Muslim Oppression of Non-Muslims in Jerusalem, the Jews at the bottom of the social ladder, 1853, a contemporary French diplomat's account
Famin reports, moreover, that the Jews --despite being a majority of the Holy City's population-- were at the bottom of the social ladder, even below the Christians, who were dhimmis or rayahs like themselves. We will publish a series of relevant quotes from his book in English translation followed by his French original.
"The Muslims, who make up about one-quarter of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, are the masters here in every matter. This population, made up of Turks, Arabs, and Moors, is harsh to the Christians and the Jews, eager for gain, cruel to the weak, intolerant and jealous towards all those who do not share their beliefs."
Les musulmans, qui forment a peu pres le quart des habitants de Jerusalem, sont ici les maitres en toute chose. Cette population, composee de Turcs, d'Arabes, et de Maures, est rude aux chretiens et aux juifs; apres au gain, cruelle avec les faibles, intolerante et jalouse a l'egard de tous ceux qui ne partagent pas ses croyances. [p50]Karl Marx by the way paraphrased and translated this passage in his own article in the New York Daily Tribune [quoted in earlier posts].
After relating how Ottoman soldiers control entry into the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Famin goes on [Part of this passage too is paraphrased by Marx]:
". . . but of all the foreign nations that frequent the holy places subject to the good pleasure of the Muslims, there is none more ill-treated and more subject to extortion than the Jewish nation.
"We have seen above that the Jews form by themselves more than half of the population of the holy city. They inhabit in Jerusalem a quarter named after them (Hareth-el-Yahoud), . . . this quarter. . . is situated near the Sterquiline gate or the Rubbish Gate [now usually called the Dung Gate in English], now called the Mugrabi Gate. Thus, we may say that the expulsion of these former owners of the country is complete."
. . . mais de toutes les nations etrangeres qui frequentent les lieux saints sous le bon plaisir des musulmans il n'en est pas de plus maltraitee et de plus ranconnee que la nation juive.This passage too was translated and paraphrased by Marx. We continue:
On a vu plus haut que les juifs forment a eux seuls plus de la moitie de la population de la ville sainte. Ils habitent, a Jerusalem, un quartier auquel on a donne leur nom (Hareth-el-Yahoud), . . . Ce quartier. . . est situe pres de la porte Sterquiline ou des immondices, appelee maintenant porte des Maugrabins. Ainsi on peut dire que l'expulsion de ces anciens maitres du pays est complete. [ p 51-52]
"In our times too, many projects for reestablishing the Jewish nation as a political society, and for reintegrating it in the homeland of its ancestors have been conceived and loudly announced; the support of men praiseworthy for their character, influential due to their wealth or their position, has not been lacking for these chimerical attempts which have never been crowned with even the most ephemeral success. To whatever faith one belongs, whatever degree of faith one carries in one's heart, there are however historical facts before which one must bend. The dispersion of the Jewish people has been consommated, and one may say that it will never end"
De nos jours aussi on a concu et annonce fastueusement bien des projets pour reconstituer la nation juive en societe politique, et pour la reintegrer dans la patrie de ses ancetres; l'appui d'hommes recommandables par leur caractere, influents par leur richesses ou leur position, n'a pas manque a ces chimeriques tentatives, qui n'ont jamais ete couronnees meme par le succes le plus ephemere. A quelque croyance qu'on appartienne, quelque degre de foi qu'on porte dans son coeur, il est cependant des faits historiques devant lesquels il faut s'incliner. La dispersion du peuple juif est consommee, et on peut dire qu'elle n'aura jamais de fin [pp 53-54]Famin is wrong in insinuating that the Jewish exile will never end. Indeed, there may always be a Jewish dispersion, but the population of the Land of Israel is now Jewish in its majority, just as Jerusalem had a Jewish majority in Famin's day.
Famin goes on, offering us more depiction of Jewish suffering in Muslim-dominated Jerusalem that is politically incorrect by today's standards:
"Nothing equals the misery and the sufferings of the Jews of Jerusalem, the constant object of the insults and intolerance of the Mohammedans, insulted by the Greeks, in hostile relations with the Latins. . ."
Rien n'egale la misere et les souffrances des juifs de Jerusalem, objet perpetuel des avanies et de l'intolerance des mahometans, insultes par les Grecs, en hostilite avec les Latins. . . [p 54]Here too Marx copied from Famin. Speaking of the Jews in Jerusalem, Famin writes:
"While waiting for death, they suffer and pray; they weep over the misfortunes of Zion . . . "
En attendant la mort, ils souffrent et ils prient; ils pleurent sur les malheurs de Sion . . . [p 54]Somehow, the oft vaunted tolerance of the Muslims towards Jews does not seem to appear in Famin's account. It is clear that the Jews not only suffered as dhimmis, like the Christians, but that they were at the bottom of the social ladder, since the Muslims treated them worse than they treated Christians and since Christians too treated the Jews with a high hand. Henry Laurens of the prestigious College de France, considered the top French expert today on the modern history of the Land of Israel, skipped over this evidence and similar accounts in his deeply flawed, two-volume work, La Question de Palestine, purporting to be an accurate history of the Land of Israel since Napoleon. His book by the way simply overflows with reference notes, but some contemporary evidence does not find its way into the book. Like the New York Times, Laurens prints what fits his argument, which favors Arab nationalism, Islam, and the PLO.
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Coming: more on Jews in Jerusalem, poems of Zion, BBC on the Holocaust, etc.