Who’s heard of Tajikistan?

Picture of destroyed synagogueMelanie Phillips reproduces a press release from the International Sephardic Leadership Council regarding the destruction of the only functioning synagogue in Tajikistan by the government. The régime is supposedly a progressive (most likely this means secular) one, and removed the synagogue in order to build a so-called “Palace of Nations”, i.e. a big presidential palace. (Photo from Registan.) The press release ends:

It is an ominous message for a Jewish community, that while living under a government that is attempting to rebuild its economic, political and social image—it starts by wiping out the only synagogue in its country.

Where is the outrage?

And Phillips adds:

You may well ask, Mr Alfassa; you may well ask.

We also “may well ask” how much gets reported of anything that goes on in Central Asia. We heard of the Andijan affair and of the popular uprising in response to Akayev’s rigged election in Kyrgyzstan. The egomanic demands of Niyazov of Turkmenistan are reported as if to amuse us all, without regard to the fact that there is really nothing funny about them because they are accompanied by terrible repression. The whole region is generally regarded as a backwater about which nothing much can be done, and not every destructive act by a local despot will cause outrage.

The Sephardic Council issued an earlier press release a few days before that one, which states the following with regard to the history of the Jewish community in Tajikistan:

Bukharian Jews have lived in Tajikistan for over 1,000 years without experiencing anti-Semitism. They were joined by a small Ashkenazi presence following World War II.

It’s possible that the general hostility to Jews which has appeared in the Muslim world in response to Zionism has spread to Tajikistan and that the government did not think there would be much protest against their action, but it’s also likely that it’s the action of a corrupt and kleptocratic government which wants to build a lasting reminder of itself, in the manner of Ceausescu’s People’s Palace. I’m sure that if a synagogue was in the way of the Tajik president’s Ego Palace, an awful lot else was as well.

PS. Israel Insider reproduced the press release also. They invite responses, requiring that “to eliminate racist, vulgar, and offensive posts”, posters register and “to take personal responsibility for their comments”. Quite a few of them suggest that the Jews in Tajikistan just abandon their home of 2,000 years and head for Israel. The fourth post down, from “Morganfrost” of Silver Spring, Maryland, contains this piece of wisdom:

Exactly right. Very sorry to hear about the synagogue, but I think it might be a good idea to take that as a warning and get the heck out of that country fast.

And the loss will be entirely Tajikistan’s… I would venture to guess that when the last 150 Jews pack up and leave that lovely Muslim country, the average IQ will drop by 25 points.

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