The Ironies of History: The Ukraine Crisis through the Lens of Jewish History

As much of the world expresses sorrow and solidarity with the Ukrainian people—and admiration for its president, Volodymyr Zelensky—the ironies of history abound. To students of Jewish history, it is a source of near incredulity that the same recurrent site of mass violence against Jews—from the Khmielnitsky massacres of the mid-seventeenth century to the brutal killing fields during and after World War I to the bloodlands soiled by Nazi murderers in Operation Barbarossa in 1941—is home to a fledgling democracy and an unlikely and inspiring Jewish president.

Knowing the Victim? Reflections on Empathy, Analogy, and Voice from the Shoah to the Present

One of the core questions of the humanities is how can we know what we know. In the field of Jewish studies, one of the sharpest formulations of this fundamental epistemological question arises in the study of the Holocaust. Is it the case, as Elie Wiesel famously declared, that only survivors can really know what took place in concentration and death camps? Some scholars have flipped this question and asked whether survivor testimony can be deemed sufficiently reliable for historical reconstruction, especially on its own.