The Last Jews of the Amazon

Aug. 23 2016

Located in northeastern Peru, Iquitos is the largest city in the world not accessible by road. It is also home to a small but active Jewish community, which, after experiencing a brief renaissance, has now dwindled to about 20 percent of what it was ten years ago, mostly due to emigration to Israel. Ryan Schuessler writes:

The city’s first Jews came to Peru from Morocco, part of [an influx] of immigrants from Europe, the Middle East, and Asia who followed the 19th-century rubber boom in the hopes of making a fortune in the rainforest.

At the time, Iquitos’s economy was booming: the world’s voracious demand for rubber quickly transformed a remote village into an industrial boomtown filled with mansions adorned with hand-painted ceramic tiles from Portugal. Riverboats and barges were loaded in the city’s ports, and sent down the Amazon to the Atlantic and on to Europe.

The Jewish community saw another boost in the early 1900s, when growing anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe drove Ashkenazi Jews to the New World. . . . But by the 1920s, plantations in Malaysia and Sri Lanka had undercut Amazon rubber producers, and the boom went bust.

Many immigrants left Iquitos, and by the mid-20th century the capital city Lima became the center of Peruvian Jewish life. Smaller communities across the country moved to the capital, where there were synagogues, rabbis, and Jewish schools. Iquitos was the only community outside of Lima that managed to hold on.

Read more at Guardian

More about: Aliyah, Immigration, Jewish World, Moroccan Jewry, South America

Hamas Won’t Compromise with the Palestinian Authority, and Gazans Won’t Overthrow Hamas

July 24 2017

Since the terrorist organization Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, much of Israeli strategy toward it has stemmed from the belief that, if sufficient pressure is applied, the territory’s residents will rise up against it. Yaakov Amidror argues this is unlikely to happen, and he also doubts that improved living conditions for ordinary Gazans would deter Hamas from terrorism or war:

The hardships experienced by the Strip’s residents, no matter how terrible, will not drive them to stage a coup to topple Hamas. The organization is entrenched in Gaza and is notorious for its brutality toward any sign of dissidence, and the Palestinians know there is no viable alternative waiting for an opportunity to [take over].

[Therefore], it is time everyone got used to the idea that Hamas is not about to relinquish its dominant position in the Gaza Strip, let alone concede to the Palestinian Authority’s President Mahmoud Abbas. . . . [Yet the] assumption is also baseless that if Gaza experiences economic stability and prosperity, Hamas would refrain from provoking hostilities. This misconception is based on the theory that Hamas operates by governmental norms and prioritizes the needs and welfare of its citizens. This logic does not apply to Hamas. . . .

[Hamas’s] priorities are to bolster its military power and cement its iron grip. This is why all the supplies Israel allows into Gaza on a daily basis to facilitate normal life have little chance of reaching the people. Hamas first and foremost takes care of its leaders and makes sure it has what it needs to sustain its terror-tunnel-digging enterprise and its weapon-production efforts. It then sees to the needs of its members, and then—and only then—what little is left is diverted to rehabilitation efforts that benefit the population.

This is why the argument that Israel is responsible for Gaza’s inability to recover from its plight is baseless. Hamas is the one that determines the priorities by which to allocate resources in the enclave, and the more construction materials that enter Gaza, the easier and faster it is for Hamas to restore its military capabilities. Should Israel sacrifice its own security on the altar of Gazans’ living conditions? I don’t think so.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security