As the Black Death swept through Europe in the mid-14th century, many Christians, observing that their Jewish neighbors tended to die at less alarming rates, decided that the Jews were to blame. This conclusion resulted in some of the Middle Ages’ severest outbreaks of anti-Semitic violence. Over the last 200 years, historians have variously pinned the difference in mortality to better hygiene (perhaps related to handwashing and other halakhic observances), more fastidious care for the sick, kashrut, and Passover cleaning. Declaring these explanations scientifically untenable, Kathryn Glatter and Paul Finkelman suggest a different one:
Did Jews’ Genes Protect Them from the Black Plague?
Iran’s Elections Could Complicate U.S. Plans to Renew the Nuclear Deal
This week, after the International Atomic Energy Agency announced its suspicions that the Islamic Republic is hiding nuclear materials from its inspectors, the White House decided to lift some sanctions on Iranian oil, and still plans to forge ahead with nuclear negotiations. Meanwhile, Iran will hold its presidential elections next week. The exercise is not particularly democratic—the supreme leader approves the candidates in advance, and his minions have from time to time fixed the results—but neither is it entirely meaningless. While there are important differences among the candidates, not one can be dubbed a moderate, even by the standards of this brutal Islamist theocracy. Reuel Marc Gerecht explains why this matters: