Emet News Service
Edwin Black is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of IBM and the Holocaust. This article is based on research from Banking on Baghdad: Inside Iraq's 7,000-Year History of War, Profit, and Conflict (Dialog Press). His latest book is The Farhud: Roots of the Arab-Nazi Alliance in the Holocaust (Dialog, 2010). This article originally appeared on his Web site The Cutting Edge News.
Islam had been at war with the Jewish people since its [Islam] defining inception in 627 ce when Mohammad exterminated the Jews of Mecca and launched the Islamic conquest that swept north and subsumed Syria-Palestine
As Israelis and Arabs struggle with a twenty-first century peace process, the world must face the forgotten history that was so pivotal in determining the present crisis. In many ways, a turning point was the day Arabs massacred Jews because they dared to sit at the Western Wall while praying. This simple act of prayer was so unacceptable to Arabs that it helped launch a worldwide crisis of hate that provoked a global Islamic jihad, forged an Arab-Nazi alliance during the Holocaust, and still echoes today.
The year was 1929. Jewish Palestine was still being settled by torrents of Eastern European refugees. The League of Nations Mandate for Palestine included the provision for a Jewish homeland. The Balfour Declaration, widely endorsed by many nations, was a matter of international law. But the Arabs in Palestine refused to co-exist with Jews in any way except as second-class dhimmis.
Islam had been at war with the Jewish people since its [Islam] defining inception in 627 ce when Mohammad exterminated the Jews of Mecca and launched the Islamic conquest that swept north and subsumed Syria-Palestina. For centuries, Jews and Christians in Arab lands were allowed to exist as dhimmis — second-class citizens with limited religious rights. These restrictions were enforced by the Turks who, until World War I, ruled the geographically undetermined region known as Palestine, which included Jerusalem.
When the Ottoman Empire fell, after World War I ended in 1918, the British were obligated by the Mandate to maintain the Turkish status quo at the Wailing Wall.
That status quo, according to numerous decrees under sharia [Islamic law], maintained that Jews could pray at the Wailing Wall — the last remnant of the Temple — only quietly and never sit, even in the heat. Nor were Jews allowed to separate men from women during prayer. The Jews revered the Wailing Wall as their holiest accessible place and a direct connection to God. But under Turkish and Arab tradition, the Wailing Wall was not the Jews' holy site. Rather, it was revered by Muslims as al-Buraq, the place where Mohammad tethered his winged steed during his miraculous ascent to heaven. During that miraculous journey, according to Islamic tradition, Mohammad flew through the air on his magnificent horse to the furthest mosque. The furthest mosque was in Jerusalem, hence the al-Aqsa, meaning "the furthest." Therefore, the Wailing Wall became pre-eminently a Muslim holy place, only available for Jewish visitation with permission and under strict guidelines that would not connote independent worship or ownership of the Wall.
[Editor's note: With all due respect to the author of this article, regarding "the furthest mosque," see "The Moslem Claim to Jerusalem is False," and regarding the myth that the Temple Mount is actually the place of Mohammed's ascent, see "The Myth of al Aqsa Mosque".]
In 1928, on Yom Kippur, Jews decided to bring benches and chairs to sit while they prayed, and they also brought a mechitza, in this case, a flimsy portable partition to separate men from women. This provoked outrage among Arabs, and the British even tried to pull chairs out from under people to force them to stand. The offense catapulted al-Hajj Muhammad Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, to sudden international Islamic importance as Muslims everywhere — from India to London — objected to Jews sitting. Husseini even convened an emergency international conference of Muslims in Jerusalem to stop Jews from sitting at the Wall to pray.
The Mufti and his machinery also began a non-stop protest movement against the perceived Jewish encroachment on the Wall. As the chief religious authority, it was Husseini who directed that the muezzin, the man who calls Muslims to prayer from the minaret, position himself within earshot of the Wailing Wall pavement, and then dial the volume up to rile Jews during prayer and prove Islamic dominance. At the same time, it was Husseini who directed the revival of the cacophonous dhikr ceremony, complete with repetitive shouts of Allahu Akbar, as well as loud gongs and cymbals, once again, disrupting Jewish prayers with strategic noise. The Mufti also was the one who permitted mules to be herded through the Jewish prayer area, dropping dung and creating the feel and smell of what one Jerusalem newspaper termed "a latrine."
On August 15, 1929, when Jews again marked the holiday Tisha B'av by sitting, and also chanted "the Wall is ours," the Arabs began yet another in a series of bloody massacres. The massacres in several cities culminated in unspeakable atrocities at Hebron.
It began in Jerusalem. "Itbach Al Yahood! Itbach Al Yahood!" "Slaughter the Jews. Slaughter the Jews". With knives and clubs, the mob attacked every Jew in sight, burned Torah scrolls, and yanked supplication notes to God from the cracks in the [Western] Wall and set them aflame.
Attacks spread throughout the land over the following days. Jews were stabbed, shot, beaten down with rocks, maimed, and killed in various Jewish towns and suburbs. The chaos continued for days. With thousands of dagger- and club-wielding Arabs swarming throughout the city hunting Jews, wire services transmitted headlines such as "Thousands of Peasants Invaded Jerusalem and Raided all Parts of the City."
Martial law was declared. Armored cars were brought in from Baghdad. British airplanes swept in to machine-gun Arab marauders. Violence continued to spread throughout Palestine. Jews fought back and retaliated with bricks and bars and whatever they could find. Then, on August 23 and 24, 1929, Hebron became a bloody nightmare.
House to house, Arab mobs went, bursting into every room looking for hiding Jews. Religious books and scrolls were burned or torn to shreds. The defenseless Jews were variously beheaded, castrated, their breasts and fingers sliced off, and in some cases their eyes plucked from their sockets. Infant or adult, man or woman — it mattered not. The carnage went on for hours, with the Arab policemen standing down — or joining in. Blood ran in streamlets down the narrow stone staircases outside the buildings. House to house, room by room, the savagery was repeated.
(Photo to right: Blood of slaughtered Jews dripping down the steps)
One young boy, Yosef Lazarovski, later wrote of the horror: "I remember a brown-skinned Arab with a large mustache breaking through the door. He had a large knife and an axe that he swung through the doorjambs until he broke through. [He was] full of fury, screaming, 'Allah Akbar!' and 'Itbach al Yahood!' ... My grandfather tried to hold my hand, then [he tried] to push me aside [and hide me], screaming, Shema Yisrael [the most solemn Jewish prayer] ... and then I remember another Arab ... with an axe that he brought down on my grandfather's neck."
Not a single victim was simply killed. Each was mutilated and tortured in accordance with their identities, the specific information provided by local Arabs. The Jewish man who lent money to Arabs was sliced open and the IOUs burned in his body. The Jewish baker's head was tied to the stove and then baked. A Jewish scholar who had studied Koranic philosophy for years was seized, his cranium cut open, and his brain extracted. Another man was nailed to a door. Some sixty-seven Jews were brutally murdered.
London dispatched special investigative commissions which determined that under the sharia status quo, Jews were not permitted to sit. Jews were even blamed for provoking the massacres by deliberately sitting.
(Photo to right: Memorial for the Jewish victims of Hebron)
The Mufti of Jerusalem used the Wall controversy to continue his campaign against the British and the Jews. As part of that war, the Mufti led a broadly accepted, international and popularly accepted Arab and Islamic alliance with Nazi Germany. Eventually, when the British tried to arrest him, he fled to Iraq. There, the Mufti and Nazi agents helped inspire the 1941 Farhud, a two-day spree of killing, looting and raping the Jews of Baghdad.
Once the British finally helped restore order, the Mufti fled again, this time to Germany, where he was taken under the personal auspices of Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler. The Mufti formed a 8,000-man plus Muslim Waffen-SS division, which partnered with the bloodthirsty Ustasha in Croatia to commit the most heinous crimes in the hell that were the Holocaust. The Ustasha wore Jewish eyeballs on necklaces.
This alliance with the Nazis spanned every aspect of the war, from intelligence offices in Paris to plans, to parachute units, to artillery battalions, to a plan exterminate all Jews in Palestine. This alliance was more than one man, the Mufti of Jerusalem—it was a movement of popular international Islamic fervor that stretched across the Middle East and Europe.
After the fall of Hitler, the legacy of hate continued in the post-War expulsions of a million Jews from Arab lands. Periodically, the fervor that ignited the massacres of 1929 surfaces even today. Intifadas arise, riots erupt, and the Arab rallying call, spoken and collectively remembered, continues to be in Jerusalem — where Jews should not be permitted to sit at the Wailing Wall when they pray.
[ Published: December 28, 2010 ]
Note: The entire set of photos of the riots and massacre can be found here.
About Aharon Reuven Bernzweig
|In 1907, Aharon and Breine Bernzweig moved with their six children from Stanislaw, Poland to New York City. They lived in Manhattan, Jersey City, and Boro Park in Brooklyn. Aharon Bernzweig had several businesses during this period and accumulated a modest capital. In 1927 they moved to Tel Aviv at 16 Rechov Bialik. He invested his capital in mortgage and construction loans, especially in Bnei Brak which was then developing.|
In 1929, Aharon and Breine traveled to Jersey City for the Bar Mitzvah of their grandson Abraham, brother of Meyer Greenberg. Upon their return to Eretz Yisrael, they decided to escape the summer heat of Tel Aviv by vacationing in Hebron, in the mountains. They arrived in Hebron several days before the Hebron massacre was to take place.
After their rescue, Aharon and Breine returned to Tel Aviv. Aharon Bernzweig wrote this letter shortly thereafter on September 2, 1929 (27 Av 5689) and sent it to his children in the United States. He died of heart failure in 1936. Breine Bernzweig continued to live at 16 Bialik Street until her death in 1945. In 1937-1938 she was frequently visited by her grandson Meyer Greenberg who was then studying at Hebrew University. Both Aharon and Breine Bernzweig are buried on the Mount of Olives. In June 1967, after the reunification of Jerusalem, Meyer Greenberg visited the Mount of Olives, where he located and restored their vandalized grave sites.
The Hebron Massacre of 1929
by Shira Schoenberg
For some time, the 800 Jews in Hebron lived in peace with their tens of thousands of Arab neighbors. But on the night of August 23, 1929, the tension simmering within this cauldron of nationalities bubbled over, and for 3 days, Hebron turned into a city of terror and murder. By the time the massacres ended, 67 Jews lay dead and the survivors were relocated to Jerusalem, leaving Hebron barren of Jews for the first time in hundreds of years.
The summer of 1929 was one of unrest in Palestine. Jewish-Arab tensions were spurred on by the agitation of the mufti in Jerusalem. Just one day prior to the start of the Hebron massacre, three Jews and three Arabs were killed in Jerusalem when fighting broke out after a Muslim prayer service on the Temple Mount. Arabs spread false rumors throughout their communities, saying that Jews were carrying out "wholesale killings of Arabs." Meanwhile, Jewish immigrants were arriving in Palestine in increasing numbers, further exacerbating the Jewish-Arab conflict.
Hebron had, until this time, been outwardly peaceful, although tension hid below the surface. The Sephardi Jewish community in Hebron had lived quietly with its Arab neighbors for centuries. The Sephardi Jews (Jews who were originally from Spain, North Africa and Arab countries) spoke Arabic and had a cultural connection to their Arab neighbors. In the mid-1800s, Ashkenazi (native European) Jews started moving to Hebron and, in 1925, the Slobodka Yeshiva, officially the Yeshiva of Hevron, Knesset Yisrael-Slobodka, was opened. Yeshiva students lived separately from the Sephardi community, and from the Arab population. Due to this isolation, the Arabs viewed them with suspicion and hatred, and identified them as Zionist immigrants. Despite the general suspicion, however, one yeshiva student, Dov Cohen, still recalled being on "very good" terms with the Arab neighbors. He remembered yeshiva boys taking long walks late at night on the outskirts of the city, and not feeling afraid, even though only one British policeman guarded the entire city.
On Friday, August 23, 1929, that tranquility was lost. Arab youths started throwing rocks at the yeshiva students. That afternoon, one student, Shmuel Rosenholtz, went to the yeshiva alone. Arab rioters later broke in and killed him, and that was only the beginning.
Friday night, Rabbi Ya’acov Slonim’s son invited any fearful Jews to stay in his house. The rabbi was highly regarded in the community, and he had a gun. Many Jews took him up on this offer, and many Jews were eventually murdered there.
As early as 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, Arabs began to gather en masse. They came in mobs, armed with clubs, knives and axes. While the women and children threw stones, the men ransacked Jewish houses and destroyed Jewish property. With only a single police officer in Hebron, the Arabs entered Jewish courtyards with no opposition.
Rabbi Slonim, who had tried to shelter the Jewish population, was approached by the rioters and offered a deal. If all the Ashkenazi yeshiva students were given over to the Arabs, the rioters would spare the lives of the Sephardi community. Rabbi Slonim refused to turn over the students and was killed on the spot. In the end, 12 Sephardi Jews and 55 Ashkenazi Jews were murdered.
A few Arabs did try to help the Jews. Nineteen Arab families saved dozens, maybe even hundreds of Jews. Zmira Mani wrote about an Arab named Abu Id Zaitoun who brought his brother and son to rescue her and her family. The Arab family protected the Manis with their swords, hid them in a cellar along with other Jews who they had saved, and found a policeman to escort them safely to the police station at Beit Romano.
The police station turned into a shelter for the Jews that morning of August 24. It also became a synagogue as the Orthodox Jews gathered there and said their morning prayers. As they finished praying, they began to hear noises outside the building. Thousands of Arabs descended from Har Hebron, shouting "Kill the Jews!" in Arabic. They even tried to break down the doors of the station.
The Jews were besieged in Beit Romano for three days. Each night, ten men were allowed to leave to attend a funeral in Hebron’s ancient Jewish cemetery for the murdered Jews of the day.
When the massacre finally ended, the surviving Jews were forced to leave their home city and resettled in Jerusalem. Some Jewish families tried to move back to Hebron, but were removed by the British authorities in 1936 at the start of the Arab revolt. In 1948, the War of Independence granted Israel statehood, but further cut the Jews off from Hebron, a city that was captured by King Abdullah's Arab Legion and ultimately annexed to Jordan.
When Jews finally gained control of the city in 1967, a small number of massacre survivors again tried to reclaim their old houses. Then defense minister Moshe Dayan supposedly told the survivors that if they returned, they would be arrested, and that they should be patient while the government worked out a solution to get their houses back. Years later, settlers moved to parts of Hebron without the permission of the government, but for those massacre survivors still seeking their original homes, that solution never came.
Sources: Arutz Sheva, Interview with Rabbi Dov Cohen, (August 1, 1999). Ben-David, Calev, “To live and die in Hebron,” The Jerusalem Post, (July 23, 1999). See also: Hebron.
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Note: This page is a work-in-progress. Real Americans Defend Israel is in the process of continuing its research on "Jewish Massacres in Mandate Palestine - 1929" and will hopefully demonstrate that what happened in 1929 is an on-going Muslim program with an agenda to eliminate all Jews from the State of Israel. The so-called "Peace Talks" of today, referred to as the "Middle East Conflict" is a blind alleyway promoted by the Palestinians and most of the world to once again blame the Jews for a lack of peace in the Middle East ... in the same way the Jews were blamed for their own massacre in 1929.
This is a separate page from the blog - can be found easily on the right hand side under "home" ....