Will the Remnants of Jewish Life in Arab Lands Survive?

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.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Architecture, ISIS, Jews in Arab lands, Synagogues, Syrian civil war

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security