The Forced Convert to Christianity who Covertly Defended Judaism and the Jews

In 1391, in the wake of a wave of bloody pogroms that swept Spain, Profayt Duran, along with tens of thousands of other Jews, was baptized a Christian. Privately, however, he continued to write treatises on Hebrew grammar and the Jewish calendar and to polemicize vigorously against Christianity. Reviewing Maud Kozodoy’s The Secret Faith of Maestre Honoratus, the first full-length biography of Duran, Frederic Raphael writes:

Before his conversion, Duran had prospered professionally as sage, physician, astrologer, and mathematician. Though excluded from the universities, Jews could find favor at court. Diplomatic doctors moved freely in Christian Spain. . . . As well as being guardians of Jewish science, philosophy, and literary culture, successful medical men, once rich, often became moneylenders.

Duran’s case is particularly fascinating because he was impelled publicly to embrace a religion he continued to scorn in private essay-letters. Secretly, Duran confessed his agony over the dichotomy in which “inner orientation cannot correspond to outward practice.” . . . As a converso, Duran may have guarded his tongue, but he was covertly outspoken with his pen.

[As a Jewish rationalist], Duran accepted the . . . “stark [Maimonidean] dichotomy between reason and revelation.” The distinction left science free to be “grounded in an assumption of the fundamental validity of rational thought.” Jewish religious belief neither muzzled scientific discovery nor tortured logic. . . . Duran saw that science set standards against which Christian dogma, transubstantiation in particular, could be anatomized.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Christianity, Conversos, History & Ideas, Judaism, Rationalism, Spain

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