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Emet m'Tsiyon

Sunday, June 26, 2005

EUROPE agreed to massive annexations of territory and population transfers

At the end of World War Two, the victorious Soviet Union, a Communist --that is, "Leftist"-- state, by the way, carried out massive transfers of territory from Germany to Poland and the USSR itself, from Czechoslovakia to the USSR, from Roumania to the USSR, from Poland to the USSR, and from Finland to the USSR. Further, mass transfers of civilian population were carried out in these annexed or transferred territories. About 15 million Germans and ethnic Germans were transferred to the rump of Germany, some three million ethnic Germans being expelled from the "Sudetenland" region retaken by Czechoslovakia after serving as one of Hitler's political goals before the war. A few million Poles were transferred from western Belarus and Ukraine that were transferred from Poland to the USSR. They were resettled in the new western areas of Poland annexed from Germany. About 400,000 Finns were transferred too. The city of Fiume in Italy was annexed to Yugoslavia, and the city's name changed to Rijeka. Tens of thousands of Italians were expelled, driven out. Some were massacred by Yugoslav Communist partisans.

The USSR and the other countries carrying out population transfers were Communist-"Leftist" states. But Roosevelt and Churchill had basically agreed to this policy at the Yalta conference in February 1945.

Curiously, when Israel might be the beneficiary of resettling the Arab refugees from 1948, then the Western powers all of a sudden sprout humanitarian principles. The Arab 1948 refugees must be kept in camps funded with Western money (mostly USA $$) until a political settlement with Israel, all the while these refugees and their descendants being used as a moralistic political reproach against Israel.
Nevertheless, the territorial changes in Europe after WW 2 were accepted by the European states at the Helsinki Conference of 1975. All European states but Albania were represented at the conference.

The Helsinki Agreement, Final Act, 1975, also called the Declaration of Principles Guiding Relations between Participating States, declares:

Clause 4 - "The participating states will respect the territorial integrity of each of the participating states. Accordingly, they will refrain from any action. . . against the territorial integrity, political independence, or the unity of any participating state."

This means that 35 European states committed themselves to respecting the border and territorial changes made in Europe at the end of the War which had displaced or "transferred" millions of Europeans. But in the Middle East they have other principles.

CHATEAUBRIAND on the Oppression of Jews at Jerusalem

François-René de Chateaubriand is one of the great French writers of all time. He visited Jerusalem in 1806. His account of Jerusalem and of the Land of Israel [Terre Sainte, in his words, that is, the Holy Land] resembles Marx's report in more than one way. Among other things, both accounts belie the usual pro-Arab propaganda of today about how nicely the Arabs treated the Jews before Zionism came into the world. They also refute the even more insidious big lie which has been spread since the Six Day War which claims explicitly or implicitly that Jews were not found in Israel before the 1948 or before the British mandate or before Herzl.

Chateaubriand described the situation of the Jews in Jerusalem in 1806 as follows:

Special target of all contempt [i.e., of Christians too], they lower their heads without complaint; they suffer all insults without demanding justice; they let themselves be crushed by blows... Penetrate the dwellings of these people, you will find them in frightful poverty...
Nothing can prevent them from turning their gaze towards Zion. When one sees the Jews dispersed throughout the world,... one is probably surprised, but, to be struck by supernatural astonishment, it is necessary to find them in Jerusalem. It is necessary to see these legitimate owners of Judea, slaves and strangers in their own land. It is necessary to see them under all oppressions, awaiting a king who is to redeem them.
Objet particulier de tous les mépris, il baisse la tête sans se plaindre; il souffre toutes les avanies sans demander justice; il se laisse accabler de coups ... Pénétrez dans la demeure de ce peuple, vous le trouverez dans une affreuse misère...
... rien ne peut l'empêcher de tourner ses regards vers Sion. Quand on voit les Juifs dispersés sur la terre, selon la parole de Dieu, on est surpris, sans doute; mais, pour être frappé d'un étonnement surnaturel, il faut les retrouver a Jérusalem; il faut voir ces légitimes maîtres de la Judée esclaves et étrangers dans leur propre pays: il faut les voir attendant, sous toutes les oppressions, un roi qui doit les délivrer.

Chateaubriand was in Jerusalem in 1806 and published his book, Itinéraire de Paris à Jérusalem, a few years later. An English translation [not used here] was published in 1811.
In 1806, the Jews made up between a quarter and a fifth of the population. The Christians were somewhat more than a quarter and the Muslims were close to but less than half [according to figures compiled by Prof. Yehoshu`a ben Arieh, Jerusalem in the Nineteenth Century: The Old City]. Muslims were a numerical minority throughout the 19th century, and probably long before 1800. Yet they were the rulers until Allenby's conquest, lording it over the Jewish majority and the Christian population in the city.
Many Jews migrated to Jerusalem about 1839-1840 from Safed after the earthquake there. This reinforcement made Jews the largest single religio-ethnic group in the Holy City by 1840. According to Marx, to his contemporary, Gerardy Santine, and to 20th century historian Tudor Parfitt, Jews were a majority in Jerusalem in the 1850s. Jews have been a majority ever since and now enjoy a more dignified status than in the 19th century, although several Arab, local and international factors would like to reverse the clock -- or throw out the Jews altogether.
According to Marx, the Muslims, although only a fourth of the population, were the masters in every respect.
Marx might not be considered politically correct by many of today's "socialists" and "leftists" who are often eager to deny a historic Jewish presence in Jerusalem and, meanwhile, to claim that the Arabs always treated the Jews well. Likewise, from the viewpoint of many of our contemporary "Leftists," Chateaubriand's eyewitness observations may not be politically correct and he apparently was not properly instructed by an image shaper as to what he was to see in Jerusalem before he came.

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Coming soon. How Jews were treated in Jerusalem, Hebron, and elsewhere in Israel by Muslims, as seen by 19th century travelers, Félix Bovet, Stephens, Pierre Loti, etc.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Lament for Zion - Anonymous (circa 9th century)

Many Karaites were especially devoted to mourning for Zion and had a circle in Jerusalem in the 9th century called Aveley Tsiyon [אבלי ציון]

T. Carmi believes that the following piyyut emerged from the Karaite Aveley Tsiyon group.


We drew near to find out how our mother was faring.
We stood at her door and wept. The watchmen found us, beat us, wounded us:
"Away unclean ones!" they shouted.

Again we came but did not draw near;
from afar we stood at the top of the Mount [of Olives].
The solitary one [= captive Zion; see Lamentations 1:1] appeared before us.
She looked out from her prison as she faced us.

We raised our eyes to see her
but could not recognize her, so wasted did she look.
She had lost her shape, her form was gone;
She was bound in chains
And weighed down by her fetters.

We raised our voices in lament
for the desecration of Mount Moriah [here = the Temple Mount]
And for our poor mother,
Who had nothing left to sustain her.

Our cries reached her ears and she too wept aloud.
She wept and implored and lamented:
'How like a widow am I!

"My children have gone into captivity,
My sanctuary is laid waste,
And I am left naked and bare --
For these things do I weep!"

[author anonymous -- translation T. Carmi -- Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse]

Thursday, June 23, 2005

KARL MARX on the Ottoman/Muslim Governmental System & Oppression of Non-Muslims

Karl Marx's description of the Muslim attitudes and Muslim law concerning non-Muslims is remarkably similar to descriptions of the same by contemporary writers. Ironically, this portrayal of Muslim law and attitudes is more often held by those today designated "right-wingers," than by Communists, who are likely to be uncritical (calling themselves "critical") supporters of jihad. Marx's account is found in his column in the New York Tribune of 15 April 1854. The Tribune was edited by Horace Greeley, the famous editor, who advocated American settlement of the Western territories of the US, including the Louisiana Purchase (obtained from France) and other lands obtained from Mexico by war or purchase.
* * * * *
"The Koran and the Mussulman legislation emanating from it reduce the geography and ethnography of the various peoples to the simple and convenient distinction of two nations and of two countries; those of the Faithful and of the Infidels. The Infidel is "harby," i.e., the enemy [NOTE: harb is an Arabic word for war]. Islamism proscribes the nation of the Infidels, constituting a state of permanent hostility between the Mussulman and the unbeliever. In that sense the corsair [= pirate] ships of the Berber States [= Barbary Coast, North African pirate ports] were the holy fleet of the Islam. How, then, is the existence of Christian subjects of the Porte [= Ottoman central govt] to be reconciled with the Koran?

[here Marx gives a long quote from Cesar Famin]
'If a town,' says the Mussulman legislation, 'surrenders by capitulation, and its inhabitants consent to become rayahs, that is, subjects of a Mussulman prince without abandoning their creed, they have to pay the kharatch (capitation tax) [= kharaj], when they obtain a truce with the faithful, and it is not permitted any more to confiscate their estates than to take away their houses . . . In this case their old churches form part of their property, with permission to worship therein. But they are not allowed to erect new ones. They have only authority for repairing them, and to reconstruct their decayed portions. At certain epochs commissaries delegated by the provincial governors are to visit the churches and sanctuaries of the Christians, in order to ascertain that no new buildings have been added under pretext of repairs. If a town is conquered by force, the inhabitants retain their churches, but only as places of abode or refuge, without permission to worship.
"Constantinople having surrendered by capitulation, as in like manner the greater portion of European Turkey, the Christians there enjoy the privileges of living as rayahs [non-Muslim subjects], under the Turkish Government. This privilege they have, exclusively by virtue of their agreeing to accept the Mussulman protection. It is, therefore, owing to this circumstance alone that the Christians submit to be governed by the Mussulmans, according to Mussulman law, that the Patriarch of Constantinople, their spiritual chief, is at the same time their political representative, and their Chief Justice. Wherever, in the Ottoman Empire, we find an agglomeration of Greek rayahs, the [subordinate prelates] . . . rule over the repartition of the taxes [= distribution of the tax burden] imposed upon the Greeks. The Patriarch is responsible to the Porte as to the conduct of his co-religionists. Invested with the right of judging the rayahs of his Church, he delegates this right to [subordinate prelates]. . . their sentences being obligatory for the executive officers, kadis, etc., of the Porte to carry out. The punishments which they have the right to pronounce are fines, imprisonment, bastonade, and exile . . . The Patriarch pays to the Divan [= Muslim govt] a heavy tribute in order to obtain his investiture, but he sells, in his turn, the [subordinate church offices] . . . to the clergy . . . The latter indemnify themselves by the sale of subaltern dignities, and the tribute exacted from the popes [= local priests]. These again sell [priestly services]. . .

"It is evident from this expose that this fabric of theocracy over the Greek Christians of Turkey, and the whole structure of their society, has its keystone in the subjection of the rayah under the Koran, which in its turn, by treating them as infidels . . . [facilitates their subjection by their own clergy]. Then, if you abolish their subjection under the Koran, by a civil emancipation, you cancel at the same time their subjection to the clergy, and provoke a [social] revolution. . . If you supplant the Koran by a code civil, you must occidentalize the entire structure of Byzantine society."

Further on in this same article, Marx states (as quoted in the earlier blog item on the oppression of Jews in Jerusalem):
The Mussulmans, forming about a fourth part of the whole, and consisting of Turks, Arabs, and Moors, are, of course, the masters in every respect

NOTE: This system of oppression is decreed in the Qur`an (IX:29), where the Muslims are commanded to fight the unbelievers until they are humbled and agree to pay tribute.
It is obvious from Marx's account, which is in accord with descriptions by contemporary writers on Islamic society, Bat Yeor, Daniel Pipes, David Bukay, etc., that traditional Muslim society --based on Muslim law-- is oppressive, humiliates the non-Muslim (here called rayah instead of dhimmi), and has some features in common with racism and apartheid, although it is theoretically not based on skin color or biological race. The dhimmis pay special taxes, that is, have a much heavier tax burden than the Muslim subjects of the state, plus undergoing all sorts of restrictions, humiliations, inferior status, etc. Marx's account seems mostly based on Cesar Famin's book from which he quotes at length above. It is of interest that not only Western governments that Communists and other Leftists might describe as "capitalist, imperialist" overlook this whole historical social situation, but the Communists and Left on the whole also overlook it, or even deny it. It would be especially inconvenient for the Left, fanatically Judeophobic as most of them are today (deriving their Judeophobia, it seems, especially from the German philosophic tradition going back to Kant and Hegel, Marx's mentors, and from the subsidies of wealthy Judeophobes), to admit that historically the Jews in Arab-Muslim lands were oppressed (exploited and humiliated) by the Muslims, as Marx describes in the same article in the New York Tribune (15 April 1854) , as quoted in an earlier blog entry.
As said, Marx's main source seems to have been Cesar Famin, Histoire de la rivalite et du protectorat des eglises chretiennes en Orient (Paris, 1853).

CNN this morning featured a homily on the need to legitimate Hamas since it has the democratic support of most residents of the Palestinian Authority zones. This may indicate a US govt intention to allow the Hamas to replace the PLO/Fatah which seems incapable of ruling and unifying itself. This reminds us that certain American leaders like Ramsey Clark (of the American Civil Liberties Union) and ex-prez Jiminy Carter come from families active as leaders in the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan enjoyed much popular support --even majority support-- in certain parts of the USA. Hence, the Klan in its day was as democratic as the Hamas. In both cases, these terrorist bodies represented ethnic or religious groups that had lost political power to other groups because of political changes and wanted to retain or regain their power. As Blacks in the US South were treated as inferiors so were Jews treated as inferiors in traditional Muslim society. And the Hamas, like the Klan, wants to restore the traditional system of oppression, albeit, bloody as the Klan was, it can't compete with the Hamas. All the same, Jiminy and Ramsey (or is it Ramzi?) still have a soft spot for Hamas. An analogy could also be made with Sunni terrorists in Iraq today who always lorded it over Shi'ites, fellow Muslims, whom they sometimes accuse of being "Jews" or influenced by Jews. Shi`ite desires for a more equal status seem to justify mass slaughter of Shi`ites (What would either group do to the Jews?). Most of the Left and Communists today support Muslim Jihad. Leave a comment if you think I'm wrong.

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Announcing: an important book on Jewish/Israeli/Land of Israel history has just been published in English by the Yad Ben Zvi. This is Israel: People, Land, State, edited by Avigdor Shinan. The book has chapters on all the historical periods of the Land of Israel since the time of Joshua till today, including excellent chapters on the little known Byzantine, Early Muslim, Crusader, Mamluk, and Ottoman periods. It is written by scholars and contains beautiful illustrations of rare ancient objects, archeological findings, paintings, etc. Now available at a special discount price at the Hebrew Book Fair in Jerusalem and other cities, at the Yad Ben Zvi stand.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

ELEAZAR ben KALLIR -- Poet of the Land of Israel

Eleazar ben Kallir lived in the Land of Israel in the period of Byzantine oppression (circa 6th century CE). He knew that the Temple was destroyed, that Jews were forbidden to live in Jerusalem, and forbidden to rebuild the Temple. Jews throughout the country were harassed by the Church and by monks. Laws discriminated against the Jews. Yet, there was still a measure of law and order which disappeared in the country at least by the 8th century after the Arab Abbasid dynasty had taken over, whereas the Arab Umayyad dynasty had been relatively friendly, at least in the first decades of its rule in Israel.
Eleazar wrote of his mourning and yearnings for Zion. Some of his works are part of the synagogue service to this day.

The Dialogue of Zion and God (אם הבנים)
. . .
"My husband has abandoned me and turned away,
and has not remembered my love as a bride;
he has scattered and dispersed me far from my land;
he has let all my tormentors
rejoice at my downfall."
. . . .
"O my dove,
O plant of delight in my garden bed,
why do you cry out against me?
I have already answered your prayer,
as I did in days of old,
when I dwelt crowned in your midst.
. . . .
"I have turned to you with great compassion, and now
I march through the gate of Bath-Rabbim [Jerusalem].
Your enemies, ever more numerous --
I shook them
till they were snuffed out like smoke.

"My dark one,
I shall never desert you;
I shall reach out again
and take you to Myself. . ."

[translation -- T. Carmi -- from The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse]

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Coming soon: Karl Marx on the Muslim/Ottoman system of government and laws, concerning non-Muslims in particular, especially as manifested in Jerusalem up to the mid-19th century

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Karl Marx on the Treatment of the Jewish Majority in Jerusalem

Believe it or not, Karl Marx, often considered the arch-socialist, the enemy of capital, the scourge of filthy lucre, wanted to make a living like most other folk. For this purpose, Marx wrote a column every few weeks for the New York Daily Tribune, edited by the famous Horace Greeley. This gave our nemesis of capitalism a chance to make a few Yankee greenbacks, while spreading his own opinions.
Marx' column of 15 April 1854 discussed the background to the Crimean War, first of all the rivalries of Christian powers focussed on the Church of the Holy Sepulcher through their own national churches. He also discussed the social situation in Jerusalem, such as how Muslims treated non-Muslims in general and how Muslims and Christians in Jerusalem treated the Jews in Jerusalem, who were already a majority in the city in Marx's time, not only according to Marx but to his French contemporary, Gerardy Santine, and to more recent authorities, such as Tudor Parfitt.
This blog entry will consider
1) the numbers of various groups in Jerusalem, which Marx took from other contemporary writers who had been in Jerusalem;
2) how the Muslim government and population, and the Christian churches and population in the city treated the Jews.

Population: A Jewish Majority in 1854
"Jerusalem and the [Christian] Holy Places are inhabited by nations professing different religions [that is, Christian sects]: the Latins, the Greeks, the Armenians, Copts, Abyssinians, and Syrians... 3,490 [Christians in toto]... The three prevailing religious nationalities at the Holy Places are the Greeks, the Latins, and the Armenians."

"... the sedentary population of Jerusalem numbers about 15,500 souls, of whom 4,000 are Mussulmans [= Muslims] and 8,000 are Jews. The Mussulmans, forming about a fourth part of the whole, and consisting of Turks, Arabs, and Moors, are, of course, the masters in every respect, as they are in no way affected by the weakness of their Government at Constantinople."

To sum up:
8,000 Jews
4,000 Muslims
3,490 Christians
15,490 total population

Oppression of Jews by Muslims and Christians
"Nothing equals the misery and the suffering of the Jews at Jerusalem, inhabiting the most filthy quarter of the town, called hareth-el-yahoud, in the quarter of dirt, between the Zion and the Moriah, where their synagogues are situated -- the constant objects of Mussulman oppression and intolerance, insulted by the Greeks, persecuted by the Latins, and living only on the scanty alms transmitted by their European brethren."

In Marx's day, local Arab notables took part in local government as officials of the Ottoman Empire, while European influence was already beginning to be felt since France and Britain supported the Ottoman state against the Russian Empire, and fought to defend it in the Crimean War.
Marx is known as a fanatic Judeophobe, but here we see a different Marx, a journalist faithfully reporting what various 19th century travelers to Jerusalem had seen with their own eyes, such as Chateaubriand, Gérardy Santine, César Famin, etc. Famin's book on the religious-political situation at Jerusalem seems to have been Marx's main source.

1) the Jews were already a majority in the city in Marx's day, although they were much oppressed by the Muslim government and population and by the Christian churches and population;
2) Marx uses the term "religious nationalities." Many observers have pointed out that under Islam, religious groups are perceived as tantamount to nationalities. The Muslims in particular view themselves as an ummah, that is, a nation. Sometimes they claim that all unbelievers form a counter-ummah. The same word ummah may be used for the Arab nation (The word ummah is the usual Hebrew word for nation from which the Arabic word may derive). Marx uses the name Greek to refer to Greek Orthodox which includes Russians, Greeks of course, most of the Arab Christians in the country, Georgians, etc. Latins means Roman Catholics, including French, Italian, Spanish, Irish, etc.
3) the Muslims are "the masters in every respect," although they are only one quarter of the population.

[Marx's article on the background of the Crimean War appears in Shlomo Avineri, ed., Karl Marx on Colonialism and Modernization (New York: Doubleday, 1969), pp 142-151. Marx's major source seems to have been C. Famin's book, Histoire de la rivalite et du protectorat des eglises chretiennes en Orient (Paris 1853)]
Coming: Marx's exposition of the Ottoman/Muslim system of government and its treatment of non-Muslims. Does Marx's description fit in with that of Bat Yeor, Rafi Israeli, David Bukay, Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, Joel Mowbray, Andrew Bostom, etc.?

The ARABS, Land-Grabbers Long Before Muhammud

During the First Temple period, Israel's neighbors to the east, Ammon, Moab, and Edom, had built defenses facing the desert to keep out the wandering Arab marauders. After the Babylonian conquest, which affected these countries as well as the Kingdom of Judah, the defenses were not well kept up, presumably on account of the social upheaval caused by the conquest. Hence, in the Babylonian or early Persian period, Arab tribes penetrated and overran Edom, Moab, and Ammon. The Edomites fled/migrated to southern Judah and the northern Negev, formerly parts of the Kingdom of Judah, partly depopulated on account of the Babylonian conquest, and settled there. This new area of Edomite settlement was called Idumaea by Greeks and Romans, yet it was distinct from the original Edom, south and southeast of the Dead Sea.
The Ammonites may have been conquered later since one of the influential Jewish leaders during the Persian period, that is, the early Second Temple period, was Tobias (Tuviyah) who came from east of the Jordan and was sometimes called an Ammonite. Hence, the Ammonites may still have predominated in their country. The Book of Nehemiah does mention Geshem the Arab as interfering with Jewish efforts at rebuilding in Jerusalem.
The former Edom, Moab, and Ammon were eventually arabized and in the Roman period [106 CE] were formed into the Provincia Arabia. This province provided recruits for a Roman legion that helped Rome suppress the Jewish Bar Kokhba Revolt [132-135 CE]. Earlier, during the Great Revolt described by Josephus and Tacitus, a contingent of Arab auxiliaries joined the Roman forces besieging Jerusalem [described in an earlier blog entry on this site]. These Arab forces helped destroy the Temple in the year 70 CE. Now, the Arabs claim the site of the Temple, the Temple Mount, as their own. To paraphrase the Biblical saying, רצחתם וגם ירשתם , that is, You murdered and you also inherited (from the victim).

Attesting to the presence of Ammonites and Moabites are several place names used in Jordan to this day. These start with Amman, the present capital. This was the Biblical Rabbath Ammon, later called Rabbat(h)ammana in Greek and Latin [one of the Ptolemies also called it Philadelpheia]. Other names are Diban < Dibon, Hisban < Heshbon, Kerak < Krakh, etc. Krakh [karka or krakha in Aramaic] is a Hebrew/Aramaic word meaning city or even metropolis. Modern Kerak was the ancient Moabite capital which appears in Jonathan's Aramaic translation of the Bible under the names Krakh and Krakha d'Moab. The Hebrew Bible calls the city Qir Moab (Isaiah 15:1), meaning Wall of Moab. Bear in mind that the English word town came from a word meaning wall. The name Karakmoba (sometimes spelled Charachmoba) appears in Greek and Latin sources. Today the Arabs call it Kerak, a minor city in Jordan.

The Edomites, Ammonites, and Moabites had a close linguistic affinity to ancient Israel, although there was political rivalry and hostility. Hebrew, Ammonite, Edomite, Moabite, and Phoenician (and other, closely related tongues) are all called Canaanite languages (or sometimes dialects of Canaanite) by modern linguists. The famous Moabite stele found east of the Jordan with an inscription telling of a victory by Mesha`, king of Moab, over ancient Judah, is easily read by readers of Biblical Hebrew, if the inscription is transcribed into the modern Hebrew alphabet, of course, since the Mesha` inscription uses the old Hebrew/Canaanite letters. The Arabs also speak a Semitic language, but one farther away from Hebrew, Moabite, etc. Hence, they distorted the sounds --in the place names mentioned above-- to suit their own speech.

To sum up, the Arabs were conquering and displacing other peoples long before Muhammud. As land-grabbers they can compare with the British and Russians.

JERUSALEM, Splendid in Ancient Eyes

The modern detractors of us Jews and our history not only falsify what happened in the Israeli War of Independence but fundamentally distort all of our history --ancient, medieval, and modern-- covering up in particular the esteem in which ancient Jews were often held.

Pliny the Elder, one of the great scholars of ancient Rome, wrote in his Natural History:

... Jerusalem, the most illustrious city of the East by far, not merely of Judea...

... Hierosolyma, longe clarissima urbium Orientis non Iudaeae modo...

Naturalis Historia, V:70 [translation by Eliyahu m'Tsiyon -- Latin original in Loeb Classical Library edition of Natural History and in M. Stern, Greek and Latin Authors on Jews and Judaism (Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1974), p 469]

Note that the country in which Jerusalem is located is called Judea (IVDAEA), not by the P-name.

Coming soon. Karl Marx on Muslim & Christian oppression of Jews in Jerusalem. Was Marx politically incorrect?

Roman Testimony as to Their Defeat by Jews under Bar Kokhba

After a Roman defeat by the Parthians in the year 162, only 27 years after the end of the Bar Kokhba Revolt, Fronto wrote a letter of consolation to the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. He seems to be saying that just as the Romans had suffered military defeat in the past and then came back to victory, as in the case of the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132-135 CE), so too would defeat by the Parthians be overcome. Nevertheless, by comparing the early successes of the Jews under Bar Kokhba to the Parthian victory, he indicates what a blow the Jews had dealt to the Romans as the Romans perceived it.

Fronto, Letter to Marcus Aurelius

The god who begat the great Roman race has no compunction in suffering us to faint at times and be defeated and wounded. [...] But always and everywhere he turned our sorrows into successes and our terrors into triumphs. But not to hark back too far into ancient times, I will take instances from your own family. [...] Under the rule of your grandfather Hadrian, what a significant number of soldiers were killed by the Jews.
[translation C.R. Haines; from the Livius website; probably taken from the Loeb Classical Library]

Various modern authorities agree that the Legion XXII "Deiotariana" was wiped out by the Jewish forces. Some Jewish historians suggest that a second legion may have been annihilated as well, on the grounds of various pieces of evidence. Aryeh Kasher reports that the Romans recruited a legion in Provincia Arabia to fight the Jews under Bar Kokhba. Provincia Arabia covered the areas formerly known as Moab, Ammon, and Edom, which Arab invaders had overwhelmed in the Babylonian or the early Persian period, subjugating or destroying the native populations, or causing them to flee, as the Edomites fled to southern Judah and the northern Negev, and settled there, the area becoming known in Greek and Latin as Idumaea, which was in fact distinct from the original Edom. Till this day, the capital of Jordan is called Amman. This was the Biblical Rabbath-Ammon, the name of which was pronounced Rabbathammana by Greeks and Romans (also named Philadelpheia by one of the Ptolemies). Several place names for Moab and Ammon found in the Bible are still used by the Arabs pronounced in their way: Dibon > Diban; Heshbon > Hisban; Kerakh Moab > Kerak, etc.

See what Karl Marx, yes, that Karl Marx, wrote about the sufferings of the Jews in Jerusalem in his time --at the hands of Arabs, among others. Coming soon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Ancient Poems of Zion after the Hurban (the Destruction)

How Long Will There Be Weeping in Zion? -- Anonymous

How long will there be weeping in Zion
And lamentation in Jerusalem?
Have mercy on Zion
And build anew the walls of Jerusalem.
. . . .
O Lord, be most zealous for Zion's honor,
And let your mercy shine upon the city once so full of people!

[translated by T. Carmi in T. Carmi, ed., The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse (New York: Viking Press, 1981), pp 204-206] I substituted the word "zealous" for the word "jealous" in Carmi's translation. The anonymous poet lived after the Hurban (the destruction of the Second Temple). Carmi writes: "The earliest known post-biblical dirge on the destruction of the Temple... The poem is traditionally recited on the eve of the Ninth of Av."

See what Karl Marx wrote on Jerusalem in his time. Coming soon.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Political Philosophy on Retreating from a Nation's Lands

The current Sharon/Peres regime in Israel wants to retreat from areas that were part of the ancient province of Judea, part of the heritage of the Jewish people. This land moreover was recognized in international law as part of the Jewish National Home based on the ancient Jewish connection to the Land of Israel. What does political philosophy have to say to such a plan?
Jean Bodin is one of the greatest early modern political philosophers. He and another political philosopher, Claude de Seyssel, state specifically that a king must not give away the domain --the territory-- of the state.

Claude de Seyssel, in his Grand'Monarchie de France (1519) "... analyzes the triple restraint on the royal will: religion..., justice, which provides for the independence of the judges, and 'civilization,'" that is, the body of customary law and morality of the state, "or respect for fundamental customs, which prevents the King from giving away his domain." [= qui empêche le Roi d'aliéner son domaine] p17

Jean Bodin wrote in The Republic (1575):
"...the King cannot go against divine and human laws. He cannot break the fundamental laws, nor give away the domain of the state" [= ni aliéner le domaine de l'Etat] p27

The quotations and page numbers above are from:
Jacques Droz,
Histoire des Doctrines Politiques en France (Paris: PUF, 1969)

On the related issue of disobedience to the will of the Sharon-Peres regime, two other early modern political theorists affirm:
"...the obedience due to the sovereign is only legitimate to the extent that he makes his actions conform to the supreme interest of the nation."
by the authors of Vindiciae contra Tyrannos (1579) --Philippe de Plessis-Mornay and Hubert Languet in Droz, p23

[Readers will note that the recent Israel Supreme Court decision on the matter is not taken seriously as a legal or judicial decision, since this court is commonly viewed with disdain, almost as much as the highly politicized and prejudiced "International Court of Justice" at the Hague, many or most of the members of which are appointed by tyrannical states. The Israeli Supreme Court nearly always takes the side of hostile foreign powers on matters of state and diplomatic issues.]

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Sunday, June 05, 2005

Emperor Julian Wants to Restore the Jewish Temple

In the year 363 CE, about forty years after Emperor Constantine had made Christianity the Roman state religion, the new emperor, Julian, wished to restore the traditional Roman religion and remove Christian religious domination. As part of his political-religious-cultural program, Julian also wished to restore the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and restore Jewish worship there. The Jewish Temple had been destroyed almost 300 years earlier by Roman forces (including Arab auxiliaries) in 70 CE. Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus briefly describes the episode:

Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae, XXIII:1

[Julian] ... eager to extend the memory of his reign by great works, he planned at vast cost to restore the once splendid temple at Jerusalem, which after many mortal combats during the siege by Vespasian and later by Titus, had barely been stormed. He had entrusted the speedy performance of this work to Alypius of Antioch... [Rolfe translation-Loeb Classical Library]

... sui memoriam, magnitudine operum gestiens propagare, ambitiosum quondam apud Hierosolyma templum...

Apparently because of earthquakes in the Levant that year, the work was disrupted. Julian died not long after afterwards.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Arab/Muslim Pecuniary Exploitation of Jews in Jerusalem

In the West, many "Leftists," "rightists," and "Liberals" have a romantic notion of the Arabs as poverty stricken folk or idealists, fanatics perhaps, but devoted to religious ideals, and certainly not interested in mere money, in filthy lucre. Although "Leftists" supposedly oppose economic exploitation, few of them want to acknowledge the economic oppression perpetrated by Muslims, starting with the Arabs in their conquered [occupied] territories, over non-Muslims (called dhimmis in Arabic) over the centuries. The Qur'an calls on Muslims to make war on unbelievers until they are humiliated and agree to pay tribute (Qur'an IX:29). According to Muslim law, dhimmis are supposed to pay the jizya, a per head tax on men (women weren't counted) and the kharaj, a tax on agricultural land, to the Muslim rulers. In practice, the economic exploitation of dhimmis went much further. An article by Elliott A Green in Jewish Affairs of Johannesburg [Winter 1996] describes the pecuniary oppression of Jews in Jerusalem. The relevant excerpt follows below, plus a link at the bottom to the article:

Muslim officials and local Arab notables displayed a predatory, exploitative attitude towards the Jewish population in Jerusalem both before and after the Crusades. For the pre-Crusades period we know this from documents that Moshe Gil [historian] and other scholars have uncovered in the Cairo Geniza and other sources. These documents tell of the oppression of Jews here. Not only did they have to pay the standard taxes, jizya and kharaj, imposed on non-Muslims (dhimmis) throughout the Islamic domain, but they also suffered the extortion of all sorts of irregular taxes, levies, fines, and bribes. One Jerusalem Jew wrote to a friend in Egypt, "They eat us alive," referring to all these exactions. Another Jew wrote,"Their throats are like open graves," waiting for money (a paraphrase of Psalms 5:10). "The sons of Kedar [Muslim officials] in Jerusalem... harass a great deal," he complained.

Jacob Barnai [historian] has studied account ledgers of the Jewish community in Jerusalem from the second half of the eighteenth century. Here again, despite the passage of time, the picture is similar. The ledgers record, in addition to regular taxes, all sorts of unofficial compulsory payments to Arab-Muslim notables, some of whose descendants are still active as local Arab leaders today. As a sign of their rapacity, Arab creditors burnt down a Jerusalem synagogue in 1720 when a Jewish congregation was unable to pay its debts, driving the congregants from the city. Christians too were, as dhimmis, sometimes subject to similar treatment.

The neglect of the historical facts by "Leftists," who for scores of years ostensibly championed the economically oppressed, the poor, the exploited, is significant because it shows us that in fact economic oppression and exploitation, much less religious discrimination and oppression, do not bother them. And their accounts of Middle Eastern history or Arab and Muslim history overlook this religiously ordained oppression, thereby making those accounts patently defective, that is, obviously false. On the other hand, an Austrian socialist, Joseph Schumpeter, writing before WW2, wrote a book called Imperialism which did frankly call Arab imperialism by its right name, imperialism. Paradoxically, Karl Marx, usually a Judeophobe himself in the tradition of German philosophers Kant, Hegel, and Fichte, wrote an article about Jerusalem at the time of the Crimean War in which Marx himself pointed to oppression of Jews by Muslims in the Holy City, and even pointed to a Jewish majority population in the city at that time [New York Daily Tribune, 15 April 1854]. We will bring excerpts from that article soon.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Some who have read the two preceding blog items may have noticed a contradiction between Eusebios and Dio Cassius. According to Eusebios, Jerusalem was rebuilt after the Bar Kokhba uprising [132-135 CE] as the Roman polis of Aelia to serve as a kind of punishment for the Jews. In contrast, Dio Cassius writes that Aelia was founded as a Roman polis a year or two before the revolt and was in fact a provocation for the revolt.
Archeologist Hanan Eshel argued in a recent lecture that the issue has been resolved. Aelia was founded before the revolt. As grounds for this conclusion, Eshel pointed to a hoard of coins found in a cave northeast of Jerusalem, near the Pisgat Ze'ev neighborhood of today. Most of the coins were Jewish coins minted by Bar Kokhba. A few others, however, were coins of the Colonia Aelia Capitolina. Now, it is reasonable to assume that a hoard of Bar Kokhba coins found in a cave were brought there by refugees from the Romans seeking refuge in the cave. That the Bar Kokhba coins and the Aelia coins were found together, presumably in the possession of war refugees who may have been killed in (possibly by smoke-producing fires) or near the cave by Roman troops, shows that the Aelia coins were minted before the war.

Bar Kokhba Coins -- a major motif on these coins is a sketch of the entrance to the Temple sanctuary. Inscriptions on the coins include For the Freedom of Jerusalem.
The Bar Kokhba coins were struck on Roman coins that were thereby reminted. Some think that the Jewish forces captured the pay chest for the 22nd Legion Deioteriana, a legion which --it is generally believed by historians-- was wiped out by the Jews. Nothing is heard of this legion after the Bar Kokhba uprising. The coins meant to pay the legion were presumably reminted as Jewish coins.
See link below for a view of Bar Kokhba coins and Aelia coins:

Aelia Coins -- these carried the inscription Col Ael Cap and other abbreviations [Col Ael Kapit, etc.] of Colonia Aelia Capitolina. The name Aelia was used by the Eastern part of the divided Roman Empire, ruled as a Christian state from Constantinople [originally Byzantion], and today called the Byzantine Empire. This was so notwithstanding that the Christians knew that Jerusalem was the original name. Aelia was still in use when the Arabs conquered the country. The Arabs retained pre-Arab place names in the conquered territories. Hence, they called Jerusalem at first Iliya, their pronunciation of Aelia (as proven by their coins, inter alia). Only a few hundred years after the conquest did they begin to use al-Quds and Bayt al-Maqdis which were copied from Jewish terms, haQodesh and Beyt haMiqdash, which originally referred to holiness and the Temple, and later were applied by Jews to the city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem in Hebrew was Yerusholem. Today's name Yerushalayim means "the two Jerusalems" and refers to the heavenly and the earthly Jerusalems. As a comparison, Mitsrayim, the Hebrew name for Egypt, means the two Egypts, Upper Egypt --the south-- and Lower Egypt --the north. The Nile flows downstream from south to north.

The Walls of Aelia -- Hadrian is depicted on a coin driving a team of oxen around the ruins of Jerusalem left from the first revolt [when the Temple was destroyed in the year 70 CE], making a furrow on which the new city walls would be built. This was a Roman ceremony for founding a new city. The Old City walls of Jerusalem today follow the walls of Aelia, except on the south. Jerusalem in Second Temple times was much bigger than the Old City of today. The Third Wall of the Second Temple city was built just south of the present US consulate about a kilometer north of today's Old City. Remains of the Third Wall can be seen very close to the consulate building, southwest of it, and east of the new Route One.
On the south, the walls of Aelia went substantially south of the present Old City walls, which were built for Ottoman Sultan Sulayman the Magnificent by a Jewish contractor, Abraham de Castro.