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.)

Read more at Seforim Chatter

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

Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, Mossad, U.S. Foreign policy