China Turns on the Jews of Kaifeng

Sept. 26 2016

The Chinese government has been cracking down on unauthorized religious activity, closing a number of Buddhist monasteries and churches. It has now directed its efforts against the Jewish community of the city of Kaifeng, which dates back to the Middle Ages and—after fading away almost completely in the 19th century—has recently experienced a revival. Chris Buckley writes:

A few hundred residents had staged a lively, sometimes contentious rebirth of Kaifeng’s Jewish heritage in recent decades, with classes, [prayer] services, and proposals to rebuild the lost synagogue as a museum. Some residents even migrated to Israel. For years, the city government tolerated their activities, seeing the Jewish link as a magnet for tourism and investment.

But since last year, the authorities have come down hard on the revival, in an example of how even the smallest spiritual groups can fall under the pall of the Communist party’s suspicion. The government has shut down organizations that helped foster Jewish rediscovery, prohibited residents from gathering to worship for Passover and other holidays, and removed signs and relics of the city’s Jewish past from public places. . . .

Nobody outside the government seems to know for sure why this tiny band of believers came to be viewed as a threat. But officials appear to have become alarmed about their growing prominence sometime last year as Xi Jinpeng’s government demanded that religious groups and foreign organizations bow to tighter controls. Judaism is not one of China’s five state-licensed religions. . . .

[T]he current clampdown has gone much farther than previous ones, residents said. . . . Even signs of the Jewish historical presence have been erased. An inscribed stone marking the site of the old synagogue was removed from the front of a hospital that occupies the grounds, and workers buried the ancient well [thought to have been the last remaining part of the synagogue]. Two hospital employees said city officials had ordered the changes.

“All this says that there are no Jews here,” one Jewish man said as he nervously looked around during an interview in a teahouse.

Read more at New York Times

More about: China, Freedom of Religion, Jewish World, Judaism, Kaifeng

 

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