China Cracks Down on Its Jews

Sept. 12 2016

In the early Middle Ages, China was home to a small but thriving Jewish community centered in the city of Kaifeng. In later periods, assimilation and isolation from the rest of the Jewish world caused the community to dwindle; by the mid-19th century, organized Jewish life had ceased. Still, a number of today’s residents claim Jewish ancestry and are interested in exploring their identity. Michael Freund, whose organization Shavei Israel opened an educational and cultural center for Chinese Jews in 2010, reports on a recent anti-Jewish crackdown by the Communist government:

The center operated until 2014, when local authorities raided it during Passover, ordering that the mezuzot and all signs containing Hebrew words be taken down immediately. Since then, other worrisome measures have included the closure of the site of the well that had served as the community’s mikveh as well as periodic interrogations of Kaifeng Jews by local police. In some instances, Jewish tour groups from abroad have even been prohibited from visiting the city altogether. . . .

The first Jews are believed to have settled in Kaifeng, which is located some 600 kilometers southwest of Beijing on the southern banks of the Yellow River, in the 7th or 8th century CE. They [hailed] from Persia or Iraq, traveled along the Silk Road, and received the Chinese emperor’s blessing to reside in Kaifeng, which at the time was an imperial capital of the Song dynasty. . . .

All told, there are now an estimated 1,000 people in Kaifeng who are identifiable as descendants of the city’s once-thriving Jewish community. Many have great reverence for their ancestors, . . . and several hundred have shown an interest in learning more about the ways of their forefathers, their history, and legacy.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Anti-Semitism, China, Jewish World, Kaifeng

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