebanon, and against terror and guerrilla warfare in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, caused a shift in this perception. The holding of conquered territory that contained an enemy population prepared to conduct guerrilla warfare was perceived as a liability rather than an advantage.
The transition of enemy behavior to a pattern of reciprocal firing, and the development of an Israeli response of counter-fire and active defense implemented in limited “cycles” in Gaza, almost completely removed the occupation of territory from Israeli military and public discourse. This diminished the IDF’s focus on maintaining the military capability meant to implement occupation: the land maneuver.
This trend can be seen in IDF strategic documents over the years. In the IDF Operations Concept document of Chief of Staff Dan Halutz (2006), for example, an emphasis was placed on developing the capability of systemic fire against armored fighting vehicles as an alternative to the strategy of occupying territory. Occupation was perceived as an unacceptable burden because of the guerrilla warfare to which occupying IDF forces would be subjected.
The prolonged influence of the IDF’s experience in Lebanon is evident here. In the IDF Strategic Concept document of 2015, written almost a decade after the Second Lebanon War, a return to land maneuver capability was stressed, but with two non-occupation-focused components: the “focused maneuver” against key political and authoritative centers and the “distributed maneuver” against enemy artillery fire and dispersed warfare infrastructures. Occupying territory to be used as a diplomatic bargaining chip was not defined as an objective.
The victory perception of Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi had three pillars: engagement in firefights, land maneuver, and defense, with an emphasis on “neutralizing capabilities” — in other words, maneuvering for the purposes of disrupting artillery firing capabilities, stopping enemy operatives, and destroying warfare infrastructure, but not for the purpose of occupying territory.
Israel’s operations in Gaza clearly illustrate the IDF’s preference for firing and defense activation. The maneuver was activated during Operation Protective Edge to neutralize the threat of the attack tunnels. Ever since the Second Lebanon War, the IDF has immediately withdrawn from every territory it conquered, forfeiting any achievement provided by the occupation of territory. In all documents and operations, occupation was meant to neutralize artillery fire or tunnels but was not viewed as an objective unto itself.
This is a narrow view, as occupying territory serves multiple purposes on all levels of warfare. On the tactical level, it can be used to capture advantageous positions from the enemy. On the operational level, it can disrupt enemy formations. On the strategic level, the enemy’s capital can be occupied for the purpose of regime change. On the diplomatic level, occupied territory can be a bargaining chip for negotiation.
There are three reasons why it is a serious mistake to devalue the achievement of occupying territory.
The first reason is at the diplomatic and strategic level: It’s the land, stupid. Losing territory is a painful loss for Israel’s enemies. Hamas in Gaza wants to “return” to Jaffa, Ashdod, Ashkelon (Majdal), and indeed the rest of the State of Israel, either through direct occupation, by exhausting Israel until it collapses, or by exerting enough political pressure to force the “right of return.” Hezbollah is fighting for the Galilee foothills, and the Rashidun force wanted to conquer the Galilee. Territory remains as important to Israel’s enemies as it ever was. Israel’s occupation and holding of enemy territory thus constitutes a serious loss for those enemies.
Holding territory is also a bargaining chip in diplomatic negotiations. This was the case with Egypt and Syria in the agreements on the separation of forces at the end of the Yom Kippur War, and later in the framework of the peace agreement with Egypt, which insisted on the complete return of Sinai.
This will always apply when Israel occupies territory. Hamas’ claim that it will return the captives as long as the IDF withdraws from Gaza’s population centers proves that occupied territory is once again a diplomatic bargaining chip.
The second reason is at the operational level: The occupation of territory gives the IDF a clear asymmetrical advantage. This is about military thinking that exploits enemy vulnerabilities and maximizes the IDF’s strengths. Only the IDF can occupy territory, clear it of the enemy, defend it against counterattack, use it to reduce the threat of infiltration, and hold it as a bargaining chip for diplomatic negotiations. None of Israel’s enemies can occupy territory and hold it for more than a few hours.
This asymmetry is especially important when it comes to firepower. Though the IDF is reluctant to admit this, a sort of symmetry has emerged between Israel and Hezbollah. Hezbollah has built a vast arsenal containing statistical rockets, short-range rockets, precision missiles, 120mm mortars, and drone-delivered explosives. The IDF has a highly sophisticated air force with precise intelligence-guided targeting capabilities on a world-class scale. The problem is that a symmetry has emerged. Both sides are capable of inflicting significant damage on the other, and victory in this operational space will be on points.
It has been argued for many years that occupying territory is not worth the price it will cost in terms of heavy casualties and exposure of IDF troops to guerrilla warfare. The “Iron Dome” war demonstrates that both these risks are limited in scope. It appears that with adjustments, territorial occupation can be restored during a future war in Lebanon. This can be done with relatively low attrition ratios (harder to achieve in Lebanon than in densely populated Gaza) and with the evacuation of the local population from the battlefield area (easier to achieve in Lebanon than in Gaza).
Territory captured in a future war must be cleared of warfare infrastructure. Residents should not be allowed to return until Israel’s desired diplomatic arrangement is achieved, even if this means the IDF stays for months or years in the enemy’s security zone. I stress that preventing the return of the population is not for the purpose of punishing them. Rather, it is for the same reason that they were evacuated before the war: to minimize the chances of their being harmed. Territory captured during ground combat will remain largely destroyed and will lack any basic electricity or water infrastructure, and it will be filled with ruins and explosive remnants. Fighting is also likely to continue to occur in the area, even if only sporadically.
The third reason is that warfare changes constantly, both globally and regionally. Unlike advanced science, which progresses forward, the phenomenon of warfare sometimes returns to old motivations and patterns. When Israel was perceived as the stronger side against Hamas, the limitations placed upon it were severe. The Western world expected Israel to defend its citizens solely with active defense systems and counter-fire, without resorting to ground action. In terms of internal legitimacy, the cost of occupying territory was believed to outweigh the benefits when each round of conflict ended with relatively minor damage.
But on October 7, 2023, both Israel’s and the world’s understanding of the conflict with Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran changed completely. In response to Hamas’ brutal, genocidal massacre and mass hostage-taking, the State of Israel declared a comprehensive war. After a long period of “wars of choice” in which Israel was the stronger side, the Jewish State has returned to an era of “no-choice wars.” In a comprehensive multi-front war, which will include fighting against Hezbollah and Iran and possibly other elements, Israel will have to utilize all means at its disposal to defend itself. This includes occupying and holding territory.
Occupying territory in Lebanon — for the fifth time
Without attempting to broadly speculate on how the next war in Lebanon will unfold, we will consider a situation in which Israel has decided to enter Lebanon on the ground. In such a scenario, a defensive zone would be established and held as a security belt to protect the northern border settlements from surface-to-surface fire and ground attack until a diplomatic arrangement is reached. The conquered territory would remain “sterile,” with neither an enemy presence nor returned local residents, in order to protect those residents from the fighting that is likely to continue in the area as the enemy attempts to reconquer the territory or attack IDF forces.
Israel has a great deal of experience in Lebanon. During Operation Hiram in October 1948, the IDF captured 14 villages in the eastern sector. Israel withdrew half a year later as part of an agreement with the Lebanese government, but in Operation Litani in 1978, the villages were recaptured. In the First Lebanon War in 1982, they were captured a third time; in the Second Lebanon War in 2006, they were captured a fourth time. If we were to capture them a fifth time, as well as other areas along the border for a fourth time, we will need to ensure as much as possible that that will be the last time they pose a threat to the border settlements.
The way to do this, given the history I have described, is to gain internal and international legitimacy by turning these rural areas into a security zone under Israeli control. They should remain under Israeli security control until an agreement is reached that ensures that if Israel withdraws, the areas will no longer pose a threat.
Brigadier General (res.) Dr. Meir Finkel is head of research at the Dado Center and its former commander. He has written a series of books about the IDF’s senior headquarters: the Chief of Staff (2018), the General Staff (2020), Air Force Headquarters (2022) and Ground Headquarters (2023). A version of this article was originally published by The BESA Center.
The post The Israeli Military Made Strategic Mistakes Before Oct. 7; Here’s How to Fix It first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
October 7 Proved Now Is Not the Time for a Palestinian State
The Biden administration and several Arab allies are working on a plan for an immediate “two state solution,” according to an article in The Washington Post on Thursday.
These talks, which don’t include either Israelis or Palestinians, reportedly aim to complete a full proposal prior to Ramadan, which begins on March 10. According to the Post, “The elephant in the planning room is Israel, and whether its government will acquiesce to much of what is being discussed.”
It is true that Israel is not likely to agree to any arrangement that endangers its safety, yet there is a much larger and totally overlooked “elephant in the room”: polls show that most of the Palestinian people don’t actually want a two state solution at all, on any terms, or in any borders.
Hamas leader Khaled Mashal summed up the prevailing Palestinian attitude in a recent interview, “…especially after October 7, there’s a renewed dream of the hope of Palestine from the river to the sea, from the north to the south … we reject [a two state solution], because it means you are required to recognize the legitimacy of the Zionist entity [Israel]. This is unacceptable. [This is] the position of Hamas as well as the majority of the Palestinian people.” (emphasis added).
Though Hamas’ leadership is not typically a source of reliable information, in this case, Mashal appears to be correct: according to Arab research sources, 74.7% of Palestinians desire a Palestinian-only state that entirely supplants Israel, while 72% support the October 7 massacre, which, to be clear, included burning Israeli babies, beheading, mass rape, mass murder, and large scale kidnapping.
The Palestinian Authority government (the presumptive leader of a future Palestinian state) has publicly committed to spending at least 2.8 million dollars per month out of its national budget as a cash reward to the individuals (including the terror operatives) who carried out the October 7 massacre. Palestinian support for the total annihilation of Israel and of all its people is, therefore, not limited to Hamas, nor would such support automatically disappear in a post-Hamas world.
To ask Israelis to entrust their safety to the Palestinian Authority, a government that both supported and has committed to funding perpetrators of the October 7 massacre, would be inappropriate and dangerous. To provide such a government with significant resources, including increased funding and international legitimacy, will both plant and water the seeds of more October 7 style massacres in the future.
The West has a long history of willful blindness in the Middle East.
For example, the 1990s saw widespread Israeli and Palestinian support for the Oslo peace process, but there was a critical difference between the two sides. Whereas Israelis envisioned the peace process as bringing an end to the conflict, both Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as well as over 72% of Palestinians did not. To the contrary, the prevailing Palestinian vision at the time was to accept the benefits and resources provided by the Oslo process, but without any intent of actually ending the conflict.
Despite this data being readily available, Western nations, with Israeli support, initiated a massive influx of funding, resources, weapons, training, and international legitimacy, in the naive hope of somehow changing Palestinian priorities. Nonetheless, much of these resources flowed to a variety of Palestinian terror organizations, thus vastly increasing the power and destructiveness of those groups, right up to the present day.
Since that time, decades of academics have sought to explain why Oslo failed, often placing blame on Israel and the West for not providing even more resources, offers, and concessions than they already had. However, history shows that a peace agreement cannot possibly work if one of the sides does not actually want peace. That was the case with respect to the Munich Agreement with Hitler in 1938, a mistake of historic proportions that empowered and emboldened the German war machine.
Some might ask, is there any way at all to ensure a better future for Israelis, Palestinians, and the world at large?
Aggressive dictatorships rarely ever transform into peaceful and prosperous democracies, but there are at least two historical examples: post-war Germany and Japan. Both cases began with complete defeat of the regimes that initiated war, followed by total and unconditional surrender. During post-war “reconstruction,” the pre-existing governments were completely dismantled. Local populations were made to understand, unequivocally, that any dreams of achieving victory through violence would have no possibility of succeeding, ever. Only as these processes began to truly take root, over the course of years, did Germany and Japan gradually rejoin the international community as functional and prosperous independent states.
Less thorough efforts, such as in Afghanistan and Iraq, have resulted in disaster. It is notable that Iran played a role in undermining stabilization efforts in those regions, just as it is presently doing in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza, and attempting to do throughout the Red Sea shipping lanes and within Israel.
What kind of future does the international community envision for Palestinians? A future resembling modern day Germany and Japan, or alternatively, Afghanistan and Iraq? If the world desires the former, history and common sense demand we take the same steps that achieved it: including total dismantling and reconstruction of Palestinian governing institutions, accountability for all Palestinian leaders who have supported terror, justice for Israeli and international victims of that terror, and an unequivocal demonstration to the Palestinian people that the goal of supplanting Israel and the tool of violence stand absolutely no chance of success. Of course, none of this vision will be possible without first defeating or at least massively deterring Iran and its proxies to the point that they no longer hold any influence whatsoever in the Middle East. This may sound like a tall order, but anything less will result in a danger to Israel, an ongoing threat to the world, and a disaster for the Palestinian people.
Daniel Pomerantz is an expert in international law, an adjunct professor at Reichman and Bar Ilan Universities in Israel, and the CEO of RealityCheck, an nonprofit NGO dedicated to clarifying global conversations with verifiable data. Daniel lives in Tel Aviv, Israel, and can be found on Instagram at @realitycheckresearch or at www.RealityCheckResearch.org.
The post October 7 Proved Now Is Not the Time for a Palestinian State first appeared on Algemeiner.com.