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


The Right and Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support the Palestinians

Sept. 29 2023

On Wednesday, Elliott Abrams testified before Congress about the Taylor Force Act, passed in 2018 to withhold U.S. funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to reward terrorists and their families with cash. Abrams cites several factors explaining the sharp increase in Palestinian terrorism this year, among them Iran’s attempt to wage proxy war on Israel; another is the “Palestinian Authority’s continuing refusal to fight terrorism.” (Video is available at the link below.)

As long as the “pay for slay” system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded. And indeed year after year, the PA honors individuals who have committed acts of terror by naming plazas or schools after them or announcing what heroes they are or were.

There are clear alternatives to “pay to slay.” It would be reasonable for the PA to say that, whatever the crime committed, the criminal’s family and children should not suffer for it. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system, a system of family allowances based on the number of children—as one example. It has steadfastly refused to do so, precisely because such a system would no longer honor and reward terrorists based on the seriousness of their crimes.

These efforts, like the act itself, are not at all meant to diminish assistance to the Palestinian people. Rather, they are efforts to direct aid to the Palestinian people rather than to convicted terrorists. . . . [T]he Taylor Force Act does not stop U.S. assistance to Palestinians, but keeps it out of hands in the PA that are channels for paying rewards for terror.

[S]hould the United States continue to aid the Palestinian security forces? My answer is yes, and I note that it is also the answer of Israel and Jordan. As I’ve noted, PA efforts against Hamas or other groups may be self-interested—fights among rivals, not principled fights against terrorism. Yet they can have the same effect of lessening the Iranian-backed terrorism committed by Palestinian groups that Iran supports.

Read more at Council on Foreign Relations

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy