The Lost Autonomous Jewish Community of Suriname

 The Israel Antiquities Authority frequently makes newsworthy archaeological discoveries in Jerusalem or the Judean desert. Last summer it went a bit farther afield, sending an unusual expedition to Suriname, a tiny country on South America’s Atlantic coast, to seek out physical remains of a self-governing Jewish community there known as the Jodensavanne. Anshel Pfeffer reports:

Like the other Jews who arrived in America in the centuries after Columbus, the Jews of Suriname descended from Jews banished from Spain and then Portugal. They settled first in the West Indies, Brazil, and Guiana, but Catholic persecution continued there. Suriname, however, was under Anglican English rule, and in 1656, Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell overturned Edward I’s 1290 expulsion of the Jews. This policy extended to the colonies; in Suriname, Jews were granted equal rights with other colonists in 1665. Those rights remained in effect after the English handed Suriname to the Dutch two years later in exchange for New Amsterdam, which they renamed New York.

The Jewish families arriving in this new land brought experience growing sugarcane and refining it into the sugar, much sought after in Europe, that became the colony’s main source of revenue. There are records by the early-18th century of at least 115 Jewish plantations—more than half of all those in Suriname—extending upriver over hundreds of square miles.

Read more at Sapir

More about: Sephardim, South America

Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security