When Is It Time for the Jews to Leave?

April 8 2020

In Exile: Portraits of the Jewish Diaspora, Annika Hernroth-Rothstein draws on her travels to some of the world’s more obscure Jewish communities, from Finland to Cuba to Iran, to paint loving but not uncritical portraits of Jews who are often fiercely committed to preserving their local heritage, despite varied but grave roadblocks. Devorah Goldman, in her review, explores the question at the heart of the book:

In 1925, the Hebrew writer and [future] Nobel laureate S.Y. Agnon published “The Fable of the Goat,” a short story that asks a simple question: when is it time to leave? In the story, a young man and his father own a goat that repeatedly disappears for days at a time, returning with “milk whose taste was as the taste of Eden.” To figure out where she kept going, the youth tied a long rope to the goat’s tail so that he could follow her the next time she left. He ultimately accompanies the goat through a cave to the Land of Israel, and gets stuck there on the Sabbath when he cannot travel. He sends the goat back to his father with a note in the goat’s ear, urging him to join his son in the beautiful new country.

Tragically, the father assumes the worst when he sees the goat return without his son. In a fit of grief, he slaughters the goat, and only afterwards finds the note. He and his son spend the rest of their days apart. The story concludes that, “Since that time the mouth of the cave has been hidden from the eye, and there is no longer a short way. And that youth, if he has not died, shall bear fruit in his old age, full of sap and richness, calm and peaceful in the country of life.”

The animating question in Annika Hernroth-Rothstein’s first book, Exile: Portraits of the Jewish Diaspora, is nearly identical to Agnon’s: should Jews stay or should they go?

Hernroth-Rothstein saw great beauty in many of the places she visited—ornate synagogues, warm homes—but was almost always left with the question of whether these communities would flourish again or simply continue to hang on. As in the Agnon story, there is a poignant sense of missed opportunity.

Read more at American Interest

More about: Cuba, Diaspora, Persian Jewry, S. Y. Agnon

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy