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Hevron Massacre 77 Years Later

Hevron Massacre 77 Years Later

Dr. Richard L.Benkin from USA                                              

With the world was riveted on the war between Israel and Hezbollah and questions of whether or not the cease fire will hold (or more likely for how long), it might easily miss a significant commemoration that says at least as much about the Middle East as the hot war does.  August 23, 2006, will mark 77 years since Arabs conducted a pogrom in the Israeli city of Hevron, massacring or expelling all of its Jewish residents.  Located 30 kilometers south of Jerusalem, it is one of the holiest places in all of Judaism.  It was the first place in the holy land where the Jews’ patriarch Avraham settled and the first piece of land he purchased.  Because he bought the land as a burial plot for his family, it has long been a Jewish tradition that a new community’s first purchase when they enter a land is their cemetery.  Abraham’s burial plot in Hevron, Cave of the Machpelah, is today Judaism’s second holiest site.  It contains the remains of the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah.  (The other matriarch, Rachael, is buried at a holy site near Bethlehem.) 

Hevron was King David’s first capital.  It had a continuous Jewish presence from ancient times until the 1929 massacre.  Even after that, Jews returned to the city.  It was not until the Jordanian occupation from 1948 to 1967 that, in violation of the armistice agreement, Jews were expelled and barred from Hevron.  The Jordanians desecrated Hevron’s Jewish cemetery, destroyed the Jewish quarter, and built an animal pen on the ruins of the Avraham Avinu Synagogue.  Yet surprisingly today, most of the world refers derogatorily to Jews trying to live there as settlers and ignores their emotional, religious, and historical right to be there.

In August 1929, tensions between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem were growing, especially around the area of the Temple Mount’s Western Wall in Jerusalem.  On Friday, August 16, rumors (later proven to be false) spread that Jews attacked local Muslims.  After an inflammatory sermon by local, the Supreme Muslim Council organized a march to the Wall.  The unrest continued and Arabs killed a Jerusalem Jew the next day.  On August 20 the Jewish militia, the Haganah, forerunner to today’s Israeli Defense Force, offered protection to the nearby Jewish community in Hevron.  They offered to provide for the ancient community’s defense or, alternately, for its evacuation.  But the Hevon Jews declined the offer.  They claimed that they were living peacefully with their Arab neighbors and that they would not harm them.  If they did think to do so, the Jews believed Hevron’s A’yan, or Arab notables, would protect them.  But that was not to be.

Three days later, Arabs started an attack on the Jews of Jerusalem’s Old City.  They were again inflamed by false rumors, these alleging that Jews killed two Arabs.  Soon, the violence spread elsewhere in the British Mandate of Palestine.  Hevron and another ancient Jewish city, Safed in the North (which was recently hit repeatedly by Hezbollah rockets) suffered the worst violence.  But only Hevon saw the utter destruction of its ancient Jewish community.  In Hevron, Arab mobs killed 65-68 Jews, wounded 58, and raped numerous women. The Jews had been told that the British would protect them, but the British had earlier refused to provide a full police force for the area.  During the riots, there was one lone British policeman in the town, Raymond Cafferata.  But he was overwhelmed by the mob, and the reinforcements he called for did not arrive for 5 hours; far too late to be of any real value.  Cafferata later testified that:

“On hearing screams in a room I went up a sort of tunnel passage and saw an Arab in the act of cutting off a child's head with a sword. He had already hit him and was having another cut, but on seeing me he tried to aim the stroke at me, but missed; he was practically on the muzzle of my rifle. I shot him low in the groin. Behind him was a Jewish woman smothered in blood with a man I recognized as a[n Arab] police constable named Issa Sherif from Jaffa in mufti. He was standing over the woman with a dagger in his hand. He saw me and bolted into a room close by and tried to shut me out, shouting in Arabic, ‘Your Honor, I am a policeman.’  I got into the room and shot him.”

On September 1, the British investigator of the riots, Sir John Chancellor, condemned “the atrocious acts committed by bodies of ruthless and bloodthirsty evildoers... murders perpetrated upon defenseless members of the Jewish population... accompanied by acts of unspeakable savagery.”

The parallels between 1929 and 2006 are striking.  In 1929, the story was that Jews and Arabs lived peacefully side-by-side; but that was only on the surface.  In 1929, Jews who believed that even if the crowd got out of hand, Arab notables would act, found that they could not or would not stop the terror.  In 1929, false stories about Jewish massacres were planted to inflame Arab passions—just like today’s tall tales about massacres in Qana and elsewhere.  And in 1929, Arabs used ethnic cleansing in the holy city of Hevron so in 2006 they could call their descendants who returned usurpers.

More ominous perhaps, just as there was an unholy alliance between anti-Jewish violence and religious rabble rousers in 2006, so there was in 1929.  In 2006, it is Nasrallah and before him Yassin; there are Bin Laden and Ahmadinejad who base their murderous designs on corrupt readings of the Muslim holy book.  The 1929 riots were investigated and summarized in the Hope Report, according to which Amin al-Husseini instigated them.  Husseini was the Jerusalem Mufti, who one decade later would openly join with Adolph Hitler to help murder Jewish in the Balkans and plan to extend Hitler’s anti-Jewish holocaust to the Middle East.  The 1930 Shaw Commission attributed the violence to “racial animosity on the part of the Arabs.”
So the next time, you hear that Jews have no right to Hevron or other parts of their historic homeland, recall that agreeing to that only establishes the right to claim any land as your own by getting rid of its rightful owners.  The next time you hear about “Israeli massacres,” think about non-existent massacres that led to bloody riots in Hevon in 1929.  And the next time you hear some racist firebrand tell his flock that Islam demands action against the Jews, recall how a 1929 firebrand with the same message was holding hands with Adolph Hitler a decade later.

Posted on 17 Aug 2006 by Weeklyblitz

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