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

 

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter