Something strikingly dramatic happened in this country exactly on this date 94 years ago. Cries of Itbach el-Yahud(slaughter the Jews) filled the air. It was the first coordinated mass-murder offensive launched by infamous Jerusalem Mufti Haj-Amin el-Husseini (who would in time become an avid Nazi collaborator, Hitler’s personal guest in Berlin during WWII and a wanted war-criminal).
Ever since, this land shook fitfully as rounds of massacres and wars followed each other in breathless succession. The past mustn’t be consigned to irrelevance. Unbroken historical continuities contextualize current events. Nothing springs forth from a vacuum. What now transpires began back then.
The pivotal murder-drive of 1920 and its aftermath are vital for understanding why John Kerry’s peace pageant is a flop and why Israel so profoundly displeases him, his boss Barack Obama and their pet-Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas. It established the prototype whereby Jews are punished for Arab crimes against Jews. It highlights the pattern of appeasing Arab wrath and of Jews paying – as if Jewish existence is in and of itself a casus belli.
The bias maddeningly came into play already in 1920. It’s the bias that has today burgeoned into the escalating extortion and shameless expectation that Israel release convicted murderers as a matter of course and injure its own interests to keep its enemies sweet. It’s as if Israel has no valid interests, no rights. This is the postulate of illegitimacy.
Western antipathy to Jewish self-preservation was already gallingly evident in 1920, as was indulgent acquiescence to Arab aggression. It’s scary to realize how little has actually changed.
Those deadly landmark rampages were kick started on April 4, 1920, exploiting Muslim celebrations to rally thousands of raiders at Nebi Musa in the Judean Desert. Serially inflamed by Husseini’s vitriolic harangues, they poured into Jerusalem, descended upon the Old City’s Jewish Quarter and began butchering, raping, pillaging and burning – all in the name of their God.
The premeditated atrocity lasted four days. Even passing reflections on its overlooked anniversary (it’s so uncool to recall crimes against Jews), can contribute considerably to our present-day perspectives.
This unprovoked killing-spree was launched before any of the excuses for Arab bloodlust – now so conveniently and commonly cited – had existed. There was no Jewish state to fulminate against and no Israeli occupation with which to justify any outrage against Jews in the Jewish homeland.
There was no hint of what the Palestinians market so effectively as their nakba – catastrophe. There wasn’t a single Arab refugee. There was no war, no displacement, no reason to rage.
The 1920 victims were largely members of the old-time, traditional, pre-Zionist Jewish community that had long before then constituted Jerusalem’s outright majority. Yet this ancient community was deemed fair game. The subtext was that Jews have no rights – not even indigenous non-Zionists.
Considering their penchant for distorting history, Israel’s detractors are doubtless tempted to describe 1920’s predators as oppressed Palestinian peasants protesting against usurper Jews. It must, therefore, be a whopping downer to discover that none of this homicidal fury was unleashed on behalf of Palestine. The Arabs loathed the very name introduced to this country by its new British overlords.
Ironically, it was the Jews who became known throughout the first half of the 20th century as Palestinians and it was the Arabs who scornfully rejected the moniker.
The executioners who swooped down on Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter championed the cause of Greater Syria. On March 7, 1920 Britain crowned Feisal, a Hashemite princeling from today’s Saudi Arabia, as king in Damascus. By July that year the French would chuck him out. In response, London earmarked its latest invention, Iraq, for Feisal’s next monarchy. So much for the fictitious nature of Arab nationalities.
Feisal, incidentally, conferred with Dr. Chaim Weizmann, president of the World Zionist Organization, on January 1919 and they produced the Faisal-Weizmann Agreement for Arab-Jewish Cooperation. Thereupon Faisal issued the following statement, which appears quite fantastic in view of all that ensued:
“We Arabs… look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement… We will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home… I look forward, and my people with me look forward, to a future in which we will help you and you will help us, so that the countries in which we are mutually interested may once again take their places in the community of the civilized peoples of the world.”
Nothing even minimally approaching such recognition can be expected nowadays of Abbas, who preposterously claims no less than 9000 years of “Palestinian” Arab history in this land and who denies any Jewish connection to it whatsoever.
But truth be told, Faisal failed miserably to enlist support for his pro-Jewish inclinations. Syria’s loyal enthusiasts right here were busy murdering Jews during Feisal’s brief reign as their king. They yearned to be ruled by Damascus – as Syrians, not Palestinians. It would serve to note that Husseini’s co-instigator of the Nebi Musa bloodbath was Aref Aref, significantly editor of the “Southern Syria” newspaper.
Most instructive in regard to Israel’s current international standing is the reaction in 1920 of the international community’s representative – Britain, claimant to the mandate to rule this land. How did it respond to the Jerusalem pogrom?
Not unsurprisingly, as if by a magic wave of the mufti’s wand, His Majesty’s military units actually exited Jerusalem during the onslaught. Top officers, like Allenby’s chief of staff, Col. Bertie Walters-Taylor trained and abetted the assailants. Inspired by him, British and Arab policemen even joined the rioters.
No wonder the mob howled deliriously: “A-Dawla ma’ana” – the government is with us. They knew whereof they screamed and their assessment of the government’s bias was spot on.
How little things have changed. The entire watching world still seethes with bias against this land’s Jews.
The double-standards and double-dealings of foreign onlookers, self-appointed judges and purported peacekeepers carry consequences. Foremost, they delegitimize Jewish self-defense. So it was and so it is.
Given British duplicity, what were the Jews to do back in 1920? Become accomplices to their own demise? Ze’ev Jabotinsky had begun organizing a rudimentary self-defense force, the Hagana. With too few fighters and too few weapons, it could barely contain the marauders.
But Perfidious Albion, standing for the family of nations, knew whom to blame and whom to go after. The Brits didn’t dare confront Husseini. They arrested Jabotinsky and 18 other Hagana members. They sentenced Jabotinsky to 15 years hard labor, which was later commuted to permanent exile. Jabotinsky was never again allowed to enter this country.
Why? Because Jewish self-defense was defamed as utter effrontery. Jews had no right to save their own lives.
It’s no different today when the rest of the world doesn’t hold Abbas accountable for impeding peace, for glorifying the murderers of Jewish children and for seeking to set these murderers loose. It’s on the same moral plane as not holding Husseini accountable for blatantly and boastfully exhorting his adherents to slay Jews.
The underlying premise – both in 1920 and in 2014 – is that Jews may not defend themselves. It was clear-cut nearly a century ago. It’s disingenuously disguised now.
Overseas, the de rigueur affectation is that Abbas aspires to liberate prisoners of conscience, persecuted altruists and vindictively incarcerated philosophers. Abbas is, after all, feted as the prince of moderation and nothing must challenge this conventional wisdom, even if Abbas routinely makes mass-murderers his objects of reverence.
Abbas cunningly postures as Israel’s guiltless casualty, as a saint on the side of the angels, indeed as the suppresser of terrorism rather than its devious promoter. He seeks to do the right thing – which he would sincerely do, were it not for those obstructionist Israelis.
In the enlightened vanguard of the global good-guy brigade, Abbas convinces willingly gullible saps of what they’re anyway predisposed to imbibe. The watching world voluntarily laps up his fabrications and hypes the deception.
If it weren’t so, liberals worldwide would ask why ostensibly moderate Abbas insists on springing the worst murderers. Why are the bloodiest sadists upheld by his official propaganda as heroic role-models for the young generation?
Does this perhaps betray the fact that the Palestinians don’t genuinely desire coexistence but desire an existence without Jews? Are Palestinians telling their own children that the only good Jews are dead Jews?
By avoiding these questions, fellow democracies insult to our democracy and legal system. Our courts – autonomous like few others anywhere – deserve respect. Those whom Abbas wants released aren’t – contrary to impressions imparted by foreign media – “political prisoners,” locked up because of their beliefs and gallant advocacy of freedom.
These murderers were convicted after eminently fair trials with all the breaks of due process. They were granted legal representation replete with rights habitually denied defendants in Arab and Muslim countries, where instant kangaroo-court rulings are the norm.
By blithely disregarding all this, the world disparages Israel’s pedantic and ultra-liberal jurisprudence. All Israelis – especially those on the Left, who miss no pretext to resort to Israel’s famous judicial interventionism – ought to be offended to the core by such insolence. It’s unthinkable that our courts would be relied upon only when it suits an expedient agenda but that their decisions would be dishonored when it’s so dictated by diplomatic exigencies.
Moreover, if even verdicts imposed by our courts on unrepentant genocidal murderers can be set aside, how at all are we to defend ourselves?
Israel’s military might is verboten because it’s, alas, “disproportionate force.” Pinpointed targeting of individual terror-mongers, like Ahmed Yassin, are likewise prohibited by unique rules applied to Israel alone. Assassination, we’re sanctimoniously reminded, is so not-nice. Finally, when on occasion some individual murderers are captured, tried and put behind bars, self-professed humanitarians decry this too as unsavory.
What’s left? No fighting back, no surgical strikes, no prosecution or imprisonment. Nothing. The bottom line is that anything we do to protect ourselves is illegitimate. This perception, not inadvertently, meshes with Abbas’s contention that a Jewish state is illegitimate.
The inherent illegitimacy of the Jewish state makes Jewish self-defense illegitimate. We may be attacked but we may not react. This is how it was in 1920. This is still how it is.
Now that this charade if the Obama and Kerry Dog show is over. I only hope that Israel passes legislation to annex Judea and Samaria and chase there Arab gangster out. But this will not happen, I hope will never ceed a inch and corral these thieving frauds back to Ramallah Land!
It is not well known by most Jews that Ze’ev Jabotinsky, ( Born:Vladimir Yevgenyevich (Yevnovich) Zhabotinsky, October 18, 1880, Odessa, Russian Empire, -Died: August 4, 1940, New York, grave relocated 1964–present: Mt. Herzl, Jerusalem, Israel), is one of the greatest leaders and active defenders of the Jews’ elemental “Right to Exist”, in the entire history of the Jewish People.
The lack of even a general knowledge amongst contemporary Jews concerning the life and accomplishments of this true Giant in the history of the Jewish People remains one of the great tragedies both inside and outside of the State of Israel.
Indeed, on 11 August 2008, left wing Israeli Education Minister Yuli Tamir went so far as to announce plans to remove Jabotinsky’s name from a list of “terms” students are required to learn, which thankfully led to creating an uproar among educated Jews who understood Jabotinsky’s true and rightful place in the pantheon of Twentieth Century Jewish Heroes.
What is also not widely known, even among the countless writers and even scholars who deal with the Holocaust, is that Jabotinsky as early as 1920 and even long before, understood that what the world later came to know as the Holocaust, was something that was absolutely going to explode on the European continent.
And not only did Jabotinsky completely foresee and predict the unimaginable horrific dimensions of the Holocaust but he actively did everything in his human power to try to avoid millions of Jews from being condemned to the coming slaughter that was to reach into the Millions of victims including one and a half million children.
Indeed Jabotinsky envisioned a massive “Evacuation plan” for the Jews of Poland, Hungary and Romania. At a time when the “walking blind” were convinced “it can’t happen here, -not in the Enlightened Twentieth Century”, Jabotinsky was desperately working against time to prevent the most horrific crime in world history.
“Already during the 1930s, Jabotinsky was deeply concerned with the situation of the Jewish community in Eastern Europe, particularly Poland. In 1936, Jabotinsky prepared the so-called ‘evacuation plan’, which called for the evacuation of the entire Jewish population of Poland, Hungary and Romania to Palestine.
“Also in 1936, he toured Eastern Europe, meeting with the Polish Foreign Minister Colonel Józef Beck; the Regent of Hungary, Admiral Miklós Horthy, and Prime Minister Gheorghe Tătărescu of Romania to discuss the evacuation plan. The plan gained the approval of all three governments, but caused considerable controversy within Polish Jewry, on the grounds that it played into the hands of Polish anti-Semites.
“In particular, the fact that the ‘evacuation plan’ had the approval of the Polish government was taken by many Polish Jews as indicating Jabotinsky had gained the endorsement of what they considered to be the wrong people.
“The evacuation of Jewish communities in Poland, Hungary and Romania was to take place over a ten-year period. However, the controversy was rendered moot when the British government vetoed it, and the World Zionist Organization’s chairman, Chaim Weizmann, dismissed it.
“Two years later, in 1938, Jabotinsky stated in a speech that Polish Jews ‘were living on the edge of the volcano’ and warned that a wave of bloody super-pogroms would happen in Poland sometime in the near future. Jabotinsky went on to warn Jews in Europe that they should leave for Palestine as soon as possible.”
But alas far too few heeded Jabotinsky’s warnings. Only an agonizingly small number understood that the “unthinkable” could and indeed would, soon come to pass. But by then all the doors and channels of possible escape had disappeared.
It is incumbent on the leaders of the State of Israel, and indeed all Jews around the world, to keep portraits of Ze’ev Jabotinsky on the walls of their homes and offices and schools, to be thus constantly reminded- and teach their children well- that the Jewish people must forever remain mindful and aware and vigilant, that some things never change.
What has happened in the Past, can happen in the Future.
As the great French Philosopher, George Santayana correctly observed:
“Those who do not study History are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past”.
Even the choir needs to be sustained to keep the music and the lyrics
loud and clear.
I read your blog every time there is a new one.I will not say that I believe what you write. Why? Because it isn’t a matter of believe. What you write are facts! But I see it as preaching to the chior. Those people who condemn Israel don’t care about the truth. Quite simply they hate Jews just as the British did 94 years ago. Oh they don’t want to dirty their own hands! Just to stand back while others do. How can any civilized person press a government to release murderers?! Perhaps Charles Manson should enlist the aid of Iran or North Korea to press our government to release him as “a step”toward nuclear disarmament. Do you think that would be acceptable in D.C.?
Keep up the vigilant columns and blogs , if nothing else they keep us who support you up to date with what is going on in Israel.
Sadly Sarah, we seem to cooperate with our own executioners….instead of debunking the notion of a ” Palestinian” people, we just lamely play along with the sordid charade for the privilege of being accepted by the Gentile nations.
If we told the truth straight out we’d at least get a modicum of respect on that level, and maybe gain a little self respect for ourselves.
“At the root of these tensions lie a theory and practice of belligerency. Arabs considers and proclaims that there is ‘a state of war’. In the name of that ‘state of war’, Arabs asserts a ‘right’ to perform hostile acts of its choice against Israel. On the other hand, Arabs claims immunity from any hostile response emanating from Israel. This is the doctrine of unilateral belligerency, and it has no parallel or precedent in the jurisprudence of nations. It is another principle of the Arabs’ position that decisions of the Security Council relating to Israel have no binding force upon Arabs. On the other hand, the Security Council’s authority is today invoked to protect Arabs against any reaction that its active prosecution of the ‘state of war’ may elicit.”
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Dear Sarah, you just explained the fundamental tautology at the heart of the so called peace process and you explained it BRILLIANTLY !
Back in 1920, Israel was nothing more than a dream…now, Israel is stronger than ever and it can and it MUST finally claim it’s land, it MUST claim and annex Judea and Samaria !
Kerry & Obama failed and they failed totally and the “two state solution” failed with them.
Israel still thinks it is nice to have a spineless president (= Peres endorsing his “partners for peace,” Arafat and Abbas).
Sarah’s column should be the Israeli government’s response to the Obama/Kerry mediation
effort. Schluss damit!
A good, well written and informative article; but I think a bit of devils advocate is in order. Sarah frequently refers to the Haj-Amin Husseini incited riots of 1920, 1929, and 1936. However, and with all due respect, I have yet to see a satisfactory explanation of why the Jews in WWI Palestine were loyal to the Ottoman Turks; especially since the Turks were so violent towards the Jews. In addition, there was precedent for the 1920 violence that Sarah writes about, in pre-WWI Palestine. In his book, “A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time,” Howard M. Sachar, in Chapter 8, brings up several examples where the Jews rebuffed a number of opportunities to support the region’s Arabs against the Ottoman Turks. Sachar states that the Jews failed to “effectively exploit a unique opportunity for Arab-Jewish cooperation that opened in 1913.” He goes on to talk about Victor Jacobson, Zionist representative in Constantinople, who was approached by Arab leaders, at the Arab Congress in Paris, to discuss a possible common front against the Turks. Jacobson sent Sami Hochberg to Cairo to discuss the matter. Hochberg said that the Jews might support Arab nationalism; if the Arabs reciprocated. The Arabs showed some inclination to do so; but at first failed to make a definite commitment. However, Hochberg’s efforts “were generally denigrated” by the Zionists. The Arab leaders requested a meeting with the Zionists in May, 1914; but the Zionists, “fearful of provoking the Turks,” turned it down. Sachar goes on to state, to the effect, that once WWI broke out, the Arabs regarded the Zionists as a genuine threat. He gives a few more examples. I can’t imagine that any Arab-Zionist alliance would have lasted more than a year or two; however, the Zionists might have been able to postpone the onslaught of Haj-Amin el Husseini, had they taken these efforts of Jacobson and others, a bit more seriously.
So that was grounds for being massacred!?!?
@Guest1967: Am I to understand that you are saying because the Jews of Palestine did not strike a deal with the Arabs against the government under which they lived (the Ottoman Turks), they set a precedent to the massacre of 1920 when both Arabs and Jews were living under British rule? No reasonable mind can follow this. In addition, you ask why Sarah made no mention of the Jewish loyalty to the Ottoman Turks? Apparently, the Ottomans were not as “violent” as one might think. Jews have never bitten the hand the fed them. Jews lived in Persia for 2500 years. Under some dynasties they prospered, under some they were persecuted. Yet, as late as the 1979 Islamic Revolution, they were very faithful to Iran and the Shah. A lot of them still are. And, perhaps those Jews knew that they would be worse off with the Arabs or the British. It offends me when I read your your last sentence that essentially had the Jews/Zionists acted differently, they would not have brought the massacre upon themselves. So, it’s all the Jews’ fault! Really?
There is a very compelling reason as to why you “have yet to see a satisfactory explanation of why the Jews in WWI Palestine were loyal to the Ottoman Turks.”
That reason is that they were NOT loyal to the ottoman Turks. Besides the fact that your comment is entirely extraneous to the subject of this column (which refers to the British-controlled era rather than to the Ottoman), you should be aware that there were important Jewish initiatives to aid the British against the Turks in WWI.
The first Jewish underground, NILI, was formed to spy for the British and provide them with vital intelligence. NILI is the Hebrew acronym of the Biblical quote from the book of Samuel – “The Eternity of Israel shall not deceive.”
The annals of NILI include heroic episodes like that of Sara Aharonson. It includes fabled figures like her bothers Aharon and Alexander, like Yosef Lishansky and Na’aman Belkind, like Avshalom Feinberg and many others more, whom you (for reasons that eludes me entirely) delete from your historiography.
Then there is another pro-British initiative – the Jewish Legion. It was founded by Ze’ev Jabotinsky and the legendary Yosef Trumpeldor and it fought alongside the British against the Ottomans. Its precursor, the Zion Mule Corps of 1915, served with distinction in the Battle of Gallipoli. In 1917, the Brits agreed to establish three Jewish Battalions, which comprised the Jewish Legion.
History can be fascinating if learned and retold accurately.
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Supporting Israel isn’t just the perspective of Ayn Rand but also grenudod in common sense. Since Israel is a an extension of Western civilization we have a moral obligation to support countries that reflect open societies like ours.In Israel proper every citizen (regardless of race, religion or creed) enjoys rights and liberties protected by the country’s constitution while the country is surrounded by despotic Islamist regimes. Despite Israel being predmoniately Jewish, it is still mostly secular. When was the last time you heard of a gay pride parade taking place in Gaza, Mecca, or Tehran? They take place regularly in Israel and prostitution is legal there too.A proper government is one that is geared to protect individual rights in which Israel’s government does just that (albeit not consistently). As far as Zionism is concerned, I know little about it except most who reel against it do so because of its call for a Jewish state.With your support of the Palestinian “right-of-return” (so called) and talking up their defenders (like Miko Peled) it is not only Israel you condemn but also what the country stands for and you claim to support: Western civilization.