A 17th-Century Mikveh Is Discovered Near Auschwitz

Last month, a construction project in the southern Polish town of Oświęcim—whose German name, Auschwitz, was given to the nearby death camp—uncovered a four-century-old wooden mikveh, or Jewish ritual bath. Shiryn Ghermezian reports:

“As far as we know, this is the only mikveh of its kind in Europe, in the world most likely,” Tomek Kuncewicz, director of the Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation’s Jewish Museum in Oświęcim, told the Algemeiner. . . . “The experts we talked to from Poland [and] from other places said they have never heard of such a discovery, ever. So it definitely seems that it’s one-of-a-kind.”

He added that the mikveh, made of oak, is roughly 400 years old and is the “oldest piece of evidence” of a once-thriving Jewish community in Oświęcim.

The mikveh was found a month after another Jewish ritual bath—made of concrete and tile and probably from the 19th century—was discovered in January above the wooden mikveh. Both were . . . found near the Great Synagogue Memorial Park, which is located on the site where the town’s main synagogue once stood before it was destroyed during World War II.

Before World War II, there were about 8,000 Jewish residents in Oświęcim—roughly 50 to 60 percent of the town’s total population—but most of them were killed in the Auschwitz concentration camp, and after the war only about 200 Jews returned to the town, Kuncewicz said. He added that in subsequent years there was an effort to revive the Jewish community in Oświęcim but gradually most Jewish residents left, mainly for Israel. The last Jewish resident of Oświęcim, the Holocaust survivor Szymon Kluger, died in 2000.

Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Archaeology, Auschwitz, Mikveh, Polish Jewry

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy