History

The Real Reason for the 1929 Hebron Massacre

The real reason for the 1929 Hebron massacre was a bid for power by Haj Amin el Husseini, the virulently anti-Jewish Muslim leader.

1.10.17, 17:55
Photo: Haj Amin al-Husseini meeting with Adolf Hitler on November 28, 1941. Credit: Bundesarchiv, Bild / Heinrich Hoffmann / Wiki Commons.)
 
The real reason for the 1929 Hebron massacre was a bid for power by Haj Amin el Husseini, the virulently anti-Jewish Muslim leader.
 
The rivally between the Husseini clan and the Nashashibi clan dates back generations.
 
According to Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917-1948 by Hillel Cohen,
https://newrepublic.com/article/64363/the-tangled-truth
 
"Already in the 1920s, Husseini began calling his opponents, primarily the notables of the rival Nashashibi clan, "traitors"--this at a time when there were no clear policy differences between them. (Both the Husseinis and the Nashashibis wanted all of Palestine for the Arabs, opposed all Jewish immigration, regarded the Zionists as aggressive usurpers, and so on.) Cohen argues that the Husseinis' routine use of the terms "traitor" and "collaborator" denuded them of all moral weight or political significance. "
 
They resorted to murder of fellow Arabs, as noted:
 
"The Husseinis began to punish "traitors"--sellers of land, informers, those socializing with Jews--as early as the 1920s. The first murder of a public figure occurred in 1929, near the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem. Sheikh Musa Hadeib hailed from the village of Duwaimah, in the Hebron foothills, and he may have sold land to the Jews. But his chief sin was political: he spoke out in favor of the British Mandate, and he had once hosted the High Commissioner Herbert Samuel. He had also helped to found the Zionist-supported "Muslim National Associations" in the 1920s, as a counterweight to the Muslim-Christian associations that were hotbeds of anti-Zionist nationalist agitation; and he headed the Mount Hebron farmers' party, one of the rural associations set up with Zionist aid to counter the urban-based nationalists. His killers, according to Zionist intelligence, were three men dressed as women, from the Maraqa clan of Hebron. The killing occurred in October, less than two months after the wave of anti-Jewish pogroms that swept the country--"the 1929 Disturbances," as the British (and the Zionists) called them, though in the collective memory of the Arabs they are known as the first "Arab Revolt"--which were triggered by Arab fears, methodically stirred up by Hajj Amin al-Husseini, that the Jews intended to "take control of" the Temple Mount, or al-Haram al- Sharif, and destroy the two sacred mosques in the compound, Al Aksa and the Dome of the Rock."
 
Sheikh Musa Hadeib from the village of Dawaymeh near Hebron, was the head of Mount Hebron farmers' party and a founder of the Zionist-supported Muslim National Associations. 
 
In October 1929, he was killed near Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem, his killers never being apprehended.
 
The JTA reported the incident as having occurred on Oct. 13, 1929 stating "Great excitement prevailed in Jerusalem today over the murder of Musa Isdeb, an Arab from a village near Hebron, who was killed at Herod’s Gate... It is presumed that the Arab is a victim of inner political enmities between Arab factions, the murdered man supposedly being active in propaganda against the Grand Mufti."
 
A follow-up article from Oct. 22, 1929 called the incident a blood feud "between the family of the late Mousa Adeb, founder of the Arab peasant party and opponent of the Grand Mufti, and the clan of Amin El Husseini."
 
Mention of the Maraqa clan of Hebron brings up Sheikh Taleb Marka, the main instigator of the riots.
 
It was he who spread rumors of thousands of Arabs being killed by Jews on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. False allegations of local Arabs being cheated by greedy Jews spread, specifically regarding Eliezer Dan Slonim, a manager of a local bank. Nothing could be farther from the truth as Slonim was known as an honest and forthright man, fluent in Arabic, who was on good terms with Jew and Arabs alike due to his charitable personality.
 
How could Arab neighbors rise up and viciously slaughter their fellow Hebronites? Did they really believe that fictitious massacres in Jerusalem necessitate the slaughter of the innocent in Hebron? Was there a latent violent streak in the various clans just waiting to erupt? Or some kind of inherent attitude of supremacy?
 
Many excuses have been give in recent years, such as that the Arabs who committed the massacre were actually from outside Hebron. This is false, as is evident from testimony given at the Shaw Commission and subsequent trials.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency on September 27, 1929, reported,
 
“The simple-worded testimony of thirteen-year-old Judith Reizman, of how she saw her father, mother and uncle pursued by a mob of howling... brandishing knives and daggers, later finding the bodies in the gutters, produced a dramatic atmosphere in the Hebron court."
 
“When the Reizman girl had told her story in the breathless silence of the courtroom, the judge asked her if she could identify anyone... she calmly walked up to Ibrahim Abd El Assiz, a young Hebron merchant, her father’s next door neighbor, saying, ‘Yes, Ibrahim was nearest my father with a knife uplifted when the mob overtook my father.’ Then addressing the Arab, who hung his head in shame, the girl asked him in the kindest voice imaginable, ‘Ibrahim, how could you?’”
 
The article later described Hebron as “commercially a dead city. Merchants’ stalls are heaped high with unsold fruit and vegetables...”
 
Another Husseini excuse was that they needed to fight the influx of "Zionists" coming from Europe. However at that time, the level of immigration to the Land of Israel was at its lowest point in recent history. 
 
A lecture from the 2016 memorial for the Hebron massacre by Dr. Yuval Arnon-Ohana of Ariel University argued that Husseini was losing ground in the Arab community to his rivals. He sought to consolidate his power and eliminate the competition by creating a common enemy in the Jews. 
 
Jewish Immigration to Palestine in the Long 1920s by Jacob Metzer of Hebrew University states:
 
"This 'long' decade witnessed the first wave of massive Jewish immigration to Mandatory Palestine of 1920-1926 and the relative lull of 1927-1931, with some recovery in 1932, making for a total inflow of 126,349 individuals in 1919-1932. The immigration flow, as is well known, revived in 1933 [When Adolf Hitler came to power.]"
 
Husseini went on to become the Mufti of Jerusalem and ardent supporter of the Nazis, visiting Hitler during World War II. Later relatives included Faisal Husseini, a leader of the PLO.
 
It is true that there were a dozen or so righteous gentiles, who risked their lives to save Jewish families,and they should be commended. But these were outnumbered by the enraged mob.
 
The myth that Jews and Arabs got along until the "Zionist" came still persists. The sleepy city of Hebron was known as a home for religious families, with a strong Sephardic community that dated back to the expulsion for Spain. The rioters murdered indiscriminately, not just European newcomers.
 
The arrival of the Slabodka yeshiva in 1925 helped revive the city bringing and influx of new life for both communities. Many of these same yeshiva students were murdered in the massacre.
 
Old newspaper articles and travel journals describe Hebron as the home of Islamic fundamentalists.
 
An article from Pennsylvania's Reading Eagle from September 8, 1895 states in the first paragraph that the city "is a hotbed of Mohammedan fanaticism."
 
The massacre of 1834 also attests to the struggles the Jews faced with their Arab neighbors, both the local Arab peasants and the ruling elite. For generations, the locals Jews celebrated a modern miracle they called the Window Purim,  in which they were saved from the wrath of the Muslim masters. Another similar case was called the Purim of Ibrahim Pasha. In both cases, Jews were a barely tolerated minority. The Jews were restricted to what was called the "Jewish ghetto," the only place in Israel to be referred to as such. A massacre took place in 1517 during the invasion of the Mamlukes as well.
 
Stories such as these are intermingled with others of friendship and civility. Rebbetzin Menucha Rochel Slonim (1798 - 1888)  was know for her piety with Arabs as well as Jews sought her blessing. Rabbi Eliyahu Mani was also revered as a "sheikh" by the locals. When he died in 1899, hundreds of Jews and Arabs attended his funeral. The same is told of Rabbi Chaim Hezekiah Medini, the Sde Hemed. Whether Ashkenazic or Sephardic, whether born in Hebron or a new immigrant, stories abound of Jews and Arabs living and working together, as well as tolerance and violence. 
 
One explanation is the concept of parallel play, which is a phenomenon observed in very young children. Two children may be sitting quietly next to each other and playing, but upon closer inspection, each is playing with a different item. One may be coloring with crayons while the other may be playing with a toy. They are at peace, and next to each other, but they are not truly playing together. 
 
Adults are much more complex. For example, today Hebron is divided between H1, the Palestinian Authority controlled zone, and H2, the Israeli controlled zone. They may seems like enemies, and terrorist attacks do occur. But there is also a significant amount of import and export between the two. 
 
In Europe too, Jews and their Polish neighbors had their ups and downs, but interacted for hundreds of years until the Holocaust. 
 
Within rival Arab clans there is both unity and friction as it is between Jews and Arabs. On any given day on King David Street in Hebron, one may come across Arab youth playing soccer with IDF soldiers. Would these same youth one day throw Molotov cocktails at these same soldiers in the name of "freeing Palestine?"
 
A recent article describes how local Arabs rushed an injured child to IDF soldiers to be treated by medics. Would these same Arabs ransack that clinic, as the rioters of 1929 did to the Beit Hadassah hospital? The answer of course is we don't know.
 
But meanwhile, the parallel daily lives go on in this ancient city.
 
NOTES:
 
* REMEMBERING THE 1929 HEBRON MASSACRE
* Jewish Immigration to Palestine in the Long 1920s
* Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917-1948
* How evil was the Mufti?
* Nashashibi clan
* Murder of Arab Causes Great Excitement
* Feud Threatens Between Family of Murdered Arab and Grand Mufti’s Clan
* Court Upholds Sentence on Arab Sheik Agitator
The Tangled Truth 
 
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