At the Jewish Museum, a Tribute to a Dynasty of Iraqi-Anglo-Indian Grandees

On display at the Jewish Museum in Manhattan through August 13, The Sassoons draws from the collection of the titular family, whose 19th-century commercial ventures won them great wealth, first in India and later in London. Ari Hoffman writes:

To walk into The Sassoons at the Jewish Museum is to time travel to an age when Jews from Baghdad traded opium at Beijing and bolts of cotton from Mumbai. . . . Outside of the Sassoon vault you are unlikely to see paintings by John Singer Sargent and Winston Churchill cohabitate with Karaite prayer books and Samaritan calendars, which in turn share space with Yuan-dynasty scrolls. This is eclecticism, and, it must be acknowledged, empire, at its most exquisite.

The story of the Sassoons begins in earnest with David, who served as Baghdad’s treasurer before leading the family to India when the tolerance of the pashas for Jews wore thin. He is captured in a luminous portrait attributed to William Melville, who worked in the 1840s. He wears a beige turban and robe, striped with reds and blues. This is an eminence, a 19th-century Moses who has led his family to safe harbor at Mumbai, here a peek of azure background.

Sargent, whose portraits structure the show like a spine, does painterly justice to Aline de Rothschild, Lady Sassoon. . . . Sargent also painted Sybil Sassoon, the countess of Rocksavage and Aline’s daughter. Charcoal sketches trace him finding his form before executing an oil portrait for her marriage. . . . The painting marks a contrast with, and a journey from, the k’tubot—marriage contracts—and Torah scrolls from old Baghdad. Those are just one room, and a world, away.

Read more at New York Sun

More about: Anglo-Jewry, Art, Indian Jewry, Jewish museums, Sassoons, Sephardim


Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security