During the First Crusade, Jews Did Not Go Like Lambs to the Slaughter

In 1095, Pope Urban II called for the First Crusade to wrest Jerusalem from Muslim rule. To some Christians, it seemed unnecessary to travel great distances to fight infidels when there were infidels to attack in their own towns and villages. Thus in 1096 brutal mob violence was unleashed on the Jews of northwestern Europe, and especially the Rhineland. Leading rabbis among the survivors later composed kinot, or dirges, replete with complex biblical and talmudic allusions, to commemorate the resulting destruction. These have since been incorporated into the liturgy of the Ninth of Av—observed this coming Sunday—on which Jews mourn the destruction of the two temples and other national calamities.

In conversation with Nachi Weinstein, the historian Ephraim Kanarfogel explains the context and background of the massacres of 1096, how rabbis addressed the halakhic and moral predicaments they created, the kinot literature they gave rise to, and the ways they were interpreted through the theological lens of the binding of Isaac. He also dismantles the myth that European Jews went like proverbial lambs to the slaughter; in fact, there were instances where Jews—sometimes led by their rabbis—took up arms against their oppressors. (Audio, 62 minutes.)

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Read more at Seforim Chatter

More about: Anti-Semitism, Crusades, Hebrew poetry, Jewish Thought, Medieval Jewry, Tisha b'Av

The Attempted Murder of Salman Rushdie Should Render the New Iran Deal Dead in the Water

Aug. 15 2022

On Friday, the Indian-born, Anglo-American novelist Salman Rushdie was repeatedly stabbed and severely wounded while giving a public lecture in western New York. Reports have since emerged—although as yet unverified—that the would-be assassin had been in contact with agents of Iran, whose supreme leaders have repeatedly called on Muslims to murder Rushdie. Meanwhile U.S. and European diplomats are trying to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran. Stephen Daisley comments:

Salman Rushdie’s would-be assassin might have been a lone wolf. He might have had no contact with military or intelligence figures. He might never even have set foot in Tehran. But be in no doubt: he acted, in effect, as an agent of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Under the terms of the fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini in February 1989, Rushdie “and all those involved in [his novel The Satanic Verses’s] publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death.” Khomeini urged “brave Muslims to kill them quickly wherever they find them so that no one ever again would dare to insult the sanctities of Muslims,” adding: “anyone killed while trying to execute Rushdie would, God willing, be a martyr.”

An American citizen has been the victim of an attempted assassination on American soil by, it appears, another American after decades of the Iranian supreme leader agitating for his murder. No country that is serious about its national security, to say nothing of its national self-worth, can pretend this is some everyday stabbing with no broader political implications.

Those implications relate not only to the attack on Rushdie. . . . In July, a man armed with an AK-47 was arrested outside the Brooklyn home of Masih Alinejad, an Iranian dissident who was also the intended target of an abduction plot last year orchestrated by an Iranian intelligence agent. The cumulative weight of these outrages should render the new Iran deal dead in the water.

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Read more at Spectator

More about: Freedom of Speech, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy