Understanding Judaism’s Most Dangerous Accusation

Oct. 20 2020

As passions rose in Brooklyn’s ḥasidic communities over coronavirus lockdowns, a mob attacked the ḥasidic journalist Jacob Kornbluh with shouts of moser, which loosely translates as “informant.” Henry Abramson explains the history of this highly charged epithet:

Moser (also pronounced moyser) literally means “one who hands over,” in the sense of one who informs or turns over a Jew to the secular authorities. The term is laden with portent in Jewish law.

Moses Maimonides wrote in the 12th century that “an informer may be slain anywhere, even at the present time when Jewish courts do not try capital cases. . . . It is a religious duty to slay him; whoever hastens to kill him attains merit.” There should be no misunderstanding here: Maimonides was writing in a particular social context, prevalent for much of the past two millennia, when Jews constituted a tiny diasporic minority subject to the whim of often hostile, capricious, and brutal governments.

Halakhic authorities like Rabbi Hershel Schachter of Yeshiva University have been quick to declare that this law does not apply in modern, democratic societies: reporting criminal behavior to police, or even tax evasion to the IRS, does not make one a hated moser. Maimonides’ ruling is more comprehensible in the context of Nazi Germany, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, or perhaps Stalin’s Russia.

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Read more at Jewish Telegraphic Agency

More about: American Jewry, Hasidim, Moses Maimonides

Why Is Iran Acquiring Property in Venezuela?

In June Tehran and Caracas concluded a major twenty-year cooperation treaty. One of its many provisions—kept secret until recently—was the transfer of 4,000 square miles of Venezuelan land to Iranian control. Although the territory is ostensibly for agricultural use, Lawrence Franklin suspects the Islamic Republic might have other plans:

Hizballah already runs paramilitary training centers in restricted sections of Venezuela’s Margarita Island, a tourist area northeast of the country’s mainland. The terrorist group has considerable support from some of Venezuela’s prominent Lebanese clans such as the Nasr al-Din family, who reportedly facilitated Iran’s penetration of Margarita Island. . . . The Maduro regime has apparently been so welcoming to Iranian intelligence agents that some of Hizballah’s long-established Latin American network at the tri-border nexus of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has been overtaken by Hizballah activities on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Iran’s alliance with Venezuela most importantly provides Tehran with opportunities to target U.S. interests in Latin America and potentially the southern United States. Iran, along with the Chinese Communist Party, is in the process of strengthening Venezuela’s military against the U.S., for instance by deliveries of military drones, which are also considered a threat by Colombia.

While air and seaborne arms deliveries are high-profile evidence of Iran’s ties with Venezuela, Tehran’s cooperation with Venezuelan intelligence agencies, although less visible, is also intense. The Islamic Republic’s support for Hizballah terrorist operations is pervasive throughout Latin America. Hizballah recruits from Venezuela’s ten-million-strong Lebanese diaspora. Iran and Hizballah cooperate in training of intelligence agents and in developing sources who reside in Venezuela and Colombia, as well as in the tri-border region of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: Iran, Latin America, Venezuela