Jews Have No Shortage of Experience Responding to Deadly Attacks

“There are no words,” was the comment Dara Horn heard most often in response to the recent slaughter in Pittsburgh. But, she writes, that’s not quite accurate:

[T]here are words for this, entire books full of words: the books the murdered people were reading at the hour of their deaths. News reports described these victims as praying, but Jewish prayer is not primarily personal or spontaneous. It is communal reading. Public recitations of ancient words, scripts compiled centuries ago and nearly identical in every synagogue in the world. A lot of those words are about exactly this. . . .

When Ruth Mallinger [of Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life congregation] was ninety-seven, she and ten other Jews were murdered in their synagogue. There are words for this, too, a Hebrew phrase for 2,500 years’ worth of people murdered for being Jews: kiddush hashem, death in sanctification of God’s name.

[But], in the old stories, those outside the community rarely helped or cared; our ancestors’ consolation came only from one another and from God. But in this horrific week, perhaps our old words might mean something new, [as evidenced by the response of] Americans of every background who inspire more optimism than Jewish history allows. . . . As George Washington vowed in his 1790 letter to a Rhode Island synagogue, America shall be a place where “every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.” Those words aren’t his. They’re from the Hebrew prophet Micah, on the shelves of every synagogue in the world.

Read more at New York Times

More about: American Jewry, Anti-Semitism, George Washington, History & Ideas, Jewish liturgy, Micah


Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy