The Paradox of Tisha b’Av in Jerusalem

Having attended the ritual reading of the book of Lamentations at the Western Wall on the eve of Tisha b’Av—the fast day that commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples—Daniella Greenbaum shares her reflections:

I was overwhelmed when in a touching display of irony, a group of yeshiva boys began singing the somber tunes of Tisha B’av in the Roman ruins that catch the eye of so many tourists. They stood and swayed in a large oval, bracketed by the easily identifiable Roman columns. Rome had sacked Jerusalem, and destroyed the Temple—it was the reason I was fasting. And there, in the middle of Jerusalem, in the center of Israel’s capital, in Roman ruins, were the Jews, singing about faith and destruction and God’s mercy. . . .

There’s much to mourn [on this day], but sitting in a sovereign Israel, there’s also much to celebrate. What other people have been successful in reclaiming its homeland? The book of Lamentations begins: “How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she become as a widow! She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary!” Last night the old city of Jerusalem was not empty, but packed with throngs of people who had come to pray at the Western Wall. The modern state of Israel, the start-up nation that has made the desert bloom, is no tributary, but once again great among the nations. With one breath we mourn, and with another we rejoice.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Book of Lamentations, Religion & Holidays, Tisha b'Av, Western Wall, Zionism

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security