The Jews of Cyprus, the Most Israeli of All Diasporas

While Jews have inhabited the island of Cyprus for over 2,000 years, it is best known in the annals of Jewish history for the internment camps established there by Britain after World War II. Jews trying to enter the Land of Israel against London’s wishes were held in these camps, as famously depicted in the film Exodus. Less well known is the fact that, in 1899, the Third Zionist Congress discussed—and rejected—a proposal to establish a temporary Jewish state in Cyprus. Joel Rappel surveys the history of Jews on the island during the past century-and-a-half:

Hidden within a closed-off area on the Turkish side of the island, ten kilometers south of the Nicosia airport, lies one of the most intriguing tales of Jewish settlement. In this military zone, where stern Turkish soldiers prohibit any visits or tourism, the settlement of Margo was established in 1897. While it wasn’t the first Jewish settlement attempt on the island, it was the most substantial. The community, before the outbreak of World War I, consisted of approximately 138 Jewish residents. The agricultural settlements of the Jews, who arrived in Cyprus in 1883 concurrently with the pioneers of the First Aliyah in Israel, are tied to the transfer of Cypriot rule in 1873 from the Ottoman empire to British imperial control. . . .

In 2003, the Jewish community on the island numbered between 300 and 400 individuals. However, two decades later, the Jewish population, predominantly Israelis, exceeds 12,000. The current monthly growth rate is around 250 to 300 individuals, meaning more than 3,000 Israelis annually relocate to Cyprus.

In every conversation with an Israeli in Cyprus, you’ll hear the phrase, “Cyprus is just like Israel, only a 40-minute flight away.”

Who are these thousands of Israelis who have permanently relocated to Cyprus? I pose this question to the local chief rabbi Aryeh Raskin, and to the director of the Jewish community, Rabbi Levi Yudkin. Raskin responds, “Primarily those who can work from home.”

Read more at Ynet

More about: Cyprus, Israeli society, Jewish history


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