The History of Jews in the Persian Gulf

Although there were Jews living in the Arabian Peninsula in Mohammad’s time, for most of medieval and modern history the Arab lands surrounding the Persian Gulf—what is now Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Oman—had only small Jewish communities. Nimrod Raphaeli tells their stories:

Unlike the large Jewish communities in Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, and North Africa, the number of Jews in the Gulf countries never exceeded a few hundred in any one country. . . . Most of the Jews who settled in the Gulf countries, primarily in Kuwait and Bahrain, were of Iraqi origin, and many of them were seeking either to escape military conscription under the Ottoman empire or exploring economic opportunities. Of these Jews, only a few have remained, likely only in Bahrain where the Jewish population numbers around 70. A member of that community, Huda Nonoo, was her country’s ambassador to the U.S. from 2008 to 2013—making her the first ambassador of the Jewish faith to represent an Arab country.

Jews held important positions in Ahsaa (currently in eastern Saudi Arabia), notably the post of treasurer of the Ottoman empire, which ruled the area through World War I. The post was held by three successive Jews. . . . During their tenure, many of the entries in the financial books were in “Hebrew” (most likely in Arabic written phonetically in Rashi script, which was commonly used by old-generation Iraqi Jews).

Jews had been living in Muscat since at least 1625. In 1673, according to one traveler, a synagogue was being built, implying permanence. The British officer James Wellsted also noted the existence of a Jewish community when he visited in the 1830s.

Read more at MEMRI

More about: Bahrain, Jewish history, Mizrahim, Oman, Persian Gulf

Using the Power of the Law to Fight Anti-Semitism

Examining carefully the problem of anti-Semitism, and sympathy with jihadists, at American universities, Danielle Pletka addresses the very difficult problem of what can be done about it. Pletka avoids such simplistic answers as calling for more education and turns instead to a more promising tool: law. The complex networks of organizations funding and helping to organize campus protests are often connected to malicious states like Qatar, and to U.S.-designated terrorist groups. Thus, without broaching complex questions of freedom of speech, state and federal governments already have ample justifications to crack down. Pletka also suggests various ways existing legal frameworks can be strengthened.

And that’s not all:

What is Congress’s ultimate leverage? Federal funding. Institutions of higher education in the United States will receive north of $200 billion from the federal government in 2024.

[In addition], it is critical to understand that foreign funders have been allowed, more or less, to turn U.S. institutions of higher education into political fiefdoms, with their leaders and faculty serving as spokesmen for foreign interests. Under U.S. law currently, those who enter into contracts or receive funding to advocate for the interest of a foreign government are required to register with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). This requirement is embedded in a criminal statute, and a violation risks jail time. There is no reason compliance by American educational institutions with disclosure laws should not be subject to similar criminal penalties.

Read more at Commentary

More about: American law, Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus