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Emet m'Tsiyon

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.


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