Why We Need to Back the Kurds

With Rex Tillerson’s less-than-stellar performance in Iraq still making headlines, we wanted to offer up insight from someone who has a better grip on the political future of the Kurds: FDD’s John Hannah. Read his provocative interview here.

JEWISH PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN

One of the unforeseen consequences of the expulsion of Jews from Portugal and Spain in the 15th Century was the arrival, on the high seas, of Jewish pirates in the 18th. Edward Kritzler’s JEWISH PIRATES OF THE CARIBEEAN tracks the surprising history of this ragtag group — and of Sephardic Jews at the margins of empire during the Age of Discovery more generally. They came mostly from the group called¬†conversos — Jews who had converted publicly ot Christianity to save their lives and property but who still secretly practiced their real religion. Over the ensuing centuries, these men and women, drive to seek refuge in various out of the way corners of the Empire and the New World, fell into the trade of piracy. Kritzler’s book is a fascinating look at a little-known historical phenomenon — and a lens onto far bigger issues.

DARLING

This collaboration between directing legend John Schlesinger and novelist/screenwriter Frederic Raphael (for which Raphael won an Oscar — a rarity, given that this was his screenwriting debut) is the bleak, jagged story of Diana Scott. Diana is a young woman in the charged London of the 1960’s who tries to find herself and happiness in the pursuit of ¬†. . . social capital? Love and sex? It’s part of the film’s power that Diana — and many of the people around her — seems steeped in an intense ambivalence. Ignorance, self-delusion, and hypocrisy are also strongly represented. Raphael’s sad, funny, powerful script and Schlesinger’s brilliant direction make this a modern masterpiece.

ON THIS DAY IN 1944 . . .

The Edelweiss Pirates were a group of heroic young people in Nazi Germany — a bright mirror image of the Hitler youth, in opposition to whom they worked. They fought for the spirit of freedom and liberalism through propaganda campaigns, the assistance of military deserters, and small acts of sabotage. Naturally enough, their authoritarian ways soon brought them to the attention of Heinrich Himmler and on this day in 1944 he ordered a vicious crackdown against them that culminated in the public hanging of thirteen of their leadership in Cologne. Their lives and deaths are a small reminder that the flame of the human spirirt is much harder to extinguish than totalitarians imagine.