Preserving the Legacy of the Jews of Murcia

Last month, the autonomous region of Murcia, located in southeastern Spain, signed an agreement with a Jewish organization to take steps to preserve the legacy of its Jewish history. The Jerusalem Post reports:

The agreement was signed . . . in the old synagogue of Lorca, unique among synagogues throughout Spain in that it was never converted into a church. Lorca is a city that served as the frontier town between Christian and Muslim Spain in Middle Ages, where Jews frequently served as intermediaries between the two communities.

Murcia had a rich and active Jewish past, with several notable Jews residing there, including [the 13th-century statesman] Moses ibn Turiel. Many of the port city’s Jews were historically involved in the maritime trade. It is speculated that these connections were ultimately important when the majority of Jews who fled overseas during the Expulsion from Spain in 1492 used the ports in the region to travel to other parts of the Mediterranean and beyond.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Jewish history, Medieval Spain, Spain, Spanish Expulsion, Synagogues

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