Saving the Tomb of Nahum the Prophet

Having just barely escaped the depredations of Islamic State, the tomb where, according to legend, the biblical prophet Nahum is buried along with his sister, is now in a dire state of disrepair. The official Jewish representative of Iraqi Kurdistan, where the tomb is now located, is trying to find support for its preservation. Tamara Zieve writes:

The tomb lies inside a synagogue in the Christian town of al-Qosh, whose doors are guarded by a Christian family who reportedly promised the town’s long-departed rabbi to safeguard it.

[But] it could be just a matter of days before the ancient tomb crumbles to its ruin. . . .

[The Jewish representative] has also appealed to UNESCO [for help] and told the Jerusalem Post he has a meeting scheduled with a representative in [the Kurdish city of] Erbil.

The Post sought comment from UNESCO, however, [and] was met with the response: “Kurdistan is not a country” and they therefore could not help.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Iraqi Jewry, ISIS, Jewish World, Kurds, Nahum, UNESCO


Israel Can’t Stake Its Fate on “Ironclad” Promises from Allies

Israeli tanks reportedly reached the center of the Gazan city of Rafah yesterday, suggesting that the campaign there is progressing swiftly. And despite repeatedly warning Jerusalem not to undertake an operation in Rafah, Washington has not indicated any displeasure, nor is it following through on its threat to withhold arms. Even after an IDF airstrike led to the deaths of Gazan civilians on Sunday night, the White House refrained from outright condemnation.

What caused this apparent American change of heart is unclear. But the temporary suspension of arms shipments, the threat of a complete embargo if Israel continued the war, and comments like the president’s assertion in February that the Israeli military response has been “over the top” all call into question the reliability of Joe Biden’s earlier promises of an “ironclad” commitment to Israel’s security. Douglas Feith and Ze’ev Jabotinsky write:

There’s a lesson here: the promises of foreign officials are never entirely trustworthy. Moreover, those officials cannot always be counted on to protect even their own country’s interests, let alone those of others.

Israelis, like Americans, often have excessive faith in the trustworthiness of promises from abroad. This applies to arms-control and peacekeeping arrangements, diplomatic accords, mutual-defense agreements, and membership in multilateral organizations. There can be value in such things—and countries do have interests in their reputations for reliability—but one should be realistic. Commitments from foreign powers are never “ironclad.”

Israel should, of course, maintain and cultivate connections with the United States and other powers. But Zionism is, in essence, about the Jewish people taking responsibility for their own fate.

Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship