While the 17th-century Dutch painter’s portrayals of Jews—both contemporary and biblical—are well known, J.R.R. Tolkien never made explicit the Jewish presence in his fiction. Once, however, he did comment that the dwarves of his novels were modeled after the Jews. Meir Soloveichik, discussing the two artists, argues that Rembrandt attempted to “depict the humanity of Jews and the Jewishness of biblical scenes,” while Tolkien was interested in the “miraculous nature of the Jewish people”—and that Jews can learn from both. (Interview by Eric Cohen. Audio, 52 minutes.)
Rembrandt, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Jews
Syria’s Druze Uprising, and What It Means for the Region
When the Arab Spring came to Syria in 2011, the Druze for the most part remained loyal to the regime—which has generally depended on the support of religious minorities such as the Druze and thus afforded them a modicum of protection. But in the past several weeks that has changed, with sustained anti-government protests in the Druze-dominated southwestern province of Suwayda. Ehud Yaari evaluates the implications of this shift:
The disillusionment of the Druze with Bashar al-Assad, their suspicion of militias backed by Iran and Hizballah on the outskirts of their region, and growing economic hardships are fanning the flames of revolt. In Syrian Druze circles, there is now open discussion of “self-rule,” for example replacing government offices and services with local Druze alternative bodies.
Is there a politically acceptable way to assist the Druze and prevent the regime from the violent reoccupation of Jebel al-Druze, [as they call the area in which they live]? The answer is yes. It would require Jordan to open a short humanitarian corridor through the village of al-Anat, the southernmost point of the Druze community, less than three kilometers from the Syrian-Jordanian border.
Setting up a corridor to the Druze would require a broad consensus among Western and Gulf Arab states, which have currently suspended the process of normalization with Assad. . . . The cost of such an operation would not be high compared to the humanitarian corridors currently operating in northern Syria. It could be developed in stages, and perhaps ultimately include, if necessary, providing the Druze with weapons to defend their territory. A quick reminder: during the Islamic State attack on Suwayda province in 2018, the Druze demonstrated an ability to assemble close to 50,000 militia men almost overnight.