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Emet m'Tsiyon

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Gedaliah of Semyatich on Jewish Life in Jerusalem circa 1716 -- Part Three

Gedaliah of Siemiatycze's [Semyatich's] report on early 18th century Jerusalem continues.

No one can wear green, for this color is worn solely by Muslims. The latter are very hostile toward Jews and inflict upon them vexations in the streets of the city. It is rare however, for the Turkish or even the Arab notables to harm the Jews when passing them (in the street), but the common folk persecute the Jews, for we are forbidden to defend ourselves against the Turks or the Arabs. If an Arab strikes a Jew, he (the Jew) must appease him but must not rebuke him, for fear that he may be struck even harder, which they (the Arabs) do without the slightest scruple. This is the way the Oriental Jews react, for they are accustomed to this treatment, whereas the European Jews, who are not yet accustomed to being assaulted by Arabs, insult them in return. . .

Even the Christians are subject to these vexations. If a Jew offends a Muslim, the latter strikes him a brutal blow with his shoe in order to demean him, without anyone's being able to prevent him from doing it. The Christians fall victim to the same treatment and they suffer as much as the Jews, except that the former are very rich by reason of the subsidies that they receive from abroad, and they use this money to bribe the Arabs. As for the Jews, they do not possess much money with which to oil the palms of the Muslims, and consequently they are subject to much greater suffering.
Note that the Christians in Jerusalem were treated better by the Arabs because they were able to bribe them. Jews in Jerusalem got money from abroad too, but the resources of the various churches were obviously much greater than those the Jews of the Diaspora could supply to Jews in Israel. Of course, it is significant, although it may seem peculiar, that the Muslims were willing to temper their abuse for payment of a fee. This fits in with accounts from both the pre-Crusades period and the late 18th century.

It seems that today major world governments want to return the Jews to the status of humiliated persons subject to Arab-Muslim violence.
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Coming: Poems of Zion: Emma Lazarus, etc.
More on Jews in Jerusalem


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