Continuous Jewish Presence in the "Holy Land"The Jewish presence in "the Holy Land" -- at times tenuous -- persisted throughout its bloody history. In fact, the Jewish claim -- whether Arab-born or European-born Jew -- to the land now called Palestine does not depend on a two-thousand-year-old promise. Buried beneath the propaganda -- which has it that Jews "returned" to the Holy Land after two thousand years of separation, where they found crowds of "indigenous Palestinian Arabs" -- is the bald fact that the Jews are indigenous people on that land who never left, but who have continuously stayed on their "Holy Land." Not only were there the little-known Oriental Jewish communities in adjacent Arab lands, but there had been an unceasing strain of "Oriental" or "Palestinian" Jews in "Palestine" for millennia.1
The Reverend James Parkes, an authority on Jewish/non-Jewish relations inthe Middle East, assessed the Zionists' "real title deeds" in 1949.2
It was, perhaps, inevitable that Zionists should look back to the heroic period of the Maccabees and Bar-Cochba, but their real title deeds were written by the less dramatic but equally heroic endurance of those who had maintained the Jewish presence in The Land all through the centuries, and in spite of every discouragement. This page of Jewish history found no place in the constant flood of Zionist propaganda.... The omission allowed the anti-Zionists, whether Jewish, Arab, or European, to paint an entirely false picture of the wickedness of Jewry trying to re-establish a two thousand-year-old claim to the country, indifferent to everything that had happened in the intervening period. It allowed a picture of The Land as a territory which had once been "Jewish," but which for many centuries had been "Arab." In point of fact any picture of a total change of population is false....It was only "politically" that the Jews lost their land, as Parkes reminded us. They never abandoned it physically, nor did they renounce their claim to their nation -- the only continuous claim that exists. The Jews never submitted to assimilation into the various victorious populations even after successive conquerors had devastated the Jewish organizational structure. But, more important, despite becoming "much enfeebled in numbers and deprived both of political and social leaders and of skilled craftsmen,"3 the Jews, in addition to their spiritual roots, managed to remain in varying numbers physically at all times on the land.
Thus, despite "physical violence against Jews and pagans" by the post-Roman Christians, more than forty Jewish communities survived and could be traced in the sixth century -- "twelve towns on the coast, in the Negev, and east of the Jordan [land ihat was part of the Palestine Mandate, called Transjordan in 1922, and declared the "Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan" only thirty-odd years ago] and thirty-one villages in Galilee and in the Jordan Valley."4
In A.D. 438 the Jews from Galilee optimistically declared, "the end of the exile of our people" when the Empress Eudocia allowed the Jews to pray again at their holy temple site.5Recent archaeological discoveries determine that in A.D. 614 the Jews fought along with the Persian invaders of Palestine, "overwhelmed the Byzantine garrison in Jerusalem," and controlled that city for five years.6 By the time the Arabs conquered the land two decades later, the Jews "had suffered three centuries of Christian intolerance, and monkish violence had been spasmodic during at least half of that period."7 And the Jews hopefully welcomed the Arab conquerors.
The Muslim Arabs who entered seventh-century Jerusalem found a strong Jewish identity. At that time, "we have evidence that Jews lived in all parts of the country and on both sides of the Jordan, and that they dwelt in both the towns and the villages, practicing both agriculture and various handicrafts"* A number of Jews lived in Lydda and Ramle-which have been identified by modem propaganda and even by more serious documents as historically "purely Arab" towns. "Large and important communities" of Jews lived "in such places as Ascalon, Caesarea and above all Gaza, which the Jews ... had made a kind of capital [when] ... they were excluded from Jerusalem.'"8
Jericho was home to many Jews9 -- the seventh-century Jewish refugees from Khaibar in Arabia among them. Khaibar had been a thriving Jewish community to the north of Mecca and Medina. After the Jews had "defended their forts and mansions with signal heroism," the Prophet Muhammad had "visited upon his beaten enemy inhuman atrocities," and "by the mass massacre of... men, women and children," the Prophet of Islam exterminated "completely" two Arabian Jewish tribes.10
The consequences of the war were catastrophic. For centuries the Jews of Khaibar had led a life of freedom, peace, labor and trade; now they had to bow under the yoke of slavery and degradation. They had prided themselves on the purity of their family life; now their women and daughters were distributed among and carried away by the conquerors.11An Arab "notable" from Medina, who visited the site of hostilities afterward, was quoted by a ninth-century Arab historian:
Before the Moslem occupation, whenever there was a famine in the land, people would go to Khaibar.... The Jews always had fruit, and their springs yielded a plentiful supply of water. After the conquest of Khaibar, the Jews were said to design evil schemes against the Moslems. But hunger pressed us to go to their fields.... We found the landscape completely changed. We met none of the rich Khaibar landowners, but only destitute farmers everywhere ... When we moved on to Kuteiba we felt much relieved....12The Jewish survivors from the area surrounding Khaibar were expelled from "the Arabian Peninsula" when the extent of the Muslim conquest was sufficient to add enough Arab farmers and replace the detested Jews. [See Chapter 8] Based on the Prophet Muhammad's theory, Caliph Omar implemented the decree "Let not two religions co-exist within the Arabian Peninsula."13
The Arab theologians' 1968 conference, 1,300 years later, continued to justify the Khaibar extermination of its Jews. One participant explained: ... Omar ... got experience that the Jews were the callers and instigators of the sedition at any time and everywhere. He purified Arabia from them. Most of them dwelt at Khaibar and its neighborhood. That was because he was informed that the Prophet said while he was dying: "Never do two religions exist in Arabia." [Sheikh Abd Allah Al Meshad]14
Another Arab participant at that conference emphazised,
All people want to get rid of the Jews by hook or by crook.... People are not prejudiced against them but the Jewish evil and the various wicked aspects ... are quite clear....When Bani Qoraiza were punished, an end was put to the Jews of Madina. Those Jews had been the strongest, the richest and the most pernicious and harmful ones. They had been deeply rooted in the society and they had had a high rank and an important status....The seventh-century Jewish refugees from Khaibar's environs joined the indigenous Jewish population in "Transjordan, especially in Dera'a." In fact, Arabian Jewish exiles settled "as far as the hills of Hebron," but had they not "intermarried" with the established Jewish communities and connected somehow to the "Diaspora centers, they [the Jewish settlements] could hardly have survived as Jewish communities for hundreds of years." A settled Jewish community was present then in the northern Transjordanian city of Hamadan, "or Amatus" -"a city famed for its palms"-in the area that one day would be part of the League of Nations' [See Chapter 12] Mandated "Jewish National Home" in Palestine.16
Some orientalists ignore the various reasons why the Jews of Khaibar and others were punished.... These orientalists alleged that the invasion of Khaibar was launched because the Prophet wished to reward the Muslims of Hodaibeya and comfort them.... but we have mentioned the most evident reasons of the punishment befalling the Jews. The question of the booty is casual and always subsidiary for waging the wars of the Prophet. It is mentioned in the Verses of the Quran about Jihad [holy war] as a secondary reason for striving against the Unbelievers. [Muhammad Azzah Darwaza]15
The Christian Crusaders of the eleventh century were merciless but unsuccessful in their efforts to remove any vestige of Jewish tradition. In 1165, Benjamin of Tudela, the renowned Spanish traveler, found that the "Academy of Jerusalem" had been established at Damascus. Although the Crusaders had almost "wiped out" the Jewish communities of Jerusalem, Acre, Caesarea and Haifa, some Jews remained, and whole "village communities of Galilee survived."
Acre became the seat of a Jewish academy in the thirteenth century. And while "many may have merged themselves into the local population, Christian or Muslim," the Jews "stayed, to share and suffer from the disorder" of the aftermath of the Crusaders' "feudalism,"17 resisting conversion. During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, "there was a constant trickle of Jewish immigrants into the country ... some from other Islamic territories and especially North Africa."18
Jews from Gaza, Ramle, and Safed were considered the "ideal guides" in the Holy Land in the fourteenth century, as Jacques of Verona, a visiting Christian monk, attested. After the Christian had "noted the long established Jewish community at the foot of Mount Zion, in Jerusalem," he wrote,
A pilgrim who wished to visit ancient forts and towns in the Holy Land would have been unable to locate these, without a good guide who knew the Land well, or without one of the Jews who lived there. The Jews were able to recount the history of these places since this knowledge had been handed down from their forefathers and wise men.So when I journeyed overseas I often requested and managed to obtain an excellent guide among the Jews who lived there.19In 1438 a rabbi from Italy became the spiritual leader of the Jewish community in Jerusalem,20 and fifty years afterward, another Italian scholar, Obadiah de Bertinoro, founded the Jerusalem rabbinical school that dealt authoritatively "in rabbinic matters among the Jewish communities of the Islamic world."21
The Jews, meanwhile, were plentiful enough so that in 1486 "a distinguished pilgrim" to the Holy Land, the Dean of Mainz Cathedral, Bernhard von Breidenbach, advised that both Hebron's and Jerusalem's Jews "will treat you in full fidelity -- more so than anyone else in those countries of the unbelievers."22
The "Ishmaelite," or Islamic-bom, Jewish immigration to the Holy Land was prominent, and became intensified after the Spanish Inquisition. The Holy Land's throbbing, spirited Jewish life continued, even in Hebron, where "the prosperous Jewish community ... had been plundered, many Jews killed and the survivors forced to flee" in 1518, three years after Ottoman rule began. By 1540, Hebron's Jewry had recovered and reconstructed its Jewish Quarter, while the first Jewish printing press outside Europe was instituted in Safed in 1563.23
Under Turkish rule the Jews in Jerusalem and in Gaza maintained "cultural and spiritual unity," and Sultan Suleiman I allowed many Jews "to return to the Holy Land." In 1561, "Suleiman gave Tiberias, one of the four Jewish holy cities, to a former 'secret' Jew from Portugal, Don Joseph Nasi, who rebuilt the city and the villages around it." Nasi's efforts attracted Jewish settlement from many areas of the Mediterranean.24 And those "Ishmaelite" Jewish communities that did not or could not make the pilgrimage were nonetheless spiritually attached to their brothers in the Holy Land.
1. See Palestine Royal Commission Report (London, 1937), pp. 2-5, 7, 9, particularly p. 11, para. 23.
2. James Parkes, Whose Land?, A History of the Peoples of Palestine (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, Great Britain: Penguin Books, 1970), p. 266.
3. Ibid., pp. 31, 26.
4. Samuel Katz, Battleground: Fact and Fantasy in Palestine (New York, 1973), p. 88.
5. Avraham Yaari, 1grot Eretz Yisrael (Tel Aviv, 1943), p. 46; see F. Nau, "Sur la synagogue de Rabbat Moab (422), et un mouvement sioniste favorisk par l'imperatrice Eudocie (438), d'apres la vie de Barsauma le Syrien," Journal Asiatique, LIX (1927), pp. 189-192.
6. A. MaIamat, H. Tadmor, M. Stern, S. Safrai, Toledot Am Yisrael Bi'mei Kedem (Tel Aviv, 1969), p. 348, cited by Katz, Battleground, p. 88.
7. Parkes, Whose LandZ p. 72.
8. Ibid.; also see S.D. Goitein, A Mediterranean Society, 3 vols. (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, 1971), vol. 2, p. 61 the main synagogue [in Ramle] was the Palestinian."
9. Al-Waqidy, ninth-century Arab historian, recorded a Jewish-settled area in Jericho in the seventh century and "there are other references to Jewish communal life in Jericho as late as the ninth century." Cited by Itzhak Ben-Zvi, The Exiled and the Redeemed (Philadelphia, 1961), p. 146.
10. Ben-Zvi, The Exiled, pp. 144-145. The Nadhir and Kainuka Arabian-Jewish tribes' "battles for their survival ... is found in Dr. Israel Ben-Zeev's remarkable book, Jews in Arabia, " Ben-Zvi states.
11. Israel Ben Zeev, Jews in Arabia, cited by Ben-Zvi, The Exiled, p. 145.
12. Ben-Zvi, The Exiled, p. 145. Ben-Zvi cites Arabian historian Al-Waqidy, as reported in Ben-Zeev, Jews in Arabia.
13. Ibid., p. 146. Ben-Zvi states that some Jews who could "produce letters of protection and treaties signed by or on behalf of the Prophet" were permitted to remain. "...there is reason to believe that these surviving Jewish communities were maintained intact until the twelfth century."
14. Quoted from SheikhAbd Allah Al Meshad, "Jews' Attitudes Towards Islam and Muslims in the First Islamic Era," in D.F. Green, ed., Arab Theologians on Jews and Israel (Geneva, 197 1), p. 22. Darwaza, "The Attitude of the Jews Towards
15. Quoted from Muhammad Azzah nto Him]-at the Islam, Muslims and the Prophet of Islam-P.B.U.H. [Peace Be Unto Him] - at the time of His Honourable Prophethood," in ibid., pp. 29-30.
16. Ben-Zvi, The Exiled, pp. 146-147 the existence of which we have records."
17. Parkes, Whose Land?, pp. 97-99.
18. Ibid., p. 110.
19. Martin Gilbert, Exile and Return, The Strugglefor a Jewish Homeland (Philadelphia and New York, 1978), p. 17. "In 1322 Jewish geographer from Florence, Ashtory Ha-Parhi, had settled in the Jezreel Valley where he wrote a book on the topography of Palestine....
20. Ibid., pp. 17-19. Elijah of Ferrara.
21. Parkes, Whose Land?, p. I 11.
22. Gilbert, Exile, p. 17.
23. Ibid., p. 21.
24. Ibid. For a more detailed account, see Joachim Prinz, The Secret Jews (New York, 1973), p. 147ff
The Islamic Conquest's Plunder of PalestineIn the seventh century Southern Arabia, evolved the formation of the successful pattern that was to be perpetuated in the propagation of the Arabian Muslim creed. Those Jews who escaped withtheir lives became perhaps the first Arabian refugees. They were the beginning link in the long chain of Jews to be plundered by "immigrant" Muslims of the "Arab" world, who would exact their reward as their new faith permitted, even prescribed them to do.
It is likely that among the Jewish refugees fleeing from Arabia were numbers of Jews whose "Palestinian" -- or Judean -- ancestors had fled from the Romans. Now they returned to seventh-century Palestine, joining their Jewish brethren who had never left. Ironically, the Jewish refugees' return coincided with the introduction of the Arab conquerors from the desert; the very invaders who had forced themselves in and the Jews out of their homes in Arabia would now plunder Judah-Palestina in the identical pattern.
And the Jews who inhabited many towns of "Palestine" uninterruptedly would one day in the twentieth century be forced out as the Arabian Jews had been -- by slaughter or expropriation and terrorizing. The towns would then, in the later twentieth century, be touted as "purely Arab Palestinian areas since time immemorial," just as the Arabian Peninsula had come to be perceived as "purely Arab," when in fact the holy Arab Muslim city of Medina had been originally settled by Jews.
After the seventh-century invasion of Medina-the beginning of the Arab conquest in Arabia -- where we have seen the settled Jews conquered by the "Arabians," Caliph Omar was ruling over the vanquished tribes when he received word from his general that Arabian invaders had conquered Alexandria:
"I have captured a city from the description of which I shall refrain. Suffice it to say that I have seized therein 4,000 villas with 4,000 baths, 40,000 poll-tax paying Jews and four hundred places of entertainment for the royalty."The Arabs who invaded Judah-cum-Palestine followed that precedent. Upon the invasion of Palestine, the "Arabians of the desert" found a Palestinian Jewish community of major proportion. Shortly after the Arab conquest, the Jews would again assert their nationalistic goals, rising in part from the infliction of the new dhimma restrictions and humiliations that were to become the fate of all non-Muslims.
Omar II was the religious zealot who instituted many of the restrictionsThose Jews who had remained in Roman "Palestine," together with the Jewish communities who quickly returned after the Roman conquest, had succeeded in "mould[ing] Judaism in a new stamp." Although the revered Temple had been destroyed, the synagogue remained to "soften the blow" and Jewish leaders who had escaped from the siege of Jerusalem were permitted by Roman leaders to return, and to teach the form of Judaism that was to preserve and perpetuate the "aggressive Jewish nationalism" that finally achieved political reclaiming of the land nearly twenty centuries later.
... These restrictions were, no doubt, responsible for the rising of the pseudo-Messiah Syrene, . . . a Syrian Jew, [who had] promised to ... regain possession of the Holy Land for Jewish people."
Ironically, it was thus those very Roman leaders who hadconquered the Jewish State and destroyed the Jewish Temple who helped unwittingly to initiate the means by which the Jewish National Liberation movement would remain intact. Had the Romans permitted the Jews to retain their sovereignty, the Jews might have been relegated to archaic history as had the Hittites, the Philistines, and other long-extinct peoples of the region. Although the tenacious Jewish history before the Romans would indicate otherwise, one might ponder the Jews' fate if the Jewish people and their way of worship had been a matter of indifference rather than the traditional object of resentment and suspicion born of imitation.
In the centuries between the Roman dismantling of the Jewish sovereign state and the Arab invasion, the Jews' population had "remained as ... before the loss of independence, primarily peasants and landowners." The Jewish population -- between five and seven million in A.D. 70, according to Josephus -- still numbered around three million, despite large numbers of Jews who were deported or had fled just before the Jewish revolt and defeat of Bat Kochba. According to Roman figures, nearly 600,000 Jews alone fell during that revolt, but the Jews managed to remain on the land and to accomplish significant achievements afterward.
The centers of Jewish life occasionally shifted in importance -- after the revolt of Bar Kochba the nucleus of the Jewish community moved to Galilee for a time. But the Romans, because they recognized the Jewish hereditary Patriarchate as "the supreme . . . authority" for the total Jewish community in the empire, inadvertently provided the Jews with a political-religious center that had the practical effect of replacing -- though never pre-empting -- the grievously lost Temple. The result was that the Jewish identity with the Jewish nation remained steadfast.
As the British Royal Commission would report in 1937, almost 2,000 years afterward,
Always . . . since the fall of the Jewish state some Jews have been living in Palestine .... Fresh immigrants arrived from time to time ... [and] settled mainly in Galilee, in numerous villages spreading northwards to the Lebanon and in the towns of Safad and Tiberias. According to reports of the various periods of history, some of the Jewish enclaves managed to remain in their original places for thousands of years. The Jews were numerous in Judah-cum-Palestine and the Christians proportionately few in the third and fourth centuries." And for a rare and brief moment there was peace. The historian de Haas wrote that
The East breathed more freely, and enjoyed even a spell of real peace during the reign of Alexander Severus (222-235).... His predilections brought him the nickname of Archisynagogus, or rabbi. He flirted with the Jews, and his mother, Julia Mammae, protected the great church father, Origen. This catholicity was even exhibited in the imperial palace, where pictures of Orpheus, Jesus, and Abraham, hung side by side."But Professor Lewis reminds that
In Palestine, the Jews, still an important element, if no longer the majority of the population, had suffered even more grievously than the heretical Christiansfrom Byzantine repression, and had little love for their masters."The "bullying orthodoxy" of the growing Byzantium diminished the Jews' political, civil, and even religious rights in the fifth century. The Reverend Parkes reports that, by the time the Persians invaded in A.D. 611, the Jews had been persecuted long enough so that the "Persians received substantial help from the Jews of Galilee" -- an estimated 20,000 to 26,000 Jewish soldiers. The Persians' occupation ended after fifteen years.
On the eve of the introduction of the Arabian to Palestine, the Christians briefly reoccupied Palestine in A.D. 629. Because the Jews had cooperated with the Persians, "the clergy of Jerusalem thought only of revenge," and inspired a "bloody massacre ... of Jews."
Neither Christian nor Jew realized that within a few years the Arabian invasion would bring Byzantine rule to an end, and many of those inhabitants who had once converted to Byzantine now would adopt the tongue, religion, and, briefly, the rule of the Arabs.
When we look back over the history of the early Caliphates -- and we must do, so, since the present hopes and pretensions of the Arabs, and the popular belief, their coming Renaissance rest equally on ancient history -- we find the period of genuine Arab Empire extraordinarily short. Arabs governed Arabs, through Arabs on an imperial scale for much less than a century. It is just the Omayyad Caliphate -- the Damascus period and no more.Thsu was the comparatively recent Arab propaganda claim of Palestine as an "Arab" country for "millennia" disproved by the historian David George Hogarth in 1877. Hogarth was described by eminent Arab writers as "one of the greatest authorities of his time on Arabian history."
The Reverend James Parkes has agreed that
The period during which the empire was ruled from Damascus and can be called "Arab" empire, lasted less than a century and even in that short time it had gun to decline."Noting that decline, the prominent Arab historian Philip Hitti also explained how "Arab" invaders were "diluted" by converts:
Through their intermarriages with the conquering stock they served to dilute the Arabian blood and ultimately to make that element inconspicuous amidst the mixture of varied racial strains.... the invaders from the desert brought with them no tradition of learning, no heritage of culture, to the lands they conquered.The "Arab" rule as such had been precluded before A.D. 750. According to Hitti,
Shortly before the middle of the eighth century a caliph ascended to the Umayyad throne who had been born of a slave mother .... His two successors, the last in the dynasty, were also sons of slave women .... That the reigning family could no longer boast pure Arab blood was symptomatic of a loosening of moral standards throughout society."Hitti pointed out the destructive element of tribal warfare that contributed heavily to the ravages of Palestine.
The position of the Omayyad dynasty, weakened by this decadence, was further undermined by the increasingly sharp division of North Arabian as against South Arabian tribes. This racial tendency to separatism, apparent even in pre-Islamic days, now became complete and was the cause of boundless dispute. The findings of even those historians most vaunted by the Arab world have been specific in their contradiction of Arab claims to historical right of sovereignty in the land of "Palestine." The Arabs never created their own name for the land they now claim as their own. Neither was there ever an independent country of Palestine, nor a "Palestinian" rule. The word "Palestine" was given to the land of Judea by the Romans when Roman conquerors unsuccessfully attempted to purge the land of the "nationalistic," obstinate Jews.
"The brevity of purely Arab Empire was determined less by the force of non-Arab elements than by the inability of Arabs themselves to develop any system of imperial administration more adequate than the Patriarchal," Hogarth determined.
"The short ... Meccan period was all conquest and raiding accompanied by no more organization of territories overrun than would secure their payment of, tribute."
"The long Baghdad period" was, according to Hogarth, "not... government of Arabs by Arabs."
If the Abbassids were Meccan, their ministers, great and often small, were Iranians or Turanians, and their trust was in mercenaries, at first Persian, then Turk, Circassian, Kurd -- any race but the Arabian.Hogarth found that the same "formula" applied to Egypt and North Africa where the ruled people as well as their governors were "non-Arab."
"What we now call 'Arab civilization' was Arabian neither in its origins and fundamental structure nor in its principal ethnic aspects," according to Philip Hitti.
Throughout the whole period of the caliphate, the Syrians, the Persians, the Egyptians and others, as Moslem converts or as Christians and Jews, were the foremost bearers of the torch of enlightenment and learning, just as the subjugated Greeks were in their relation to victorious Romans. The Arab Islamic civilization was at bottom the Hellenized Aramaic and the Iranian civilizations as developed under the aegis of the caliphate and expressed through the medium of the Arab tongue." The "Arab identity" is in fact largely a linguistic commonality. Hitti defines "Arabs" as "a term which in our usage would comprise all Arabic-speaking peoples,
including the Arabians, that is, the inhabitants of the Arabian peninsula." 
According to Hogarth, even the "extraordinarily short" Arab rule was mechanical and not innovative.
The Omayyads alike in Syria and Spain seemed to have carried on with the machinery they found, insisting only after a time on expression in Arabic.To speak historically of original inhabitants of Judah-cum-Palestine as "Arab" peoples, then, is categorically inaccurate. Not only was there no country of "Palestine," never a "Palestinian" Arab rule, there was only an "extraordinarily short" period of time -- a matter of decades -- when any Arabs ruled Arabs on that land.
The first Arabian use of the word Arab occurs in the ancient southern Arabian inscriptions.... dating from the late pre-Christian and early Christian centuries. In these, Arab means Bedouin, often raider, and is applied to the nomadic as distinct from the sedentary population.... For Muhammad and his contemporaries the Arabs were the Bedouin of the desert, and in the Qur'an the term is used exlusively in this sense and never of the townsfolk of Mecca, Medina and other Cities." Islam was the "national religion and war-cry" and the new empire was "their booty" as the conquering Arabians -- or Arabs -- briefly invaded and ruled over "a vast variety of peoples differing in race, language and religion, among whom [the Arabs] formed a ... minority," according to Professor Bernard Lewis. 
The use of the adjective Arab to describe the various facets of this civilization has often been challenged on the grounds that the contribution to "Arab medicine," "Arab philosophy," etc. of those who were of Arab descent was relatively small. Even the use of the word Muslim is criticized, since so many of the architects of this culture were Christians and Jews .... The Prophet Muhammad, Arabian creator of Islam, had quickly determined to gain followers, plunder must be bountiful.
So little was the first wave of the Arab conquest an exclusive product of religious fanaticism, offering the conquered Islam or the sword, that many of the bedouin bands who formed the armies of Islam were in all probability still pagans when they took part in the first great surge out of the [Arabian] peninsula.Because the "Arabian Moslems" subscribed widely to the Koranic invocation "Make war ... upon such of those to whom the Book has been given until they pay tribute offered on the back of their hands, in a state of humiliation" (9:29), Hitti concluded that
Not fanaticism but economic necessity drove the Bedouin hordes ... beyond the confines of their and abode to the fair lands of the north.... Far from being entirely the result of deliberate and cool calculation, the campaigns seem to have started as raids to provide new outlets for the warring spirit of the tribes now forbidden to engage in fratricidal combats, the objective in most cases being booty and not the gaining of a permanent foothold." The Arabs ruled Arabs for only some decades, not millennia, and only under the Omayyads, who were the lone dynasty of "Arab" stock. The victory of Abassids was Islamic, not Arab, and "it was Islam and not Arab blood which formed the basis of unity." Within a hundred or so years, the "successive usurpers" of power were almost entirely "of Turkish origin."
Religious Persecution of Jews by Arabs
Before the Jewish state was established,
there existed nothing to harm good relations
between Arabs and Jews.
-- The late King Faisal of Saudi Arabia,
November 1973, to Henry KissingerWe are not against the Jews.
On the contrary, we are all Semites
and we have been living with each
other in peace and fraternity, Muslims,
Jews and Christians, for many centuries.
-Yasser Arafat, head of the PLO
there existed nothing to harm good relations
between Arabs and Jews.
-- The late King Faisal of Saudi Arabia,
November 1973, to Henry KissingerWe are not against the Jews.
On the contrary, we are all Semites
and we have been living with each
other in peace and fraternity, Muslims,
Jews and Christians, for many centuries.
-Yasser Arafat, head of the PLO
Since the rebirth of Israel, hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab lands have swarmed into the new state. In 1948 more than 850,000 Jews lived in the Arab world. Today there are fewer than 29,000, a shadow of the former ancient community. Most of those Jewish refugees fled to Israel. Where did they come from with such urgency -- and why?
Contrary to the myth that Jews lived in harmony with the Arabs before the Zionist state, innumerable authoritative works document decisively the subjugation, ppression, and spasmodic anti-Jewish eruptions of violence that darkened the existence of the Jews in Muslim Arab countries.
In truth, before the seventh-century advent of the Prophet Muhammad and Islam, Jews and Arabs did have harmonious relations, and words of praise regarding the noble virtues of the Jews may be found in ancient Arab literature.1
Before the Arab conquest, in fact, some rulers of Arabia "had indeed embraced Judaism," as Muslim historians attest.
The Koran itself has been witness to the Jewish nature of the "Israelite communities of Arabia": Koranic references appear about the rabbis and the Torah which they read, and the prestige and reverence with which the earlier community viewed them.2
The Koran contains so many legends and theological ideas found in Talmudic literature that we are able to draw a picture of the spiritual life of the Jews with whom Mohammad must have come into contact.3
It was the Prophet Muhammad himself who attempted to negate the positive titage of the Jew that had been prevalent earlier. According to historian Bernard Lewis, the Prophet Muhammad's original plan had been to induce the Jews to adopt Islam;4 when Muhammad began his rule at Medina in A.D. 622 he counted few supporters, so he adopted several Jewish practices-including daily prayer facing toward Jerusalem and the fast of Yom Kippur-in the hope of wooing the Jews. But the Jewish community rejected the Prophet Muhammad's religion, preferring to adhere to its own beliefs, whereupon Muhammad subsequently substituted Mecca for Jerusalem, and dropped many of the Jewish practices.
Three years later, Arab hostility against the Jews commenced, when the Meccan army exterminated the Jewish tribe of Quraiza.5 As a result of the Prophet Muhammad's resentment, the Holy Koran itself contains many of his hostile denunciations of Jews6 and bitter attacks upon the Jewish tradition, which undoubtedly have colored the beliefs of religious Muslims down to the present.
Omar, the caliph who succeeded Muhammad, delineated in his Charter of Omar the twelve laws under which a dhimmi, or non-Muslim, was allowed to exist as a "nonbeliever" among "believers." The Charter codified the conditions of life for Jews under Islam -- a life which was forfeited if the dhimmi broke this law. Among the restrictions of the Charter: Jews were forbidden to touch the Koran; forced to wear a distinctive (sometimes dark blue or black) habit with sash; compelled to wear a yellow piece of cloth as a badge (blue for Christians); not allowed to perform their religious practices in public; not allowed to own a horse, because horses were deemed noble; not permitted to drink wine in public; and required to bury their dead without letting their grief be heard by the Muslims.7
As a grateful payment for being allowed so to live and be "protected," a dhimmi paid a special head tax and a special property tax, the edict for which came directly from the Koran: "Fight against those [Jews and Christians] who believe not in Allah ... until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low."8
In addition, Jews faced the danger of incurring the wrath of a Muslim, in which case the Muslim could charge, however falsely, that the Jew had cursed Islam, an accusation against which the Jew could not defend himself Islamic religious law decreed that, although murder of one Muslim by another Muslim was punishable by death, a Muslim who murdered a non-Muslim was given not the death penalty, but only the obligation to pay "blood money" to the family of the slain infidel. Even this punishment was unlikely, however, because the law held the testimony of a Jew or a Christian invalid against a Muslim, and the penalty could only be exacted under improbable conditions-when two Muslims were willing to testify against a brother Muslim for the sake of an infidel.9
The demeanment of Jews as represented by the Charter has carried down through the centuries, its implementation inflicted with varying degrees of cruelty or inflexibility, depending upon the character of the particular Muslim ruler. When that rule was tyrannical, life was abject slavery, as in Yemen, where one of the Jews' tasks was to clean the city latrines and another was to clear the streets of animal carcasses-without pay, often on their Sabbath.
The restrictions under Muslim law always included the extra head tax regardless of the ruler's relative tolerance. This tax was enforced in some form until 1909 in Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey; until 1925 in Iran; and was still enforceable in Yemen until the present generation. The clothing as well as the tax and the physical humiliation also varied according to whim. Thus, in Morocco, Jews had to wear black slippers,10 while in Yemen, Jewish women were forced to wear one white and one black shoe.11*
[* The edict set by the Sultan of Morocco in 1884 varies somewhat, as did most interpretations of the dhimma law. His restrictions also included insistence that Jews work on their sacred day of rest; carry heavy burdens on their backs; work without pay; clean foul places and latrines; part with merchandise at half price; lend beasts of burden without payment; accept false coinage instead of negotiable currency; take fresh skins in return for tanned hides; hold their beds and furniture at the disposal of government guests, etc.]
Jews were relegated to Arab-style Jewish ghettos -- hara, mellah, or simply Jewish Quarter were the names given the areas where Jews resided -- recorded by travelers over the centuries, as well as by Jewish chroniclers. A visitor to four-teenth-century Egypt, for example, commented in passing12on the separate Jew-quarter, and five hundred years later another visitor in the nineteenth century verified the continuation of the separated Jewish existence: "There are in this country about five thousand Jews (in Arabic, called 'Yahood'; singular, 'Yahoodee'), most of whom reside in the metropolis, in a miserable, close and dirty quarter, intersected by lanes, many of which are so narrow as hardly to admit two persons passing each other in them."13
In 1920, those Jewish families in Cairo whose financial success had allowed them out of the ghetto, under relatively tolerant rule, had been replaced by "poor Jewish immigrants." Thus, although the character of the population may have changed, the squalor and crowding remained. As one writer, a Jew, observed:
Our people are crowded and clustered into houses about to collapse, in dark cellars, narrow alleys and crooked lanes choked with mud and stinking refuse, earning their meagre living in dark shops and suffocating workshops, toiling back to back, sunscorched and sleepless. Their hard struggle for existence both inside and outside the home is rewarded by a few beans and black bread.14Under no circumstances were Jews considered truly equal. Among the Jews in Arab lands were many individual personal successes and regionalized intermittent prosperity, but the tradition of persecution was characteristic throughout most of Jewish history under Arab rule.15 If the dhimmi burdens were light in one particular region, the Jew had the residue of fear left from the previous history of pogroms and humiliations in his area. These harsh and ancient dhimma restrictions persisted even up to the present time to some degree, in some Arab communities, and their spirit -- if not their letter -- continued generally throughout the Arab world.16
Throughout the centuries, the Jews were the first to suffer persecution in times of economic turmoil or political upheaval,17 and the cumulative effect of the sporadic mass murders left their mark on the Jews even in periods of relative quiescence. In Syria, the infamous blood libel of 1840 brought about the death, torture, and pillage of countless Jews falsely accused of murdering a priest and his servant to collect the blood for Passover matzoth!18 Before the Jews were finally vindicated of this slander, word of the charges had spread far from Damascus, causing terror in numerous Jewish communities.
The scurrilous blood libel has not been purged from Arab literature, however. In fact, the Arabs seem in the past two decades to have seized upon this primitive old calumny with renewed vigor. In 1962 the UAR (Egyptian) Ministry of Education published "Human Sacrifices in the Talmud" as one of a series of official "national" books. Bearing on its cover the symbol of the Egyptian Institute for Publications, this modem book is a reprint of an 1890 work by a writer in Cairo.19 In the introduction, the editor shares his discovery: "conclusive evidence ... that this people permits bloodshed and makes it a religious obligation laid down by the Talmud." The editor's description becomes more vile as it purports to become more explicit regarding the "Indictment."20
Two years later, in 1964, a professor at the University of Damascus published his own affirmation of the nineteenth-century blood libel, stating that the wide attention given the story served a valid purpose: to wam mothers against letting their children out late at night, "lest the Jew ... come and take their blood for the purpose of making matzot for Passover."21Still another version, also published in the 1960s, "The Danger of World Jewry to Islam and Christianity," alleges that thousands of children and others disappear each year, and all of them are victims of guess who?22
They've even dramatized the infamous canard for the theater. In November 1973, a former minister in the Egyptian Foreign Service published a play based on the 1840 blood libel in Damascus-replete with gory descriptions-in a widely circulated Egyptian weekly.23 During the same month the late Saudi Arabian King Faisal stressed the importance of the blood libel of 1840 in Damascus as a requisite to understanding "Zionist crime."24 And in 1982, shortly after Israel transferred its much coveted Sinai territory to Egypt for a more coveted peace, the Egyptian press (govemment-run) dredged up inflammatory variations on the horrible theme. Two examples: ". . . The Israelis are Israelis and their favorite drink is Arab blood... ."25and "A Jew ... drinks their blood for a few coins."26
The departure of European colonists in the twentieth century brought into being a highly nationalistic group of Arab states, which increasingly perceived their Jews as a new political threat.* The previous Arab Muslim ambivalence -- an ironic possessive attitude toward "their" Jews, coupled with the omnipresent implementing of the harsh dhimma law -- was gradually replaced by a completely demoniacal and negative stereotype of the Jew. Traditional Koranic slurs against the Jews were implemented to incite hostility toward the Jewish national movement. The Nazi anti-Semitism in the 1930s and 1940s flourished in this already receptive climate.
[* The Arab reaction seems not dissimilar to that of a Ku Klux Klansman in the United States, responding vehemently to the question I once asked about his attitude toward integration: "They're our 'Niggers,' and we've taken good care of'em, but I'll be damned if I'll let 'em take over.... Our 'Niggers' don't really wanna vote, y'know." (The epithet is his.) Chicago Daily News, April 10, 1965.]
Although Arabs themselves frequently speak of "anti-Semitism" as synonymous with anti-Jewishness -- before the 1947 partition, for example, Egyptian UN Representative Haykal Pasha warned the General Assembly that partition would bring "anti-Semitism" worse than Hitler's27 -- frequently they justify or obscure an anti-Jewish action by saying, "How can I be anti-Semitic? I'm a Semite myself." According to Professor S. D. Goitein, "the word 'semitic' was coined by an l8th-century German scholar, concerned with linguistics.... The idea of a Semitic race was invented and cultivated in particular in order to emphasize the inalterable otherness and alien character of the Jews living in Europe."28
Another eminent Arabist, Bernard Lewis, dates the invention of the term "anti-Semitism" to 1862, although "the racial ideology that gave rise to it was already well established in the early 19th century. Instead of -- or as well as -- an unbeliever ... the Jew was now labeled as a member of an alien and inferior race... "29]
As early as 1940 the Muffi of Jerusalem requested the Axis powers to acknowledge the Arab right "to settle the question of Jewish elements in Palestine and other Arab countries in accordance with the national and racial interests of the Arabs and along lines similar to those used to solve the Jewish question in Germany and Italy."30*
[* For a discussion of Jewish-Arab relations in Palestine, see The Myth of Palestinian Nationalism, narrowly defined, anti-Semitism]
Hitler's crimes against the Jews have frequently been justified in Arab writings and pronouncements. In the 1950s, Minister Anwar Sadat published an open letter to Hitler, hoping he was still alive and sympathizing with his cause. Important Arab writers and political figures have said Hitler was "wronged and slandered, for he did no more to the Jews than Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, the Romans, the Byzantines, Titus, Mohammed and the European peoples who slaughtered the Jews before him." Or that Hitler wanted to "save ... the world from this malignant evil..." 31
Arab defense of the Nazis' extermination of the Jews has persisted: prominent Egyptian writer Anis Mansour wrote in 1973 that "People all over the world have come to realize that Hitler was right, since Jews . . . are bloodsuckers . . . interested in destroying the whole world which has . . . expelled them and despised them for centuries ... and burnt them in Hitler's crematoria ... one million ... six millions. Would that he had finished it!"32
Mansour alleged at another time that the vicious medieval blood libel was historical truth: "the Jews confessed" that they had killed the children and used their blood; thus he justifies persecution and pogroms of "the wild beasts."33 That article was followed by a "report," after Mansour returned from representing Egypt at the Fortieth International PEN (writers') Conference in 1975 in Vienna. In it, Mansour continued the theme: "The Jews are guilty" for Nazism; ". . . the world can only curse the Jews ... The Jews have only themselves to blame." Mansour was angry that "the whole world" protested "all because" a "teacher" told the Jewish waiter serving him in Vienna that Hitler committed a grave error in not doing away with more of you ....'"34
It was from such a climate that the Jews had escaped, seeking refuge in Israel.
