The Israeli Supreme Court ruled in favor of the government’s planned cable car over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The ruling was met with approval by proponents such as Jerusalem’s mayor, Moshe Lion, who claimed the project will reduce air pollution and “allow comfortable and efficient access to the Western Wall and the Old City.” However, the project has been met with condemnation by many, including city planners and architects,environmental groups, and Karaite Jews, a minority sect with a cemetery located along the proposed cable car’s path. Palestinian groups have especially criticized the proposed path through East Jerusalem, an area ceded to Arab control in the 1949 armistice but occupied by Israel in 1967. Advocacy group Ir-Amim tweeted: “Folks will hop in in [West Jerusalem] and have no idea they’re cabling over the heads of occupied Palestinians.” (Photo: Adam Teva V’Din)
In Episode 123 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses the history of Khazaria, the medieval Turko-Jewish empire in what is now southern Russia and eastern Ukraine. While the fate of the mysterious Khazars has won much attention from scholars—and controversy—because of what it may reveal about the origin of the Jews of Eastern Europe, this question also touches on the origins of the Ukrainian people and state. Whatever the validity of the “Khazar Thesis” about the ethnogenesis of the Ashkenazim, it is the Ukrainian Jews—such as President Volodymyr Zelensky—who are the most likely to trace a lineage of the Khazars. In 2021, Zelenksy and the Ukrainian parliament passed a law recognizing the cultural and autonomous rights of three indigenous peoples of the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula: the Muslim Tatars and the Jewish Krymchaks and Karaites. Of any Jews on Earth, it is these last two groups that have the best claim to the Khazar inheritance—and are now a part of the struggle for a free and multicultural Ukraine, in repudiation of the Russian neo-imperialist project. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Fanciful rendering of Khazaria flag via AlternateHistory.com)
The Tatar people, whose homeland on the Crimean Peninsula was illegally annexed from Ukraine by Russia in 2014, are now mobilizing across their diaspora to resist the Russian invasion of the Ukrainian heartland. The World Congress of Crimean Tatars released a statement calling the invasion “banditry,” and calling on Tatars everywhere to “fight against this immoral attack of Russia.” Crimean Tatars have also organized a volunteer battalion to resist the Russian invasion. In a video statement, battalion commander Isa Akayev taunted that “there is enough land in Ukraine to bury all invaders—and don’t forget to put seeds in the pocket so sunflowers grow.” This is a reference to the viral video in which a Ukrainian woman confronted a Russian soldier, saying: “Take these seeds and put them in your pockets so at least sunflowers will grow when you all lie down here.” (Image via Twitter)
Scores of Jewish worshipers were reportedly arrested when Nigerian state security forces raided a synagogue in the Igbo village of Orji, Imo state. Local media reported that soliders burst into the temple during Shabbat services and fired in the air before taking several away in military vans, apparently on suspicion of supporting the Biafra separtist movement. Although it has received little media coverage outside the immediate region, there have reportedly been several such incidents in the southeastern Biafra region since the recent re-emergence of the independence movement; government forces are said to have razed six synagogues last year, and arrested dozens of Igbo worshipers. (Photo: Rodrex News Africa)
A Law on Indigenous Peoples passed last month by Ukraine’s parliament is aimed at protecting the culture, language and autonomy of the Tatars in Russian-occupied Crimea. Putin in an interview after passage of the law asserted that the present leaders of Ukraine are clearly hostile to Russia. “Otherwise, how can you explain a law where Russians are a non-indigenous people? What will this lead to? Some people will simply leave.” He then compared these imagined “consequences” with the effects of a “weapon of mass destruction.” In another interview, he said that the bill “reminded” him of Nazi Germany, as it divides people into “indigenous, first-class and second-class people and so forth.” (Image: One of the last demonstrations in Crimea in March 2014, before the Russian occupiers crushed almost all protest. Via Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group)
In Episode 68 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg offers a meditation on the final demise of the millennia-old Jewish community in Yemen, as the last families of Yemeni Jews are deported by the Houthi rebels that hold the capital and much of the country’s north. Largely ignored by the world media amid the ongoing horrors in Yemen, this grim passage poses challenges to some fundamental assumptions of both Zionism and anti-imperialism. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)
The Houthi rebels who control much of Yemen’s north, including the capital Sanaa, deported 13 Jews from three families—effectively ending the millennia-old Jewish community in the country. One of the 13 deportees told London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat: “History will remember us as the last of Yemeni Jews who were still clinging to their homeland until the last moment. We had rejected temptations time and time again, and refused to leave our homeland, but today we are forced.” The majority of the country’s Jews—some 45,000—were brought to Israel in the “Operation Magic Carpet” airlift in 1948. The Israeli operation followed local riots in which scores of Jews were killed. Yemen’s Jewish community had dwindled to some 200 when a new wave of pogroms sparked a second exodus beginning 12 years ago. Since they took over Sanaa in 2014, the Houthis have been pressuring the few Jews still remaining in the country to leave. (Photo: Yemeni Jews celebrating Passover in Israel in 1946, via Wikipedia)
From anonymous radical-right xenophobes in Britain came the call to make April 3 “Punish a Muslim Day.” Letters were sent to addresses across England, calling for violent attacks on Muslims. Police were on alert, and women who wear the hijab were advised to stay home. There were also reports that some of the letters had arrived in New York, causing the city’s Muslim community to mobilize and the NYPD to beef up security. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams joined multi-faith leaders to condemn the threats. His comments were laudable in intent, but revealing in their wording: “Our message must be just as loud. Not punish a Muslim, let’s embrace a Muslim, let’s embrace a Christian, let’s embrace a person of Jewish faith…” Why has the word “Jew” become taboo, and especially in progressive circles? (Image: frgdr.com)
A Jewish school on the Tunisian island of Djerba, home to one of North Africa's ancient Jewish communities, was attacked as anti-government protests raged around the country. Days earlier, synagogues in the Iranian city of Shiraz were similarly vandalized amid nationwide protests over austerity measures. Are indigenous Jews of the Middle East and North Africa being scapegoated amid the renewed protests over economic agony? (Photo: Rabbis at Djerba synagogue, 1940 via Beit Hatfutsot)
A new law allows for the return of Jews descended from those expelled from Spain in 1492, but no such effort is being made for descendants of the Moors exiled that year.
The growing consensus in Israel for a Jewish-supremacist state and genocidal solution to the Palestinian question is further consolidated in the new far-right coalition.
Two synagogues were attacked in Paris and the rabbi of the Casablanca Jewish community brutally beaten in reprisals for Israel's "Operation Protective Edge."