We Didn't Start the Fire
click here to jump to start of article
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​




We Didn't Start the Fire

We Didn't Start the Fire

Is it any wonder that the call "Itbakh al-Yahud!" can still be heard in this land?

by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

It was August 23 when it started -- a Friday -- an outbreak of Arab anti-Jewish violence in the Holy Land unprecedented at the time in its ferocity. It began when Haj Amin al-Husseini, mufti of Jerusalem, ally of the Nazis and mentor of the current PLO leader Yasser Arafat, falsely accused Jews of defiling and endangering local mosques, including al-Aqsa. The call went out to the Arab masses: "Itbakh al-Yahud!" -- "Slaughter the Jews!"

And so they did. For seven days in 1929, 19 years before the state of Israel was born, Arab mobs terrorized communities throughout the land of Israel, killing 133 Jews and injuring more than 300. Jerusalem, Motza, Hebron, Safed, Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jaffa, and other parts of the country were the scenes of severe anti-Semitic attacks. The ancient city of Hebron, home to the Cave of the Patriarchs, suffered the worst violence. Sixty-seven Jews were killed by hundreds of their Arab neighbors in the space of one day -- the Jewish Sabbath. The homes where Jews thought they could find safety, including that of Eliezer Dan Slonim, the sole Jewish member of the Hebron Municipal Council and a friend to local Arab elders, became slaughterhouses. In Slonim's home alone, 22 people were murdered that day, including his wife and two young children. After the massacre, in a perverse inversion of morality, the British mandatory authorities exiled the Jewish survivors to Jerusalem, ending a 3,000-year-old Jewish presence in Hebron. That presence was only renewed in 1967, with the Israeli takeover of Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank").

But the 1929 pogroms were not the first incidence of Arab bloodletting in the land of Israel. In 1921, Arab gangs attacked Jews in Jaffa, Rehovot, Petah Tikva, and other Jewish towns. Forty-seven Jews were killed and over 140 were wounded. The Haycraft Commission, appointed by the British government to investigate the events, concluded:

The racial strife was begun by the Arabs, and rapidly developed into a conflict of great violence between Arabs and Jews, in which the Arab majority, who were generally the aggressors, inflicted most of the casualties... an already acute anti-Jewish feeling extended it into an anti-Jewish riot. A large part of the Muslim and Christian communities condoned it, although they did not encourage violence. While certain of the educated Arabs appear to have incited the mob... unfounded stories of provocation were believed and acted upon without any effort being made to verify them.

Yet, the same commission found, that the "fundamental cause" of the riots were the victims themselves:

...a feeling among the Arabs of discontent with, and hostility to, the Jews, due to political and economic causes, and connected with Jewish immigration, and with their conception of Zionist policy as derived from Jewish exponents....

Similarly, the decade following the massacres of 1929 also saw attacks on Jewish towns in f Israel. From 1936 through the beginning of 1939 Arab gangs roamed the country, killing Jews where they could. At the time, Saudi Arabian king Ibn Saud informed a British colonel, H. R. P. Dickson:

Our hatred for the Jews dates from God's condemnation of them for their persecution and rejection of Isa (Jesus) and their subsequent rejection of His chosen Prophet... for a Muslim to kill a Jew, or for him to be killed by a Jew ensures him an immediate entry into Heaven and into the august presence of God Almighty.

That three-year "insurrection" took the lives of 415 Jews. The Arab Higher Committee, headed by the Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, led the campaign of terrorism yet again.

It behooves friends of the truth to recall the foregoing history when Arab spokesmen and PLO apologists attempt to "contextualize" terrorism against Jews in Israel by blaming it on "the Israeli occupation of 1967." Such violence did not start in 1967, or even upon Israel's founding in 1948; it was never limited to any geographical boundaries; and its source is not political. As a Friday-sermon broadcast on Palestinian Authority television last year declared, "blessings to he who shot a bullet into the head of a Jew... the enemies of Allah, the cursed nation in the Koran, whom the Koran describes as monkeys and pigs, worshippers of the calf and idol worshippers." There was also a message for the future in the words of that PA-appointed cleric, "Allah shall make the Muslim rule over the Jew, we will blow them up in Hadera, we will blow them up in Tel-Aviv and in Netanya... We will enter Jerusalem as conquerors, and Jaffa as conquerors, and Haifa as conquerors and Ashkelon as conquerors..." Referring to a Hadith (a Muslim oral tradition attributed to Muhammad or his disciples), the preacher said that nature itself will come to assist the Muslims in their pursuit of the Jews "...until the Jew will hide behind the trees and stones and the tree and stone will say: 'Muslim! Servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, kill him!'"

It was a Friday -- September 29, 2000 -- when it started this time, too -- an outbreak of Arab anti-Jewish terrorism unprecedented in its unremitting ferocity. It began when PLO leaders loudly accused Jews of defiling and endangering local mosques, including al-Aqsa.

Is it any wonder that the call "Itbakh al-Yahud!" can still be heard in this land?

Courtesy of National Review Online.

Published: August 31, 2002


Give Tzedakah! Help Aish.com create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.


  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment
stub
Sign up today!