1. Bernard Lewis, The Arabs in History, 4th rev. ed. (New York, Evanston, San Francisco, London: Harper-Colophon Books, 1966), pp. 31-32; S.D. Goitein, A Mediterranean Society, vols. I and 11 (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: 197-1), p. 28; see also H.Z. Hirschberg, The Jews in Islamic Lands, 2nd rev. ed. (Leiden, 1974).
2.S.D. Goitein, Jews and Arabs, Their Contacts Through the Ages, 3rd ed. (New York: Schocken Books, 1974), p. 49.
3. Ibid., p. 50.
4.Lewis, Arabs in History, p. 42; also see Norman A. Stillman, The Jews ofArab Lands.- A History and Source Book (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1979), pp. 113-114. For further information and fascinating reading, the Stillman work provides new and in-depth insights into the "Jewish social history in the Arab world, spanning 1500 years," with original translations from Arabic and other languages.
5. Lewis, Arabs in History, p. 45, pp. 38-48. See Chapter 8.
6.See examples in Chapter 4; also see Stillman, The Jews, "Some Koranic Pronouncements on the Jews," pp. 150-151.
7.Andre Chouraqui, Between East and West, A History of the Jews of North Africa, trans. from French by Michael M. Bernet (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1968), pp. 45-46; D.G. Littman, Jews Under Muslim Rule in the Late Nineteenth Century, reprinted from the Weiner Library Bulletin, 1975, vol. XXVIII, New Series Nos. 35/36 (London, 1975), p. 65.
8.The Meaning of the Glorious Koran, Surah IX, v. 29, Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, ed. (New York: Mentor Books, 1953).
9.Chouraqui, Between East and West, p. 46. Also see Hayyim Cohen, The Jews of the Middle East 1860-1972 (New York, 1973); S.D. Goitein, Jews and Arabs.
10. World Jewish Congress, The Jews ofFrench Morocco and Tunisia (New York, 1952).
11. Saul Friedman, "The Myth of Arab Toleration," Midstream, January 1970; Goitein, Jews and Arabs, p. 67T
12. Ibn Battuta, Ibn Battuta Travels in Asia and Africa 1325-1354, trans. and selected with introduction and notes by H.A.R. Gibb (London, 1929), p. 125.
13. Edward William Lane, Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians 1833-1835 (London, New York, Melbourne: 1890), p. 512.
14. The visit to Harat al-Yahud, Cairo's Jewish Quarter, was recorded in letters from a journalist in Arabic dated June I I and June 18, 1920, cited by Jacob M. Landau, Jews in Nineteenth Century Egypt (New York, 1969), pp. 30-31.
15. Hayyim J. Cohen, The Jews ofthe Middle East 1860-1972 (Jerusalem, 1973), pp. 1-3.
16. See interviews in Chapter 6.
17. Goitein, Jews and Arabs, pp. 6-7, 87, 88, for examples.
18. Heinrich Graetz, History of the Jews, 5 vols. (New York, 1927), vol. 5, pp. 634-639.
19. By Habib Faris, 1890, original title in newspaper, 1890: "The Cry of the Innocent with the Trumpet of Freedom," originally published in Egyptian newspaper al-Mahrusa, then as 1890 book, Human Sacrifices in the Talmud Book republished in 1962 as one of a series of information pamphlets, "National Books," no. 184, 1962, 164 pages, listed as one of the publications by UAR Ministry of Education, # 393 1, edited by Abd a]-Ati Jalal, introduction dated June 16, 1962. Cited by Y. Harkabi, Arab Attitudes to Israel (Jerusalem, 1971), pp. 270-271.
20. Ibid., cited in Harkabi, Arab Attitudes, p. 271.
21.Abd al-Karim Gharayiba, Suriyyafi al-Qarn al-TosiAshar 1840-1876 (Cairo, 1961-62), p. 47, cited by Moshe Ma'oz, The Image of the Jew in Official Arab Literature and Communications Media (Jerusalem, 1976), p. 21.
22. 'Abdallah al-Tall, The Danger of World Jewry to Islam and Christianity (in Arabic) (Cairo, 1964), p. 104, cited by Harkabi, Arab Attitudes, pp. 273-274.
23. Mustafa Sa'adani, "The Tragedy of Good Father Thomas," Akhir Saah, November 28, 1973, cited by Ma'oz, The Image of the Jew, p. 22.
24. AI-Soyyad, November 29, 1973, as cited by Ma'oz, The Image of the Jew, p. 23.
25."Sanctifying War and Hating Peace," by Salem al-Yamani, Al-Gumhuriya, June 22, 1982.
26."The Arabs and the Jews-Who Will Destroy Whom?" by Dr. Lutfi Abd Al-Azim, AI-Ahram Iktisadi, September 27, 1982.
27. Official Records of the Second Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Summary Record of Meetings 25 September-25 November, 1947, p. 185. During the proposed partition of Palestine, in November, 1947, Egyptian Representative in the United Nations General Assembly, Haykal Pasha, declared that "The Arab governments will do all in their power to defend the Jewish citizens in their countries, but we all know that an excited crowd is sometimes stronger than the police. Unintentionally, you are about to spark an anti-Semitic fire in the Middle East which will be more difficult to extinguish than it was in Germany." The Egyptian spokesman's threat made clear that the Arab world has interpreted the term "anti-Semitism" correctly -- in the only sense it has been used historically -as a definition of anti-Jewish attitude and action. Arabs do not, as Egypt's President Sadat and others have occasionally claimed, use it themselves as a term connoting both Arabs and Jews.
28. Goitein, Mediterranean Society, vol. II, p. 283.
29.Bernard Lewis, Islam in History: Ideas, Men and Events in the Middle East (New York: The Library Press, 1973), p. 136.
30. Fritz Grobba, Manner und Machte im Orient (Zurich, Berlin, Frankfurt, 1967), p. 194-197, 207-208. Bernard Lewis notes that "this draft was an Arab request to the Germans, not a German offer to the Arabs." Also see: Jon Kimche, The Second Arab Awakening (London, 1970); L. Hirszowicz, The Third Reich and the Arab East (London, 1966), particularly regarding Mufti's 1937 contact with the Nazis: p. 34.
31. Sadat's letter, AlMusawwar, No. 1510, September 18,1953, cited in D.F. Green, ed., Arab Theologians on Jews and Israel (Geneva, 1976 ed.), p. 87. Quoted also by Gideon Hausner, November 16, 1971, at New York. Also see Harkabi, Arab Attitudes, pp. 276-277, for other examples.
32. Al-Akhbar, August 19, 1973.
33. Akhar Saah, Cairo, April 10, 1974, cited by Ma'oz, The Image of the Jew, p. 22.
34. Akhar Saah, Cairo, December 3, 1975.
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
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." 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:
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. -- 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.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.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 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 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. 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:
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.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.
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.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. . . .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.
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." 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
... 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.Two Christians who made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1479 reported the circuitous route of travel for Jewish immigrants from Germany, starting at Nuremberg:
Nuremberg to Posen 300 milesIn 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 declined.
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 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 dhimmioppressions, 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."
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.
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.
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.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."
... 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.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" -- el Djezzar -- whose sadistic, wanton exploits became legend. 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.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 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.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 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. "
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."
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.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.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.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.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.
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.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 in Palestine. 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 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 . 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 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...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."
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 --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.
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.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.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.
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:
... 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.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.
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:i. To the absence of an adequate protection whereby they are more exposed to cruel and tyrannical treatment.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,
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 placewhich 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.
... 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.Palmerston suggested 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."
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.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.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.
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."
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.
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.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.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.
Throwing Stones at Jews is based in Ancient Islamic RitualDuring the Hajj pilgrimage there is a ritual in which pilgrims stone a pillar symbolising the devil near the holy city of Mecca.
Islamic sermons repeatedly emphasize the connection between the Jews and Satan. What is the proper way to deal with an insolent Jew? To throw stones.
Dr. Abdul Halim Mahmoud, rector of Cairo’s al-Ashar University, theologically and politically the most influential university in Islamdom: “Allah commands Moslems to fight the friends of Satan wherever they are to be found. Among the friends of Satan—indeed, among the foremost friends of Satan in the present age—are the Jews.”1
Just after the turn of the present century, the British vice-consul in Mosul wrote a report that illustrated the nature of the "traditional relationship" between Muslim and Jew in a less volatile moment:
The attitude of the Moslems toward the Christians and Jews, to whom as stated above, they are in a majority of ten to one, is that of a master towards slaves whom he treats with a certain lordly tolerance so long as they keep their place. Any sign of pretension to equality is promptly repressed. It is often noticed in the streets that almost any Christian submissively makes way even for a Moslem child. Only a few days ago the writer saw two respectable looking, middle-aged Jews walking in a garden. A small Moslem boy, who could not have been more than 8 years old, passed by and, as he did so, picked up a large stone and threw it at them -- and then another -- with the utmost nonchalance, just as a small boy elsewhere might aim at a dog or bird. The Jews stopped and avoided the aim, which was a good one, but made no further protest.2Perhaps the definitive historian on the North African Jews, H. Z. Hirschberg, notes that in fifteenth-century Tunis, several Jews held "positions of honor." To a Western-oriented reader, the "position of honor" would indicate freedom from persecution. Yet an authenticated and respected document of that period, written by a visiting Flemish nobleman, describes Tunisian Jews as "despised and hated." After noting the privileged positions of local Christians, the nobleman wrote:
The Jews, on the other hand, have no freedom. They must all pay a heavy ... tax. They wear special clothes, different from those of the Moors. If they did not do so, they would be stoned, and they therefore put a yellow cloth on their heads or necks; their women dare not even wear shoes. They are much despised and hated, more than even the Latin Christians....3A teacher was sent from Beirut in 1910 to assess the constant reports of travail for the Yemenite Jews. He noted that, after
more than a week, I have made myself acquainted with the life of the Jews in all its phases.... They are exceedingly unfortunate.... If they are abused, they listen in silence as though they had not understood; if they are attacked by an Arab boy with stones, they flee...4According to nineteenth-century historians, some Jewish families in Aleppo -which, like Alexandria, was an atypically tolerant cosmopolitan center of international commerce -- were affluent and relatively safe. Others, even in Aleppo, who were less well-connected were "subject to violence and oppression from various quarters.".5 Money was extorted by officials on every pretext, petty bullying was commonplace, and one Jew reported that "When a Jew walked among them [the Muslims] in the market, one would throw a stone at him in order to kill him, another would pull his beard and a third his ear lock, yet another spit on his face and he became a symbol of abuse."".6
1. Dr. Abdul Halim Mahmoud as quoted by Prof Paul Eidelberg, in "PLO Terrorism and the Grand Strategy", Palestinian Media Watch, March 12, 2001
2.Lewis, Islam in History, p. 319, n. 9. Lewis gives an illustration of the "traditional relationship" between Muslim and Jew from a report by H.E. Wilkie Young, the British Vice-Consul in Mosul, written January 1909, Middle Eastern Studies, vii (1971), p. 232.
3. Ansehn Adome, a Flemish nobleman, visited Tunis in 1470. R. Brunschvig, Deux k I Ricits de Voyage Inidits en Aftique du Nord (Paris, 19 36), p. 29b/ 15 8, p. 192; cited by Hirschberg, History, pp. 475-476.
4. Reported by Yomtov Zemach, Bulletin de I'Alliance Israelite Universelle, 1910, Beirut.
5. See E.B.B. Barker, Syria and Egypt Under the Last Five Sultans of Turkey (London, 1876), vol. I, p. 306; H.L. Bodman, Political Factions in Aleppo, 1760-1826 (North Carolina, 1963), pp. 45, 48,102; Ma'oz, "Change, in the Position," Studies on Palestine, pp. 145-146,
6. M.M. Raysher, Shaarei Yerushalayim (Lemberg, 1866), p. 29. on extortion, see Ma'oz, "Changes in the Position," Studies on Palestine, pp. 145-156.