Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Picture a Day -- Building Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv was founded in 1909 by the Jewish community of Jaffa who built the new town on nearby sand dunes along the coast.  These photos are believed to have been taken in the 1920s.

Clearing the dunes (circa 1920)
"Emergency camp - Tel Aviv" (crca 1920-30)

"Immigration camp for Jews"

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Picture a Day -- The Western Wall in the early 20th century

Western Wall in red (circa 1925)
Jews have flocked to the Kotel (Western Wall) for many centuries in order to pray close to the site of the ancient Jewish temples.  The Wall, a retaining wall for King Herod's massive rebuilding of the second Temple complex in the year 19 BCE, stretches almost 500 meters (1600 feet) along the eastern side of the Temple platform.  Several times over the last two millennia, rulers of the land forbad Jews from praying at the site, most recently between 1948 and 1967 when Jordan controlled east Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Until 1967 almost all of the Western Wall was hidden by buildings and residences.  At the relatively small area where Jews were permitted to pray, the prayer area was only four meters wide. 

Based on the memorial grafitti, the
picture was apparently taken after April 1917
This Library of Congress collection does not provide an exact date for this picture (left) of Jews at prayer, but it can be deduced that it was taken before 1917.  Some of the men's head gear, the fez, suggests that it was during Turkish rule. 

The prohibition against Jews sitting on chairs or benches at the site or setting up a screen to separate the sexes was maintained by the British after they took over Palestine.

Both pictures suffered from deterioration before they were digitalized at the Library of Congress.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Jaffa Road and Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem 100 years ago

The gates of the Old City of Jerusalem were often named for the direction they faced, and the roads that originated at the gates were similarly named.

The Damascus Gate, or Sha'ar Schem (Nablus) in Hebrew, pointed north, and the road is called Derekh Schem.  Similarly, Jaffa Road (right), heading east, begins at Jaffa Gate.  

This picture from the Library of Congress collection was taken prior to the automotive era.  The clock tower, built by the Turks, stood between 1908 and 1918.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Picture a Day -- The Jews of Jerusalem 100 years ago

ca. 1890 - Color was hand-painted at the time.

The "Jewish State" did not begin in 1948. It didn't even start with Theodore Herzl and the Zionist Movement in the late 19th century.

Jews had always lived in the Holy Land, even after the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.  Major portions of the massive scholarly work, the Talmud, was written over the next 400 years in Jewish communities, mostly in northern Israel.  Jews were present when Islamic armies captured the land and when Crusaders invaded.

Great rabbis such as the Ramban (Nachmanidies) moved to Jerusalem in the 13th century.  Rabbi Isaac Luria established Tsafat as a Jewish center in the 16th century.  Rabbi Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman Kramer, the "Gaon of Vilna," sent 500 of his followers to the Holy Land in the early 19th century.  Mark Twain wrote of the many Jews he encountered in his visit to the region in the 1860s.

ca. 1890 hand-painted

The first photographers recorded the faces of many of the Jews in Jerusalem in the late 19th and early 20th century, and some of the portraits are preserved in the Library of Congress collection.
ca 1900

Jewish Women's old age home in Jerusalem

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Picture a Day -- Who Are These Soldiers and Where Are They Guarding?

When Gen. Allenby captured Jerusalem (and here) in 1917, the British didn't realize the trouble they would face for the next 30 years.  Many Arab groups (they were not called "Palestinians" at the time) were unhappy over the British alliance with Emir Abdullah (later King Abdullah of Transjordan).  Time and again, the Husseini clan, led by the Mufti Haj Amin el Husseini, terrorized competing clans and protested against the Balfour Declaration and Zionist activities in Palestine.  In 1920, 1922, 1929, and between 1936 and 1939, the Arabs carried out terrorist attacks against British government and business establishments as well as Jewish communities. 

Allenby enters Jaffa Gate in
Jerusalem's Old City

In contemporary terms, compare the situation to the terrorism and assaults waged against US and NATO troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

These British soldiers (picture top right) were posted at the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem in 1920 to guard against Arab attack. 

 A year later, the British army posted this armored vehicle at the Damascus Gate (picture to the left) to control demonstrators protesting the Balfour Declaration.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Picture a Day -- Jewish Expulsions from Jerusalem -- 1929, 1936, 1948

The Library of Congress collection includes pictures of Jews being evacuated during Arab riots and pograms in 1929 and 1936.  In 1948, Life Magazine's John Phillips photographed the heart-wrenching pictures of Jews of the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem captured by Jordanian soldiers or being expelled.
Jews fleeing Jerusalem's Old City after 1929 pogroms

Jews being evacuated from the Old City during the 1936 Arab revolt against Britain
 (the soldiers are British)
A group of Orthodox Jews fleeing Old City in 1936
 guarded by Jewish policemen and British Tommy
Jews being evacuated from the Old City during the 1936 Arab revolt against Britain

The expulsion of Jews from the Old City under the guns of Jordanian soldiers (John Phillips)
Policy-makers in European capitals and in Washington oppose Jewish construction in all sections of Jerusalem.  Radical leftist tourists fly in to Jerusalem to join Palestinian demonstrators protesting Jews returning to homes they were chased from in 1929 and 1936. 

The actual photos presented here may not be seared into the Jewish people's collective memory.  But they are permanent scars on their collective heart.  It's a fact that those policy-makers should bear in mind.  It's another important emotion behind the declaration, "Never again."

Jews streaming into the Jewish Quarter 2011
This picture on the right was taken earlier this month in Jerusalem during Jerusalem Day celebrations commemorating the reunification of the city during the 1967 war.
For millions of Jews, it represents actualization of the age-old prayer, "And to Jerusalem, Your city, in compassion may You return, and may You abide within it as You have spoken.  May You rebuild it soon in our days as a structure that is eternal..."

A Picture a Day - Winston Churchill's Visit to Jerusalem 1921

The great British leader Winston Churchill visited Palestine in 1921, relatively early in his career while serving as Colonial Secretary.  He was attending a conference in Cairo, and, according to Churchill, he was invited to Jerusalem by his friend the British Commissioner for Palestine, Herbert Samuel.

Churchill and Samuels
on Mt Scopus

While in Jerusalem he attended a tree-planting ceremony at Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus with Sir Herbert Samuel. (pictured right)

From the left, Churchill,
Lawrence and Abdullah

Perhaps one of his most important meetings -- related to the division and leadership of the Middle East -- was a secret meeting with Emir Abdullah (later King Abdullah of Transjordan) and T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia).  A photograph from the meeting was preserved in the Library of Congress collection.

He also met with the Muslim, Christian and Jewish religious leadership of Jerusalem.  In an incredible film clip, Churchill takes leave of the leading rabbis of the time, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, Chief Rabbi of the Ashkenazic community; Rabbi Joseph Chaim Zonnenfeld, Chief Rabbi of the ultra-Orthodox Eidah Charedis community; and Rabbi Jacob Meir, chief Rabbi of the Sephardi community.

To the left of the door is Emir Abdullah.  Note the faint recognition Rabbi Kook gave him and Abdullah's lengthy gaze at the departing rabbi.  What does it signify?  We will probably never know.

Churchill also met with a former mayor of Jerusalem and Arab leader, Musa Kazim el Husseini.  Husseini was related to the Jew-hating Mufti Haj Amil el-Husseini and father of the notorious Arab militia fighter, Abdul Khadar el-Husseini.  The Husseinis' hatred of Jews was only matched by their hatred for King Abdullah, and  Husseini clan members were involved in Abdullah's assassination on the Temple Mount in 1951.

Musa Kazim el Husseini petitioned Churchill to stop the immigration of Jews into Palestine and claimed that life for the Arabs was better under the Ottomans.  Churchill responded with his famous rhetorical brilliance.
You have asked me in the first place to repudiate the Balfour Declaration and to veto immigration of Jews into Palestine. It is not in my power to do so, nor, if it were in my power, would it be my wish. The British Government have passed their word, by the mouth of Mr. Balfour, that they will view with favour the establishment of a National Home for Jews in Palestine, and that inevitably involves the immigration of Jews into the country. This declaration of Mr. Balfour and of the British Government has been ratified by the Allied Powers who have been victorious in the Great War; and it was a declaration made while the war was still in progress, while victory and defeat hung in the balance. It must therefore be regarded as one of the facts definitely established by the triumphant conclusion of the Great War. It is upon this basis that the mandate has been undertaken by Great Britain, it is upon this basis that the mandate will be discharged. I have no doubt that it is on this basis that the mandate will be accepted by the Council of the League of Nations, which is to meet again shortly.... 
Moreover, it is manifestly right that the Jews, who are scattered all over the world, should have a national centre and a National Home where some of them may be reunited. And where else could that be but in this land of Palestine, with which for more than 3,000 years they have been intimately and profoundly associated? We think it will be good for the world, good for the Jews and good for the British Empire. But we also think it will be good for the Arabs who dwell in Palestine, and we intend that it shall be good for them, and that they shall not be sufferers or supplanted in the country in which they dwell or denied their share in all that makes for its progress and prosperity. And here I would draw your attention to the second part of the Balfour Declaration, which solemnly and explicitly promises to the inhabitants of Palestine the fullest protection of their civil and political rights. I was sorry to hear in the paper which you have just read that you do not regard that promise as of value....

A Picture a Day -- Joseph's Tomb

Joseph's Tomb

Joseph's traditional burial site is in the city of Schem (Nablus).  Below are pictures taken in 1900. The originals are here and here on the Library of Congress collection.  View another picture here.

The Ottoman Empire ruled the land of Palestine in 1900.  Ostensibly, the guard at the tomb is an Ottoman policeman.

Note how the tomb was located in an empty field.  Indeed, Jewish visitors to the tomb after the 1967 war remember it as a solidarity structure in a large field.

Today, it is surrounded by Palestinian buildings. 

According to the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority is obligated to safeguard holy sites and ensure free access to them. (Annex III, Appendix I, Article 32 of the Oslo 2 accord, signed on September 28, 1995.) The Oslo 2 accord (Article V of Annex I) also spells out specific arrangements concerning particular sites such as the Tomb of Joseph in Nablus, the Shalom al Yisrael Synagogue in Jericho, and the Tomb of Rachel near Bethlehem.

During the 2000 Intifada, Palestinians razed the site.  It has subsequently been rebuilt, but Jewish visits to the tomb are irregular and must be conducted with IDF escort.

Joseph's tomb surrounded by Palestinian buildings today

The razing of the Tomb in the 2000 Intifada