A Greek Synagogue Is Restored to Its Former Glory

Having survived World War II, decades of neglect, and its partial destruction in a 1978 earthquake, Thessaloniki’s Monastiriotes synagogue has finally been restored. Its congregants simultaneously celebrated its reopening and Israeli independence day on May 15. Elias Messinas writes:

The synagogue was designed by the Czech Jewish architect Eli Ernst Levi and funded by families that moved to Thessaloniki from Monastir [in modern-day Macedonia]. . . . After World War II, it was at this synagogue that the Jewish survivors of the Holocaust held their first meetings. . . . The Monastiriotes synagogue was among the very few that survived the war, thanks to the intervention of the Red Cross, which used it as storehouse. . . .

[The restoration affected] every possible corner and detail of the synagogue: from hiding exposed wiring to revealing the original hidden decorative terrazzo floor tiles; from revealing original wall paintings to replacing and adding damaged decorative plaster decorations . . . to erecting again the [marble depiction of the Ten Commandments crowning the central arch of the synagogue façade, which had fallen off during the earthquake].

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Architecture, Greece, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Synagogues, Thessaloniki

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.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism