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Emet m'Tsiyon

Thursday, September 29, 2005


The Greek Revolt of the 1820s was a historical event that shook the Ottoman Empire, that evoked sympathy in Western Europe, and that set a precedent for revolts against the Empire by non-Muslim subject peoples [dhimmis].

The Sultan asked for support against the Greek rebels from his Muslim subjects, and he received it. Muhammad Ali of Egypt, later to become a rival for power with the Ottoman sultans, sent an army from Egypt to suppress the Greeks rebels on Crete. Long before, 1700 years earlier, Arab forces had aided the Roman Empire to suppress Jewish rebels in the Land of Israel in two major revolts, 68-73 CE & 131-135 CE [see earlier posts on this blog].

In Israel, local Muslims used the occasion to harass and steal property from local and foreign resident Christians. NeoPhytos the Greek monk of Cypriot origin describes the events:

That was a great and a holy day, the sixth of April [1821], when news arrived of the rebellion of the Greeks from the yoke of slavery! The Locum Tenens [deputy] of the Patriarch in Jerusalem, Procopios, with the bishops in the Synod, tried by all means to keep the news from getting abroad, but on Good Friday, the Mufti and the [Muslim] notables of Jerusalem got word by letter from Jaffa of the rebellion. These we persuaded by entreaties and presents to keep quiet and not to disclose the news until after Easter, lest the Turks [Muslims generally] already seeking an excuse, might be perturbed and cause trouble, whence some untoward accident might befall the pilgrims.
On the second day of Diakainesimos (Easter Monday) we hurried off our pilgrims to the Jordan River on their usual pilgrimage, for as yet nobody knew anything. On the morning of the fourth day of Diakainesimos (Wednesday) they returned and in the afternoon those of Samos and the other islands . . . left Jerusalem. On Friday morning they went aboard ship and sailed.
On the fifth day of Diakainesimos a courier arrived from the Waly [provincial or vilayet (= wilaya) governor, also over the Jerusalem district] of Damascus bringing letters, the contents of which disturbed Jerusalem. Rumours were rife among the Turks and we strove to fill the mouths of those in power in an attempt to keep the news from the people. Meanwhile, we had hurried up the pilgrims [who had come for Easter, to leave early] . . . But the Governor of Jaffa had received orders from `Abdallah Pasha of Ptolemais (Acre) [= Akko] that he should carefully search all pilgrims arriving at Jaffa. The Governor did search, carefully, and when arms were found, he showed his power . . . The Russian Consul . . . also received orders to come down from . . . the hill [where he lived] . . . to a house in the lower part of town [of Jaffa]. He did so, but three days later, fearing that worse might happen, he went on board a Russian boat, on the pretext of seeing to the Russian pilgrims, and then sailed away . . . [See Extracts from Annals of Palestine . . . (Jerusalem 1979), pp 11-12 (More biblio data in previous blog entries)]
These passages demontrate the fear of the Christians in Israel of the local Muslim population, fear of what the Muslims might do if they knew of the rebellion by Greek Christians against the Muslim state. Their actions demonstrate their attitude of dhimmitude, to use a term coined by Bat Yeor for the anticipatory fear on the part of dhimmis in the Muslim state of doing anything to anger or displease the Muslim overlords, and for the generally servile attitude of the dhimmis.

Another point to consider is the validity of the Third World concept, at least as applied to Egypt. The Muslim ruler of Egypt, Muhammad Ali, sent an army to Crete in behalf of the Ottoman sultan in order to suppress the Greek rebels, that is, to suppress a freedom struggle. In fact, he succeeded on Crete which did not become part of the independent Greek state for many years, remaining under Ottoman control until 1898. Here an Afro-Asian state, Muhammad Ali's aspiring, nascent empire based on Egypt suppressed the freedom struggle of people considered Europeans, the Greeks. This was done in behalf of the Ottoman Empire, a Muslim dominion that had lorded over non-Muslim subjects in Asia and Europe for centuries. Is this what Third World means? It is interesting that most or much of what is today called the Left supports Muslim jihad.

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NeoPhytos' account of the repercussions in Israel of the Greek revolt will be continued.
Coming soon: A partial explanation for why most or much of the "Left" supports Islamic jihad.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Sultan Temporarily Thwarts Effort to Usurp Jewish Holy Place [16th century]

Sometimes, Muslim rulers or judges tried to be fair to Jews within the framework of Muslim law, which placed the Jew --as an individual and as a communty-- in a far inferior position compared to the Muslim. This is important, since often, local rulers, local strong men, notables, and tribal chiefs, as well as central government representatives in local districts, etc., went beyond Muslim law [the Shari`ah] in their treatment of Jews and other dhimmis [in Israel, this meant Christians]. Local Muslims in the Jerusalem area had their eyes for a long time on the Tomb of Samuel the Prophet, an ancient Jewish holy site northwest of the city, on a hilltop or low mountain, sometimes identified with the Biblical Ramah [= height]. These efforts eventually succeeded but on the way, one sultan, around the 1550s, defended the Jewish rights against zealous local Muslims who coveted the holy place and the ancient synagogue next to it, which was eventually converted into a mosque.

Document no. 13
. . . to the Sanjaq Bey of Jerusalem {governor of Jerusalem sanjaq (= district)} . . . and to the qadi of Jerusalem . . . the Jewish community which dwells in Jerusalem [and] possesses by exalted decree, sent a man to to my Sublime Court {the Sublime Porte?} (saying): In the village of Jib {the Biblical Gib`on, near the Tomb of Samuel} near Jerusalem, they had before the [Ottoman] conquest and after the conquest a synagogue (knisah) which is known by the name of Sid Samuw'il. This is an ancient building and they were accustomed to make a pilgrimage (ziyaret) (to there) according to their customs. While they were doing this, some Muslims recently prevented them from entering their synagogue, and outlined the form of a mihrab on the wall of the synagogue mentioned above, and were doing wrong to them, saying: "This is needed by us."

I have decreed that when my exalted decree --according to which one must conduct oneself-- arrives, you shall examine [the matter]. Is the problem as it has been described: the abovementioned synagogue is their synagogue and has been used by them since ancient days; while they were accustomed to making pilgrimage [there] from olden days until now, whereas recently the abovementioned Muslims harassed them contrary to the Shari`ah, to the qanun, and to custom [and prevented them from doing so]. [If this is so], prevent and stop [this]. The Jewish community pay my head tax {= jizyah}, like the rest of my head tax payers. My mind is not comfortable over this, that at the time of my sultanic happiness someone is oppressing and doing wrong to anyone. Do not make it possible for anyone to act against the shari`ah and the qanun. Reprimand those who show rebelliousness and [here are the names and descriptions of the offenders] who stand and raise up, write and inform [me]. Don't allow a reason for [this] complaint to be repeated. Know this and after scrutiny {of the matter}, leave my sultanic decree in their hands [of the Jews]. Rely upon the exalted insignia. Registered in Aw'il, month of Muharram, year 963 [AH = November 1555] in fortified Constantinople.
A mihrab is a standard part of a mosque. It is a niche built into a wall of the mosque which indicates the direction toward Mecca, the direction of Muslim prayer. By making a mihrab on the wall of a synagogue, even in the form of an outline, as at the synagogue adjacent to the Tomb of Samuel, local Muslims believed that they were making the synagogue into a mosque which meant that Jews could no longer have possession of it or even enter it. However, in this case, the sultan intervened against the attempted usurpation by local Muslims.

This shows that an Ottoman sultan could sometimes take the side of the Jews against Muslims. But it also shows that local Muslims coveted Jewish holy places, synagogues, etc. And sometimes they succeeded in usurping them from the Jews. Amnon Cohen gives some more details about the history of disputes over the Tomb of Samuel. [A. Cohen, Ottoman Documents on the Jewish Community of Jerusalem in the Sixteenth Century (Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi 1976; in Hebrew with English summary), p 26; see Document no. 13, p 49; see p XVIII for Engish summary of this matter].

Thursday, September 22, 2005


A revelation about Saddam's Hussein's money going to one of his supporters and toadies in the West has just appeared in the respected Italian business daily, Il Sole-24 Ore. A priest who is a counterpart of George Galloway, always making excuses for Saddam's crimes and for PLO terrorism [mass murder of Jews and others] had a Swiss bank account which received $$ from sale of Iraqi oil vouchers. The priest, one Padre Jean-Marie Benjamin, had always denied getting money from Saddam. This development reflects on George Galloway, the member of Commons for the Baghdad bombers, who likewise always denied getting Saddam's money.

Here are some details:
Jean-Marie Benjamin became a priest at age 46 after a career of working for UNICEF [the UN fund supposedly for kids]. As a priest, he helped Cardinal Casaroli at the Vatican. Another job he had at the Vatican was in the Vatican Secretariat of State. He then became secretary-general of the Beato Angelico Foundation.

As an admirer of mass murderer Saddam Hussein, he was invited to speak before the British parliament on behalf of Saddam, as well as before the UN Human Rights Commission, which is dominated by governments that regularly violate human rights. It was his idea to bring Saddam's foreign minister, Tarik Aziz, to Rome to meet the pope shortly before the US attack, in order "to stop the war at the last minute." He organized the trip.

He always denied getting $$ from Saddam or from Iraq. His pro-Saddam activities were purely voluntary and without pecuniary award, he always maintained. When it was revealed in 2004 that he had received an oil voucher from Iraq, he responded with clever sarcasm, much like George Galloway: "Fantastic . . . They don't know any more how to attack those who speak the truth."

He signed a manifesto of the "Committee for the Iraqi Resistance," which rejected "the imperialist accusation according to which the Iraqi legitimate resistance is criminal terrorism."

There is a Swiss lawyer, Alain Bionda, who represented the al-Takriti family [Saddam's family] in Switzerland, particularly Barzani and Muhammad al-Takriti [or Tikriti], the stepbrother and nephew of Saddam. Muhammad is said to have managed Saddam's secret treasury. Alain Bionda was president of the Swiss-Iraqi Friendship Society. In 2001, Padre Benjamin got $811,866 in three instalments. Benjamin claimed that the money was a contribution to the Angelico Foundation. However, a large sum of money was transferred into Benjamin's Swiss bank account byAlain Bionda on the same day that Alain Bionda had sold Iraqi oil to oil traders. Transfer of an oil voucher to Benjamin was confirmed by pro-Saddam Hussein Italian businessman, Gianpiero Panzolini.

This info and more was published in an article in Il Sole-24 Ore on 18 IX 2005 and in an editorial in the same paper on 20 IX 2005. Claudio Gatti wrote the article.

If a Saddam Hussein groupie in Italy --Padre Benjamin-- can get payoffs from Saddam through a Swiss bank account, why can't a Saddam groupie in Britain do the same?

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Those who wish to thank Il Sole for this important revelation can write to the paper at letterealsole@ilsole24ore.com

Improvements in the Jews' Status in the Ottoman Period, Yet Continuing Exploitation, and Usurpation of a Jewish Holy Place [16th Century]

Things got better for Jews in Jerusalem in the early Ottoman period compared with the late Mamluk period described by Francesco Suriano in earlier posts. Of course, everything is relative.
The Jews continued to be inferior to Muslims by law, although within the law, some Muslim judges, qadis, could try to be fair to the Jews. This implies that other Muslims were trying to take advantage of the Jews' socially inferior status as dhimmis in order to usurp Jewish property, chisel money out of them, etc. This attempted usurpation sometimes focussed on Jewish holy places, such as the Tomb of Samuel near Jerusalem to the northwest. It was finally usurped from the Jews in the second half of the 16th century.

In the early Ottoman period, Amnon Cohen writes (in the English language summary published with his book):
Ottoman rule "brought increasing security and prosperity within the country [Israel] and better communications" within the empire. [Jewish] "Pilgrimage (ziyaret) was made primarily to Jerusalem, the Holy City, and thence to the Tombs of the Patriarchs in Hebron and the Tomb of Samuel the Prophet" near Jerusalem, now in a village called Nabi Samwil.

"A road-toll (ghafar)[called gafir in a previous blog entry] was levied at specific check points, and those paying it enjoyed the protection of the governor of Jerusalem while on the road. The governor, however, rather than honouring the rates as fixed by the Ottoman qanun, regarded pilgrims as an inexhaustible source of revenue. Upon reaching Jerusalem, pilgrims were forced to pay an extra toll . . . They were allowed neither to enter Hebron nor to leave it without paying an additional 5 paras. Having submitted to this extortion, the pilgrim was sometimes beaten, fined or even imprisoned. Instead of protecting and aiding the pilgrims, the governor of Jerusalem would attach at least one of his lackeys to those hiring out beasts to the pilgrims for transportation, thus adding a further financial burden. In the same spirit, the governor would send word to the main villages along the road, urging them to levy tolls of their own from the pilgrims. And as if this were insufficient; those pilgrims arriving from Egypt or Syria were accused of introducing diseases and, in order to avoid being shut out of the cities, were forced to pay various tolls." [Amnon Cohen, Ottoman Documents on the Jewish Community of Jerusalem in the Sixteenth Century (Jerusalem: Yad Ben Zvi, 1976), p xviii]
This is a heartwarming picture of what some today call traditional Muslim or Arab tolerance towards Jews, or towards dhimmis in general. True hospitality indeed.
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Coming soon: a sultan's order to leave Jews in possession of Samuel's Tomb, despite efforts to usurp it by local Muslims.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

THE JEWS A "GOOD HALF" of the JERUSALEM POPULATION in 1850s: dixit Gerardy Santine (in 1860)

Gérardy Santine was a French traveler who lived in Israel -- which he called Judea-- in the 1850s for three years. He reported that the Jews were "a good half" of the Jerusalem population. This appeared in his book Trois ans en Judée [Three Years in Judea], published in 1860 in Paris.

The French original has "une bonne moitié," "a good half." This is defined as "a little more than half" [un peu plus de la moitié] by the important French dictionary, the Robert Méthodique (1982).

In other words, Santine reports a Jewish majority already in the 1850s, as did Karl Marx's sources. We have quoted in an earlier post Marx's report of a Jewish majority in 1854 (New York Daily Tribune, 15 April 1854).

Santine also reports the humiliating social status of the Jews at that time, which induced Jews to conduct themselves obsequiously, without pride or confidence. However, he also reports that local Jews who had obtained citizenship status --or become subjects-- of important foreign powers, shielding them from some of the humiliation inflicted by local Muslims, and sometimes even by local Christians, displayed a much more assertive attitude.
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More excerpts from Santine about the Holy City and the Jews there will be forthcoming.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


The town of Jenin in northern Samaria was much in the news [or novae fabulae] a few years ago. Five hundred years ago, Francesco Suriano, a monk living in Jerusalem, had some savory encounters with the gentle folk of Jenin. By the way, the original Hebrew name of Eyn Ganim (עין גנים) was corrupted when pronounced by the Arab invaders.

Suriano's account of how Jews were treated in David's capital in his time [circa 1500] appeared in a previous post. The Jews were at the bottom of the social ladder. Another post described how the Arabs treated the monks when the Christian powers had limited influence in the Holy Land. This entry will display Suriano's rousing meetings with the gentle Jenin folk.

Fr Bellarmino Bagatti writes in his preface to Suriano's book, that:
"on his return [when Suriano came back from Damascus to Jerusalem] he had trouble in Jenin which sought revenge on the Friars for having diverted the pilgrim traffic from Galilee to Judea following difficulties on the former route on which taxes were high and robbers frequent. Once a Guardian [custos], Fr Giovanni Tomacelli, of a noble Neapolitan family . . . [custos from] 1478-1481, was cruelly beaten, imprisoned, and fined [in Jenin]. This brought intervention from the Mamluk army, which severely chastised the village" [of Jenin]. [p 8]
Note that the folk of Jenin were interested in the income that they received from the passage of Christian pilgrims through their neighborhood. Because Suriano had stopped that revenue, apparently because they were taking too much, they were angered at him and sought to punish him. This means that they did not recognize his right or freedom to decide even which route the pilgrims under his charge should take to get to Jerusalem.

The Mamluk state imposed a travel tax [gafir] in Israel, which was higher for non-Muslims [dhimmis] than for Muslims. Abraham David reports:
"Another tax was the highway duty, the gafir, collected at special customs stations along the main roads. . . Whereas a small sum was collected from Muslims, a much larger one was levied on Christians and Jews."[p 207]
Local officials, strong men, or bandits might impose their own "taxes." Fr Tomacelli was imprisoned by inhabitants of Jenin apparently before Suriano's first trip to the East [1481-84], in any event, years before Suriano was permanently assigned to the Franciscans' Jerusalem establishment. The Mamluk state may have been subject to some pressure for Tomacelli's release from the Kingdom of Naples and other Western powers. Or maybe the Mamluks did not want non-official locals to cut into the pie, to steal the golden eggs laid by the Christian pilgrims. For whatever reason, the Mamluk army "chastised" the village. We can only imagine what "chastised" meant in practice. For more on this era in Israel, see Abraham David,"The Mamluk period" in A. Shinan, Israel -- People, Land, State (Jerusalem: Ben Zvi 2005).

Suriano himself was imprisoned in Egypt by the Mamluks after their defeat by the Portuguese and the Knights of Rhodes (1510). Suriano and his fellow monks from Jerusalem spent two years in jail. They were only released through Venetian diplomacy (the Venetians were sometime allies, sometime rivals of the Knights of Rhodes, later known as the Knights of Malta).

In the Cairo jail, Bagatti writes:
"The Guardian [custos] Fr. Bernardino del Vechio of Siena was barbarously treated and the other Friars did not fare much better. One can only imagine what Oriental prisons were like at that time and the extent of hatred and fanaticism of the jailers." [p 8].
Here we note that the monks were incarcerated because of what their co-religionists, the Portuguese and Knights of Rhodes, had done, although they did not make policy for Portugal or the Knights, nor were they their agents. Further, according to Bagatti, the monks were punished as revenge for a defeat. In other words, the Mamluks did not recognize a defeat as an unfortunate political-military event but as an injustice to be avenged.

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Coming soon: Santine on the Jerusalem population before 1860

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Is the so-called Left a danger and a threat to the future of civilization? Or does it represent rational, reasonable, knowledgeable and informed answers to the problems of human society?

Just to ask these questions points to the answer. Put it this way. Is the Left a body of rational and reasonable informed opinion OR is it a mob of semi- sane slogan screamers? Are they manipulated wackos, the products of indoctrination or brainwashing -- or are they sane and reasonable people willing to listen to reason and learn from the more knowledgeable and the better informed?

Does the Left stand for respect for human life? Or for mass murder? Does the Left respect truth or does it only respect political ends?

There are several issues on which today's Left --indeed the Communist Left since its beginnings-- are found wanting.
1- the Left, despite its former orientation to social and economic class and to the allegedly determining role of capital (that is, big money), does not recognize that the Arab states are significant locations of very rich people, people who exert major influence on the policies --including those toward Israel-- of their own governments and of Western governments. The Arab rich own significant portions of capital (corporation stock, bonds, real estate) in Western countries. Certain Arab oil rich states --Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, etc.-- have or have had a higher per capita income than the United States and various other Western states. Some have had a higher per capita income as far back as the late 1950s.

2- there is a population of millions of foreign workers in Arab countries, often very limited in rights, as in Saudi Arabia, often humiliated, as in Kuwait, etc. The Left does not care about them.

3- Western govts., such as the United States, Britain, France, transfer billions of dollars worth of disguised foreign aid to the rich Arab oil states, in addition to funds given openly --about 480 million euros per year to the "Palestinian Authority" by the European Union alone, not to mention funds to the PA from the United States, Japan, rich Arab oil states, etc.

4- Funds given to the "Palestinian Authority" are not used to benefit the poor of the PA zones, nor the inhabitants of the "refugee camps" [settlements for the refugees of the 1948 war, which for long have been built up towns and not "camps"]. The "camp" inhabitants are instead used as a demonstration of alleged wrongs by Israel, exhibits in a political trial of Israel and the Jews, while funds allegedly donated to help them economically and socially go for other purposes, such as lining the pockets of the local rich and the political-terrorist leadership, for purchasing guns and bombs for terrorists, etc.

5- Mass murder has been proceeding in various Arab states on and off for nearly sixty years, since the war and massacres began in the Sudan. But the massacres are not limited to the Sudan. In Algeria Muslims have slaughtered more 140,000 fellow Muslims, according to informed estimates, over the past 15 years. In Lebanon, Muslims were slaughtering Christians identified as fellow Arabs. Hundreds of thousands of Muslim Kurds were massacred in Iraq by Saddam Hussein, considered a hero by much of the Left, such as George Galloway, Ramsey Clark, etc.

6- Does the Left today acknowledge that throughout its history, Muslim society oppressed and denied rights to the non-Muslims, massacred them, stole their property, etc.? These victims included Jews, inducing some Jews to migrate to Christian-governed lands, both in the Middle Ages and in the 20th century. The social system in Islamic lands had much in common with racism and apartheid, though according to Muslim law, the discrimination was based on religion, not on biological race or skin color.

Does anyone remember that Ramsey Clark was pro-Khomeini after Khomeini's takeover of Iran? Has anyone heard Clark protest over Khomeini's effective restoration of shari`ah law in Iran, a law which severely reduces the rights and human dignity of non-Muslims [dhimmis] and of women, including Muslim women? [Maybe Clark comes to the discriminatory Islamic social system naturally, after all, his family were active members of the Ku Klux Klan]
It is no doubt fitting that Clark has long been chairman of the National Council of the American Civil Liberties Union. His trips to Iraq to help Saddam Hussein demonstrate the ACLU's shallow commitment to civil liberties.
Was George Galloway a toady to Saddam Hussein or merely a friend of the Iraqi people, as he claims now that Saddam's bloody tyranny has been exposed? If George was a friend of the Iraqi people, what about Saddam's victims? Who were they? Weren't they Iraqis too? Did Iraqis starve because of international sanctions or did Saddam have the money to feed them, yet let them starve? Or is the story of starving Iraqis just another Arab tale used to win sympathy, then leading to political support and money?
Does George know about the mass murders committed by Saddam and now by the so-called Iraqi "insurgents"? Do these "insurgents" who have slaughtered thousands of Iraqis represent the Iraqi people?
Do Galloway and Clark know about the history of Islam as an oppressive, enslaving, warmongering, racist-like social-political entity throughout history? If they don't know [Really?], do they want to know? And if they do know, are they any more than cheerleaders for oppression, mass murder, barbarism, etc.? All this applies to slime like Ken Livingstone, Tom Paulin, Eyal Sivan, and many others.

Sources: Bat Yeor, Moshe Gil, Bernard Lewis, David Bukay, Hugh Fitzgerald, Rafael Israeli, Moshe Sharon, Carlo Panella, etc.
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Coming up: Gerardy Santine on Jerusalem's population in the late 1850s, Francesco Suriano and the Arabs of Jenin, circa 1500, etc.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

WHAT DOES LEFT REALLY MEAN IN 2005? -- Arab Oil & World Politics - Part 2

The facts about the immense transfers of funds --indirect and surreptitious as they may have been-- between the US treasury and Saudi Arabia are also a proof of the deceitful nature of today's Left. The USA is habitually portrayed as hostile to the Arabs and friendly to Israel, or sometimes, by official spokesmen, as friendly to both.
Yet what is called the Left, almost invariably --with exceptions few and far between-- claims that the West, particularly America, is hostile to Arabs, wants to control their oil to the detriment of the Arabs, is supportive of Israel, even blindly supportive of Israel, or even controlled by Israel in some of the more paranoid versions of the argument, which verge on the Nazi-like claims that Jews control the world. For example, a high-ranking member of the British Labour Party made such a bizarre, paranoid claim. Pat Buchanan, a so-called conservative American, also makes similar claims from time to time.
This argument is ridiculous whether made by "right"or "left" (as if the notion of a right-to-left political spectrum had any meaning anymore). Indeed, the Saudi-US relationship goes way back to the early days of oil exploration in Arabia (ca. 1930). A high point in this relationship was Franklin Roosevelt's meeting with King Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud on a US naval destroyer anchored in the Red Sea in 1945 on his way home from the Yalta conference. Reporting to Congress about his trip, FDR said:
"On the way back from the Crimea I made arrangements to meet personally King Farouk of Egypt, Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia, and King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia. Our conversations had to do with matters of common interest. They will be of great mutual advantage because they gave us an opportunity of meeting and talking face to face, and of exchanging views in personal conversation instead of formal correspondence.
Of the problems of Arabia, I learned more about that whole problem, the Moslem problem, the Jewish problem, by talking with Ibn Saud for five minutes than I could have learned in exchange of two or three dozen letters. [source: Ben D Zevin (ed.), Nothing to Fear: The Selected Addresses of Franklin D Roosevelt 1932-1945 (World Publg. Co. 1946; Foreword by Harry Hopkins; reprint: New York: Popular Library, 1961) p 461.]
In other words, FDR learned about the Jewish problem not from Jews or Jewish historians, but from the king of Saudi Arabia. Indeed, the king's views, as expressed to FDR, were extremely hostile to Jews in general and Zionists in the Land of Israel in particular. But most of the Left, including the so-called "ultra-left," do not talk about this historical reality, nor do they take it into account when they talk about Arab-Israeli issues. They overlook the fact that the oil-rich Arab kings and sheiks generously contribute to the mass murder activities of Fatah, Hamas, etc. They also overlook the huge capital investments by Arab states and individuals in Western countries, in corporations, real estate, bonds, etc. If the "Left" does acknowledge the immense revenues from oil of certain Arab states, then they do not take this income reasonably into account when they talk about the Israeli-Arab conflict. Offenders in this regard are George Galloway, Noam Chomsky, and most of the "hard Left" in Europe, and in the USA as well. The Left is not a body that reasonably or scientifically understands today's world, but is more an agency shaping public opinion or an immensely deluded --and dangerous-- segment of public opinion.

The previous post showed how the Foreign Tax Credit Law [circa 1920] was first used in 1951 to surreptitiously enrich the Saudi royals. The book by Odell states that a similar system was adopted by Britain to help Arab royals and the British oil industry. The report by the French parliamentary investigating commission, below [in French], says that France did likewise.

UPDATING to 19 July 2007 - go to link

For more about the economics and the politics of oil, as well as of the history of oil's development from a world-historical-political viewpoint, see the following works, among others:

Tariq Ali, London Review of Books, 19 July 2007 - hit link. Tariq Ali is a notorious Marxistoid of Pakistani background. He was once a star theorist of so-called Third World struggles. However, this review of two new books on Saudi Arabia is informative. The LRB is an Establishment pubilcation.
John Blair, Control of Oil
Ovid Demaris,
Dirty Business (New York: Harper's Mag Press, 1974)
Robert Engler,
The Politics of Oil
Shlomo Erel,
Petroleum: The Phenomenon of a Modern Panic (Jerusalem: Orion-Jerusalem Academic Press, 1975)
Douglas J Feith, "The Oil Weapon Demystified,"
Policy Review #15 (Winter 1981)
P H Frankel,
Mattei: Oil and Power Politics (London: Faber & Faber, 1966)
Peter Odell,
Oil and World Power (Penguin 1970)
James Ridgeway,
New Energy (Boston: Beacon Press, 1975)
Zionist Organization of America, "On Foreign Tax Credits to International Oil Companies," Resolution at the 83rd National Convention, Pittsburgh, April-May 1983

French Sources:
Commission d'Enquete Parlementaire, Rapport de la, "Sur les Societes Petrolieres Operant en France" (1974-1975: Paris: Maison d'Edition 10/18, 1974)
Daniel Durand,
La Politique Petroliere Internationale (Paris: PUF, 4eme ed., 1978)
L Mihailovitch et J-J Pluchart,
Les Compagnies Petrolieres Internationales (Paris: PUF, 1981)
S Normand et J Acker,
La Route du Petrole au Moyen Orient (Paris: Horizons de France, 1956)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


The mighty American taxpayer is a very generous fellow, sometimes without even knowing it. The fabulous wealth of the kings of Arabia, which pays for Cadillacs and air conditioners, desert palaces, falcon trainers, and explosives for the Hamas [and Fatah, etc.], is due in substantial part to his generosity. Maimonides says that the highest degree of charity is when the recipient doesn't know the identity of the donor or the donor that of the recipient. In the case of the Saudi dynasty, the donor wasn't even aware of just how generous he was. How noble!

This poignant, heartwarming tale of charity and affection unfolds as follows:
Oil was discovered in Arabia around 1930, during the reign of the newly installed Saudi dynasty which very kindly allowed its dynastic name to be attached to that of the country. Oil was flowing out of Arabia by the late 1930s in a river of black gold. The Arabian-American Oil Company, ARAMCO, was formed in the 1940s as a consortium of American firms to extract and ship the oil. Now, as Leonard Mosley tells the tale, ARAMCO executives were expected to produce profits for the members of the consortium. On the other hand, "they had to keep the king supplied with more and more money." The monarch had a certain loving affection for the filthy lucre. "There was little they [ARAMCO] could do about the fact that it was promptly wasted in foolish extravagances or poured into the coffers of the swindlers around the court. What Ibn Saud's ministers wanted was not advice but more revenues, and the more they were paid, the more they spent and the deeper the kingdom slid into debt." What an unbecoming situation.

Fred Davies of ARAMCO testified before a Senate Committee in 1957:
"They asked us as early as 1948. 'Isn't there some way in which we can get a greater take?'"

Mosley goes on:
"Now they began demanding so much money that ARAMCO's lawyers in the United States believed that in order to satisfy them the whole nature of the company's concession might have to be altered in order to provide it . . . Moreover, if made out of ARAMCO's revenues, the payments would have wiped out a large proportion of the company's profits, and the parent companies [of ARAMCO] were in no mood to accept that. . .

"But how could a way be found to satisfy the greedy demands of the king's courtiers without dealing a death blow to Aramco's profitability?"
Now, ARAMCO paid more in US federal corporate income tax in 1949 than it paid in royalties to the Saudi Treasury, that is, more than it was pouring into the private piggybank of the Saudi royals.
"In 1950 . . . the figures were leaked to the Saudis. The result was, in the words of Fred Davies, that 'they weren't a darn bit happy about it.' Soon after they were asking the question that anyone with ARAMCO's profitability at heart would have wanted them to ask: 'Isn't there some way in which the income tax you pay to the United States can be diverted to us in whole or in part?'

"At this point the company suggested that the Saudi government consult the U.S. Treasury. ARAMCO had already discussed its problems with George McGhee, of the Treasury Department, who, according to Davies, 'appreciated our difficulties.' The result had been the dispatch to Jidda of a Treasury Department official, George A Eddy, who had conferred with Saudi officials about their money problems. When asked a direct question by a Saudi official about how more money might be raised from 'foreign firms,' Eddy had first consulted the U.S. ambassador in Jidda as to whether he might answer the question, and then, given permission, had pointed out that several methods were available. . . one of them was to demand an increase in royalties on oil produced; the other was to institute an income-tax system and get more money from the company by direct taxation. Eddy added: 'I did explain to him [the Saudi official] the difference of the effect on the company of a royalty and an income tax.'"
Here Mosley is being cute, less than frank. He does not mention the actual legal mechanism by which the Saudis could get more money for the oil without the money coming out of ARAMCO's pocket. This is called the Foreign Tax Credit. As a means of encouraging American companies to invest abroad, it had been on the books since about 1920. It provided that US companies doing business abroad could deduct the full amount of taxes paid to foreign governments from their US corporate income tax. Hence, if the Saudi kingdom imposed a per barrel "oil income tax," then such payments by ARAMCO would be deducted dollar for dollar from the company's corporate income tax. So this semantic subtlety meant that the money paid to keep the kingdom in Cadillacs was essentially paid by the US taxpayers as a whole. Semantically disguising royalties as a Saudi "oil income tax" placed the burden of payment --that is, of enriching the Saudis on the shoulders of the taxpayers.

Mosley explains this without actually naming the law.
". . . if the Saudi government simply increased the amount of royalty it was receiving from ARAMCO per barrel of oil, it would have a direct and damaging effect on the profits of the company. If however, the Saudi government were to start an income-tax system, any such money paid to them by ARAMCO could, under US law, be deducted from the amount of tax the company was liable for in the United States . . .

". . . a Washington lawyer, John F Greaney . . . subsequently drafted an Income Tax Law for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which was instituted by royal decree on December 26, 1950. . . a munificent Christmas present for both the Saudi government and ARAMCO. . .

"From ARAMCO's point of view, the nicest aspect of the new system was that it didn't cost them a penny. They simply wrote off their Saudi Arabian taxes [sic!] against their liabilities for US tax." [quotes from Leonard Mosley, Powerplay: Oil in the Middle East (New York: Random House, 1973), pp 193-195]
This information should be contrasted with the usual claims by the Israelophobes, whether "right" or "left," that Israel is favored against the Arabs by the West, by the United States, or by the "capitalists," etc. Why doesn't the "left" before any others talk about this situation? To the extent that the "left" does not talk about such massive transfers of capital, it falsifies the whole Middle Eastern situation.

UPDATING to July 19, 2007, see link below to Tariq Ali article
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More info on this matter available in:
Tariq Ali - a review [click on link] in the Establishment-controlled London Review of Books [19 July 2007] of two new books on Saudi Arabia [July 2007]
John Blair - The Control of Oil
James Ridgway - New Energy

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Sunday, September 04, 2005

Franciscan Monks in Jerusalem under the Mamluks (circa 1475-1518)

The Jews were low man on the totem pole, on the bottom rung of the social ladder, in Mamluk Jerusalem, as the monk Francesco Suriano makes clear. However, the Christian status was not an enviable one. In his preface to Suriano's account of late Mamluk Jerusalem and Christian affairs there, Fr. Bellarmino Bagatti writes in the mid-20th century:

"The presence of these Europeans was objected to by overzealous Moslems and afforded an opportunity for those desirous of loot. Emboldened by the meekness of the Friars, many Moslems dared to enter the rooms of the convent on Mt Sion [outside the Zion Gate of today] and remove what pleased them, to enter the kitchen and eat what they liked and to tease them [the monks] by emptying on the ground the wine which the Friars had with difficulty procured. This was the normal state of affairs, one might say, under the Mamluks. There was a let up for a while as Suriano reports."

[In the years 1467-1472, two leading Mamluks were in banishment in Jerusalem, one of them Qait Bey.]

"The Friars treated them with good food and sympathy. When these reached the highest offices [that is, returned to favor in Cairo, the Mamluk capital], the first became Sultan, the second [his] majordomo, they did not forget the friars and protected them. This really meant that they were not beaten, nor thrown into prison. It did not extend so far as to repress the greed of the pashas and Arab Chiefs when pilgrims arrived, and during these years the pilgrims continued to suffer. Suriano regarded the years of his first Guardianship (1493-1496) as happy when compared with those of his second (1513-15) which were rendered more difficult in the absence of this protection " [previously afforded by Qait Bey and his majordomo]. [p 4]

We bear in mind that the Jews were constantly exploited and humiliated more than the Christians, as Suriano testifies for the late Mamluk period, and others attest for the 19th century.
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Coming soon: A heartwarming tale of how the mighty American taxpayer showed his kindness toward Arabia's kings by making them richer than rich.

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Jerusalem Population in the 19th Century -- Part 3

Jews became an absolute majority of the Jerusalem population over the course of the 19th century. This is known from various sources. However, in publications appearing since the PLO became the darling of both Communists and Western great powers in the late 1960s and the 1970s, this fact has been deliberately disregarded. Nevertheless, the fact popped up not long ago in a most unexpected place. This was a very expensive, large format, two-volume book on Ottoman Jerusalem, apparently published for members of the British aristocracy and their friends, the rich Arab sheiks who own pieds-à-terre and summer homes in Britain. The cover of each volume bears a large calligraphic, monogram-like gilt inscription in Arabic script. The book was published under the patronage of no less an eminence than His Royal Highness {OK, he is taller than me} Charles Prince of Wales {the guy with the big ears, you know him}. The book contains a number of articles on various aspects of life in the city during the Ottoman period, and includes a survey of Jerusalem's political history in the period under survey, written by an Arab, Abdul-Karim Rafeq.

Here are population counts and estimates from the 19th century that he cites:

1) F Bovet was a French Protestant minister. He was in the Holy City in 1858 and was given demographic figures by the Prussian consul:

_7,000 _ Jews
_5,000 _ Muslims
_3,400 _ Christians
15,400 total

2) Baron M de Vogüé, an inquisitive French traveler who spent considerable time in Jerusalem, gave these estimates/counts for the Holy City's population as of 1872:

_14,000 _ Jews
4-5,000 _ Muslims
7-8,000 _ Christians
26,000 total

3) Nu`aman al-Qasatli was an Arab from Damascus ("a Damascene traveller and member of the Palestine Exploration Fund's expedition" to Israel). He gave estimates for Jerusalem's population as of 1874:

22,000 __ Jews
_6,000 __ Muslims
12,000 __ Christians
40,000 total

Source: Abdul-Karim Rafeq, "Political History of Ottoman Jerusalem," in Ottoman Jerusalem, eds. S. Auld & R. Hillenbrand, Part I (London 2000), p 35.

The provenance of this book is of great interest. It was published under the patronage of HRH Charles, Prince of Wales. The publisher was the Altajir World of Islam Trust (Director, Alistair Charteris Duncan). The tome fairly reeks of a musty, ever so British, upper crusty scent of gothic attics, stale scones, and fox blood, combined with the aroma of attar of roses, camel saddles, and falcon feathers. Its production was a joining of forces and financing on the part of British aristocrats and well-fed Arab shaykhs. The book was published on behalf of the British School of Archeology in Jerusalem in co-operation with the Administration of Auqaf and Islamic Affairs, Jerusalem [usually called the Waqf], by this Altajir outfit. Among the contributors of financing to make it possible were the Arab Bank [recently fined in the USA for facilitating fund transfers to terrorists], the Barakat Trust, Dar al-Handassa [this may be an engineers society], "His Excellency Rafik Hariri" [the late billionaire prime minister of Lebanon, sent to the next world by Syrian Ba`athist intrigue and terrorism], and "Anonymous Donors."

Bonnie Prince Charley's background in this regard is of quite a bit of interest. His zeydeh or jid [Yiddish and Arabic for grandfather, respectively], King George VI, was warmly fond of Arabs. So much so that in about 1939 he sent a note to His Majesty's Government [probably to the Colonial Secretary] asking for reassurance that Jewish refugees from Poland would not be allowed into the Land of Israel, then governed by the UK as the "Palestine mandate." As we recall, Jews from Poland who could not get to another country were likely caught up in the Holocaust, as one politely describes their fate. This info appears in William Perl's book, Holocaust Conspiracy. As for Charley's son, Harry, he has this strange penchant for dressing up in Nazi costumes. Most unbecoming. Whether Charley is really bonnie is a sticky question. One of my Irish friends pointed out his big ears to me. If my Irish readers or any others would like to call him Big Ears, I suppose I wouldn't object. Anyhow, like a good grandson he follows in the footsteps of his jid -- in his fondness for Arabs of the upper and ethereal spheres.

Note that de Vogüé's estimates for 1872 and al-Qasatli's estimate for 1874 both show a Jewish majority. This supports my argument in the previous entry that the parity achieved by Jews with the rest of the population in 1870 [according to Ben-Arieh] meant that the Jews became a majority that same year. Al-Qasatli's figures are closer to Ben-Arieh's than are de Vogüé's. Rafeq notes that the Jews were undercounted in official documents, since many of them were not Ottoman subjects and many had arrived in the country without official authorization or had overstayed a visa, etc.

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We will go back to Francesco Suriano's account of intergroup relations in Jerusalem in the late Mamluk period; this time Muslim relations with Western Christian churchmen. We will also supply some more accounts of life in Israel in the 19th century, including some by famous writers.
Watch for a charming vignette on how American tax laws were used to make the Saudi royal family super rich. Coming soon.