Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Re-Posting --
On Tisha B'Av, for These I also Weep

The destruction of the Avraham Avinu Synagogue in Hebron in 1929  
Among the tragedies that befell the Jewish people during the month of Av was the 1929 massacre in Hebron.  Never before seen photographs of the destruction were found in the Library of Congress archives' American Colony collection.
On Tisha B’Av, the day of calamities in Jewish history, we present the pictures.

Today’s leaders of the Hebron Jewish community reported that they had never seen the photos before. 

Click on the photos to enlarge.

Click on the captions to see the originals.

Background to the Hebron massacre.  After the British army captured Palestine from the Turks in late 1917, the relationship between the British and the local Arab population was characterized by tension that sporadically erupted into insurrection over the next 30 years. 

Enlargement of scroll showing
Deuteronomy 1: 17
Hebron synagogue and "jumbled
Torah scrolls" on the floor
The Arabs of Palestine were led by the powerful Husseini clan who controlled the office of the Mufti as well as the Mayor of Jerusalem.  For decades the clan had opposed European colonialism, the growing power of foreign consulates in Jerusalem, Christian and Jewish immigration and land purchases.  After the 1917 Balfour Declaration expressed support for “a national home for the Jewish people,” the Mufti, Haj Amin el Husseini, added “Zionists” to his enemies list.  The clan leveraged its power and threats of violence to win over Turkish and British overlords, to challenge the Hashemite King Abdullah, and to hold off competing clans such as the Nashashibi, Abu Ghosh, and Khalidi clans.

Jewish home plundered.
Blood-stained floor
[Haj Amin el Husseini fled Palestine to escape British jail and eventually found his way to Berlin where he assisted the Nazi war effort.  He died of natural causes in Beirut in 1974.]
On Yom Kippur 1928, Jews brought chairs and screens to prayers at the Western Wall. This purported change of the status quo was exploited by the Mufti to launch a jihad against the Jews.  Husseini’s campaign continued and escalated after a Jewish demonstration at the Kotel on Tisha B’Av in August 1929.  Rumors spread that Jews had attacked Jerusalem mosques and massacred Muslims.  The fuse was lit for a major explosion. 

Synagogue desecrated

Starting on Friday, August 23, 1929 and lasting for a week, enraged Arab mobs attacked Jews in the Old City in Jerusalem, in Jerusalem suburbs Sanhedria, Motza, Bayit Vegan, Ramat Rachel, in outlying Jewish communities, and in the Galilee town of Tzfat.  Small Jewish communities in Gaza, Ramla, Jenin, and Nablus were abandoned.

The attack in Hebron became a frenzied pogrom with the Arab mob stabbing, axing, decapitating and disemboweling 67 men, women and children.  At least 133 Jews were killed across Palestine. In 1931, there was a short-lived attempt to reestablish the Jewish community in Hebron, but within a few years it was abandoned until the IDF recaptured Hebron in 1967. 

The British indulged the Arabs and responded by limiting Jewish immigration and land purchases.

Large common grave of Jewish victims. Later the grave
was destroyed

Jewish home plundered

Today in Hebron: A recent service in the rebuilt
Avraham Avinu Synagogue

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