.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Emet m'Tsiyon

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

THE JEWISH MAJORITY IN JERUSALEM in the 19th Century (cont'd)

Numerous historians, as well as travelers, churchmen, foreign residents, foreign diplomats, and even an Arab writer, attest to a Jewish majority in Jerusalem in the second half of the 19th century. Tudor Parfitt, a 20th century British historian, writes:

So it can be seen that there were good reasons for the Jews not having flocked to the city in large numbers.

But in the course of the nineteenth century a remarkable change took place. Between 1800 and 1882 when the first Zionist settlers arrived in Jaffa -- the Jewish community in Jerusalem grew from 2,000 to about 18,000 (out of a total population of 35,000). From the 1830s the Jews constituted the largest single community and from the late 1850s the Jews constituted an overall majority in the city. This it must be stressed was before the immigration inspired by political Zionism. Moreover, these figures do not really give a full idea of the scope of the immigration because the mortality was so high at any given point that very considerable immigration was needed just for the size of the community to stand still. It should also be noted that during this period the immigration of old people still took place -- but there was also a very substantial immigration of young people. Between 1845 and 1866 only 32.1 per cent of Jewish heads of house were over 45 while 37.9 per cent of the Jewish population consisted of children. [Tudor Parfitt, "The Jewish Presence in Jerusalem 1800-1881" in P. Schneider and G. Wigoder, Jerusalem Perspectives (Arundel, West Sussex: London Rainbow Group, 1976), p 7]
In other words, Jews were the majority in Jerusalem before Theodor Herzl was even born, long before there was a Political Zionist movement.
- - - - - - - - - -
More from Parfitt on 19th century Jerusalem coming soon

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A Franciscan Monk on Persecution of Jews in Jerusalem, circa 1500

The usual Arab and pro-Arab propaganda line has held for many years that before Zionism, the Arabs always treated the Jews living among them kindly and well. Since 9/11 especially, this lie has operated as another one of those big lies that so pollutes public discussion of Islamist intentions, as well as discussion of the Arab war against Israel. Indeed, the Arabs and their British and other Western sympathizers were using this lie already during the period of British control of the Land of Israel.

Many books and articles, as well as several previous posts on this blog have shown the falsehood of the claim. However, Israel's enemies will continue to use it when they feel it necessary and when they think that they can still get away with it. The French author Chateaubriand, the Greek monk NeoPhytos, the American writer John Lloyd Stephens, plus Karl Marx --that Karl Marx!!-- have all shown the falsehood of this big lie as concerns the 19th century, and have been quoted in earlier posts on this blog. Other 19th century writers will follow. For a change of pace, let's go back to 1500, before the Ottoman Empire in the Land of Israel, to the time of Mamluk supremacy.

Francesco Suriano [born 1450] was a Venetian sailor and later a Franciscan monk who lived in the Land of Israel and spoke enough Arabic and Greek to get along with other parts of the population. The Franciscan order was appointed by the Pope in 1332, approx., to oversee the affairs of the Roman Catholic Church in the Holy Land. This was after the Crusaders had been driven out of the country by the Mamluks in 1291 and the Western church was no longer represented in the Holy Land, Terra Sancta. Intervention by the king of Naples and Sicily with the Mamluks enabled the Catholic Church to return to the country in the form of the Church's Franciscan representatives.

Suriano lived in Israel for about 25 years off and on, and for six years was the Custos or Guardian of Mt Zion for the order, which meant director of the order's various monasteries and convents in the country, manager and protector of the Church's activities and interests in the Christian holy places, caretaker of Catholic pilgrims who came to the country, and of the religious requirements of Western businessmen living in the Orient under the Mamluks. The Franciscan order held this preeminent role until, at least, the mid-19th century when the Church sent a Latin patriarch to Jerusalem for the first time since the Crusades.

Suriano was the Custos for 5 or 6 years in toto at two separate periods (1493-1496 & 1513-1515). He was in an excellent position to observe and know what was going on through his contacts with the local population, especially the Christians and clergy of other Churches, and with the ruling authorities. Here is his description of the status of the Jews in Jerusalem and of how they were treated by the local Muslims:

[p 101]
"Chapter XXXVIII
How the Jews Are Maltreated by All the Infidels and Moslems

Brother [Suriano himself]. I wish you to know how these dogs of Jews are trampled upon, beaten and ill-treated, as they deserve, by every infidel nation, and this is the just decree of God. They live in this country in such subjection that words cannot describe it. And it is a most extraordinary thing that there in Jerusalem, where they committed the sin for which [p 102] they are dispersed throughout the world, they are by God more punished and afflicted than in any other part of the world. And over a long time I have witnessed that. . . No infidel would touch with his hand a Jew lest he be contaminated but when they wish to beat them, they take off their shoes with which they strike them on the mustaches; the greatest wrong and insult to a man is to call him a Jew. And it is a right notable thing that the Moslems do not accept a Jew into their creed unless he first become a Christian. . . And if they were not subsidised by the Jews of Christendom, the Jews who live in Judea would die like dogs of hunger." [Francesco Suriano, Treatise on the Holy Land (Jerusalem: Franciscan Press, 1949); in original: Trattato di Terra Santa e dell'Oriente].

Note that Suriano, like NeoPhytos more than 300 years later, describes the Jews as being at the bottom of the social totem pole in Jerusalem, the absolute underdogs. He particularly stresses the abuse of the Jews by the Arab-Muslims, neglecting to tell us how the Christians, whether locals or foreigners, treated them. Suriano goes so far as to say that Jews are more oppressed in Jerusalem than anywhere else in the world. Note that he uses the word "infidel" as a synonym for Muslim, just as the Muslims called Jews and Christians kufar [sing. form is kaffir], literally meaning unbelievers or infidels.
The picture of the oppression and persecution of the Jews is not only graphic and repulsive; it is horrendous.
He says that the Muslims would not accept Jewish converts unless they first converted to Christianity. Curiously, a similar attitude was reported in the 1980s on the part of Sunni Muslims in Syria in regard to the Alawi sect, an offshoot of Shi`ite Islam [see Jean-Pierre Peroncel-Hugoz, Une Croix sur le Liban (Paris 1985)]. These Sunni Syrians so disdained the Alawites that they insisted that an Alawi had to convert to Christianity before they could let him convert to Sunni Islam.
Finally, note that he describes the Jews in Jerusalem as poor, unable to support themselves without subsidies from fellow Jews abroad. Suriano does not mention that one of the reasons for this was the jizya payments that were extorted from the Jews every year. Indeed, the jizya was imposed by Muslim law on non-Muslims, dhimmis, throughout the Muslim domain, the Dar al-Islam. Making this payment was especially difficult in Jerusalem at that time, since the jizya was paid by the Jewish community as an unchanging fixed sum collectively each year without regard to the size of the community, which might fluctuate, and in particular without regard to the number of breadwinners or adult men in the community. When the community could not or could barely raise the funds to pay the jizya by taxing its members, some members might leave because they could not afford to pay their share. This made things more difficult for those remaining. And this in turn may have driven more Jews to leave the city, thus creating a vicious circle. Things seem to have improved in this regard in the early Ottoman period.
For a scholarly view of the Jews in Jerusalem in the late Mamluk period, when Suriano visited and lived there, see Avraham David in "The Mamluk Period" in Israel: People, Land, State (Avigdor Shinan, ed.: Jerusalem: Yad Izhak Ben Zvi, 2005).

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
We will resume our account of the Jewish majority in Jerusalem in the second half of the 19th century. Karl Marx's report on this matter is given in an earlier post on this blog. Reports by Santine, a Frenchman, al-Qasatli, an Arab, and others, will appear soon.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Jerusalem's population has long been counted according to the three religio-ethnic groups in the city, Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and according to subgroups within each group.

Despite the pervasive Arab and pro-Arab propaganda of the 21st century, Arab Muslims were a minority in Jerusalem throughout the 19th century. How were the numbers reached? Various foreign travelers, pilgrims, and foreigners [diplomats, churchmen, etc.] resident in the Holy City counted the population as best they could, which was easier of course when the total population was much smaller than today. The Ottoman govt too counted population. Two problems with the Ottoman censuses is that 1) they counted only taxpayers and/or Ottoman subjects, when much of the population, particularly among the Jews, were not Ottoman subjects; 2) they did not count women.

Prof. Yehoshu`a Ben-Arieh (of Hebrew University) assembled various population counts and estimates made throughout the 19th century. He did not take into account, however (as it seems from his book), estimates/counts reported by Karl Marx [yes! that Karl Marx!], Gerardy Santine, and a Muslim/Arab writer, Nu`aman al-Qasatli. We have presented Karl Marx' population count in an earlier blog entry. We will present Santine and al-Qasatli's estimates, which roughly speaking confirm the others, in a later entry [and we will also present other counts and estimates that may turn up]. This entry will present Ben-Arieh's estimates based on counts, censuses, and estimates made in the 19th century. The advantage in Ben-Arieh's work is that he presents estimates for various times throughout the century.

The Population of Jerusalem by Communities (1800-1870) (approximate figures)

Year __ Jews __ Muslims ___ Christians __ All Non-Jews __ Total
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

1800 __ 2,250 __ 4,000 ____ 2,750 ______ 6,750 ______ 9,000

1836 __ 3,250 __ 4,500 ____ 3,250 ______ 7,750 _____ 11,000

1840 __ 5,000 __ 4,650 ____ 3,350 ______ 8,000 _____ 13,000

1850 __ 6,000 __ 5,400 ____ 3,600 ______ 9,000 _____ 15,000

1860 __ 8,000 __ 6,000 ____ 4,000 ______10,000 _____18,000

1870 __11,000 __6,500 ____ 4,500 ______ 11,000 ____ 22,000

[Yehoshua Ben Arieh, Jeusalem in the 19th Century, Vol. 1, The Old City
(Jerusalem: Ben Zvi Institute, 1984; New York: St Martin's Press), p 279]

Note that the proportion of Jews is rising throughout the century due to both natural increase and Jewish immigration from far-flung parts of the Jewish Diaspora, from Baghdad and Brest-Litovsk, from Tbilisi, Tashkent, and Tarnopol, from Mogilev and Marrakesh.
Jews become the largest of the three groups as of 1840, and Jews achieve parity with the rest of the population in 1870. Now, since the Jews' proportion was constantly rising and they achieved parity in 1870, then that is the year when a Jewish majority began. This is supported by Nu`aman al-Qasatli, an Arab, who estimated a Jewish majority as of 1874.

Bear in mind that Jews were a majority precisely in the Old City of Jerusalem, which was the city until well into the 20th century. Ben-Arieh points out this Jewish majority in the Old City in 1900 [vol. I, p 400].
- - - - - - - - - -
UPDATING as of 21 December 2016
Since we posted this post in August 2005, we have received further information indicating a Jewish majority as of 1853, information which Ben-Arieh was apparently unaware of, unfortunately. Here are several links:



Thursday, August 18, 2005


AN IMPROVED STATUS FOR JEWS under the Rule of Muhammad Ali after the Uprising

Under the Islamic law regarding non-Muslim religious groups in the Muslim state, that is, the non-Muslim subject peoples, called dhimmis -- the non-Muslims could not build new houses of worship. Nor could they repair existing religious structures --churches, synagogues, etc.-- except under certain complex stipulated conditions. This often led to extortion of bribes in order to obtain repair permits, and sometimes unauthorized or even authorized repairs were later deemed illegal and subject to penalties meant more as exploitation than as enforcement of law. These dhimmi peoples were not necessarily minorities; sometimes they were majorities, as in Lebanon before World War I, in various parts of India that were Muslim-ruled before the British came, in all the countries conquered by the Arabs or other Muslims at the beginning of the conquest of the particular land, etc. This body of law, called the laws of dhimma, was modified and softened in the Ottoman Empire starting about 1840 as the Empire found that it needed the support of Western powers in order to suppress internal rivals for power, such as Muhammad Ali, and to defend itself from hostile outside powers, such as the Russian Empire. These laws --whether or not still officially laws of the state -- are still practiced in some form or other, to some extent or other, in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya, etc. For his part, Muhammad Ali was receiving support in 1834 from France. Paradoxically, Muhammad Ali, so relatively tolerant to Jews in Jerusalem in the 1830s, persecuted Jews in Damascus in 1840 with the encouragement of the local French consul and the French government in Paris.

Muhammad Ali's regime was much more tolerant towards the dhimmis (sometimes called rayahs) than the preceding Ottoman regime in Israel --or than the previous Mamluk regime [under Ottoman suzerainty] in Egypt-- had been. This tolerance extended even to the Jews, who had been the low man on the totem pole, the underdog of the underdog, before his time. This description of the Jews' previous status was attested by Chateaubriand after his 1806 visit to the country [see a previous post on this blog].

Neophytos reported that after the 1834 uprising, Christians were liberally granted permits to repair and in practice were allowed to build new structures. Observing this, he noted, the Jews too asked for repair permits. As he describes the situation, the Jews received a permit to build. In some cases, Christians had built new structures without specific permission, since they were in practice allowed to do so.

"As we are on the question of repairs, we must say something about the Jewish Synagogue. One year ago only, seeing the liberal dispositions of Mehemet Ali Pasha [Muhammad Ali] and Ibrahim Pasha [his son, general, and deputy], they dared to speak about their Synagogue. They asked that their House of Prayer, being in a ruinous condition and in danger of falling in, might be repaired. So, those who did not even dare to change a tile on the roof of the Synagogue at one time, now received a permit and a decree to build. They finished at the end of August. They built the Synagogue all of stone , and in place of the wooden roof they erected a Cupola. The building was large and spacious, and could contain about 1,000 persons. It was long, but only 10 pics in height. The Cupola was also very low for they feared the stability and certainty of the government." [in Extracts from Annals of Palestine 1821-1841 (Jerusalem, Ariel publishering house, 1979; compiled by Eli Schiller) p 78. Originally published in Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society, vol. XVIII, 1938]

One stipulation of dhimma was that non-Muslim structures must not be higher than Muslim structures. Hence, the Jews built the cupola [dome] low since they feared that if Muhammad Ali were overthrown or driven out [as did happen in 1840] then the restored Ottoman regime or another new regime might destroy the structure for being higher than a Muslim structure.

Note that NeoPhytos describes the Jews as the most abject, humiliated, and intimidated of the dhimmis, more so than the Christians. He writes that only after the Christians had obtained permits, "they dared to speak about their Synagogue." More to the point, he continues, "those who did not even dare to change a tile. . . at one time [under the previous dispensation], now received a permit."

This abject, humiliated, and intimidated status of the Jews, precisely in Jerusalem --but not only there-- was noted even years later in reports by Karl Marx, French writer Gerardy Santine, and others.

Bat Yeor, an Egyptian Jewess using a Hebrew pen-name meaning "Daughter of the Nile," has become an outstanding, world renowned authority on the meaning and history of dhimma, the laws applying to the non-Muslim's status in the Muslim state, and the relationship between Muslims and dhimmis. She wrote the following about the Islamic law pertaining to non-Muslim houses of worship:
"In theory the laws concerning places of worship depended on the circumstances of the conquest and the terms of the treaties [of surrender to the Muslims]. Construction of new churches, convents, and synagogues was forbidden, but restoration of pre-Islamic places of worship was permitted, subject to certain restrictions and on condition that they were neither enlarged nor altered."
[Bat Yeor, The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 1996), p 83].
- - - - - - - -
Coming soon: Demographics of Jerusalem in the 19th century. Never a Muslim majority, a Jewish majority from 1854 [Karl Marx] or from 1860 [Gerardy Santine], or from 1870 [Prof. Ben-Arieh].

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Nowadays, one of the big anti-Israel lies (spread not only by Arabs) is that there has been some sort of "Palestinian people" inhabiting "Palestine" since the stone age. Of course, the notion of a "Palestinian people" is unknown in history. The term "Palestine" was used by some Greek writers [particularly by Herodotos] at a time when Greek knowledge of the Land of Israel and its population was very hazy. Greek sailors and merchants coming from the West encountered the Philistines on the coast and applied their name to the whole country, which was, however, seen as part of Syria. This latter term (also Greek) originated as the name for the area around Tyre and its application spread inland, as did "Palestine." Herodotos calls the Jews "Palestinian Syrians." After Alexander the Great conquered Israel, the usual Greek --and later Latin-- name for the country was Judea [Ioudaia, IUDAEA]. This name was applied to the areas inhabited by and/or governed by Jews. Under the Roman empire, Judea included the Galilee, Golan, Samaria, most of the coastal plain, the northern Negev, areas east of the Jordan and the Dead Sea, the territory of the former kingdom of Judah, etc. Judea was the official Roman name for the country until Emperor Hadrian suppressed the Bar Kokhba revolt (131-135 CE), and changed the name of Provincia Iudaea to Provincia Syria Palaestina as part of an effort to suppress Jewish nationhood.

There never was a distinct people called "Palestinians," except for Herodotos' name for the Jews as above. But he saw the Jews as essentially Syrians, using the term "Palestinian Syrians." The term Syria originally referred to the area around Tyre and spread from there (just as the name "Palestine" was taken from the coastal Philistines). Tyre was pronounced Tur by early Phoenicians (followed by early Greeks), until a linguistic shift from T to S led to Sur or Sor or Tsor (in Phoenician and Hebrew). Syria was of course pronounced Suria in Latin and Greek. The Hebrew language is closely related to Phoenician, both of which are considered part of the Canaanite family of languages, according to linguists (for some, both are dialects of Canaanite).

But getting back to the big Judeophobic lie of today. Judeophobes (particularly the PLO) claim a "Palestinian people" going back into the mists of prehistory. However, the historical record shows that there have been migrations, in and out of Israel over history, including Arab migrations after the Arab conquest [7th century], not to mention massacres of Jews by Romans, Crusaders, Arabs, etc.

In the Jerusalem region, desolate after suppression of the Jewish rebels led by Bar Kokhba, Jews were eliminated entirely or almost entirely by the Romans, whether they had been slaughtered in the war or were driven out afterwards or fled the desolation. What is significant is that the new political entity set up by the Romans in and around Jerusalem, the polis and colonia of Aelia Capitolina, was COLONIZED by Rome with people belonging to various nations. In earlier posts on this blog, we presented long passages from Cassius Dio (also called Dio Cassius) and from the Christian church father Eusebios attesting to this colonization after the Bar Kokhba war.

Another Church father, Jerome, famous as the translator of the Hebrew Bible into Latin, also attests to this colonization by non-Jews of the Jerusalem region [polis/colonia of Aelia Capitolina].

Colonists [were] taken from various nations to Jerusalem . . .
[Jerome, Commentary on Isaiah, X 34, 8ff.]

Et revera si consideremus de diversis gentibus abductas Hierosalem colonias, et iuxta ritum provinciarum suarum, singulas familias propriorum daemonum coluisse portenta, haec omnia in Hierusalem habitasse firmabimus.
[Hieronymos, Com. in Esai, X 34, 8 ff (445)]

In another place, he writes, describing the colonists:

. . . Indeed, men from whose nations people do not come to the [Christian] Holy Places [of Jerusalem].
[Jerome, Letters, 46, 10]

. . . cuius enim gentis homines ad sancta loca non veniunt
[Hieronymos, Ep., 46, 10]

In other words, the polis/colonia of Aelia Capitolina, which stretched from east to west, from about Ma`aleh Adumim of today to about Sha`ar haGay, was colonized by aliens. And it had the Roman legal status of a colonia. That is, a non-Jewish population of diverse origin was settled in the heart of the Land of Israel by the Roman Empire and were given the rights of citizens of a colonia, a specific Roman legal entity. Scholars today disagree whether or not there was a formal Roman decree forbidding Jews to live in the colonia of Aelia --as Eusebios reports-- and whether or not a few Jews may have continued living in remote parts of the Aelia polis in any case, with or without a formal decree banning Jews. On the other hand, by the time Christianity became the official religion of the Empire, the Romans had relaxed enforcement of their ban on Jews in the city of Jerusalem (Aelia) itself, and there apparently was a Jewish community there with a yeshivah (academy). Under Byzantine Christian rule, however, Jews were strictly excluded from the city, except on the Ninth of Ab [Tish`a b'Av] when Jews were allowed to come mourn the remains of their Temple, meanwhile suffering the abuse of Roman soldiers. Jerome describes this too. His testimony is considered reliable in that he lived in Israel, as did Eusebios (Eusebius), and he learned Hebrew from Jewish teachers whom he hired (who lived outside of the colonia of Aelia). He also describes this personal experience. As said above, his purpose was to translate the Hebrew Bible into Latin directly from the Hebrew and not through the Greek Septuaguint translation.

To sum up, the center of the country was inhabited by colonists of non-Jewish origin, and their descendants. Michael Avi-Yonah says that these colonists were predominantly of Syrian and Arab origin. Mary Smallwood calls them "Greco-Syrians." Some historians point out that the Romans settled Aelia with army veterans who had fought against the Jews in the Bar Kokhba uprising, many or most of whom were Syrians or Arabs. Avi-Yonah bases himself on various places in Jerome's vast body of writings, and those of other church fathers. Avi-Yonah's book is called, The Jews of Palestine. The citations from the church fathers in Avi-Yonah can be checked in Coxe's edition of Ante-Nicene and Post-Nicene fathers. For lengthy quotes on this subject from Eusebios and Dio Cassius go back to earlier items on the Emet m'Tsiyon blog.

The colonization of aliens in the center of Israel by the Romans was followed centuries later by the settlement of Arab tribes in various parts of the country, after the Arab conquest, and the migration of Arabs fleeing the Mongols at the end of the Crusader period. Meanwhile, the Crusaders at the beginning of their rule had massacred most of the Jews in the country (according to Prof. Moshe Gil, among others). The Judeophobic claim (made by Arabs and their ostensible friends) of a "Palestinian people" continuously inhabiting the Land of Israel is a fraud, a big lie, so many of which plague the peace of the 20th and 21st centuries.

- - - - - - - - -
Sharon's expulsion of Jews from their homes in Gaza continues. It was preceded by Roman expulsions, Byzantine expulsions, English expulsions [13th century], Austrian and Russian expulsions, etc. The Fiddler on the Roof story, derived from Sholom Aleykhem's stories of Tevyeh, ends with the expulsion of Jews from their shtetl Anatevka. Sharon is acting under orders from the European Union and other Western powers. Now Europe has a 2000 year old history of mistreating Jews. It seems that the New Europe of the EU is not so different from the Old Europe.

- - - - - -
--addition made to the Latin text on 21 September 2005--
One more installment remains to be presented from the Greek monk NeoPhytos' account of the 1834 uprising and persecution of Jews. A picture of the demographic evolution of Jerusalem in the 19th century is coming soon. Arab-Muslims were a minority in the Holy City throughout the 19th century and till today.

Monday, August 15, 2005


It is fascinating how in the Middle East the same situations and issues come up over and over again. The so-called Road Map or Feuille de Route, a so-called plan for peace between the Jews of Israel and those Arabs called "Palestinians" [obviously, since it is sponsored by the European Union, UN, Russia, and USA, it is not a real peace plan] stipulates that the "Palestinian Authority" must dismantle the terrorist organizations, which means taking their weapons away. This is one of the first obligations on the PA to accomplish in order to allow the plan to progress ["progress" here simply means go forward, without any positive moral connotation]. of course, children who love toys --weapons in this case-- don't want to give them up. Nor does Mahmud Abbas [often known by his nom de guerre, Abu Mazen] want to take those weapons away from them. He has said this publicly over and over. Thereby, he openly defies one of the obligations he took on when he and the PA accepted the Road Map. But as we know, undertakings and obligations signed by the Arabs do not have to be carried out as far as the EU, UN, or US State Department are concerned. This practice of overlooking or tolerating Arab violations of agreements goes back to the 1950s when Jordan, Egypt, Syria, etc., repeatedly violated the 1949 armistice agreements. Of course, if there are a dozen official PA armed forces and a half-dozen terrorist militias [which often include members of the official armed forces], then the resulting loss of centralized discipline and control of armed force on the PA side could complicate relations with Israel. That is, the Israeli government might feel obliged to retaliate for attacks, although it is reluctant to do so, in the true spirit of facilitating Arab terrorism, which is one of the true meanings of the Peace Process. And such retaliation might spoil what the diplomats and the media call "peace hopes." Anyhow, the PA under Abu Mazen has done nothing to dismantle or disarm the terrorist groups. Instead he is bringing Hamas into his government.
On the other hand, in 1834, Ibrahim Pasha decided that it was right and proper to disarm the local rebels, who violent and brutal like today's terrorists, although the 19th century had descended to the slogan-concealed barbarism of the 2oth and 21st centuries.

The monk NeoPhytos describes Ibrahim Pasha's policy of disarming the local thugs or rebels.

". . . a message arrived from the Pasha ordering thal all guns, pistols and swords should be collected from the people of Jerusalem, and from the fellaheen. The next day (July 3oth) a herald proclaimed that every man, Moslem, Christian and Jew, should deliver up his arms, otherwise, if during the search arms were discovered, he would be hanged in front of his own door. The good people of Jerusalem at first handed up cheap or useless guns, but on being warned again, they also brought those that were hidden. They possessed, however, rifles and bayonets which they had stolen from the Government armoury; some of these they hid safely and some they threw by night into the Haram esh-Sherif [Temple Mount].

"While this was taking place in Jerusalem, the Pasha was operating in the Hebron district, receiving those who surrendered and collecting the arms from the fellaheen." [p 67]

Meanwhile, Ibrahim Pasha, as we recall, the son and general of Muhammad Ali of Egypt, showed that he meant to be relatively fair to the Jews, at least by contemporary standards in that time and place.

". . . having collected all the arms from the people [in an uncertain location across the Jordan], he sent them to Jerusalem. He had previously sent to Jerusalem the guns, swords and daggers of the people killed in Kerak [in Transjordan]. . . Meanwhile his representative in Jerusalem had ordered the people of the villages around Jerusalem to hand in their guns. They brought but one-tenth of what they had, so he proceeded to Bethlehem and Beitjala [Beyt Jallah, ancient Gilo (Josh 15:11, II Samuel 15:12, 23:34)] and calling together the Sheihs, he ordered them to bring immediately the hidden arms. They swore that they did not have any. He threatened to hang the lot of them and gave some of them merciless beatings, after which two hundred more guns were produced. When the people of the other villages heard of this, arms arrived every day on camels until the armoury at the citadel [David's Tower] was filled . . .

"On September 5th, Kutchuk ("the Little") Ibrahim Pasha, having lately arrived in Jerusalem, had three fellaheen beheaded for molesting a Jewish merchant on his way from Jaffa. One was beheaded at David's Gate [now called Jaffa Gate], one at Damascus Gate, and one at Gethsemane Gate [now usually called Lions' Gate, on the east side of the Old City, close to the Garden of Gethsemane, dear to Christian tradition], where their corpses hung for seven days.
"On September 9th a herald proclaimed throughout Jerusalem, that all hidden arms should be delivered up, on penalty of death for the man in whose house a gun would be found."[p 71]
<>"On the morning of September 10th, the Pasha unexpectedly arrived in Jerusalem. . . the same day 22 cannon were fired to announce his arrival. The next day 100 men, Christians, Moslems and Jews were forced to work with picks and hoes to destroy the houses and trees of those Moslems who were unwilling to hand over their arms, and who had fled to the desert of Idumea [Judean Desert or Negev?]. The houses were demolished and all the fig and olive trees and vines were uprooted. The same sentence was executed on all those of the villages, who had abandoned their homes."On September 14th, ten Christians were brought from Beitjala, handcuffed and manacled, and cast into prison, because Moslems had reported that they possessed hidden arms.
"At 9 o'clock of the same day, a Christian from Beit Sahur was beheaded in the Wheat Market, because of a slanderous report that he had helped the Moslem traitors of Bethlehem to escape.
"When the fellaheen had joined with the [Muslim] people of Jerusalem, about which we have already spoken, they stole many things. . . Amongst other things, they stole powder and lead and 3,000 rifles with bayonets from the armoury. The Pasha demanded the return of these arms form the people of Jerusalem. He believed that it was they who stolen most of them, for the following reasons: (A) Fifty had already been found in a grocery shop in a hole that had been dug up and plastered over again. (B) Some had been found scattered on the streets and in the Haram esh-Sherif, where they had been dropped during the night. (C) When they were burying the dead in the Moslem cemetery, they found arms instead of bones in the graves.
"He therefore, gathered the elders of the city and warned them to speak the truth. They swore an oath that they did not have such things. Then he flogged some, imprisoned many, and tortured others, but he did not succeed in getting anything.
"The next day he brought ten Orthodox and Frank notables of Bethlehem in chains, and gave them a dreadful flogging because they had failed to collect the arms from the people of their town. The Pasha discovered that they had found nearly 500 guns, so he punished them by fining them 100,000 piasters. . ." [p 72]
Note that Ibrahim Pasha really wanted to collect the weapons held by civilians, although his methods are considered excessive by today's standards. Now, Mahmud Abbas [aka Abu Mazen] openly avows his refusal to collect weapons from terrorist groups, despite his and the PA's commitment to the "Road Map." What's more, the Quartet of peacemongers does not seem to care. That is, it does not care to insist on Arab fulfillment of Arab commitments, just as before the Six Day War the UN, the West and the Communists did not insist that the Arabs respect the armistice agreements that they had signed.
Note that the rebels in 1834 were led by their local notables and shaykhs [here called sheihs], it was not a class revolt, despite the fancies and daydreams of certain 21st century sociologists.
Further, the Jews, who had not taken part in the revolt, were made to do forced labor along with other residents who had.
Some rebels were punished by wrecking their homes. Recall that when Israel wrecked homes of mass murderous terrorists, there was much international condemnation, including some from the US State Department. Further, Israel was falsely charged with violating the Fourth Geneva Convention. Actually, Geneva IV allows an "occupying power" (another false charge made against Israel, but for argument's sake, we use the term) to destroy civilian property for military purposes. Indeed, destroying houses has an old precedent in this part of the world.

- - - - - -
The monstruous expulsion of Jews from Gush Qatif continues, whereas Jews lived in Gaza and nearby areas [such as Kfar Darom] in ancient, medieval, and modern times up to the British-instigated Arab pogroms of 1929 in Gaza city, when the remaining Jews were "evacuated" by the British "for their own good." Kfar Darom, as said before, was refounded in 1946, wrecked by the Egyptian army in 1948 --its Jewish inhabitants driven out-- and refounded once again after the 1967 Six Day War.
Sharon should remember that the Russian tsars too delighted in expelling Jews from their homes. Bear in mind that this is what happens to Tevyeh der Milkhiger in the Sholom Aleykhem stories about Tevyeh [put on Broadway as Fiddler on the Roof]. He and the other Jews are driven out of their shtetl Anatevka. Is Sharon proud to treat the Jews as the tsars did? Is George Bush proud of being the instigator of said policy?

Saturday, August 13, 2005


The ancients viewed Jerusalem as a splendid city. To mark the fast of the Ninth of Ab, we will consider what was lost with its ancient destruction. The account of the 1834 war in Israel, by the Greek monk NeoPhytos, will wait till later.

Pliny the Elder, the great Roman scholar, wrote of Jerusalem in Second Temple Times:

Jerusalem, the most illustrious city of the East by far, not merely of Judea

Hierosolyma, longe clarissima urbium Orientis, non Iudaeae modo [Naturalis Historia, V:xv: 70]

The parallel between the time of the Second Temple's destruction and our time, of the destruction of Jewish homes in the Gaza area, is striking.

If Bush's loyal servant, Ariel Sharon, gets his way, then the words of Eikhah, The Book of Lamentations , will be fulfilled for Gush Qatif as well.

Weeping, She [Jerusalem] will weep at night, And her tear on her cheek,
She has no comfort from all her lovers, All her paramours betrayed her,
They became her enemies . . .

George W was a false friend -- All things to all men, almost. To some he was the scourge of terrorism. Indeed, fighting terrorism is a worthy goal. But Bush has endorsed Israel's retreat from Gaza, indeed he demands it. Behind Sharon stands Bush -- while crossing arms with Bush are his Saudi friends, made rich by American generosity to the kings of oil, despite their meager contribution to civilization.

How did the once populous city sit forlorn?

If Bush's man Sharon gets his way Gaza will sit forlorn. And barbarian rockets will rain down on Sderot and Netivot, on Ashqelon and Ashdod. And there will be no peace. So George is encouraging terrorism and war and tyranny and injustice. War on terrorism, anybody?

NeoPhytos' account of the 1834 war in Israel will be resumed. Another parallel to our times will show. Ibrahim Pasha collected weapons from the rebels, but the terrorists in Gaza are allowed to keep theirs.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

A Greek Monk's Account of the 1834 Arab Uprising and Pogroms - Part Four

In July 1834, Ibrahim Pasha was back on the way to Hebron after having earlier suffered a defeat at Solomon's Pools which is between Hebron and Jerusalem. On 24 July, Ibrahim Pasha

"began the siege of the town [Hebron] from all sides. The townspeople and fellaheen [the rebels] fought bravely . . . but they suffered severely from the artillery fire and the soldiers.

"The Pasha . . . told his soldiers not to spare anybody who was over twelve years of age. There followed wholesale slaughter for three hours. Nobody escaped, except a few who got through unknown cellars, and some who were, for the moment, hidden. It was reported to the Pasha that inside the Mosque, where are the tombs of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, there was a great crowd of old men, women and little children, who claimed asylum under the roof of the prophets. The pasha for the sake of his name, Abraham or Ibrahim, gave orders that they should not be molested, which order was much against the wish of the soldiers, for most of the people of Hebron were accustomed to go to Egypt as merchants. The people of Hebron make much money out of the pilgrims to whom they sell glass and bracelets. Thousands of talara [Maria Theresa thalers, Austrian silver coins comparable to the dollar] were to be found in their houses, and some of the soldiers had so many that they were unable to carry them and so were forced to exchange them for florins (gold) of half their value. The looting continued for twenty-four hours. The Pasha bought all the copper utensils from the soldiers for little or next to nothing, and placed them all in a big house.
"Not finding any buyers for the heavier articles of furniture, the soldiers burnt them, and then, out of hatred for the Hebronites, they raped their wives and daughters.
"The same fate befell the few Jewish families there [who had not taken part in the rebellion], and five girls, who were still minors, died under the bestial licentiousness of the Egyptian soldiers. Six hundred and thirty young men under forty years of age were sent to Jaffa and thence by sea to Egypt to serve in the army there."

One of the main motives of the uprising was to stop the drafting of young Muslims for service in Muhammad Ali's army. However, in the end, he got his way and Ibrahim Pasha took 630 young men for military service back to Egypt.
Even though the Jews had not rebelled nor taken part in the uprising, they too were persecuted by the Egyptian troops as described, after having earlier been persecuted by the rebels. This account can compared with that which John Lloyd Stephens heard from the Jews in Hebron when he stayed with them two years later.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A Greek Monk's Account of the 1834 Arab Uprising - Part Three

Continuing the monk NeoPhytos' account of the 1834 Arab-Muslim uprising and pogroms in the Land of Israel.

The rebels won some victories over Ibrahim Pasha, son and general of Muhammad Ali of Egypt. One such battle took place near Beth Lehem:

"It was a bloody scene; the Pasha was defeated and in sorrow he returned that evening to Jerusalem, leaving dead on the field. . . Eight hundred [Egyptian] soldiers had been killed or taken prisoners, while the number of fellaheen killed was unknown.

"The fellaheen despoiled the dead, and took the prisoners with flags and musical instruments to Hebron where they imprisoned them. They were delighted and encouraged by their success . . ." [p 54, source data in previous post]

"Meanwhile, the fellaheen of Nablus [Sh'khem] and other districts made some daring movements on the plains around Ramleh and Lydda [Lod], where they looted all the houses. The fellaheen also laid siege to Jaffa and Ptolemais [Akko in Hebrew, Acre in English] and captured Tiberias and Safed. They robbed the Jews, who lived in these towns, of immense property, as is reported, for there was no one to offer any opposition." [p 55]

Note that
1) they despoiled the dead, that is, the corpses of fellow Muslims. Despoiling the dead was also reported of Arab irregular troops and militiamen in Israel's War of Independence, when, furthermore, dead bodies were often mutilated. This report shows that despoiling the dead is a trait of these people and has nothing to do with whatever the Jews may have done or are alleged to have done to the local Arabs.
2) they robbed the Jews in Tiberias and Safed, two of the Jewish holy cities, besides Jerusalem and Hebron [Tiberias had a Jewish majority at that time, according to Spyridon who translated the manuscript]. NeoPhytos explains the robbing of Jews in that "there was no one to offer any opposition." Thus, the Jews were vulnerable and known to be vulnerable. Hence, they were easy game for thugs, bandits, or whatever name you would like to apply to the Arab rebels.
Again, the Jews had no army of their own in their own homeland, nor was any great power interested in defending the Jews at that time, although in 1840, several powers supported the Jews verbally in the Damascus Affair.
- - - - - - - -
Coming soon: The war of 1834 in Hebron and pogroms against Jews there.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Greek Monk's Account of 1834 Arab Uprising and Pogrom - Part Two

The rule of Muhammad Ali of Egypt had brought some alleviation to the condition of the dhimmis in Israel and Syria. The dhimmis suffered from the Arab-Muslim uprising. Jews suffered especially since they were not perceived as having any great power interested in their welfare [see previous entry]. The dhimmis in Jerusalem welcomed Ibrahim Pasha, son and general of Muhammad Ali, when he retook Jerusalem from the rebels. Persecution of the dhimmis, especially Jews, in 1834 by the rebels has been described in several previous posts.

The Greek monk NeoPhytos describes their welcome:

The pasha was very tired and thirsty, and asked for some water. A Frank from Jerusalem immediately fetched a little jug of water. He drank and gave it to his miralais [officers]. Then came a native Orthodox [Christian] with a jug of water, of which the Pasha also drank. Crowds of people, Orthodox, Franks [Western/Latin Christians], Armenians and even Jews came out to see the Pasha who was their deliverer and saviour. Not one Moslem, young or old, was visible.
The Pasha then asked the Christians who were present, how they had fared at the hands of the rebels and if they had suffered from them. Wishing him a long life, they explained to him what had happened. . .
[after polite drinking of coffee and eating sherbet, the Pasha] then enquired if we had suffered from the fellaheen, etc. . .
An hour later a herald passed through the streets ordering all the citizens, Moslems, Christians, and Jews to open their shops without fear, and to continue buying and selling as formerly. . .
Note that there was a distinct difference in sentiments between the Muslims in the country and the subject peoples and subordinate religious groups, the dhimmis. The non-Muslims saw the Muslim population as a dangerous enemy, whereas they viewed Muhammad Ali --a tyrant, after all-- as their benevolent deliverer and protector, which he was at that time.
In 1840, however, the same Muhammad Ali persecuted Jews in Damascus on the false charge of murdering a Roman Catholic monk. This persecution was at first encouraged by the Damascene Christian and Muslim populations, as well as by the French, British, and Austrian consuls in Damascus at the time. However, the Austrian and British governments eventually took a position effectively in defense of the Jews, and the local Austrian consul --an Italian named Merlato-- actually helped them, whereas the French consul actively took part in the persecution, in the torture of Damascene Jews [four Jews died under torture]. Although the British government under Lord Palmerston also took a stand against the persecution of the Jews, the local British consul apparently continued to side with the persecution and against the Jews, despite his government's position.
The Syrian government today of Bashir Assad actively claims that the Jews of Damascus at that time murdered the monk to use his blood for baking matsoh. Unlike 1840, this position evokes little protest in the West, not even from the so-called "human rights" groups, from peace-mongers, the "Left," etc. Indeed, certain peace-mongers and "Leftists" openly delight in imbibing accusations with similar themes from Arab spokesmen, and in spreading such fanatic lies. Consider the widespread acceptance among the Western press/broadcasting media of the big lie of the "Jenin massacre." In Jenin too, as in Damascus 162 years earlier, there was a search for bodies of those allegedly slain by the Jews which never found any massacred bodies or any credible evidence of a massacre.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Greek monk's account of the 1834 uprising and pogrom - Part One

A Greek Orthodox monk named NeoPhytos, born on Cyprus, lived for many years in a monastery in Jerusalem. He left a manuscript account in Greek of events in Israel from 1821 to 1841, which was translated by N. Spyridon and published in the Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society, vol. XVIII, 1938. The account was apparently meant for his superiors in Greek Orthodox Church. NeoPhytos lived in Israel from 1801 to 1846, where he became a member of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher, the body of Greek monks which runs the affairs of the Greek Church in Israel. Among other events which stirred him deeply, besides the 1834 uprising, was the Greek war for independence against the Ottoman Empire, which had repercussions throughout the Empire, including Israel. We may discuss the repercussions in Israel sometime in the future.
NeoPhytos devotes much attention to the 1834 revolt against Muhammud Ali. Here are some extracts:

The [Muslim] people of Jerusalem hurried and broke the locks of the Damascus Gate and opened it. Thousands of fellaheen rushed in and captured the city surrounding the citadel [often called "Tower of David"], on which they opened a rapid fire. Then young and old fell to looting, beginning with the houses of the Miralais [officers of the garrison], when they removed the heavy articles which had been left behind, such as pillows, blankets and wooden tables. Then they looted the Jewish houses in the same way. The following night, the fellaheen with some low-class bandits of Jerusalem, began to loot the shops of the Jews, the Christians, the Franks and then the Moslems. The grocers, the shoemakers and every other dealer suffered alike. Within two or three days there was not one shop intact in the market, for they smashed the locks and the doors and seized everything of value.
Many of the Jerusalem Moslems had had time to remove from their shops everything of value and left behind only useless things. Now they declared that the soldiers had taken the valuable things, and they showed themselves as having a good cause of hatred against the army. The market was a miserable and pitiable sight. It looked as if it had been deserted for years. Scattered here and there, were victuals, gewgaws, old cushions and mattresses, which they tore open in the hope of finding money in them. In many places they dug up the shops suspecting that the owners might have hidden the "whites" [silver money] or anything else. The citizens protested against this, but nobody listened to them, because they were few in number, compared to the fellaheen. Everybody came to take and none returned empty-handed. During the following days they began to strip and loot the houses of the Orthodox, the Franks and the Armenians, but the leaders of the fellaheen and the sheiks prevented them by telling them that if they harmed the Rayahs, they would incur the displeasure of the Royal Powers. In spite of this, they continued to loot the uninhabited houses every night.
[source: Reprinted from the Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society, vol. XVIII, 1938, in Extracts from Annals of Palestine 1821-1841 by Eli Schiller, ed. (Jerusalem: Ariel Pubs. 1979), pp 44 & 47]

Note that they started with the Jews' homes and then got around to others' homes. But not for long, according to NeoPhytos, since their leaders cautioned them about the great powers. When they looted Jews' homes, nobody was afraid of great power intervention. This means that the Arabs feared and respected power (as do most folks). But the Jews didn't have any, so they could be abused at will.

Note also that the Muslim shopkeepers are depicted as lying about losses, whereas they had been able to remove their more valuable property for safekeeping. They also blamed the soldiers of the garrison for what others intended to do.

Anyhow, the answer to the Arabs' thuggish behavior is to give them a state.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Arab Revolt against Muhammud Ali, 1834- Dhimmis as Targets

Several of our previous blog entries have mentioned the Arab uprising on the north-south, Judea-Samaria mountain ridge in 1834. The Arab Muslims resented Muhammud Ali of Egypt for drafting their sons into the army, for being a usurper of legitimate Ottoman power, for being too easy on the dhimmis [Jews and Christians], for being under non-Muslim, Western influence, for trying to modernize society, etc. The rebels were delighted to have an opportunity to plunder and kill the dhimmis. Jews lived then in Jerusalem and Hebron, while Christians lived in Jerusalem. The Muslims were a minority in Jerusalem throughout the 19th century, according to various population estimates, although they were the largest of the three religious groups until 1840 when the Jews became the largest single group in the Holy City. Actually, Jews include Hebron, Safed, and Tiberias as holy cities too, although Jerusalem is of course the most important, the holiest.

During the early stage of the uprising,
"All the Christians fled to the different monasteries, and thus they saved their lives. For five or six days the city [of Jerusalem] was given up to pillage and plunder, and I have never witnessed a scene so heartrending. The Jews, who had no safe place wherein to flee, suffered greatly. Their houses spoiled so completely that there was not a bed to lie down upon; many of them were slain, their wives and daughters outraged, etc. In short, things were done too barbarous to relate. In the hope of receiving good pay, or for some other end, this cruelty was spared the monasteries."

Source: R.A.S. Macalister of the Palestine Exploration Fund published this in one of the fund's publications, 1818. He had translated it from a Welsh-language magazine published in 1835. It is the account of a Welsh traveler who was in Israel during the uprising in 1834. A photographic facsimile of the PEF's publication was published in
Extracts from Annals of Palestine 1821-1841 (reprint, compiled by Eli Schiller: Jerusalem: Ariel, 1979).

Note that this account basically agrees with the remarks of John Lloyd Stephens on the same events, as Stephens was informed by Jews in Hebron in 1836. The social status of the Jews is the same as that described by Chateaubriand for 1806 and by Karl Marx for 1854. Rich, powerful, and influential local Muslims took part in plundering the Jews. It was not only the poor. As to the attitude of the Arab-Muslim upper crust toward Muhammud Ali, they had lost under his rule some of the influence and prestige which they had enjoyed under the Ottoman regime --with which they maintained contact. The Sublime Porte seems to have encouraged the uprising.