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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

 

Israel’s Economy Thrives While the Middle East Disintegrates

Jan. 19 2018

Now that the data have come in from 2017, it is clear that the Israeli economy had another successful year, expanding at a rate higher than that of any other advanced country. Israel’s per-capita GDP also grew, placing it above those of France and Japan. Daniel Kryger notes some of the implications regarding the Jewish state’s place in the Middle East:

The contrast between first-world Israel and the surrounding third-world Arab states is larger today than ever before. Israel’s GDP per capita is almost twenty times the GDP per capita of impoverished Egypt and five times larger than semi-developed Lebanon.

Like any human project, Israel is a never-ending work in progress and much work remains to integrate ḥaredi Jews and Israeli Arabs into Israel’s knowledge economy. Properly addressing Israel’s high costs of living requires more economic and legislative reforms and breaking up inefficient oligopolies that keep the prices artificially high. However, by any standard, the reborn Jewish state is a remarkable success story. . . .

Much has changed since OPEC launched its oil embargo against the West after the failed Arab aggression against Israel in October 1973. Before the collapse of the pro-Arab Soviet empire, China and India had no official ties with Israel and many Western and Japanese companies avoided doing business with Israel. Collapsing oil prices have dramatically eroded the power of oil-producing countries. It has become obvious that the future belongs to those who innovate, not those who happen to sit on oil. Israel has today strong commercial ties with China and a thriving partnership with India. Business delegations from Jamaica to Japan are eager to do business with Israel and benefit from Israel’s expertise. . . .

[For its part], the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement may bully Jewish and pro-Israel students on Western campuses. However, in real life, BDS stands no chance of succeeding against Israel. The reason is simple: reborn Israel has . . . become too valuable a player in the global economy.

Read more at Mida

More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Middle East, OPEC