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Emet m'Tsiyon

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Jewish Majority in Jerusalem in the 1850s, Another Source

William Henry Bartlett (1809-1854), a painter, made five trips to the Levant, including the Land of Israel. His first trip trip took place in 1834-35 and his fifth and last trip took place in 1853-54. His paintings and illustrations of religious and historical sites and other notable views in Israel and neighboring countries were widely published in his own lifetime and afterwards.  His book on his last voyage, Jerusalem Revisited (London) came out in 1855, a year after his death in a ship that sank in the Mediterranean. He reports a Jewish majority at that time. Cesar Famin, a French historian and diplomat, reported a Jewish majority in Jerusalem as well, in a book published in 1853, around the time of Bartlett's last visit. Famin's book later became the source for Karl Marx's report of a Jewish majority in the Holy City (New York Daily Tribune, 15 April 1854). Other visitors to Jerusalem reported a Jewish majority starting in the mid-nineteenth century (also here).

Here are quotes from Bartlett's Jerusalem Revisited:

"The Jews are also the most numerous body in Jerusalem, and there is good reason to believe that their total number is about 11,000; divisible into Sephardim and Ashkenazim. The latter, or German and Polish Jews, are about 4,000. Their numbers are augmented by constant arrivals from Europe. . ."
[Jerusalem Revisited, p 42].
Hence, he estimates the numbers of Sefardi and Oriental Jews at the time as between 6,000 and 7,000 [p  43]. He also reports the Judeophobia of the Muslim and local Christian population [pp 42-43].

As to the Muslims and Christians, he writes: "The Moslem population is decreasing, as well as in fanaticism" [p 50]
He goes on: ". . . while the native Moslem population is diminishing in numbers and influence, the Christians, strengthened and supported from abroad, are gaining in both respects." [p 51]

I find Bartlett's paintings and other pictorial works to be very interesting. Several of them have been very widely published. A good number of them appear in:
Yehoshua Ben-Arieh, Painting the Holy Land in the Nineteenth Century (Jerusalem: Yad Ben-Zvi & New York: Hemed 1997).

Ben-Arieh's book also contains a reliable account of Bartlett's career and works (see Chapter 4, pp 78-95). Of particular interest is his depiction of religious Jews gathered at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount enclosure (p 86). This work was painted in 1842 and besides its intrinsic human interest, it belies recent claims by Arab propagandists and their Western partisans that Jews were not interested in the Western Wall before 1967. I have used Ben-Arieh's book as the main source about Bartlett, although I found the quotes in his own book, Jerusalem Revisited (1855).

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