Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Politics – August 2016

Support is sought to facilitate the work of the Middle East Study Group. Information at http://www2.hull.ac.uk/fass/mestudygroup/informationfordonors.aspx

Fearful people always find reasons to confirm their worst fears.

~Raphael Cohen-Almagor

This was a relatively quiet month in Israel. Life was almost normal (on August 21 a rocket was launched from Gaza on Sderot. No one was hurt). The month was dominated by sport. Olympics. Heat. Many are away. All in all, a blessed month.

May the coming months be just sport. Sport. Sport. And Arts. And culture. And science. Amen.

This allows me to devote this Newsletter to science and personal matters. If you are able to assist with the latter – Great! And most appreciated.

Reflections on July Newsletter
The Middle East Study Group (MESG) Annual Appeal
Minds of Peace
Positive Developments
Israel Is Taking Over Area C
The American Republican Party
How Overconfidence Can Lead to Poor Decision Making
Good News: New Treatment for Stomach Cancer
Good News: EVA Park
Good News: Cracking the Wall: Scientists discover new bacterial cell wall builders—and a target for antibiotic development
Good News: Israeli startups NiniSpeech and AerialGuard won first and second place, respectively, at the Global Innovation Awards 2016
Russian Man to Undergo World's First Full Head Transplant
Rio 2016
Book Recommendation - In the Garden of Beasts
Monthly Poems
Gem of the Month – Crete

Light Side

Reflections on July Newsletter

Dr. Jacques Cory wrote from Haifa: 

I noticed recently accidentally an issue that I haven't discovered in all the 1242 pages of my long book ETHICS PAYS. I have found common denominators to all the most ethical countries in all the 55 criterions, but I have overlooked one - that three quarters of the countries that are the most ethical are... kingdoms! Indeed, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Australia, New Zealand and Canada are Kingdoms! Only Switzerland, Singapore and Finland are republics. Oh! What a pity that Israel has not remained in the British Empire, who knows, we might have become as ethical as Australia and New Zealand. Or as corrupt as Papua New Guinea... And, as a bonus, we might have participated in the festivities of Queen Elizabeth!

Abe Silverman from Edmonton Canada wrote:

So Professor Hobson would like to see the US and I would guess the rest of the Civilized world stay out of conflicts around the world. Much as they did in the 1930's while Japan hacked 12 million Chinese to death and Germany was building the largest war machine the world had ever seen. Well Professor, I am sure you know what the outcome of that policy was. Remember Rwanda, 800,000 dead while the world stood by. 

A Nuclear Iran, Bashir Assad (400,000 dead) ISIS, Boko Haram, North Korea,etc etc. If the next US President and it's coalition partners do not deal decisively with these threats millions of innocents will be sacrificed on the alter of minimal or non intervention. The other lesson to be learnt is that winning the war also means keeping the peace as the Allies did in Germany and Japan after the war was won. Leaving the asylum to the inmates as the US and it's partners did in Iraq is what led to ISIS, refugees and all the problems that has created and the unrelenting terrorism throughout the world. 

So Professor, please remember that knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit but wisdom is knowing that you don't put tomatoes into a fruit salad. 

The Middle East Study Group (MESG) Annual Appeal

Current events in the Middle East are in turmoil; the refugee crisis, the Israeli-Palestine conflict, ISIS, to name a few. It is crucial that we are educated in an unbiased way on the current state of affairs to offer a better understanding and possible solutions for use by NGOs, world-leaders and the media. The Middle East Study Group (MESG) brings together scholarly leaders in this area, to share their expertise on Middle East affairs in a safe and collaborative environment. It is a ground-breaking project which we are passionately proud to host at The University of Hull.

I am writing to you, seeking support for our activities. I hope that you may be interested in our activities and I would appreciate advice as to other potential foundations that might be opened to provide financial assistance. There is a lot of student demand for studying the Middle East and we would like to be able to offer scholarships on all levels: MA, PhD, and Post-Doc. With the right financial support we would be able to increase our level of activities and to provide valuable information to interested parties in England and beyond. We are also interested to construct relationships between our organizations and Israeli and American institutions.
Further information is available on our website at http://www2.hull.ac.uk/fass/middle-east-study-group.aspx

The University of Hull
Established in 1927 as University College Hull, The University of Hull has a long heritage of academic excellence. Independent surveys show that Politics and International Studies at the University are amongst the finest in the UK. Our student-centred approach, range of courses, staff expertise and employer networks combine to make us a student destination second to none. With approximately 2,000 international students from over 100 countries, it is vital for us to learn from, and engage, with our international community.
Project Details: The Middle East Study Group (MESG)
The issue
Current affairs in the Middle East (ME) are most troubling, and the prospects for relaxation are still grim. The media’s coverage of events is insufficient and often biased; which means the public is not being properly educated on all of the aspects and facts of the present multifaceted conflicts. To better educate the public and to create conflict resolution solutions, since 2008 a study-group has been convening at the university to discuss Middle Eastern affairs in general and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular.

Project summary
The MESG is a think-tank that brings together people from different disciplines, academic and non-academic, to discuss ME affairs. Believing that universities should be an integral part of the community, the MESG is open to all people who are interested in and engaged with ME politics. The Study Group conducts research in ME affairs, provides forums to consolidate and promote understanding of current affairs, serves as a meeting point for people of different nationalities to converse and debate, and supports the two state solution -- Israel and Palestine -- as well as freedom of expression and academic freedom. The Group meets once a month to discuss pertinent topics. Meetings are usually designed for the discussion of work-in-progress papers, so presenters can benefit from the deliberation prior to publication. Further information at

Project Outcomes
Members of the MESG have published many important books. They also published dozens of articles in very prestigious forums. In 2014-2016 alone, MESG members published twelve books. Among the recent publications:

Beyer, Anna Cornelia, Inequality and Violence. A Re-appraisal of Man, the State and War (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2014).

Carby-Hall, Jo (ed.), Essays on Human Rights: A Celebration of the Life of Dr. Janusz Kochanowski (Warsaw: Jus et Lex Publishers, 2014).

Chakma, Bhmitra, South Asia’s Nuclear Security (London: Routledge, 2015)

Chakma, Bhmitra (ed.), South Asia in Transition: Democracy, Political Economy and Security (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

Cohen-Almagor, Raphael, Confronting the Internet's Dark Side: Moral and Social Responsibility on the Free Highway (Washington DC.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Cambridge University Press, 2015).

Cohen-Almagor, Raphael, Editor, with Ori Arbel-Ganz and Asa Kasher, Public Responsibility in Israel (Achrayut Ziburit Be’Israel) (Tel Aviv and Jerusalem: Hakibbutz Hameuchad and Mishkanot Shaananim, 2012, Hebrew).

Collin, Richard Oliver and Pamela L. Martin, An Introduction to World Politics: Conflict and Consensus on a Small Planet (Boulder, Colorado: Rowman and Littlefield, 2013). 

Connelly, James, R. G. Collingwood: a Research Companion (With P. Johnson and S. Leach) (London: Bloomsbury, 2015).

Edles, Gary J., and Marshall J. Breger, Independent Agencies in the United States:

Law, Structure, and Politics (NY: Oxford University Press, 2015).

Grabbe, Lester L., Ancient Israel: What Do We Know and How Do We Know It? (2nd edn; London/New York: Bloomsbury T & T Clark, in the press).

Grabbe, Lester L., Creation Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means: The Bible and Evolution (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, in the press).

Grabbe, Lester L. (ed.),   The Land of Canaan in the Late Bronze Age (LHBOTS; European Seminar in Historical Methodology 10; London and New York: Bloomsbury T & T Clark, in the press).

Parekh, Bhikhu, Debating India: Essays on Indian Political Discourse (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Uberoi, Varun and Modood, Tariq (eds.) Multiculturalism Rethought: Essays in Honour of Bhikhu Parekh (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015).


Members of the Group are receiving international recognition. Their names are included in such publications as Who's Who in the World. They are invited to conferences and to deliver lectures all over the world, to serve as referees in institutions and NGOs, and appointed to visiting positions at universities in Europe and Asia. Its members include academics, students and public officials including Lord Bhikhu Parekh, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Hull Professor David Drewry, and former Lord Mayor of Hull Colin Inglis.

The MESG hosted important politicians, diplomats, policy-makers and academics. Guests include: former Israel Deputy PM Dan Meridor; Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Lord David Trimble; Senior British and UN diplomat Lord Williams of Baglan; President of the British Academy Sir Professor Adam Roberts; former British Consul Jerusalem in Jerusalem Sir Richard Dalton; His Excellency Ambassador Mazen Kamal Homoud, Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; PLO Ambassador Manuel Hassassian; Founding Chairperson of The European Association of Israel Studies (EAIS) Professor Colin Shindler and his successor Professor Clive Jones; Israel Prize Laureate Professor Asa Kasher; Professor in Discourse Studies Ruth Wodak, Lancaster University/University Vienna, and Oxford Professor Derek J. Penslar. 

Future outcomes
We would like to continue the excellent work of the Group, expanding the activities to develop relationships with similar centers in the UK and abroad, to establish channels of communication and collaborative research with other organisations, to raise a voice for peace, and to host an exchange of scholars and students.

Cost of the project (including cost breakdown)
To expand the Group and ensure its work continues we need to secure: 

Need for funding

Invite 4-5 guest lecturers per year from the United Kingdom
$3,000 per annum.
Establish The Ambassador Forum to which we will invite one ambassador each year to present their countries’ views
$1,000 per annum
Hold book celebrations to promote books published by MESG members
$1,000 per annum
Enable MESG members to attend relevant conferences in the UK and abroad
$3,000 per annum.
Hold an Annual Lecture in Middle East Studies
$1,500 per annum
Total Cost

Minds of Peace

On Friday, 22 July 2016, about 500 Israelis & Palestinians met in a central open public place in Tel Aviv. The two hardly ever meet in peaceful events so that this was a rare and important occasion organized by Minds of Peace --http://mindsofpeace.org
Under open-air tents on Rothschild Boulevard, the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian women and men respectfully listened to one another’s concerns.

By Fall 2016, a bigger "Public Negotiating Congress" is envisioned for 1000 Palestinians and Israelis to negotiate mind-to-mind, heart-to-heart. This is a very important initiative. Grassroots activities may make a change. Both people need peace to become normal nations.
Minds of Peace
500 Israelis and Palestians Gather to Consider Their Common Future
TV News Broadcast (Hebrew)
Friday, 28 July 2016 - 5-1/2 min video

Positive Developments

There are hints that Israel and the Palestinian Authority are willing to meet to discuss peace. This after many months of empty and futile talks. These developments followed the French push and the visit of the Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry to Israel.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi reportedly offered to host direct talks between the sides as part of Cairo’s initiative to kickstart the moribund peace process. It is great to have both the French and the Egyptians on board, in addition to the Americans. Peace is a momentous and precious thing. It requires an international effort of multiple players.

President el-Sissi feels secure enough in his position to get himself involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Netanyahu and Sissi have yet to meet following Sissi’s election to the presidency. Now it seems that the Egyptian leader feels confident and comfortable to meet the Israeli prime minister.


During the past few years I have been writing a book about the Middle East failed peace process. The research is based on primary sources: interviews with peace negotiators and decision-makers as well as on archives. To complete the book I need to conduct research in the main historic junctions: Norway, Sweden, and the USA.

I have tried to apply for funding from the UK foundations, to no avail. I do not know whether this is a policy matter: the issue is of no interest to the British foundations. Peace between Israel and the Palestinians is not a priority for British science. Or maybe it is a subtle, gray BDS in practice. I never hid my identity.

One way or another, my research is being delayed. Until now I conducted 23 face-to-face interviews with politicians, policy makers and peace negotiators, compiled 25 other interviews with senior players, and used the London archives. I plan to conduct further 15 interviews in Norway, Sweden and the USA, and visit the countries’ pertinent archives. I need to find funding outside England.

Israel Is Taking Over Area C

You may recall that in one of my earlier Newsletter I voiced suspicion that the Israeli government is aiming to take over, and later annex Area C of the occupied territories. Under the Oslo Accords, the West Bank was divided to three areas: A, B and C. Area C is by far the largest of the three.

In a recent post, Uri Savir has voiced the same suspicion. Savir writes:

Talking to Israeli Knesset members on July 27, EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen claimed that 70% of Area C land, which makes up 42% of the West Bank, has been designated Israeli land. He said that between 2009 and 2013 only 44 housing permits have been granted to Area C Palestinians.
A senior Israel Foreign Ministry official disputed this interpretation of the Oslo Accord. He claims that civilian responsibility in Area C allows for Israeli economic presence, and the fact that there is a political stalemate is the fault of the Palestinians who refuse bilateral and unconditional negotiations.

See Uri Savir, Is Israel annexing West Bank Area C?

The American Republican Party

The American political system is known for its checks-and-balances. Recent history has shown, however, that it is not without flaws. The Republican Party, indeed also the Democratic Party, should insist in their statutes that only politicians with xx number of years in politics are eligible to compete for presidential candidacy. This means that people like Eisenhower could not have run and become president without spending some time in Congress or Senate. Generals cannot be parachuted directly from the army. Donald Trump has shown us that a self-sustained populist who is ill-equipped to lead the great American nation can become a contender. The more I hear Trump, the more I am convinced that the United States would put itself at great risk if Trump were elected. Because the USA is the leader of the free world, this means that the world would be at great risk if Trump enters the White House. I sincerely hope Mr Trump will return to his business by the end of the year and leave the political scene for good. Let him continue doing what he does best: business.

How Overconfidence Can Lead to Poor Decision Making

Mr Trump might find interest in this study: Monash University. “How Overconfidence Can Lead to Poor Decision Marking.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 15 August 2016.

Good News: New Treatment for Stomach Cancer

A potential oral nanomedicine treatment for stomach cancer has been developed at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology using a combination of anti-cancer drugs and a chemo-resistance reversal agent, which eliminates gastric tumors’ resistance to chemotherapy drugs. 

The treatment could be self-administered at home by the patient — eliminating the need for hospitalization, which is dangerous for immunocompromised cancer patients due to drug-resistant pathogens widespread in hospitals. The new treatment modality is based on a transport platform developed as part of Maya Bar-Zeev’s doctoral dissertation at the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute, under the joint supervision of Prof. Yoav Livney of the Faculty of Biotechnology Engineering, and Prof. Yehuda Assaraf, Dean of the Faculty of Biology and Director of the Fred Wyszkowski Cancer Research Laboratory at the Technion. Their study proving the effectiveness of this regimen was published in the journal Oncotarget, earlier this year. 

The unique transport platform packages the drugs in beta-casein. Caseins are the main proteins found in milk, in structures called micelles. The natural role of casein micelles is the transfer of calcium, phosphorus and protein from mother to baby through breast milk. Beta-casein’s spatial structure allows it to encapsulate substances that are not water-soluble.

Good News: EVA Park

A virtual reality world called EVA Park can improve the communication of those who have impaired speech and language following a stroke, according to research by academics at City University London. The study, which is published in PLOS ONE, is the first exploration of multi-user virtual reality in aphasia therapy and shows the potential for technology to play an important role in improving the everyday lives of people with the condition.

Good News: Cracking the Wall: Scientists discover new bacterial cell wall builders—and a target for antibiotic development

Harvard Medical School scientists have identified a new family of proteins that virtually all bacteria use to build and maintain their cell walls.
The discovery of a second set of cell wall synthesizers can help pave the way for much-needed therapies that target the cell wall as a way to kill harmful bacteria.

“We know these proteins are a great target because they are enzymes we can inhibit from the outside of the cell,” said Rudner, senior HMS professor of microbiology and immunobiology.

The cell wall plays a critical role in maintaining a bacterium’s structural integrity, dictating its shape and warding off external assaults from toxins, drugs and viruses.  The cell wall is made of chains of sugars linked together by short peptides.
For half a century, penicillin-binding proteins—molecules named for the drug that disables them—were thought to be the major, perhaps only, cell wall synthesizers.
Penicillin was discovered in 1928 and first used to treat bacterial infections in 1942, but it wasn’t until 1957 that scientists understood how penicillin blocked the proteins that build the cell walls of bacteria. Research in the 1970s and 1980s on the bacterium Escherichia coli fleshed out the mechanism by which penicillin-binding proteins build the cell wall.

Clues that other players may be involved in cell wall biogenesis emerged later. A crucial discovery, made in 2003, was overlooked by many in the field: The bacterium Bacillus subtilis was capable of growing and synthesizing its cell wall even in the absence of penicillin-binding proteins. Some researchers were tantalized by the “missing polymerase,” sometimes called the “moonlighting enzyme.”

Tsuyoshi Uehara, former HMS research fellow in the Bernhardt lab, was one of those scientists. He thought a family of proteins responsible for a cell’s shape, elongation, division and spore formation, or SEDS proteins in scientific shorthand, might be prime suspects for the missing enzyme. SEDS proteins move around the circumference of the bacterial cell in a manner suggesting they might be involved in synthesizing the wall, and, if inactivated, perturb cell wall synthesis.

Further read: Lines in this colorized image of Bacillus subtilis reflect the movement of a newly identified polyermase complex (including the SEDS protein) as it synthesizes hoops of bacterial cell wall material. Image: Rudner lab
August 15, 2016

Good News: Israeli startups NiniSpeech and AerialGuard won first and second place, respectively, at the Global Innovation Awards 2016

The Global Innovation Awards is a startup competition featuring 21 startups from around the world competing for $1.5 million in cash prizes. NiNiSpeech, which developed a revolutionary digital platform for treating speech disorders, took first place in the competition. ‎”Winning first place is a personal victory for me and offers new hope for millions of children and adults around the world who suffer the daily agony of difficulty in expressing themselves fluently,” said NiniSpeech founder and CEO Yair Shapira, whose child suffers from a speech disorder. 

AerialGuard, this year’s second place finisher, developed an autonomous navigation system for unmanned aircraft.

This is the second consecutive year that an Israeli startup won first place in the competition. Last year, DiaCardio, developer of innovative software for decoding echocardiograms, took the crown. 

Russian Man to Undergo World's First Full Head Transplant

Valery Spiridinov suffers from Werdnig Hoffman disease, a muscle wasting condition that seriously diminishes his physical capabilities and left him dependent on a wheelchair.

Now he has announced his intention to become the world’s first subject of a full head transplant, so that his brain can be attached to a healthy body.

Italian neuroscientist Dr Sergio Canavero claims he can complete the unprecedented procedure in less than a day.

Dr Paul Myers, associate professor of biology at the University of Minnesota at Morris, commented: “This procedure will not work... Try it with monkeys first. But he can’t: the result would be, at best, a shambling horror, an animal driven mad with pain and terror, crippled and whimpering, and a poor advertisement for his experiment. And most likely what he’d have is a collection of corpses that suffered briefly before expiring.”

Canavero says his Chinese partner Dr Xiaoping Ren already successfully carried out an animal head transplant on a monkey in January.

According to the Italian, the monkey survived the transplant without any neurological injury for 20 hours before being euthanized for ethical reasons. However, that operation cannot be considered a ‘full’ head transplant as the team did not attempt to join the spinal cords and the animal would have been completely paralyzed.

Another source reported that Xiaoping Ren conducted head transplants on more than 1,000 mice. None of these mice have lived longer than a few minutes.

Dr Arthur Caplan, Director of ethics at the NYU Langone Medical Centre, described the doctor as “nuts” and explained: “Their bodies would end up being overwhelmed with different pathways and chemistry than they’re used to, and they’d go crazy.” Caplan maintained: "We'll probably see a head on a robot before we see it on [another] body".

Dr John Adler of Stanford University's school of medicine is slightly more optimistic. "Conceptually, much of this could work, but the most favourable outcome will be little more than a Christopher Reeve level of function".

Rio 2016

Rio was a good Olympics for Israel, with two bronze medals, both in judo. Yarden Gerbi, 27-year-old woman from Netanya, the 2013 world judo champion and seven-time Israeli titleholder, defeated Miku Tashiro of Japan to win the Olympic bronze medal in the women’s under-63 kilogram (139 pound) class. She was the first Israeli to win an Olympic medal since windsurfer Shahar Tzuberi won a bronze medal in windsurfing in 2008. Subsequently Or Sasson won the medal in the men’s over-100 kg category.

Book Recommendation - In the Garden of Beasts

Erik Larson
In the Garden of Beasts (2012)

This novel tells the story of the American ambassador to Nazi Germany during the years 1933-1937. The majority of this book relates to his first two years in Berlin and is focusing on the ambassador and his daughter.

I found the book fascinating for several reasons:

First, Ambassador Dodd was a political appointee of President Roosevelt. Before his appointment, he was an academic in the history department at the University of Chicago.

Second, through his story one understands the depth of anti-Semitism in the United States during the 1930s. It is interesting to read about the power struggle inside the State Department, struggle influenced by wealth, ideology and racist sentiments.

Third, through the eyes of Dodd and his family, especially his daughter Martha, one can learn about life under the Nazi regime. How Germany became transformed when Hitler came to power. Dodd met with Hitler and other senior officials in the Nazi regime. Martha who was initially fascinated by the Nazi greater-than-life style, had several lovers, including the Head of the Gestapo Diels, and a Soviet spy who was working in the Soviet Embassy in Berlin. Her connections provided her fascinating insights into the Nazis she had met and about the ways the Nazis had tightened their grip on German society.

The book is well written and captivating. It makes a very interesting read indeed. Larson’s writing style is engaging and I found it difficult to let the book out of my hands. But this is not a history book, and it is not a novel either. Larson is a journalist who spent a lot of time in various archives and he tells the story of the Dodd family while relying on documents he was able to find. This is not a substitute for reading history books about this dark period of humanity. The book lacks the merit of primary source materials. Thus, please see it is a springboard to your further understanding of how society can go off the rails to terror and destruction: destruction of others as well as self-destruction.

You can read about Ambassador William E. Dodd at

You can read about Martha Dodd at

Monthly Poems

Give All To Love 

Give all to love; 
Obey thy heart; 
Friends, kindred, days, 
Estate, good-fame, 
Plans, credit, and the Muse,- 
Nothing refuse. 
'Tis a brave master; 
Let it have scope: 
Follow it utterly, 
Hope beyond hope: 
High and more high 
It dives into noon, 
With wing unspent, 
Untold intent; 
But it is a god, 
Knows its own path, 
And the outlets of the sky. 
It was not for the mean; 
It requireth courage stout, 
Souls above doubt, 
Valor unbending; 
It will reward,- 
They shall return 
More than they were, 
And ever ascending. 
Leave all for love; 
Yet, hear me, yet, 
One word more thy heart behoved, 
One pulse more of firm endeavor,- 
Keep thee today, 
To-morrow, forever, 
Free as an Arab 
Of thy beloved. 
Cling with life to the maid; 
But when the surprise, 
First vague shadow of surmise 
Flits across her bosom young 
Of a joy apart from thee, 
Free be she, fancy-free; 
Nor thou detain her vesture's hem, 
Nor the palest rose she flung 
From her summer diadem. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson 
Gem of the Month – Crete


This is a gorgeous beach, one of the most beautiful I have visited. The locals called it the pink beach, because of the unique colour of its sand. The water is cold and clear. It is a true gem, well worth a visit.


Chania is the second largest city of Crete and the capital of the Chania regional unit. It lies along the north coast of the island. Some parts of the city –  the Venetian Harbour, the old port, the narrow streets and waterfront restaurants are charming. Much of its other parts reminded me of Cyprus, and of Tel Aviv during the 1970s.


I visited the local war museum, comprised of ten rooms and 120 meters excavated in the rock by local slaves in 1942 below the Church of St Dimitrios. The Nazi occupation power used the caves to store ammunition and military materiel during World War II.

See https://www.dpreview.com/challenges/Entry.aspx?ID=802125&View=Results&Rows=4

The director of the museum gave me a lecture about the heroic fight waged against the Germans, claiming that his people killed some 15,000 soldiers in the fighting. The official numbers are misleading, he said. The official number is around 6,000. The moment he heard of my interest in the Jewish community, which was practically eliminated, he opened a history book, written by a local historian, and began reading me the names of the Jewish victims. It is a long list and he did not complete the reading. Still, for a few moments he read the names, one by one. It was moving.

In 1941, when the Germans occupied Crete, there were 371 Jewish residents in the island, all but eight of whom lived in the Jewish Quarter of Chania. On the morning of May 29, 1944, the Nazis rounded up the island’s Jews. From there, they were taken to Agia prison until June 8, when they were loaded on trucks and brought to Heraklion, there to be boarded on a 38-year-old cargo ship called The Tanais.

The Tanais

The Nazis intended to take their prisoners to the Greek mainland for deportation, probably to Treblinka. In addition to the 265 Jews there were a number of Greek resistance members and Italian prisoners of war. Estimates range from some 230 to 600 people.

Shortly after 2:30 A.M. on the morning of June 9, 1944, the British submarine HMS Vivid spotted The Tanais some 33 miles northeast of Piraeus. The submarine’s commander, Lt. John Varley, apparently suspected it was a Nazi ammunition ship and ordered the firing of torpedoes in order to sink the ship.

Within a quarter hour, The Tanais and its human cargo went under water. Nearly all prisoners had died.

Crete was liberated by mid-October 1944, and it is estimated that mere 25 of the island’s Jews who had evaded detection by the Nazis survived the war.

Light Side

Peace and love.

Yours as ever,


My last communications are available on http://almagor.blogspot.com/
Earlier posts at my home page: http://hcc.haifa.ac.il/~rca/

People wishing to subscribe to this Monthly Newsletter are welcome to e-mail me at r.cohen-almagor@hull.ac.uk
Follow me on Twitter at @almagor35