Searching for Traces of Jewish History in the Moroccan Desert

Following the restoration of diplomatic ties between Jerusalem and Rabat in 2020, Israeli, Moroccan, and French archaeologists have been working to uncover and preserve the country’s Jewish historical artifacts. Kaouthar Oudrhiri reports:

Akka, a lush green valley of date palms surrounded by desert hills some 525 kilometers (325 miles) south of the capital Rabat, was once a crossroads for trans-Saharan trade. Within the oasis, tucked away in the middle of the mellah, or Jewish quarter, of the village of Tagadirt, lie the ruins of the synagogue—built from earth in the architectural tradition of the area. While the site has yet to be dated, experts say it is crucial to understanding the Judeo-Moroccan history of the region.

Dating back to antiquity, the Jewish community in Morocco reached its peak in the 15th century, following the brutal expulsion of Sephardi Jews from Spain. By the early 20th century, there were about 250,000 Jews in Morocco. But after waves of departures with the creation of Israel in 1948, including following the 1967 Six-Day War, the number was slashed to just 2,000 today.

[In the course of a day], archaeologists amass a small trove of manuscript fragments, amulets, and other objects discovered under the bimah, a raised platform in the center of the synagogue where the Torah was once read. . . . Among the artifacts unearthed and meticulously catalogued by the team are commercial contracts and marriage certificates, everyday utensils, and coins

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Archaeology, Israel-Arab relations, Jewish history, Moroccan Jewry, Synagogues


How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus