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Emet m'Tsiyon

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

George Antonius, the Arab Nationalist as British Imperialist

George Antonius has a big reputation as a reliable historian of Arab nationalism. This reputation has been shattered and shredded by the research of Elie Kedourie, Sylvia Haim [Mrs Kedourie], and George Kirk. And others. Antonius, like T E Lawrence and Lowell Thomas, helped to create a romantic fable of resurgent Araby.

Antonius' reputation has benefitted from a long series of lies, not all of them of his own making, some originating from his admirers and the politically interested promoters of Arab nationalism, both Arabs and non-Arabs. However, most critical researchers have avoided confronting one of the big lies in the mythology surrounding Antonius. That is, that he was somehow a Third World revolutionary, an anti-imperialist, and all those other Good Things, an Edward Sa`id avant la lettre. Few things could be further from the truth, except that Sa`id was most likely a faker too in a way not much different from the Antonius form of fakery.

Antonius was an enthusiastic, sincere and unashamed British imperialist. He didn't hide it. Let's look at the evidence. He was awarded the respected British imperial honorific, the CBE, by the King in the 1920s. CBE stands for Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Is that enough? Well, let's go on. One of his friends, Thomas Hodgkin, who worked in the British administration of the Land of Israel under the Mandate in the 1930s, wrote that Antonius was disappointed in the CBE. Not because he was an anti-imperialist, but because he had hoped for a more prestigious decoration: the CMG, Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George.

Next, he was born in Dayr al-Qamar in southern Lebanon to a Greek Orthodox family and brought to Egypt by his family as a child. British rule had made Egypt a place with more public order than heretofore and therefore, a place where energetic people could prosper by developing cotton raising, commerce, and industry. In other words, George's father was a settler, a colonist in a country under British occupation. Moreover, he chose a British education for his child, sending him to Victoria College [which ran up to high school] in Alexandria. Victoria College seems to have been named after Queen Victoria, an imperialist if there ever was one. Upon graduation, George went on to Cambridge where he is said to have done well. Coming back from Cambridge after World War One, he obtained a position as the deputy chief censor for the British administration running the Egyptian postal service. Now, does this register? Here Antonius was the deputy chief censor for the British imperial rulers in Alexandria. Does this position qualify George as an imperialist? Nor, incidentally, was he a "Palestinian" Arab, despite the moronic and deceitful mystique makers [Kimmerling & Migdal, for instance].

In 1920, he took a trip to the UK to raise funds for his alma mater, Victoria College. Yet Victoria College was a colonial institution, n'est-ce pas? In the early 1920s he came to Israel, then under British mandatory rule, to take up a position as a high level civil servant in the British administration. In fact, he considered himself more British than Arab, and even after writing his famous fable about Arab nationalism, The Arab Awakening [1938], he continued to associate closely with British officials and to feel tremendous admiration for Britain and the Empire.
Sir Gilbert Clayton [Brigadier Clayton] and George Antonius (in white suit) with King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud (center), Jedda circa 1925. Ibn Sa`ud had conquered the Hijaz [western Arabia] from the Hashemite family in 1925 with the consent of his own British agent, H St John Philby [father of Kim]. The Sa`ud clan had ruled the Najd [or Nejd = central Arabia] prior to that. In 1925, the House of Sa`ud set up what came to be called in 1927 The Kingdom of Hijaz and Najd. The kingdom did not take on the name Saudi Arabia until 1932.

In the 1920s, he took time out from his service in the administration to go off on diplomatic missions with British officials, such as Brigadier Clayton [Sir Gilbert Clayton], who needed his help in negotiating with Arab potentates. It was 1930 when Antonius left the British mandatory administration in Israel and went to work for the New York-based Institute for Current World Affairs, probably at higher pay. This Institute was the creature of a super-rich American, Charles R Crane, who may have been the model for the Daddy Warbucks character in the Little Orphan Annie comic strip. Crane had been an American diplomat in China and was sent to the Middle East by President Wilson after WW One as part of the King-Crane Commission. No less interesting for Emet m'Tsiyon is that Crane was a fanatical Judeophobe, perhaps much like Henry Ford, another multi-millionaire Judeophobe much admired by Hitler. Crane met Hitler and was favorably impressed. Through his employee George Antonius, Crane met Haj Amin el-Husseini [al-Husayni], the British-appointed mufti of Jerusalem, he too an admirer of Hitler. Antonius dedicated his book, The Arab Awakening, to Crane, whom he nicknamed "Harun al-Rashid." The dedication explicitly says "affectionately."

Crane gave funds to the Mufti in order to support the so-called Arab Revolt in Israel in the mid-1930s, which Horace Samuel described as a "Revolt by Leave," in the title of his book on the subject. Crane hoped to unite the Muslims and the Catholics against the Jews. This was Antonius' employer to whom Antonius dedicated his book, "affectionately." Horace Samuel called his own book, Revolt by Leave, since he showed how the British administration in Israel worked for the success of the "revolt."

During the Holocaust, Husseini, so admired by Antonius and Crane, lived in Berlin under Nazi protection and urged the Germans to kill more Jews faster. In Jerusalem, before separating from his wife, Katy, Antonius lived in a home rented from Husseini and called Karm al-Mufti [the mufti's vineyard]. This house was the locus of the joint social life of Arab notables and intellectuals and high British officials in Jerusalem. This was Katy Antonius' famous salon, where few Jews were invited. Antonius died in 1942 but his wife continued her salon. One of her guests at the salon, who seems to have stayed later than others and maybe often did not leave until the morning was General Evelyn Barker, the high commander of British-occupation forces in Israel. At any rate, some of Katy and Evelyn's romantic correspondence has been published. Apparently he heartily hated Jews.

About two hundred yards down the street from Katy's home in Jerusalem, Karm al-Mufti, was the poor Jewish neighborhood of Shim`on haTsadiq built next to the tomb of Simon the Just. Arab terrorists, called "irregulars" in those days, attacked the neighborhood in December 1947. Most Jews fled before the end of December, however, one family --then called Mizrahi, now Qedmi-- stayed for about another week and a half. They fled in the first ten days of January 1948. This neighborhood was the first residential area in Israel where the inhabitants fled and could not return after Israel's War of Independence. The area was eventually taken over by the Transjordanian Arab Legion, commanded by British General John Bagot Glubb, called Glubb Pasha. Jews were forbidden to live in Transjordan, later called Jordan. The driving out of the Jews of Shim`on haTsadiq is not mentioned by the many apologists for Antonius, who was their neighbor, geographically at least.

For reliable info in Antonius' career and politics, and critiques of The Arab Awakening, see below:
Fuad Ajami, Dream Palace of the Arabs (NY 1998)
F W Brecher, "Charles R Crane's Crusade for the Arabs..." Middle Eastern Studies, XXIV (January 1988).
Adeed Dawisha [search the Internet, do a google: "adeed dawisha" + "george antonius"]
Isaiah Friedman, book review by Friedman in Israel Affairs, 2002; book by Friedman, Palestine, A Twice Promised Land, reviewed in Israel Affairs 4, 1 (Spring 1999); same book by Friedman also reviewed as below by
Michael Fry (reviewing Friedman) in Israel Studies, 7, 1 (Spring 2000)
Elliott A Green, "The Curious Careers of Two Advocates of Arab Nationalism: A Sidelight on the History of an Idea," Crossroads (Jerusalem), no. 33 [1992]
Sylvia Haim, "The Arab Awakening... " in Die Welt des Islams n.s. II (1953)
Elie Kedourie, England and the Middle East... (Hassocks, Sussex, 1978)
________. The Chatham House Version and Other Middle Eastern Studies (London 1970).
George Kirk, "The Arab Awakening Reconsidered," Middle Eastern Affairs, XIII (1962)
Martin Kramer, "Ambition's Discontent: The Demise of George Antonius," in U Dann, The Great Powers in the Middle East. . . (New York 1988).
Martin Kramer, "Ambition, Arabism, and George Antonius." [on the Internet- click on article's name]
Liora Lukitz, "The Antonius Papers and the Arab Awakening . . ." Middle Eastern Studies, October 1994.

ADDED BIBLIOGRAPHY 3-21-2007 Link to history of "Christian Zionism" to which Antonius' patron, the pro-Nazi Charles R Crane was opposed, as recounted here.

Here are a few references to authors who knew him personally and wrote about him, usually favorably:
Vincent Sheean, A Personal History ( Boston 1969)
Freya Stark, The Arab Island (New York 1945)
________. Dust in the Lion's Paw (New York 1962)
Christopher Sykes, Crossroads to Israel (London 1957)

But our cake would not be complete without a cherry on top. In keeping with the low standards of so many fashionable, recent publications dealing with Israel and the Arabs, and in the spirit of the Arab mystique --and its late offspring, the "palestinian" Arab mystique-- that Antonius himself did so much to create, supported by Charles Crane's money, one Susan Silsby Boyle has written a fairy tale or fable for adult children in the guise of a biography of George Antonius. The book is full of lies and significant omissions, but it is entertaining, if you know what the lies are. It is the kind of book that you can take to bed for a laugh, or, if you take it at face value, it is rather like a three-hankie tearjerker movie, starring Rosalind Russell perhaps. So, in the spirit of keep 'em laughing and don't trip over the low level of academic research embodied by the book, here is the title:
Susan Silsby Boyle, Betrayal of Palestine: The Story of George Antonius (Boulder 2001)
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Coming: Jews in Jerusalem, etc.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Yehudah HaLevi -- Zion! Wilt Thou Not Ask?

Here's another Yehudah haLevi poem of Zion. Part of this rather long poem, dealing with Hebron , is already up on this site. HaLevi was one of the great poets of Zion of the Middle Ages, if not the greatest. Nina Salaman, in her translation of HaLevi, called this poem as above in the title here.
David Goldstein in his translation gave a different title, "Longing for Zion." I prefer Nina Salaman's title.

from Zion! Wilt Thou Not Ask? ? ציון ! הלא תשאלי

Zion, will you not ask after your imprisoned ones,
The remnant of your flocks, who seek your peace?
From west and east, and north and south,
From far and near, take greetings, from all sides,
And peace from the captive of desire, whose tears fall
Like Hermon's dew, while he longs to shed them on your hills.
I am a jackal mourning your affliction, and when I dream
Of the return of your captives I am a lyre accompanying your songs.
. . . . [translation by David Goldstein, Penguin edition]

The poem is much longer. This part will suffice for now. Shabbat Shalom.

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Coming: More poems of Zion; George Antonius, the Arab Nationalist as British Imperialist; Amin el-Husseini, Hitler's favorite Arab, etc.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Yehudah haLevi on Israel's Captivity among Arabs and Europeans

Yehudah haLevi was born in Spain and lived in both the Christian and Muslim-Arab sectors of Iberia. Later, his Zionist passions led him to Israel during the Crusading period of the Middle Ages.

Dialogue between Israel and God

My friend, the days of my affliction have compelled me
To dwell in the scorpion's and the viper's company,
In captivity.
Have mercy on me.

My soul despairs of the rise of the dawn,
To wait and hope morn after morn.
What can I say, O my lover, when
Edom is in my citadel, born free,
And I am subject to the Arab and the Admoni,
Who oppress me.
Like the dregs of humanity?

My name which once stood supreme
Has become in strangers' mouths a mark of shame,
The Ammonite, the Moabite, and Hagar's line,
Glorify themselves in visions because of me,
Despising the word of God and Palmoni
Enticing me
By false prophecy.

Come let us return to the gardens, my friend,
To gather there both lilies and nard.
How can the doe live with the jackal's herd?
. . . .

"Be ready for the end, even if it tarries;
For I have not put another nation in your place.
You have chosen Me. You also are My choice.

"Which other people in the north or the south is to Me
Like My son, bound as a sacrifice, My power's primacy,
Who loves Me?
Which god is like Me?"
[translated by David Goldstein in The Jewish Poets of Spain (Penguin 1971), pp 119-120]

In this poem, the Europeans and the Arabs are signified by the scorpion and the viper, which becomes more obvious in the second stanza when he mentions the Arab explicitly and uses Edom too, which is the symbolic usual name for Europeans/Christians. Further, the Admoni seems to refer to Edom. In Genesis Esau is described as reddish in hair. He is also considered the ancestor of Edom [Edom is related to adom, meaning red in Hebrew. Admoni means reddish.]. Because Edom rhymes somewhat with Rome [actually Romi in ancient Hebrew], Edom became a code word for Rome when it was not safe to directly criticize or speak against Rome. Christendom, seen as the heir of Rome, was also called Edom. Hagar's line refers to the Arabs, descended from Ishmael, Hagar's son. Since Hagar is described as a slave in Genesis, connecting the Arabs with Hagar was a contemptuous way of referring to them by both Jews and Byzantine [Greek-speaking] Christians. They were sometimes called Sons [or Children] of Hagar in Hebrew, and Hagarenes in Greek. He describes Edom as being in his citadel. Hence, the poem was likely written while the Crusaders controlled Jerusalem.

HaLevi sees the exile as captivity and humiliation, perpetrated by two enemies, Christendom and Arab Islam, characterized as scorpions, vipers, and jackals. This was the Zionism of the Middle Ages.
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Coming: Jews in Jerusalem, Jews under Islamic oppression, more poems of Zion, etc.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Mufti of Jerusalem Incited the 1941 Farhud [pogrom], according to Iraqi Investigation

The Mufti's pro-Nazi Iraqi associates incited a pogrom in Baghdad which killed an estimated 600 Jews while British troops stayed outside the city on June 1 & 2, 1941. This pogrom, called the Farhud, has been described and discussed on previous posts. Moreover, the differing descriptions of it by various Arab and British and Jewish sources and authorities have been quoted. It used to be notorious that Baghdad in the late 1930s and through the 1940s was a hotbed of pro-Nazi Arab nationalist agitation, much of it carried out by Arab nationalists from outside Iraq given refuge there. One such was Haj Amin el-Husseini [al-Husayni], the British-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem, who was one of the instigators or violence against Jews in Israel in the mid-1930s [from 1936-39]. The British police claimed to be looking for him to arrest him in 1938. He supposedly had taken refuge on the Temple Mount, the ancient Jewish holy place taken over by Muslims after their conquest and transformed into a Muslim "holy place" in about 692 CE by the `Umayyad caliph ruling from Damascus, who wanted his own holy place to compete with Mecca and Medina that were under rebel control at that time.

Getting back to the Mufti. The British let him leave the Temple Mount in disguise and go to French-controlled Lebanon. He spent some time there and from Lebanon he went on to Baghdad in Iraq, ruled by a king [through a regent at that time] of the Hashemite dynasty still ruling in Jordan. Under the monarch, Iraq had a parliamentary government subject to military coups d'e'tat. He was followed by an entourage of Arabs from leading Palestinian Arab families. His own nephew Abdul-Qader al-Husayni was with him there, as was Jamal Husseini, another relative and political aide. Abdul-Qader's son, born in Baghdad, was Faisal Husseini, notorious as a peace faker and terrorism promoter living in Jerusalem from the 1970s [or earlier] to 2001. The Husseinis and others were making pro-Nazi propaganda in Iraq from the late 1930s through the early 1940s.

After Rashid Ali al-Gaylani [Kaylani] and high officers in partnership with him overthrew the government of Iraq, they made several demands on the British, eventually starting a war with them, and besieging a British base present in Iraq by treaty with Iraq [called Habbaniyyah]. The British won the war, marching up to Baghdad. A pogrom against local Jews began apparently instigated by supporters of the Rashid Ali regime. The British troops sat outside the city for two days [June 1 & 2, 1941] while the pogrom [Farhud] proceeded.

Subsequent to the restoration of order in the country, an official Iraqi investigating commission reported that the Mufti of Jerusalem and his entourage were among the factors causing the pogrom. Husseini, after arriving in Iraq,
began disseminating Nazi propaganda with great cunning... His entourage also engaged in wide-scale anti-Jewish and anti-British propaganda activities among all classes.
The report added,
The Palestinian and Syrian schoolteachers [in Iraq opposed] government... steps against Nazism. [Norman Stillman, The Jews of Arab Lands in Modern Times (Philadelphia, 1991); 414-15]
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Coming: More about the pro-Nazi career of the Mufti of Jerusalem, more about Jews in Jerusalem in the 19th century, poems of Zion, etc.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The pro-Nazi Mufti of Jerusalem Enjoys High Standing in Iraq, Meets British Officials under Iraqi Government Sponsorship


One of the sinister characters infesting Baghdad before the Farhud was Haj Amin el-Husseini [al-Husayni], the British-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem. An Iraqi government commission investigating the causes of the Farhud found that the Mufti's Judeophobic, pro-Nazi agitation had been one of the factors preparing the way for the anti-Jewish Farhud, June 1&2, 1941 [see next post].

To illustrate the high standing that Husseini enjoyed in Iraq with the leading politicians there, before the war with the British, the Mufti held talks with the British together with Nuri al-Sa`id, a notoriously pro-British politician, in an effort to increase Arab gains ensuing from the 1939 "Palestine White Paper" issued by the Neville Chamberlain government. The White Paper policy was an official disavowal by the UK of its commitment --its mandate-- to foster development of the Jewish National Home in the ancient Jewish homeland. It restricted Jewish immigration into Israel to 15,000 per year for the coming five years, after which any Jewish immigration would be subject to Arab approval [which obviously would not be given]. This policy was instituted at the very time when the Jews most needed a national home, when the Jews needed a country to which they could freely immigrate, the years of the Holocaust. The policy was found illegal by the League of Nations Permanent Mandates Commission, whereas it was the League which had assigned the mandate to Britain to foster development of the Jewish National Home. The Commission's finding did not deter His Majesty's Govt. It was clearly an anti-Jewish, anti-Zionist policy, although a whole school of professional liars well-ensconced in Western universities tries mightily to obscure the truth about the period of the White Paper.

In 1940, the Mufti negotiated with a British representative, Colonel Newcombe, about "settlement of the Palestine problem." Husseini was backed up by the Iraqi foreign minister, the pro-British Nuri al-Said:
. . . General Nuri tried to reconcile the Iraqi, as well as the Arab, nationalists with Great Britain. When Colonel S F Newcombe came out to Baghdad in July 1940 on semi-official business, General Nuri, then Foreign Minister, in agreement with Prime Minister Rashid Ali, held several meetings at which Haj Amin Husayni, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Jamal Husayni [a relative of the Mufti], and Musa al-Alami were present. A suggestion was transmitted through Colonel Newcombe, and with his agreement, to the British Government for the settlement of the Palestine problem: the White Paper of 1939 was to be accepted as the basis of the Palestine settlement and the transition period was to be fixed at ten years. The Iraqi Government decided, in August 1940, that in return for such a settlement it would make a formal declaration of war on the Axis Powers and place one-half of the Iraqi forces at the disposal of the Middle East Command for service outside Iraq. General Nuri left for Cairo to communicate the decision of the Iraqi Government to General Wavell, and the whole arrangement was referred to London, but there was no response from the British Government. It was most unfortunate that no reply was made to either Iraq or to the Palestinian leaders, since the British Government's silence was construed to mean that no just settlement was contemplated in London. From that time on, declared General Nuri to the writer [to Khadduri], the attitude of the Iraqi nationalists became increasingly hostile towards England. [Majid Khadduri, Independent Iraq (1st ed; London: Oxford Univ Press, 1951), p 170]

Note that Khadduri says that a "just settlement" is a settlement that the Arabs want. Moreover, it is quite obvious that the Palestinian Arabs were in no way alone. According to Khadduri's account, they had the backing of the Arab world which intervened in their favor with the British.
Furthermore, British policy had become quite clearly anti-Jewish and pro-Arab from 1939 on, the Holocaust years. Of course, the Arabs, as experts in always chiseling a little more out of their negotiating partners, were not satisfied. The White Paper did not go far enough for them. But since they had expected further British concessions to them, this shows that their evaluation of the White Paper policy was that it was pro-Arab. Furthermore, a year later [May 1941], Anthony Eden, the British foreign secretary, called on the Arabs to move towards unity. Eden's call, repeated in 1943, eventuated in the Arab League.

Further, note that Amin el-Husseini negotiated with the British together with the Iraqi foreign minister and enjoyed his support in the negotiations. This means that there was not then --just as there is not now-- a separate, distinct "Palestinian people." Further, Khadduri indicates that "Iraqi nationalists" were just a species of Arab nationalist, just as the Mufti is perceived as an Arab leader, not strictly a "Palestinian" leader. The British representative, Newcombe, who was in Baghdad on "semi-official business" [Khadduri, p 170], talked with the Mufti, although he was supposedly wanted for crimes in the so-called Arab Revolt in Israel, from 1936-1939. I say "so-called" since the "revolt" was in fact a "revolt by leave" [by permission of the British] in the words of Horace Samuel in his pamphlet of the same name. After leaving Iraq upon the defeat of the Rashid Ali government by the British and auxiliary forces, the Mufti made his way to Berlin where he lived for most of the rest of the war and participated in the Holocaust. Rashid Ali too spent the war years in Berlin.

Most importantly, note that the Jews were contemptuously cast aside by the British when the Jews most needed friends. Even then, the Arabs had more population, more territory, and more oil than the Jews.

ADDITION: The very fact that the Arabs wanted to use the 1939 White Paper as the basis of negotiations shows that they viewed it as a pro-Arab document.
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Coming: An Iraqi government commission investigates the causes of the Farhud, Jews in Jerusalem, oppression of Jews in Muslim lands, etc.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Glamourous Glimpses of Life in Baghdad around the Time of the Farhud, 1941

Freya Stark, a British political agent in Baghdad in the early 1940s, has left glimpses of life in the city around the time of the Farhud.

Did I tell you that the black-out here had to be stopped because everyone knifed everyone else in the dark? The papers said it had been such a success there was no need to continue. [quoting her own letter of the time; Dust in the Lion's Paw, p 127]
The Iraqi army in 1942, a year after the fall of the pro-Nazi Kilani government
was largely Nazi at least [p 131]
. . . the army was still largely Nazi in sympathy [pp 131-132]

By July [1942] the country [Iraq] was seething with disguised Nazis and swastikas were appearing everywhere -- even on the back of my car. The Jews were doing us almost more harm than the enemy, afraid not so much of the Germans as of the Iraqis [p 133]
Now, if she couldn't understand why the Jews in Iraq at that time should have been more afraid of the Iraqis, that is, the Arab Iraqis, than of the Germans, then she must have been very thick.
There were few Germans in Iraq in 1942. The Nazis had helped to inspire the Arab pogromists, but the pogromists were Arab Muslims. Of course, the Nazis must have been pleased that Arabs were helping in their work of mass murder of Jews, but the Germans were far away and the Iraqi Arabs were very close geographically to the Jews. I would ask further why the Jews should have trusted the British, since the British army had stayed outside the city and allowed the pogrom to proceed for two days [June 1 & 2, 1941] without intervening, even though some in the army would have been ready to intervene to stop the pogrom, so it seems from Somerset de Chair's account.
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Coming: Iraqi investigators find the British-appointed muft of Jerusalem guilty, among others, for preparing the way for the Farhud; Jews in Jerusalem, etc.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Jewish tombstone from Zo`ar at south end of Dead Sea

For those who need proof of Jewish history in rock-solid form, here's a Jewish tombstone from Zo`ar (צוער), at the south end of the Dead Sea. Although Zo`ar is now in the kingdom of Jordan, it had a Jewish population in Second Temple times, and even during and after the Bar Kokhba revolt (135 CE). In the Byzantine period, when Jews were forbidden to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, except on the 9th of Av, many Jews coming from Arabia would go to Zo`ar as the closest place where they could go, in order to get close to Jerusalem. Over the years, about 30 Jewish tombstones have been found at Zo`ar, usually inscribed in both Hebrew and Aramaic.

Click for larger view. The stone is now found in the Hecht Museum at the University of Haifa.

This stone is dated to 374 years after the destruction of the Second Temple, which is 442-443 CE, as we learn from the inscription. Notice not only the Hebrew writing, but also the menorah below the writing. The menorah was a well known, commonly used Jewish symbol in ancient times. The writing is similar in the form of the letters to that on the Dead Sea scrolls. It is readable to Hebrew readers today, although somewhat difficult.

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Coming: the Iraqi army around the time of the Farhoud, Jews in Jerusalem, et cetera.