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Emet m'Tsiyon

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Jewish Majority in Jerusalem in 1853, wrote Contemporary French Diplomat

Karl Marx reported a Jewish majority in Jerusalem in 1854 in his article in the New York Daily Tribune, April 15, 1854. The article presented the reasons for the Crimean War and its background. Now, Marx was never in Yerushalayim. His source was a book by Cesar Famin, a French diplomat, historian, and man of letters. Marx' information about Jerusalem came from Famin's book on the relations between France and the Ottoman empire since 1507 [according to Famin, the date of the first agreements between France and the Ottoman Empire, called "capitulations"], and about the rivalry between the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches over the Christian holy places in Jerusalem. Marx brought much of Famin's information into his article, sometimes quoting directly at length, sometimes paraphrasing. Famin wrote several books, mainly on history. One book was a history of the Arab invasions of Italy. To be sure, Famin calls the Arabs "Saracens" in the title of this book. The name Saracen comes from the name of a particular Arab tribe familiar to the Byzantines, the Sarakenoi [in French, Sarrasins].

Famin had a very good understanding of the status of the non-Muslim in Muslim society in general and in Ottoman society in particular. He is in basic agreement on this matter with recent authors such as Bat Ye'or, Rafael Israeli, David Bukay, Moshe Sharon, Robert Spencer, Andrew Bostom, etc. As said, Marx brought this information into his own article, so on this matter Marx is very up to date scientifically speaking, yet, at the same time, Marx's article is very "politically incorrect" by today's "leftist" prejudices.

Here are Famin's numbers for Jerusalem's population in 1853. They are the same as those Marx reported in his article of April 1854. First I will give the English translation of Famin's words, and then his words in the original French:

"The sedentary population of Jerusalem is about 15,500 souls:"
"La population sedentaire de Jerusalem est d'environ 15,500 ames:"
Jews . . . 8,000 . . . Juifs
Muslims . .4,000 . . . Musulmans
Christians 3,490 . . . Chretiens
- - - - - - -------
. . . . . . . 15,490

This is the place for the name and other data about Famin's book:
L'Histoire de la rivalite et du protectorat des Eglises chretiennes en Orient (Paris: Firmin Didot freres, 1853). The breakdown of Jerusalem's population is on page 49.

Another book by Famin relevant to our topic was on the Arab invasions of Italy, Histoire des Invasions des Sarrasins en Italie du VIIe au XIe siecle (1843). He served in the French legations in Italy, Lisbon, London, and St Petersburg, and as consul in Yassy [sometimes Jassy], then part of the Ottoman Empire, now in Rumania. France under Napoleon III at that time was interested in defending Roman Catholic rights and privileges over the Christian holy places against the Greek Orthodox claims to the same sites, politically backed by Russia. Apparently, the French wanted to elaborate arguments to justify both the Roman Catholic claims and the right of France to represent those claims. For this purpose, they needed to base these arguments on contemporary and historical data as accurate as possible, consonant with serving their political purposes. Expounding the abovementioned themes is the main purpose of Famin's book. It is likely that he was aided in collecting data by other French diplomats, including the consul in Jerusalem.

Bear in mind that Famin mentions two other books; one, by the Prussian consul in Jerusalem, Ernst G. Schultz, of 1845 [Jerusalem, Eine Vorlesung], gives lower numbers for the Jewish population in Jerusalem than does Famin's book published eight years later. The other book is on the Christian holy places (also containing other social and geographic information about the Levant) by Monsignor Mislin [Les Saints Lieux]. This book, its first edition published in 1851, its second in 1857, gives a lower number for the Jewish population in Jerusalem [apparently the same in both editions]. Hence, Famin was well aware of other population figures for Jerusalem when he wrote his own book, and he names the books containing these other numbers. Yet, he consciously chose to present the numbers that he does. This conscious choice indicates a confidence likely based on reliable information obtained by personal inspection on site in Jerusalem and/or through French diplomats and churchmen in the Holy City. Famin shows himself to be a staunch Roman Catholic, so he does not seem to have any motive to falsify data in favor of the Jews, although he did believe that the Jews in Jerusalem were severely oppressed. Prof. Yehoshu`a Ben-Arieh has examined several sets of population counts for the 19th century in his Jerusalem in the 19th Century: The Old City (Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute, 1984). Unfortunately, Ben-Arieh's book does not take acccount of Famin's data of 1853 [repeated by Marx in 1854], nor of Gerardy Santine's estimate, published in 1860, that Jews were "a good half" of the Jerusalem population [Trois ans en Judee (Paris 1860)]. Ben-Arieh concludes that Jewish and non-Jewish [Muslims and Christians together] populations reached parity in Jerusalem in 1870. If he had consulted Famin, Marx and Santine, he might have seen parity as arriving earlier. Here are other links on Jerusalem's 19th century Jewish majority.

Islam and Non-Muslims
As said, Marx not only repeats Famin's population data and quotes from him at length --or paraphrases-- on the status of the Jews and other non-Muslims [called Rayahs by Famin and Marx] in Muslim [particularly Ottoman] society, but presents the Muslim outlook on the world and the non-believers within and without the Islamic domain. We quote below some of what Famin said on these matters, some of which may have have been relayed by Marx:
The law of Muhammad. . . recognizes in the whole world only two nations: the nation of believers and the nation of unbelievers. . . the latter are called rayahs [when they live in the Ottoman Empire as its subjects] . . . The second nation [both inside and outside the Islamic domain] embraces the totality of peoples who do not profess Islam: Christians, Jews, Buddhists . . . [Exactly which non-Muslim religion is of] Little importance! It is the nation of unbelievers. Every unbeliever is harby, which means enemy. . .
Islam has outlawed the nation of unbelievers, and has erected a permanent state of hostility between their country and that of the believers. War was declared against all non-Muslim peoples, from the very foundation of Islam . . .
Every good believer is obliged to go after the infidels, and to treat them as born enemies. Submission to the nation of the believers has for its purpose the obtaining, not of peace, but a simple truce; since peace is not possible except on one condition, that of apostasizing and embracing Islam . . . [pp 7-9]
- - - - - - - - -
Coming: More of Cesar Famin's views on the Jews in 19th century Jerusalem, the BBC and the Holocaust, poems of Zion, etc.


  • is this the Karl marx of Communist fame?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:42 PM  

  • yes, it's the same Karl Marx. Hard to believe, maybe, but true.

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