Visiting the Arch of Titus on Tisha b’Av

After defeating the insurgents in the tiny province of Judea, and burning down Jerusalem and with it the Second Temple, the emperor Titus held a triumphal procession in Rome. His brother and successor Domitian would then commemorate the victory with the Arch of Titus, which still stands today. In 1926, on the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av—the anniversary of both Temples’ destruction—Rabbi Leib Fishman Maimon visited the arch, and had his picture taken with two of his comrades. He then mailed it to his father with the following note:

On my journey to the congress of the Zionist General Council on the day of the destruction of our holy Temple, I went to the Victory Arch of Titus—and I send my greetings to you from there. We won! Am Yisrael ḥai! [The People of Israel live!]”

Shulamith Berger identifies the other two men in the photograph as the distinguished rabbis Meir Bar-Ilan and Shmuel Ḥayim Landau, and observers:

These three men were key figures in Mizrachi, the Orthodox Zionist movement; they were on their way to the Zionist General Council meeting in London in August 1926. . . . All three fathers of Mizrachi were born in Eastern Europe; by 1926 all were living in British Palestine. Their decision to visit the Arch of Titus on 9 Av, the day of mourning for the destruction of the Temple, is symbolic. They were on their way to a Zionist conference, and wanted to make the statement that the Jewish people have outlived the ancient Romans: Jews are eternal. They made sure to photograph the event and record it for posterity.

Read more at Yeshiva University Library

More about: Religious Zionism, Rome, Tisha b'Av, Zionism

When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount