Crimean Jews’ Medieval Cemetery

When Russia became the home of the world’s largest Jewish population near the end of the 18th century, the overwhelming majority of these Jews lived in Polish territories recently acquired by the tsars. They were predominantly descendants of Jews from Germany and elsewhere in Europe. But in 1783 St. Petersburg also conquered the former Ottoman province of Crimea, which had its own Turkic-speaking Jewish population dating back at least to the 14th century, and perhaps to antiquity. Matti Friedman tells the story of a gravestone found in the medieval Jewish cemetery of Tmutarakan—one of the oldest extant Crimean Jewish artifacts. (Video, 9 minutes.)

Read more at Beit Avi Chai

More about: Archaeology, Crimea, Jewish cemeteries, Russian Jewry

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy