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.

Read more at JNS

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

What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship