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How the 1929 Hebron massacre invigorated the Zionist movement

The riots made it clear that the distinctions between religious and secular Jews, or between the old established community and the newcomers were meaningless for the Arabs. That wasn’t because in the eyes of Muslims all Jews should equally be put to the death, but because at the end of the 1920s, the Arabs felt that what all these currents held in common was more significant than their differences.

By Hillel Cohen

Funeral of a victim of the 1929 Hebron Massacre. (photo: Wikicommons)

The 1929 events have become symbolic of Arab murderousness, at least in Jewish eyes. It’s the proof that even without the 1967 occupation and the 1948 Nakba, Arabs have massacred Jews mercilessly; that Muslims are thirsty for Jewish blood. But things are never that simple. At least not if we examine them thoroughly. A detailed examination reveals that during the disturbances, Jews murdered innocent Arabs while other Jews saved Arabs from being lynched in Jerusalem, and there were also Arabs who saved Jews. And it does not take long to realize that, like in any historical event, the conventional wisdom hides more than it reveals. Nevertheless, a true understanding of the riots must concentrate on tackling the murders head on. It must face up to the axes that Arabs landed at the heads of young and old Jews in Jerusalem, Hebron and Safed. It must face up to houses being set alight while their frail elderly inhabitants were still inside; it must deal with the moments of horror and blood. And the question that needs to be asked is why. Why did people kill their neighbors, their regular houseguests, those with whom they have mingled for dozens of years? (And needless to say, the purpose of asking  “why” is not to excuse the actions, but to seek some understanding.)

Herein are the fundamental insights arising out of my research into the 1929 riots (the subject of my forthcoming book). Those murders committed by Jews do not change the overall framework of the events: an Arab attack on the Jewish communities. The overall framework of the events does not change the broader historical picture: Jews came to this land since the late Ottoman period under European (and especially British) tutelage in order to turn it Jewish, and consequently turn the Arab inhabitants into a minority in their own country. The ethical discussion of whether there was justification for the Zionists’ activities is outside the scope of this study. Sufficient to say that in my opinion persecuted Jews had the right to come here to seek asylum. But this right does not extend to disenfranchising the right of the Arabs to Palestine, and it certainly does not justify the full range of maneuvers carried out by the Zionist movement.

Offering asylum to fugitives does not necessarily run contrary to the spirit of Islam: those Jews who were expelled from Spain were welcomed here during the early Ottoman period. However, in 1929, things were different — it was after nearly a century of Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel/Palestine under the protection of foreign powers. And of those, the most recent 50 years or so involved Zionist activities in which the Jews were not merely seeking asylum but demanding sovereignty. This brought about radical change in social and political relations in Palestine. Many members of the older, long-established, Jewish community who had initially aspired to equality with their neighbors rather than to establish Jewish state in the spirit of European Zionism, began to adopt the nationalist concept including the lure of the possibility of a Jewish state in this land. The Arabs of Palestine recognized that, thus the distinction between Zionists and non-Zionists Jews in the Palestinian discourse started to become blurred. The distinction had not completely disappeared: in both spoken and written Arabic, and in everyday life, the old lexicon had been preserved and distinguished between “Arab Jews,” who were part and parcel of Middle-Eastern culture, and the “Zionists,” who came from Eastern Europe with their foreign customs, as well as the “Sknaz’ –  Ashkenazi Haredim.

But at the height of riots, these distinctions evaporated. Jewish communities were attacked, regardless of political affiliation or length of time in the land. The Cohen and Afriat families of Safed, and the Kastel, Abushdid and Capiloto families of Hebron screamed “Surely we are brothers!” to their friends and neighbors but the way their screams fell on deaf ears is a clear proof of that evaporation. The disturbances made it clear that the distinctions between religious and secular; between the old established community and the newcomers; between Ashkenazim and Jews who hailed from Muslim countries; between the various currents within the labor movement and between them and the Revisionists – distinctions that divide up segments of Jewish/Israeli society – now as in before the establishment of the state, were just about meaningless for the Arabs. That wasn’t because in the eyes of Muslims all Jews should equally be put to the death – that’s not the idea – but because at the end of the 1920s the Arabs felt very strongly that what all these currents held in common was more significant than their differences. All those groups believed in the existence of the Jewish people, i.e. that Judaism is not only religion but rather nation. They all believed in the right of Jews to immigrate to their ancestral homeland. They all strove for a Jewish state in the Land of Israel/Palestine (whether it is established by human beings or thru the coming of the messiah, whether it be liberal or socialist). All those groups believed in mutual Jewish surety. These beliefs were clearly counterpoised to the aspirations of the Arabs, and they turned all the Jews who subscribed to those principles into a single amorphous mass. And therefore, during the 1929 murderous riots, the Arabs in their own view were not killing their Jewish neighbors, but their Zionist foes who were trying to take over their country.

The Arabs, it seems, recognized the potential for Jewish unity under Zionism before it came to pass, and their attack hastened the process of turning it from theory to practice. Jews who lived for generations in the country, whether of Middle Eastern or another origin, whose attitude to the Zionist movement was unenthusiastic, who felt  rejected by the socialists or the Zionist leadership, who wanted to maintain their traditional lifestyle alongside the Arabs; who spurned politics, preferring to leave the decision regarding the sovereignty of the country to the one above; who felt more comfortable with the Palestinian Arabs  than with the libertine pioneers; who eagerly waited for each new song by Umm Kulthum (whose fame had just began to flourish) – all realized following the bloody attacks that Jews have no political home other than the Zionist home. They could participate actively or just shelter in its confines during a storm, but they could not offer a real political alternative in the form of union with the country’s Arabs, because those Arabs were not interested.

In this sense we can assert that the riots established the Yishuv and shaped the ethos and values of the future Jewish State; ethos of defense and warfare. The massacres that occurred in places where there was no countervailing Jewish defense force, and the success of the Jewish defenders in repelling attacks in places where such a force existed, provided the proof to the extent that Jewish fighters, and no one but them, mark the dividing line between the survival of any Jewish community and its annihilation. In consequence the military realm became far more attractive to the more able members of the community, Mizrahi Jews joined the Haganah in much larger numbers than before and military commanders have become national leaders. Moshe Behar has already shown us how the persecution of Jews in Arab countries in the ’40s reinforced the Zionist movement. A similar process occurred here two decades ago.

Hillel Cohen specializes in the study of relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel/Palestine and teaches Palestinian and Zionist history at the Hebrew University. His book 1929 Disturbances: Year Zero is to be published soon by Keter in Hebrew. This article, first published in Hebrew on Haokets, is based on a précis of the book.

This text was translated by Sol Salbe.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. rsgengland

      Very interesting, and I look forward to reading the book.
      I have been reading up on Deir Yassin recently to try and get behind the passions and propaganda that surrounds it, as the above book hopes to do with Hebron.
      What happened in Deir Yassin, and the revenge massacre of the Jewish Hadasah convoy by the Arabs four days later, have become mired in controversy and have taken on a life almost of their own.
      The most dramatic result, was the Arab reaction to Deir Yassin, which instilled such fear in the Arab population, that most fled at the first sight of Jews, and was the major cause of the refugee problem of today.
      Both Hebron and Deir Yassin have had consequences far greater than the events themselves normally engender.

      Reply to Comment
    2. ruth

      
Once that the Slabodka yeshiva – opened in 1925 – started its policy of exclusion (i.e. the same logic beneath the “avodah ivrit” approach) the city registered a new phase in its millenarian history.
      If the sentence “the riots made it clear that the distinctions between religious and secular Jews, or between the old established community and the newcomers were meaningless for the Arabs” has a whatsoever meaning, it is related to the uncontrolled phase that followed the massacre.
      -
      PS
      see what Hans Kohn has written on the issue.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        “
Once that the Slabodka yeshiva – opened in 1925 – started its policy of exclusion (i.e. the same logic beneath the “avodah ivrit” approach) the city registered a new phase in its millenarian history.”

        What a truly progressive lady you are. That’s the reason you offer for the Hebron massacre? Blame the victims?

        I guess then you also condone the various pogroms against European Jewry because they were considered to be exclusionist outsiders in Europe too, right?

        Oh and you would probably vote for far right parties in Erope today, right? The ones who now demonise the Muslims for not integrating into European society.

        Search your soul Ruth …

        Reply to Comment
        • ruth

          “That’s the reason you offer for the Hebron massacre?”:
          If you don’t study the racist approach of the Slabodka yeshiva – opened in 1925 – you cannot understand anything about what did happen in Hebron and, most of all, why such massacre disrupted centuries of normal relations between jews and arab-pals in that very same city. Again, that racist approach DOES NOT JUSTIFY in any way the violence, but helps to explain it. If you analyze the issue without the main ingredient you are simply using history in a propagandistic way.
          -
          “I guess then you also condone the various pogroms against European Jewry”:
          You guess wrong. The attempt to silence the truth accusing me of being an antisemite or something like that is sad and childish at the same time. the racist approach of the slobdka yeshiva and the disgusting way in which the Jews in Europe were treated do not have any whatsoever common ground
          -
          “The ones who now demonise the Muslims for not integrating into European society”: if you compare the muslims in europe and the slobdka approach it means that you don’t have any clue about both or one of the two issues.
          -
          “Search your soul Ruth”: stop using history for your hasbara.

          Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            “If you don’t study the racist approach of the Slabodka yeshiva – opened in 1925 – you cannot understand anything about what did happen in Hebron”

            You keep on saying that they were racist. But you don’t explain why. Non integration is not racism. In fact it is quite natural for a group of newcomers to a place to tend to keep together. Look at the Arab ghettos in France.

            “Again, that racist approach DOES NOT JUSTIFY in any way the violence, but helps to explain it.”

            That’s the first time you said that.

            “If you analyze the issue without the main ingredient you are simply using history in a propagandistic way.”

            But if you analyze the issue by making excuses and shifting blame that’s propagandistic too.

            “I guess then you also condone the various pogroms against European Jewry”:
            You guess wrong. The attempt to silence the truth accusing me of being an antisemite or something like that is sad and childish”

            Many of the pogroms in Europe too were excused by people the same way that you try to explain away the Hebron Massacre. Jews kept to themselves in Ghettos.

            “at the same time. the racist approach of the slobdka yeshiva and the disgusting way in which the Jews in Europe were treated do not have any whatsoever common ground”

            The Jews of Europe in many places and times in European history kept to themselves. Which I think is the accusation that you level against the Ashkenazi students in Hebron.

            Moreover, those students came from Europe so even if you claim that in Europe they were forced to do so, especially because of that, you should realise that what they did wasn’t out of racism but because they just continued in Hebron what they became conditioned to do in racist Europe. That too is perspective and analysis. So calling them racist is propagandistic.

            “The ones who now demonise the Muslims for not integrating into European society”: if you compare the muslims in europe and the slobdka approach it means that you don’t have any clue about both or one of the two issues.”

            No Ruth. The comparison IS valid. Just look at the Muslim ghettos in France and elsewhere. That too is non integration. And those who vilify Muslims do so using the same excuses that you simplistically use against the slobdka approach.

            “Search your soul Ruth”: stop using history for your hasbara.”

            Stop making excuses for atrocities committed by Arabs.

            Reply to Comment
          • XYZ

            This is the millionth time I have encountered “progressives” excusing savagery with the argument “YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT”. Ruth hasn’t even said what the “racist” policy of the yeshiva was even though I asked her some time ago.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            And Ruth is accusing ME of “Hasbarah” (which to her is a pejorative term)..

            In fact, she is the one who is trying to “explain away” a nasty pogrom perpetrated by Arabs against defenseless Jewish seminary students who had nothing to do with the modern Zionist movement.

            Ruth: You can say it the same way that it rolls off your tongue when you speak of Deir Yassin. It was an atrocity. Yes, the Palestinian Arabs too are capable of committing atrocities against Jews. And they did it way before there was occupation or even Nakba.

            Reply to Comment
          • ruth

            the student in slobdoka were a more extremist version of the present day settlers. i would not justify any violence also today, so I don’t accept the one of the time. but if you portray the present day settlers and the students in slobdoka as simple victims you are cheating yourselves:

            “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…” you can find the rest on a very reliable (from your point of view) source:
            http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/hebron29.html

            Reply to Comment
          • Berl

            XYZ@
            the palestinians started to fight the slobdoka mentality that somehow can be connected already to 1907, few months before jaffa clashes, when the VIII zionist congress sent Arthur Ruppin with the aim to create “a Jewish milieu and of a closed Jewish economy, in which producers, consumers and middlemen shall all be Jewish”. this, as the avodah ivrit approach, has also some racist connotations.
            the ashkenazy of the slobdoka yeshiva applied this in their “religious attitude”, excluding pals and sephardi alike. at that point what for centuries has been a quite good cooperation between jews and arab-pals in hebron turned in a nationalist competition full of racism and hatred. to analyze what happened in hebron without analyzing the slobdoka mentality is superficial and misleading (to say the least)

            Reply to Comment
          • ruth

            “Look at the Arab ghettos in France”: the jewish ghettos in modern europe (and, mutatis mutandis, also the present day ‘arab ghettos’ in france, were obnoxious places in which these poor people were forced to live. it was a disgusting way of treating millions of human beings by the ‘enlighted west’.
            in hebron the slobdoka immigrants came as colonizers without even the minimum will to integrate theirselves with the indigenous populations: sephardi and pal-arabs alike. no one forced them to live separated. they simply decided to spit in the face of the local populations:
            http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/8219864.stm
            -
            “Jews kept to themselves in Ghettos”: because they were considered like animals by the racists inhabitants of the ‘enlighted world’.
            -
            The real question is why nothing like that happened in Hebron in the previous centuries? Why only after the establishment of the yeshiva?

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            “Jews kept to themselves in Ghettos”: because they were considered like animals by the racists inhabitants of the ‘enlighted world’”

            I agree with you Ruth. The real question is …

            Why in the case of the Ashkenazi Yeshiva students you don’t analyze the issue without the main ingredients and why you are simply using history in a propagandistic way?

            I’ll say again what you ignored before. Those Ashkenazi Yeshiva students were so conditioned to be treated as outsiders that they may have behaved like outsiders in Hebron too. THAT DID NOT MAKE THEM RACISTS and you and your kind who claim that they were, are just trying to excuse an inexcusable pogrom that the Mufti of Jerusalem incited in a propagandistic way, because it suits your version of history (to use your own words!)

            Reply to Comment
          • ruth

            ahhh, thank you, now I understand. They treated the sephardi and the pals-arabs as animal because they felt uncomfortable to be possible seen as outsiders. it makes a lot of sense. this also explains why herzl wrote that zionism was an “outpost of civilization as opposed to barbarism”. it didn’t mean it in a bad way, he simply felt uncomfortable to deal with these barbarians that were not ready to give up their land in order to fulfill his dream. thank you for sharing this.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            Ahhh Ruth, no you don’t get it. You are full of it. How exactly did they treat the Sephardis and local Arabs as animals? It is easy to hurl accusations but hard to substantiate.

            And how come the Sephardi Jews were murdered too and their property was destroyed by those incited Arab mobs?

            Here, read all about it.

            “The attack was accompanied by wanton destruction and looting. A Jewish hospital, which had provided treatment for Arabs, was attacked and ransacked. Numerous Jewish synagogues were vandalised and desecrated.[31] According to one account, Torah scrolls in casings of silver and gold were looted from the synagogues and manuscripts of great antiquity were pilfered from the library of Rabbi Judah Bibas.[32] The library, founded in 1852, was partly burned and destroyed.[33] In one instance, a rabbi who had saved a Torah scroll from a blazing synagogue, later died from his burns.[34]“

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            Ohhhh and I get it, Ruth:

            Despite paying lip service, admitting that the violence was not justifiable, you ARE trying to excuse the inexcusable.

            Reply to Comment
    3. ruth

      Rsgengland
      “The most dramatic result, was the Arab reaction to Deir Yassin, which instilled such fear in the Arab population, that most fled at the first sight of Jews, and was the major cause of the refugee problem of today”:
      to blame the “fear” for the Palestinian refugee problem is a very useful shortcut. In order to understand the refugee problem you have to start from the “avodah ivrit” logic and the Weizmann&co. ‘s attempt, initially (1917-1921) backed by the British, to take control of the entire land.
      in 1948 hundred of thousands of people were prevented to go back to their homes. put yourself in their situation and then try to blame the “fear”.

      Reply to Comment
      • Joel

        The ‘Arab reaction’ to Deir Yassin was to massacre 68 Jews who were part of the Hadassah Hospital convoy.

        Reply to Comment
      • rsgengland

        The fear factor, whether you call it a short cut or anything else, was still the driving force behind the refugees flight.
        It is a major factor in every war that has ever been fought, anywhere in the world.
        Very seldom do refugees get the opportunity to return to their previous homes and lives.
        To pretend otherwise, is to live in a utopia that does not exist.
        When India and Pakistan’s Independence exploded into violence, as many as 15000000 people were displaced, and have had to be resettled in their new environments.
        And they were all motivated by fear as well.

        Reply to Comment
        • ruth

          the difference between the indian and pakistani refugees and the palestinian arab refugees is that the former chose to leave without any expulsion or pressure by EITHER government, and, most of all, they do not wish to return; but in the case of the Palestine Arabs, they were expelled and are not permitted to return, despite their desire to do so. This is also explained by the fact that they could not count on a huge state such as India or Pakistan as an option and not even on the Palestinians houses that the Jews from the Arab states found ready for them in Ein Houd, Musrara&co.
          .
          The fear factor is for sure an aspect, but cannot be indicated as the main responsible. If not because fear can be “created” with actions.
          .
          To pretend that the refugees simply give up their right to return to their houses without any acknowledgment or/and compensation is another shortcut useful for the “stronger”, but not for the “victim”.
          The Absentees’ Property Law has once and forever be recognized as a barbarian practice that created a big unjustice.
          .
          The “utopia” to which you refer to was confirmed (also) by resolution 194 of the UNGA. It means that there are few other crazy human beings that believe that it is humiliating that an average human being can accept such an attempt to steal the lives and the homes of thousands of persons without even compensating them.

          Reply to Comment
          • rsgengland

            The subject of Palestinian refugees will never be complete without including the million plus Jews expelled/forced to flee from the Arab/Muslim lands by a wave of Antisemitism that swept the Middle East/North Africa after the creation of Israel.
            This Antisemitism was led and fed by the Palestinians.
            The Arab Jews did not flee because they were Zionists (though some were).
            If they were Zionists they would have been able to dispose of their property and possessions in an orderly and planned manner and arrive in Israel with some money.
            As it was the lost their property, possessions and thousands of years of community and culture and arrived in Israel penniless and destitute.
            Israel took in all those refugees and resettled them, without any help from the UN etc.
            The UNRWA is a racist creation which perpetuates and prolongs the strife in the region, as it serves only Palestinians, and ignores refugees everywhere else in the world.

            Reply to Comment
          • dukium

            “The subject of Palestinian refugees will never be complete without including the million plus Jews expelled..”:
            The Palestinians are not responsible for the expulsions that happened in other parts of the world. Palestinians and Iraqis and Egyptians are not the same people. I hope that you are aware of it.
            -
            It does not justify any kind of violence, but you should also mention that among the Jews that escaped from the Arab countries many did so in order to reach the “Jewish State” and others thanks to what Naemi Giladi called “Cruel Zionism”. Giladi was part of it and wrote about it:
            http://books.google.it/books?id=Mem7AAAAIAAJ&q=naeim+giladi+cruel+zionism&dq=naeim+giladi+cruel+zionism&hl=it&ei=asToTvnIEIbYsgbc-oi5Bw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAA
            -
            The big majority of the Jews that arrived in Israel from the Arab States were easily absorbed – in comparison to other similar cases – because they took the houses of thousand of palestinians that were obliged to leave. Musrara is just an example, but it explains quite well why they were so easily absorbed and why the “madbarot” didn’t last long. If you go in places such as Ein Houd you will find thousands of Palestinian houses still perfectly preserved.
            -
            “This Antisemitism was led and fed by the Palestinians”: baseless (and useful) propaganda. Antisemitism was European phenomena and the history of this region explains this quite well.
            -
            “Israel took in all those refugees and resettled them, without any help from the UN etc.”: yes, because they stole the Pals houses..every state in the world would be able to do the same
            -
            “The UNRWA is a racist creation”: for sure less racist than the ‘avodah ivrit/Slabodka’ approach
            -
            Until the day in which there will be people like you that fabricate excuses in order to justify the dispossession of a people we will not achieve any peace on this land

            Reply to Comment
    4. XYZ

      History has proven that ever since the Zionist period began with the Balfour Declaration, every outbreak of Arab violence has ended up strengthening the Jewish yishuv and further clarifying the true nature of the Arab/Israeli conflict to the Jewish population.

      Ruth-please explain what the “exclusionary policy” the Slobodka yeshiva supposedly adopted entailed.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Zephon

      Zionism is the greatest threat to Judaism. A threat that predates Nazism and only great in strength after it. It breaks the heart how Judaism has been abandoned for an ideology that enslaves the Jewish mind and isolates us all from humanity insuring its failure.

      Reply to Comment
    6. berl

      Zephon@
      Nazism and Zionism have NOTHING TO DO one with the other and ARE NOT, by any means, equiparable. Only an idiot, or a person that has the interest to support the mainsteram Israeli narrative, can write something like that.
      I always wondered why everytime that there is an interesting discussion there is somebody that comes up with idiotic parallelism that are just useful in order to silence any other opinion. Could it be that they are made on purpose?

      Reply to Comment
      • Zephon

        Have you comprehension problems? I said Zionism IS a THREAT to Judaism that PREDATES Nazism – meaning Zionism came BEFORE the Nazi government. Where in that statement did you read ” Zionism is Nazism” Have you lost your mind?

        Or are you basically implying Zionism is a new concept?

        Twat.

        Zionism as we know it today formulated on the eve of the 20th century though it was significantly older; but modern Zionism started at the dawn of the 20th century – when did WW2 start again?

        Imbecile.

        If you think Jews haven’t suffered under Zionism – you are dishonoring a great number of our ancestors and their stories. But that doesn’t surprise me at this point anymore.

        Some of us however haven’t forgotten what life was like before Zionism hijacked Jewish consciousness. Only slaves would believe in the Zionist model and call it sane.

        Talk about idiocy.

        Reply to Comment
        • Berl

          Zephon,
          If you write that Zionism is “A threat that predates Nazism and only great in strength after it” you are somehow comparing. It is so stupid always to come up with discussion about Nazism when we discuss Zionism, Palestinians, Israel ect…
          I strongly condemn the policies implemented by many currents of zionism and I fully understand why Palestinian perceive it as a threat. But I don’t have any necessity to compare it with Nazism or to come up with “sensationalistic sentences” related to Nazi times

          Reply to Comment
    7. Kolumn9

      I agree that this is an interesting article. Just one thing. Saying that something is ‘outside the scope’ means you don’t talk about it, not that you go on to express your own opinion on the matter.

      The Arab association of Jews with Zionism isn’t particularly surprising. Religious Jews believe in Jewish peoplehood, the value of being present in Israel and in the sanctity of the land of Israel. These are the building blocks of political Zionism. The so-called ‘non-Zionist’ Haredim are only non-Zionist in relation to the value of the secular state and do not fundamentally disagree with most of its assumptions.

      In other words, the Jews of Hebron had always believed the same thing. What changed was in the Arab perception that began to see these Jewish beliefs as a threat to their own belief that the land belongs to the Arabs/Muslims.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Interesting piece, although it doesn’t go into enough detail. I guess I’ll have to wait for the book for that.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Berl

      Kolumn,
      “In other words, the Jews of Hebron had always believed the same thing. What changed was in the Arab perception”:
      This is totally inaccurate; it was the arrival (in the 20s) of the ashkenazi that wanted to exclude themselves from the local Arab-Palestinians as well from the local sephardic community that completely changed the local/Hebron equilibrium. The Arabs simply reacted, in a wrong way, but, again, they simply reacted.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        Ok Berl, which one of these did the old yishuv disagree with?
        - Jewish peoplehood
        - the value of being in the land
        - the sanctity and connection of the Jewish people to the land

        The Arabs reacted to these being used as part of a political program to pursue a Jewish national home and stopped distinguishing between Jews but these concepts themselves are basically univeral in Orthodox Judaism (including fervently ‘anti-zionist’ groups like the Satmar).

        Reply to Comment
        • Berl

          are not the concepts of “Jewish peoplehood” or “the value of being in the land” that represent the issue here. the pals didn’t fight against these aspects. the palestinians started to fight the slobdoka mentality that somehow can be connected already to 1907, few months before jaffa clashes, when the VIII zionist congress sent Arthur Ruppin with the aim to create “a Jewish milieu and of a closed Jewish economy, in which producers, consumers and middlemen shall all be Jewish”.
          the ashkenazy of the slobdoka yeshiva applied this in their “religious attitude”, excluding pals and sephardi alike. at that point what for centuries has been a quite good cooperation between jews and arab-pals in hebron turned in a nationalist competition full of racism and hatred. to analyze what happened in hebron without analyzing the slobdoka mentality is superficial and misleading (to say the least)

          Reply to Comment
    10. Joel

      @Hillel

      Is it true that violent Muslim religious passions were inflamed by doctored photos that purported to show that Jews damaged Al Aqsa?

      Do we know who was behind these fabrications?

      Reply to Comment
    11. Jogortha

      The Hebron massacre like the Farhoud in Iraq, the 1947 Aleppo riots among others are never talked about or discussed in the Arab World. They’re not even in arab history curricula.. I look forward to reading this important book.

      I hope also it gets translated to Arabic so our future generations can form a more nuanced view of history.

      Reply to Comment
      • Palestinan

        I recommend “Ben Gurion’s Scandals”
        “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” and “The Bureaucracy of Evil”.

        I hope they all get translated to Arabic and Hebrew so our future generations can form a more nuanced view of history.

        Reply to Comment
        • Marcos

          Palestinian, instead of contributing to the discussion you tend to engage in tit-for-tat or one-upmanship. I recommend that you think before posting! Moreover, to compare a scholarly work with nonsensical printed material is shameful. Grow up already.

          Reply to Comment
          • Palestinan

            So a hasbara book is a scholarly work while a book that exposes the ugly face of Zionism is nonsensical printed material,right ?
            Grow a conscience already.

            Reply to Comment
    12. carl

      jogortha@ in order to have future generations with more nuanced view of history we have to study the segregation system created in Hebron in the 4/5 years before of the massacre. Otherwise we continue to live under an ‘hasbara system’.
      “Why did people kill their neighbors, their regular houseguests, those with whom they have mingled for dozens of years?”
      the attacks were originally directed to the new students in the Slobodka yeshiva not against their “neighbors with whom they have mingled for dozens of years”. afterwards it degenerated in the way that we know.
      This article is only apparently well balanced. I have no idea why some people think that this is interesting or, most of all, well argued.

      Reply to Comment
      • XYZ

        I see. Murder is not a problem if you have a reason to dislike the victim, such as disliking his nationality or you are jealous of him having more money than you. Of course, we now understand that this can get out of hand and you might get carried away and also kill the good ones, as well. Mistakes do happen, afrer all Now I understand what is happeing in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria, etc.

        It is certainly interesting to see how “progressives” who are always telling us about their concern for “human rights” think.

        Reply to Comment
        • Andrew Miller

          That is a distortion of what Carl wrote. One wonders if you are capable of representing fairly the opinions of someone once you have labeled him as “progressive”.

          Reply to Comment
    13. Maflah

      What I find missing in this analysis is the role of the British Mandate in imposing a uni-dimensional identity on all Jews in Palestine, regardless of what language they spoke, practices and origin. For example, the Mandate immediately recognized the Jewish Executive Committee (created by the Jewish Agency) as the representative of all Jews in Palestine and through which Jewish residents could practice their “civil” life. Along with Zionism, the British colonial establishment contributed to the secularization of Judaism, and both Zionists and the British colonial establishment silenced (and in specific cases, assassinated) all voices that claimed that not all Jews in Palestine are represented by the Zionists. Similar (successful to some extent) experiences of secularizing religion had taken place in other parts of the colonized world, such as India and the creation of Hinduism.

      Reply to Comment
    14. directrob

      The broken logic of this article is so tiring to read.

      For example I read “Offering asylum to fugitives does not necessarily run contrary to the spirit of Islam …[examples]… However, in 1929, things were different ”

      Of course things were different in Palestine (and not in the whole Arab world). In 1929 the zionist in Palestine were no fugitives. It was no secret that they came to take over the country.

      Reply to Comment
      • Joe

        I was wondering about this too. I’ve heard from Palestinian Muslim families in Hebron who told me that some Arab Jewish families were saved by their Arab Muslim and Christian neighbours.

        I have nothing to base it on but them. I wonder if there is any proof of this.

        Reply to Comment
        • Joe

          That wasn’t as difficult as I thought: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8219864.stm

          I submit that talking of ‘the Arabs’ – even in the midst of a murderous riot as in 1929 Hebron – is pretty unhelpful.

          Reply to Comment
        • XYZ

          Yes, its true. The “right-wing” Jewish community in Hebron today acknowledges that. I even heard that there were even cases of Arabs who sheltered their Jewish neighbors and then went out to kill other Jews elsewhere. I guess they happened to like the people they saved, or at least felt they were useful to them, or felt they had to prove themselves to those who instigated the violence.

          Reply to Comment
          • Joe

            If the settlers acknowledge that some Hebron Palestinians saved Jews, why are they so awful to them? Have you been to Old Hebron?

            Reply to Comment
          • Joe

            To answer my own question, I suspect that they only see the ‘bad’ and don’t really want to accept that some Palestinians liked their neighbours.

            I’ve also heard more than once that Palestinian Hebronites want their old Jewish Arab neighbours back. This problem is not so much Jew vs Arab but Settlers vs everyone-else.

            Reply to Comment
          • XYZ

            If the Arabs do indeed like Jews who aren’t “settlers” then why were there so many terrorist attacks targetting “good” non-settler Israelis within the Green Line and why were so many rockets fired into those areas?

            Reply to Comment
          • Joe

            That’s a non-sequentir. For the purposes of this discussion, we’re talking about Jewish and Muslim and Christian neighbours in Hebron who had lived together for hundreds of years. Not the general population of Palestinians, the generic ‘Arab’ or other useless diversions you might want to use.

            Reply to Comment
    15. aquart

      Seriously, WHY? You see some difference between what happened in 1929 in Palestine and the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in 1572? What would that be?

      And once you know your neighbor will lift his hand to slay you and your children, WHY SHOULD YOU LOVE HIM? EVER?

      Reply to Comment
    16. Peter Hindrup

      Not being a Jew, an Arab or a German I cannot see why the denial of what Israel is doing to the Palestinians today is any less an evil than was the attempt by the Nazis to take over Europe.

      Indeed the US lead destruction of Iraq, and the US fostered destruction of Libya is no less an evil than was the Nazi grab for territory and dominance.

      Reply to Comment
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