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In Indonesia, Jews Must Keep a Low Profile

Home to a Jewish community of about 3,000 on the eve of World War II, Indonesia now is thought to have a mere 200 Jews; only one synagogue remains in use. Olivia Rondonuwu writes:

In [the city of] Tondano, the Shaar Hashamayim synagogue sits close to several churches and residents of different religions live, work, and worship alongside each other without incident.

Indonesia has long been praised for its moderate, inclusive brand of Islam—and this enclave of diversity is a testament to that. But across the archipelago, intolerance has risen in recent years as more conservative forms of Islam have become popular, driven by increasingly vocal hardline groups.

Tensions in the Middle East, particularly between Israel and the Palestinians, spill over here and deepen religious divides. Outside the safe haven on the island of Sulawesi [where the synagogue is located], those who refuse to hide their faith have faced hostility. Yaakov Baruch, an Orthodox Jew who runs the Tondano synagogue, revealed how he was threatened with death in a busy Jakarta mall as he walked along with his pregnant wife [while wearing a kippah]. . . . Faced with such open hostility, the Jews in [Jakarta] worship in secret. . . .

Christian churches and mosques where Muslim minorities pray have been closed due to pressure from hardliners. Shiites and Ahmadis—regarded as heretics by some Sunnis—have been forced from their homes in mob attacks and on occasion even killed. . . . Due to their small number and the fact most live in the shadows, the nation’s Jews have not been a major focus of radical Islamic anger in Indonesia and have largely escaped the serious attacks directed at other minorities.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Anti-Semitism, Indonesia, Indonesian Jewry, Jewish World

 

The Trump Administration Has Said the Right Things about Syria, but Words Are Not Enough

Jan. 30 2018

While praising the White House for recognizing that Iran poses a major threat to American interests in Syria, Jennifer Cafarella argues that Washington still needs a strategy for countering the Islamic Republic and its allies:

The Trump White House identifies Iran as a primary threat. It has verbally committed to the departure from power of Bashar al-Assad. It claims to prioritize repairing relations with Turkey, seeks to destroy al-Qaeda, and wants to refocus the U.S. on Syria’s humanitarian catastrophe. These are the correct goals toward which American policy should strive. . . . The problem is that the strategy Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has outlined [in a January 17 speech] will not accomplish these goals. . . .

American policy in Syria, regardless of any tough administration statements, is to accept Assad and his regime de-facto. . . . The “de-escalation” agreement that President Trump signed in November 2017 with Russia is a surrender not only to Russia, but also to Iran. It heavily favors Assad. In that deal, Russia promised to compel Iran to withdraw its forces from southern Syria. It never happened. Pro-regime forces violate the de-escalation zone with impunity. . . .

Tillerson uses vague terms like “deny their dreams” to describe our strategy against Iran in Syria. He identifies no clear goal against which the U.S. can measure success. He states that the U.S. must deliver an “enduring defeat” to al-Qaeda—and we certainly must. Yet the U.S. Defense Department has offered no vision of how to do that. The strategy Tillerson outlines—and that the U.S. is pursuing—amounts to outsourcing the problem to Turkey, which is actually working with al-Qaeda in Syria. . . .

Two administrations have sought to substitute rhetoric for action and to outsource American interests to local partners. The U.S. must abandon this approach and recognize Syria’s importance to American security.

Read more at Fox News

More about: Al Qaeda, Donald Trump, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, Rex Tillerson, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy