Harvard’s Jewish Slaveholder

Last week, Harvard University released a report titled “Harvard & the Legacy of Slavery,” part of a wide-ranging initiative aimed at redressing past wrongs. In examining the report, Ira Stoll discovered that “the first Jew at Harvard was a slaveholder.” Examining the life and scholarship of Judah Monis—a Hebrew instructor who converted to Christianity shortly before joining Harvard’s faculty—Stoll concludes that some of the lessons Monis taught helped “create, in America, a story of freedom that surely ranks with the Bible as one of the great slavery-toppling narratives of all time.” (Subscription required)

Doubtless some will see this as additional evidence that the whole enterprise—18th-century Harvard, the American Revolution, the Bible—was rotten to the core. But there is an alternative reading.

If the future American revolutionaries were diligent students of the Hebrew Monis taught, they would have been able to parse with some care the text of Exodus. At Sinai, after God identifies Himself as having “brought you out of Egypt, the house of slavery,” He issues the commandment that the children of Israel obey the Sabbath in part by not having their own slaves work on the seventh day.

In experiencing the irreconcilable contradiction between the reality of slave ownership and the ideal of freedom, in other words, the American revolutionaries weren’t unlike the children of Israel. They were following in their footsteps.

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Read more at Wall Street Journal

More about: American Jewish History, Harvard, Slavery

 

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism