In the terrible and tragic history of the Jewish experience in the post-war communist dictatorships of Eastern Europe, one incident in particular stands out. It began with an editorial published in the Pravda newspaper.
The article accused a group of nine high-profile doctors, two-thirds of whom were Jewish, of conspiring to assassinate the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin by poisoning him.
Almost a century after it was founded, film production and distribution company Paramount Pictures remains a Hollywood giant – a level of success its Hungarian-born Jewish immigrant founder could scarcely have anticipated.
Adolph Zukor was described in his JC obituary as “a founding father of the American film industry”, an accolade that was no exaggeration. From a religious family with several rabbinic relatives, he left Riese at 15 to start a new life in New York as a furrier’s apprentice.
In the “Freedom Summer” of 1964 three civil rights activists in America’s Deep South – two of whom were Jewish - were lynched in Philadelphia, Mississippi.
In 1988 the murders of Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney became the subject of the Oscar-winning film Mississippi Burning. But it took more than four decades for their killer to be brought to justice, when a jury indicted Edgar Ray Killen on three counts of murder.
Just six months after he oversaw Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip, Ariel Sharon’s time in office was over. He had arguably staked his career on the move, breaking ranks with his party and risking a permanent divide in Israeli society with what many of the country’s right-wing saw as a betrayal.
On December 28 former LSE student Kate Burton and her parents Hugh and Win were kidnapped in the Gaza Strip by members of the militant group Mujahadeen Brigades armed with automatic rifles. Three days later they were free.
The 24-year-old pro-Palestinian activist from Berkshire, employed by the Palestinian Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, was giving her parents a tour of Rafah, close to the Egyptian border, when they were taken. The kidnap took place just four months after Israel disengaged from Gaza.
It took more than 45 years for the Holy See to grant Israel the status it gave to other nations. But given the complex history of the Jews and Christians, when it did – after some 18 months of negotiations - it was a significant turning point and a major diplomatic breakthrough.
Ratified at the Vatican by Israel’s deputy foreign minister Yossi Beilin and Monsignor Claudio Celli, the accord acknowledged the full freedom of worship for the thousands of Christians in Israel and ensured that they would have free access to the holy Christian sites of Jerusalem.