Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Civil Defense, Shelters, and Bombs Falling on Tel Aviv Were Facts of Life More than 70 Years Ago

2012: Apartment building damaged in November 2012 by a
Hamas rocket fired from Gaza, November 2012 (credit: Channel 2)
Who can forget the scenes of Israel's citizens scurrying to shelters as Hamas rockets from Gaza fell on cities, towns and villages in recent months and years, or as Hizbullah rockets were fired from Lebanon in 2006, or as Iraqi Scud missiles exploded in Haifa and Tel Aviv during the 1991 Gulf War?

Actually, the civilian populations in the Holy Land have been targets of bombs for more than 70 years. 
1991: Scud damage in Ramat Gan

The American Colony photograph collection at the Library of Congress contains pictures of the civil defense and shelter preparations already in 1939.

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

1940: After an Italian air attack on Tel
Aviv in World War II (Damien Peter Parer,
photographer, Australian War Memorial)

Below are pictures from previous attacks, some prior to the creation of Israel. 

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

1948: After an Egyptian air attack on Tel Aviv
(Government Press Office)

1945: Close up of the air raid shelter
sign at Solomon's Quarries

1945: Air raid shelter under Jerusalem's Old City at
Solomon's Quarries (Library of Congress)

1939: Decontamination and air raid exercise at the Jerusalem YMCA sports field
(Library of Congress)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

1939 Jewish Demonstration against the British White Paper
-- Led by the Grandes Dames of Jerusalem

Women led by (right to left) Ben-Zvi, Herzog and Yellin protesting
the British White Paper (May 22, 1939). Library of Congress
caption: "The procession of young women raising their right
hands in attestation to their claim."
The British Mandatory forces brutally crushed the Arab Revolt in Palestine (1936-1939).  Despite their heavy losses, however, the Arabs succeeded politically in forcing the British government to severely limit Jewish immigration and land purchases in Palestine.

The women hearing speakers on Jaffa Rd

Protesters marching on King George St.
The sign they carry on the left translates
roughly to "There is no betrayal for the
 Eternal of Israel"

In 1939, the British government headed by Neville Chamberlain issued the "MacDonald White Paper," a policy paper which called for the establishment of a single Palestine state governed by Arabs and Jews based on their respective populations. The White Paper was approved by the British Parliament in May 1939, thus signing the death sentences of millions of Jews precisely when the Nazi tide was threatening to engulf Europe.

In a previous posting we presented details and pictures of Palestine's Jews demonstrating in Jerusalem against the White Paper on May 18, 1939.  The American Colony photographers returned four days later to film the protest of the women of the Yishuv, led by some of the leading women figures in Jerusalem at the time: Ita Yellin, Rachel Yanait Ben-Zvi, and Sarah Herzog.

Rachel Yanait Ben-Zvi arrived in the Land of Israel from the Ukraine in 1908, and she emerged as a leading figure in political Zionist organizations and the early Labor Party. She married Yitzchak Ben-Zvi who succeeded Chaim Weizmann as Israel's second president.

Women protesters against the British White Paper stopped near
the King David Hotel by a cordon of British police
Ita Yellin made aliya to Palestine as a 12-year-old in 1880. Her father, Yehiel Michal Pines, was a well-known rabbi in what is known today as Belarus and a leader of the religious Zionist movement. 

Ita Yellin headed the Ezrat Nashim charitable organization in Jerusalem, later known as the Hospital for the Chronically and Mentally Ill.  She was married to Prof. David Yellin, a prominent educator, Zionist leader and Hebraist.

Sarah Herzog, known as the "Rabbanit," was married to the Chief Rabbi of Ireland, Yitzchak Isaac Herzog. They moved to Eretz Yisrael in 1936 when he succeeded the Chief Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook.

Mrs. Herzog succeeded Ita Yellin as volunteer head of Ezrat Nashim Hospital, displaying tremendous energy and tenacity to gather support for the hospital which is today named the Sarah Herzog Hospital in her honor.

A persistent Jerusalem rumor hints that Jordan's King Talal bin Abdullah (King Hussein's father) was institutionalized at some point at the Ezrat Nashim Hospital for his severe depression and schizophrenia that led to his dethroning in 1952.

Mrs. Yellin (left) and Rabbanit Herzog
Rabbanit Herzog was mother to two sons: Ya'akov and Chaim, who both served in senior Israeli posts.  Ya'akov, a rabbi as well as diplomat, served in Washington and Canada and as a senior advisor to Israeli prime ministers.  Ben-Gurion  referred to him as "Israel's Safnat Paneah," the name granted to Joseph by Pharoah for his wisdom and advice.

Chaim Herzog served as Israel's president (1983-1993) after serving in Israel's military and as ambassador to the United Nations.  Many recall the ambassador standing at the UN podium tearing up the "Zionism is racism" resolution, an action once taken by his father, the chief rabbi, at the May 18, 1939 demonstration where he tore up the British White Paper.

Chaim Herzog's son, Yitzchak, serves in Israel's Knesset, and son Michael is a general in the IDF reserves.

Click on pictures to enlarge.  Click on the caption to view the original picture.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Tu B'Shvat Special: Introducing the Stars of the Show --
The Trees of the Land of Israel

Pomegranate tree, hand-colored photo
(circa 1900-1920)
The photographers of the American Colony Photographic Department traveled the length and breadth of the Holy Land and the Middle East, from Damascus to Cairo, Malta to Iraq. 
Date palm tree (circa 1900-1920)

Click on pictures to enlarge.

Click on captions to view the originals.

Olive trees. Click here for more. Click
here to see original black and white

Almond tree. See original
in black and white

They were also fond of photographing the flora of the land of the Bible and providing the botanical genus name.

Facing the 1915 plague of locusts that hit with Biblical proportions, the photographers documented the life cycle and devastating results of the swarms.

"Cactus figs," called today
cactus pears or "sabras"

Carob tree
On the eve of Tu B'Shvat, the traditional New Year for trees, we present this collection of photos of trees taken between 1900 and 1920. Some of them were hand-colored 25-30 years later.

Sycamore tree (hand-colored)

Gnarled trunk of a sycamore tree

Acacia (Shetim) tree in the desert

Pine trees (circa 1900)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tu B'Shvat, the Jewish New Year for Trees, Is Celebrated on Saturday

Reforested hills along the road from Jaffa to Jerusalem, near Bab
el-Wad, or Sha'ar HaGuy (circa 1930)
Reposting Tu B'Shvat feature from February 1912. Updated with picture of first Hebrew radio broadcast.

The Jewish National Fund was established in 1901 to purchase and develop land in the Holy Land.

Planting trees on the barren hills on the
way to Jerusalem (circa 1930)

A government tree nursery on Mt.
Scopus, Jerusalem (circa 1930)
One major activity of the JNF, or in Hebrew the Keren Kayemet LeYisrael, was the planting of trees on Jewish-owned land in Palestine. Many a Jewish home had the iconic JNF blue charity box, or pushke, in order to buy trees.  In its history, the JNF is responsible for planting almost a quarter of a billion trees.

The photographers of the American Colony recorded the JNF's efforts.
"Afforestation sponsored by Keren
Kayemeth" (circa 1935)

Reforested hillside along the road to
Jerusalem. "Demonstrating reforestation
possibilities" (circa 1930)
The day chosen for school children and volunteers to go out to the fields and barren hilltops to plant trees was Tu B'Shvat, the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat, a date assigned thousands of years ago in the Mishna for the purposes of determining the age of a tree and its tithing requirements. 

Indeed, the date usually coincides with the first blossoms on the almond trees in Israel. 

Today, Tu B'Shvat is commemorated as a combination of Arbor Day, environment-protection day, a kibbutz agricultural holiday, and, of course, a day for school outings and plantings.


Ceremony of planting the King's tree (1935) at Nahalal
In 1935, the Jews of Britain and the JNF established a "Jubilee Forest" near Nazareth.  According to the Jewish Telegraph Agency's account at the time, an "oriental cypress tree presented by King George V of England to the Jubilee Forest in the hills of Nazareth will be formally planted by High Commissioner Sir Arthur Grenfell Wauchope on December 19."

"The Jubilee Forest is British Jewry's mark of loyalty and devotion to the throne, expressed on the occasion of the royal couple's twenty-fifth jubilee. It will cover a large area of desolate and barren land on the hills of Nazareth which in ancient times were famed for their forest beauty. The forest constitutes the most important effort in reforestation of the Holy Land."

Tomorrow, the trees of Eretz Yisrael
"The tree shipped by King George was removed from Windsor Great Park in London, where it was the only one of its kind. It is the first ever to have been shipped from England to Palestine."

Tomorrow: 100 year old pictures of the trees of the Land of Israel

Monday, January 21, 2013

Get Your Paper! Read All about It!
Israel Daily Picture Receives its 700,000th Visitor this Week

Reading newspapers posted on Jerusalem street (circa 1937)

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Reading newspapers in Jerusalem (circa 1937)

Click on picture to enlarge.

Click on caption to view the original

Friday, January 18, 2013

Tunisia, Another Vanishing Jewish Community in the Moslem World --
We Uncover 150-Year-Old Pictures of One Family in Three Different Collections

Two Jewish girls on the beach in Tunis, Tunisia.   "Jeune filles
Juives" by Neurdein freres  taken between 1860 and 1890.
The girl on the right appears in the photo below, too.
(Credit: Unless otherwise marked, pictures are from the
Carpenter Collection, Library of Congress)
Jewish communities existed in the Arab/Muslim world for millennia, in some cases even pre-dating the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE.  Large communities and great centers of Jewish study existed in Baghdad, Aleppo, Cairo, Morocco, and Tunisia, to name a few locations.

In the 1940s the Jewish population in the Arab world numbered between 850,000 and one million.  They were integrated into their societies, although over history they were often subjected to religious persecution and even pogroms. Some Jewish families were wealthy and owned considerable property. 

It all came crashing down after 1947 and the UN Palestine Partition vote when anti-Jewish violence swept the Middle East.  The Jewish communities fled for their lives or were expelled. Their homes and properties were confiscated.  Most of them found refuge in Israel, Europe or North America.

Today, perhaps only one percent of that 1947 Jewish population remains in the Arab countries.   

Postcard of Mother and daughter on
Tunisia shore. "The woman’s robes and
conical headdress are representative of the
traditional dress of Jewish Tunisian women
 during the early 20th century." The woman
also appears in the photo below.
(credit: Yeshiva University Museum)

Researchers for the Israel Daily Picture, searching through the Library of Congress/American Colony archives, unexpectedly came across 19th century pictures of some of these extinct or vanishing Jewish communities.

We present here pictures from the Tunisian Jewish community which numbered over 100,000 in 1948. Today, there are an estimated 1,500 Jews in Tunisia with two-thirds living on the island of Djerba.

The photos in the Carpenter collection of the Library of Congress were "produced and gathered by Frank G. Carpenter (1855-1924) and his daughter Frances (1890-1972) to illustrate his writings on travel and world geography," the Library explains.

Jewish woman on Tunisia shore,
possibly on the island of Djerba. She
appears to be the same woman
in the photo from the Yeshiva
University Museum. Is she
holding a baby in both photos?
(Jewish Postcard Collection)

We came across a picture in Yeshiva University's Museum of a mother and daughter on a beach in Tunisia presented here. The Museum dated the picture from the early 20th century, but the girl is clearly the same girl in the Library of Congress picture above, photographed decades earlier.

View an incredible collection of antique postcards from Tunisia in Stephanie Comfort's Jewish Postcard Collection.  The hand-colored picture of a young Tunisian woman is just one example of the amazing photos in the collection.
Young Tunisian Jewish woman. The picture
was hand-colored. (circa 1900)
(Jewish Postcard Collection)

In the Comfort collection we also discovered another photo of a woman on a beach who appears to be the same woman in the Yeshiva University photo above. Comfort identifies the photo as taken on the island of Djerba.  The woman appears to be holding a baby under her gown in both pictures.  If the three photos are from a series of the same family, they were taken between 1860 and 1900 by the Neurdein brothers of France.

Click on photos to enlarge.

Click on captions to view the original pictures.

Below is a listing of some of the photo essays we posted in the past on vanishing or extinct Jewish communities.   Click on the city to view the posting:
Jews of Aleppo
Jews of
Jews of
Jews of
Jews of
Kifl, Iraq (Ezekiel's Tomb)  
Tunisian Jewish Karouby Family (Jewish Postcard

Tunisian Jewish couple (circa 1900)

Keeners, hired mourners, at Jewish cemetery in Tunis (circa 1920)

Two Jewish women in Tunisia (1900-1923)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Eureka! Pictures Beneath the Temple Mount Now Online
The Israel Antiquities Authority Pictures Taken after the 1927 Earthquake

Library of Congress caption from the American Colony
Collection: "The Temple area. The Double Gate.
Ancient entrance to Temple beneath al Aqsa." Note the
staircase that apparently led to the surface and the
Temple plaza
In October 2012, we published here "What Is behind the Mysterious Sealed Gates of Jerusalem's Old City?" 

The essay showed two incredible 85-year old photographs of columns and chambers under the Temple Mount from the archives of the Library of Congress/American Colony collection of photographs. The captions under the pictures read "The Temple area, the Double Gate. Ancient entrance to Temple beneath al Aqsa." The pictures were taken between 1920 and 1933, according to the caption.

We theorized in October that the American Colony photographer gained access to the area under the al Aqsa Mosque, partially destroyed in the 1927 earthquake. 

Nadav Shragai, a scholar on Jerusalem sites, reported in a Yisrael HaYom article last year, that Robert Hamilton, director of the British Mandate Antiquities Authority, had explored under the mosque at the time. He "photographed, sketched, excavated and analyzed" what he saw. But he promised the Islamic Authorities, the Waqf, that he would make "no mention of any findings that the Muslims would have found inconvenient" such as findings from the time of the Jewish Temples. 

IAA Hamilton collection. Inside the
"Double Gate Pendenture"

From the IAA Hamilton collection. Inside the "Double Gate" of
the southern wall of the Temple Mount. It is clearly the same arch
in the picture taken by the American Colony photographer.

After 1948 the British Mandate Antiquities Authority became the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), and after the 1967 war the old archives in the Rockefeller Museum also came under Israeli control.

Flight of stairs (on the right side) leading into a rock-cut passage
This week, the IAA posted hundreds of photographs online, apparently from Hamilton's collection.  The pictures lack the notations and captions available on the Library of Congress photos, but it is clear that some of the pictures were taken at the same time.  The IAA undertook a painstaking task of digitalizing tens of thousands of documents, maps and photographs from the 1919-1948 period.

More study of the IAA photographs is required, especially to identify some of Hamilton's reported finds, including a Jewish mikve, a ritual bath, under al Aqsa.  The photos show columns, cisterns, passageways, mosaics, arches, timbers, and layers of ruins beneath the al Aqsa flooring.

We anxiously await the commentary of Israeli archaeologists, but we share with readers now some of the amazing pictures.

Click on pictures to enlarge.  Click on caption to see the original.

Vault found. Note pier on left


Trench dug in the flooring. Note levels beneath it

Note the levels
Remains of a mosaic found

Friday, January 11, 2013

We Present Pictures of Two Kibbutzim Built in the 1920s & 30s,
But How Did a Rabid American Anti-Semite Sneak In?

Kibbutz Kiryat Anavim (1939)
The kibbutzim of Ma'aleh Hachamisha and Kiryat Anavim are situated on the highway from Israel's coast to Jerusalem. During Israel's 1948 War of Independence they served as headquarters and bases for the Jewish forces seeking to lift the siege of Jerusalem, protect the road between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and block the advance of Jordanian armored units.

A decade prior to the war the photographers of the American Colony photographed the young settlements, their members, industries and children.  The photographers had been chronicling the Jews of Palestine's new and old "Yishuv" since the 1890s.

The dairy in Ma'aleh Hachamisha (1939)
Young citizens of Kiryat Anavim (1939)
The Kiryat Anavim ("City of Grapes") kibbutz was founded in 1920 on land purchased from the neighboring Arab village of Abu Ghosh six years earlier by Zionist leader Arthur Ruppin.  The first settlers were immigrants from the Ukraine.

The view of the Abu Ghosh village from
Ma'aleh Hachamisha (1939)
Police post in Ma'aleh Hachmisha
Ma'aleh Hachmisha ("Ascent of the Five" -- named for five Jews killed nearby by Arab marauders) was founded by Polish settlers near Kiryat Anavim in 1938 as a "tower and stockade" settlement -- an overnight Jewish building project established in some 57 locations around Palestine to circumvent British settlement restrictions.  Ma'aleh Hachamisha also served as a base during the 1948 War of Independence.  Both communities were located near the 1949 Armistice Line, or "Green Line," between Israel and the occupying Jordanian forces until Israel captured the West Bank of the Jordan River in 1967.

One picture in the American Colony's collection at the Library of Congress, presented and explained below, is very curious and even troubling. 

New settlers at Ma'aleh Hachamisha.
Note the tents behind them.

A troubling picture: The original caption reads: "Mr. & Mrs.
A.W. Dilling being shown Hachamisha." Who are the Dillings?
 Click on pictures to enlarge.

Click on captions to view the originl photographs.

Why Were the Dillings Visiting this Kibbutz in 1939?

In the history of anti-Semitism in America in the 20th Century, several names stand out as master-haters of Jews, mass rabble-rousers, and Nazi sympathizers: Catholic Father Charles Coughlin whose venomous radio shows reached tens of millions; Henry Ford who republished the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and propagated screeds against the International Jews, the World's Foremost Problem; and  Elizabeth Dilling, a Midwest housewife who emerged as the leader of the pre-World War II "Mother's Movement" opposed to war with Germany and author of malicious books attacking Jews.

A common belief of all the anti-Semitic racists was that the Jews were behind an international Communist conspiracy to take over America and the world's economy.  Christianity was under an existential threat. "The person who does not know that Jewry and Marxism are synonymous is uninformed," Elizabeth Dilling wrote.

Enlargement of picture of visit to a kibbutz. Elizabeth Dilling
 in the center, her husband Albert on the right.
Dilling visited the Communist Soviet Union in 1931 and returned home a crusader against Communism.  She published a massive catalogue of threats to America, The Red Network -- A Who's Who of Radicalism for Patriots, in which thousands of names appeared, including Albert Einstein and leaders of the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and National Council of Jewish Women. 

She wrote The Octopus under a pseudonym to warn of the threat of the "pro-Red, Anti-Christian" B'nai Brith Anti-Defamation League -- "The most colossally financed, coercive spy and propaganda machine in the United States."   In 1964 she co-authored The Plot Against Christianity, later titled The Jewish Religion, Its Influence Today, in which she (mis)quotes extensively from the Jewish Talmud.

Here are two excerpts from her toxic writing:
There is no moral, philosophical or ethical conflict whatsoever between Judaism and Marxist collectivism as they exist in actual practice. Marxism, to which all branches of Socialism necessarily adhere, was originated by a Jew, Karl Marx, himself of Rabbinical descent. Every Jewish source today boasts of his rabbinical ancestry. Marx did not actually originate anything, but merely “streamlined” Talmudism for Gentile consumption.

Dilling, Nazi sympathizer
No one who treasures American freedom wants fascism or Hitlerism for America, but it is only fair to note that Germany had 6,000,000 Communists bent on Red terrorist revolution and that Russian Jews had made themselves prominent in the Red movement, and that Nazism has directed its attacks more against conspiring, revolutionary Communist Jews, than against nationalist German Jews who aided Germany during the war.
So why did the Dillings visit the Ma'aleh Hachamisha kibbutz?

Prof. Glen Jeansonne, author of Women of the Far Right: The Mothers' Movement and World War II, offers a hint:
"Dilling's travels in 1938 also took her to Palestine, where, she said, she filmed Jewish immigrants ruining the Holy Land. England had betrayed the Arabs by permitting Jewish immigrants to steal Arab land, she said, but the Arabs blamed the American government, which, they said, was Jewish-controlled."
We theorize that Dilling went to Palestine, and specifically kibbutzim, to document the eastern European settlers and their socialist, Communist-like, non-Christian lifestyle in which the traditional family structure was revolutionized with children sleeping away from their parents.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Elizabeth Dilling was indicted with 28 others for sedition.  The trial ended with a mistrial in 1944 when the presiding judge died. 

Dilling died in 1966, but her writings are still quoted by rightwing anti-Semites like David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.