Remembering the 1947 Pogrom in Aden

Last Saturday marked the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of anti-Jewish riots in the Yemenite city of Aden, then a British protectorate. Anticipating a violent response to the November 29 UN decision to partition Palestine, local Jews had organized to defend themselves and, when the vicious attacks by their neighbors began, were at first successful. Dani Goldsmith and Sarah Ansbacher write:

[O]n the second day of rioting, the British dispatched soldiers to “protect” the Jews. They sent in the so-called Aden Protectorate Levies (APL), a British-trained Bedouin legion. Instead of protecting them, however, they directed their rifles against the Jewish community and shot them as they ran through the streets and even while they sheltered in their own homes. There are harrowing first-hand accounts, such as that of a thirteen-year-old girl whose father was hit by a sniper in front of her eyes as the family stood on the roof [of their home]. . . .

The mobs were emboldened by the actions of the APL and the terror intensified, a bloodlust kindled by hate and opportunity. They went on a rampage with knives and set fire to homes and schools. Synagogues were burned, Jewish-owned shops were looted and wrecked. Everyone and everything belonging to the community was a target. . . . On the third day, the killing, injuries, and burning of homes continued unabated. Only sometime after midday did the commanders of the British army intervene and send in marines, who were moored at the port, to quell the riots.

The results of the three days of terror were dreadful. Eighty-seven Jews, members of the local Aden community and Jewish refugees from [the independent kingdom of] Yemen, had been slaughtered or burned to death. The count included children, women, and the elderly. Nobody was given quarter. Over 70 more were seriously injured. The two Jewish schools, several synagogues, and many homes had been destroyed; almost every single Jewish-owned shop had been looted and some burned down.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Anti-Semitism, History & Ideas, United Kingdom, Yemen

When It Comes to Syria, Vladimir Putin’s Word Can’t Be Trusted

July 13 2018

In the upcoming summit between the Russian and American presidents in Helsinki, the future of Syria is likely to rank high on the agenda. Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has already made clear that Moscow won’t demand a complete Iranian withdrawal from the country. Donald Trump, by contrast, has expressed his desire for a complete U.S. withdrawal. Examining Moscow’s track record when it comes to maintaining its past commitments regarding Syria, Eli Lake urges caution:

Secretary of State John Kerry spent his last year in office following Lavrov all over the world in an attempt to create a U.S.-Russian framework for resolving the Syrian civil war. He failed. . . . President Trump [now] wants to get to know Putin better—and gauge his willingness to help isolate Iran. This is a pointless and dangerous gambit. First, by announcing his intention to pull U.S. forces out of the country “very soon,” Trump has already given away much of his leverage within Syria.

Ideally, Trump would want to establish a phased plan with Putin, where the U.S. would make some withdrawals following Iranian withdrawals from Syria. But Trump has already made it clear that prior [stated] U.S. objectives for Syria, such as the removal of the dictator Bashar al-Assad, are no longer U.S. objectives. The U.S. has also declined to make commitments to give money for Syrian reconstruction.

Without any leverage, Trump will have to rely even more on Putin’s word, which is worthless. Putin to this day denies any Russian government role in interfering in the 2016 U.S. election. Just last month, Putin went on Austrian television and lied about his government’s role in shooting down a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine. Why would anyone trust Putin to keep his word to help remove Iran and its proxies from Syria?

And this gets to the most dangerous possible outcome of the upcoming summit. The one thing that Kerry never did was to attempt to trade concessions on Syria for concessions on Crimea, the Ukrainian territory that Russia invaded and annexed in 2014. There was a good reason for this: even if one argues that the future of Ukraine is not a high priority for the U.S., it’s a disastrous precedent to allow one nation to change the boundaries of another through force, and particularly of one that signed an agreement with the U.S., UK, and Russia to preserve its territorial integrity in exchange for relinquishing its cold-war-era nuclear weapons.

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Read more at Bloomberg

More about: Crimea, Donald Trump, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy, Vladimir Putin