A Lost Synagogue Unearthed in Spain

In 1492—after a century of massacres and persecution that had already led tens of thousands of Jews to convert to Catholicism or to leave Spain—King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella decreed the expulsion of all Jews who refused to accept the cross. Recently a monument of this vanished Jewish community, once Europe’s largest and most prestigious, has come to light. The Times of Israel reports:

Archaeologists in the southern Spanish town of Utrera confirmed on Tuesday they had uncovered a 14th-century synagogue hidden within a building that was later converted into a church, hospital, and most recently a bar. The archaeologist Miguel Ángel de Dios told journalists that “the first thing to confirm is the presence of the prayer room” following years of analysis of the building’s walls and floor.

“The fundamental elements of the synagogue, such as the entrance hall,” he said, “or the perimeter benches that have emerged in this survey, now confirm that we are indeed in the prayer hall.”

The only hint of the [synagogue’s] existence came from a priest and historian, Rodrigo Caro, who wrote in 1604 that a hospital now stood on a site where Jews used to pray. There are a tiny handful of medieval synagogues surviving in Spain, including in the cities of Toledo and Cordoba. The Utrera synagogue was converted into a church in the 16th century, de Dios added.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Archaeology, Spanish Expulsion, Synagogues

As Hamas’s Power Collapses, Old Feuds Are Resurfacing

In May, Mahmoud Nashabat, a high-ranking military figure in the Fatah party (which controls the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority), was gunned down in central Gaza. Nashabat was an officer in the Gaza wing of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist outfit that served as Fatah’s vanguard during the second intifada, and now sometimes collaborates with Hamas. But his killers were Hamas members, and he was one of at least 35 Palestinians murdered in Gaza in the past two months as various terrorist and criminal groups go about settling old scores, some of which date back to the 1980s. Einav Halabi writes:

Security sources familiar with the situation told the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Gaza is now also beleaguered by the resurgence of old conflicts. “Many people have been killed in incidents related to the first intifada in 1987, while others have died in family disputes,” they said.

The “first-intifada portfolio” in Gaza is considered complex and convoluted, as it is filled with hatred among residents who accuse others of killing relatives for various reasons, including collaboration with Israel. . . . According to reports from Gaza, there are vigorous efforts on the ground to contain these developments, but the chances of success remain unclear. Hamas, for its part, is trying to project governance and control, recently releasing several videos showcasing how its operatives brutally beat residents accused of looting.

These incidents, gruesome as they are, suggest that Hamas’s control over the territory is slipping, and it no longer holds a monopoly on violence or commands the fear necessary to keep the population in line. The murders and beatings also dimension the grim reality that would ensue if the war ends precipitously: a re-empowered Hamas setting about getting vengeance on its enemies and reimposing its reign of terror.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Fatah, Gaza War 2023, Hamas