As violence has shaken the Arab world from Libya to Iraq, numerous Jewish religious sites have been effaced—both synagogues and putative tombs of biblical prophets. Islamic State and others have made it their policy to destroy these holy places, especially if they happen to be sacred to Jews and Muslims alike. Though efforts are under way to document and preserve what remains, the outlook, as Ksenia Svetlov writes, is grim:
The chaos has made the fate of the Jewish sites all too predictable. While several synagogues are still standing in Baghdad, Ezekiel’s tomb has been turned into a mosque. Most of the ancient Jewish inscriptions there have been destroyed or covered with cement. Daniel’s tomb in Mosul was blown up by Islamic State, which opposes worship at tombs in general, whether they are the tombs of Jewish prophets or relatives of the Prophet Muhammad in Mecca and Medina. . . . The atmosphere of destruction has reached Syria as well. Aleppo’s historic market suffered severe damage recently, together with the Umayyad mosque in Damascus and many Jewish sites. The Jobar synagogue in Damascus, also known as the Prophet Elijah synagogue, was demolished in May 2014. The site is in ruins, and no one will do anything to save what remains of the beautiful building that the Jewish community constructed in the Middle Ages.