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 Israel Can Break the Cycle of Wars in Gaza

Last month saw yet another round of fighting between the Jewish state and Gaza-based terrorist groups. This time, it was Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) that began the conflict; in other cases, it was Hamas, which rules the territory. Such outbreaks have been numerous in the years since 2009, and although the details have varied somewhat, Israel has not yet found a way to stop them, or to save the residents of the southwestern part of the country from the constant threat of rocket fire. Yossi Kuperwasser argues that a combination of military, economic, and diplomatic pressure might present an alternative solution:

In Gaza, Jerusalem plays a key role in developing the rules that determine what the parties can and cannot do. Such rules are designed to give the Israelis the ability to deter attacks, defend territory, maintain intelligence dominance, and win decisively. These rules assure Hamas that its rule over Gaza will not be challenged and that, in between the rounds of escalation, it will be allowed to continue its military buildup, as the Israelis seldom strike first, and the government’s responses to Hamas’s limited attacks are always measured and proportionate.

The flaws in such an approach are clear: it grants Hamas the ability to develop its offensive capabilities, increase its political power, and condemn Israelis—especially those living within range of the Gaza Strip—to persistent threats from Hamas terrorists.

A far more effective [goal] would be to rid Israel of Hamas’s threat by disarming it, prohibiting its rearmament, and demonstrating conclusively that threatening Israel is indisputably against its interests. Achieving this goal will not be easy, but with proper preparation, it may be feasible at the appropriate time.

Revisiting the rule according to which Jerusalem remains tacitly committed to not ending Hamas rule in Gaza is key for changing the dynamics of this conflict. So long as Hamas knows that the Israelis will not attempt to uproot it from Gaza, it can continue arming itself and conducting periodic attacks knowing the price it will pay may be heavy—especially if Jerusalem changes the other rules mentioned—but not existential.

Read more at Middle East Quarterly

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israeli Security, Palestinian Islamic Jihad