Poems and Prayers Reveal the Inner Lives of the Hidden Jews of Mexico

After the Spanish monarchy outlawed Judaism in 1492, many Jewish converts to Catholicism and their descendants who sought to practice their religion in secret fled to the New World, hoping to be far from the watchful eyes of neighbors and ecclesiastical authorities. But the inquisition soon followed them, and was established in Mexico in 1521—where it was not abolished until 1820. Mark Schneegurt discusses what the poems and prayers of Mexican crypto-Jews reveal about their inner lives:

The sacred writings of crypto-Jews in Mexico 400 years ago ring with a desperation tempered by deep faith in the God of their ancestors. It was, [in their eyes] their own sin—turning their backs on the Law [and outwardly embracing Christianity]—that led to their suffering. Despite it all, they called out in repentance, hoping, knowing that God would in some way hear their cry—if sincere—and then generously shine His favor upon them once again.

The Carvajal family in Mexico was led by Luis de Carvajal, the younger, an alumbrado, or mystic. His family and friends became embroiled in the inquisition. Many of them, including Luis, were finally martyred at the auto-da-fé of 1596 in Mexico City.

Luis wrote a number of religious poems in Spanish; Schneegurt presents one in English translation:

As for myself, I have a heart enameled
with the name of the Lord, holy and blessed,
and as much as I feel faint,
in just thinking of Him my spirit rejoices. . . .
Remind me of the time that teaches me,
it was to deliver me from Egypt,
and to see that He that was then is now.
I hope for better times, I pray.

Read more at Librarians

More about: Inquisition, Judaism, Marranos, Mexico, Poetry

If Iran Goes Nuclear, the U.S. Will Be Forced Out of the Middle East

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported in May that Iran has, or is close to having, enough highly enriched uranium to build multiple atomic bombs, while, according to other sources, it is taking steps toward acquiring the technology to assemble such weapons. Considering the effects on Israel, the Middle East, and American foreign policy of a nuclear-armed Iran, Eli Diamond writes:

The basic picture is that the Middle East would become inhospitable to the U.S. and its allies when Iran goes nuclear. Israel would find itself isolated, with fewer options for deterring Iran or confronting its proxies. The Saudis and Emiratis would be forced into uncomfortable compromises.

Any course reversal has to start by recognizing that the United States has entered the early stages of a global conflict in which the Middle East is set to be a main attraction, not a sideshow.

Directly or not, the U.S. is engaged in this conflict and has a significant stake in its outcome. In Europe, American and Western arms are the only things standing between Ukraine and its defeat at the hands of Russia. In the Middle East, American arms remain indispensable to Israel’s survival as it wages a defensive, multifront war against Iran and its proxies Hamas and Hizballah. In the Indo-Pacific, China has embarked on the greatest military buildup since World War II, its eyes set on Taiwan but ultimately U.S. primacy.

While Iran is the smallest of these three powers, China and Russia rely on it greatly for oil and weapons, respectively. Both rely on it as a tool to degrade America’s position in the region. Constraining Iran and preventing its nuclear breakout would keep waterways open for Western shipping and undermine a key node in the supply chain for China and Russia.

Diamond offers a series of concrete suggestions for how the U.S. could push back hard against Iran, among them expanding the Abraham Accords into a military and diplomatic alliance that would include Saudi Arabia. But such a plan depends on Washington recognizing that its interests in Eastern Europe, in the Pacific, and in the Middle East are all connected.

Read more at National Review

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy