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Monday, August 01, 2011

Arab incitement against Jews, 1920 (updated)

"Israels' History - A Picture a Day" is a great new website that uses old photos, many from the huge Library of Congress collection, to show a visual record of Israel's history.

Today's entry shows photographs of Arab demonstrations a few weeks before the 1920 Nebi Musa riots, and some of British soldiers belatedly trying to control them.

Tom Segev describes the riots this way:
In the early morning hours of Sunday, April 20, 1920, Khalil al-Sakakini walked over to Jerusalem's municipal building, outside the Old City's Jaffa Gate. It was his custom to do this each year, to watch the Nebi Musa procession. Passover, the Greek Orthodox Easter, and the traditional Muslim procession to a shrine associated with Moses—or Nebi Musa to Arabs—all happened to fall that year during the same week of the "cruelest month." The outbreak of violence that marred the celebrations, driven by the mixture of "memory and desire" evoked by T. S. Eliot, was in essence the opening shot in the war over the land of Israel.,

"The Nebi Musa festival in Jerusalem is political, not religious," Sakakini wrote. Al this time of year, Christians from all the countries of the world would flock to Jerusalem, he explained, and so Muslims had to mass in Jerusalem as well. to prevent the Christians from overwhelming the city. They come from all over the country as well as from neighboring countries, tribe after tribe, caravan after caravan, with their flags and weapons, as if they were going to war, Sakakini wrote. The Turkish authorities used to position a cannon next to the Lion's Gate in the Old City and escort the procession with large contingents of soldiers and police. The religious aspect of the holiday was designed only to draw the masses, otherwise they would not come. Food was handed out for the same reason, he wrote.

When he arrived at the city square, sixty or seventy thousand people had already congregated there. Some were from Hebron and some from Nablus. They carried banners and waved flags. The VIPs stood on the balcony of Jerusalem's Arab Club, but not all of them were able to deliver their speeches because of the commotion and noise. One man angrily tore up the text of his speech. 

The time was now about 10:30. In the Old City, Arab toughs had been brawling in the streets for more than an hour. Gangs surged through the walkways of the Jewish Quarter, attacking whomever they passed; one small boy was injured on the head. They broke into Jewish stores and looted. The Jews hid.

Meanwhile, the speeches from the balcony of the Arab Club continued. Someone waved a picture of Faisal, who had just crowned himself king of Greater Syria. The crowd shouted "Independence! Independence!" and the speakers condemned Zionism, one was a young boy of thirteen. The mayor, Musa Kazim al-Husseini, spoke from the balcony of the municipal building; Ater al-Aref, the editor of the newspaper Suriya al-Janubia ("Southern Syria"), delivered his speech on horseback. The crowd roared, "Palestine is our land, the Jews are our dogs!" In Arabic, that rhymes. 

No one knew what exactly set off the riots. In testimony given to a British court of inquiry, people said that a Jew had pushed an Arab carrying a flag, or that he'd spat on the flag, or that he'd tried to grab it. In another version, the violence began when an Arab pointed at a Jew who was passing by and said, "Here's a Zionist, son of a dog." Many testified that Arabs had attacked an elderly Jewish man at the entrance to the Amdursky Hotel, beating him on the head with sticks. The man had collapsed, his head covered with blood. Someone had tried to rescue him but was stabbed. People said they had heard gunfire. The furor almost turned into madness," Sakakini wrote. Everyone was shouting,"The religion of Mohammed was founded by the sword," and waving sticks and daggers. Sakakini managed to get out of the crowd unhurt. "I went to he municipal garden, my soul disgusted and depressed by the madness of mankind," he wrote.

A short time later, the Arabs - emboldened at the weak British response to the riot and angry at the beginnings of an organized Jewish force being organized to defend Jews - stepped up their threats against the Jews, threatening a massacre:



More on the fake holiday of Nebi Musa.

A much more recent example of the same chant used in 1920.

UPDATE: My Right Word adds a whole bunch of interesting historical information, including the seeds of this incitement in 1919.