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Emet m'Tsiyon

Monday, April 24, 2006

A Turkish Muslim Calls Israel "Israel" -- Recognizes Its Jewish Identity

Before continuing with our account of the BBC and the Holocaust, we will pause for a change of pace. Today's post quotes from the travel account of Evliya Chelebi [Celebi], an educated Turk who came to Israel in the middle of the seventeenth century --1648-1650. Chelebi frankly recognized the Israelite history and ancient Jewish identity of the Land of Israel.

First, he applies the name "the province of Kan`an" [Canaan] to the vilayet of Tabaristan. This was the district around Tiberias [Tabariya in Arabic]. Then:

For this country is the Province of the Children of Israel. Here their prophets and their [prophets'] sons are met with [that is, in their graves], and individual shrines have been built here as their monuments. They are all mentioned in the chronicles.
In fact, the area around Tiberias, the Galilee, abounds in notable old Jewish tombs, although these are more often tombs of famous Talmudic era rabbis than of the prophets. However, there are many tombs throughout the country --north, south, and center-- ascribed to the Biblical prophets of Israel. Celebi uses the names of prophets invented by the Arab-Muslims, such as "the prophet Kan`an" in addtion to the Biblical prophets. Bear in mind too, that the Muslims call certain Biblical personalities prophets who in the Bible may be kings or generals, but not prophets, such as Adam, David and Solomon.

He also reports that at least one Jewish festival was, in part, celebrated by non-Jews as well, in the Galilee.
When the time of the Jewish feast approaches, i.e., the notorious Tabernacles [Sukkot], all people (`Arab ve-`ajem), mostly Druzes, Timanis, Yezidis, and Mervanis, are wont to assemble there. . . several thousand
Unfortunately, Celebi demonstrates the peculiar Muslim distortions of Biblical Israelite history in his account:
After the Deluge. . . Sam son of Nuh [Shem son of Noah] built Damascus and this town of Safad [in the Galilee]. . . It was the original home of the Children of Israel
Reporting on the taxes collected in various districts, and taxes kept the Ottoman Empire going, just like any other government, Celebi writes:
. . . there are many Jews [in Safad]
So at the time of his visit, around 1650, there were many Jews in Safad and they were paying taxes. In another place he writes:
Today between 70,000 and 80,000 Jews live there
This number is not accepted by today's authorities. The accounts given by medieval minds often highly inflated numbers. The numbers that Celebi gives of Jews in Safad at the time are probably at least twice the correct number, although Jews may have still been a majority there as they seem to have been in the 1500s. His description of Safad goes on:
The town consists entirely of Jewish houses. According to their vain belief, a Jew cannot be considered anything but a 'black Jew' (qara jifut) if he does not visit this city once in his life. . .
In the Jewish tradition Safad is considered one of four Jewish holy cities, although there is no rule about visiting it once in one's lifetime, that is commonly spoken of nowadays [Eliyahu m'Tsiyon has been there].
There are three caravanserais [in Safad]. One, the Pasha Khan. . . Previously 12,000 Jews lived in it. But at present they number only 2,000
[Evliya Celebi, Travels in Palestine, 1648-1650 (Jerusalem: Ariel 1980), pp 9, 10-12, 17-19, 23]
Right here we have enough information from a Muslim report to totally invalidate the claims made nowadays of a "Palestinian people" living alone and unbothered in "Palestine" from "time immemorial" until disturbed by Jewish-Zionist invaders. Celebi recognizes the Jews as the indigenous people of the Land.
- - - - - -
More to follow from Celebi's account. More on the BBC and the Holocaust, Jews in the Land of Israel, the British-aided Holocaust in Bagdad, etc.

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