The Forgotten Jews of Rawalpindi

Feb. 25 2016

Situated adjacent to Islamabad, Rawalpindi is currently Pakistan’s fourth-largest city. It was also once home to a thriving Jewish community, of which only an abandoned synagogue remains, as Saif Tahir writes:

The history of Jews in Rawalpindi [begins in] 1839, when many Jewish families from [the Persian city of] Mashhad fled to [escape] persecution and settled in various parts of the subcontinent, including Peshawar and Rawalpindi. . . . According to the 1901 census and the Rawalpindi Gazette, the Mashhadi Jews were thriving [in the city at the beginning of the century]. However, after partition [in 1947], many families migrated to Mumbai and the rest left gradually in the late 1960s. . . .

The stunning building once used [by these Jews] as a synagogue and assembly hall is now in shambles. It is occupied by three families who refuse to talk to visitors and discourage them from looking inside. . . .

The locals are resistant to talking about the [erstwhile Jewish] community—some because of hatred, and some because of fear. . . . However, an old resident who was born in the neighborhood in the late 1930s said something astonishing: “There were Jews living in the city till the late 1990s. Although the family moved to some other city, they still come and visit these streets.”

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Express Tribune

More about: Anti-Semitism, Architecture, History & Ideas, Pakistan, Pakistani Jewry, Persian Jewry

 

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism