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.

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Read more at Yeshiva University Library

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

 

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter