Tales of Ten Scrolls

As Jews fled from one land to another to escape persecution, they have tried to bring sacred objects—especially Torah scrolls—with them, if not always successfully. The Jerusalem Post recounts the stories of ten historic Torahs that either were transported by Jewish exiles or left behind and later rescued. This is one of them:

Last year, [Israel’s] foreign ministry dedicated a Torah for use at its office synagogue in Jerusalem that was smuggled out of Baghdad.

The scroll, estimated to be 150 to 200 years old, is believed to be from Kurdistan. When most of the country’s Jews fled to Israel after 1948, the scroll was left behind, as the Iraqi government had banned [departing Jews] from taking their property with them, and seized assets from those who left.

The ministry would not say just how the scroll arrived in Israel, but in 2006 or 2007 it ended up in the Israeli embassy in Jordan. When, in September 2011, the Israeli embassy in Cairo was attacked by a huge mob, the ministry decided to remove all extraneous items from its embassy in Amman in case of similar incidents. Among those items was the Iraqi Torah scroll, which was brought to the ministry in Jerusalem.

In November 2013, Amnon Israel, the new manager of storage and supplies for the ministry, noticed the scroll in a storage room on his first day. He sought out an expert in Torah restoration, and after six months of work it was ready for use.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Iraqi Jewry, Israel, Jewish World

 

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