July 25, 2017: Jewish Cyprus

The story of the evacuation aboard the S.S. Hana is available at the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem and the Jewish Community Center in Larnaca.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
With reference to “A short skip and jump to the wonders of Cyprus” (Travel Trends, July 24), which also mentions the Jewish presence there, I would like to add that on June 12, 1941, the entire Jewish community of Cyprus (429 people) was evacuated by the British government, initially to Palestine, and from there to Tanganyika (today Tanzania) and Nyasaland (today Malawi). My parents and I were part of this transport.
The story of this evacuation aboard the S.S. Hana is available at the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem and the Jewish Community Center in Larnaca.
Remember ‘Exodus’
With regard to “First Israeli monument to ‘Exodus’ inaugurated in Haifa” (July 19), a most hearty salute to Jerry Klinger, president of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, and to the sculptor Sam Philipe for initiating the memorial in the Haifa Port, which represents so graphically the passionate story of the Exodus voyage.
The momentous events – the Holocaust, the termination of the British Mandate over Palestine, the War of Independence and David Ben-Gurion’s declaration of the State of Israel – were among the pinnacles of 2,000 years of Jewish history.
The Exodus was a part of this dramatic story, and the memorial is erected at the very point where the vessel was berthed in July 1947, exactly 70 years ago.
The Exodus evoked deep feelings of unity, brotherhood and peoplehood throughout the Jewish world, and it should still have a very important contemporary message for Jews in Israel and the Diaspora.
Interestingly, the crews of the 10 Aliya Bet ships that brought the so-called illegal immigrants to Palestine were mainly young American Jews, and this started what became known as MACHAL, the Hebrew acronym for Mitnadvei hutz l’aretz, or volunteers from abroad. These people were the forerunners of the 4,800 volunteers, most of whom were veterans of World War II, who came from 59 countries to fight with their brethren in Israel in the War of Independence and played such a pivotal role in the country’s victory over six Arab armies.
The writer is chairman of World Machal.
There would have been no Exodus if there was not a large group of men in the US, most of them veterans of World War II, who volunteered to sail the old vessel.
Over three hundred men volunteered to sail 10 rust buckets to rescue Holocaust survivors, and I might not be exaggerating when I say there might not be a State of Israel if these men had not volunteered. We do not need buildings erected in our name, but something more should be in place.
Leon Uris, the author of Exodus, drank my whiskey with Ike Aronowicz, the captain of the Exodus. He was captivated by the stories (and the whiskey).
During my last visit with him, Uris repeated to me that our volunteerism was one of the most glorious chapters in Jewish history. I said it was a bit of an exaggeration, but that we hardly get footnotes is a pity.
Tel Aviv
The writer served in the US Merchant Marine during World War II and was one of the volunteers who sailed aboard the “rust buckets” running the British blockade to bring Holocaust survivors to Palestine.
Media control
With regard to “Free the media market” (Editorial, July 18), does The Jerusalem Post believe that this would guarantee a free press? Who would prevent business and political interests from making deals? And what about journalistic integrity? Worldwide, the unholy trinity of business, politics and a privileged journalistic elite who report “real news” has had a devastating effect on the quality of broadcasting, the environment and scores of other issues.
After working as a journalistic intern for an environmental group in the 1970s (the New York Public Interest Research Group, which was reporting on the Love Canal scandal), I spent decades wondering why major newspapers and press agencies weren’t full of articles about environmental destruction.
It wasn’t until about a decade ago – when things had gone much too far – that the environment became a significant issue in the mainstream press.
Shouldn’t it have been obvious 50 years ago that cutting down the world’s forests and paving over vast tracts of land for more than a billion exhaust-emitting vehicles would have devastating consequences for nature and humanity? Shouldn’t journalists have realized this? Aren’t they to a great extent to blame for our current predicament? The truth is that newspaper owners knew all too well that their advertisements were paid for by oil and car companies, and journalists knew on which side their bread was buttered.
You rightly point out that following the deregulation of Italian media, programming was quickly dominated by reality and game shows. You then argue that “if air time is soon taken over by game shows and reality TV, at least it will be the result of a free and open market determined by supply and demand.” As if viewers will have a choice! Not only in Italy, but also in the Netherlands and undoubtedly many other countries, quality and thought-provoking programs and media have been largely replaced by mind-numbing entertainment.
Placing media in the hands of large corporations is a political decision. It will guarantee that programming will uphold the interests of a political and business elite to the detriment of critical thinking and quality.
China on Xizang
I’m really frustrated and irritated by Shmuley Boteach’s “Canada attacks Israeli wines while exploiting occupied Tibet” (No Holds Barred, July 18). It attempts to discredit China on a topic that is totally unrelated, and is filled with factual mistakes.
First, there is no comparison between Xizang (the official name of “Tibet”) and the Israel- Palestine issue. Since the 13th century, Xizang has been an integral part of China. Today, it is one of the five autonomous ethnic regions of China, so depicting it as an “occupied” land is sheer nonsense.
Second, China does not intend to sacrifice Xizang’s ecology to mine local resources.
Adversely, Beijing has taken vigorous efforts to promote its ecological progress. So far, a total of 47 nature preserves have been established, accounting for 34% of its total land.
Xizang, a typical society of feudal serfdom 60 years ago, is now fully enjoying the fruits of modern civilization.
As China’s and Israel’s relations get closer, we do hope such irresponsible articles never come up again.
Tel Aviv
The writer is spokesperson of the Embassy of China in Israel.