The Rise, and Sudden Fall, of Sudanese Jewry

Oct. 30 2019

Unlike neighboring Egypt and Ethiopia, where Jews lived since before the rise of Islam, Sudan was not home to a Jewish community until relatively recently. Sudanese Jewry flourished in the early 20th century, but, like other Jewish communities in the Muslim world, it also came to an abrupt end. Daisy Abboudi writes:

In 1908, the Moroccan-born rabbi Suleiman Malka arrived in Khartoum with his wife and two eldest daughters at the request of the Jewish authorities in Egypt, which oversaw the community in its southern neighbor. . . . The rabbi came to minister to the small older community as well as to a growing number of Jews coming from across the Middle East, including Egypt, Iraq, and Syria. They arrived on the new railway line built by British colonialists, connecting Alexandria in Egypt with Khartoum.

Many were small-time merchants trading goods like textiles and gum arabic—an important food additive made from Sudan’s acacia trees. Settling along the Nile in the four towns of Khartoum, Khartoum North, Omdurman, and Wad Medani, they soon began to flourish.

While the synagogue was the spiritual home of the community, social life revolved around the Jewish Recreation Club. Middle- and upper-class society in Sudan was made up of many interlinked yet distinct groups. As well as the Jewish community, there were thriving Greek, Syrian, Italian, Egyptian, Armenian, British, and Indian communities in Khartoum and Omdurman, its sister city across the Nile. Each of these had a social center, or “club,” in the capital, where they could meet, play cards, chat and socialize in the evenings.

At its height, the Jewish population reached over 1,000 souls. But following the 1956 Suez war, there was a rapid increase in anti-Semitism, which intensified further after the Six-Day War. By the early 1970s, the community was gone altogether.

Read more at BBC

More about: African Jewry, Anti-Semitism, Sudan

Iran’s Four-Decade Strategy to Envelope Israel in Terror

Yesterday, the head of the Shin Bet—Israel’s internal security service—was in Washington meeting with officials from the State Department, CIA, and the White House itself. Among the topics no doubt discussed are rising tensions with Iran and the possibility that the latter, in order to defend its nuclear program, will instruct its network of proxies in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and even Iraq and Yemen to attack the Jewish state. Oved Lobel explores the history of this network, which, he argues, predates Iran’s Islamic Revolution—when Shiite radicals in Lebanon coordinated with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s movement in Iran:

An inextricably linked Iran-Syria-Palestinian axis has actually been in existence since the early 1970s, with Lebanon the geographical fulcrum of the relationship and Damascus serving as the primary operational headquarters. Lebanon, from the 1980s until 2005, was under the direct military control of Syria, which itself slowly transformed from an ally to a client of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The nexus among Damascus, Beirut, and the Palestinian territories should therefore always have been viewed as one front, both geographically and operationally. It’s clear that the multifront-war strategy was already in operation during the first intifada years, from 1987 to 1993.

[An] Iranian-organized conference in 1991, the first of many, . . . established the “Damascus 10”—an alliance of ten Palestinian factions that rejected any peace process with Israel. According to the former Hamas spokesperson and senior official Ibrahim Ghosheh, he spoke to then-Hizballah Secretary-General Abbas al-Musawi at the conference and coordinated Hizballah attacks from Lebanon in support of the intifada. Further important meetings between Hamas and the Iranian regime were held in 1999 and 2000, while the IRGC constantly met with its agents in Damascus to encourage coordinated attacks on Israel.

For some reason, Hizballah’s guerilla war against Israel in Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s was, and often still is, viewed as a separate phenomenon from the first intifada, when they were in fact two fronts in the same battle.

Israel opted for a perilous unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, which Hamas’s Ghosheh asserts was a “direct factor” in precipitating the start of the second intifada later that same year.

Read more at Australia/Israel Review

More about: First intifada, Hizballah, Iran, Palestinian terror, Second Intifada