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A Paris Museum and France’s Short-Lived Sephardi Aristocracy

Moïse de Camondo, a member of a wealthy clan of Sephardi merchants originating in Istanbul, settled in Paris in the 1870s with other members of his family. After his death in 1935, his home—which he filled with fashionable 18th-century antiques—became a museum that still operates today as an unintended monument to a very particular slice of French-Jewish history. Christina Sztajnkrycer writes:

The [neighborhood where the Comondos settled, known as the] plaine Monceau, is a more recent part of Paris, annexed to the city in 1860. . . . Before annexation, Emile and Isaac Pereire, having “made their fortunes as financiers, railroad-builders, and property magnates, creating colossal developments of hotels and department stores,” purchased the plaine Monceau with the park in the center and started to develop the surrounding area. These two Sephardi brothers from Bordeaux, also creators of the upscale neighborhood surrounding the Opéra Garnier and the Hôtel de la Paix in Paris, dreamed of a luxurious future for this soon-to-be elite neighborhood. . . .

[T]he Pereire brothers were not just savvy investors with a taste for luxury, they also knew how to attract and convince the wealthiest Jews of France, Europe, and the Mediterranean basin to come live in the plaine Monceau along with many other members of Parisian high society. The outcome of the Pereires’ vision was “an unprecedented mixture of nobility of the ancien régime and empire, Jewish aristocracy, high-society Protestants, [and] members of the rich industrial and financial bourgeoisie.”

Read more at Stroum Center for Jewish Studies

More about: French Jewry, History & Ideas, Museums, Paris, Sephardim

 

Toward an Iran Policy That Looks at the Big Picture

On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a speech outlining a new U.S. approach to the Islamic Republic. Ray Takeyh and Mark Dubowitz explain why it constitutes an important and much-needed rejection of past errors:

For too long, a peculiar consensus has suggested that it is possible to isolate the nuclear issue from all other areas of contention and resolve it in a satisfactory manner. The subsidiary [assumption] embedded in this logic is that despite the bluster of Iran’s rulers, it is governed by cautious men, who if offered sufficient incentives and soothing language would respond with pragmatism. No one embraced this notion more ardently than the former secretary of state, John Kerry, who crafted an accord whose deficiencies are apparent to all but the most hardened partisans. . . .

A regime as dangerous as the Iranian one requires no less than a comprehensive strategy to counter it. This means exploiting all of its vulnerabilities, increasing the costs of its foreign adventures, draining its economy, and aiding our allies. Most importantly, the United States must find a way of connecting itself to domestic opposition that continuously haunts the mullahs.

Washington should no longer settle for an arms-control agreement that paves Iran’s path to a bomb but rather a restrictive accord that ends its nuclear aspirations. The United States should not implore its allies to share the Middle East with Iran, as Barack Obama did, but partner with them in defeating the clerical imperialists. And most importantly, the United States should never forget that its most indispensable ally is the Iranian people.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Iran nuclear program, Mike Pompeo, U.S. Foreign policy