The Yemenite Path to Zionism, as Explained by One of Yemen’s Greatest Rabbis

In 1982, Rabbi Yosef Qafiḥ (sometimes pronounced “Kapaḥ”) was asked to address the Knesset to mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the aliyah, or collective migration to the Land of Israel, of Jews from Yemen. Elli Fischer, prefaces his 2015 translation of the speech with a note about Qafiḥ’s life:

Rabbi Qafiḥ (1917-2000) was a Yemenite-born rabbinical judge and scholar of Jewish theology who made aliyah in 1943. Once in Israel, Rabbi Qafiḥ served on the country’s supreme rabbinic court and translated the classics of the Jewish theological tradition—Rabbi Saadya Gaon’s Book of Doctrines and Beliefs, Rabbi Yehudah Halevi’s Kuzari, Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed, and more—from Arabic to modern Hebrew. In addition to being an expert in both the Jewish legal and theological traditions, Rabbi Qafiḥ was a daring thinker who didn’t hesitate to attack conventional pieties. This [speech] is a good example of his iconoclasm.

In his address, Qafiḥ challenges the very assumption that the Yemenite aliyah began in 1882:

The concept of “Zionism” has been invoked here several times. In Yemen, this concept did not exist as the name of a movement or a distinct internal group. The Diaspora throughout Yemen was there on a temporary basis. They saw themselves as hotel guests, even though their stay lasted for 2,000 years. Therefore, those individuals and groups who made aliyah to the Land of Israel over time did not deviate from the mainstream. For that reason, these aliyot [i.e., waves of migration] were not noted, in contrast to aliyot from elsewhere. . . . Since the latter [immigrants] went against the pervading spirit of their environments, their aliyah was an extraordinary, wondrous, inspirational thing. . . . In Yemen there was no need for this. Aliyah naturally continued in a normal, organic fashion, because everyone was a candidate; everyone waited for the right moment, for the removal of his particular barriers.

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Read more at Sephardi Ideas Monthly

More about: Aliyah, Judaism, Yemenite Jewry

 

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy