How Yehuda Zeitoun Became the Face of 20th-Century Tunisian Jewry

In 1903, the German photographer and adventurer Rudolf Franz Lehnert came to Tunisia, where he set about documenting local life on camera, including that of the country’s ancient Jewish community. He then marketed many of his photographs as postcards. Nati Gabbay noticed that the same person shows up on many of these souvenirs, often as a rabbi but sometimes as a goldsmith or moneychanger:

After this article was originally published in Hebrew, one of our Facebook followers, Victor Cohen, told us that this mysterious man is none other than Rabbi Yehuda Zeitoun from the city of Monastir in Tunisia. Cohen, a great-grandson of Rabbi Zeitoun, says that among his many occupations, the rabbi was also a goldsmith, merchant, mohel, and a reciter of liturgical poetry. If so, it turns out, the various photographs simply document the rabbi’s varied pursuits. Cohen notes that Zeitoun’s son, Rabbi Ḥai ben Yehuda Zeitoun, was the chief rabbi of the city of Sfax and was even awarded a medal for his work from the ruler of Tunisia.

In any case, the face of this accomplished, multitalented person became a representation of the figure of the North African Jew across large parts of the world.

Read more at The Librarians

More about: North African Jewry, Photography, Tunisia

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy