Will the Remnants of Jewish Life in Arab Lands Survive?

Nov. 10 2014

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.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

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

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism