Three Centuries Ago, Jewish Gravestones Were Used to Repair a Historic Landmark. In the 1960s, They Were Desecrated a Second Time

In 1960, the Italian city of Ferrara undertook the renovation of the columns that flank the entrance to the ducal palace—which are among the city’s most important architectural landmarks. Workers soon discovered that one of the columns had been constructed using 36 fragments of local Jewish tombstones from the 16th and 17th centuries. Henry Abramson writes:

A noted patron of the arts, [the 15th-century duke Borso D’Este] and his immediate successors also made Ferrara a haven for Jews, especially those expelled from Spain and refugees from the Inquisition in Italian territories to the south. Under the House of Este, Jewish life flourished in Ferrara 1598, when the Papal States exerted control over the northern Italian city. The Jewish badge was instituted shortly thereafter, and Ferrarese Jews who once lived and worked throughout the city found themselves shut in the confines of yet another ghetto.

The column was first erected in the 1450s, and it had stood for over 200 years before it was heavily damaged by a fire on December 23, 1716. A chronicler of the period, Nicolò Baruffaldi, mentions that Marquis Francesco Sacrati secured the stones from the Jewish graveyards, “paying in full for their value to the masters of the ghetto.” It is highly unlikely that the Jewish community would have willingly surrendered the gravestones of their ancestors, especially since many of the graves belonged to people the contemporary Ferrarese Jews would have actually known—the grandparents and even parents of the generation alive at the time.

As Abramson explains, there is evidence of the confiscation of Jewish tombstones in contemporary Jewish records, although there is no extant mention of those used for the column. He adds:

Amazingly, [the fragments] were not returned to the Jewish community; they were rather put back into the column where they remain to this day. In fact, they were desecrated still further, with pieces removed and discarded to make room for a reinforced concrete core to protect the column from seismic activity (a devastating earthquake had hit Ferrara in 1570, which Pope Pius V blamed on the Este family for their historic protection of the Jews).


More about: Anti-Semitism, Catholic Church, Italian Jewry, Jewish cemeteries

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy