History

Hebron: The 1929 Pogrom and the Dhimmi Syndrome in Our Times

The ramifications of the Hebron Massacre and a refutation of some modern misconceptions.

2.4.17, 16:01
By Elyakim Haetzni
 
On the 8th of August 2009, it will be 80 years since the Arabs started the pogroms against the Jews in Israel, in Hebron, Jerusalem, Safed, Ber Tuvia and Hulda. The year was 1929 and the day was a Jewish holy day, the Sabbath. Despite a wave of 12 massacres in the country, the massacre in Hebron remains in the nation’s collective historical memory and that not just because of the 67 victims. In Jerusalem there were 34 killed, in Safed 17 and seven in Motza.
 
The pogrom in Hebron left an indelible impression, because it was a pogrom with a similar connotation as in Chisinau, which the Jews remember as “City of Slaughter,” Kishinev.[2] Hebron was a pogrom carried out in Eastern European style, a horror which shocked all Jews who never expected such an atrocity could happen in Israel.
 
Arab violence against Jews in Israel took the the form of attacks, arson and assassinations.[3] To confront this Arab terror, various defense units were established, such as HaShomer.[4] However people refused to realize, even in Israel, just as in the Diaspora, that Jews were murdered for no reason other than that they are Jews. Accordingly they redefined reality and rather then refer to Arab terror; they labeled the violence as “Arab riots”. This terror was excused as a reaction to the fufillment of Zionism and was therefore accepted as a ‘political collision’ between two peoples: the Arabs and the Jews.
 
The defense units were regarded as a part of the Zionist-Israeli “new Jewish syndrome.” Jews move to Israel, settle the land, plow and build, while simultaneously fighting to protect the Zionist project “...who built the wall. When the pioneers took up their burden, they worked with one hand, while holding a weapon in the other.” (Nehemiah 4:11)[5] This is the entire Zionist ethos in a nutshell: the new Israeli continues his ancestor’s heritage in the Land of Israel. The Diaspora comes to an end: for thousands of years Jews did not and could not carry weapons to defend themselves; they were therefore treated as “sheep to slaughter” by their enemies.
 
This new self-image of the Jew who defends himself did not fit in the pogroms of 1929. Therefore it was not easy to accept the fact that the pogroms in Hebron were identical to the Diaspora pogroms. The result was denial of reality.
The non-Zionists and the anti-Zionists from the established Jewish society also allowed themselves be surprised. They saw the Arab reaction as an uprising against Zionism, and something which was primarily aimed against the “new” Jews who came to Israel for political reasons. Therefore the Jews from the established Jewish society did everything within their power to separate themselves from”the other Jews” and thus distanced themselves from the essential self-defense (Ha Shomer and Haganah,) which were established by the Zionists.
 
They failed to let themselves be protected by the Haganah and instead depended on the British police and on the good relations with their Arab neighbors. They were very sure that the Arabs differentiated between the anti-Zionists and the Zionist Jews.
 
The massacres on the established Jewish society as in Hebron, Jerusalem and Safed, and the murder of Arab-speaking Jews and Jewesses, who had Arabs as neighbors and business partners, shocked the established Jewish community so deeply that none of them dared to come back home to Hebron after the liberation in 1967, despite the fact that their families had lived their from time immemorial.
 
A short time after moving to Kiryat Arba, I talked to an 80 year old Arab in the Kasba sector of Hebron. We talked of the massacres of 1929. The man talked honestly. One proof of this was that he did not use the “official” claim that the British had arranged the pogroms by the mobs brought in from outside areas. He stated clearly that the Arabs lived peacefully with the small Jewish religious community, but at the same time ensured that the Jews “did not hold their heads too high."
 
He said further that when the new Yeshiva (Bible school) was established (’Slobodka - Knesset Israel’, 1924[6]) and when even students from the USA came there, the Arabs felt that the “Zionist threat” had reached Hebron and therefore they decided to put a stop to it. “I personally,” said the Arab in a serious and matter-of-factly way, like a mafia godfather, “had nothing against the Jews in Hebron. One of the survivors, who fled to Jerusalem, owed me a lot of money. The Jew arranged to send me the money to last penny”. I did not ask him why they felt the need to massacre a non-zionist religious community. I could see that for him all Jews were the same.
 
It looks like this apparent fact is still not understood by the Jews in Israel, even in 2009, 80 years after the massacre. I point this at both the Jews who remain Zionists and the ultra-orthodox proto-Zionists, (Ed.: earliest form of Zionists), those who belong to the established population and the secular post-Zionists who today adopt the philosophy of the establishment.
 
The Pogroms 
 
The Hebron massacre was unique, primarily because the Jewish religious community was completely wiped out as a result of the pogrom (even though some Jews came back after the pogrom and were there for a short period until the riots in 1936). The British mandate’s behaviour resembled very much the Czar’s pogroms in 1881–1882 (called by the Jews “Sufot BaNegev," Desert Storm).
 
In both cases it was known beforehand that the pogroms were coming, but nobody helped the Jews. In both cases the murderers were not punished, but the Jews who tried to protect themselves were punished. Everything that was stolen remained with the mob and the Jewish possessions were regarded as ownerless.
 
The compensation from the British mandate authorities was an insult: The family of Rabbi Hasson, whose house was plundered and destroyed, received 11.1 pounds as compensation!
 
The religious Jewish community received 54 pounds for all their buildings and possessions, whereas Asher Kalinsky, whose house was razed to the ground, received 14 shillings, and Rabbi Dvortz received 2 pounds for his house which was burnt down and for one of his arms which was hacked off. Very few received reasonable compensation. On the other hand, 348 pounds was paid to advocate Hasan Albodeiri, an Arab from Jerusalem, as compensation for his claim to a few private possessions.[7]
 
After this pogrom, the Jewish graveyard was desecrated and destroyed and the gravestones used as building materials. Most of the houses and the land owned by the Jews were stolen by the Arabs. A similar phenomenon happened after the Holocaust: East European countries still refuse to return plundered Jewish properties. Museums in the “enlightened” western world keep the stolen art works belonging to the Jews. Insurance companies and business enterprises have enriched themselves on the plundered goods. Everybody treats Jewish property as ownerless objects.[8]
 
Just as in the Diaspora, a few just and honest people are found. These are in both Ishmael and Esau. According to a list of the massacre in Hebron, 19 Arabs were found to have saved 270 Jewish lives. On a different list, confusingly similar to the first list, 28 Arabs are mentioned to have saved 435 lives. Malka Slonim and her family were saved by a 75 year old neighbor, Abu Shachar: “He used his body as a living shield against the murderers. The mob arrived at our house and we heard Abu Shachar’s voice: “Go away, you cannot come here! You must kill me first.” He was 75 years old but a strong man. One of the mobs took his sword and said: “I shall murder you, traitor.” Abu Shachar replied: “Go ahead and kill! Here is a Rabbi’s family and that is my family.” The sword pierced Abu Shachar’s foot, but he did not move, even when the mob left the place. When we tried to bring him inside for treatment, he refused for fear that they would come back.”
On the other side were the many socalled partners, “friends” and neighbors who both plundered and murdered the Jews. Just as in the Diaspora, the thirst for Jewish blood in Hebron was beyond all imagination. The poem by Hayyim Nahman Bialik, “City of Slaughter” from 1904, could just as well have been written in 1929 [9]:
 
[…] When you have come into the courtyard, 
Shall you with your eyes see and with your hands feel... 
On the fences, on the trees, on the stones and on the plaster of the walls The dried blood and the brain matter of the massacred.
Your feet shall wade through piles 
Of remains of destroyed books and [Torah]-
scroll [...]
 
In Rehavam Zeevi’s book about the Hebron massacre, quotes from 1929 newspaper clippings are found. In a memo that the Jewish religious community sent to the British Chief Commissioner, it states:[10]
 
“... Rabbi Meir Castel, 69 years age and Rabbi Zvi Dribkin 67 years age, and five young men were attacked, castrated and murdered under inhuman torture. The baker Noach Immerman was grilled alive over an open fire. … The rabbi of Zichron Yaakov, Avraham Yaakov Orlansky Hacohen, who came to pray in Hebron, was taken away in the middle of prayer still wearing his prayer shawl. His brain was cut out and his wife murdered by hacking her bowels to small pieces… [the doctor and] pharmacist Ben Zion Gershon, who was dependent on the wheel-chair, who had worked in Hebron for more than 40 years and who had extensively helped the Arab population, got his nose and fingers cut off before he was murdered.
 
His daughters were raped and murdered under cruel torture. Both of his wife’s hands were hacked off and she died in the hospital in Jerusalem. The 2 year old Menahem Segal was beheaded. The teachers Haim Eliezer Dobnikov and Yitzhak Abushadid were murdered by hanging.
 
Eighteen year old Moshe (Ben Yaakov) Gozlan was pierced through the mouth (with a sword) and murdered. Six synagogues, two of which were extremely old with 80 Torah rolls, were plundered and destroyed. The ancient library, with many expensive and rare books, was plundered and burnt. Many of the works were treated as rubbish....”[11]
In this book on Hebron there is a description about the baby boy Menahem Segal. His father, Rabbi Nachman, held the boy in his arms. The father’s hand was hacked off, and then the father and the son murdered with a sword. The mother lost three fingers. A yeshiva student, Simcha-Yitzhak Broida, was hung by his legs from a window and afterwards murdered.
 
In Haichal’s house, where 10 Jews were hiding, the two Haichal brothers came out and requested help from a British policeman. They received no help, but a mob surrounded them and one of them, Israel Haichal, was murdered on the spot, despite the fact that he was surrounded by 5 policemen. His brother, Eliyahu Dov, ran towards a police officer and held onto the neck of the horse. He was attacked and killed with a sword and knives with the Arabs shrieking: “Does it hurt, yes Jew?”
 
Alter Palatzi was murdered right before his daughter’s eyes. His mother tells about an Arab policeman who was standing nearby and said: “Let them slaughter some Jews...” Human stomachs were opened. The intestines cut into pieces. The heads were smashed and the brains removed. Men were castrated before they were murdered. A woman from Tel Aviv was hung upside down and her hair ripped from her head. Rabbi Grodzensky’s eyes were cut out before his head was smashed. A girl was raped by 13 Arabs, right in front of her father, before he too was murdered.
 
Her mother and sister were seriously mutilated. In the house of Abushadid’s family, a baby was held by the legs and struck against the wall smashing his head. Many people had their eyes cut out before they were murdered. The description of these misdeeds is found in above mentioned poem ’City of Slaughter’:
 
In this violence two were beheaded: 
A Jew and his dog
And on the roofs shall they climb...
here they found the axe...
A stomach which was opened and filled with feathers
Cases of noses nailed through, smashed in skulls
Cases of people hung from beams to be slaughtered
A woman under seven uncircumcised men
A daughter before her mother and a
mother in fornt of her daughter
Before the slaughter, during the slaughter
and after the slaughter ...
O’ look at the dark nook
The men, the fiancés and the brothers
lay there and saw through the hole in the wall
they lay there with their shame and did not shelter ...
 
Bialik’s sorrow could be written as if it was about Hebron’s pogrom. The biggest curses of the Diaspora were the pogroms and they still take place today, in the Land of Israel. This is the reason why many Jews, from all groups have not been willing to face the reality. This is because the brutality, the thirst for Jewish blood and the uncontrolled lust to see humiliated, tortured and dying Jews, is impossible to understand.
 
The pogromists in Hebron enjoyed the bloodshed of the Jews, rather than the Zionist’s blood. They slaughtered them all: the old, the new, Ashkenazi and Sephardim, religious as well as secular, Zionists and non-Zionist Jews. In Hebron the myth about “Iben el-balad” [Ed.: Arabic: The country’s son, one who belongs to the country] was completely exploded. The illusion that the local, Jewish population, which is connected to the Arabs and their culture, and is secure under the Arabs protection, was completely destroyed.
 
The massacre undermined the illusion that Zionism and its fufillment in the Land of Israel had banished Jew-hatred during the Diaspora. The self-delusion that new, normal conditions were created where the Jews were a part of the world community, has proven to be utopic. There is no difference between "the slaughter cities" Chisinau and Hebron.
80 years later a new wind blows about the “integrating the countryside”, in spite of the fact that thousands of Jewish civilians and soldiers have been, and are being killed in this country, in this century and the previous one- by the Arabs. But every effort to learn by these experiences is dfined as “paranoia” or “Auschwitz-complex”. We must take into consideration this phenomenon and its bright side, more than its dark side. Once again it is necessary to formulate our thoughts about this country and whether it is correct that Zionism has created a gentile bastard of a Jew, a “Jewish goy”.
In spite of all the brutality which again and again has been used against the Jews, and only against the Jews, it has not caused most of the Jews to realise its true cause. I have therefore dared to describe parts of the pogrom in detail; despite the fact that psychologically it has been very difficult for me.
 
However, this was not understood. On the contrary, the extreme Jewish left, both in Israel and the Diaspora, deny the reality and ignore the thirst for Jewish blood which is found all over in the Arab world and in the Islamic East. To speak of this fact is politically incorrect, regardless of how many Arabs are found with knives in their hands and with their mouths have said the simple message:
 
"We wish to murder a Jew;" not a soldier, not a settler, not an enemy but - "a Jew!"
 
In one place is found a list of all humanity’s material and spiritual needs. Love and hate, food and sex, compassion and revenge, building and destroying etc. Up high on the list is found the lust for Jewish blood. A new-born baby has something which many would like to have: Jewish blood! In many cases this is an uncontrollable lust. Therefore it is necessary that all who have Jewish blood in their veins, and who want to survive, to be on guard, suspicious, careful and all the time awake and to take care of their own blood. This must be protected like a treasure in a bank vault, without any illusions. Their country must be armed to the teeth, and there should be no cutbacks on security. No price is worth it. Not even the "Peace Prize." 
 
"...and you took care of your souls." (Deuteronomy 4:15; Joshua 23:11)
 
The Jewish Mutation
 
Two Israeli film producers, Noit and Dan Geva, have made a film What I Saw in Hebron (Ma Sheraiti B'Hebron.) Noit Geva’s grandmother was the granddaughter of Rabbi Eliyahu Mani, Hebron’s past Sephardi chief rabbi. Noit tells that at her parent’s home (her father is professor in biology and her mother is a lecturer in literature) “... it was forbidden to speak of Hebron just as it was forbidden to speak of the Holocaust, because my mother survived the Holocaust. ...” Where else in the world can one find a better example which fits a social anthropological observation like Noit's? She is an “Israeli” according to the word’s leftist-oriented meaning and a synthesis of the two exterminations – one in Hebron and the other in Europe. One day Noit found a letter her grandmother Zmira, as a 16 year old and just after the August massacres in 1929, had written to the newspaper Ha’aretz.
 
Because of the letter Noit and her husband decided to make a film about the Arab who saved Zmira’s life, with the aim to strengthen the left wing’s views about the Arab-Jewish conflict. But as Noit states: “The result was something else...” In the letter, the grandmother Zmira writes what she saw from the kitchen window on the day of the massacre. A large crowd of Arabs gathered together, armed with stones, sticks and swords. 
 
She witnessed Arabs returning from Jewish homes, carrying packages which they gave to the women who ran to hide them. The Jews who hid in cellars and under ruins survived. Zmira’s family lived on the fourth floor. She heard screams and desparate shouts for help from the first floor. Stones were thrown into her apartment, and at the same time an Arab entered with his brother and son, who with a sword in hand came to help them.
 
On the way out she stumbled over a body. It was her neighbor, the teacher Abraham. “His head was thrown down the stairway while the body was still lying there in convulsions. Blood was squirting out from the stomach where a dagger had struck.” 
 
Noit states that she knew nothing of the Hebron massacre before she decided to make the film, but now she knows that there were Arabs who saved Jews. “But I also know that except for the Holocaust, the Hebron massacre was the worst which was done to the Jews. ...when we made the film we included the most brutal attacks... and I only said "an odd death" when I referred to a 13 year old Jewish girl who was raped by 13 Arabs and then hung with her head above the fire to be burnt alive... We did the same when it came to describe the castration of the old and the children, cutting off of limbs and the tearing out of the eyes of living humans."
 
So continues Noit and asks the same question I asked: The pogrom is one thing, let us assume that the mob was provoked... that many Arabs were murdered in Jerusalem and that many Ashkenazi Jews came there, who wanted to steal from them, but why the castrations?
 
Rapes? Tearing out of eyes? And the hacking off of hands and feet? Noits method of rationalizing these cruelties is an explanatory testimony of the behaviour of many in the Jewish society of today’s Israel: “Also on our side are good and evil people to be found.” She quotes someone who said that "Goldstein’s murder of the Arabs finished the massacre in Hebron." She is not contemplating revenge with this remark, but criminals are found on both sides!
 
The film shows one of the survivors of the pogrom, who falsely alleged that Moshe Dayan had sent a directive forbidding Jews from returning their homes in Hebron. Noit’s film also shows Id Zeiton, the son of the Arab who helped Noit’s grandmother Zimra. He alleges in the film that the IDF (Israel’s military) cofiscated his house for a Jewish kindergarten!
 
"Thus was a family thanked for saving Jewish lives?” With magnanimity he invites Noit to “come and live in Hebron. If the Jews who earlier lived here continued to live here, and not the settlers, it would be very nice to live here.”
 
But Noit does not ask questions and the good-hearted Id does not explain why the Arabs murdered in 1929 “the Jews who lived there at that time,” for they certainly were not settlers. Noit's father, in a polite way, declines the invitation and identifies himself entirely with the Arab side:
 
“In the present political situation…it is not possible to live in Hebron. He (the father) knows that his prospective return to Hebron will be considered as a support to the settlers, whom he completely opposes,” says Noit.
 
Thus we are reverted back 80 years in time. At that time some of the Jews thought that they and the Arabs were on the same side. At that time there were no “settlers” on the other side, only the Zionists.
 
Noit represents the same attitudes as these Jews had, who readily queued up as lambs to the slaughter. At that time there were 1,000 Jews in Hebron, today there are more than 5 million Jews in Israel. Nevertheless we are facing the same threat. It is neither the Arabs' sword nor the rockets, but it is the self-destructive Jewish mentality which is bringing catastrophe after catastrophe.
 
Those who are destroying from the inside have fortunately not managed to destroy everything. The majority is still not infected with the Jewish self-hate and love of the enemy.
 
Eighty years later the "1929 syndrome" still continues. Jewish blood is still in demand amongst our enemies. The whole world’s nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles cannot help us, if we do not exert ourselves and fight against this
syndrome. 
 
Notes:
 
[2] Ed.: This is a Jewish term dealing with the pogroms in East Europe and describes the conditiond of the cities after the massacres. The Jewish author Hayyim Nahman Bialik wrote an important poem: The City of Slaughter, in 1904, about the pogroms in Chisinau (Kishinev; earlier in Russia, now in Moldovia) where 50 Jews were massacred.
 
[3] Ed.: Haetzni refers here to the situation in Israel around 1900, when the Zionists started returning to the fatherland, Israel, after the pogroms in East Europe. There they met the established Jewish community which in Hebrew is called “Hayeshuv hayashan." That which arose around 1880 is called “hayeshuv hachadash”, the new Jewish community. The anti-Zionists (who today call themselves postZionists) were found in both camps.  The Arabs did not differentiate, and many of the massacred in the pogroms 1929–1936 were Jews who had lived in Israel from ancient times, as well as the newly-arrived Jews.
 
[4] Ed.: HaShomer was a self-defense organization which was established by the Jews in Israel under the Ottoman Empire. Their objective was to protect the Jewish settlements against the daily plundering and assassinations, which the Arabs did to the Jews. Amongst the most important persons who established the group were Yitzhak Ben-Zvi (later president of Israel), Alexander Zeid, Yisrael Schochat and Yisrael Galili. HaShomer’s motto was: “In blood and fire Judea fell; in blood and fire Judea will rise." In the First World War the Turks executed some of the members and forcibly deported many from Israel. After the British took over in Israel, the HaShomer was expanded and renamed Haganah. The settlements Tel Adashim, Tel Hai and Kfar Giladi were established by HaShomer. As late as 1976 a large weapons arsenal was found hidden under the carpentry workshop. Today it is open for tourists and school children.
 
[5] Ed.: In the Hebrew original it is found in Nehemiah 4:11, but in the Norwegian edition it is in 4:17.
 
[6] Ed.: In 1924 a part of the world famous yeshiva, ‘Knesset Israel’ moved from the city Slobodka in Lithuania to Hebron. The Bible school, along with its rabbis and students who came from all parts of the world, meant a lot to the Jewish community’s life in Hebron. The admission requirements were very high and the students prepared themselves for many years before they were admitted. The fact that the yeshiva chose to move to Hebron shows how important Hebron is for the Jews and for Jewish identity.
 
[7] William B. Ziff, ‘The Rape of Palestine’, New York, 1940.
 
[8] Ed.: Prominent Norwegians also made good money from the plundering of the Jews. Even as early as Krystallnacht the Jews were plundered by the Nazis. The Jewish properties and artworks were sold, among other reasons, for financing the armament and the imminent occupation (including Norway). The paintings, which the Nazis sold a few weeks later, ended up, among others with shipowners Thomas Olsen and Niels Werring, cf. Dagens Næringsliv 31.12.2002; www.dn.no/arkiv/article40050.ece
 
[9] Ed.: Israels national poet.
 
[10] Rehavam Zeevi, Hebron-massacre 1929, Havatzelet, 1994, Hebrew.
 
[11] Ed.: It was found later that at least 80 Torah rolls were desecrated and destroyed in this pogrom. More Torah srolls than Jews were destroyed in this pogrom, which indicates the murderer’s clear intentions.
 
[12] The newspaper Ha’aretz, 9.7.1999.
 
Attorney Eliakim Haetzni lives in Kiryat Arba and was a member of the Knesset. He is one of the eight pioneers who initiated the re-establishment of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. Presently he is a member of the board of the Yesha Council , the organization responsible for Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. He has a regular weekly column in Israel’s largest newspaper, Yediot Aharonot. This article originally appeared in the book Hebron: Rebirth from Ruins.
 
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