The Brooklyn Hasid and the Israeli Businessman Rescuing Afghan Refugees

With the help of an Israeli businessman named Moti Kahana, an Afghan interpreter who had worked for the British air force since 2003 has been safely saved from the Taliban’s clutches. And the interpreter is not the only one. Jenni Frazer describes the American who funded the rescue:

The mission was paid for by Tzedek, a charity based in Brooklyn founded by Rabbi Moshe Margaretten, a member of the Skvirer ḥasidic sect.

Among those already evacuated with the help of Kahana’s organization, Global Development Corporation, and Rabbi Margaretten’s Tzedek funding are the Afghan women’s soccer team—now understood to be in Australia—and four children, hiding in a Kabul apartment, whose father was murdered by the Taliban and whose mother was desperate to bring them to America.

Moshe Margaretten, age forty, is an unlikely hero for the Afghan refugees he has helped rescue. The grandson of Holocaust survivors, the Brooklyn-based rabbi has wide contacts within the ḥasidic community and through his Tzedek operation has raised thousands of dollars to pay for the rescue missions. As well as providing funding, the rabbi has spent time in helping organize the paperwork to process the departure of many of those who have left Afghanistan.

He first began the work in order to bring out the last Jew in Afghanistan, Zebulon Simentov, but has now committed to rescue whomever he can.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Afghanistan, Hasidim, Philanthropy, Refugees

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood