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

Israel Has Survived Eight Years of Barack Obama’s False Friendship

Jan. 20 2017

In his speech justifying America’s decision to allow passage of the UN Security Council resolution declaring it a violation of international law for Jews to live in east Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Golan Heights, Secretary of State John Kerry declared that “friends need to tell each other the hard truths.” John Podhoretz comments:

The decision in December by President Obama to abstain on the UN Security Council vote . . . marked the moment he crossed the finish line in the course he had charted from 2008 onward. The turn against Israel was complete. And, as he had when he began it, in farewell interview after farewell interview he characterized his assault on the legitimacy of the Jewish presence in the Holy Land as an act of tough love. . . .

Which raises the key question: why [only] abstain [from the resolution]? If “hard truths” define friendship, then by all means they should have made the truths as hard as possible. If Barack Obama and John Kerry truly believe the Jewish presence in east Jerusalem is illicit, then they should have voted for the resolution. Instead, they took the coward’s way out. They opened the vault to the criminals and placed the jewels in their hands while wearing white gloves so there would be no residual trace of their fingerprints. The abstention was in some weird sense the mark of their bad conscience. They wanted something to happen while maintaining some historical deniability about their involvement in it.

In the eight years of the Obama presidency, war broke out twice between the Palestinians and the Israelis and nearly broke out a third time. In each case, the issue was not the West Bank, or east Jerusalem, or anything near. . . . The idea that the settlements and the Jewish presence in East Jerusalem are the main barrier to peace between Israel and the Palestinians was proved to be a lie right before Obama’s eyes in 2009, and 2012, and 2014. And he didn’t care to see it, because he is blinded by an antipathy he wishes to ascribe to Israeli action when honesty would compel him to find it in his own misguided leftist ideology—or within his own soul.

Israel has survived the horrendous blessing of Barack Obama’s false friendship.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Barack Obama, Israel & Zionism, John Kerry, U.S. Foreign policy, US-Israel relations