Rediscovered after a Mysterious Theft: the Oldest Document of Jewish Life in the New World

Currently on display at the New-York Historical Society is a tiny diary composed by Luis de Carvajal the Younger, a Spanish-born crypto-Jew who settled in Mexico as a teenager. The diary was stolen from the Mexican National Archives in 1932, resurfaced in late 2015, and was purchased by an American Jewish philanthropist who has restored it to the Mexican government following an agreement first to allow it to be exhibited in New York. Joseph Berger writes:

De Carvajal, a trader, was arrested [by the Mexican Inquisition] around 1590 as a proselytizing Jew and, while in prison, began writing a sometimes messianic memoir . . . on pages roughly four inches by three inches. In it, he called himself Joseph Lumbroso—Joseph the Enlightened. [The surname Lumbroso was used by his relatives in Salonika, who practiced Judaism openly.] It begins, “Saved from terrible dangers by the Lord, I, Joseph Lumbroso of the Hebrew nation and of the pilgrims to the West Indies, in appreciation of the mercies received from the hands of the Highest, address myself to all who believe in the Holy of Holies and who hope for great mercies.”

The memoir tells how he learned from his father that he was Jewish, circumcised himself with an old pair of scissors, secretly embraced the faith, and persuaded siblings to embrace it.

He was freed for a time—possibly so that the authorities could track his contacts with other secret Jews—and finished his autobiography, stitching it together with a set of prayers, the Ten Commandments, and the thirteen principles of the Jewish philosopher Maimonides. Scholars believe he made it miniature so he could conceal it inside a coat or pocket. In 1596, after having been found guilty again of observing Jewish practices, he was burned at the stake. He was thirty years old.

Read more at New York Times

More about: History & Ideas, Inquisition, Marranos, Mexico, Sephardim


Close the PLO Office in Washington

April 24 2017

In the wake of the Oslo Accords, and in order to facilitate futher negotiations, Congress carved out an exception to the 1987 Anti-Terrorism Act to permit the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)—a known terrorist group—to open an office in the U.S. capital. The legislation allows the president to extend this “temporary” waiver at his discretion—which every president since Bill Clinton has done. Shoshana Bryen argues that putting an end to the policy is a proper punishment for the PLO’s continued financial support for terrorists and their families.

[The waiver] was conditional on the PLO’s meeting its Oslo Accords obligations, including refraining from terrorism and renouncing international moves that would impede a bilateral agreement on final-status issues. . . .

In 2011, a Palestinian bid for recognition as a full member of the UN failed, but the waiver remained. Over U.S. objections, “Palestine” joined the International Criminal Court in 2015 [in violation of the Accords and thus of the waiver’s conditions]. . . .

[Furthermore], worried about foreign-aid payments from the U.S. and the EU, in 2014 the Palestinian Authority (PA) claimed it stopped paying salaries [to terrorists and their familites] and that future money would come from a new PLO Commission of Prisoner Affairs. . . . [I]n 2015, a year after the PA “officially” transferred authority over Palestinian prisoners to the PLO, it also transferred an extra 444-million shekels (more than $116 million) to the PLO—nearly the same amount that the PA had allocated in the previous years to its now-defunct Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs. . . .

[T]he U.S. government should let the PLO and PA know that we are onto their game. Disincentivizing terrorism by closing the PLO office in Washington would be a good first step.

Read more at Gatestone

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, PLO, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy