Remembering the Shanghai Ghetto, Home to 20,000 Jewish Refugees

Feb. 13 2015

The city of Shanghai recently applied to have its former Jewish quarter added to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. During World War II, the city, by then under Japanese occupation, became home to some 20,000 European Jewish refugees. In 1943, Japan succumbed to German pressure and forced the Jews into a ghetto. Although they suffered from disease, poor sanitary conditions, and lack of food, Shanghai’s Jews were far better off than their brethren in European ghettos. Gabe Friedman and Julie Wiener revisit their history:

[T]he first German Jewish refugees, many of them doctors and dentists, arrived soon after Hitler’s rise to power. The local community was apparently so grateful for the professional skills these refugees brought that the Jewish Telegraphic Agency headlined a 1934 article “German Jewish doctors cause China to be grateful to the Nazis.” . . . [A]n American journalist working in China said approximately 100 Jewish doctors had set up practices in Shanghai. . . .

In 1937, Japan’s occupation of China brought both good and bad news for Jews there. On the bad side, the conquest of Shanghai was preceded by months of fighting, and during that period . . . Shanghai rabbis reported the situation of the Jews was “desperate.” . . . On the plus side, under Japanese occupation, Shanghai became an “open city,” providing a haven for thousands of Jews with nowhere else to go.

Read more at Jewish Telegraphic Agency

More about: China, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Japan, Shanghai Ghetto, World War II


Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria