The Jewish Woman Who Bicycled Around the World

In the 1890s, a Jewish woman from a devout background named Annie Londonderry embarked on a journey around the globe on her bicycle. Peter Zheutlin, a distant relative of Londonderry, wrote a book about her accomplishment in 2007, and has now followed up with a fictionalized version. Tzach Yoched writes:

Born Annie Cohen Kopchovsky in Latvia, in 1870, Londonderry took her pseudonym from the first of her many corporate sponsors: the Londonderry Lithia Spring Water Company of New Hampshire.

Londonderry was, at first glance, an unlikely candidate to become a feminist icon. . . . At seventeen she lost both of her parents and a year later married an Orthodox Jewish merchant named Simon (a/k/a Max). Before learning how to ride a bicycle, she gave birth to three children.

Londonderry set out on her journey from Massachusetts on June 27, 1894, but it took considerably more than 80 days for her to go around the world. She eventually completed her mammoth task on September 12, 1895—fifteen days ahead of the fifteen-month goal she had set for herself. (In case you’re wondering, there were lots of boat journeys between continents, so she wasn’t cycling the whole time.)

Londonderry’s epic journey, though, was as much a public-relations campaign as an act of female independence. “She told everyone that she’d been selected to settle a wager between two Boston merchants who were arguing whether a woman could do what only a man had done before—circle the world by bicycle,” Zheutlin explains.

Read more at Haaretz

More about: American Jewish History, Sports, Women

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