Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Jews of Palestine
after the British Pushed out the Turks and Germans in 1917-1918

Turkish troops in the Jezreel Valley preparing to move against the British at the Suez Canal in 1914 (Library of Congress)

Recruiting poster for Jewish soldiers,
1918 (Library of Congress)
World War I, the "war to end all wars," included major battles in the Middle East that raged from the Suez Canal to Damascus.  The orders of battle and the casualties on both sides compared in scope to the better-known war on the Western Front in Europe.  Israel Daily Picture has featured in the past many photographs taken on both sides of the Eastern Front by the American Colony Photographic Department.
We have also featured photos and essays on the Jewish soldiers from Britain, Australia, the United States and Canada in the Jewish Legion.

Understandably, the British Imperial War Museums contain thousands of photographs from battles around the world, and we have featured several of the pictures from the IWM, as well as from the Australian and New Zealand Army sites. 

Israeli tour guides, Tamar HaYardeni and Yishai Solomon, recently pointed us to the numerous photographs of the Jewish inhabitants of Palestine who the British soldiers met and photographed.

Recruits for the 40th (Palestine) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers in Jerusalem,
1,000 were recruited. Summer 1918. (Imperial War Museums)

Within months of capturing Jerusalem in December 1917, the British Army launched a recruitment drive in Palestine itself.  The IWM photos here show recruits from Jerusalem and Jaffa on their way to an army training camp in mid-1918.

It appears that many of the recruits were Jewish -- Orthodox men in Jerusalem and secular men in Jaffa.

Recruits in Jerusalem, 1918 (Imperial War Museums)

Assembling recruits for the 40th (Palestinian) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, at Jaffa, before their departure to
Helmieh for training. Summer 1918 (Imperial War Museums)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Visit Exhibits of Israel Daily Picture at AIPAC's Annual Policy Conference in Washington March 2-4, 2014

Visit us next week in the "AIPAC Village" during the Annual AIPAC Policy Conference

The "Stories behind the Pictures" will be presented by
Israel Daily Picture publisher Lenny Ben-David

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Joseph's Tomb -- What a Difference a Century Makes

The Tomb of Joseph in the valley between Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal outside of Shechem (Nablus)
Picture taken from Mt. Ebal (circa 1900).  (Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography
at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside)

According to the Book of Joshua (24:32), “The bones of Joseph which the Children of Israel brought up from Egypt were buried in Shechem [Nablus] in the portion of the field that had been purchased by Jacob.”

Joseph's Tomb today is in the middle of Nablus, controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Jews' access to the shrine is
 severely limited, and the tomb has been attacked and vandalized on several occasions. (Google Earth)

The very first posting in Israel Daily Picture in June 2011 featured century-old pictures of Joseph's Tomb that we found in the Library of Congress archives. Virtually every 19th and early 20th century collection we've viewed contains pictures of the tomb.  The online Keystone-Mast collection at the University of California - Riverside archives adds many more photos of Joseph's Tomb for the public's view.
Joseph's Tomb and Mt. Gerizim behind it. (Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography at UCR ARTSblock, 
University of California, Riverside, circa 1900) 

Joseph's Tomb (circa 1900)
Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography
at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside) 

Joseph's Tomb, alone in the valley.
Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography
at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside) 

Turkish guard inside the tomb. The Library of Congress archives dates
this picture as 1900. Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography
at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside) 

Hand-colored photographic slide of Joseph's Tomb, dated between 1880-1900. (Chatham University)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

U.S. Aid to the Jews of Palestine Was Essential 100 Years Ago,
And Now a Report from a Rabbi on One of 13 U.S. Aid Ships

New material includes the report of Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum's efforts to stop the massacre of Armenians in one Turkish town.

During the first years of the 20th Century the Jewish population of Eretz Yisrael -- Palestine -- suffered terribly. A massive plague of locusts, famine and disease hit the community hard.  Ottoman officials harassed, tortured, imprisoned and expelled Jews, especially "Zionist" activists. 
An account of life in Palestine during the first world war was presented to the World Zionist Congress in 1921 by the London Zionist Organization. Here is an excerpt:
In spite of all efforts made in Palestine to cope with the situation, the Jewish population would have succumbed had not financial help arrived from America.  From the day when war [World War I] broke out [Jewish] Palestine had appealed to America for help.  
 America was at that time the one country which through its political and financial position was able to save [Jewish] Palestine permanently from going under. It was stimulated to do so by the deep interest in Palestine which of recent years had been awakened in American Jewry. ...
Telegram from Amb. Henry Morgenthau to philanthropist Jacob Schiff (Source: JDC Archives)

Great assistance was given by the American ambassador, Henry Morgenthau, who had visited Palestine some months before the outbreak of the war, and had promised his support to the director of the Palestine Office, Dr. Ruppin. Thanks to the efforts of the Zionist Organization and of men like Jacob Schiff, to whom the Bank, the Palestine Office and the representatives of the Chovevi Zion had appealed, a large remittance of money — the first of many — was sent from America to Palestine. ...

USS North Carolina to the rescue
  On October 6th, 1914, the American warship "[the USS] North Carolina" landed in the harbor of Jaffa, and the envoy of Ambassador Morgenthau, M. Wertheim, brought $50,000 dollars. Half of this sum had been given by Jacob Schiff, the other half by the Zionist Organization with Nathan Strauss.

The arrival of this warship and of those that followed it was quite an event in the country. It raised the downcast spirits of the Jews, who saw that they were not abandoned, but could reckon on help from their brethren abroad. These ships also increased the prestige of the Jews in the eyes of the rest of the population and of the local administration. People saw that the Jews through their connections abroad were much more powerful than their numbers would have led one to expect.
[Editor's note: The financial assistance was delivered to the American consulate in Jerusalem and distributed to the Jewish community to ensure that it wasn't stolen by rapacious Turkish officials.  When the United States entered the war, the American Consulate was shut.]
These American ships continued their good services on behalf of the Jewish Yishuv. They brought money from time to time, and hospitably took on board the expelled Jews and the other immigrants who fled from Palestine for fear of starvation and persecution.

The transmission of the money, which was a task requiring considerable address and scrupulous care, was carried out admirably. Besides money, food also came from America on a special ship, the "Vulcan.''  Altogether, from October, 1915, 3,522,930.03 francs were brought to Palestine in 13 American ships.
Here is an additional report about a rabbi on one of those American ships, shared by his great-grandson Yitz. 

I have always heard that my great-grandfather Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum of Jerusalem and New York who was one of the founders of the Joint Distribution Committee as well as its founding Secretary at some point was on one of these boats. In order to travel on an American naval vessel even as an American citizen (which he was) he was required to and received some sort of official naval commission.

Rabbi Teitelbaum and a Jewish delegation to the
White House.  The rabbi served as the translator for
a meeting between President Calvin Coolidge and
Avraham Kook, the Chief Rabbi of Palestine, in 1924

Three years ago while cleaning out his son's house I found postcard photographs of him arriving in various places from that ship. I do not know which ship he was on but family lore says at some point he ended up being in Turkey during the slaughter of the Armenians. He managed to stop the slaughter in the town he was at by convincing whoever was in charge that if the slaughter did not stop he as an American officer aboard an American naval vessel would order his battleship which was in the harbor to begin shelling their positions. Obviously he couldn't do this but whoever it was in control decided not to test him and stopped the slaughter. Supposedly when he returned to Jerusalem the Armenian prelate came to him and hugged him and kissed him for his actions.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Welcome Visitors from the Arab World

Just this week our site received visitors from Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Dubai, the Palestinian Authority, Kuwait, and Qatar. 

Our site also attracts viewers from Algeria, Jordan, Turkey and even Iran.

We welcome our Arab and Muslim visitors and encourage them to submit comments -- anonymously if they wish.

View our visitors here and in the right sidebar.

Thank you for visiting

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Why Was this Photo Sold at an Auction for more than $120,000?

The Kidron Valley and the ancient tombs carved into the Mount of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem (Christie's)
We flipped the picture horizontally after reader Krina Doekes Brandt pointed out the picture was reversed. HT
Why was this picture so valuable? Because it was one of the first photographs ever taken in Jerusalem --  170 years ago.

The photograph was taken in 1844 by a French photographer, Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey (1804 - 1898), believed to be a student of Louis Daguerre who is credited with inventing photography in 1839.

The daguerreotype photos were found in a storeroom in Girault de Prangey's estate in the 1920s, but only in recent years, when libraries digitized them, did the photographs become well known. Girault de Prangey was a student of architecture and art who traveled in the Middle East between 1841 and 1844 and produced some 900 daguerreotypes.

Responsible archivists and librarians digitize 
the vintage photographs in their archives.

Panoramic photo of Jerusalem's Old City from the southeast. (1844)
Panoramic picture of Jerusalem taken from the Mt. of Olives (1844, we flipped the image)

The Smithsonian Magazine published a feature on the photos this month, based on pictures published by Retronaut - "The photographic time machine." HT to Holylandphotos for pointing out the picture in the French National Library is reversed, with the al Aqsa Mosque appearing to the right of the Dome of the Rock.  We flipped the photograph.
This photo is labeled "Damascus Gate."
Actually, it is the city wall just to the
right of the gate. The photographer
was fascinated with stonework on the
shrines in the Middle East. (1844)

Lions Gate of the Old City (1844)

Jaffa Gate of the Old City (Christie's 1844)

Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (1844)

                     H/T: AA

We found more than 200 photographs by Gerault de Prangey in the French National Library and on the websites of leading auction houses. The pictures included scenes from Jerusalem, Damascus, Cairo, and Lebanon. We present here pictures of Jerusalem from the Library's collection and from Christie's.  According to the French Library, the pictures are in the public domain.

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

The following is a quotation attributed to Girault de Prangey:

My long pilgrimage is coming to a close... after spending 55 days in the holy city [of Jerusalem] and its environs...I am sure you can share my natural delight in fulfilling a dream cherished since childhood.... And as I speak now of these places, how happy I am to realise that in a few months I will be able to share them with you as they are, as I bear with me their precious and unquestionably faithful trace that cannot be diminished by time or distance. For this we must thank most sincerely our compatriot Daguerre, destined to be known forever for his wondrous discovery.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Football (Soccer) in the Holy Land 80 Years Ago Was a Religious & Political Issue -- Version of an Earlier Posting

Original caption "Police intercede in Orthodox attempt to break up the Maccabee football game" (1930s)
The neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo in northern Jerusalem is known for the dust-up between Israel and the U.S. Administration several years ago when Israel announced plans for expansion of the ultra-Orthodox housing project.

Aerial photo of the sports field, adjacent to the ultra-Orthodox Meah
She'arim neighborhood (1931).  See a view of
the bleachers here, and the field here.
Originally, Jerusalem's legendary mayor Teddy Kollek planned that the area, known as the Shuafat ridge, would house a 50,000-seat football stadium, sports facilities and tennis courts.

But access to the stadium would have to be through Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, and Sabbath protests and demonstrations were a certainty.

"Crowd of mixed Orthodox Jews who arrived on the scene en
masse to force the discontinuing of the Maccabee football game"

Eventually, the stadium was built in southern Jerusalem near Malcha, and the Shuafat ridge became part of a contiguous stretch of ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.

The Sabbath tensions over public sports games on Saturdays were documented by the American Colony photographers some 80 years ago. 

Some of the photographs identify the field as "near Bokharbia," meaning near the Bukhari Jewish neighborhood adjacent to Meah She'arim.

"Close-up of an Orthodox Jew in the  crowd."  View another close-up with
the police - here (1930s)

The decades-old issue of Sabbath observance in Jerusalem suggests that this dispute may indeed not be resolvable; rather, like other conflicts in the Middle East, the best one could hope for is that it would be manageable.