When Cyprus Became a Prison for Holocaust Survivors

Following World War II, Britain continued its pre-war policy of keeping Jews out of the Land of Israel, enforcing it more strictly than ever. Peter Martell writes:

Between August 1946 and February 1949, more than 52,000 Jews taken off 39 boats were detained in a dozen camps in Cyprus. . . . The British wanted the cramped camps to be a “deterrent” aimed at “breaking the power of the ‘Hebrew resistance movement’ in Palestine,” Yad Vashem said. More than 400 people died of sickness. It is a history that Arie Zeev Raskin, the chief rabbi of Cyprus—where, he says, several thousand Jews pray at the synagogue each year—wants to “teach to the next generation.”

When he discovered a farmer using one of the camps’ last remaining metal huts as a tractor shed, Raskin made it the centerpiece of the Jewish museum of Cyprus he is building in the port city of Larnaca. “The huts were boiling hot in summer, and freezing in winter,” Raskin said.

In the camps, some 80 percent were aged between thirteen and thirty-five, “among the more spirited and lively survivors of the Holocaust,” said Yad Vashem, which added that 2,200 babies were born in the camps.

Some Cypriots, also resentful of British rule, worked with Jewish militia forces [like the Haganah, which were involved in organizing clandestine aliyah]. Key among them was Prodromos Papavassiliou, who after fighting fascist forces in North Africa with Britain’s Cyprus Regiment was outraged at the camps. . . . Prodromos helped hundreds of Jews, hiding those who tunneled out in orange groves and caves, until he could organize boats to smuggle them away from coves near the now-popular tourist resort of Ayia Napa.

Read more at International Business Times

More about: Aliyah, Cyprus, Holocaust survivors, Israeli history, United Kingdom

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7