Preserving the Remnants of Jewish Mosul

The northern Iraqi city of Mosul—whose eastern half lies on the ruins of Nineveh—remains, despite the best efforts of Islamic State (IS), a major center of Assyrian Christianity. But once it was also home to a substantial Jewish community, which dates to the mid-7th century CE and in 1947 had nearly 6,000 members. Like the rest of Iraqi Jewry, the Jews of Mosul emigrated en masse in the 1950s due to increasingly brutal anti-Semitism. Rebecca Collard reports on the efforts of Omar Mohammed—a local history professor who achieved global attention for his reporting during the Islamic State occupation—to preserve the remnants of Jewish history in the city’s old Jewish quarter. (Audio, 8 minutes.)

Read more at PRI

More about: Anti-Semitism, Iraq, Iraqi Jewry, Middle East

Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy