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The Jews of Cochin, in India and Israel

Aug. 18 2015

The Jews of Cochin, a port city in the southwestern Indian state of Kerala, trace their history to the time of King Solomon, although most scholars believe Jews did not arrive there at least until the 1st century CE. Today, only about 40 Jews remain in Kerala, but their descendants in Israel are keeping their customs alive. Bala Menon writes:

Recorded history shows that Jews were present in Kerala in 849 CE: Hebrew names were engraved on copper plates granted by a Kerala Hindu king . . . to Syrian Christian settlers. . . . The Jews signed these . . . plates as witnesses. . . .

In 1000 CE, the emperor of Kerala . . . issued two copper plates to a Jewish merchant [by the name of] Issappu Irrappan (Joseph Rabban), believed to be of Yemenite descent. The plates conferred on the Jewish community 72 proprietary rights equivalent to those held by the . . . the nobles of Malabar.

Today, there are several flourishing Cochini moshavim [semi-collective farming communities] in Israel. . . . One, Mesilat Tsion, boasts signs like Reḥov Cochin and Reḥov Malabar (reḥov means “street” in Hebrew) dating to the early 1950s. . . . Moshav Nevatim also boasts a beautiful Cochini synagogue. The interior is a copy of the Kadavumbhagam synagogue [in Kerala] and the holy ark and the Torah scrolls were all brought from various synagogues in Cochin.

Read more at Asian Jewish Life

More about: India, Indian Jewry, Israel, Jewish history, Jewish World, Moshav

The Palestinian National Movement Has Reached a Point of Crisis

With Hamas having failed to achieve anything through several weeks of demonstrations and violence, and Mahmoud Abbas reduced to giving rambling anti-Semitic speeches, Palestinian aspirations seem to have hit a brick wall. Elliott Abrams explains:

[Neither] Fatah [nor] Hamas offers Palestinians a practical program for national independence. . . . [The current situation] leaves Palestinians high and dry, with no way forward at all. Whatever the criticism of the “occupation,” Israelis will certainly not abandon the West Bank to chaos or to a possible Hamas takeover. Today the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state is simply too dangerous to Israel and to Jordan to be contemplated. . . . There are only two other options. The first is the “one-state solution,” meaning union with Israel; but that is a nonstarter that Israel will reject no matter who is its prime minister. The other option is some kind of eventual link to Jordan.

In polite diplomatic society, and in Palestinian public discourse, such a link cannot be mentioned. But younger people who visit there, Palestinians have explained to me, can see a society that is half-Palestinian and functions as an independent nation with a working system of law and order. Jordanians travel freely, rarely suffer from terrorism, and [can vote in regular] elections, even if power is ultimately concentrated in the royal palace. The kingdom has close relations with all the Sunni states and the West, and is at peace with Israel.

The fundamental question all this raises is what, in 2018, is the nature and objective of Palestinian nationalism. Is the goal sovereignty at all costs, no matter how long it takes and even if it is increasingly divorced from peace, prosperity, and personal freedom? Is “steadfastness” [in refusing to compromise with Israel] the greatest Palestinian virtue now and forever? These questions cannot be debated in either Gaza or the West Bank. But as Israel celebrates 70 years and the “occupation” is now more than a half-century old, how much longer can they be delayed? . . .

The catastrophic mishandling of Palestinian affairs by generations of leaders from Haj Amin al-Husseini (the pro-Nazi mufti of the British Mandate period) to Yasir Arafat and now to Mahmoud Abbas has been the true Palestinian Nakba.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Jordan, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinians