Jewish Settlers in Cyprus during the British Rule, 1880s-1940s *

Article excerpt


This article is part of a series of preliminary qualitative surveys of both the Jewish settlements that once existed in Cyprus and the literature concerned with those settlements. This study is a documentation of the Jewish presence in Cyprus from the 1880s to the 1940s. It presents the historical background, maps the locations of the Jewish colonies, outlines the circumstances which brought about their existence, describes some aspects of life in those locations, and examines relations between Jews and the Cypriot populace.

The recent book Place of Refuge by Stavros Panteli (2003) is a significant contribution to our understanding of the Jewish involvement in Cyprus. This study, however, uses other useful sources as well, such as the memoirs of camp residents and the descendents of Jewish settlers, archives in Israel, and the personal accounts of persons who were involved in or witnessed important events in the lives of Jews in Cyprus. It is hoped that this documentation triggers further research on some of the settlements and that the difficulties in such studies will be overcome.

Keywords: Cyprus, Jewish settlements, British, Ottoman, Zionism, immigration, emigration, Palestine, agriculture, colonization.


Yahudilerin 1880-1940 tarihleri arasinda Kibris'taki varligini konu alan bu makale, Yahudi yerlesimleri hakkindaki arastirmalarin niteliksel analizini icerir. Bu cercevede arastirma, Yahudilerin Kibris'taki tarihlerinin, haritalarda Yahudi kolonilerinin yerlesim yerlerinin izlerini surerken, onlarin hayat tarzlarini ve Kibrislilarla olan iliskilerini aktarir. Yakin gecmiste Stavros Panteli (2003) tarafindan yazilmis olan Place of Refuge baslikli kitap Kibris'taki Yahudi varligini gosteren cok onemli bir kaynaktir. Bu calismada bu kaynagin yani sira kamplarda yasayanlarin anilari, Israil'deki arsivler, kisisel anlatilar veya taniklarin anlatilarindan da yararlanilmistir.

Anahtar Kelimeler: Kibris, Yahudi yerlesimleri, Siyonizm, Ingiliz, Osmanli, goc, Filistin tarim, kolonilesme


In 1878, by a convention of defensive alliance between the Ottoman Empire and England, Cyprus under Ottoman suzerainty was assigned to be occupied and administered by the British. By that time, the island's Jewish population was dwindling. Nevertheless, a new era now dawned on Cyprus, changing its character forever. Cyprus was now in the hands of a western colonial power, with deep interests the region in general. In (Ottoman) Palestine, this was the beginning of the Jewish settlement (1882), referred to by Settlement Historians as 'the first aliya' (lit. Hebrew 'first ascent' meaning 'first immigration'), or 'the New Yishuv' (lit. Hebrew 'new community'), which encountered difficulties imposed by the Ottoman Authorities. Some Jewish prospective settlers to Palestine coming from Europe regarded Cyprus as an 'interim point', where they could settle in the meantime, until a more lenient settlement policy was introduced by the Ottomans in Palestine.

The Jewish settlements of Cyprus are still an open issue for research. Panteli's (2003) research shed some light on the affair and this documentation augments it using sources not published earlier on scientific platforms. This article needs to be considered as a natural continuation of a previous article where an attempt was made to historiographically show the Jewish involvement in Cyprus. (1) Certainly it is adequate to add here that one faces various problems in doing surveys of settlements in Cyprus. As the island is now divided, it is impossible to work on certain historical cites, for these are located in inaccessible military zones, where photography is forbidden.

The Kouklia--Orides Settlement, 1883

In 1883, a group of Jews purchased a considerable tract of land on the western side of the island, next to the village of Kouklia. The venture failed; the settlement was aborted and the place deserted only a few years later. …