China’s Jews, Fearing Communist Persecution, Celebrate Hanukkah in Secret

Dec. 18 2020

While the Jewish community in the ancient Chinese capital of Kaifeng dates to the 12th century, there are at present only about 100 Jews remaining who still practice the religion, and perhaps ten-times as many who claim Jewish ancestry. In recent years, a government crackdown on non-official religions—which has exacted such a terrible toll on Christians and Muslims—has driven the Jewish community underground. Aaron Reich reports:

“Every time we celebrate, we are scared,” a Kaifeng Jew identified only by the alias of Amir, due to fears of retaliation, told [a reporter], adding that they work to ensure Chinese authorities never catch wind of their activities. While much attention has been focused on China’s crackdowns on other religious groups, including the five faiths recognized by the Communist party—Protestant and Catholic Christianity, Buddhism, Daoism, and Islam—Judaism is not recognized despite its long history within the country.

Already, the Chinese leadership has worked to erase much of [Kaifeng Jewry’s long history. . . . This includes not only the removal of museum exhibits regarding the community’s history, but also razing any physical trace of the community. . . . They have also removed the few signs in Hebrew that could once be found in the city, and the spot where the few practicing Jews once gathered to pray has now been covered with Chinese propaganda, a security camera, and reminders that Judaism is an illegal, unrecognized religion in the country.

Jews are so terrified they even fear meeting together in public. Instead, they do so in secret, making sure on the holidays to find funds for kosher food and wine. Lacking access to Hebrew Bibles, they use Christian Bibles and simply disregard the New Testament.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: China, Communism, Freedom of Religion, Hanukkah, Kaifeng

 

Is the Attempt on Salman Rushdie’s Life Part of a Broader Iranian Strategy?

Aug. 18 2022

While there is not yet any definitive evidence that Hadi Matar, the man who repeatedly stabbed the novelist Salman Rushdie at a public talk last week, was acting on direct orders from Iranian authorities, he has made clear that he was inspired by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s call for Rushdie’s murder, and his social-media accounts express admiration for the Islamic Republic. The attack also follows on the heels of other Iranian attempts on the lives of Americans, including the dissident activist Masih Alinejad, the former national security advisor John Bolton, and the former secretary of state Mike Pompeo. Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was held hostage by the mullahs for over two years, sees a deliberate effort at play:

It is no coincidence this flurry of Iranian activity comes at a crucial moment for the hitherto-moribund [nuclear] negotiations. Iranian hardliners have long opposed reviving the 2015 deal, and the Iranians have made a series of unrealistic and seemingly ever-shifting demands which has led many to conclude that they are not negotiating in good faith. Among these is requiring the U.S. to delist the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in its entirety from the State Department’s list of terror organizations.

The Biden administration and its European partners’ willingness to make concessions are viewed in Tehran as signals of weakness. The lack of a firm response in the shocking attack on Salman Rushdie will similarly indicate to Tehran that there is little to be lost and much to be gained in pursuing dissidents like Alinejad or so-called blasphemers like Sir Salman on U.S. soil.

If we don’t stand up for our values when under attack we can hardly blame our adversaries for assuming that we have none. Likewise, if we don’t erect and maintain firm red lines in negotiations our adversaries will perhaps also assume that we have none.

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Read more at iNews

More about: Iran, Terrorism, U.S. Foreign policy