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


Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict