As one born in Rhodes, I feel I must correct Vic Alhadeff’s article (“Rhodes: Embracing the past,” Aug. 30). The Spanish Inquisition was in 1492 and the expelled Jews spread along the Mediterranean on both the north and south coasts, and many who moved eventually to Rhodes had moved to Italy and Turkey. It was the Turkish leader Suleiman the Great who invited the Sephardic Jews to move from their adopted countries to Rhodes to encourage trade along the sea routes Rhodes was situated on.
The Turks had conquered the Knights of St. John, who had held the island, and expelled them before he invited the Sephardim to Rhodes and gave them properties taken from the knights (much of the old city). So when the Sephardim arrived there, there were no knights on the island. Vic must be confusing them with the few Romaniot Jews who did live there at the time of the knights. In all the years from the early 1500s until 1918, Rhodes was a Turkish possession and the Jews were treated extremely well, and were even allowed to have their own “virtual government” within the old city. The Italians took over the island after the First World War in 1918 and initially treated the Jews well, as they were the basis of the economy there. It was only when Mussolini started to align himself with the Germans that things started to deteriorate.