The Hidden Diary of a Victim of the Mexican Inquisition

As Spain began to settle the New World in the 16th century, crypto-Jews were among the colonists; the Inquisition followed soon after. Natasha Pizzey describes the fate of Luis de Caravajal the Younger, a member of a large, prosperous, and originally Jewish family that came to New Spain:

[The Carvajals] governed part of northern Mexico and soon made enemies, including a power-hungry viceroy keen to topple them from power. The ambitious viceroy discovered that Luis de Carvajal was a practicing Jew, a crime [then] punishable by death. . . . Older relatives had urged Luis de Carvajal to convert to Catholicism for his own safety, but he staunchly stuck to his faith.

When he was first arrested, the authorities let him off with a warning but kept tabs on him. Far from giving up his religion, Luis de Carvajal became a leader in Mexico’s underground Jewish community. When the inquisitors caught up with him again a few years later, he was sentenced to death. He was just thirty years old.

Before he was executed, he was tortured so badly that he revealed the names of 120 fellow Jews. . . . His captors forced him to listen as those “heretics,” which included his own mother, were tortured in the cell next to him. . . . We know the excruciating details of Luis de Carvajal’s persecution because he managed to keep secret diaries. But these were not any old notebooks. They were painstakingly crafted, miniature manuscripts with almost microscopic handwriting in Latin and Spanish.

Read more at BBC

More about: Anti-Semitism, History & Ideas, Inquisition, Marranos, Mexico

Syria’s Druze Uprising, and What It Means for the Region

When the Arab Spring came to Syria in 2011, the Druze for the most part remained loyal to the regime—which has generally depended on the support of religious minorities such as the Druze and thus afforded them a modicum of protection. But in the past several weeks that has changed, with sustained anti-government protests in the Druze-dominated southwestern province of Suwayda. Ehud Yaari evaluates the implications of this shift:

The disillusionment of the Druze with Bashar al-Assad, their suspicion of militias backed by Iran and Hizballah on the outskirts of their region, and growing economic hardships are fanning the flames of revolt. In Syrian Druze circles, there is now open discussion of “self-rule,” for example replacing government offices and services with local Druze alternative bodies.

Is there a politically acceptable way to assist the Druze and prevent the regime from the violent reoccupation of Jebel al-Druze, [as they call the area in which they live]? The answer is yes. It would require Jordan to open a short humanitarian corridor through the village of al-Anat, the southernmost point of the Druze community, less than three kilometers from the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Setting up a corridor to the Druze would require a broad consensus among Western and Gulf Arab states, which have currently suspended the process of normalization with Assad. . . . The cost of such an operation would not be high compared to the humanitarian corridors currently operating in northern Syria. It could be developed in stages, and perhaps ultimately include, if necessary, providing the Druze with weapons to defend their territory. A quick reminder: during the Islamic State attack on Suwayda province in 2018, the Druze demonstrated an ability to assemble close to 50,000 militia men almost overnight.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Druze, Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy