The Crypto-Jews of Palma de Mallorca

The capital city of the Spanish island of Majorca was once home to a thriving Jewish community, many of whose members converted to Catholicism in 1492 when Spain officially expelled its Jews. In recent decades their descendants have been returning to Judaism, and now the island boasts a community of some 200 souls and a synagogue, as Ayelet Mamo Shay writes:

In 1435, Palma de Mallorca’s Jewish community included some 4,000 people. Over the years it thrived and prospered, until [1492]. The Jews who did not flee . . . converted to Christianity [but] continued to observe their religion secretly, as [did other] anusim [forced converts] in Spain. In Palma de Mallorca, they were called chuetas (from the Catalan word for pigs).

One the one hand, they couldn’t live as Jews, but on the other hand, the Christians refused to accept them and treated them with much disrespect. They were humiliated and considered members of the lowest class. They were only allowed to marry among themselves, so since 1691 to this very day they have only married other descendants of anusim. . . .

Ironically, the derogatory term chuetas has become a source of pride for the descendants of anusim who are discovering their roots and seeking to return to their forefathers’ religion. Today, there are 20 to 30 [such people] on the island who are studying Jewish religious laws on a monthly basis with Rabbi Nissan Ben Avraham, an emissary of the Shavei Israel organization, who returned to the Jewish religion himself after finding out that his own family had kept the secret for many years.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Conversos, History & Ideas, Jewish history, Judaism, Spanish Inquisition

As Hamas’s Power Collapses, Old Feuds Are Resurfacing

In May, Mahmoud Nashabat, a high-ranking military figure in the Fatah party (which controls the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority), was gunned down in central Gaza. Nashabat was an officer in the Gaza wing of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist outfit that served as Fatah’s vanguard during the second intifada, and now sometimes collaborates with Hamas. But his killers were Hamas members, and he was one of at least 35 Palestinians murdered in Gaza in the past two months as various terrorist and criminal groups go about settling old scores, some of which date back to the 1980s. Einav Halabi writes:

Security sources familiar with the situation told the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Gaza is now also beleaguered by the resurgence of old conflicts. “Many people have been killed in incidents related to the first intifada in 1987, while others have died in family disputes,” they said.

The “first-intifada portfolio” in Gaza is considered complex and convoluted, as it is filled with hatred among residents who accuse others of killing relatives for various reasons, including collaboration with Israel. . . . According to reports from Gaza, there are vigorous efforts on the ground to contain these developments, but the chances of success remain unclear. Hamas, for its part, is trying to project governance and control, recently releasing several videos showcasing how its operatives brutally beat residents accused of looting.

These incidents, gruesome as they are, suggest that Hamas’s control over the territory is slipping, and it no longer holds a monopoly on violence or commands the fear necessary to keep the population in line. The murders and beatings also dimension the grim reality that would ensue if the war ends precipitously: a re-empowered Hamas setting about getting vengeance on its enemies and reimposing its reign of terror.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Fatah, Gaza War 2023, Hamas