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

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

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