In Portugal, an Invitation for the Descendants of Expelled Jews to Return Became the Basis of an Anti-Semitic Campaign

In 1496, King Manuel I of Portugal decreed that his Jewish subjects—who numbered in the tens of thousands—must either convert or leave. In 2015, the country passed a law extending citizenship to Jews who could demonstrate descent from expellees. The law, however, prompted a wave of accusations against those who took advantage of it, tinged with no small amount of anti-Semitism. David Isaac explains:

The “campaign of defamation,” [as it was dubbed by Portuguese Jewish leaders], accused those wanting Portuguese citizenship of paying lawyers and genealogists to sign off that they met the criteria, scared the public with the claim that “tens of millions of candidates” were waiting for passports, and gave the false impression that Portugal would be inundated by an influx of Jews. The community was accused of running a racket by rubber-stamping citizenship certificates.

Portugal’s state police opened a criminal investigation [based on these canards] named “Open Door” in February 2022. The allegations led to the persecution of the community, whose good name was dragged through the mud as accusations were hurled at it in the press and Portuguese police searched the homes of community leaders, the Jewish museum, and [the city of Porto’s] Kadoorie Mekor Haim Synagogue, Gabriel Senderowicz, [the president of the Jewish community of Porto], said.

On March 10, 2022, in a very public arrest, Porto’s chief rabbi, Daniel Litvak, was taken into custody. Litvak was mistreated, placed in a cell with a murderer, and denied kosher food, forcing him to go more than 24 hours without eating, according to a complaint filed by the community with the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, an independent body of the European Union, on August 26, 2022. The rabbi was then required to report three times a week to the judicial police and barred from leaving Portugal.

Read more at JNS

More about: Anti-Semitism, Portugal, Sephardim

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy