One of Renaissance Spain’s Leading Catholic Scholars May Have Been a Secret Jew

Beginning in the late 14th century, tens of thousands of Spanish Jews converted to Catholicism as persecution increased—culminating with the expulsion of the unconverted in 1492. Many of these conversos or “New Christians” rose to prominence; the rabbi of the city of Burgos, for instance, was baptized in 1391, was eventually ordained as a priest, and returned to Burgos to serve as its bishop. Others continued to practice Judaism in secret. According to the recent research of Ahuva Ho, Alfonso de Zamora (1474–1545/6) fell into both categories:

A graduate of the famous Campanton yeshiva in Zamora, [Alfonso] first escaped to Portugal in 1492, but for unknown reasons returned to Spain around 1497 as a converso. In a few years we find him in Salamanca as a teacher and a scribe until 1512. . . . His involvement in the editing of the first Polyglot Bible, his books, scribal and teaching positions raised his esteem and importance at the dawn of the Renaissance. Throughout [an] almost 40-year period, he was employed by the highest Catholic prelates, the archbishops of Spain, right under the watchful eye of the Inquisition.

[But Alfonso’s Hebrew] poems called out for God’s help to heal his emotional and physical pain, to release him from cursed Spain, to punish the greedy and immoral Spanish society from the king to the Church clerics. [In prose manuscripts in Hebrew], he attacked the popes and the judges and mocked King Carlos V and his administration, [as well as] judges who had converted to Christianity and abused their powers to discriminate against their fellow conversos.

Alfonso excused his stay in Spain by comparing himself to Joseph and Daniel, who remained in their respective lands in order to benefit the world by teaching the beauty of Jewish wisdom to the Gentile power structure.

Read more at Librarians

More about: Conversion, Conversos, Jewish-Catholic relations, Judaism, Spanish Expulsion

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy