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

Feb. 13 2023

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

Iran’s Four-Decade Strategy to Envelope Israel in Terror

Yesterday, the head of the Shin Bet—Israel’s internal security service—was in Washington meeting with officials from the State Department, CIA, and the White House itself. Among the topics no doubt discussed are rising tensions with Iran and the possibility that the latter, in order to defend its nuclear program, will instruct its network of proxies in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and even Iraq and Yemen to attack the Jewish state. Oved Lobel explores the history of this network, which, he argues, predates Iran’s Islamic Revolution—when Shiite radicals in Lebanon coordinated with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s movement in Iran:

An inextricably linked Iran-Syria-Palestinian axis has actually been in existence since the early 1970s, with Lebanon the geographical fulcrum of the relationship and Damascus serving as the primary operational headquarters. Lebanon, from the 1980s until 2005, was under the direct military control of Syria, which itself slowly transformed from an ally to a client of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The nexus among Damascus, Beirut, and the Palestinian territories should therefore always have been viewed as one front, both geographically and operationally. It’s clear that the multifront-war strategy was already in operation during the first intifada years, from 1987 to 1993.

[An] Iranian-organized conference in 1991, the first of many, . . . established the “Damascus 10”—an alliance of ten Palestinian factions that rejected any peace process with Israel. According to the former Hamas spokesperson and senior official Ibrahim Ghosheh, he spoke to then-Hizballah Secretary-General Abbas al-Musawi at the conference and coordinated Hizballah attacks from Lebanon in support of the intifada. Further important meetings between Hamas and the Iranian regime were held in 1999 and 2000, while the IRGC constantly met with its agents in Damascus to encourage coordinated attacks on Israel.

For some reason, Hizballah’s guerilla war against Israel in Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s was, and often still is, viewed as a separate phenomenon from the first intifada, when they were in fact two fronts in the same battle.

Israel opted for a perilous unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, which Hamas’s Ghosheh asserts was a “direct factor” in precipitating the start of the second intifada later that same year.

Read more at Australia/Israel Review

More about: First intifada, Hizballah, Iran, Palestinian terror, Second Intifada