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.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

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


How to Turn Palestinian Public Opinion Away from Terror

The Palestinian human-rights activist Bassem Eid, responding to the latest survey results of the Palestinian public, writes:

Not coincidentally, support for Hamas is much higher in the West Bank—misgoverned by Hamas’s archrivals, the secular nationalist Fatah, which rules the Palestinian Authority (PA)—than in Gaza, whose population is being actively brutalized by Hamas. Popular support for violence persists despite the devastating impact that following radical leaders and ideologies has historically had on the Palestinian people, as poignantly summed up by Israel’s Abba Eban when he quipped that Arabs, including the Palestinians, “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

Just as worrying is the role of propaganda and misinformation, which are not unique to the Palestinian context but are pernicious there due to the high stakes involved. Misinformation campaigns, often fueled by Hamas and its allies, have painted violent terrorism as the only path to dignity and rights for Palestinians. Palestinian schoolbooks and public media are rife with anti-Semitic and jihadist content. Hamas’s allies in the West have matched Hamas’s genocidal rhetoric with an equally exterminationist call for the de-normalization and destruction of Israel.

It’s crucial to consider successful examples of de-radicalization from other regional contexts. After September 11, 2001, Saudi Arabia implemented a comprehensive de-radicalization program aimed at rehabilitating extremists through education, psychological intervention, and social reintegration. This program has had successes and offers valuable lessons that could be adapted to the Palestinian context.

Rather than pressure Israel to make concessions, Eid argues, the international community should be pressuring Palestinian leaders—including Fatah—to remove incitement from curricula and stop providing financial rewards to terrorists.

Read more at Newsweek

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion