Pictures of a Tunisian Jewish Community on the Eve of a Massacre

On May 8, a jihadist opened fire at the historic Ghriba synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba—as it was flooded with pilgrims who had come to celebrate the Lag ba’Omer holiday—killing four. Skyler Dahan was present at the synagogue not long before the attack; some of his photographs of the festivities can be found at the link below. In her introduction to the pictorial essay, Erin Clare Brown writes:

“Are you Jewish?” the armed guard at the checkpoint leading up to el-Ghriba asked Dahan when he arrived for the first [day] of a two-day celebration. “It was a weird moment, when you’re being asked that question in an Arab country,” he said, but something about the tight controls felt comforting, a buffer against the outside world.

From the kitchen, . . . smells lured in revelers for refreshment, mostly in the form of brik—a shatteringly thin fried pastry shell filled with a silky, barely cooked egg, tuna, capers, and potatoes. Brik after brik was turned out from great pans of oil, while massive pots of chraime, a slow-simmered fish stew made by Djerban Jews for the Sabbath, bubbled away on the back burners in preparation for the evening meal.

Read more at Newlines

More about: Anti-Semitism, Lag ba'Omer, Synagogues, Terrorism, Tunisia


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