France’s Oldest Synagogue, and the History beneath It

Built in 1367, the synagogue in Carpentras is the oldest still in use in France, and the second oldest in Europe. The city, home to one of Provence’s earliest Jewish communities, had fallen under the control of the papacy in the 13th century and provided a refuge for Jews in the following century when they were expelled from various parts of France. Beneath the synagogue is a mikveh built at the same time and fed by an artesian well. The synagogue’s interior was redesigned in the baroque style during the 18th century; the original structure, mostly below ground, is currently being excavated.

In a series of four short videos, Henry Abramson showcases the synagogue and explains its history. Herewith, the second of these. (Three minutes.) The rest can be found at the link below.


Read more at Henry Abramson

More about: French Jewry, Jewish history, Mikveh, Papacy, Synagogues

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

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