The Jews of Rhodes and Their Annual Homecoming

Aug. 19 2015

In July 1944, Nazi Germany sent boats to the Aegean island of Rhodes to take its approximately 1,700 Jews to Auschwitz. Now, surviving Jews from Rhodes and their descendants gather on the island every summer to celebrate their past and commemorate the destruction of their community. Gavin Rabinowitz writes:

[Many] descendants of the Jews of Rhodes . . . return to the island for family functions like bar mitzvahs and weddings. And, in recent years, dozens of Rhodeslis families visit each year for cultural events and memorial services that mark the anniversary of the Nazi deportation. . . .

[A] vibrant, cosmopolitan Jewish community of traders and craftsmen [once] lived in the Jewish quarter of Rhodes, la Juderia—a warren of narrow cobblestone alleys behind the great stone fortress walls and moat of the old port city. . . .

The Jewish community of Rhodes traces its history back to the 2nd century BCE, but most of the community members were descendants of the Sephardi Jews expelled from Spain [in 1492] and spoke Ladino in their daily lives. The community largely thrived under Ottoman rule, reaching a [demographic] peak in the 1920s with some 4,000 Jews, a quarter of the total town population. It had four synagogues, a Jewish school, and a yeshiva.

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Read more at JTA

More about: Greece, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Ladino, Ottoman Empire, Sephardim

 

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