The Jews of Rhodes and Their Annual Homecoming

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.

Read more at JTA

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

Ordinary Gazans Are Turning against Hamas—and Its Western Sympathizers

In the past few days, difficult-to-confirm reports have emerged of unrest in the Gaza Strip, and of civilians throwing stones at Hamas operatives. A recent video from Al Jazeera showed a Gazan declaring that “God will bring Qatar and Turkey to account” for the suffering of Palestinians in the current war. Being an agent of the Qatari government, the journalist turned away, and then pushed the interviewee with his hand to prevent him from getting near the microphone. Yet this brief exchange contributes much to the ongoing debate about Palestinian support for Hamas, and belies the frequent assertion by experts that the Israeli campaign is only “further radicalizing” the population.

For some time, Joseph Braude has worked with a number of journalists and researchers to interview ordinary Gazans under circumstances where they don’t fear reprisals. He notes that the sorts of opinions they share are rarely heard in Western media, let alone on Al Jazeera or Iran-sponsored outlets:

[A] resident of Khan Younis describes how locals in a bakery spontaneously attacked a Hamas member who had come to buy bread. The incident, hardly imaginable before the present war, reflects a widespread feeling of “disgust,” he says, after Gazan aspirations for “a dignified life and to live in peace” were set back by the Hamas atrocities of October 7.

Fears have grown that this misery will needlessly be prolonged by Westerners who strive, in effect, to perpetuate Hamas rule, according to one Gazan woman. Addressing protesters who have taken to the streets to demand a ceasefire on behalf of Palestinians, she calls on them to make a choice: “Either support the Palestinian people or the Hamas regime that oppresses them.” If protesters harbor a humanitarian motive, she asks, “Why don’t we see them demonstrating against Hamas?”

“Hamas is the destruction of the Palestinian people. We’ve had enough. They need to be wiped out—because if they remain, the people will be wiped out.”

You can watch videos of some of the interviews by clicking the link below.

Read more at Free Press

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion