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Emet m'Tsiyon

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Islamic Influence on Hitler -- Can It Be True?

Le fascisme vert -- c'est l'islamisme!
["Green fascism -- that's Islamism!" Khalida Massaoudi, Algerian feminist]

We hear a lot these days about Islamofascism and Green Fascism, even in some mainstream American publications that are almost always ready to bend over backwards in order not to say anything bad or mean or even unfavorable or unpleasant about the Arabs or Islam, even if it's true. The term Islamofascism implies that there is a brand of fascism that is Islamic, just as there were German and Spanish and Italian, Hungarian, Croatian, etc., varieties of fascism. What this label overlooks is that there was Islamic influence on Hitler himself in developing his mass murderous ideas.

Muhammad `Inayat Allah Khan [also called al-Mashriqi] was a Muslim theologian born in Punjab in 1888. Yet he was not an Indian nationalist. He wanted a Muslim state for the Indian Muslims, separate from India. In another words, he was an exponent of the Pakistan idea, which Walter Wallbank describes in his A Shorter History of India and Pakistan.

Khan spent time in Europe, including Berlin, where he met the Fuehrer in the early years of his leadership of the National Socialist [Nazi] Party. Their meeting took place in 1926 in the National Library. Here is the gist of Khan's report on his relationship with Hitler.

"I was astounded when he [Hitler] told me that he knew about my Tazkirah. The news flabbergasted me. . . I found him very congenial and piercing. He discussed Islamic Jihad with me in details. In 1930 I sent him my Isharat concerning the Khaksar movement with a picture of a spade-bearer Khaksar at the end of that book. In 1933 he started his Spade Movement." [pp 11-12; see source data below]

So, Hitler started his own Spade Movement. In other words, Hitler copied something that Khan was doing. More importantly, Hitler was interested in Islamic Jihad. That means, that Hitler, who worshipped war, was interested in how the Jihad concept could help him conduct fanatic, perpetual war by means of his own people.

The Khaksar movement was similar to the Nazi SA, the brownshirts, in its "first stage," while Germany was still "demilitarized." Khan considered Hitler's Mein Kampf a "masterpiece." Members of Khaksar wore brown uniforms and carried a spade, "symbolizing both labor and a readiness to fight."

Islamic Jihad, that Hitler was so interested in, is defined by Jacques Ellul, one of the most eminent French sociologists:
But a major, two-fold fact transforms the jihad into something quite different from traditional wars, waged for ambition and self-interest, with limited objectives, where the "normal" situation is peace between peoples; [where] war in itself . . . must end in a return to peace. This two-fold [distinguishing] factor [of jihad] is first the religious nature, then the fact that war has become an institution (and no longer an "event"). . . This war is a religious duty. . .
In Islam . . . [in contrast with other religions], jihad is a religious obligation.
. . . jihad is not a "spiritual war" but a real military war of conquest. . .
. . . the second important specific characteristic is that the jihad is an institution and not an event, that is to say it is part of the normal functioning of the Muslim world.
[Jacques Ellul, in his Foreword to Bat Yeor, The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 1996), pp 18-19].

Obviously, Hitler found something here that he could like. Mmm. Perpetual war as a religious duty. Mmm.

[quotes from JMS Baljon, Modern Muslim Koran Interpretation, 1880-1960 (Leiden: EJ Brill, 1961), pp 11-12]
[also see article by Baljon in World of Islam, iii, 3-4 (1954), p 187.
UPDATING: `Inayat Allah Khan is also called, by Pakistanis, Allama Inayat Ullah Mashriqi
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Coming: Jews in Jerusalem under Arab-Muslim domination, Poems of Zion, etc.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Jews in Jerusalem in 1658 -- as seen by a British visitor

"The situation of the Jews at Jerusalem of late was such that they were unable to subsist without the aid of their brethren in the Diaspora, because the place does not offer the possibility of any work at all, or offers only very little. But their love for the place prompts them to remain there, albeit in great poverty and want. And their brethren in the Diaspora, living among the nations, displayed their desire to support them so that the place should not remain without at least a few members of their nation to watch over it as though it were their possession, and to demonstrate their hope until the full resurrection shall come to pass."
Henry Jessie, 1658
[quoted in Jerusalem, the Eternal Bond: An Unbroken Link with the Jewish People, eds., Ruth Charif and Simcha Raz (Tel Aviv: Don Pubs., 1977), pp 82, 84]

Jessie, a Britisher according to his name, foresees that Jerusalem will revert to the Jews at the time of resurrection, that is, at the End of Days. Interestingly, the Quran too says that the Jews will recover their Land at the End of Days. Nowadays, the Muslims, the Hamas no less than any others, pretend not to know what the Quran says in favor of Jewish rights in the Land.

Henry Laurens, author of a meretricious history of Israel since the time of Napoleon --La Question de Palestine-- insinuated in his book that the Jews of the world were not interested in Israel, in Jerusalem, in Zion, before Napoleon issued his call for Jews to aid him in return for which he would aid the restoration of the Jewish state. But this report belies Laurens. Jews lived in Jerusalem and received aid from Jews in the Diaspora more than a century before Napoleon issued his proclamation to the Jews.
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Coming: Jewish life in Jerusalem, Poems of Zion

Monday, January 23, 2006

Emma Lazarus on Hanukkah

Yes, I know. Hanukkah was a few weeks ago, starting on the 25th of Kislev [December 26] and ending on the 2nd of Tebeth [January 2]. But anyway, those were only a few weeks. So here is Emma Lazarus' poem dedicated to Hanukkah, as her poem in the previous post was dedicated to the Hasmonean family of the Maccabee brothers. Judas in the poem is nowadays usually called Judah the Maccabee, while John is Yehohanan or Yohanan. Mattathias is called Matityahu in Hebrew.

THE FEAST OF LIGHTS [= Hanukkah]

Kindle the taper like the steadfast star
Ablaze on evening's forehead o'er the earth.
And add each night a lustre till afar
An eightfold splendor shine above thy hearth.
Clash, Israel, the cymbals, touch the lyre,
Blow the brass trumpet and the harsh-tongued horn;
Chant psalms of victory till the heart take fire,
The Maccabean spirit leap new-born.

Remember how from wintry dawn till night,
Such songs were sung in Zion, when again
On the high altar flamed the sacred light,
And, purified from every Syrian stain,
the foam-white walls with golden shields were hung,
With crowns and silken spoils, and at the shrine,
Stood, midst their conqueror-tribe, five chieftains sprung
From one heroic stock, one seed divine.

Five branches grown from Mattathias' stem,
The Blessed John, the Keen-eyed Jonathan,
Simon, the fair, the Burst-of-Spring, the Gem,
Eleazar, Help-of-God; o'er all his clan
Judas the Lion-Prince, the Avenging Rod,
Towered in warrior-beauty, uncrowned king,
Armed with the breastplate and the sword of Good,
Whose praise is: "He received the perishing."

They who had camped within the mountain-pass,
Couched on the rock, and tented 'neath the sky,
Who saw from Mizpah's heights the tangled grass
Choke the wide Temple-courts, the altar lie
Disfigured and polluted --who had flung
Their faces on the stones, and mourned aloud
And rent their garments, wailing with one tongue,
Crushed as a wind-swept bed of reeds is bowed.

Even they by one voice fired, one heart of flame,
Though broken reeds, had risen, and were men,
They rushed upon the spoiler and o'ercame,
Each arm for freedom had the strength of ten.
Now is their mourning into dancing turned,
Their sackcloth doffed for garments of delight,
Week-long the festive torches shall be burned,
Music and revelry wed day with night.

Still ours the dance, the feast, the glorious Psalm,
The mystic lights of emblem, and the Word.
Where is our Judas? Where our five-branched palm?
Where are the lion-warriors of the Lord?

Clash, Israel, the cymbals, touch the lyre,
Sound the brass trumpets and the harsh-tongued horn,
Chant hymns of victory till the heart take fire,
The Maccabean spirit leap new-born!

Emma Lazarus' heroes were Bar Kokhba and Rashi, Ibn Gabirol and Yehudah haLevi, even Heine. Meanwhile, in America and Britain she became friendly with Ralph Waldo Emerson, the writer and philosopher, who encouraged her, and was personally acquainted with Thomas Wentworth Higginson and William Morris. At her death, she was eulogized by Robert Browning, John Greenleaf Whittier [he wrote of her that, since Moses' sister Miriam had sung by the Red Sea, ". . . The Semitic race has had no braver singer"], George Washington Cable [". . . she was the worthy daughter of a race to which the Christian world owes a large debt of gratitude, incurred from the days of Abraham until now. . ."], Claude Montefiore, John Hay, Richard Henry Dana, Harriet Beecher Stowe, etc. Walt Whitman too praised her.

Morris U Schappes points out [p 16] that she had Zionist sympathies years before Herzl wrote his The Jewish State. [The poems and other information in this and the previous post are all found in the Schappes edition of Emma Lazarus: Selections from her Poetry. . . ]

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Coming: More on Jews in Jerusalem, Poems of Zion, etc.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Emma Lazarus -- A Poem of Zion

Emma Lazarus was an American Jewish poetess of the late 19th century. Robert Browning, John Whittier, and George Washington Cable eulogized her at her death. Her most quoted lines are from the poem The New Colossus, engraved at the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor. See several verses from The New Colossus below the poem of Zion.

The Banner of the Jew

Wake, Israel, wake! Recall today
The glorious Maccabean rage,
The sire heroic, hoary-gray,
His five-fold lion lineage:
The Wise, the Elect, the Help-of-God,
The Burst-of-Spring, the Avenging Rod.

From Mizpeh's mountain-ridge they saw
Jerusalem's empty streets, her shrine
Laid waste where Greeks profaned the law,
With idol and with pagan sign.
Mourners in tattered black were there,
With ashes sprinkled in their hair.

Then from the stony peak there rang
A blast to ope the graves: down poured
The Maccabean clan, who sang
Their battle anthem to the Lord.
Five heroes lead, and following, see,
Ten thousand rush to victory!

Oh for Jerusalem's trumpet now,
To blow a blast of shattering power,
To wake the sleepers high and low,
And rouse them to the urgent hour!
No hand for vengeance --but to save,
A million naked swords should wave.

O deem not dead that martial fire,
Say not the mystic flame is spent!
With Moses' law and David's lyre,
Your ancient strength remains unbent.
Let but an Ezra rise anew,
To lift the Banner of the Jew!

A rag, a mock at first -- erelong,
When men have bled and women wept,
To guard its precious folds from wrong,
Even they who shrunk, even they who slept,
Shall leap to bless it, and to save.
Strike! for the brave revere the brave!
New York 1882

The fourth, fifth, and sixth lines of the first stanza refer to the five sons of Mattityahu [whom she calls "the sire"; his name is Mattathias in Greek, Latin, and English]. The next to the last stanza alludes to the Biblical book of Ezra. Mizpeh is believed to be a mountain not far northwest of Jerusalem, the highest mountain in the Jerusalem area, topped now by a village known as Nabi Samwil, or Prophet Samuel. A previous blog entry has discussed the traditional tomb of the Prophet Samuel at this location as a focus of Jewish pilgrimage and Arab efforts to usurp and dispossess the Jews.
Here are several lines from The New Colossus:

"Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. . .

An edition of her work with an introduction containing a biographical sketch and appreciations of her work appeared in 1944: Emma Lazarus: Selections from Her Poetry and Prose, Morris U. Schappes, ed., (New York 1944).
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Coming: quotes from the eulogies for Emma Lazarus, another Lazarus poem, more on Jews in Jerusalem before Herzl wrote The Jewish State, etc.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Gedaliah of Semyatich on Jewish Life in Jerusalem circa 1716 -- Part Three

Gedaliah of Siemiatycze's [Semyatich's] report on early 18th century Jerusalem continues.

No one can wear green, for this color is worn solely by Muslims. The latter are very hostile toward Jews and inflict upon them vexations in the streets of the city. It is rare however, for the Turkish or even the Arab notables to harm the Jews when passing them (in the street), but the common folk persecute the Jews, for we are forbidden to defend ourselves against the Turks or the Arabs. If an Arab strikes a Jew, he (the Jew) must appease him but must not rebuke him, for fear that he may be struck even harder, which they (the Arabs) do without the slightest scruple. This is the way the Oriental Jews react, for they are accustomed to this treatment, whereas the European Jews, who are not yet accustomed to being assaulted by Arabs, insult them in return. . .

Even the Christians are subject to these vexations. If a Jew offends a Muslim, the latter strikes him a brutal blow with his shoe in order to demean him, without anyone's being able to prevent him from doing it. The Christians fall victim to the same treatment and they suffer as much as the Jews, except that the former are very rich by reason of the subsidies that they receive from abroad, and they use this money to bribe the Arabs. As for the Jews, they do not possess much money with which to oil the palms of the Muslims, and consequently they are subject to much greater suffering.
Note that the Christians in Jerusalem were treated better by the Arabs because they were able to bribe them. Jews in Jerusalem got money from abroad too, but the resources of the various churches were obviously much greater than those the Jews of the Diaspora could supply to Jews in Israel. Of course, it is significant, although it may seem peculiar, that the Muslims were willing to temper their abuse for payment of a fee. This fits in with accounts from both the pre-Crusades period and the late 18th century.

It seems that today major world governments want to return the Jews to the status of humiliated persons subject to Arab-Muslim violence.
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Coming: Poems of Zion: Emma Lazarus, etc.
More on Jews in Jerusalem

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Gedaliah of Semyatich's Account of the Land of Israel [ca. 1716] -- Part Two

Gedaliah came from Semyatich [Siemiatycze] in Poland to Jerusalem in 1700. He published his book, Sha'alu Shlom Yerushalayim, in 1716. He gave attention to the travails of everyday life for dhimmis in the Land of Israel.

The Muslims do not allow entry to the Temple area to any member of another faith, unless he converts to their religion-- for they claim that no member of another religion is sufficiently pure to enter this holy spot. They never weary of claiming that, although God had originally chosen the people of Israel, He had since abandoned them on account of their iniquity in order to choose the Muslims.
In the Land of Israel, no member of any other religion besides Islam may wear the green color, even if it is a thread [of cotton] like that with which we decorate our prayer shawls. If a Muslim perceives it, that could bring trouble. Similarly, it is not permitted to wear a green or white turban. On the Sabbath, however, we wear white turbans, on the crown of which we place a piece of cloth of another color as a distinguishing mark.
The Christians are not allowed to wear a turban, but they wear a hat instead, as is customary in Poland. Moreover, the Muslim law requires that each religious denomination wear its specific garment so that each people may be distinguished from one another. This distinction also applies to footwear. Indeed, the Jews wear shoes of a dark blue color, whereas Christians wear red shoes. No one can use green, for this color is worn solely by Muslims.
[quoted in Bat Yeor, The Decline of Eastern Christianity. . . , p 378]

Gedaliah points out that the Muslims were very aware that, according to their religion's teachings [found in the Quran], the Jews were chosen. This is associated in the Quran with the divine assignment of the Holy Land to the Jews. See Sura 5:12, 20-22, inter alia. But the Muslims found an excuse to deny Jewish chosenness and, more significantly today, Jewish rights to their Land . The Jews had supposedly been wicked, and so had lost their rights to the Land. Therefore, how do the Muslims today explain Jewish control over the Land of Israel [that part west of the Jordan river] from 1967 until 1994 [when the Rabin-Peres-Beilin government gave up Gaza and Jericho to the mass murderer and monumental liar, arafat]??

Concerning the Temple Mount, there is evidence in documents from the Cairo Genizah, etc., that Jews were allowed to pray on the Temple Mount in the early years of Arab rule in Jerusalem. At a later period, the Arabs still employed Jews to clean up the Temple Mount compound. Further, Jews were long allowed --as it seems from documents cited by Moshe Gil-- to pray in an entry hall to the Mount on the west side, an entry hall on the ground level of the Tyropoeon Valley, from which hall stairs rose to the Temple Mount surface. This hall was blocked up by rubble in the late 1980s by the Muslim waqf officials with the express purpose of preventing Jews from entering the area underneath the Temple Mount through that ancient entrance. However, the outside of the entrance can be seen on tours of the Western Wall tunnel. This tunnel was actually formed when Muslims in the Mamluk period built houses and other structures on the level of the Temple Mount itself along the Western Wall considerably above the level of the ancient, Second Temple era, street, leaving hollows beneath these structures, thus creating a tunnel along the Western Wall. The lower level of the Western Wall is relatively intact throughout its whole length, although only a fraction of that length of wall is exposed.

Also note the detailed system of humiliations imposed on the non-Muslims, going down to the colors they were allowed or compelled or forbidden to wear in their attire. These rules were of course not restricted to Jerusalem. The famous work of Arab literature, The Thousand and One Nights, reports the differing colors associated with different religious groups in at least one of the stories that make it up, "The Tale of the Ensorcelled Prince."

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Coming: Gedaliah's account continued, poems of Zion, some more recent crucial events, nowadays little discussed, if known at all, etc.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Gedaliah of Semyatich Gives an Account of the Land of Israel [circa 1716] -- Part One

Gedaliah of Semyatich [Siemiatycze] came to settle in Jerusalem in 1700 from Semyatich [Siemiatycze] in Poland, east-northeast of Warsaw in the Bialystok region. He came as part of a group led by Rabbi Judah Hasid. Their purpose "was to hasten the redemption by ethical conduct, repentance, prayer, fasting, and self-mortification" [Encyc. Judaica, vol. 7]. He wrote a book published in Berlin in Hebrew in 1716, Sha'alu Shlom Yerushalayim [Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem]. Here he described his group's experiences, "the oppression of the authorities who extorted a great sum of money from them in the form of taxes and bribes; and the methods of collecting the poll tax. He also depicts Jerusalem life in general . . . the holy places, and especially the prayers at the Western Wall" [EJ]. Gedaliah's brother, Moses, was accepted as a teacher "in the yeshivah founded by Abraham Rovigo in Jerusalem" [EJ]. Gedaliah traveled abroad in order to raise funds to support Jews in Jerusalem.

In the current debates or discourse over the history of the Land of Israel, over the experiences of the Jews in the Land, and over Zionism, Gedaliah's book is an important testimony of the history of his times, which in fact fits in with what we know from other sources, in particular how the Jews were exploited by the Muslim government and the local Muslim notables. Gedaliah's testimony is important since it vitiates the politically tendentious arguments made by French "historian" Henry Laurens and by Columbia University English teacher, Edward Said, to be discussed below after Gedaliah's account.

Jews and Christians in Jerusalem (1700)
We Jews were obliged to give a large sum of money to the Muslim authorities in Jerusalem in order to be allowed to build a new synagogue. Although the old synagogue was small and we only wanted to enlarge it very slightly, it was forbidden under Islamic law to modify the least part. . . In addition to the expenses of bribes destined to win the favor of the Muslims, each male was obliged to pay an annual poll tax of two pieces of gold to the sultan. The rich man was not obliged to give more, but the poor man could not give less. Every year, generally during the festival of Passover, an official from Constantinople would arrive in Jerusalem. He who did not have the means to pay the tax was thrown into prison and the Jewish community was obliged to redeem him. The official remained in Jerusalem for about two months and consequently, during that period the poor people would hide wherever they could, but if they were ever caught, they would be redeemed by community funds. The official sent his soldiers throughout the streets to control [check] the papers of the passersby, for a certificate was provided to those who had already paid the tax. If anyone was found without his certificate, he had to present himself before the official with the required sum, otherwise he was imprisoned until such time as he could be redeemed. . .
The Christians are also obliged to pay the poll tax. . . The Muslims, however, are not permitted to exact payment of the tax on the Sabbath or Holy Days, and consequently we could walk the streets unmolested on those days. However, during the week, the paupers dared not show themselves outside. Likewise, the soldiers are not allowed to carry out their controls [checks] to collect the tax from door to door, and all the less so in prayer houses. But in their wickedness, the soldiers would go to the synagogues, waiting by the doors, requesting the certificate of payment from the congregants who emerged. . . No Jew or Christian is allowed to ride a horse, but a donkey is permitted, for [in the eyes of Muslims] Christians and Jews are inferior beings. . .
[quoted from Bat Yeor, The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 1996), pp 377-378]

How kind!! No extortion of "taxes" on Sabbaths or Holy Days!!

Now why is Gedaliah's account significant in regard to the writings of Henry Laurens and Eddy Said? They both select Napoleon's invasion of Egypt [1798] as a turning point in the Middle East. Indeed, it was. But not for everything. Laurens insinuates that Jews throughout the world were not interested in the Land of Israel before Napoleon came to Egypt and issued his famous Zionist proclamation to the Jews to restore a Jewish state in Zion. This is of course a lie for many reasons. And there is much documentation to refute it, including Gedaliah's story of Jews who came from Poland to Jerusalem in 1700, ninety-nine years before Napoleon marched into the Land of Israel in 1799, after having taken Egypt in 1798.

Then Eddy Said plays another trick with Napoleon's expedition to Egypt. He cites several writers, including Chateaubriand and Edward Lane, who came to the Middle East in the early 19th century after Napoleon's invasion, and wrote unflattering pictures of Arab-Muslim society. Said tries to explain these accounts as having been somehow impossible to write before the time that Napoleon came to Egypt. In other words, he says that these accounts were products of Napoleon's imperialism, that is, of imperialism tout court.In fact, Chateaubriand and Lane's accounts fit in with accounts written before Napoleon's invasion of Egypt. Consider Carsten Niebuhr's account of the oppression of dhimmis in Egypt written in the second half of the 18th century [His trip to the Levant was from 1761-1767]. Gedaliah's report too, written close to one hundred years before Napoleon came to Israel, fits in with Niebuhr and Lane's pictures of the oppression of dhimmis in Egypt, which Napoleon did not end. His report also refutes Laurens' insinuation that Jews were not interested in coming to live in the Land of Israel before Napoleon.
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Coming: Part Two of Gedaliah's account, Poems of Zion, other updatings on old subjects.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Felix Fabbri's Dos & Don'ts for Christian Pilgrims [circa 1482]

Felix Fabri [or Fabbri] was a German Dominican friar who came on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the years 1480-1484, approx., and wrote an account of his journey that is of much interest for the history of the time. He recorded 27 rules of wise conduct for the pilgrim which were told to pilgrims by the abbot of the Franciscan monastery on Mount Zion [the Mt Zion of today, location of today's Zion Gate, not the original Mount Zion which was the Temple Mount]. The Franciscan Order, with its headquarters in Israel on Mt Zion, was entrusted by the Catholic Church with watching over Roman Catholic interests in the Christian holy places and caring for and guiding Catholic pilgrims, as discussed in earlier posts mentioning Francesco Suriano, one of the abbots of their monastery [called Guardian or Custos of the Holy Land].

One of the main concerns of this set of rules was to not --to never-- anger a Muslim or Muslims, regardless of who may have been right or wrong in any personal encounter. Here are some of the dos and don'ts:

-the pilgrim must not go about alone (without a Muslim guide) in the holy places, because this involves danger.
- the pilgrim must take care not to tread on Muslim graves, because this angers the Muslims who stone those who do so.
- the pilgrim who receives blows from a Muslim, even without any justification, must not strike him back.
- the pilgrim must avoid taking souvenirs by means of breaking off pieces of stone from Jesus' tomb or other buildings. [The above rules are translated from Eli Shiller's monograph referred to below]

"Eighth Article- the pilgrims must not laugh or chuckle while they are walking about in Jerusalem on their way to visit the holy places. Rather, they must display seriousness and religious devotion, both in order to serve as an example to the Muslims and because of the holy places themselves, and so that the Muslims will not suspect that they are being mocked, which annoys them exceedingly. They are always suspicious about laughter and merriment among pilgrims.

"Ninth article. Let the pilgrims beware above all of jesting with or laughing at the Saracen boys or men whom they may meet, because, however well meant this conduct may be, yet much mischief arises from it; so if anything laughable should be done by such boys, the pilgrim ought to turn himself away and remain grave, and so he will have peace.

"Tenth article. Let the pilgrims beware of gazing upon any women whom they may meet, because all Saracens are exceeding jealous, and a pilgrim may in ignorance run himself into danger through the fury of some jealous husband.

"Eleventh article. Should any woman beckon to a pilgrim or invite him by signs to enter a house, let him on no account do so, because the woman does this treacherously at the instigation of some men, In order that the Christian when he enters may be robbed, and perhaps slain. Those who are not careful in these matters incur great danger.

"Seventeenth article. Should any pilgrim form a friendship with any Saracen, he must beware of trusting him too far, for they are treacherous; and he must especially beware of laying his hand on his beard in jest, or touching his turban, even with a light touch and in jest: for this thing is a disgrace among them, and all jests are at once forgotten thereat, and they grow angry. Of this fact, I, Brother Felix Fabri, have had experience.

"Eighteenth article. Let every pilgrim carefully guard his own property, and never leave it lying about in any place where Saracens are, otherwise it will straightway vanish, whatever it may be.
Twentieth article. Let no Christian have money dealings with a Saracen except in such sort that he knows he cannot be cheated; for they strive to cheat us, and believe that they are serving God by deceiving and cheating us

"Twenty-second article. Let the pilgrim beware of entering mosques, that is, Saracen temples and oratories, because if he be found therein, he will in no case escape unharmed, even should he escape with his life. " [The rules in quotation marks are quoted from the English translation linked to below]

A full English translation of these rules is found here. The site linked to also contains a full English translation of Fabri's itinerary or travel account. A Hebrew translation of most of the rules is found in Eli Shiller, "On the Path of the Pilgrims to the Holy Land," Qardom, III, 13-14 (Sh'bat tashma'- January 1981), pp 42-43.
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Coming soon: Gedaliah of Semyatich in the Land of Israel, circa 1700
Poems of Zion, etc.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Western Wall ["Wailing Wall"] in the 19th Century

The Western Wall of the Temple still stands as a remnant of the ancient Jewish temple in Jerusalem. Remnants of the ancient walls include the southern and eastern walls, in particular, as well as the subsurface part of the Temple Mount. Herod and his engineers, when they rebuilt the Second Temple, created or enlarged a platform --that is, a flat, horizontal upper surface-- over what was originally a mountain. To support the platform Herod and his engineers employed a unique system of what are believed to be stone tubes. This system in still in place under the surface. This is one reason why the illegal building work lately done on site by the Waqf [trust for Muslim communal property] is so dangerous. As said, the outer walls, which are structurally retaining walls, remain. The lower layers of huge stones which can be seen on the eastern, southern and western walls are original and apparently left in place by the Romans, by their Byzantine successors, by the Arab conquerors, the Crusaders, and later rulers of Jerusalem. However, large stones that had fallen from the mount during the Roman destruction, were reused for other structures. Upper layers of stone in the Western Wall are more recent, and no doubt necessary to preserve the structure. Some of the very latest layers, put in place in the 19th century, were meant to prevent or discourage Muslims on the Mount from throwing stones down at the Jewish worshippers below.

Jews have been praying at the current location of the Western Wall plaza for hundreds of years, a time interrupted by Jordanian rule between 1948 and 1967. The plaza prayer area is one where the Western Wall is exposed. However, the Wall still exists for its full length [480 meters?] but is concealed by buildings [mainly from the Mamluk period]. The concealed portion of the Western Wall can be seen on tours through the Western Wall tunnel. Here is a 19th century testimony about the Wall prayer area
and what it meant for the Jews at the time:
. . . it is so to speak a synagogue without a roof, a sacred place of prayer for a people without a homeland in its very own homeland
And in the original French:
. . . c'est pour ainsi dire une synagogue sans toit, lieu sacré de prières d'un peuple sans patrie dans sa patrie même.
[Gérardy Santine, Trois Ans en Judée (Paris: Hachette, 1860)

Here is Jewish testimony before the Wailing Wall Commission set up by the British government in 1929. This was at a time when Arab nationalists --led by the British-appointed mufti of Jerusalem [later a notorious Nazi collaborator], Haj Amin el-Husseini-- were challenging Jewish rights at the Western Wall. The witness was Rabbi Isaac Yehezk'el Yehuda, an elder of the Sefardic Community, whose family seems to have come from Iraq:

. . . After my grandmother's father, the great and pious Kabbalist Rabbi Abdullah. . . immigrated to Palestine in 1841, my grandmother's mother. . . was accustomed to go to the Wailing Wall every Friday afternoon, winter and summer, and remain there until candle-lighting time, reading the Book of Psalms and the Song of Songs. In those days the city was forsaken and desolate. There were no Jews at the Wall before noon, but as the day progressed they would begin to arrive for the Sabbath-Inauguration service. . .
When I was six years old my father began to take me there to pray with his rabbi. . . Eliezer Halevi. . . on the eve of the Sabbath. We would finish our prayers when the sun was still shining. There were tables with large lanterns upon them which the Ashkenazim lit in honor of the Sabbath. Sometimes. . . we would pray with the Hasidim and their rabbi, Eleazar Mendel Biedermann. Prayers would end after dusk . . .
As a youth I used to go to the Wailing Wall between morning and afternoon prayers on Yom Kippur. . . The Hasidic rabbi, Moses Meshil Gelbstein, would be there with his followers chanting the Additional service. Sometimes they would be reading the Torah portion. . . An awning was stretched across the courtyard and there were tables, a Holy Ark, a Torah scroll, chairs and benches there. The weak old people would sit on feather pillows. Prayers were conducted quietly and peacefully. The local residents would pass by without disturbing the worshippers.
. . .
I also remember that, when Russia was fighting the Turks in 1878, the government asked the Jews to pray for the Turks' success at the Wailing Wall. The pupils of the Sephardi and Ashkenazi Talmudei Torah [Torah school] were escorted there by an honor guard of soldiers.
. . . the sainted kabbalist Rabbi Rahamim Antebbi, was one of the "Mourners of Zion." He wore no shoes, but only open sandals. . . without stockings. . . He was in the habit of visiting the Wailing Wall every midnight, winter and summer, to recite midnight lamentations and weep [over the destroyed Temple]. Neither rain nor wind prevented him from appearing there nightly until the day he died. . .
[quoted in Yehoshua ben Arieh, Jerusalem in the 19th Century: The Old City (Jerusalem: Ben Zvi, 1984), pp 312-314]

Note the importance of the place to the Jews, its centrality in their religious worship. This was because it took the place of the ancient Temple as a remnant of the Temple. The Ottoman rulers not only recognized the right of the Jews to pray in this place, but even requested that they pray for an Ottoman victory in a war with Russia at the Wall, even sending troops to escort Jews to pray there.
As noted above, Arab nationalists and Muslim bigots challenged Jewish rights at the Western Wall prayer place [not a plaza at that time, more like a wide alley] in 1929. Again today, Arab nationalists and Muslim bigots [fanatics of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad stripe] deny totally Jewish rights at the Western Wall. Now they are supported by certain Western governments who may not forgive the Jews for surviving the Nazi Holocaust, and in any case, accept the Arab lies.
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Coming soon: More from Gérardy Santine about Jews in Jerusalem in the 19th Century.
Poems of Zion, etc.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Jerusalem Jews in 1843

Of the three religious groups in the Jerusalem, the Jews --who were not only a religion but the remnant of the nation that had given Jerusalem its meaning in world history, religion, and culture-- became the largest of the three in 1840. The Jews in that year became the plurality in the city, although not yet the absolute majority. The reasons were two-fold. On one hand, Jewish immigration --or aliyah-- to the city was increasing with the improvement of means of transportation, thus giving Jews throughout the world a better chance to fulfill the age-old dream of living in Jerusalem. On the other hand, an earthquake in Safed [Tsfat] in the Galilee in 1838 had killed 2,000 Jews. Many of the survivors had moved to Jerusalem. In short, the Jews outnumbered the Muslims in the city as of 1840. In fact, Muslims have been a minority in Jerusalem for at least 200 years, although they appear to have been a plurality up until 1840 when the plurality passed to the Jews.

Pilgrimage and travel to the country by both Jews and Christians was also increasing because of the improved respect for non-Muslims introduced and enforced by Muhammad Ali of Egypt, as well as the consequently improved security situation in the country. When the Ottoman Empire recovered the country from Muhammad Ali in 1840, they maintained much of the improvements in the way of respect for non-Muslims and internal security. Eli Shiller writes:
An improvement in security conditions and the abolition of various taxes and customs duties [often imposed unofficially or semi-officially by local strongmen, tribes, and villagers eager for gain in filthy lucre] on the pilgrims took place mainly in the period of Muhammad Ali (1832-40). His tolerant attitude toward members of other [i.e., non-Muslim] communities brought about an increased stream of Christian pilgrims to the country. After the Egyptian regime was suppressed and Turkish [i.e., Ottoman] rule returned, transit taxes [= tolls; explained above] were moderated and security conditions were enhanced.
[Eli Shiller, "In the Path of Pilgrims to the Holy Land," Qardom [special issue], III: 13-14 (January 1981; tashma'), p 24]

A Britisher, John Lothian, described the city in 1843. When referring to "Turks" he means Muslims in general, which was a very common usage for centuries:

What a painful change has passed over the circumstances and condition of the poor Jew that in his own city, and close by where his temple stood, he has to suffer oppression and persecution. In Jerusalem his case is a very hard one, for if he should have a little of this world's goods in his possessions, he is oppressed and robbed by the Turks in a most unmerciful manner. In short, for him there is neither law nor justice.
4 December 1843
[quoted in Martin Gilbert, Jerusalem: Illustrated History Atlas (Jerusalem: Steimatzky's Agency, 1977), p 37]

How times have changed!! British reporters today, especially of the BBC breed, can only speak hatefully of Jews. And their knowledge even of what Britishers said in the past, is virtually nil.
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Coming: More poems of Zion
More on Jerusalem Jews in the 19th century and earlier

Monday, January 02, 2006

The Jews in Jerusalem in 1491, a Christian Pilgrim's View

Martin Kabatnik was a Czech [Bohemian] pilgrim who came to Jerusalem in 1491. His observations have often been quoted.

The Christians and Jews of Jerusalem lack all resources and find themselves in dire straits. There are but few Christians but there are many Jews. . . A Jew whose house collapses is not permitted to build a new one in its place, but must again buy the plot from its owner at a high price. Christians and Jews go about Jerusalem dressed as would beggars in our country; they are not permitted to wear good coats. But in spite of all the troubles and the oppression that they suffer at the hands of the non-Jews, the Jews refuse to leave the place.
[Martin Kabatnik, 1491]

This description fits that of Francesco Suriano written in the same period, the last years of Mamluk control in the Land of Israel before the Ottoman conquest. The difference is that Suriano, a Franciscan monk and for a few years the custos or chief of the Franciscans in the country, portrayed the Jews very specifically as the most oppressed people in Jerusalem, more so even than the Christian dhimmis. Kabatnik mentions this but only in a general manner, speaking of "all the troubles and the oppression that they suffer at the hands of the non-Jews." This implies that Christians too were harassing Jews in Jerusalem.

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Coming: More on the Jews in Jerusalem
More poems of Zion