The Israeli President Had Every Reason to Celebrate Hanukkah in Hebron

On the first night of Hanukkah, President Isaac Herzog—a former leader of the Labor party—visited the city of Hebron to take part in a public menorah lighting at the cave of the Machpelah, traditionally held to be the resting place of the biblical matriarchs and patriarchs. Because Hebron was occupied by Jordan between 1948 and 1967, and because its Jewish population tends toward the Zionist religious right, the move was roundly condemned by left-wing Israeli leaders, and their criticisms echoed in the Western media. Jerold Auerbach comments offers some context:

Currently, 700 Hebron Jews inhabit a tiny, enclosed, and shabby neighborhood surrounded by 200,000 Muslims in the modernized and prosperous Arab sector. Indeed, Jews are outnumbered by Arabs in their own constricted quarter. The notion that Hebron Arabs live under the rule of Jewish “settlers” is a striking demonstration of ignorance and bias.

The millennia-old Hebron Jewish community was destroyed in 1929 by Arab rioters who rampaged through the Jewish Quarter, savagely murdering men, women, and children because they were Jews. Three children under the age of five were slaughtered, one of whom had his head torn off. Teenage girls, mothers, and grandmothers were raped. Yeshiva students had their throats slit. Sixty-seven Jews were brutally murdered; six synagogues were desecrated; dozens of Torah scrolls were mutilated. Not until Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War nearly four decades later did Jews begin to return to live in their ancient holy city.

The irrefutable facts of Jewish history affirm Herzog’s choice of the Machpelah burial site to light the first Hanukkah candle.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Hanukkah, Hebron, Isaac Herzog, Israeli politics

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

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Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin