The Korean War Haggadah

Among the National Library of Israel’s vast collection of Haggadahs, only one was printed in Korea. Compiled by two Jewish chaplains in 1952, it was distributed to soldiers participating in a seder in Seoul in the midst of the war—complete with gefilte fish, kosher wine, and matzah-ball soup. Channa Lockshin Bob writes:

The U.S. Army granted Jewish soldiers time off for the celebration, moved army operations out of the abandoned schoolhouse in Seoul that the chaplains chose as the location for their seder, and transported soldiers from all over Korea to that location. But they also showed their encouragement in other ways: the Haggadah begins with two pages of Passover greetings from the top military brass stationed in Korea. Many high-ranking officers also attended. . . .

The highest-ranking officer [present] was General Frank F. Everest, the commanding general of the U.S. Fifth Air Force, who delivered an address to the soldiers as part of the festivities. We have no record of what he said at the seder, but in his greetings inside the Haggadah he wrote, “Even as the ancient Hebrew people answered the call of freedom symbolized by Passover, we too must heed its voice and stand fast in preserving freedom’s principles for the world of our time.” . . .

The Haggadah’s cover is decorated with hand-drawn insignias of the main military units involved in the seder, with the insignia of the Jewish chaplaincy in the middle. . . . Preparing a Haggadah in Korea must not have been simple: a page in which the Hebrew text appears upside-down illustrates the challenges of working with local printers who were not familiar with [the language].

Read more at The Librarians

More about: American Jewish History, Haggadah, Jews in the military, Passover, South Korea

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