The Jews of Portugal Are Experiencing a Renaissance

In the 17th century, the Dutch republic gave rights to “Hebrews of the Portuguese nation” living in Amsterdam; “Portuguese merchants” became an official euphemism for the new Jewish communities in southern France, which had been Judenrein for some 200 years; and the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, the oldest Jewish congregation in North America, was established in New York. All this is testimony to a complex history whereby the Iberian kingdom served as both a refuge for Jews and a place of persecution. Now its Jewish community, of about 5,000 or 6,000, is once again flourishing. Eliana Rudee writes:

Through the 12th to 15th centuries, the small Jewish community in Portugal, numbering about 70,000 people, thrived and was well-regarded, [with members] occupying prominent positions in the kingdom. After the Spanish edict of expulsion in 1492, around 120,000 Spanish Jews fled to Portugal, though the Portuguese issued its own edict of expulsion in 1496, causing Jews to flee to Turkey, Morocco, Syria, Amsterdam, and elsewhere. Some remained as practicing Jews and hid; in fact, a community of “secret Jews” continued to practice in the mountains of Portugal but weren’t discovered until the 20th century. Others converted, and thousands were killed.

At the end of the 19th century, Jewish settlers from Morocco and Gibraltar, as well as Ashkenazi merchants from Poland, Russia, and Germany, began to arrive. . . . In 2012 and 2013, the main synagogue building in Porto was rehabilitated; the first festivities were held with hundreds of people, and a kosher hotel was opened to serve Jewish tourists. In 2015, legislation was approved allowing descendants of Sephardi Jews expelled from Portugal to acquire Portuguese nationality.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Conversos, Jewish history, Portugal, Spanish Expulsion

How China Equips the Islamic Republic to Repress Its People

In its dedication to bringing totalitarianism into the 21st century, the Chinese Communist party has developed high-tech forms of surveillance using facial-recognition software, a vast system of “social credit,” and careful control over its subjects’ cellular phones. Even stricter and more invasive measures are applied to the Uyghurs of the northwestern part of the country. Beijing is also happy to export its innovations in tyranny to allies like Iran and Russia. Playing a key role in these advances is a nominally private company called Tiandy Technologies. Craig Singleton describes its activities:

Both Tiandy testimonials and Chinese-government press releases advertise the use of the company’s products by Chinese officials to track and interrogate Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang province. According to human-rights groups, Chinese authorities also employ Tiandy products, such as “tiger chairs,” to torture Uyghurs and other minorities.

Iran has long relied on China to augment its digital surveillance capabilities, and Tehran was an early adopter of Beijing’s “social-credit” system, which it wields to assess citizens’ behavior and trustworthiness. . . . Iranian government representatives have publicized plans to leverage smart technologies, including AI-powered face recognition, to maintain regime stability and neutralize dissent. Enhanced cooperation with China is central to those efforts.

At present, Tiandy is not subject to U.S. sanctions or export controls. In light of Tiandy’s operations in both Xinjiang and Iran, policymakers should consider removing the company, its owner, and stakeholders from the international financial system and global supply chains.

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Read more at FDD

More about: China, Human Rights, Iran, Totalitarianism, U.S. Foreign policy