Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Hebron Massacre, 117 years ago today.

From, Wednesday, August 22, 2012:

The Hebron Massacre, August 24, 1929.
Re-Posting Photos Discovered in the Library of Congress Archives

The destruction of the Avraham Avinu
Synagogue in Hebron in 1929  
On the eve of the anniversary of the Hebron massacre on August 24, we re-post these  photographs which we uncovered in the American Colony collection in the Library of Congress archives. 
Today’s leaders of the Hebron Jewish community told us last year that they had never seen the photos before. 
Click on the photos to enlarge. Click on the captions to download the high-definition originals.
Background to the Hebron massacre.  After the British army captured Palestine from the Turks in late 1917, the relationship between the British and the local Arab population was characterized by tension that sporadically erupted into insurrection over the next 30 years. 
A destroyed synagogue. Torah scrolls
strewn on the ground
Enlargement of scroll showing
Deuteronomy 1: 17
The Arabs of Palestine were led by the powerful Husseini clan who controlled the offices of the Mufti (religious leader) as well as the Mayor of Jerusalem.  For decades the clan had opposed European colonialism, the growing power of foreign consulates in Jerusalem, Christian and Jewish immigration and land purchases.  After the 1917 Balfour Declaration expressed support for “a national home for the Jewish people,” Husseini added “Zionists” to his enemies list.  The clan leveraged its power and threats of violence to win over Turkish and British overlords, to challenge the Hashemite King Abdullah, and to hold off competing clans such as the Nashashibi, Abu Ghosh, and Khalidi clans.
Jewish home plundered. Blood-stained floor
[Haj Amin el Husseini fled Palestine in 1937 to escape British jail and eventually found his way to Berlin where he assisted the Nazi war effort.  He died of natural causes in Beirut in 1974.]
On Yom Kippur 1928, Jews brought chairs and screens to prayers at the Western Wall. This purported change of the status quo was exploited by the Mufti, Haj Amin el Husseini, to launch a jihad against the Jews.  Husseini’s campaign continued and escalated after a Jewish demonstration at the Kotel on Tisha B’Av in August 1929.  Rumors spread that Jews had attacked Jerusalem mosques and massacred Muslims.  The fuse was lit for a major explosion. 

Synagogue desecrated
Starting on Friday, August 23, 1929 and lasting for a week, attacks by enraged Arab mobs were launched against Jews in the Old City in Jerusalem, in Jerusalem suburbs Sanhedria, Motza, Bayit Vegan, Ramat Rachel, in outlying Jewish communities, and in the Galilee town of Tzfat.  Small Jewish communities in Gaza, Ramla, Jenin, and Nablus had to be abandoned.

The attack in Hebron became a frenzied pogrom with the Arab mob stabbing, axing, decapitating and disemboweling 67 men, women and children.  At least 133 Jews were killed across Palestine. In 1931, there was a short-lived attempt to reestablish the Jewish community in Hebron, but within a few years it was abandoned until the Israel Defense Forces recaptured Hebron in 1967. 
The British indulged the Arabs and responded by limiting Jewish immigration and land purchases.
Large common grave of Jewish victims. Later the grave
was destroyed

Jewish home plundered

Today in Hebron: A recent Jewish service in the rebuilt
Avraham Avinu Synagogue (with permission of photographer)

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