The Forgotten Resort Town of Burmese Jewry

During the period of British rule, Burma (now Myanmar) became home to small but thriving Jewish community, of which now little remains. Joe Freeman looks for traces of Jewish life in the mountain town of Maymyo, where well-to-do Burmese Jews and British colonists once vacationed:

The Jewish presence in Maymyo included a few full-time residents and dozens of vacationers in the late 19th to the mid-20th century. Apart from an even smaller community with roots in India, the majority of Burmese Jews came from Iraq, spoke Arabic at home, were fair-skinned, prized learning English over Burmese, and, in public, aspired to suits, not sarongs. . . . Most came to Rangoon, establishing a synagogue that is now more than 100 years old. Other arrivals spread out across the country, especially in the north, or Upper Burma. Although Burma’s Jewish community prospered, living in some cases with mansions and retinues of servants, it never numbered more than a few thousand. Most left during World War II. Today, by some estimates there are only about twenty Jews in Yangon [formerly Rangoon, Burma’s largest city].

But in Maymyo, their old villas still stand. This elite colonial destination in the far north of the country also had something to say about the Burmese Jews’ standing in the British Raj: a complicated system of social castes with the British at the top and the Jews grasping upwards.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Britain, Burma, East Asian Jewry, Jewish World, Mizrahi Jewry


Planning for the Day after the War in the Gaza Strip

At the center of much political debate in Israel during the past week, as well as, reportedly, of disagreement between Jerusalem and Washington, is the problem of how Gaza should be governed if not by Hamas. Thus far, the IDF has only held on to small parts of the Strip from which it has cleared out the terrorists. Michael Oren lays out the parameters of this debate over what he has previous called Israel’s unsolvable problem, and sets forth ten principles that any plan should adhere to. Herewith, the first five:

  1. Israel retains total security control in Gaza, including control of all borders and crossings, until Hamas is demonstrably defeated. Operations continue in Rafah and elsewhere following effective civilian evacuations. Military and diplomatic efforts to secure the hostages’ release continue unabated.
  2. Civil affairs, including health services and aid distribution, are administered by Gazans unaffiliated with Hamas. The model will be Area B of Judea and Samaria, where Israel is in charge of security and Palestinians are responsible for the civil administration.
  3. The civil administration is supervised by the Palestinian Authority once it is “revitalized.” The PA first meets benchmarks for ending corruption and establishing transparent institutions. The designation and fulfillment of the benchmarks is carried out in coordination with Israel.
  4. The United States sends a greatly expanded and improved version of the Dayton Mission that trained PA police forces in Gaza after Israel’s disengagement.
  5. Abraham Accords countries launch a major inter-Arab initiative to rebuild and modernize Gaza.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, Israeli Security, U.S.-Israel relationship