A Jewish Doctor Reflects on Passover in Exile

Having spent Passover as the only Jew at a medical mission in East Africa, where patients routinely die from conditions easily treated or prevented in the U.S., Aaron Rothstein considers the frustrations and disappointments of his work in light of Jewish history:

This Passover overflows with a sense of displacement, disorder, and exile. This is not an unusual feeling for a Jewish physician. It is probably closer to what most Jewish physicians have experienced throughout Jewish history, not merely because of what they saw and whom they treated but because of who they were. . . . In the 14th century, a prominent Gentile physician, Arnold of Villanova, told Pope Boniface VIII [that] “every Christian who entrusts his body to the medical treatment of Jews merits excommunication and is guilty of a capital crime.”

[Nonetheless], Jewish physicians occasionally had more freedom than their fellow Jews. True, Jewish physicians were maligned, but often with a wink and a nod. When Queen Isabella married King Ferdinand in 1479, thus creating a unified Christian Spain that would hunt down the Jews, exceptions were made. Ferdinand and Isabella retained Jewish physicians in the court. . . .

The royal courts persecuted the Jews but defended the retention of Jewish court physicians in the same breath. Thus, the tension between exile and redemption, or freedom and bondage, is inextricably linked in Jewish history and in the medical profession. Indeed, for Jewish physicians that tension is particularly poignant as Jewish physicians had some sense of freedom but mostly remained in bondage.

To be sure, I have been fortunate not to experience any kind of discrimination here. . . . But I still recognize that tension and experience it, being in a city devoid of Jews and saturated with tragic medical outcomes. . . . As Jews we know freedom never exists without exile; redemption never exists without slavery. We are poised on the brink of freedom, but it is a freedom that is always in question, always with an asterisk.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Africa, Anti-Semitism, Exile, Medicine, Passover

 

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

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Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin