Preserving Records of Ottoman Jewish Cemeteries, Thanks to Bernard Lewis

On July 1, an Israeli organization for the study of the bygone Jewish communities of the Ottoman empire announced the launch of a database of Turkish Jewish cemeteries. Michael Curtis writes:

A key figure in the development of this project was Bernard Lewis, the British-American scholar who died in 2018 aged one-hundred-and-one, who can be considered the most erudite and influential historian and analyst of Islam and the Middle East in modern times. . . . The idea of the database started in a conversation in the mid-1980s between Bernard Lewis and a Turkish friend, Nuri Arlasiz, a collector of Ottoman art who wanted to save the Jewish cemeteries of Istanbul from being plundered or destroyed by natural causes. . . . . Arlasiz asked Lewis for help to save them.

Lewis [supported] the idea but had a different point of view, proposing that the Jewish cemeteries should be documented since they would have little chance of surviving without a living Jewish community.

Lewis consulted with Professor Minna Rozan, then head of the Diaspora research center at Tel Aviv University, [who] went to Istanbul in 1987 to examine whether Lewis’s idea was feasible. [Then] Rozan, taking a sabbatical from her position at Tel Aviv University, spent two years . . . documenting the Jewish cemeteries in Turkey with a research team who sorted through over 100,000 photos of 61,022 tombstones to establish the database. Emphasis was put on the most ancient tombstones and those threatened by neglect or urban expansion. Some cemeteries have been destroyed, wholly or partially, by construction of the ring road around Istanbul.

The research covers 28 different cemeteries, including Karaite and Italian ones in Istanbul, as well as those from communities in Western and Eastern Anatolia which ceased to exist after 20th century wars and immigration.

Read more at New English Review

More about: Bernard Lewis, Jewish cemeteries, Ottoman Empire, Turkish Jewry

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy