Turkish Police Seize Precious Jewish Books Smuggled by Syrian Guerrillas

Last week, police in southeastern Turkey confiscated gold-embossed Hebrew texts thought to be about 1,000 years old. Tzvi Joffre reports

Video and pictures of the books shared by the Mardin Provincial Police Department showed drawings of animals such as an owl, deer, scorpion, and bull surrounded by Hebrew writing, although it is unclear if the books were written in Hebrew or in another language or dialect that uses Hebrew characters, such as Judeo-Arabic.

The police announcement identified the four books and one scroll as Torahs. The books and the case in which the scroll was kept were all adorned with the Star of David and one of the books also had a menorah on its cover.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Tuesday that sources had informed it that the manuscripts seized by Turkish authorities had been stolen by the al-Rahman Legion, a Syrian rebel group, from the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in the Jobar neighborhood of Damascus, and were smuggled to Turkey. Locals from Jobar had reportedly demanded that the al-Rahman Legion return the manuscripts, as well as other manuscripts that the militia had allegedly stolen from the neighborhood.

The Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue was bombed and looted during the Syrian Civil War.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Rare books, Syrian civil war, Syrian Jewry, Turkey

 

Gaza’s Quiet Dissenters

Last year, the Dubai-based television channel Al-Arabiya, the Times of Israel, and several other media organizations worked together to conduct numerous interviews with residents of the Gaza Strip, taking great pains to protect their identities. The result is a video series titled Whispers in Gaza, which presents a picture of life under Hamas’s tyranny unlike anything that can be found in the press. Jeff Jacoby writes:

Through official intimidation or social pressure, Gazans may face intense pressure to show support for Hamas and its murderous policies. So when Hamas organizes gaudy street revels to celebrate a terrorist attack—like the fireworks and sweets it arranged after a gunman murdered seven Israelis outside a Jerusalem synagogue Friday night—it can be a challenge to remember that there are many Palestinians who don’t rejoice at the murder of innocent Jews.

In one [interview], “Fatima” describes the persecution endured by her brother, a humble vegetable seller, after he refused to pay protection money to Hamas. The police arrested him on a trumped-up drug charge and locked him in prison. “They beat him repeatedly to make him confess to things he had nothing to do with,” she says. Then they threatened to kill him. Eventually he fled the country, leaving behind a family devastated by his absence.

For those of us who detest Hamas no less than for those who defend it, it is powerful to hear the voices of Palestinians like “Layla,” who is sickened by the constant exaltation of war and “resistance” in the Palestinian media. “If you’re a Gazan citizen who opposes war and says, ‘I don’t want war,’ you’re branded a traitor,” she tells her interviewer. “It’s forbidden to say you don’t want war.” So people keep quiet, she explains, for fear of being tarred as disloyal.

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Read more at Boston Globe

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Palestinian dissidents, Palestinian public opinion