The Jews of Africa in Pictures

From 2012 to 2016, the photojournalist Jono David took multiple trips to Africa, visiting Jewish communities in some 30 countries. He writes:

I was particularly interested in the emerging black Jewish communities in places such as Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Madagascar, Gabon, and Cameroon. Over the last twenty or so years, the phenomenon of religious renouncement and self-conversion to Judaism has—in some cases, such as in Ghana, Cameroon, and Gabon—grown with the rise of Internet connections there.

So far, these small but fervent communities remain largely ignored by official entities in Israel and in the mainstream Jewish world—the century-old Abayudaya community in Uganda is officially recognized by Conservative Judaism, but that is an exception. Connections with outside Jewish organizations and rabbis are increasing, however, and official Jewish recognition remains an important aim.

In my travels, these communities held a particular fascination, but I was equally mindful of the European-rooted congregations. . . . The community in South Africa, for instance, began mainly under British rule in the 19th century.

It may, [however], be said that a Jewish influence in the region dates back to the 1400s and Portuguese exploration with Jewish cartographers who assisted explorers Bartolomeu Dias and Vasco da Gama. But it was not until the 1820s that Jews had any significant presence. In 1841, they built their first synagogue in Cape Town. In the 1880s, a gold rush lured thousands more Jews, mainly from Lithuania.

An accompanying photo essay can be found at the link below.

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Read more at Librarians

More about: Africa, African Jewry, Jewish history, South African Jewry

The Arab Press Blames Iran Rather Than Israel for Gaza’s Woes

Following the fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad over the weekend, many journalists and commentators in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia didn’t rush to condemn the Jewish state. Instead, as the translators at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) note, they criticized the terrorist group for “operating in service of Iranian interests and thus inflicting suffering on the Gaza Strip’s residents.” One Saudi intellectual, Turki al-Hamad, wrote the following on Twitter:

It is apparent that, if at one time any confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian organizations would attract world and Arab attention and provoke a wave of anger [against Israel], today it does not shock most Arabs and most of the world’s [countries]. Furthermore, even a sense of human solidarity [with the Palestinians] has become rare and embarrassing, raising the question, “Why [is this happening] and who is to blame?”

I believe that the main reason is the lack of confidence in all the Palestinian leaders. . . . From the Arabs’ and the world’s perspective, it is already clear that these leaders are manipulating the [Palestinian] cause out of self-interest and diplomatic, economic, or even personal motives, and that the Palestinian issue is completely unconnected to this. The Palestinian cause has become a bargaining chip in the hands of these and other organizations and states headed by the [Iranian] ayatollah regime.

A, article in a major Arabic-language newspaper took a similar approach:

In a lengthy front-page report on August 7, the London-based UAE daily Al-Arab criticized Islamic Jihad, writing that “Gaza again became an arena for the settling of accounts between Iran and Israel, while the Palestinian citizens are the ones paying the price.” It added that Iran does not want to confront Israel directly for its bombings in Syria and its attacks on Iranian scientists and nuclear facilities.

“The war in Gaza is not the first, nor will it be the last. But it proves . . . that Iran is exploiting Gaza as it exploits Lebanon, in order to strengthen its hand in negotiations with the West. We all know that Iran hasn’t fired a single bullet at Israel, and it also will not do this to defend Gaza or Lebanon.”

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Read more at MEMRI

More about: Gaza Strip, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israel-Arab relations, Persian Gulf