The New Mexican Inquisition

As early as the 16th century, Iberian Jews who had converted to Catholicism in order to escape persecution or expulsion came to Spanish and Portuguese colonies in the New World where they hoped to be free of stigma. But soon the Inquisition followed them, seeking out those who continued to practice Jewish rituals in secret. A new exhibit at the New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe tells what happened to some of these crypto-Jews. Rich Tenorio writes:

Fractured Faiths: Spanish Judaism, the Inquisition, and New World Identities is on display . . . through December 31. In this comprehensive exhibition, viewers can see artifacts borrowed from over twenty institutions from Europe and the Americas—many brought together for the first time. . . .

Established in Spain in 1478, the Inquisition began active investigations in 1480. The next 40 years would see a wave of persecution of crypto-Jews. . . . in Spain and to some extent in the Americas. . . .

In Mexico City during the 1590s, a second wave of persecutions arose, stretching over a decade. Its victims included Don Luis de Carvajal, a colonial governor of New Mexico, and his family.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: American Jewish History, History & Ideas, Inquisition, Museums, Sephardim

The Possible Death of Mohammad Deif, and What It Means

On Saturday, Israeli jets destroyed a building in southern Gaza, killing a Hamas brigade commander named Rafa Salameh. Salameh is one of the most important figures in the Hamas hierarchy, but he was not the primary target. Rather it was Mohammad Deif, who is Yahya Sinwar’s number-two and is thought to be the architect and planner of numerous terrorist attacks, of Hamas’s tunnel network, and of the October 7 invasion itself. Deif has survived at least five Israeli attempts on his life, and the IDF has consequently been especially reluctant to confirm that he had been killed. Yet it seems that it is possible, and perhaps likely, that he was.

Kobi Michael notes that Deif’s demise would have major symbolic value and, moreover, deprive Hamas of important operational know-how. But he also has some words of caution:

The elimination of Deif becomes even more significant given the current reality of severe damage to Hamas’s military wing and its transition to terrorism and guerrilla warfare. However, it is important to remember that organizations such as Hamas and Hizballah are more than the sum of their components or commanders. Israel has previously eliminated the leaders of these organizations and other very senior military figures, and yet the organizations continued to grow, develop, and become more significant security threats to Israel, while establishing their status as political players in the Palestinian and Lebanese arenas.

As for the possibility that Deif’s death will harden Hamas’s position in the hostage negotiations, Tamir Hayman writes:

In my opinion, even if there is a bump in the road now, it is not a strategic one. The reasons that Hamas decided to compromise its demands in the [hostage] deal stem from the operational pressure it is under [and] the fear that the pressure exerted by the IDF will increase.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas