Tuesday, December 31, 2013

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An ancient Jerusalem synagogue, destroyed in 1948

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Is this a Biblical Prohibition?
An Amazing Picture from the UCR Keystone-Mast Collection

"Native ploughing with his wife and donkey, Palestine" (original caption)
(Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of
Photography at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside)

"Thou shall not plow with an ox and an ass together."
לא תַחֲרֹשׁ בְּשׁוֹר וּבַחֲמֹר יַחְדָּו
Deuteronomy 20 (Library of Congress, circa 1890)
Virtually every vintage collection that we've analyzed contains a picture of an Arab farmer in Palestine plowing with a rudimentary plow pulled by an ox and an ass.



"Thou shall not muzzle an ox in its threshing"
לֹא תַחְסֹם שׁוֹר בְּדִישׁוֹ
Deuteronomy 25 (circa 1900)

We suggest that the photographers, many of whom were well-versed in the Old Testament, focused on agricultural prohibitions found in the Bible.  The photographs, slides, and postcards were usually sold to a Bible-reading public.

"Plowing with an ox and an ass" (April, 1929, Torrance
Collection, University of Dundee)

The photographers illustrated the prohibition "Thou shall not plow with an ox and an ass together" (Deuteronomy 20) and provided pictures of the prohibition "Thou shall not muzzle an ox in its threshing"(Deuteronomy 25).
The photograph above in the UCR collection went one step further, showing an Arab farmer using his ass and wife to pull the plow.

Plowing with a cow and and an ass (circa
1900) See also here (Library of Congress)

Peasant plowing (circa 1900)
(New York Public Library)

"Plowing with an ox and ass" -- the original caption.  (Credit: RCB Library, 1897)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Remarkable Pictures of Jewish Communities in the Middle East
More Treasures from the University of California-Riverside Collection

Jewish scribes at the “Tomb of Ezekiel” near Babylon, Kefil,
Mesopotamia (Iraq)  (Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of
Photography at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside)
The Jews of Iraq

The vast Keystone-Mast Collection at the California Museum of Photography contains many photographs of Jewish communities -- now extinct -- from across the Muslim world. 

We believe most of the undated pictures in the University of California - Riverside Archives were taken between 1898 and 1930 

"Jewish Cobblers Repairing Shoes for
Arabs, near Mosul, Mesopotamia"

Using pictures we found in the Library of Congress archives two years ago, Israel Daily Picture has already explored many of the Jewish communities in Iraq, Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, and Turkey.  Click on the country to view earlier postings. 

Today, we present the UCR's vintage pictures of  the Jews of Iraq.  Suffering from pogroms, persecution, and confiscation of property, most of the Jews of Iraq left the country by 1951.  The "Jews of Iraq" is Part 1 of a series that will include vintage pictures of Jews of Egypt, Syria and Turkey. 

Click on the pictures to enlarge.  Click on the captions to view the original pictures.

Jews of Mosul (Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection,
California Museum of Photography at UCR)
Inside Ezekiel's Tomb (circa 1931, Library
of Congress). Also view Israel Daily Picture
feature on Ezekiel's Tomb

Persian ceiling of ancient synagogue at
Ezekiel's Tomb (Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection,
California Museum of Photography at UCR)

"Principal Street, Baghdad, Where the Jews and
 Moslems Throng, Mesopotamia." Prior to World
War II, 80,000 Jews lived in Baghdad.
(Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum
of Photography at UCR)

"Tomb of Ezra, Mesopotamia. Near Koma, on the
Shatt-el-Arab, (lower Euphrates. and Tigris). East over
lower Tigris to Shrine dear to Jews."
(Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum
of Photography at UCR)

"Picturesque homes of wealthy Jews along the
Tigris River in North Baghdad, Mesopotamia."
Note the woman in the window and the boat, a
"kufas" row boat on the Tigris. (Credit: Keystone-Mast
Collection, California Museum of Photography at UCR)

"Jewish families of the well-to-do at the wharf,
Baghdad, Mesopotamia." (Credit: Keystone-Mast
Collection, California Museum of Photography at UCR)

Building a "kufas" boatClick here to see
how many people fit in a kufas.
(Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum
of Photography at UCR)

For more information on the Jews of Iraq and the Tomb of Ezra visit Point of No Return, Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries.

In 2003, a U.S. Defense Department analyst, Harold Rhode, uncovered a vast cache of ancient Jewish documents in the flooded basement of the Iraqi Intelligence Headquarters. He led an effort to save the historical documents and bring them to the United States for restoration. The restoration has been completed, but Iraqi Jews around the world are protesting the U.S. Government's plan to return the documents to the Iraq government.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Exploring the Keystone Photo Collection at the University of California - Riverside -- The Anatomy of a Photograph

David Street, inside the Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem's Old City. The picture appears to have been taken prior to 1898
when the moat on the right was filled in and the road widened to allow entry of the German emperor. 
(Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside)
Traffic jam on the expanded David Street in 1898
(Credit: Library of Congress)
Welcome to David Street just inside the Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem's Old City. Like today, it was a center for tourism over 100 years ago which explains the hotels, the signs in English, the sale of photographs, and a tourist office.

No date is provided for the picture in the UCR files, but looking at another picture probably taken during the visit of Kaiser Wilhelm in 1898, this scene predates the visit.

We found one of the photographs on sale of particular interest. (See the bottom left of the photo at the top.)  We've seen that picture before -- in the Library of Congress collection.

Photographs for sale in the 1890s.

Jew of Jerusalem The Library of Congress dates the
picture as being taken between 1900 and 1910. It was
almost certainly taken in the 19th century, however.

A sign on the street advertises "Bonfils," one of the leading photographers in the Near East at the end of the 19th century. Many of his pictures appear in Israel Daily Picture.

Photographs for sale to tourists

The Keystone collection photo from UCR also shows a prominent sign for the Cook's World Ticket Office, the leading travel agency for tourists and pilgrims to Palestine and Syria in the 19th century.  The bottom sign offers guides and camp equipment.

For more information on Cook's role in investment and development of tourism in Jerusalem and Jaffa, read Ruth Kark's From Pilgrimage to Budding Tourism: The role of Thomas Cook in the rediscovery of the Holy Land in the 19th Century.

Strangely, Cook's signs cannot be seen in the photograph of the German emperor's arrival. Cook had supplied dozens of large tents for the emperor's entourage, but the signs were covered over.

The name "Assad C. Kayat" appears on a sign in the UCR photo.  Ruth Kark's book on Sephardi Entrepreneurs in Jerusalem shows a 1903 check from the Jewish banker, Jacob Valero, to Kayat, but we have not discovered his profession or why he hung a sign in the Old City.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Re-posting - A Special Feature for Our Christian Readers
-- Christmas in the Holy Land 100+ Years Ago

Entry of pilgims into Bethlehem at Christmas time (circa 1875) by photographer Félix Bonfils (Library of Congress)

Christmas procession in Bethlehem (circa 1900)
The town of Bethlehem plays a major role in the Christian faith. There, Christians believe, Jesus was born some 2,000 years ago, and they celebrate his birth on Christmas.

But when is Christmas?

Bethlehem hosts Christmas services for Roman Catholic and Protestant denominations on December 25.  This year, Coptic, Greek and Syrian Orthodox Catholics will celebrate in the Church of the Nativity on January 7, and the Armenian Orthodox on January 6.

Most of the photographs on this page were taken by the American Colony Photographic Department before and after World War I when the British captured Palestine after 400 years of Ottoman rule. Other pictures are from collections at Chatham University and the Irish Catholic Church.

Church of the Nativity and Manger Square (circa 1898). Note
the unfenced cemetery on the left. View here the square and
cemetery approximately 20 years later, under British rule
The name "Bethlehem" is derived from the Hebrew "Beit Lechem -- House of Bread," and its fields of grain are mentioned in the Book of Ruth as where Ruth gleaned her wheat for her mother-in-law Naomi and where she met her eventual husband, Boaz.  According to the Bible, Ruth's great-grandson David was born in Bethlehem where he was anointed as king.

The Church of the Nativity was built in 339 CE by King Constantine and his mother, Helena, over the grotto believed to have been the site of Jesus' birth.  

Throughout history the Church was destroyed and/or rebuilt by various conquering armies -- the Samaritans, Persians, Arabs, Crusaders, Mamluks, Ottomans and British.

The Grotto beneath the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The man on the right is believed to be the
photographer, David Brown. Note  the Turkish soldier on duty inside the Church  (Credit: RCB Library, 1897). 

In 1948, Bethlehem was conquered again, this time by the Jordanian Legion.  Jordan ruled Bethlehem and the West Bank until 1967 when the territory was captured by Israel. In 1995, under the terms of the Oslo Accords, Israel transferred Bethlehem to the Palestinian Authority.

Bethlehem was traditionally a Christian town, built around the basilica, and tourism was the most important industry.  In recent years, however, the proportion of Christians in Bethlehem has dropped from 85 percent in 1948 to 54 percent in 1967, and now to about 30 percent.  Some analysts point to tensions between resurgent and aggressive Islamists and the Christian community, a phenomenon pressuring other Christian communities across the Middle East, with the exception of Israel.

British and French soldiers guarding the Church of the
Nativity (circa 1918)

    Seasons Greetings!

Turkish soldiers drilling in the square outside of the Church of
the Nativity in Bethlehem (circa 1900)

Interior of the Church of the Holy
Sepulcher (hand-painted, Chatham
University Library, circa 1895)
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem
 (hand-painted, Chatham University Library, circa 1895). 
Note the ladder in the window, known as the "Immovable
Ladder" since Christian denominations have an
understanding that "no cleric of the six ecumenical
Christian orders may move, rearrange, or alter any property
without the consent of all six orders." (Wikipedia)

Click on pictures to enlarge. Click on captions to view the original photo.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Introducing a Major Collection of Vintage Photographs:

If the Library of Congress Archives Was Our "Mother Lode," the University of California Museum of Photography Is the "Father Lode"

Original caption: "Jew at Wailing Place,"
circa 1900. The UCR collection contains
at least 20 photos of Jews at the Western Wall.
(Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California
Museum of Photography at UCR ARTSblock,
University of California, Riverside)
With the realization that responsible librarians and archivists are using new technologies to digitize their vintage photographic treasures, Israel Daily Picture continues its search for major collections of 100+ year-old pictures of Palestine, and especially of the Jewish community in Eretz Yisrael.

Recently, we found historical treasures in unexpected places -- Chatham University, the Church of Ireland, the library of Oregon State University, Emory University, and the archives of the University of Dundee, Scotland, Medical School, to name a few.

Today, we introduce you to the incredible collection of glass plates and film negatives in the University of California - Riverside Museum of Photography where many of their 250,000 stereoscopic plates and 100,000 negatives are now online.  This posting is Part 1 of several future features.

Since the Library of Congress' American Colony collection served as our "mother lode" of photos, we refer to the UCR's immense collection as the "father lode."  Indeed, many of the photographs found in other collections are but copies, often in poor condition, of the vintage pictures at UCR.

Israel Daily Picture has just begun reviewing the UCR's collection.  We found that many of the pictures are not captioned, dated, or analyzed.  The Jews of Palestine -- as well as Egypt, Syria and Mesopotamia were often the subjects of the photographers' work.

Original caption: "Wayside Railroad station," 1933.
 Enlarging the photo (see below) shows the station is at
Zichron Yaakov, a Jewish settlement formed in 1882.
(Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography
 at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside)
According to the UCR Museum, its -

"Keystone-Mast Collection is the archive of the Keystone View Company of Meadville, PA (active from 1892-1963). As a collection, it is the world's largest body of original stereoscopic negatives and prints providing an encyclopedic view of global cultural history."

"The Keystone View Company was founded by amateur photographer, B. L. Singley of Meadville, Pennsylvania, in 1892. ... Stereography's popularity was the novelty of experiencing explicit three-dimensional detail in a stereo card and the potential for card owners to frequently revisit views of world events in private or during social gatherings. Stereographs were to 19th century generations, what television and the Internet are to contemporary culture, and enabled armchair observers to have vicarious experiences in faraway places.
The sign over the railroad station at Zichron Yaakov
... The collection is a composite of several stereographic publishing companies. By 1920,the Keystone View Company cornered the market by acquiring the negative collections of all major stereograph publishers such as B. W. Kilburn, H. C. White, Underwood and Underwood, and C. H. Graves."

Jews of Mosul, Mesopotamia (Iraq) circa 1900
(Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California
Museum of Photography at UCR ARTSblock,
University of California, Riverside)

Original caption: "Cavern beneath the Sacred Rock Mosque
of Omar, Jerusalem" (circa 1900). The "sacred rock" is the
foundation stone on which the Jewish Temples were built.
(Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography
 at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside)

Original caption: "A Jewish synagogue, Jerusalem"
(circa 1900). The synagogue is the Churva
synagogue, completed in 1864, and destroyed by
the Jordanian army in 1948. It was rebuilt in 2010.
(Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California
Museum of Photography at UCR ARTSblock,
University of California, Riverside)

We wish to express our thanks to the librarians and archivists at the California Museum of Photography at the UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside, who granted us permission to present their collection.  In accordance with their request, we do not reproduce the photographs at the highest resolution. We encourage readers to view the original pictures in high resolution at the links provided under each picture.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Re-posting - History of Aviation in the Holy Land: Military Aircraft Filled the Skies

Bonnier lands in Jerusalem, 1913. The man on the far right appears
 to be the mayor of Jerusalem, Salim Hussein el-Husseini.  Note
the unidentified Jewish man on the left. (Library of Congress)
Just 10 years after the first Wright Brothers flight at Kitty Hawk, the first aircraft landed in Jerusalem on December 31, 1913, flown by a Frenchman, Marc Bonnier.  The flight was part of a seven-week tour of the Mediterranean that began and ended in France. 

On May 1, 1914, Turkish aviators Salim Bey and Kemal Bey landed their aircraft in Jerusalem.  After that flight, military aircraft began to fill the skies over Palestine.

Turkish plane in Jerusalem, 1914
German reconnaissance flight over Ramla, 1915 (Australian
War Memorial)
The early aircrafts' biggest military advantage was its ability to provide reconnaissance data of enemy troops' deployment.  In that regard, the plane's advantage was slightly more than the observation balloons used by armies two centuries earlier.  But quickly machine guns and bombs were added to the planes, and air combat and ground support changed the nature of modern warfare.

Turkey utilized aircraft to provide intelligence during its 1916 attack on the Suez Canal and to observe British troops' two attempts to capture Gaza in early 1917.

By the fall of 1917, German and Turkish aircraft had to be stopped from reporting back on British commanders' plan to unleash a flank attack against Be'er Sheva.  The challenge was met by British and Australian planes, and the Turks at the Be'er Sheva garrison and in Gaza were caught unprepared.

German planes near Gaza

Turkish anti-aircraft guns, 1917

Aerial photo of Jerusalem taken by German pilot in 1917. (Library of Congress)
Click here for another view. By the end of 1917, Jerusalem was in British hands.


German and Turkish officers at the
funeral of a German pilot in Nazareth (Desert Column)
Memorial plaque in Jenin for
fallen German pilots

German plane captured by Australian soldiers, 1917.
Pilot is behind the plane's left wing. (ANZACS.org)
Australian aircraft in Palestine, 1918 (Australian
War Memorial)


The Library of Congress and the Australian War Memorial provide many photographs of the combat aircraft, the men who flew them, and the graves of those who fell.

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

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

R.I.P. Actor Peter O'Toole,
But Here's the Real "Lawrence of Arabia"
With addition of photo of Lawrence with General Allenby in Jerusalem

The real T.E. Lawrence, Hero of World War I (Wikimedia)
Peter O'Toole as T. E. Lawrence "of Arabia"


Winston Churchill, Lawrence, and Prince Abdullah meeting
in Jerusalem (Library of Congress archives, 1921)

The death of actor Peter O'Toole this week reminded many of his remarkable 1962 film "Lawrence of Arabia" depicting the World War I exploits of a British officer, T. E. Lawrence. 

Lawrence is credited with uniting Arab tribes in Arabia against the ruling Ottoman Empire and, through the use of guerrilla tactics, assisting the British war effort to defeat the Turks.

While the film succeeds in portraying the Arab revolt as an important aspect of World War I, it takes some liberties in the facts, starting with the physical differences of O'Toole (6 feet 3 inches - 190 cm) and Lawrence (a diminutive 5 feet 3 inches - 160 cm).  The film also does not present the full extent of Lawrence's diplomatic activities.

Lawrence (left) in conversation with British commander
Edmund Allenby when he entered Jerusalem after its
surrender in December 11, 1917. (Screen capture)

The secret Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 divided up the Middle East between colonial powers, France and Great Britain, contrary to promises made by Lawrence to his Arab allies.  But after World War I, Lawrence became a publicly acclaimed hero, and he successfully pressed for the granting of territories to his Hashemite allies from the Arabian Hedjaz. Syria (and then Iraq), would be ruled by King Feisal, and Transjordan would be ruled by Emir  Abdullah.

Lawrence can be seen in a film commemorating the surrender of Jerusalem in December 1917. According to the Imperial War Museum synopsis accompanying the film:

The General entered Jerusalem on 11 December, accompanied by his staff (T. E. Lawrence ["Lawrence of Arabia"] among them), French and Italian officers, and various other international representatives.

The Weizmann-Feisal meeting brokered by Lawrence

In the course of his work with the Hashemites, T. E. Lawrence introduced Feisal to Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann in December 1918 and served as their interpreter. According to historian Martin Gilbert, Weizmann recorded in his notes, "Feisal explained that 'it was curious there should be friction between Jews and Arabs in Palestine.'"  [Weizmann would later become Israel's first president.]

Gilbert continued:  "On January 3, 1919, Feisal and Weizmann met again in London, to sign an 'Agreement between the King of the Hedjaz and the Zionists.' Lawrence, who was once again the guiding hand in this agreement, hoped that it would ensure what he, Lawrence, termed 'the lines of Arab and Zionist policy converging in the not distant future.'"

"On March 1, 1919 Lawrence, while in Paris as the senior British representative with the Hedjaz Delegation, drafted and then wrote out in his own hand a letter from Feisal to the American Zionist Felix Frankfurter. In this letter, Feisal declared, 'We Arabs, especially the educated among us, look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement.'”

Lawrence in the front seat, Samuel in
the back at the meeting in Transjordan (1921)

According to the Library of Congress' description of these hand-colored pictures, "The photographs show meetings between Arab, Bedouin, and British officials around April 17-27, 1921, at Amir Abdullah ibn Hussein's camp at Amman, Jordan. During these meetings British High Commissioner Herbert Samuel proclaimed Amir Abdullah as the ruler of Transjordan, under British protection."

The new British High Commissioner to Palestine,
Herbert Samuel, flanked by Lawrence and
Abdullah (hand-colored, 1921)

Lawrence was a key player in the meeting. 

One of the photographers at the Amman meeting was John Whiting, a member of the original "American Colony" family and member of the Colony's photographic department. He was also a member of British intelligence and almost certainly had contact with Lawrence.

In 1922, the British split off Transjordan from the Mandate of Palestine.  In 1946, the Mandate of Transjordan became the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. In the 1948 war with Israel, Jordan occupied  the "West Bank" of the Jordan River and annexed it in 1950.  The annexation was not recognized by the vast majority of the world's countries, including the members of the Arab League.