The Myth of Moslem-Jewish
coexistence in "Palestine"
learned with horror of the
atrocious acts committed
by bodies of ruthless
evil-doers, of savage murders
defenseless members of the
regardless of age or sex ...
acts of unspeakable
-J. R. Chancellor,
High Commissioner and
in Palestine, September 1, 1929
[The Jews] always
did live previously in Arab
countries with complete
freedom and liberty, as
natives of the country.
In fact, Moslem rule has
always been known
for its tolerance ...
according to history
Jews had a most quiet and
under Arab rule.
-Mufti Haj Amin
When the Jews'
revival of their nation was still a persistent dream in the prayers of
worldwide Jewry, and most "Palestinian Jews" were still clinging to their
holy cities, the Koranic-inspired discriminatory practices, along with
periodic pillage and slaughter of the Jew, had extended to Palestine. The
myth of "harmony among Jews and Arabs," of "equality," and "fraternity"
for Jews within a Muslim, Arabic-speaking Palestine has been invented,
as the means to an unequal end.
Through the centuries
of conquest and oppression, as the Palestine Royal Commission reported
in 1937, despite seemingly insurmountable odds, "a number of... [Jews]
clung throughout the centuries ... to what had once been their national
soil." The history of those Jews who stubbornly survived other massacres
in their homeland to confront Muslim "fraternity" is stained by the same
Muslim Jew-hatred that permeated Muslim communities throughout the Arab
world. The same myth of harmony that has been perpetuated about the Arab
world-in Yasser Arafat's assertion that ". . . we have been living with
each other in peace and fraternity, Muslims, Jews and Christians, for many
centuries" -- has been engaged specifically as a weapon to attack the
Jewish state. The "peaceloving Palestinians," goes the myth, were running
from "Jewish terrorism."
In fact, so thorough
has the rewriting of history been that some Jews themselves have accepted
the allegation that the "Palestinian Arabs" are simply using "Jewish tactics"
to gain statehood when the Arab terrorists attack in and outside Israel.
The Arab propaganda slogan today is that the Jews are "Nazis" in "Palestine."
Perhaps an apt illustration
of the turnspeak tactic was the protestation discussed earlier by the group
in Egypt who sought to prove that the Arab terrorists' Munich massacre
of Israeli Olympics athletes was "really masterminded by the Jews."
The Arabs have faithfully
followed the agitator's manifesto -- the best defense is attack. Loudly
and repeatedly they have attributed their own historical foul deeds to
their victims while the victims were still paralyzed by those deeds, and
before the victims had stopped reeling long enough to retaliate. Thus a
writer who was allowed to examine the textbooks of the recruits at a Fatah
terrorist training camp reported:
political books available: Castro, Guevara, Mao Tse-tung, Giap, Rodinson;
General de Gaulle's memoirs; and also Mein Kampf When I expressed
surprise at the presence of this last volume, the political commissar replied
that it was necessary to have read everything, and that
since the Israelis
behaved like Nazis it was useful to know precisely what Nazism was.
-- a graphic example
of turnspeak, quickwitted and cunningly designed to mask the underlying
attitude of the Arabic-speaking community in Palestine, whose sentiments,
for somewhat different reasons, matched Mein Kampf
and its doctrines.
to destroy the PLO terror network in Lebanon brought a barrage of such
rhetoric. For instance, from an important Egyptian daily, only weeks after
the Israel-Egypt peace had culminated in the Israelis' return of the Sinai:
It is now
clear to us from the behavior of the Nazi Zionist regime in Israel that
Zionism wishes to come in the place of the fascist Nazi tyrants.
And from the influential
Egyptian magazine, October, on the same day:
Hitler did in 12 years cannot be compared to what Israel has done in twelve
In truth, "Arab" terrorism
in the Holy Land originated centuries before the recent "tool" of the "Palestinian"
cause was invented. In towns where Jews lived for hundreds of years, those
Jews were periodically robbed, raped, in some places massacred, and, in
many instances, the survivors were obliged to abandon their possessions
At the beginning
of this century Jews were recorded in nearly every town that is today
considered to have been "purely Arab"-in other words, without Jewish inhabitants
"from time immemorial." Those same towns decades later had been purged
of their Jews through the arbitrary oppression of the Jews within the Muslim
communities. Thus, we find Jewish refugees who have not been heretofore
recognized -- those Palestinian Jewish refugees who were forced to flee
from their homes within Palestine to other areas in Palestine. The Jews
were refugees in Palestine once again: "Palestinian Jewish" refugees.
The same inversion
of fact, by which today's totalitarian regimes are called "democratic,"
has created the corruption of the term "legitimate rights of the Palestinians."
The original theme of "legitimate rights," certainly a legitimate and righteous
quest, has been twisted instead into a carefully designed slogan pointing
the finger of guilt at the Jews for acts that the Arab-Muslim world has
committed against the Jews and against its own brothers.
As we have seen,
beginning with the Prophet Muhammad's edict demanding racial purity --
that "Two religions may not dwell together . . ." -- the Arab-Muslim world
codified its supremacist credo, and later that belief was interpreted liberally
enough to allow many non-Muslim dhimmis, or infidels, to remain
alive between onslaughts in the Muslim world as a means of revenue. The
infidel's head tax, in addition to other extortions-and the availability
of the "nonbelievers" to act as helpless scapegoats for the oft-dissatisfied
masses-became a highly useful mainstay to the Arab-Muslim rulers. Thus
the pronouncement of the Prophet Muhammad was altered in practice to: two
religions may not dwell together
equally. That was the pragmatic
reigning power after the Arab contquest, whoever the conqueror, the attitude
of its Muslims toward unbelievers, and the infidel's subjugation, reinforced
by terrorizing, were never abandoned in the Holy Land. The following is
a general summary that may provide some insight into the foundation that
could foment a PLO.
By the time the "short"
Arab rule of Palestine from Damascus had ended in the eighth century --
more than eleven hundred years ago -- "Muslim intolerance and even fanaticism
were beginning to show ... at the level of the street and the marketplace.
. ." in Palestine. A new Muslim assumption of superiority toward the
unbeliever -- Islam was then less than a hundred years old -- was compounded
by resentment and coveting of the prosperity and power that a small number
among the predominant Christian and Jewish dhimmis had managed to retain
through special official protection or connections.
Because the "Palestinian"
Jewish population was prey not only to epidemics and earthquakes, but also
to periodic slaughter and persecution, the constant trickle of immigration
and the following of messianic exhortations to "return to the Holy Land"
never boosted the total number of Jews. But a hard core persisted there
and in time outnumbered the once-greater Christian population. In 1491
a Bohemian pilgrim wrote of Jerusalem:
not many Christians but there are many Jews, and these the Moslems persecute
in various ways. Christians and Jews go about in Jerusalem in clothes considered
fit only for wandering beggars.
About the same time,
another pilgrim noted that the Jews in Jerusalem spoke mainly Hebrew,
while yet another visitor recorded in his journal that the Jewish community
of Jerusalem was hopeful of restoring its nation.
The Moslems know
that the Jews think and even say that this is the Holy Land which has been
promised to them and that those Jews who dwell there are regarded as holy
by Jews elsewhere, because, in spite of all the troubles and sorrows inflicted
on them by the Moslems, they refuse to leave the Land.
From the beginning
of Turkish rule in the sixteenth century, the infidel
of oppressions against nonbelievers was maintained in Palestine. (See Chapter
3) The humiliation was a given; the degree of harshness of injunctions
against Jews depended on the whim of the ruler, local as well as the lord
of the empire. Among the constants of dhimma restrictions in the
to pass Muslims on their left side, because that was the side of Satan.
They had to yield the right of way, step off the pavement to let the Arab
go by, above all make sure not to touch him in passing, because this could
provoke a violent response. In the same way, anything that. reminded the
Muslim of the presence of alternative religions, any demonstration of alternative
forms of worship, had to be avoided so synagogues were placed in humble,
hidden places, and the sounds of Jewish prayer carefully muted.
When the Turks conquered
the land in 1516, "Not only were governors at all times vexatious in their
demands, but the Muslims were often hostile to their Jewish neighbors."
of 'Omar was the mantle that hid the Arab-Jewish relations for three centuries,
the early Othman [Turkish] hospitality obscured the actualities of Jewish
life in the Near East. . . .
The Muslims' subjection
of Jewish infidel communities was heightened by the rise of the "first
anti-Jewish" sultan, Murad III." Murad decreed that all Jews throughout
his empire be executed, because they were too well dressed, but a well-placed
Jewish subject interceded and Murad reduced the death sentence for Jews
to a law prohibiting them from wearing silk and forcing them to wear special
Judah-cum-Palestine-particularly in Jerusalem and Safed, two of their "holy"
cities-the Jews were persecuted with zeal. "The community gradually withered;
of seven hundred Jewish widows in Jerusalem, six hundred died of hunger."
The Jewish community was, however, consistently replenished by the constant
influx of faithful immigrants "returning" to their country. No matter how
hazardous the journey was for the Jews, they appear to have managed, even
when their presence was forbidden, to keep their goal alive and their population
extant. For those European Jews who braved the journey in the Middle
Ages and before, there was certain danger of
whole range of persecution from mass degradation to death after torture.
For a Jew who could not and would not hide his identity to make his way
from his own familiar city or village to another, from the country whose
language he knew through countries foreign to him, meant to expose himself
almost certainly to suspicion, insult, and humiliation,
robbery and violence. possibly to murder. All travel was hazardous.
For a Jew in the thirteenth, fourteenth, or fifteenth century (and even
later) to set out on the odyssey from Western Europe to Palestine was a
heroic undertaking, which often ended in disaster.
Two Christians who made
a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1479 reported the circuitous route of travel
for Jewish immigrants from Germany, starting at Nuremberg:
to Posen 300 miles
In 1576 Sultan Murad
III enacted legislation to uproot and deport a thousand of Safed's prosperous
Jews to Cyprus, where the economy needed boosting. The same order was given
again a year later, although no document establishes that his dictates
were followed. Safed at that time, according to the British investigation
by Lord Peel's committee, "contained as many as 15,000 Jews in the 16th
century," and was "a centre of Rabbinical learning." The Jews spoke Arabic
as well as Hebrew, "they were equally exposed to the raids of marauding
tribesmen," and "public security deteriorated." The population generally
to Lublin 250 miles
Lublin to Lemberg
(Lvov) 120 miles
Lemberg to Khotin
Khotin to Akerman
Akerman to Samsun
Samsun to Tokat
Tokat to Aleppo
Aleppo to Damascus
Damascus to Jerusalem
In the early seventeenth
century a pair of Christian visitors to Safed told of life for the Jews:
"Life here is the poorest and most miserable that one can imagine." Because
of the harshness of Turkish rule and its crippling dhimmi oppressions,
the Jews "pay for the very air they breathe." Yet at the turn of the
century, the Jewish population had grown from 8,000-10,000 (in 1555) to
between 20,000 and 30,000 souls.
With Murad's anti-Jewish
innovations and the economic upset of the Turkish Empire came lawlessness.
"Public security was undermined," and Turkey had very quickly lost-a matter
of decades after its conquest-its widely heralded tolerance of Jewish infidels.
"Turkey ceased to be a lodestar for exile Jewry."
Jerusalem, the Jews' taxation was tantamount to extortion, and the last
remaining synagogue -- a monument from the time of Nachmanides -- was expropriated
in 1586. As a result, most of Jerusalem's Jewry hastened off to Hebron,
Gaza, and Tiberias.
But the marauders
were everywhere -- Bedouin raiders, general anarchy, tax corruption --
with the additional tax burden that aimed only at Jews. Yet the Jewish
communities of Judah-cum-Palestine "still held on all over the country.
... in Hebron ... Gaza, Ramle, Sh'chem [Nablus], Safed.... Acre, Sidon,
Tyre, Haifa, Irsuf, Caesarea, and El Arish; and Jews continued to live
and till the soil in Galilean villages."
Those Jews remaining
in Jerusalem were "bitterly persecuted" during the seventeenth-century
reign of an Arab ruler who purchased his governorship and arrested the
Jewish leaders. Under the next ruler, while the hapless Jews were "speculating
on the advent of the Messiah," a great number of them were massacred.
the local ruler of Jerusalem persecuted the Jews mercilessly in defiance
of orders from the authorities in Damascus and Constantinople. It was not
unusual, when the countryside suffered from drought, for the Moslem mob
to attack "Jewish sinners who drank wine and thus caused the rains to stop!"
To buy off the attackers, Jews had to borrow money from rich Moslems at
compound interest, under threats of further attacks if they failed to repay.
When the Jewish community
of its holy city of Safed was "massacred in 1660," and the town "destroyed
by Arabs," only one Jew managed to evade death. In 1674 Jerusalem's
Jews were similarly impoverished by the oppression of the Turkish-Muslim
rule, according to the Jesuit Father Michael Naud, "paying heavily to the
Turk for their right to stay here."
prefer being prisoners in Jerusalem to enjoying the freedom they could
acquire elsewhere.... The love of the Jews for the Holy Land, which they
lost through their betrayal ... is unbelievable. Many of them come from
Europe to find a little comfort, though the yoke is heavy.
The eighteenth century
saw the increasing decline of order and the further waste of the terrain,
and with it all came violence and persecution of the Jewish dhimmi.
Yet, one ruling sheikh brought tolerance and improvements to the Jews of
Galilee. Although only a brief respite, the Jews of Safed and Tiberias
were given hope when the kindly sheikh welcomed a rabbi from Smyrna to
"Come and inherit the land of his ancestors." The rabbi's grandfather had
been "Rabbi of Tiberias" a century earlier and his arrival in 1742 brought
back the Jewish community of Tiberias, which had been virtually purged
of Jews for seventy years .
Near the end of the
eighteenth century, this Galileean tolerance ended abruptly, with the fairminded
sheikh's overthrow. His successors reinforced the code of humiliation and
harassment of "their" Jews as it had been maintained elsewhere in the country.
In 1775, the anti-Jewish
blood libel was spread throughout the holy Jewish city of Hebron, inciting
mob violence, as that vicious canard has wrought havoc for Jews in Arab
and European communities alike. Safed's Jewish Quarter, which had again
been revived during the reign of the kindly sheikh a few decades before,
"was completely sacked by the Turks" in 1799.
The Muslims in Nablus
prohibited Christians from settling in the town . The year 1783 brought
the rise of an Albanian-born Mamluk "Arab," nicknamed "The Butcher" --
Djezzar -- whose sadistic, wanton exploits became legend. The Latin
Patriarch's correspondence in 1805 reports:
Djezzar, pasha of Jerusalem and Damascus, began to take by force twenty-five
thousand piastres more than it was customary to pay. This continued for
seven years, during which he was at different times governor, to say nothing
of other exactions with which he was incessantly harassing us. All our
representations to the Porte were unavailing as this pasha obeyed none
of its firmans.
As his power grew, industry
and agricultural production declined further, "so that his chief source
of revenue became what he could extract out of the district of Damascus
and the Palestinian churches." The inhabitants of his dominion -- stretching
at one point from Beirut to the Egyptian border -- were so intimidated
that few fought off his harsh decrees. "The limit of his extenstive pashalic
[district ] ... might be easily known by the air of gloom and desolation
with which it was overspread."
Hayim Farhi, the
one Jew who had risen to some power in the area (about whom more was mentioned
in Chapter 3), was imprisoned by The Butcher, and some "milder forms of
punishment" were administered-"ear cropping, nose slitting and the
gouging out of an eye." The Butcher branded most of his aides by one or
another of the mutilations. "His cavalry scoured the country, levying tribute
or committing any atrocity he was pleased to enjoin."
He was known to travel
accompanied by an executioner. When The Butcher encountered a subject who
was adjudged to be misbehaving, "the criminal bowed his neck, the executioner
struck, and the head fell." The Butcher's brutality was contagious,
and persecutions of many Palestinian minorities were rife under his encouragement.
At one point his popularity among the masses prompted him to pronounce
an order to massacre all Christians under his authority. There upon Sir
Sidney Smith sent The Butcher an outraged message: if one Christian head
were to fall, so would The Butcher's seat of power. According to a prominent
historian of the period, Sir Sidney's threat worked. "I have often heard
both Turks and Christians exclaim [that Sir Sidney's word] was like God's
word, it never failed."
The Jews in Palestine
had no such power -- worldly or otherwise. The nineteenth century ushered
in an even lower ebb to the perilous existence of "Palestinian" Jewry.
Some historians believe that The Butcher's mistreatment of the French merchants
in Acre and other cities under his authority -- in 1791 he decreed confiscations
of their property and expulsion with only a few days' notice -- caused
Napoleon's invasion of Palestine.
When Napoleon Bonaparte
planned his invasion of Jerusalem at the end of the eighteenth century,
he tried to enlist the African and Asiatic Jews to march with him by promising
to return their Holy Land and restore Jerusalem. But the Turks spread the
word that the French "treated Jews particularly in a cruel manner." Thus
the Jews of Jerusalem "encouraged and even assisted" the Turks to their
defense buildup of the Holy City. Some believe "it was only a trick" by
Bonaparte to gain the support of Hayirn Farhi, the Jew who briefly rose
to power in Syria.
Farhi was assassinated
in 1820. Napoleon's vision of himself as Emperor of the East had already
evaporated into the dust of other conquests in the Holy Land, and his debatable
"promise" of the country to the Jews was never tested.
In the 1800s the
Jews continued to suffer the same discriminatory practices as other non-Muslim
"infidels," which "in many places throughout Syria and Palestine" meant
"oppression, extortion, and violence by both the local authorities and
the Muslim population."
The Christians in
their holy town of Nazareth were also forced through maltreatment into
late as 1801 Diezzar sent troops to destroy the standing crops in the environs
of Nazareth. Ramleh, however, bore the brunt of the Muslim wrath. During
the three days of pillage, the local Latin Christians were either murdered,
or lost all their property and fled.
But there were additional
oppressions reserved for the Palestinian Jewish community. The Jews were
"at the bottom" of the heap of peoples in status.
Among the special
extortions that their Holy Land extracted from the Jews, paid to "local
officials, Arab notables, and Arab neighbors": in Jerusalem the effendi
property was adjacent to the Sacred Wall on the site of the Jews' temple
dunned the Jews 300 pounds annually for the right to pray there. They paid
another 100 pounds to Siloam's inhabitants -- a village on the outskirts
of Jerusalem" -- as protection against destruction or vandalism of the
Jewish burial grounds at the Mount of Olives. Fifty pounds a year went
to an Arab community to ensure against assault upon Rachel's Tomb,, and
Sheikh Abu Gosh collected 10 pounds "not to molest Jewish travelers on
the road to Jerusalem, though he was already paid by the Turkish government
to maintain order on that road. "
The first latter-day
Jewish defense volunteers may have been the group protecting agairfst marauders,
which was described in a British Consulate correspondence in 1840:
when Sir Moses Montefore travelled through Palestine, and when the publick
roads were infested with bands of Robbers and depredators,
some of the
Jews of the above-mentioned villages together with others of their Brethren
gallantly volunteered to conduct him safely through the Country and they
accompanied him armed with swords and pistols all the way to Beyrout,and
such was the formidable and imposing appearance of this armed party that
Sir Moses was in consequence distinguished by the title of King of the
Jews. This armed party halted at the same quarter where I was staying,
and I had the pleasure and the novelty of living in the midst of a little
camp of Jewish warriors who would have proved a match for any strolling
party of Arabs.*
According to the correspondent,
"the faithfulness and most probably the courage too of the Jewish soldiers"
had so impressed the "Russian Despot" that he had assigned them "to form
a party of his bodyguard."
As earlier pages
have shown, extortion and baksheesh, or bribery, were rampant, and the
Jews, who had no protection of their own as did the Christians, were most
easily victimized. The historian-traveler Burckhardt recorded the unpredictability
of their existence-even when their community was the "largest." During
his visit of 1810-1816 in Safed, where the Jews had been "sacked" just
a decade before, Burckhardt wrote,
is built upon several low hills, which divide it into different quarters;
of these the largest is inhabited exclusively by Jews, who esteem Szaffad
as a sacred place. The whole may contain six hundred houses, of which one
hundred and fifty belong to the Jews, and from eighty to one hundred to
the Christians.... The town is governed by a Mutsellim, whose district
comprises about a dozen villages. The garrison consists of Moggrebyns [North
Despite the canards
to the contrary, most Jews who clung to Judah-cum-Palestine were impoverished,
and the burden of discriminatory taxes through all their insidious forms
kept them poor, for the most part. Burckhardt reported that although there
were some Jews of enough means in Safed to warrant their being pillaged,
most young Jews who made their perilous way to Palestine were disillusioned
when they came face to face with the conditions of the Holy Land for Jews.
According to Burckhardt,
During the life of
Djazzar Pasha [the Jews] were often obliged to pay heavy fines; at present
they merely pay the Kharadj. Their conduct, however, is not so prudent
as it ought to be, in a country where the Turks are always watching for
a pretext to extort money; they sell wine and brandy to the soldiers of
the town, almost publicly, and at their weddings they make a very dangerous
display of their wealth.
of them have absconded from their parents, to beg their way to Palestine,
but no sooner do they arrive in one or other of the four holy cities, than
they find by the aspect of all around them, that they have been deceived.
the native Jews and new immigrants alike appear to have considered themselves
transcended by living in their Holy Land. One letter, written by a group
of new immigrants in 1810, was perhaps particularly illustrative of the
marvelous it is to live in the good country. Truly how wonderful it is
to love our country.... Even in her ruin there is none to compare with
her, even in her desolation she is unequaled, in her silence there is none
like her. Good are her ashes and her stones.
Perhaps it was that
inexplicable joy at being there at all which sustained them in Palestine
in the nineteenth century, and which led them to survive by forebearance
where revolt would have led to extinction. In the mid-1800s James Finn,
British Consul in Jerusalem, found:
It was distressing
to behold the timidity which long ages of repression had engendered. Many
times a poor Jew would come for redress against a native, and when he had
substantiated his case, and it had been brought by the consulate before
the Turkish authorities, he would, in mere terror of future possible vengeance,
withdraw from the prosecution, and even deny that any harm had been done
to him; or if that was too manifest, declare that he could not identify
the criminal, or that the witnesses could not be produced. Still, even
then, the bare fact that some notice had been taken had a deterrent effect
upon the criminals who had hitherto regarded the defenseless Jews as their
In the 1830s havoc was
created during an Egyptian reign of Palestine, and the Jews were persecuted
brutally throughout the small country." The Egyptian Pasha Mehmet Ali,
after his conquest of Syria and Palestine, "oppressed the inhabitants of
these countries more severely even than those of his own pashalic [district]
in order to fill his coffers."
The rebellion of
the Druses caused violence and pillage of the Jews in Galilee and Safed,
and when the Egyptian ruler Ibrahim Pasha levied conscription on the entire
population in 1834, the inhabitants of Eastern Palestine crossed the Jordan
River to join natives of Nablus, Hebron, and Bethlehem in the insurrection.
fellahin rushed on Jerusalem.... The mob entered, and looted the city for
five or six days. The Jews were the worst sufferers, their homes were sacked
and their women violated.
Now the Jews became
victims of the Egyptian soldiers as well as the multi-ethnic "Arab" natives.
That same year the Jews of Hebron were massacred by "Egyptian soldiers
who came to put down a local Muslim rebellion." And the Safed Jewish
community was once again "brutally attacked by Muslim and Druzes" who
destroyed the printing presses which the Jews had built and used for centuries.
"The types were converted into bullets" by the invaders from Nablus.
The Jews under siege
were as defenseless as their counterparts in the Arabic-speaking Muslim
"Arab" world and as powerless as perhaps the black slaves called "Niggers"
by the Southern whites -- they too "knew what was good for them," and any
attempt at redress for their grievances would only result in more extreme
persecution. Both had to "keep their place."
Some assistance was
attempted by those among the locally headquartered foreign diplomats who
were sympathetic to the plight of the luckless dhimmis
The Christian infidels had long derived benefits from foreign protection
due to the Christian dominance of the countries represented. But the Jews
had to rely on the few representatives who were courageous enough to complain
about the conditions and therefore confront the local authorities and interfere
with the status quo. According to an eminent authority on the period, Professor
M. Ma'oz, "A noticeable number of Christians and Jews, particularly children,
were forced to adopt Islam," but even the converts were persecuted
The earthquake that
hit Safed in 1837 brought another onslaught from the surviving Muslims
into the Jewish quarter, and the blood libel of Damascus in 1840 brought
heightened waves of persecution and murder of Jews throughout Palestine,
against which the foreign consulates could offer little protection .
But lest it be supposed that the foul canard was newly imported by the
Europeans, the 1775 persecution of Jews in Hebron -- which was based on
the same old calumny -- must be recalled .
The receptive anti-Jewish
masses who would later adopt and influence Nazism by their own Muftism
in Palestine -- calling it a "nationalistic" reaction to "Zionism" -- were
actually responding to centuries-long traditional religious hatred and
For example, before
1840 Damascus blood libel against the Jews, in one period of a brief few
months the British Consul filed, claim after lamenting claim of the unrelenting
Muslim attacks on Jews. In one report, the Consul included the following
complaint from a Jew, Joseph Amzalek:
As a British
Subject I beg leave to address you the following statement of the manner
in which I have this day been outraged by an Officer of the Pacha's Army--
Like a rape victim who
is blamed for being there to be raped, in this case the victimized Jew
was deemed by the British officer in charge to be the guilty party.*
About 4 o'clock this
afternoon I was standing with my Son-in-law outside the door of my house
which is nearly opposite the Castle -- some of the miserable objects who
have lately been taken here for the Army happened to be led out of the
Castle -- A number of Towns people collecting to look on, the Officer (of
the grade of Captain) fell upon them with a large stick and drove them
away -- As I was standing at my own door with some other respectable persons
at a considerable distance from the scene, there could have been no pretence
for attacking me and yet the said officer returning from the crowd ran
up and gave me such a blow with his stick as brought me to the ground,
and had not Dr. Giorgio Grasso (also a British subject) who was standing
by me interposed, he would have continued his blows...
[*Consider the bombing
of a Paris synagogue in 1980, where many Frenchmen perceived the Jewish
victims as culprits and presented the bills for damages to the bombed-out
The official reply
to the Jerusalem consul three months later was: "I think that Mr. Anizalek
was in the wrong, and in great measure brought his difficulties upon himself,
and I shall not therefore interfere farther in this case."
Thus the status quo
In May 1839, for
instance, the complaints registered with the British Foreign Office by
Consul Young in Jerusalem were appalling. In one day, in one report:
it my duty to inform you that there has been a Proclamation issued this
week by the Governor in the Jewish quarter -- that no Jew is to be permitted
to pray in his own house under pain of being severely punished -- such
as want to pray are to go into the Synagogue....
One can only speculate
unhappily about those acts - of violence that went unreported by a predominantly
intimidated Jewish society that had been long terrorized into silence.
There has also been
a punishment inflicted on a Jew and Jewess -- most revolting to human nature
which I think it my duty to relate --
In the early part
of this week, a House was entered in the Jewish Quarter, and a robbery
was committed -- the House was in quarantine -- and the guardian was a
Jew -- he was taken before the Governor-he denied having any knowledge
of the thief or the circumstances. In order to compell him to confess,
he was laid down and beaten, and afterwards imprisoned. The following day
he was again brought before the Governor, when he still declared his innocence.
He was then burned with a hot iron over his face, and in various parts
of the body -- and beaten on the lower parts of his body to that extent
that the flesh hung in pieces from him. The following day the poor creature
died. He was a young Jew of Salonica about 28 years of age -- who had been
here but a very short time, he had only the week before been applying to
enter my service.
A young man-a Jew
-- having a French passport -- was also suspected -- he fled -- his character
was known to be an indifferent one -- his mother an aged woman was taken
under the suspicion of concealing her son -- She was tied up and beaten
in the most brutal way ...
I must say I am sorry
and am surprised that the Governor could have acted so savage a part-for
certainly what I have seen of him, I should have thought him superior to
such wanton inhumanity -- but it was a Jew -- without friends or protection-it
serves well to show, that it is not without reason that the poor Jew, even
in the nineteenth century, lives from day to day in terror of his life.
Perhaps an account
by Winston Churchill's favorite writer, A. W. Kinglake, best illustrates
the climate of "protection" and "brotherhood" under which the Jews lived
in Palestine "before the Zionists and Israel." It might be considered a
particularly noteworthy perspective because of Kinglake's own admittedly
ambivalent reactions toward Jews, vacillating between disdain and sympathy,
and his delight and admiration for the "Mussulman" (Muslim) onslaught or
"experiment." In the following excerpt from Eothen, published in 1844,
Kinglake told of his own involvement with the Jews in the town of Safed
sometime after the "insurrection of 1834":
... At length
I drew near to the city of Safet.... It is one of the holy cities of the
Talmud; and according to this authority, the Messiah will reign there for
forty years before He takes possession of Sion. The sanctity and historical
importance thus attributed to the city by anticipation render it a favorite
place of retirement for Israelites; of these it contains, they say, about
four thousand, a number nearly balancing that of the Mohammedan inhabitants.
I knew by my experience of Tabarieh [Tiberias] that a "holy city" was sure
to have a population of vermin somewhat proportionate to the number of
its Israelites, and I therefore caused my tent to be pitched upon a green
spot of ground at a respectful distance from the walls of the town.
The above extract reveals
not only the treatment of Jews that was tradition, but also the poignant,
tenuous position of those Jewish communities who nonetheless remained in
When it had become
quite dark (for there was no moon that night), I was informed that several
Jews had secretly come from the city, in the hope of obtaining some help
from me in circumstances of imminent danger.... It was arranged that the
two principal men of the party should speak for the rest, and these were
accordingly admitted into my tent. One of the two called himself the British
Vice-Consul, and he had with him his consular cap; but he frankly said
that he could not have dared to assume this emblem of his dignity in the
daytime, and that nothing but the extreme darkness of the night rendered
it safe for him to put it on upon this occasion. The other of the spokesmen
was a Jew of Gibralter, a tolerably well-bred person, who spoke English
These men informed
me that ... about the beginning of that year  a highly religious
Mussulman called Muhammed Damoor went forth into the marketplace, crying
with a loud voice and prophesying that on the fifteenth day of the following
June the true Believers would rise up in just wrath against the Jews, and
despoil them of their gold, and their silver, and their jewels.... When
that day dawned, the whole Mussulman population of the place assembled
in the streets, that they might see the result of the prophecy. Suddenly
Mohammed Damoor rushed furious into the crowd, and the fierce shout of
the prophet soon ensured the fulfillment of his prophecy. Some of the Jews
fled, and some remained, but they who fled and they who remained alike
and unresistantly left their property to the hands of the spoilers. The
most odious of all outrages, that of searching the women for the base purpose
of discovering such things as gold and silver concealed about their persons,
was perpetrated without shame. The poor Jews were so stricken with terror
that they submitted to their fate, even where resistance would have been
easy. In several instances a young Mussulman boy, not more than ten or
twelve years of age, walked straight into the house of a Jew, and stripped
him of his property before his face, and in the presence of his whole family.*
When the insurrection was put down, some of the Mussulmans (most probably
those who had got no spoil wherewith they might buy immunity) were punished,
but the greater part of them escaped; none of the booty was restored, and
the pecuniary redress which the Pasha had undertaken to enforce for them
had been hitherto so carefully delayed that the hope of ever obtaining
it had grown very faint.... the Jews complained; and either by the protection
of the British Consul at Damascus, or by some other means, had influence
enough to induce the appointment of a Special Commissioner-they called
him "the Modeer"-whose duty it was to watch for and prevent anything like
connivance on the part of the Governor, and to push on the investigation
with vigour and impartiality....
... the result was
that the investigation had made no practical advance, and that the Modeer,
as well as the Governor, was living upon terms of affectionate friendship
with Mohammed Damoor, and the rest of the principal spoilers. Thus stood
the chance of redress for the past, but the cause of the agonizing excitement
under which the Jews of the place now laboured was recent, and justly alarming:
Mohammed Damoor had again gone forth into the market-place, and lifted
up his voice, and prophesied a second spoliation of the Israelites. This
was grave matter; the words of such a practical and clearsighted prophet
as Mohammed Damoor were not to be despised. I fear I must have smiled visibly,
for I was greatly amused, and even, I think, gratified at the account of
this second prophecy. Nevertheless, my heart warmed towards the poor oppressed
Israelites, and I was flattered, too, in the point of my national vanity
at the notion of the far-reaching link by which a Jew in Syria, because
he had been born on the rock of Gibralter, was able to claim me as his
fellow-countryman.... It seemed to me that the immediate arrest of Mohammed
Damoor was the one thing needful to the safety of the Jews, and I felt
sure (for reasons which I have already mentioned in speaking of the Nablous
affair) that I should be able to obtain this result by making a formal
application to the Governor. I told my applicants that I would take this
very step on the following morning; they were very grateful, and were for
a moment much pleased at the prospect of safety thus seemingly opened to
them, but the deliberation of a minute entirely altered their views, andfilled
them with a new terror. They declared that any attempt or pretended attempt
on the part of the Governor to arrest Mohammed Damoor would certainly produce
an immediate movement of the whole Mussulman population, and a consequent
massacre and robbery of the Israelites. My visitors went out, and remained
I know not how long consulting of their brethren, but all at last agreed
that their present perilous and painful position was better than a certain
and immediate attack, and that if Mohammed Damoor was seized, their second
estate would be worse than their first. I myself did not think that this
would be t ' he case, but I could not, of course, force my aid upon the
people against their will, and moreover the day fixed for the fulfillment
of this second prophecy was not very close at hand; a little delay, therefore,
in providing against the impending danger would not necessarily be fatal.
The men now confessed that although they had come with so much mystery
and (as they thought) at so great risk to ask my assistance, they were
unable to suggest any mode in which I could aid them, except, indeed, by
mentioning their grievances to the Consul-General at Damascus. This I promised
to do, and this I did.
My visitors were
very thankful to me for my readiness to intermeddle in their affairs, and
the grateful wives of the principal Jews sent to me many compliments, with
choice wines and elaborate sweetmeats.
The course of my
travels soon drew me so far from Safet that I never heard how the dreadful
day passed off which had been fixed for the accomplishment of the second
prophecy. If the predicted spoliation was prevented, poor Mohammed Damoor
must have been forced, I suppose, to say that he had prophesied in a metaphorical
sense. This would be a sad falling off from the brilliant and substantial
success of the first experiment."
* "It was after the
interview which I am talking of, and not from the Jews themselves, that
I learrit the fact."
It was in such a
predatory climate that the preposterous blood libel against the Jews
could thrive -- a climate of "fraternity" and "peace" according to the
Grand Mufti, his successor and relative Yasser Arafat, and even his more
moderate Arab compatriots. It was that same climate that provided the life
for Jews described in 1839 by British Consul Young:
a day passes that I do not hear of some act of Tyranny and oppression against
a Jew -- chiefly by the soldiers, who enter their Houses and borrow whatever
they require without asking any permission-sometimes they return the article,
but more frequently not. In two instances, I have succeeded in obtaining
justice for Jews against Turks-But it is quite a new thing in the eyes
of these people to claim justice for a Jew-and I have good reason to think
that my endeavors to protect the Jews, have been -- and may be for some
little time to come, detrimental to influence with other classes
-- Christians as well as Turks....
The Muslims' anti-Jewish
indoctrination began at an early age, with added incentives from other
cultures: one book reported the game "Bum the Jew," a Christian-Arab children's
pastime at Lent in Jaffa in the 1830s.
Like the miserable
dog without an owner he is kicked by one because he crosses his path, and
cuffed by another because he cries out-to seek redress he is afraid, lest
it bring worse upon him; he thinks it better to endure than to live in
the expectation of his complaint being revenged upon him. Brought up from
infancy to look upon his civil disabilities everywhere as a mark of degradation,
his heart becomes the cradle of fear and suspicion-he finds he is trusted
by none -- and therefore he lives himself without confidence in any.
The hostilities surrounding
the 1840 blood libel in Damascus inflamed Muslim and Christian equally
against Jews in Palestine, and were more widely known than other similar
instances. The dreaded false charge, however, was dredged up in the Holy
Land "on at least nine occasions" in the same region "in the nineteenth
century alone." As a result of the violent barrage upon the Jews in
the Muslim world, which went "public" with the Damascus ritual murder accusation,
British Jewish leader Sir Moses Montefiore helped organize the Alliance
Israelite Universelle "to do philanthropic and educational work among the
Jews in Arab countries." It undoubtedly hoped to offer some protection
as well. Under Western pressure and pleas from "Jewish notables to the
Sultan," the Turkish authority issued an edict, commanding "full equality
of Jews before the law and strict justice for them and their property before
all courts of justice."
In Palestine, the
"Evil," which made the proclamation of "equality" for Jews no more than
an ironic exercise in futility for the Holy Land, was reported:
It is a
fact that the Jewish Subjects ... especially in Palestine, do not enjoy
the privileges granted to them.... This Evil may in general be traced to
the ... following causes:
At the same time British
Foreign Secretary Palmerston was encouraging the Sultan to allow Jews to
settle on the land in Palestine. In 1840, he presented evidence to Constantinople
from Jewish sources in England that,
i. To the absence
of an adequate protection whereby they are more exposed to cruel and tyrannical
ii. To the blind
hatred and ignorant prejudices of a fanatical populace.
iii. To the several
peculiarities which alienate them from the other inhabitants.
iv. To the starving
state of numerous Jewish population, resident in Palestine, hitherto subsisting
in a great measure upon the charity of their occidental Brethren.
The weakness of the
Porte on the one hand and on the other the dispersion of the Jews throughout
so manifold a population prejudiced against them, together with the want
of pecuniary resources and state of despondency occasioned by the existing
distress, render the removal of the aforesaid evils impracticable if the
above obstacles are allowed to continue. It is therefore necessary
to fix upon a place which from its situation would be beyond the
reach of fanatical attacks, in contact with European civilization--easily
protected by the Porte,-and a spot to which the Jews might feel themselves
... no sooner
should there be an opening to cultivate the soil in Palestine, than the
Jews from the Russian Dominions would flow into it.... In mentioning to
them the probability of a way being opened to their Nation to return to
the land of their Fathers and to become cultivators of the soil, they became
almost frantic with joy and thousands of Jews would liave followed ...
their leader to Jerusalem.
that it would be "highly advantageous to the Sultan" if "scattered" Jews
were "induced to go and settle in Palestine."
But the "Mussulman"
population adamantly and "constantly manifested" its "state of feeling"
in the Jerusalem environs, and the British Consul "begs aid to check this
evil," against "Christians and Jews."
from Sidon, Tyre, Vre and Caiffa [Haifa] complain of bigotry and outrages
toward Christians: Confirmed by what is observed here in Jerusalem towards
Christians and Jews. Executive too feeble and indifferent to act effectively.
In 1841, just after
the proclamation issuing "equal treatment" was issued to the Jews, Foreign
Secretary Palmerston defended British encouragement of the new edict:
Turkish Government must know how difficult it is in any country to carry
into strict effect at once or for a long time any new Laws which tend to
prevent one part of the subjects of a State from oppressing another part
whom they have been accustomed to commit violence and injustice with impunity;
and the Turkish Ministers must also be aware how difficult it would
befor the Jews in Palestine to make their complaints known at Constantinople,
and unless the existence of abuses be brought to the knowledge of the Sovereign
Power, it is impossible that any remedy can be applied to such abuses.
For these reasons it is, and strictly therefore in the interest of the
Sultan himself that Her Majesty's Government have made this request to
the Porte, and Her Majesty's Government cannot conceive that such an arrangement
could be looked upon as in the slightest degree infringing upon the independence
of the Sultan.
According to Muslim
law, Jews could not give evidence against Muslims, nor could Christians.
Lord Palmerston exhorted the Turkish Ambassador to England to engage the
Sultan's immediate attention "for preventing the Muftis in Syria from acting
on the obsolete and antiquated doctrine" of refusing to accept such evidence
Emphasizing the waste
of potential in Palestine, Foreign Secretary Palmerston further instructed
his ambassador in Constantinople
... to impress
upon the minds of the Turkish Ministers that it would be highly advantageous
to the Sultan that the Jews who are scattered through other countries in
Europe and Africa should be induced to go and settle in Palestine....
The Jews, Palmerston
wrote, would bring "wealth" and "industry," which would "tend greatly to
increase" Turkish resources and "promote the progress of civilization therein."
But, Palmerston noted,
the Jews would never leave the European countries'
for the "violence, injustice and oppression to which the Jews have hitherto
been exposed in the Turkish Dominions." If the Sultan could not "give the
Jews some real and tangible security, he cannot expect the benefit which
their immigration into Palestine would afford him."
Another British official,
Colonel George Gawler, published a booklet entitled Tranquilization
of Syria and the East. Obseryations and Practical Suggestions in furtherance
of the Establishment of Jewish Colonies in Palestine; the most sober and
sensible remedy for the miseries of Asiatic Turkey.
On the same theory
as Lord Palmerston's, Gawler promoted Jewish agricultural settlements with
local autonomy, and national control by the British Consul coordinating
with the Turks. He proposed the funding be given by a number of countries,
who had ungratefully persecuted the Jews despite having learned their religion
As though in defiance
of the edict of "equality," another false ritual murder charge was hurled
against the Jewish community in Jerusalem in March of 1847. The British
... On Monday,
8th Instant-A Greek boy assaulted a Jewish boy in the street, the latter
ran into a house to hide himself, but on leaving the house afterwards,
found his adversary still lying in wait for him -- he then threw a stone
at him which cut his foot -- The Greeks raised a tumult and declared that
a Jewish boy had stabbed an innocent Christian with a knife. The case was
brought before the Pasha, who refused to examine so childish a quarrel,
and dismissed the complaint.
A Jewish visitor who
made a pilgrimage to Palestine in 1847 reported the sorry situation and
his fellow Jews' conditioning to their plight:
On Thursday however
the Greeks directly, and other Christians indirectly persisted in having
the enormity further investigated ... of the horrible crime so often imputed
to the Jews-The Christians pleaded that their most venerated theologians
in all ages had uniformly asserted this accusation,
The Moslem Mufti,
Cadi, &c. asserted that their Sacred books declared the same indirectly
and by implication, -- while the Jews appealed to their divine Law
and its Expositors to prove that not only is such practice not enjoined,
but that the principles universally pervading those writings are diametrically
opposed to it -- Finally they referred to the Firman received in 1841 from
His Majesty the Sultan after the dreadful cruelties exercised on this same
account in Rhodes and Damascus, which Firman declares that strict search
had been made into all the Jewish writings and that no trace of such practice
is there to be found.
not have any protection and are at the mercy of policemen and the pashas
who treat them as they wish ... they pay various taxes every now and then
... their property is not at their disposal and they dare not complain
about an injury for fear of the Arabs' revenge. Their lives are precarious
and subject to daily danger of death.
The anti-Jewish sentiments
sometimes took another, more devious form:
another species of persecution to which the Jews are subject here....
So soon as the Plague
is reported to be in the City, the Jews at once become the object of cupidity,
to every employee in the quarantine service, who, with the Native practitioners
in medicine, rob and oppress them to the last degree. From one individual
alone, of the better class, they succeeded lately in obtaining 4,000 piastres,
equal to L40 sterling, in bribes -- his son was sick with fever -- they
declared it to be the Plague -- set a guard on his house, deprived him
of all means of obtaining medical assistance -- the patient died, and then,
on his refusing to satisfy their demands -- they threatened to burn everything
in his house.
This My Lord is not a solitary instance.
What the Jew has
to endure, at all hands, is not to be told.
was produced by Joseph E. Katz
Political and Religious History Analyst
to a friend
Source: "From Time Immemorial" by Joan
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