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Emet m'Tsiyon

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Arab Revolt against Muhammud Ali, 1834- Dhimmis as Targets

Several of our previous blog entries have mentioned the Arab uprising on the north-south, Judea-Samaria mountain ridge in 1834. The Arab Muslims resented Muhammud Ali of Egypt for drafting their sons into the army, for being a usurper of legitimate Ottoman power, for being too easy on the dhimmis [Jews and Christians], for being under non-Muslim, Western influence, for trying to modernize society, etc. The rebels were delighted to have an opportunity to plunder and kill the dhimmis. Jews lived then in Jerusalem and Hebron, while Christians lived in Jerusalem. The Muslims were a minority in Jerusalem throughout the 19th century, according to various population estimates, although they were the largest of the three religious groups until 1840 when the Jews became the largest single group in the Holy City. Actually, Jews include Hebron, Safed, and Tiberias as holy cities too, although Jerusalem is of course the most important, the holiest.

During the early stage of the uprising,
"All the Christians fled to the different monasteries, and thus they saved their lives. For five or six days the city [of Jerusalem] was given up to pillage and plunder, and I have never witnessed a scene so heartrending. The Jews, who had no safe place wherein to flee, suffered greatly. Their houses spoiled so completely that there was not a bed to lie down upon; many of them were slain, their wives and daughters outraged, etc. In short, things were done too barbarous to relate. In the hope of receiving good pay, or for some other end, this cruelty was spared the monasteries."

Source: R.A.S. Macalister of the Palestine Exploration Fund published this in one of the fund's publications, 1818. He had translated it from a Welsh-language magazine published in 1835. It is the account of a Welsh traveler who was in Israel during the uprising in 1834. A photographic facsimile of the PEF's publication was published in
Extracts from Annals of Palestine 1821-1841 (reprint, compiled by Eli Schiller: Jerusalem: Ariel, 1979).

Note that this account basically agrees with the remarks of John Lloyd Stephens on the same events, as Stephens was informed by Jews in Hebron in 1836. The social status of the Jews is the same as that described by Chateaubriand for 1806 and by Karl Marx for 1854. Rich, powerful, and influential local Muslims took part in plundering the Jews. It was not only the poor. As to the attitude of the Arab-Muslim upper crust toward Muhammud Ali, they had lost under his rule some of the influence and prestige which they had enjoyed under the Ottoman regime --with which they maintained contact. The Sublime Porte seems to have encouraged the uprising.

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