Friday, November 30, 2012

A Collection of 150-Year-Old Pictures of Jerusalem
Thanks to British Explorers and the New York Public Library

Cover of the Ordnance Survey
The photographic archives in the New York Public Library is the surprising repository for hundreds of historic photographs of Palestine.  Some of the pictures date back to the 1850s and 1860s.

We provide here a selection of some of the amazing photographs.  Future postings will focus on particular pictures and the photographers.

Survey photo of the "Wailing Place of the Jews"
 (1865). The photo was taken by Peter Bergheim who
established a photographic studio in the Christian
 Quarter of the Old City. The Survey team had its
own photographer, but, apparently, Bergheim was
subcontracted by the Survey team. (Source: New
York Public Library) See here for similar photos.

Many of the photos were taken from the British Ordnance Survey of Jerusalem of 1865 led by Captain Charles W. Wilson.  He and Captain Charles Warren led extensive archaeological excavations near the Temple Mount ("Wilson's Arch" and "Warren's Shaft" are well-known to visitors to Jerusalem).  Warren would go on to become the head of London's police during the "Jack the Ripper" murder spree.

We thank staffers at the Library of Congress who steered us to the Survey and officials at the New York Public Library who granted permission to publish the photos.

The sealed Golden Gate, also known as Shaar
Harachamim (1865), is located on the eastern wall
of the Old City and closest to the site of the Jewish
Temple and the Dome of the Rock. The photo was
taken by the Survey's official photographer, James
McDonald.  (Source: New York Public Library)
See here for similar photos.

The 1865 Survey contained measurements, maps and descriptions of the city of Jerusalem which was almost all contained within the Old City walls.  The explorers sank shafts along the Old City walls, explored underground tunnels, cisterns and caverns, and recorded their findings.

In 1871,Wilson and Warren published The Recovery of Jerusalem, a Narrative of Exploration and Discovery in the City and the Holy Land, a memoir of their experiences in Jerusalem, including dealing with rapacious Ottoman officials, impassible roads, and local workers.

Interestingly, the Wilson-Warren book did not include photographs; it was illustrated with woodcuts such as this one possibly copied from the Bergheim photo above.  And note how similar the woodcut is to the one illustrating William Seward's travelogue.  Seward was Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of State who visited the Holy Land in 1859 and 1871.  Both books, published in 1871, describe Jewish prayer at the Western Wall as restricted to Friday evening.

Woodcut in Seward's book

The woodcut in Wilson's book

Monday, November 26, 2012

Updates to Previous Posts
with Pictures from the New York Public Library. Yes, the NYPL

"Shepherd and sheep." Where? South on Nablus Road in Jerusalem (circa 1900)
The mosque and minaret are still there today. Credit: New York Public Library
The Library of Congress archives of 19th and early 20th century photographs from the Holy Land still has more veins of treasures to be mined by Israel Daily Picture.  

But we would like to add two more American Colony pictures which we found in the New York Public Library archives to our previous postings. We thank the NYPL for granting permission to present them here.

Turkish soldiers marching on Nablus
Road past the same minaret
(circa 1900)

The first is a picture of shepherds and sheep.  What drew our attention were the buildings and mosque, easily identified in our feature "Jerusalem's Nablus Road -- Where History Marched." The original caption to the photograph of the soldiers notes that they were passing the American Colony residence, located on Nablus Road.

Emperor Wilhelm passing the Colony's
residence. Note the minaret above the
ultra-Orthodox Jew's hat on the left.
The Colony's location gave the photographers a front row seat for the arrival of the German Emperor Wilhelm II in 1898.

The second photo found in the New York Public Library is a picture of farming practices in Palestine over 100 years ago.  The American Colony photographers frequently shot pictures of mismatched plowing animals.
Peasant plowing (circa 1900)
Credit: New York Public Library

We theorize that the American Colony members, who were well versed in the Old Testament, focused on agricultural prohibitions found in the Bible. 

In this particular case, they illustrated the prohibition "Thou shall not plow with an ox and an ass together." (Deuteronomy 20)

They also provided pictures of the prohibition "Thou shall not muzzle an ox in its threshing"
(Deuteronomy 25)

Click on the photos to enlarge.   Click on the captions to see the originals.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Return of the Palace Hotel to Jerusalem

Palace Hotel in the Mamilla section of Jerusalem (circa 1930)
When the Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin el Husseini built the Palace Hotel in 1929 he spared no cost.  After renovating the Muslim sites on the Haram el Sharif (Temple Mount), he sought a palatial luxury hotel for visiting rulers of the Muslim and Arab world. He had no compunction about using funds from the Muslim religious trust.

Husseini hired a Turkish architect, Jewish contractors and Egyptian stonemasons to build the hotel which was completed in only 11 months.
The Palestine Royal (Peel) Commission set up
offices at the Palace Hotel to consider partition
of Palestine (1936)

Early in the construction, one of the Jewish contractors wrote in his memoirs, workers discovered buried human remains, apparently from an ancient section of the Mamilla Muslim cemetery across the road.  Husseini instructed the contractor to quickly and quietly rebury the bones lest his political rivals discover the desecration.  But they did find out, and a nasty public relations and religious court battle ensued.

The hotel was unable to compete with the plush King David Hotel a few blocks away and closed its doors in 1935.  The building was expropriated by the British Mandate Government.

The Mufti was a rabid Arab nationalist and political rabble-rouser.  He incited anti-Semitic rioting and massacres against Jews in Palestine and led the anti-British Arab revolt in Palestine between 1936 and 1939.

Husseini leaving the Peel Commission
 In 1936, the British Mandate Government conducted hearings of the Palestine Royal Commission in the former hotel.  The hearings, also known as the "Peel Commission," investigated the causes of the Arab violence.  Husseini testified, representing the radical Arabs.  Opposite him appeared Chaim Weizmann, representing the Jews of Palestine.

Weizmann arriving at the Commission
 When the British attempted to arrest the Mufti in 1937 he fled Palestine, and the British made do with confiscating his property. The Husseini clan owned several well-known buildings in Jerusalem, among them the Palace Hotel, the Orient House, and the Shepherd Hotel in Sheikh Jarrah on a plot of land known as Karam al Mufti, named for Husseini.

After the British departed Palestine in 1948 and Israel's creation, the Palace Hotel became Israel’s Ministry of  Industry and Trade.

Palace Hotel under construction today
Today, the historic building is under renovation and construction with plans to reopen as the 5-star "Palace Jerusalem --Waldorf-Astoria." 
Artist's rendition of future hotel

Click on the photos to enlarge.
Click on the captions to view the originals.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

150-Year-Old Pictures Released for Online Viewers
Thank You Library of Congress for Responding to Our Request

The "Golden Gate," also known as Sha'ar
HaRachamim. On the other side of the wall is
the Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock
(1865) View Golden Gate feature here
The Library of Congress has an amazing archive of antique photographs, including the 22,000 pictures taken by the American Colony Photographic Department in Jerusalem.  It also contains photos by photographic pioneers and explorers who visited the Holy Land in the second half of the 19th century.

Click on the photos to enlarge.

Click on the captions to see the originals.

Panoramic view of Jerusalem, taken from the Hill of Evil Counsel - Abu Tur (1865)
One explorer was Captain Charles Wilson of the British Ordnance Survey and the Palestine Exploration Fund.  Two of the pictures taken by Wilson's photographer, Sgt. J. M. McDonald, are available in the Library of Congress archives for researchers, but they had never been digitalized and made available on the Internet.

Israel Daily Picture requested that the Library remove copyright restrictions on the 147-year-old photos.  The pictures were posted on the Internet this week and appear here.  The Library's site allows visitors to enlarge the photographs to see amazing details, in these cases more than 12 MB in size.

Other photos from Wilson's expedition appear in the Palestine Exploration Fund's gallery, and one picture of the Haram el-Sharif/Temple Mount and Western Wall appears here.
Panoramic view of Haram el-Sharif/Temple Mount and Western Wall (Credit: Palestine Exploration Fund, 1865)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Calling on Jerusalemites:
Can You Find These Buildings 110 Years Later?

"Jerusalem Famille Juive" by Charles Chusseau-Flaviens (Credit: George
Eastman House, circa 1900)
Reviewing the historic photos of Jerusalem in the George Eastman House Museum, we came across this wonderful 110 year old picture taken by a French photographer, Charles Chusseau-Flaviens. 

It bears the caption "Jerusalem Famille Juive" -- a Jewish family in Jerusalem.

From their dress, we presume it is a Sabbath or Jewish holiday, and some of the shops are shuttered in mid-day.  Their walking in the middle of the street suggests that they're in a Jewish neighborhood and are not worried about carriages or horses.  And they're walking down an incline.
Google "Street View" looking up Malchai Yisrael Street in Jerusalem

The challenge: Can anyone locate these buildings in Jerusalem today? 
Over the course of 100 years buildings have been torn down, second stories added, and streets widened.

Are they walking down Jaffa Road toward the Old City?  We checked, and the store on the right is not the Ma'ayan Shtub shop. 

Perhaps they're walking through the Romema neighborhood on Malchei Yisrael Street toward Meah Shearim and the Old City beyond.  Thanks to Google's Street View program, we offer the possibility that the building is this shop with the distinctive rounded window and the two story building behind it with the unusual stonework on the edge of the walls.

We welcome readers' suggestions.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fez, Tarboush, Kaffiya -- Why the Arabs of Palestine Flipped their Ottoman Lids in the 1930s

Most of the men at this 1920 Jerusalem demonstration in favor of the Damascus-
led Arab nationalist movement wore fezzes/tarboushes on their heads.
Few wore the kaffiya which was worn by farmers, Bedouins and peasants.
Were you visitor number 600,000?

The American Colony photographers were fascinated by Arab headgear and took a series of pictures on the subject.  Why?

As the accompanying 1920 picture of an Arab demonstration shows, most of the Arab men were wearing fezzes (tarboush) or turbans.  Only a few were wearing the cloth kaffiya and agal (the cord on top).
Note the Jewish fez-wearers in
the center-left of this picture of
worshippers at the Western Wall
on Yom Kippur (circa 1900)


The kaffiya was a practical headgear to protect its wearer from the sun, wind and cold. 

But, according to one researcher, the kaffiya "marked its wearer as a man of low status.  This head covering distinguished the fallah from the effendi, the educated middle- or upper-class man of the town who demonstrated his social preeminence by donning the fez. The reforming Ottoman government first introduced the fez in the 1830 as a replacement for the turban...."  (Memories of Revolt: The 1936-1939 Rebellion and the Palestinian National Past, by Ted Swedenburg.)

Sephardic Jews also wore fezzes, as evidenced by pictures of Jews praying at the Western Wall.

"Change to national head covering"
Discarded fezzes (in circle) atop a
bus stop pole in Jerusalem (1938)
"Rajai el Husseini in kaffiya and
agal" (1938)
What changed?

Memories of Revolt by Ted Swedenburg explains that in the early 20th century, "Arab nationalists in Damascus initiated a campaign to distinguish themselves from the fez-garbed 'Ottoman' Turks by donning the 'Arab' headscarf (kaffiya).  [In Palestine] up to the 1930s, the kaffiya generally still signified social inferiority (and rural backwardness), while the fez signaled superiority (and urbane sophistication)."

"National head covering... City
Christian girls with newly adopted veil"

In the 1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine, "the official political leaders of the struggle for independence came from the urban upper and middle classes," Swedenburg wrote. "The armed rebel bands that began to operate in the highlands... were composed almost exclusively of peasants.  These guerrilla fighters took on the kaffiya as their insignia.  Wrapped close around their heads, kaffiyat provided anonymity to fighters... disguised their identities from spies, and helped them elude capture by the British."

To complete his survey of Jerusalem
headgear, the photographer included
"Polish Jews with another headgear,"
the fur-trimmed shtreimel. (1938)
"On August 26, 1938, when the revolt was reaching its apogee... the rebel leadership commanded all Palestinian Arab townsmen to discard the tarboush and don the kaffiya... British officials were amazed how the new fashion spread across the country with 'lightening rapidity.'"
"City Moslem ladies with faces covered
as usual" (1938)

The abandonment of the fez was not accepted by all of Palestine's Arabs, and leading clans such as the Nashashibi family, refused to change and were met with antagonism, according to Memories.

The Arab revolt was led by the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el Husseini. The history of the headgear during the revolt also explains the adoption of the iconic kaffiya later by Haj Amin's cousin, Yasir Arafat.

Click on the photos to enlarge.
Click on the captions to see the originals. 
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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Let's Go to the Videotapes --
A Collection of the Earliest Films from the Holy Land

The first film made in the Holy Land (1897)

This site generally focuses on the 22,000 still photos taken a century ago by photography pioneers, particularly the American Colony Photography Department in Jerusalem, and archived in the Library of Congress.

But in our research we also uncovered and published some of the earliest films taken in Palestine under Turkish and British rule.  We now present them all in one place and encourage readers to forward other early films they may have uncovered.

1897 -- The first film (above) was made in 1897 by the Frenchmen Auguste Lumière and Louis Lumière. It shows a train leaving the Jerusalem train station. More information can be found here in an earlier posting.

[Do not adjust the sound on your computer; this is a silent movie.]

1913 -- This incredible hour-long 1913 film was lost for decades and recently found. It was prepared for the 11th Zionist Congress which met in Vienna in August 1913.  Four months earlier, in April, a film crew left Odessa by ship to prepare a film on the Life of the Jews of Palestine that would be shown at the Congress.  The producer,  Noah Sokolovsky, spent two months filming the cities, holy sites, and agricultural communities of Eretz Yisrael.

In 1997 the original film negative was found in France. The film is narrated in Hebrew by Israeli actor and singer Yoram Gaon.  More information was posted here last year.

If readers know of a version with an English narration or subtitles please let us know.

Allenby and Rabbi Meir
1917 -- This rare film from the Yaakov Gross collection commemorates the entry into Jerusalem of General Edmund Allenby, commander of the British war effort in Palestine against the Turks and Germans.  The clip includes Allenby talking to T. E. Lawrence ("of Arabia) and Rabbi Jacob Meir, chief rabbi of the Sephardi community.

The film shows Allenby meeting with senior officers outside of the Jaffa Gate, including the Turkish commander of the Jerusalem police force who remained in the city to maintain order. Allenby made a point of walking into the Old City, and not riding, in deference to the city's holiness.

View additional photos of Allenby's entrance into Jerusalem here.

1918 -- This film clip was discovered in an Amsterdam Jewish family's collection and it represents clips of Jerusalem scenes. It is believed to have been taken in 1918, after the British captured Jerusalem from the Turks.

For more information, view this posting.

1921 -- A historic meeting was held in Jerusalem between local leaders and the British High Commissioner Herbert Samuel and the Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill. This film clip shows Rabbi Joseph Chaim Sonnenfeld, leader of the ultra-Orthodox community, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, chief rabbi of Palestine, and Rabbi Jacob Meir, chief rabbi of the Sephardi community taking their leave from the British officials. To the left of the doorway stands Emir Abdullah of Transjordan. Note the faint recognition between Kook and Abdullah. Later, Sonnenfeld met Abdullah in Amman.

See more on this historic meeting here.

1925 -- French banker Albert (Abraham) Kahn commissioned photographers to take tens of thousands of pictures around the globe, including the British Mandate of Palestine. The film clip below was done for Kahn by Jerusalem photographer Camille Sauvageot. The film below shows the Old City's gates, Jewish prayer at the Western Wall, Christian processions on Good Friday, and Muslims on the Temple Mount.

More details on Kahn and his film can be found here.

Special credit goes to Israeli film collector and archivist Yaakov Gross. Visit his wonderful collection of films here.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Balfour Declaration Was Issued 95 Years Ago --
In 1925 Balfour Arrived to See the Jewish State in Formation
--Updated from last year's posting

Balfour's reception in Tel Aviv (April 1925)
The government of Great Britain issued the Balfour Declaration 95 years ago this week, on November 2, 1917.  The document in effect served as the birth certificate for a Jewish national home.

British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour's declaration was in the form of a letter to a leader of the British Jewish community.  It stated: 

His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country. 
Balfour speaking at the founding of Hebrew University. Behind him sit Chaim Weizmann and Chief
Rabbi Avraham Kook

The British Army had just captured Be’er Sheva (October 31) after months of trying to break through the Ottoman army’s Gaza-Be’er Sheva defense line. The British goal was to push north and capture Jerusalem by Christmas.  

In April 1925, Lord Balfour arrived in Palestine to lay the cornerstone for Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus.  He was received as a hero in Tel Aviv and Rishon LeZion. 

Balfour about to lay the Hebrew University cornerstone


The three British giants of Palestine attending the 1925
opening of Hebrew University, from left to right: Lord Allenby 
(commander of British forces in Palestine 1917), 
Lord Balfour, and Sir Herbert Samuel, first British High
 Commissioner of the Mandate

Balfour visiting "Jewish Colony" 1925

Balfour welcomed by the Rishon LeZion Jewish
community and here

In the Arab community his visit was marked with black flags and a commercial strike.

Arab commercial strike in reaction to Balfour's visit (1925)


Black flags flying on Arab house

Would the State of Israel have come into being without the Balfour Declaration in 1917?  Perhaps. The Jews' return to Zion was well under way -- well before the Holocaust. The building of an infrastructure for a state had begun.

But, the Balfour Declaration laid the legal and political foundation for the state's acceptance by the world community, as explained by writer Michael Freund in the Jerusalem Post:
When the League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations, approved the Mandate for Palestine in July 1922, it formally incorporated the Balfour Declaration. In the preamble, it stated that, "the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people." The Mandate, which was approved by more than 50 member nations, also noted "the historical connections of the Jewish people with Palestine."
Unfortunately, some of the pictures presented here were already in stages of disintegration when they were digitalized by the Library of Congress. They are presented without cropping the damaged sections.