The Sephardi Chief Rabbi Who Sought to End the Sephardi-Ashkenazi Divide

Feb. 11 2015

Throughout his life, Ben-Zion Meir Hai Ouziel (1880-1953), the first Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel, held fast to a vision of breaking down the divisions among Ashkenazim, Sephardim, and Jews from other lands. Daniel Bouskila writes:

[D]espite holding an official title and position that seems to have ethnic and particularistic overtones, Ouziel was an outspoken proponent of Jewish unity. He passionately sought to abolish the traditional ethnic divisions among Jews, especially in Israel. His push for Jewish unity was persistent and thorough, and he articulated his vision of Jewish unity in many forums, including public addresses, written position papers, and halakhic rulings. . . .

Fully aware of the 1,900-year history in which Jews lived as separate and distinct communities throughout the Diaspora—with different rabbis, customs, languages, prayer rituals, and halakhic rulings—Ouziel nonetheless believed that unifying the Jewish people “should not be a difficult task” because the divisions born in the Diaspora were alien to the essence of the Jewish people. He did not consider his desire to abolish the Diaspora’s divisions into Sephardim and Ashkenazim to be a new or radical idea, but a return to [the Jews’] true nature.

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Read more at Sephardi Ideas Monthly

More about: Ashkenazi Jewry, Halakhah, Israeli Chief Rabbinate, Mizrahi Jewry, Religion & Holidays, Sephardim

 

Why Is Iran Acquiring Property in Venezuela?

In June Tehran and Caracas concluded a major twenty-year cooperation treaty. One of its many provisions—kept secret until recently—was the transfer of 4,000 square miles of Venezuelan land to Iranian control. Although the territory is ostensibly for agricultural use, Lawrence Franklin suspects the Islamic Republic might have other plans:

Hizballah already runs paramilitary training centers in restricted sections of Venezuela’s Margarita Island, a tourist area northeast of the country’s mainland. The terrorist group has considerable support from some of Venezuela’s prominent Lebanese clans such as the Nasr al-Din family, who reportedly facilitated Iran’s penetration of Margarita Island. . . . The Maduro regime has apparently been so welcoming to Iranian intelligence agents that some of Hizballah’s long-established Latin American network at the tri-border nexus of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has been overtaken by Hizballah activities on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Iran’s alliance with Venezuela most importantly provides Tehran with opportunities to target U.S. interests in Latin America and potentially the southern United States. Iran, along with the Chinese Communist Party, is in the process of strengthening Venezuela’s military against the U.S., for instance by deliveries of military drones, which are also considered a threat by Colombia.

While air and seaborne arms deliveries are high-profile evidence of Iran’s ties with Venezuela, Tehran’s cooperation with Venezuelan intelligence agencies, although less visible, is also intense. The Islamic Republic’s support for Hizballah terrorist operations is pervasive throughout Latin America. Hizballah recruits from Venezuela’s ten-million-strong Lebanese diaspora. Iran and Hizballah cooperate in training of intelligence agents and in developing sources who reside in Venezuela and Colombia, as well as in the tri-border region of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: Iran, Latin America, Venezuela