Fishel Benkhald, Guardian of Pakistan’s Jewish Cemeteries

Pakistan, which once boasted a small but active Jewish community, is now home to at most a handful of Jews, who generally conceal their identities due to widespread anti-Semitism. Faisal Benkhald, who prefers to go by his Jewish first name of Fishel, has dedicated himself to preserving and restoring the country’s Jewish cemeteries, most of which have fallen into disrepair. About one in Karachi, Erica Lyons writes:

[Benkhald] is outspoken and relentless in his efforts to make the story of this cemetery known and fears that it could potentially be entirely destroyed. In a place where a historic synagogue was razed and the community now nearly entirely forgotten, this is perhaps not an unfounded fear. So what would drive one to protect neglected Jewish graves? Fishel’s own family story is largely responsible for this. He was born in Karachi to an Arab father and a Jewish mother in 1987. Though there is no way to verify it, he says that he was told as a child by an elderly Jewish gentleman that he knew only as Mr. David that there were 200 Jews living in Pakistan at the time. He speaks of having a fascination with the [Karachi] cemetery since his teens and is perhaps clinging onto what little is left.

Read more at Asian Jewish Life

More about: Jewish cemeteries, Pakistan, Pakistani Jewry

 

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