Jewish History, Israel, Middle East
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Alex Bruner is a former international management consultant and fundraiser. A child of Holocaust survivors from Yugoslavia who remained in Europe after World War II, he has lived in and worked on three continents. His special interest is the history of the Jewish people. He lectures on various topics related to Israel, the Middle East and antisemitism. He was instrumental in resurrecting his uncle’s Holocaust memoir which will be published in English in January 2024. The book will be available in 15 languages over the next two years.
Bruner was the chief Palm Beach fundraiser for the Weizmann Institute of Science (Rehovot, Israel) and served as the North American director for an agency established by American and Canadian business leaders to assist early-stage Israeli companies. He holds a BS, Ch. Eng. from the University of Maryland and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
COLD CREMATORIUM: THE “LOST” HOLOCAUST MASTERPIECE
When veteran journalist, poet, and novelist József Debreczeni arrived in Auschwitz, he was “lucky" to be sent to a life of slave labor rather than directly to the gas chambers. He survived, and after the war wrote Cold Crematorium, which one reviewer called “the harshest, most merciless indictment of Nazism ever written.”
The work was first published in Hungarian in 1950 but was never translated into a world language due to McCarthyism, Cold War hostilities, and antisemitism. Until now! In January 2024 it will be available in English, and within a year, in 15 languages around the world.
Alex Bruner, the author’s nephew and a child of Holocaust survivors, will discuss the historical and family context for his uncle's deportation to Auschwitz and describe the author's hellish journey through multiple slave labor camps. Bruner will share pictures, documents, as well as an audio recording of the first chapter of the book. Bruner will review why his uncle wrote the book, how it was initially received, the reasons it was not translated into a world language until now, and the lessons one can draw from the work.
"József Debreczeni was a journalist and a poet and he brings the skills of both to this remarkable work. Cold Crematorium will awe you with the acuity of its observations and the precision and beauty of its language. It should be read by everyone wishing to understand the cruelty and barbarism of the Shoah, but also the indomitable spirit of its survivors." -Ehud Barak, Former Prime Minister of Israel
Note: Mr. Bruner is not planning to bring copies of the book. However, if your community would like to make special arrangements, please advise.
Celebrating Passover in Difficult Times: How Jews Persevered from Antiquity to the Current Era
Celebrating Passover is easy for most of us today: food is plentiful, we are not persecuted, nor is overt expression of being a Jew frowned upon. It was not always so: from the time of Moses, to the Inquisitions in Spain and Portugal, the Holocaust, and living in Arab countries and communist Eastern Europe, celebrating Passover-- the holiday of freedom-- has often required sacrifice and even extraordinary courage. Bruner will discuss pivotal moments in history when Jews continued to observe Passover in spite of remarkable adversity, and how the holiday has remained the touchstone of Jewish identity over millennia.
Jewish Warriors: From Antiquity to the Modern Era
Jews have been fighting for their freedom since the earliest times. The struggle goes on though the enemies, circumstances, and tools have changed dramatically over the last three millennia. Bruner discusses the military conflicts that Jews have been involved in, from biblical times and the Roman wars to the emergence of distinct Jewish armed forces in the 20th century. In addition to the fight for Jewish sovereignty, Bruner will review the roles of Jews outside of Israel, their service in the militaries of the many lands in which they found themselves in the Diaspora, and the desperate struggles during the Holocaust.
The Ups and Downs of the American-Israeli Relationship
Where We Have Been and Where We Are Going
Alex Bruner will review the various twists and turns of the unique relationship between the US, the world’s preeminent superpower, and Israel, one of the smallest countries on earth. Starting with the favorable American attitude in the 1800s for the return of Jews to their historic national homeland, through the turbulence of wars and the promise of a more peaceful Middle East, we will address the evolution of the relationship between these inherently unequal partners to one of a strategic alliance in all its complexity.
Jerusalem – Past, Present and Future
Alex Bruner examines more than 4,000 years of Jerusalem’s history, from its founding to the present time. Learn why this small city has been at the center of humanity’s consciousness for millennia, its present status and challenges, and prospects in the coming decades.
From Semi-socialist Backwater to High Tech Superpower
Using his own experience helping Israel start-up companies, Bruner discusses how Israel, with virtually no natural resources other than brainpower, has become one of the world’s leading high-tech economies. The lecture concludes with an analysis of the factors that led to Israel’s success and an assessment of the country’s current position and future prospects.
Eliezer Ben-Yehuda and the Impossible Dream
The Making of Modern Hebrew
When Eliezer Ben–Yehuda arrived in the Land of Israel in 1881, Hebrew had not been a spoken language since the time of the Bible. Swimming against the tide of the disappearance of many minor languages, suspicion by religious authorities, political opposition and the paucity of words describing modern concepts, Ben-Yehuda’s vision prevailed. Today, Hebrew is spoken by 9 million Israelis, from Supreme Court judges to street walkers.
“The Mufti and National Socialism” – the Legacy of Haj el-Husseini, Mufti of Jerusalem
An overview of the life of the leader of the Palestinian Arabs in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, whose implacable opposition to Zionism and legendary hatred of Jews changed the course of history in the Middle East, and whose ideological progeny continue to impact today’s conflict.
Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor
Alex Bruner uses Yossi Klein Halevi’s Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor as a platform for understanding the painful choices confronting Israelis and Palestinians. The book is a passionate attempt to reach beyond the psychological wall that separates the two peoples.
Long Ago I was a Red Pioneer
Alex Bruner is the son of Holocaust survivors from the former Yugoslavia who remained in Europe after World War II. Growing up under a communist regime with minimal exposure to the history of Jews, Bruner became increasingly attracted by the warm embrace of Jewish peoplehood. He recounts a deeply personal story which illustrates the diversity of Jewish experience, centrality of remembrance, and responsibility for the future.
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Joseph Goebbels: The Delegitimization of Israel in the Media
Alex Bruner discusses the coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict with a focus on the Arab claim about the “catastrophe" of the creation of Israel, in Arabic, “The Nakba”. He then explores how a variety of “Big Lies” permeate media coverage. He reviews the competing Arab and Jewish narratives and argues that media objectivity will be critical to safeguarding the right of Jews to self-determination, as well as contributing to a realistic and just political compromise.
March to War
From the “War to End all Wars” to Operation Barbarossa (1918-1941)
Alex Bruner examines the legacy of the Versailles Treaty, the impact of the Great Recession and the rise of Nazi ideology. He will explore the factors that allowed Hitler to become the most powerful leader in Europe and why Western countries did not confront him until he was only steps away from his grotesque vision of a “thousand-year Reich.”
Truman’s Recognition of Israel and its Enduring Legacy
In 1948 President Truman recognized the new State of Israel despite strenuous opposition of the U.S. State and War Departments. Learn about the historical background, forces for and against recognition, and the various political, strategic, and personal twists and turns culminating in this pivotal moment in Israel’s history.
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