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

Close the PLO Office in Washington

April 24 2017

In the wake of the Oslo Accords, and in order to facilitate futher negotiations, Congress carved out an exception to the 1987 Anti-Terrorism Act to permit the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)—a known terrorist group—to open an office in the U.S. capital. The legislation allows the president to extend this “temporary” waiver at his discretion—which every president since Bill Clinton has done. Shoshana Bryen argues that putting an end to the policy is a proper punishment for the PLO’s continued financial support for terrorists and their families.

[The waiver] was conditional on the PLO’s meeting its Oslo Accords obligations, including refraining from terrorism and renouncing international moves that would impede a bilateral agreement on final-status issues. . . .

In 2011, a Palestinian bid for recognition as a full member of the UN failed, but the waiver remained. Over U.S. objections, “Palestine” joined the International Criminal Court in 2015 [in violation of the Accords and thus of the waiver’s conditions]. . . .

[Furthermore], worried about foreign-aid payments from the U.S. and the EU, in 2014 the Palestinian Authority (PA) claimed it stopped paying salaries [to terrorists and their familites] and that future money would come from a new PLO Commission of Prisoner Affairs. . . . [I]n 2015, a year after the PA “officially” transferred authority over Palestinian prisoners to the PLO, it also transferred an extra 444-million shekels (more than $116 million) to the PLO—nearly the same amount that the PA had allocated in the previous years to its now-defunct Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs. . . .

[T]he U.S. government should let the PLO and PA know that we are onto their game. Disincentivizing terrorism by closing the PLO office in Washington would be a good first step.

Read more at Gatestone

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, PLO, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy