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Emet m'Tsiyon

Saturday, October 08, 2005


The Ottoman Empire was a political machine for --among other things-- keeping the dhimmis , the non-Muslims, suppressed. The Arab Muslims in the empire joined in defending the empire and its Muslim character when the Sultan asked them to take up arms to defend against the Greek rebels, whom some might call "freedom fighters," who rose up against their oppressors in 1821. Neophytos, the Greek Orthodox monk living in Jerusalem and member of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher, which managed Greek church affairs in Israel, gave an account of the repercussions in Israel of the Greek revolt. This third installment begins after the Sultan has asked the Arabs and his other Muslim subjects, to take up arms to resist the Greek revolt and to watch over the Greek Orthodox population wherever they were settled throughout the empire.

The children of Hagar [= Arabs] had now the opportunity and the time to behave as they wished. Young men and old and even children armed themselves. First of all came those in power, the Mutesarrif [governor], the Janissaries [special troops], and the rest, who entered the Patriarchate and searched up and down, inside and outside, for the arms which we did not have. The same procedure was gone through in the rest of our monasteries, and in the houses of the Christians of Jerusalem and of the Franks (Latins). Having taken all the arms they could lay hands on in Jerusalem, they proceeded to Bethlehem, Beitjala, Ramallah, and to other Christian villages around Jerusalem and took their guns and hanjars (daggers). Then knowing that the monasteries outside of Jerusalem, such that of St Saba, St Elias and the Holy Cross, kept guns in order to protect themselves against robbers, they went and seized their weapons. That completed, they fell to inventing means whereby they could continually extort more money from us, the Brotherhood (the Community) of the Holy Sepulcher.
Then it was announced by heralds (dallal) that all the Rayahs (Christian subjects of the Sultan) should dress in black. Later the Turks began to arrest the Orthodox and imprison them. Many charges were brought against them and they had to pay a fine (jereme). They were fined for failing to blacken their fezzes or shoes, or because of something they had said. They were forced to work continuously moving cannons from place to place and clearing the moats [there is a moat around the Jerusalem citadel, usually called Tower of David] and trenches. Many other things happened which we do not wish to relate.
Some kinds of suffering may have been too shameful for Neophytos to relate. We presented his account of the 1834 Arab revolt against Muhammad Ali of Egypt in August posts.

It is clear from this post and other sources from that period of history, that the Arab Muslims in Israel saw themselves as superior to the non-Muslims and as having the duty to defend the Empire and its social system which kept the dhimmis in thrall. NeoPhytos and other 19th century authors quoted on this blog make it clear that the Jews in Israel at that time were the low man on the totem pole, more oppressed and humiliated than even the Christian subjects of Sultan. In other words, contrary to currently widespread conventional views of the pre-Zionist period in Israel, views promulgated by Arabs, by Leftists, and by Western journalists, diplomats, and statesmen, Muslims lorded it over non-Muslims, exploiting them economically, extorting money and valuables from them, often keeping them in a state of fear, and habitually humiliating them. One may contrast NeoPhytos' account --and the reports of Chateaubriand, Karl Marx, John Lloyd Stephens, etc.-- with a recent book by one Henry Laurens, who is favored by the French TV as its favorite expert on the modern history of the Land of Israel. Laurens' La Question de Palestine generally avoids the contemporary accounts that we have cited which show Muslim/Arab oppression and humiliation of dhimmis, especially when it is Jews who are being humiliated and exploited.

NeoPhytos' account [his name is also spelled Neophitos] was published in the Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society, vol. XVIII, 1938. It was reprinted in Extracts from Annals of Palestine 1821-1841 (Jerusalem: Ariel Pubs., 1979).


  • Checking in to say hello. Nice work above. Thanks for your efforts.

    Off topic, I see that some of your Arab citizens tried to explode the tower on the blvd. by the Carmel Market. I worked there at that tower, say on the patio up top, chatted with friends, gazed in wonder at the land I got a chance to live in. I lose my good natured temper when I encounter things like this latest bome-plot.

    I'm just a guy who wanders around the world doing my own thing. But sometimes I luck out and find people who are worth being with for a few years till my restlessness gets me moving again regardless. Two months turned into two years there. Why?

    If I can, I'm going back someday, and I hope to stay for another two years then.

    I remember.

    First, friend, I have to go to Peru, but I will be in Jerusalem, maybe next year.

    By Blogger Dag, at 8:23 PM  

  • To Dag
    Thanx &
    Sa` b'shalom
    סע בשלום

    By Blogger Eliyahu m'Tsiyon, at 5:21 PM  

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