Two Great Spanish Artists, Living under Suspicion of Jewish and Muslim Ancestry

The name of the 17th-century Spanish artist Juan de Pareja is forever associated with that of another great Spanish painter of the same period, Diego Velázquez, who painted a celebrated portrait of Pareja and also seems to have provided him with artistic training. But the connection between the two is more complicated than that: Pareja was born a slave, was purchased by Velázquez as a young man, and set free by Velázquez about twenty years later. A new exhibit about Pareja at the Metropolitan Museum reveals something else about the two, as Diane Cole writes:

Although Velázquez and Pareja were both practicing Catholics, they lived in a country where the judicial office known as the Spanish Inquisition investigated and persecuted any and all whom they suspected of religious heresy—in other words, any faith aside from devout Catholicism.

Particularly suspect were those whose ancestry was not considered “pure”—a group that included those with Jewish or Moorish ancestors. These people were often known as “New Christians,” a legal label passed from one generation to the next to ensure the continued control and authority of the powerful “Old Christian” aristocracy. No matter that such a conversion might have taken place a century or more before. “New” was an automatic disqualification for anyone seeking elevation from the royal court or acknowledgement of special merit.

Pareja was probably at least partially of Morisco, or Islamic, heritage. And Velázquez himself was possibly descended from Jewish conversos.

Read more at Forward

More about: Anti-Semitism, Conversos, Islam, Spanish Inquisition

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security