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The Myth of Moslem-Jewish coexistence in "Palestine"

I have learned with horror of the
atrocious acts committed by bodies of ruthless
and blood-thirsty evil-doers, of savage murders
perpetrated upon defenseless members of the
Jewish population, regardless of age or sex ...
acts of unspeakable savagery ....
-J. R. Chancellor, High Commissioner and
Commander-in-Chief 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
peaceful residence under Arab rule.
-Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, 1937

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."[3] 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"[4] -- 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.[5] The Arab propaganda slogan today is that the Jews are "Nazis" in "Palestine." [6]

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."[7]

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:

There are 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. [8]
-- 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.

Israel's attempt 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.[9]
And from the influential Egyptian magazine, October, on the same day:
... what Hitler did in 12 years cannot be compared to what Israel has done in twelve days.[10]
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 and run.

At the beginning of this century Jews were recorded in nearly every town[11] 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.[12] 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.[13]

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 interpretation.

Thereafter, whatever 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.[14] 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.[15]

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:

There are 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.

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.[16]

About the same time, another pilgrim noted that the Jews in Jerusalem spoke mainly Hebrew,[17] while yet another visitor recorded in his journal that the Jewish community of Jerusalem was hopeful of restoring its nation.[18]

From the beginning of Turkish rule in the sixteenth century, the infidel dhimma code 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 Holy Land:

Jews had 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.[19]
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."
The gentleness 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. . . .[20]
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 headdresses.[22]

In sixteenth-century 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."[23] 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.[24] For those European Jews who braved the journey in the Middle Ages and before, there was certain danger of

... the 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, probably to 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.[25]
Two Christians who made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1479 reported the circuitous route of travel for Jewish immigrants from Germany, starting at Nuremberg:[26]
Nuremberg to Posen    300 miles
Posen (Poznafi) to Lublin    250 miles
Lublin to Lemberg (Lvov)    120 miles
Lemberg to Khotin    150 miles
Khotin to Akerman    150 miles
Akerman to Samsun    6 days
Samsun to Tokat    6-7 days
Tokat to Aleppo    15 days
Aleppo to Damascus    7 days
Damascus to Jerusalem    6 days
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.[27] 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 declined.[28]

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."[29] 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.[30]

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."[31]

In sixteenth-century 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.[32]

But the marauders were everywhere -- Bedouin raiders, general anarchy, tax corruption -- with the additional tax burden that aimed only at Jews.[33] 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."[34]

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.[35] Under the next ruler, while the hapless Jews were "speculating on the advent of the Messiah," a great number of them were massacred.[36]

In 1625, 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.[37]
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.[38] 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."
... They 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.[39]
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 .[40]

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.[41]

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.[42] 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.[43]

The Muslims in Nablus prohibited Christians from settling in the town .[44] The year 1783 brought the rise of an Albanian-born Mamluk "Arab," nicknamed "The Butcher" -- el Djezzar -- whose sadistic, wanton exploits became legend.[45] The Latin Patriarch's correspondence in 1805 reports:

Mohammad 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.[46]
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."[47] The inhabitants of his dominion -- stretching at one point from Beirut to the Egyptian border[48] -- 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."[49]

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"[50] 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."[51]

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."[52] The Butcher's brutality was contagious, and persecutions of many Palestinian minorities were rife under his encouragement.[53] 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."[54]

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.[55]

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.[56]

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.[57]

In the 1800s the Jews continued to suffer the same discriminatory practices as other non-Muslim "infidels,"[58] which "in many places throughout Syria and Palestine" meant "oppression, extortion, and violence by both the local authorities and the Muslim population."[59]

The Christians in their holy town of Nazareth were also forced through maltreatment into fleeing.

Even as 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.[60]
But there were additional oppressions reserved for the Palestinian Jewish community. The Jews were "at the bottom"[61] 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":[62] in Jerusalem the effendi whose 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. "[63]

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:

Last year 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."[65]

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,

The town 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 Africans]...

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.[66]

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,
... several 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.[67]
Hardships notwithstanding, 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 point:
Truly, how 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.[68]
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 special prey.[69]
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."[71]

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.

Forty thousand 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.[72]
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."[73] And the Safed Jewish community was once again "brutally attacked by Muslim and Druzes"[74] 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.[75]

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 in Palestine.[76] 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,"[77] but even the converts were persecuted as Jews.

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 .[78] 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 .[79]

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 discrimination.

For example, before the 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--

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...[80]

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.*

[*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 synagogue's rabbi.]

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."[81]

Thus the status quo proceeded uninterruptedly.

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:

I think 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....

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.[82]

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.

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.

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 very fluently.

These men informed me that ... about the beginning of that year [1834] 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."[83]

* "It was after the interview which I am talking of, and not from the Jews themselves, that I learrit the fact."

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 Palestine.

It was in such a predatory climate that the preposterous blood libel[84] 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:

... scarcely 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....

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.[85]

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.[86]

The hostilities surrounding the 1840 blood libel in Damascus inflamed Muslim and Christian[87] 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."[88] 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."[89]

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:

i. To the absence of an adequate protection whereby they are more exposed to cruel and tyrannical treatment.

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 attracted.[90]

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,
... 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.[91]
Palmerston suggested that it would be "highly advantageous to the Sultan" if "scattered" Jews were "induced to go and settle in Palestine."[92]

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."

Reports 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.[93]
In 1841, just after the proclamation issuing "equal treatment" was issued to the Jews, Foreign Secretary Palmerston defended British encouragement of the new edict:
... the 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 upon 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.[94]
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 against Muslims.[95]

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' "security" [sic] 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."[96]

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 from Judaism.[97]

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 Consul reported:

... 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.

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.[98]

A Jewish visitor who made a pilgrimage to Palestine in 1847 reported the sorry situation and his fellow Jews' conditioning to their plight:
They do 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.[99]
The anti-Jewish sentiments sometimes took another, more devious form:
There is 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.[100]

This page was produced by Joseph E. Katz
Middle Eastern Political and Religious History Analyst 
Brooklyn, New York 
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Source: "From Time Immemorial" by Joan Peters, 1984
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