The Rise and Fall of Welsh Jewry

Aug. 25 2016

The first Jews in Wales most likely arrived in the 12th century, although they never settled in large enough numbers to have an official community. But by 1768 there were enough Jews in Swansea—brought there by the nearby copper mines—to justify having their own cemetery, to which they added two synagogues by the mid-19th century. And this was only the beginning, writes Matthew Williams:

The Jewish communities of Cardiff, Newport, Neath, Tredegar, Pontypridd, and Merthyr Tydfil all followed a roughly similar process of development in the 19th century with the rise of Welsh industry. The Merthyr Synagogue in particular is unique among all synagogues for having its gable adorned with [the red dragon that is the symbol of Wales]. . . .

The mass immigration of East European Jews [beginning in the late 19th century] dwarfed all prior and future Jewish immigration into Britain and caused the demographic explosion of British Jews; Wales was no exception, with the Jewish community numbering over 5,000 with nineteen congregations by 1918.

Once again new congregations were built around industry (such as shipbuilding in Bangor) and Jewish people in Wales prospered culturally, with dozens of various Jewish literary societies, charity organizations, Hebrew classes, and social centers springing up in both the north and south of Wales.

In 1911, the Jews of the city of Tredegar experienced what Winston Churchill, then the home secretary, called a “pogrom.” While the Jewish community in Wales would shrink during the subsequent decades, its numbers grew significantly once again at the end of the 1930s with the influx of refugees from Hitler’s Europe. Despite subsequently undergoing another period of numerical decline, Jewish life in Wales goes on.

Read more at Wales Online

More about: British Jewry, Jewish history, Jewish World, Kindertransport, Pogroms, United Kingdom

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