Keeping Judaism Alive in New Delhi

The synagogue in India’s capital city remains active, although the Jewish community there has dwindled to about 40 members. Although New Delhi, unlike Mumbai or Cochin, does not have a long history as a Jewish center, it experienced a brief golden age at midcentury, as Manoj Sharma reports:

Jews became a part of the New Delhi’s social fabric when it became India’s capital. They came to the new capital from different parts of the country to work with the central government—especially in the railways and defense. A few German and Polish Jews, who escaped the Holocaust, also settled in the city. A Jewish Welfare Association was formed in 1949; it built the synagogue in 1956.

Ever since, the Judah Hyam Synagogue has been at the center of Jewish life in the capital. The city’s Jewish families come together here during the Friday Shabbat service. During High Holidays, the synagogue is a bustling place, thanks to Israeli diplomats and other Jewish expatriates in the city. Besides, about 10,000 international travelers visit it every year.

Read more at Hindustan Times

More about: India, Indian Jewry, New Delhi, Synagogues

Israel Can’t Stake Its Fate on “Ironclad” Promises from Allies

Israeli tanks reportedly reached the center of the Gazan city of Rafah yesterday, suggesting that the campaign there is progressing swiftly. And despite repeatedly warning Jerusalem not to undertake an operation in Rafah, Washington has not indicated any displeasure, nor is it following through on its threat to withhold arms. Even after an IDF airstrike led to the deaths of Gazan civilians on Sunday night, the White House refrained from outright condemnation.

What caused this apparent American change of heart is unclear. But the temporary suspension of arms shipments, the threat of a complete embargo if Israel continued the war, and comments like the president’s assertion in February that the Israeli military response has been “over the top” all call into question the reliability of Joe Biden’s earlier promises of an “ironclad” commitment to Israel’s security. Douglas Feith and Ze’ev Jabotinsky write:

There’s a lesson here: the promises of foreign officials are never entirely trustworthy. Moreover, those officials cannot always be counted on to protect even their own country’s interests, let alone those of others.

Israelis, like Americans, often have excessive faith in the trustworthiness of promises from abroad. This applies to arms-control and peacekeeping arrangements, diplomatic accords, mutual-defense agreements, and membership in multilateral organizations. There can be value in such things—and countries do have interests in their reputations for reliability—but one should be realistic. Commitments from foreign powers are never “ironclad.”

Israel should, of course, maintain and cultivate connections with the United States and other powers. But Zionism is, in essence, about the Jewish people taking responsibility for their own fate.

Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship