According to Jerome Vermlin
My note: THE HISTORY IS LONG, SO THE TRUTH IS LONG. THE LIE IS SHORT BUT MISLEADING. IT DIFFERS FROM THE TRUTH DUE TO THE LACK OF DETAILS.
I do understand, that this long article is VERY tiring, but I cannot make it shorter. The Jewish history is long and complicated, and Jewish truth is yet longer and yet more complicated. Well, anti-Semitic/pro-Palestinian lies are short and cheap. To make reasonable conclusion, You must read this article up to its end. Well, searching the truth is tiring.
As we learn from Vermlin’s book, the widespread comparison of Ashkenazi Zionists with White settlers of the USA , or with the White South Africans (while Palestinians are depicted as Indians or South African Blacks), strongly contradicts the real history. The Zionist immigration to Palestine largely preceded the arrival of the heterogeneous ancestors of the Palestinian People. The Zionism haven’t disrupted all over the history.
“The «mainstream» western media persistently refers to the modern state of Israel, not as part of a post-Ottoman Palestine Mandate partitioned in 1947 by the UN between its Arabs and Jews, but as having been «born,» «created,» «established,» even «founded, » as though out of the blue, in «1948,» characteristically coupling such simplistic imbalances with equally imbalanced references exclusively to Arab (called «Palestinian») refugees … This book’s thesis is that modern Israel’s roots in Jewish Palestine presence run three millennia deeper than «1948.»
My note: here’s the opinion of Muslim anti-Zionist:
“Abdul Hamid was the sultan during the time of the creation of the Zionist movement by Theodor Herzl in 1896. In 1901, in response to Herzl’s request for Palestine, it was narrated that sultan Abdul Hameed told Herzl’s messenger: “while I am alive, I would rather push a sword into my body than see the land of Palestine cut & given away from the Islamic Caliphate.”
He was even offered a lot of money. He rejected the offer saying ‘I will not sell a single inch of the country, because it is not mine, it belongs to all the Muslims. They paid for this empire with their blood. And we will redeem it with our blood. Let the Jews keep their millions. If the empire is partitioned, they can get Palestine for free, but that will happen over our dead bodies.’
Herzl himself visited the Sultan and reiterated the offer, to which Sultan replied, ‘Even you paid me the weight of the Earth in gold, I would never agree. I would never bring shame upon Muslims. If you want to buy Palestine, know that the price is the blood of all the Muslims. I have no enemies, other than the enemies of Islam and the Muslims.’”
Now, let’s consider, who exactly paid his blood for the right to live in Palestine:
“Legal documents and correspondence found in the Cairo Geniza tell of some 50 Palestine Jewish communities in the 10th and 11th centuries in «different parts of the Land, including all the coastal towns — from Tyre to El Arish —, most of the important inland towns, and small villages.» There are references to Jews apparently in Tyre and Galilee, Ramleh and its environs, «numerous inhabitants of the Shefela and the Sharon Valley,» and Hebron and Gaza and their vicinities.
The worst of times for the Yishuv (The Jewish community of Palestine), and for Palestine’s Christians, during the Fatimid era was the rule of its third caliph, known as El Hakem (or Hakim), 996 – 1021. ……… In 1010, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was destroyed. «Churches were everywhere wrecked and plundered, or converted into mosques. The synagogues in Kjah, Ramleh, and other places, were dealt with in a like manner………
«In 1012, Al-Hakim ordered the forcible conversion of Christians and Jews to Islam, and the resulting persecution in Palestine was fiercer than is generally supposed. The Cordoban scholar and poet Rabbi Yosef Ben Avitur, who was in the country at the time, wrote a dirge on the events that took place.
The troops played a major part in the pogroms, and the poet tells of ‘pregnant women disemboweled and the blood of old men and babies freely spilt, synagogues destroyed by ravening beasts, victims of the sword in Zion left without burial;’ he speaks of rape and ruthless mutilation, of Jews being forced to convert and to ‘forget their covenant with their Lord, and their cherished Land.’
«Even though Al-Hakim’s decrees were eventually revoked, and the policy of religious toleration restored, the Yishuv was badly hit by the persecution. The Jewish community expelled by Al-Hakim from Jerusalem established itself in Ramleh. Jews came from Iraq to Ramleh and Tiberias.
«When the Crusaders came to Palestine after 460 years of Arab and non-Arabic Moslem rule, they found an Arabic-speaking population, composed of a dozen races (apart from Jews and Druzes), practicing five versions of Islam and eight of heterodox Christianity.
«At this time, a full thousand years after the fall of the Jewish state, there were Jewish communities all over the country. Fifty of them are known to us; they include Jerusalem, Tiberias, Ramleh, Ashkelon, Caesarea, and Gaza.» Bahat wrote: «Jewish communities along the coast, such as those at Rafah, Ashkelon, Jaffa and Caesarea, flourished during this [11th] century and maintained cultural relations with Egypt,» citing documents found in the Cairo Genizah.
6.2 Crusader Conquest of Palestine and its Jews
It wasn’t purely Arab or even purely Muslim fighting forces that fought the Crusaders. From contemporary records, we know of the Jews’ organized military participation in desperate efforts at fending them off.
«A contemporary Crusader account of the conquest of Jerusalem acknowledges the valor of the Jewish fighters: ‘And here, in front of us, were the foreigners, Jew, Turk, and Arab, fighting for their lives with slingstones, with catapults, with fire and venom . . . and when the end came upon the foreigners, they withdrew from one battlefront, only to find a second battlefront facing them. And though there was terror on all sides, none put down his sword; the Turk, the Arab, and the Jew were among the fallen. The Jew is the last to fall.»
And not in Jerusalem only. Katz wrote: «The Jews almost single-handedly defended Haifa against the Crusaders, holding out in the besieged town for a whole month (June-July 1099).» ………… Archeologist Bahat backed this up by citing «several chronicles» relating «the acts of heroism which the Jews of Haifa had been roused…
“Simultaneously with the conquest of Jerusalem, the crusaders embarked on conquest missions throughout the country. In July 1100, they carried out a military attack on the urban settlement in Haifa (in the Bat Galim neighborhood). According to the research literature, a large Jewish community lived in Haifa at that time. Historian Benzion Dinur emphasized his image: «The city is a Jewish city … its citizens — Jews (the Saracens /Muslims are only in the garrison!), Its defense — the defense of the Jews, and its victory — the disgrace of the Christians. … The Jews of the city rejected the demands of the Crusaders to surrender and convert, and even left the city walls and attacked the Crusader forces and their siege towers. In order to conquer the city, Tancred, the prince of the Galilee, was forced to bring to Haifa many forces both at sea and on land. Naval forces that moved about 200 vessels to Haifa, came from the Republic of Venice. The Jewish residents joined the small Fatimid garrison; «They stood firm on their souls,» until the Crusader forces gave up and withdrew.  When the onslaught of the crusaders returned, the Jews and the Muslims stood «in their faces with unabated heroism.»  After a lull, the Crusader conquerors returned and used strong assaulting forces. And after 27 days of siege, the «Haifa Fortress» as its Hebrew name, or Castellum Caiphas, fell under the Latin name, by the Crusader conquerors.  Some of the inhabitants fled to Caesarea and Acre, the rest of the inhabitants, who did not manage to escape, were murdered by the Crusaders. Historian Benjamin Ze’ev Kedar notes that «this was the last time before the appearance of the Jewish Legion in World War I that a Jewish force took part in a military campaign on the land of Palestine.» 
Conquest and mass murder took place one after the other in the coastal cities of Caesarea and Arsuf in 1101 and Acre in 1104. The same happened in some of the Galilee villages, which were conquered without resistance as early as 1089. The Crusaders did not conquer the cities of Tire and Ashkelon during the wars of the summer of 1099, which were controlled by the Muslims, and the Jewish communities continued to flourish there.”
This is not Zionist era propaganda. Bahat quoted a 1719 French priest and historian: «And Haifa, although moderate in size, was strongly fortified, and, perhaps because of this, for a long time it withstood the mighty onslaught of the Prince Tancred, who attacked it from the sea and also from the land, with the help of the Venetians. Although the Jews fought with courage, they were overcome by the might of the invaders.»
The well-known historian of the early Crusades, Albert of Aachen, in his ‘Book of Travels,’» referring to the conquest of Haifa by the Crusaders: «And the city of Haifa . . . which the Jews defended with great courage, to the shame and embarrassment of the Christians.»
(My note: Most of Haifa Jews were slaughtered by the Crusaders. Yet additional Jewish settlements of Galilee fought the Crusaders.)
The Crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1099, brutally slaughtering its Muslims and Jews in an orgy so gruesome that crimson tales of it chill the blood to this day. Contemporary records indicate that the carnage was not limited to the actual wars of conquest, or to the battlefield: ‘On the third day after the victory, at their commanders’ orders, the Crusaders carried out a dreadful massacre of all the people who still survived in the city. …………
«According to the few refugees who managed to escape from the city, ‘the Franks killed all the Ishmaelites and Israelites in it.’ . . . The Jews were given special treatment: ‘They were assembled inside their synagogue, which was then put to the fire.’» Some Jews, «captured alive in the vicinity of the Temple,» ….. were sold into slavery by Tancred and sent overseas, some being drowned or beheaded on the way. He quoted the bishop: «And thus they [Crusaders] purified the whole city (Jerusalem) of its contamination.»
The Crusaders’ wrath against Jews and other heathens was not confined to Jerusalem. Bahat: The Crusader invasion «led to the expulsion of the Jews from Hebron and also marked the end of the Jewish community in Haifa.” …Prof. Dinur: «The Jewish communities in Judaea and those in the towns and villages near Jerusalem suffered the same fate.
Fragments of a dirge written in this period (incidentally mentioning Haifa as the city of the Sanhedrin) tell of the destruction of Jaffa, Ono, Lydda, Hebron, Usafiya on Mount Carmel, and Haifa.
My note: The Jews mentioned above were largely Arab speaking Jews of local origin.
In 1167, still in the heyday of the fanatically anti-Jewish Crusaders, a celebrated Jewish traveler, Benjamin of Tudela, recorded this Jewish history and living Jewish presence in Jerusalem: «Jerusalem has four gates, called the gates of Abraham, David, Sion, and Jehosaphat……… Omar Ben al- Khataab erected a large and handsome cupola over it ……….. In front of it you see the western wall which formed the holy of holies of the ancient temple; it is called the Gate of Mercy, and all Jews resort thither to say their prayers near the wall of the court-yard.
Parkes wrote that after the initial massacres, the Crusaders made no attempts to displace the indigenous population, but did bar Muslims and Jews from Jerusalem.
DeHaas described the population mix the Crusaders ruled over in Palestine: «The Latins, on the founding of the kingdom, had to recognize five types of Muslims (and these were unquestionably of varying descent), as well as the Jews, the Druzes, the Samaritans, and the eight heterodox Christian sects who were divided as much on racial as on religious lines.»
…the Crusaders’ «principal source of revenue» was the «capitation tax paid by Muslims and Jews. ………. Dyeing, a considerable industry, was generally granted to the Jews.»
Despite the Crusaders’ ban on Jewish immigration to Palestine, the Jews continued to come back to the Land… Katz, in his classic work «Battleground”… cited 10th century appeals for aliyah by the Karaites of Jerusalem, and added «There were periods when immigration was forbidden absolutely; no Jew could ‘legally’ or safely enter Palestine while the Crusaders ruled.
Yet precisely in that period, Yehuda Halevi, the greatest Hebrew poet of the exile, issued a call to the Jews to emigrate, and many generations drew active inspiration from his teaching. (He himself died soon after his arrival in Jerusalem in 1141, crushed, according to legend, by a Crusader’s horse.)»
Katz cited immigrants from Provence in France in the middle of the 12th century…………
An enormously great 12th century scholar who came to Palestine with his family was Maimonides. But he left «because of the disturbances due to the Crusader invasions,» and settled in Egypt, where «he eventually became Saladin’s court physician,» and «where many of his most important works were written.» «He died in Egypt and, at his request, was buried in Tiberius (engendering dispute with other Palestine Jewish communities, «as each wanted him to be buried within its area»). «His Tiberias tomb has been a centre of pilgrimage for Jews ever since.»
Maimonides left this personal testimony: ” just as I was privileged to pray in the Land in its desolation, may I and all Israel live to see its speedy restoration.”
Palestine’s Jews not only survived Saladin’s 1187 Horns of Hattin defeat of the Crusaders, but actually improved their situation. Bahat wrote that the Jewish community in Jerusalem grew considerably after Saladin’s conquest. Prof. Dinur, writing in JIL, said that after Saladin conquered Jerusalem, he issued a proclamation for the Jews, especially refugees from the Crusades, to return, and that the revival of the Jews’ Jerusalem community encouraged both immigration and pilgrimage.
My note: Saladin settled his retired soldiers in Jerusalem emptied of the Jews and Christians, and some villages of Galilee. But the soldiers were bachelors, they needed women to create a families. The Muslim tradition was to kidnap highly estimated Jewish women. Probably, Saladin’s settlers followed this tradition.
But the era of the (Kurdish) Ayyubid dynasty founded by the illustrious Saladin was the era as well of intrusion into Palestine by waves of Asians and Mongols, followed finally by the Mamluks, who stayed for two and half centuries.
In 1191, Ashkelon’s Jewish community was destroyed by the Ayyubids themselves, and the survivors fled to Jerusalem. (My note: Presumably, at the request of Maimonides, they were permitted to join the Jerusalem Jewish community).
“Around 1210, a pilgrimage began to the land of travelers and scholars. Most of the immigrants traveled through Egypt, and a few traveled directly to the port of Acre. The groups of immigrants came from various Diaspora countries: from Asia, Spain, North Africa and Central Europe. The head of the Diaspora Rabbi David ben Zakkai of Mosul visited Israel in the years 1210-1209.  A group of immigrants, including yeshiva heads from the beit midrashim of the Tosafists in France, immigrated to Israel with their families and students.»
Yet in 1211, when more than 300 rabbis moved from England and France to Jerusalem, they were received by the king, apparently Saladin’s brother, and allowed to build synagogues and colleges, starting an immigration of scholars and pupils from France that continued into the next generation.
My notes: Actually, it was a start of “Jewish European Colonizers’” settlement of Palestine.
Most of the mentioned “300 rabbis”, together with their families, were slaughtered by Crusaders, who retained control over Acre, the then-time main Palestine harbor. Simultaneously, Zfat Jewish community was established. …“Rabbi Yechiel of Paris, the founder of the Talmudic Academy in the city, immigrated with his family and a large group of his disciples in 1258, after the burning of the Talmud and following the trial of Paris. Rabbi Yechiel, founded a yeshiva in Acre called «Midrash HaGadol Dafaarish»…
In 1244, the Kharezmians [a/k/a Khwarizmians], instigated by Ghengis Khan, invaded Palestine, and 1247 sacked Jerusalem and slaughtered its Christians and Jews.
In 1250, the Mamluks [also called «Mamlukes»] took power in Egypt and Syria. For 225 years from the fall of Acre to the Ottoman conquest (1260- 1516) — the Mamelukes ruled Palestine. ……….The Mamluks maintained an army of mercenaries, especially Turks and Circassians………. the Arabs had no part or direct influence in the regime. Like all the other inhabitants of the country, they were conquered subjects and were treated accordingly.
7.4 The Mamluk Era Yishuv
«Circumstances were by no means conducive to aliya, despite the comparative security; nevertheless [Jewish] immigration to the Land continued throughout the Mamluke period. Sometimes there were many newcomers, sometimes few. But the flow – or trickle – was constant. (The main spur to immigration was the persecution of Jews in the Diaspora.) For the most part, immigrants were absorbed into the existing communities – though some did settle in places that had had no previous Jewish population, or in places with only a few Jewish inhabitants, and laid foundations for new communities.»
There was immigration from Spain, «apparently on a large scale, to judge from the Spanish royal prohibition of the ‘transport of Jews to the East,’ and from the numerous obstacles the Spanish port authorities placed in the way of Jews attempting to embark on ships bound for the East.»
Despite these obstacles, in the 1260’s, at the beginning of Mamluk rule, the great scholar Rabbi Moshe ben Nahman, «Nahmanides,» «who had defended Judasim with great skill in a religious disputation held before the King of Spain, and published an account of the proceedings – which infuriated church leaders,» came from Spain to Jerusalem.
«When he came to Jerusalem, Nahmanides found the city in ruins (the Tartars had destroyed it in 1260) and only two Jewish inhabitants – both dyers. His first act was to found a synagogue, and little by little he reestablished a Jewish community in the city. Nahmanides also founded a Yeshiva, attracting many people from the neighboring countries. But eventually he transferred it to Acre, which had the principal Palestinian Jewish community of that period.»
In the second half of that 14th century, many immigrants came from Germany, many came after Spanish persecutions in 1391, and in the 15th century, there was considerable immigration from Italy.
Prof. Dinur, quoted above discussing Nahmanides’ arrival in the 1260’s, mentioned the 13th century «Spanish royal prohibition of the ‘transport of Jews to the East,’ and the numerous obstacles the Spanish port authorities placed in the way of Jews attempting to embark on ships bound for the East.» These particular obstacles to specifically Jewish immigration to specifically Palestine were no temporary aberration. They’re examples of European-imposed impediments to Jews’ return to their homeland that have persistently recurred up to, during and after the mid-20th century Holocaust.
Katz: «There were periods, moreover, when the Popes ordered their adherents to prevent Jewish travel to Palestine. For most of the fifteenth century, the Italian maritime states denied Jews the use of ships for getting to Palestine . . . . In 1433, shortly after the ban was imposed, there came a vigorous call by Yitzhak Tsarefati, urging the Jews to come by way of the then tolerant Turkey.»
Katz repeated the itinerary in «Battleground. «Nor was life easy for the Jews when (and if) they finally reached the land of their fathers. Katz quoted a late 1400’s Christian traveler: » . . . Martin Kabatnik (who did not like Jews), visiting Jerusalem during his pilgrimage, exclaimed: ‘The heathens oppress them at their pleasure. They know that the Jews think and say that this is the Holy Land that was promised to them. Those of them who live here are regarded as holy by the other Jews, for in spite of all the tribulations and the agonies they suffer at the hands of the heathen, they refuse to leave the place.’»
7.4.2 Life in the Yishuv’s Mamluk Era Communities
…a page of a famous book by Ashtory Ha-Pari (Eshtori Hafarchi), a Jewish geographer from Italy, who arrived in Palestine in 1317, settling in Beit She’an, and in 1322 wrote his historical-geographical book. 14th century Jewish communities Ha-Pari mentioned include Jerusalem, Gaza, Ramleh, Lod, Beit She’an, Safad, Gush Halav, and sites east of the Jordan…. «secular as well as religious scholarship existed in Jerusalem, even in medieval times»…….
A timeline of 15th century Jewish Jerusalem:
1428 – The Yishuv attempted to buy Mt. Zion buildings, but the attempt was blocked by the pope
1438 – An Italian rabbi settled in Jerusalem and became the community’s spiritual leader
1440 – The Mamluks imposed a tax on Jerusalem’s Jews, and many left
1470 – 150 Jewish families in Jerusalem
1474 – Muslims destroyed an old synagogue, and demanded a bribe for a new «Street of the Jews» and «Gate of the Jewish Quarter»
1480 – Monk writes of Jews in Jerusalem and Gaza (again in 1484)
1481 – Jewish visitor writes of Jewish communities in Gaza, Hebron and Jerusalem
1483 – Travelers reports of Jews in Jerusalem (and Hebron)
1488 – Rabbi Ovadiah arrives and becomes leader, finds 70 families and many widows («In January 1992, the grave of Rabbi Obadiah of Bertinoro, who had settled in Jerusalem in 1488, was discovered at Silwan)
1491 – Christian pilgrim writes that in Jerusalem «not many Christians, but many Jews,» who claim the Holy Land, and «refuse to leave» (Peters quoted him as writing that there were more Jews than Christians in Jerusalem, and that they consider the country their land and seek its restoration)
1495 — 200 families, following lifting of Italian ship ban and exile from Spain
1496 – Muslim book describes destruction and rebuilding of Rambam synagogue
1497 – Christian traveler: «In Jerusalem dwell many Jews»
1499 – Christian traveler: «Among the very many Jews in Jerusalem, I found several natives of Lombardy, three from Germany and two monks who had converted to Judaism» (quoted by Tal). Katz quoted the same pilgrim that the Jews there spoke Hebrew, and another «that they hoped soon to resettle the Holy Land.»
… an Italian monk from Verona visiting Palestine in 1335 noted «that there was a long-established Jewish community at the foot of Mount Zion in the area known as the Jewish Quarter.» ……….»A pilgrim who wished to visit ancient forts and towns in the Holy Land would have been unable to locate these without a good guide who knew the Land well or without one of the Jews who lived there. The Jews were able to recount the history of these places since this knowledge had been handed down from their forefathers and wise men.»
As for there not being more Jews in Jerusalem on the eve of the Spanish expulsion, the time period in which Ovadiah wrote, Muslim- imposed discrimination against Jews was largely to blame. A ban on building new synagogues was in effect; «no Jew could erect or repair [sic] a house without obtaining a special permit – that is to say, without bribery. Time and again Jews were charged with offenses against the Muslim faith and had to buy their way out of trouble. Consequently they were always deep in debt; and if anyone fell behind in his payments his belongings were often auctioned off – even sacred articles and ancient scrolls of the Law. These were usually bought by Christian dealers who sold them in Europe.»
The wonder is not that there were «so few Jews in Jerusalem.» The wonder is that there were any at all, that there exists in Jews so strong a force that insistently impels their return, time after time, expulsion after expulsion – specifically of Jews from Jerusalem – over the course of two millennia in which only the identity of the conquering foreign expeller has changed.
But Jerusalem was not the Yishuv’s principal 13th century community. Katz …identified Acre, as did Bahat…… Peters cited a «sizeable» Jewish community at Bilbayu, Bahat cited immigrants from France who settled in the coastal cities of Haifa, Caesarea, Tyre and Acre, and were later forced to move inland by Mamluk ‘scorched earth’ destruction aimed at preventing a new Crusader invasion.
When Nahmanides arrived in Jerusalem, he brought back Scrolls of the Law from Nablus, «whither they had been sent for safekeeping. «From Jerusalem, Nahmanides himself moved to Acre, where he continued his teaching. But, wrote Bahat, the Acre Jewish community was «totally destroyed» by the Mamluks in 1291.
In 1481 Rabbi Meshullam of Volterra visited the town (Gaza) and, in his book of travels, praised its natural beauty and harvests, noting that only the Jews engaged in wine making. The assessment given in contemporary Turkish documents was– 95 Jewish families, 25 Samaritan families.
The Yishuv’s Galilee communities «continued to preserve their traditions.» Bahat quoted a 13th century Arab geographer whose book «provided evidence of the custom [of Palestine’s Jews] of making a pilgrimage to the grave of R. Shimon bar Yohai in Meron…
E.g., in 1306, a group of French Jews settled in Beit She’an and reestablished its Jewish community.
«The official lists of Safad’s taxpayers for the year 1525-26 name four Jewish quarters», and Rabbi Ovadiah that «The Jews in Safad (Zfat) and Kfar Kana and everywhere else in Galilee are safe and tranquil, and no ill befalls them from the Ishmaelites (Arabs); but the majority are poor, lodging in the villages».
… there were few Jewish communities: Jerusalem, Mitzpeh, Lydda, Ramleh, Hebron, Gaza, Safad (Zfat), Beit She’an, and Gush Halav (Jeish), the largest being Safad (300 families) and Jerusalem (250 families).
«Yet toward the end of the rule of the Mamluks, at the close of the fifteenth century, Christian and Jewish visitors and pilgrims noted the presence of substantial Jewish communities. Even the meager records that survived report nearly thirty Jewish urban and rural communities at the opening of the sixteenth century.»
8.1 Four Hundred Years of Ottoman Turkish Rule
«The Ottoman Sultans had encouraged Jewish immigration into their dominions. With their conquest of Palestine, its gates too were opened. Though conditions in Europe made it possible for only a very few Jews to ‘get up and go,’ a stream of immigrants flowed to Palestine at once. Many who came were refugees from the Inquisition. They comprised a great variety of occupations: they were scholars and artisans and merchants. They filled all the existing Jewish centers. That flow of Jews from abroad injected a new pulse into Jewish life in Palestine in the sixteenth century.» Sephardim from Spain and Italy soon outnumbered the indigenous Arabic-speaking Jews.
But it was not to be. Palestine under the Turks soon sank deeper into decay, with corruption and oppression taking their toll most heavily on the Yishuv. The Ottoman era descended into bribery, extortion, corruption, tax farming, and ethnic oppression: «The Ottomans, to whom Palestine was merely a source of revenue, began to exploit the Jews’ fierce attachment to Palestine. They were consequently made to pay a heavy price for living there. They were taxed beyond measure and were subjected to a system of arbitrary fines.»
The difference between Muslims and Dhimmis was that according to Islamic law Muslims payed 1/3 of Dhimmi tax. Yet more significant was the fact, that only Muslims were allowed to possess arms, so all Muslim men were armed. To extract tax from Muslims, Turkish pashas needed strong military force. Practically, Turkish authorities sold the tax collection rights to any leader of armed band that was able to extort taxes by force. In such circumstances, Dhimmis were the main source of money. Any ruler that purchased tax collection rights sought to squeeze maximum money in exchange for the sum that he paid to pasha:
“Farukh Ibn Abdullah was a retired Mamlukese soldier of Circassian origin who bought the position of Sandjak Bey in Jerusalem for cash… Farukh, whose only goal was to increase his personal wealth, sought to cover the costs of buying a position, creating difficulties for the people of Jerusalem…
Ibn Farukh (the son of Farukh ibn Abdallah) demonstrated his cruelty towards the population and especially to the Jews. He extorted money from the community under various pretexts, executed people and laid his hand on the money that came from the diaspora to the community. Ibn Farukh arrested a group of dignitaries and rabbis in order to extract money from the community for the ransom; Among the prisoners: Shmuel Tardiola, Moshe Romani, Yoel Halevi and Abraham Ishpariel. Rabbi Abraham Ishpariel and his brothers were also beaten up by the people of Ibn Farukh …).
As the era of Turkish misrule wore on, the cumulative effects of centuries of corruption, neglect, oppression, ruinous taxation, lawlessness, murderous hatred and other abuses of Turk foreign rule inevitably caused the country as a whole to sink to its lowest population levels not just of Turkish but of all historical times.» «Palestine was gradually emptied of people between 1512 and 1800.
«The insecurity created by the complete indifference of the Turkish pashas to the local wars and raids of local amirs, bedouin tribes, Druzes and others, was reducing not only the Jewish community, but the whole country to a degree of poverty and desolation even greater than it had known under the Mamluks. Traveler after traveler reports desert and marsh where there had been fertile fields, and ruins where there had been towns and villages. “
8.3 The Yishuv During Ottoman Times
The Yishuv’s «four holy cities» are part of this survey, but the perception that the only Jews in Palestine during Ottoman times were a handful of otherworldly aged pious paupers dependent on diaspora alms is utterly wrong. In even their holy cities like Safad, as in rural agricultural areas like the Galilee villages, the Jews – merchants, farmers, artisans, smiths – were intensely industrious indigenous people of the Land who confronted «every discouragement» with worldly along with religiously-grounded resources.
Throughout the 400 year Ottoman era, the Yishuv’s four main centers of Jewish life were Jerusalem, Safad, Tiberias and Hebron. The largest of these, and the Yishuv’s spiritual center during much of this era, was Safad.
(My note: in the course of 17 — 19 centuries thousands of Jews came to Palestine from Eastern Europe, Italy, North Africa, Turkish empire, Yemen etc. Most of these settled in Zfat and Jerusalem, despite of ban on Ashkenazi Jews to reside in Jerusalem.
In 17 — 18 centuries came the followers of Turkish Jew Sabbatai Zvi, in 1700 came hundreds of followers of rabbi Yehuda Hekhassid from Lithuania, in 1702 came Abraham Revigo from Italy, in 1718 rabbi Emanuel Riki from Italy.
Israel ben Eliezer tried Aliya in 1733, but failed. Instead, he founded the Hassidic movement of Eastern Europe.
Turkish rabbis Gedalyah Khayun, Israel Jacob Algazi, Khaim Abulafia came from 1737 to 1740. They helped to absorb hundreds of Jewish newcomers from Turkish Empire, North Africa and Eastern Europe.
1741: rabbi Haim ben Atar with tens of his followers from Morocco and Italy performed “ Aliya”. While heading from Acco to Tiberius they joined a big group of newcomers from Poland.
1743: rabbi Moshe Haim Luzato with his family came from Holland to Tiberius.
1747: Abraham Gershon came from Galicia (Poland), the first of Hassidic movement in Eretz Israel.
1751: rabbi Shalom Shar’abi from Yemen (South Arabia).
1752: Rabbi Yehuda Ayash with family came from Alger.
1743: Italian Jews founded their Jerusalem yeshiva.
1757: Turkish Jews founded their own Jerusalem yeshiva.
1760: Gaon (Genius) from Vilna tried to get to Palestine but failed. Instead, his students based Zionist society.
1764: Rabbi Jacob ben David Zunana from Istanbul founded two hotels for Jewish pilgrims at Jaffa and Acre, and helped newcomers from Lithuania and Galicia.
1764: Hassidic caravan from Galicia.
1770: Hassidic groups settled Tiberius.
1772: Caravan of Lithuania Jews.
1777: 300 Hassidic Jews from Belorussia and 130 Jews from Tunis.
1779: established Syrian yeshiva of Jerusalem.
1794: rabbis and groups from Lithuania and Volyn (Ukraina).
1800 – 1850: Aliya continued. As a result, around 1820 Jews turned majority group in Jerusalem, Zfat and Tiberius.
«At the height of their splendor, in the first generations after their conquest of Palestine in 1516, the Ottoman Turks were tolerant and showed a friendly face to the Jews. During the sixteenth century, there developed a new effervescence in the life of the Jews in the country. Thirty communities, urban and rural, are recorded at the opening of the Ottoman era. They include Haifa, Sh’chem, Hebron, Ramleh, Jaffa, Gaza, Jerusalem, and many in the north. Their center was Safed . . . .»
The Jewish merchants of Safad were goldsmiths and silversmiths, weavers, knitters, dyers and merchants. Safad’s population of about 10,000 Jews, the largest Jewish community in Palestine, traded in spices, cheese, oil, vegetables and fruit. Safad became the Yishuv’s «center» not only because it had The Land’s largest Jewish population, both worldly and economically secure, during that era, but because its organized Jewish community «assumed the recognized spiritual leadership of the whole Jewish world»: The luster of the ‘golden age’ that now developed shone over the whole country and has inspired Jewish spiritual life to the present day.
It was there and then that a phenomenal group of mystic philosophers evolved the mysteries of the Cabala. It was at that time and in the inspiration of the place that Joseph Caro compiled the Shulhan Aruch, the formidable codification of Jewish observance, which largely guides orthodox custom to this day. Poets and writers flourished. Safed achieved a fusion of scholarship and piety with trade, commerce, and agriculture.
In the town, Jews developed a number of branches of trade. Lying halfway between Damascus and Sidon on the Mediterranean coast, Safed gained special importance in the commercial relations in the area. The 8,000 or 10,000 Jews in Safed in 1555 grew to 20,000 or 30,000 by the end of the century.» In 1524 the chief rabbi founded a yeshiva in Safad, which attracted scholars.
Among the synagogues founded in Safad in the 16th century are those that have remained in continuous use to the present. In 1577, a Hebrew printing press was established in Safad, the first in Palestine, the first in Asia.
«The official lists of Safad’s taxpayers for the year 1525-26 name four Jewish quarters,» including one of «old» inhabitants of continuous residence in The Land (My note: “Old inhabitants” means “Arabic speaking local Jews”, who survived previous massacres by the Crusaders, Khorezmians, Mongols, Mamluks etc.)
In 1549, the Turks built a wall around Safad, which they garrisoned. Later in the century the Jews built themselves a huge khan, or fortified compound, containing houses holding up to a hundred families, shops, and warehouses. «For nearly 100 years this remained their place of refuge in times of violence.»
(My note: Zfat’ ties with Eastern Europe Jews and exchange of people were so intensive, that some Palestinian dishes turned part of Jewish Eastern Europe cuisine. The family name Zfasman (a Man from Zfat) is common Ashkenazi name).
Unfortunately for the Yishuv, this hopeful beginning of Turkish rule, in particular in Safad, did not last.
In 1567, Bedouin and Druze tribes burst into the town and ransacked it.
In 1576 (the year of the deportation order), the Safed Yishuv community complained to Constantinople of local officials’ extortion and physical cruelty. «The Sublime Porte instructed the pasha of Damascus to hold an inquiry, but the defiant local governors continued to do as they pleased.»
One incident revealing the Yishuv’s insecurity under the Turks was an order by Turkish Sultan Murad III (1575-1595), to deport 1000 wealthy Jews and their families from Safad to Cyprus.
The excerpt from Sultan Murad’s 1576 order to the local governors quoted by Dr. Ben Zvi shines revealing light upon both the Safad Jewish community and The Land’s Ottoman rulers:
«Order to the Sanjak Bay of Safad and to the Qadi of Safad: At present I have ordered that a thousand Jews be registered from the town of Safad and its districts and sent to the city of Famagusta in Cyprus; I command that as soon as [this order] arrives, without delay and in accordance with my noble firman, you register one thousand rich and prosperous Jews, and send them, with their property and effects and with their families, under an appropriate escort, to the said city. Once Jews have been inscribed in the register, do not afterwards, by practicing extortion, remove them [from it].»
«In the early seventeenth century a pair of Christian visitors to Safed described life in Safed for the Jews: ‘Life here is the poorest and most miserable that one can imagine.’ Because of the harshness of Turkish rule and its crippling dhimmi oppressions, the Jews ‘pay for the very air they breathe.’»
In 1587, Safad was plundered again and the printing press destroyed.
In 1599, the town was hit by drought, plague and famine, and appeal was made to the Diaspora to help the Jews who remained, to which European and Istanbul Jewish communities responded, but in 1602 the plague came again, and in 1604 once more the Druze.
In 1628, the Druze seized the town again, holding it for several years, «oppressing and despoiling the small Jewish population.»
In 1636, the Damascus pasha ousted the Druze, «but the victors were as bad as the vanquished had been.» In the same year, the Druze came back, devastating the town once more, and in a conflict amongst them, «both factions plundered the Jews of Safad”. «Most were forced to flee the city.»
Decades before, the masters of Cabala had already left. With the beginning of Safad’s decline at the 16th century’s end, they moved Jewish mysticism’s centers to two of the other Holy Cities of the Yishuv, Hebron and Jerusalem.
But seventeenth and eighteenth century travelers continued to include Safad among the places they reported communities of Palestine’s Jews.
In 1777, 300 immigrants settled in Safad, «giving added impetus to Jewish settlement in Galilee,» and in this period the number of Safad’s synagogues increased from eleven to thirty.
The 18th century was ushered in by a 1799 «sacking» of Safad by the Turks. But still the Yishuv clung to Safad. During a stay in Safad from 1810 to 1816, a traveling historian named Burkhardt recorded: «The town is built upon several low hills, which divide it into different quarters; of these the largest is inhabited exclusively by Jews, who esteem Szaffad as a sacred place.
Jews were attacked in Safad and elsewhere in 1834, and in 1837 Safad suffered an earthquake. ……… . Peters reported Jewish majorities in Safad and Tiberias by 1851, although it would seem that in Safad at least the Jews had attained that status decades earlier.
For long periods of Jewish history, Safad has had a mutually supporting hinterland, the Galilee villages, which have their own history of tenacious Jewish attachment……….. a number of Jewish villages — from Turkish sources we know of ten of them — continued to occupy themselves with the production of wheat and barley and cotton, vegetables and olives, vines and fruit, pulse and sesame.» «The recurrent references in the sketchy records that have survived suggest that in some of those Galilean villages — such as Kfar Alma, Ein Zeitim, Biria, Pekiin, Kfar Hanania, Kfar Kana, Kfar Yassif, Julis, Kabul, Kfar Hukuk, Banias, and Eglon — the Jews, against all logic and in defiance of the pressures and exactions and confiscations of generation after generation of foreign conquerors, had succeeded in clinging to the land for fifteen centuries.»
(My note: there are references, that at least in Ein Zeitim and Kfar Hananiah lived Moriscos, Arab speaking Jews of local origin)
Pierre Belon, a French doctor who traveled in Galilee in 1547, wrote: «We look around Lake Tiberias and see the villages of Beth Saida and Koraazim. Today Jews are living in these villages and they have built up again all the places around the lake, started fishing industries and have once again made the earth fruitful, where once it was desolate.
«Gradually, hunger, disease and pillage exhausted Galilee and almost erased the 16th- century Jewish villages. Only faint traces of Peki’in and Kfar Yassif were left. The Jewish farmers of Kfar Alma, Kfar Hanania, Kfar Kana, Kfar Kabul, and Julas (Julis) were gone.” ……….. in the 17th century, large numbers of Jews left Galilee for Jerusalem, which was experiencing a Jewish revival.
My note: the medieval travelers witnessed, that taxes imposed by Turks forced Jewish peasants to flee their homes. Unarmed Jewish peasants were unable to withstand armed “tax collectors”, so the last usually took the head of family to jail, demanding ransom. The “debtors” sell out their land to their Muslim neighbors, turning themselves sharecroppers of their Muslim neighbors. The Muslims were due only 1/3 of taxes paid by “dhimmis”. The Muslims were armed and united, so the “tax collectors” had a hard task to squeeze exaggerated taxes. But finally, the desperate Jews emigrated to the “shelter towns” of Zfat, Tiberias and Jerusalem. Just that time “Morisco” (Arabized) communities noted in Zfat and Jerusalem. Later, the Arabized Jews joined more populous and wealthy Sephardi (“Spanish”) communities.
Donna Grazia Mendez and her son-in-law Don Joseph Nasi, «wealthy Marranos had escaped the Inquisition and settled in Turkey, where Don Joseph had distinguished himself at the Sultan’s court. Together, they worked on the idea of restoring Tiberias as a Jewish center.
Sultan Suleiman, who’d built the walls of Jerusalem that survive to this day, approved their plan in 1561, and their envoy arrived in Tiberias in 1563.579 The envoy’s first task was to build a wall for the town’s defense, but, not for the first or last time in Jewish history, Yishuv self-defense plans were thwarted by the interference of others.
«First the pope, encouraged by the Christians of Palestine, conspired with the grand vizier to thwart the restoration. Then a local sheik frightened the Arab workers and made them desert by declaring that the completion of the wall would mean the end of Islam.
«Nonetheless, with the aid of the Damascus pasha, the almost mile-long wall around the town was completed in 1564. Next came rebuilding of the town itself. Jewish inhabitants repaired old houses and built new ones, «and soon Tiberias had blossomed into a prosperous Jewish town and an important center of learning.»
In 1600, William Biddulph, an English priest who visited The Land with a group of English pilgrims, recorded in in his book, The Travels of Four Englishmen and a Preacher: «Tiberias, the town that Salim gave to Graziola, a Jewish grande dame, is entirely occupied by Jews.»
But here, too, the 16th century’s revival and prosperity did not last. «In 1660, the town was destroyed completely, and for the next 80 years Jewish Tiberius lay in ruins,» having been «sacked,» like Safad, «by bedouins and Druzes in succession.
But with its resettlement by a new Jewish community 80 years later, «Tiberius became again one of the four Holy Cities. Peters recorded a link between those two communities of Tiberius Jews. The Jews’ return to Tiberius was brought about when the ruling sheik invited a rabbi from Smyrna «to ‘come and inherit the land of his ancestors.’
…………as early as 1817 an English traveler wrote: «It is said that the number of people living in Tiberius is 4,000, of which two-thirds are Jews. Peters stated that Jews were again the majority in Tiberius, as in Safad (Zfat), by 1851.
Muslim Persecution and Jewish Staying-Power
Through the Ottoman Era at the Ottoman era’s outset, the Yishuv in Jerusalem did not fare as well as Safad. «In the early years of the Ottoman occupation, the Jews of Jerusalem endured a great deal of slander and official troublemaking and had to pay heavy bribes» for survival. Surviving documents tell of extortion. There were trade restrictions, such as Jewish merchants being forbidden to sell in the square. This treatment caused many Jerusalem Jews to move to Safad.
The situation improved under Sulieman (1520-1566), who between 1536 and 1542 built the walls, the Pools of Solomon, and repaired sewers and cisterns. Jews returned. The official census of 1526 showed 200 Jewish householders. By 1539 one source has 224 householders and 19 bachelors, and by 1555, 324 householders and 13 bachelors.
Apparently, a «household» was a 4-to-5 person family, for Bahat states: «According to official censuses in the second quarter of the [16th] century, the number of Jews in Jerusalem varied between approximately 1,000 and 1,500. They lived in three quarters, co- terminous with the Jewish Quarter of our time.»
Bahat, showing synagogue photographs, described the religious-site link between Jerusalem’s 16th century Jews and those of today: «When the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492 many found their way to the Turkish empire, where they succeeded in attaining high positions. Their influence helped many Spanish Jews to settle in Jerusalem (and Zfat) after 1516.
The newcomers built a new synagogue, named Eliyahu Hanavi, and soon afterwards three more synagogues were built. This group of four synagogues still exists (though used as a garbage dump during the Jordanian occupation of 1948-67), and is once again restored.»
These Sephardim were only one of Jerusalem’s Jewish groups. «… there were four congregations: Sephardi, Ashkenazi, Moroccan (North African), and Musta’arabim. The largest was the Sephardi, with its exiles from Spain and Portugal. Next came the Ashkenazi, comprised of 15 very old families (descendants of Jews who had come in the days of Maimonides) as well as more recent arrivals from Europe, including immigrants from Italy.
The Musta’arabim . . . were descendants of the Land’s early inhabitants.»
Jerusalem’s was a vibrant Jewish community. «In 1587 Rabbi Bezalel Ashkenazi gave a letter to Rabbi Isaac Shechmi, an emissary from Jerusalem to Italy, in which he wrote: ‘ The Land is steeped in learning as it never was in ancient days. There is a religious school (Talmud Torah) with more than a hundred youngsters … also a college’…»
But toward end of the 16th century, Abu Sufain became governor of Jerusalem and the situation worsened.
“At the end of the 1580s, Abu Safin served as the governor of the district (Jerusalem) … He persecuted the Franciscans, demanded money from them and even arrested some of them until they called him «a demon in the guise of a man» … Abu Safin also harmed Jews in Jerusalem . He desecrated the cemetery on the Mount of Olives, burying dogs there; he expelled the Jews from the synagogue of Ramban and accused Rabbi Chaim Vital of refusing to restore the Gihon spring, which was equipped by the biblical king of Judea, Hezekiah. Rabbi Chaim Vital was forced to flee the city. This deprived the community of important sources of income….”
In 1586, the 3-century-old Nahmanides synagogue was taken and turned into an Arab warehouse. Oppression and onerous taxation worsened from there.
«There was a typical incident in 1643: the governor inflicted a burdensome tax on the community, and since the community was quite incapable of paying it, he jailed all its notables. . . . This happened again and again during the period, forcing the Jews to leave the city.
By 1663 most of them had gone to Ramleh, abandoning their property in Jerusalem.» The oppression wasn’t even all rational. In 1637, Muslims threatened to kill Jerusalem’s Jews unless rain came in three days (it did).
«In 1662 Shabbetai Zvi came to Jerusalem from Smyrna.
Safad and Tiberias had just been devastated by the Druse; Tiberias lay in ruins, and only a sprinkling of Safad’s former inhabitants returned after its destruction. Almost the whole of Palestine Jewry was concentrated in Jerusalem, Hebron, and Gaza – though . . . most [Jerusalem?] Jews were forced to flee to Ramleh.»
«The Jews of Jerusalem, wrote the Jesuit Father Michael Naud in 1674, were agreed about one thing: ‘paying heavily to the Turk for their right to stay here. . . . They prefer being prisoners in Jerusalem to enjoying the freedom they could acquire elsewhere. . . .The love of the Jews for the Holy Land, which they lost through their betrayal (of Christ), is unbelievable. Many of them come from Europe to find a little comfort, though the yoke is heavy.’»
Non-Muslim Palestine residents weren’t the only targets of Turkish oppression. Christian and Jewish pilgrims were targets as well: «The custom of extorting money from pilgrims remained unchanged for centuries, as told in 1751 by a Swedish traveler, Frederick Hasselquist: ‘As 4,000 persons (Christians) besides as many Jews come from all quarters of the world, this sum (a total of 25 piasters for each pilgrim) may be esteemed a considerable revenue for the Turks; and indeed they receive no other from this uncultivated and almost uninhabited country.’»
As Ottoman misrule rolled on, Muslim oppression of Jerusalem’s non- Muslims didn’t let up. Tal quoted Francois Rene de Chateaubriand in Journal of Jerusalem, 1811: «Christians and Jews alike lived in great poverty and in conditions of great deprivation. There are not many Christians but there are many Jews and these the Muslims persecute in many ways.»
Peters quoted an 1834 letter from Jerusalem that a 40,000 strong Muslim mob «’rushed on Jerusalem . . The mob entered, and looted the city for five or six days.
(My note: it was the so called “Intifada of fellahin”, the first Palestinian intifada).
The Jews were the worst sufferers, their homes were sacked and their women violated.’»Turn to virtually any page of Peters’ chapter «Dhimmi in the Holy Land» for a litany of like persecutions of Jews and Christians during the Ottoman era.
At one point, after detailing numerous brutal incidents, Peters continued: «In the following few decades (1848-1878) scores of incidents involving anti-Jewish violence, persecution and extortions filled page after page of documented reports from the British Consulate in Jerusalem. A chronology would be overwhelming, but perhaps a few extracts [see Peters, p. 191 ff] from those complaints will show the pattern of terror that continued right into the period of the major Jewish immigration beginning about 1878.»
Tal quoted a traveler, John Lothian, in 1843: «In Jerusalem, his (the Jew’s) case is a very hard one. He is oppressed and robbed by the Turks in a most unmerciful manner; in short, for him there is neither law nor justice.»
He quoted … Karl Marx, in the International Herald Tribune of April 15, 1854: «Nothing equals the misery and suffering of the Jews who are the constant object of Muslim oppression and intolerance.»
If there was one mitigating factor in Muslim-on-Dhimmi violence in Jerusalem, it was this, quoted by Peters from an 1859 British consulate document: «’The Mohammedans of Jerusalem are less fanatical than in many other places, owing to the circumstances of their numbers scarcely exceeding one quarter of the whole population – and of their being surpassed in wealth (except among the Effendi class) in trade and manufactures by both Jews and Christians.’»
As observed by a Jesuit Father in 1674, despite all the oppression, Jewish determination not to be driven from Jerusalem prevailed. Bahat quoted a 1656 monk: «In Jerusalem there also live many Jews who came from all over the world.»
Dr. Ben Zvi referred to the anonymous author of a famous letter, «Hurvot Yerushalayim» («The Ruins of Jerusalem»), stating «More of our people now inhabit the city of our Lord than have done so since Israel was exiled from its Land. Daily many Jews come to settle there, in addition to the pilgrims who come to pray to Him who stands beyond our Wall …’»
In 1700, Rabbi Judah the Pious and his community of 1,000 Jews from Poland settled in Jerusalem and started building the Hurva synagogue.
In 1751, the Kabbalist Shalom Sharabi arrived from Yemen and became head of the Beit-El Yeshiva.
«In 1777, Rabbi Isaiah Bardaki arrived from Poland to become leader of the Jewish community and Austrian vice-consul.»612
Mark Twain, in The Innocents Abroad (1869) captured the intensity of the Jews’ attachment to Jersualem: «‘Everywhere precious remains of Solomon’s Temple. That portion of the ancient wall . . . which is called the Jews’ Place of Wailing, where the Hebrews assemble every Friday to kiss the venerated stones and weep over the fallen greatness of Zion.’»
Jerusalem’s Jewish Majority Througout Modern Times
How many Jews did live in Jerusalem during Ottoman days? Public perception of the religious composition of the city’s population in modern times is fundamental to at least Western public perception of justice in the Arab-Israeli struggle over the city today. It may surprise many who’ve been exposed to liberal Western media touting of «traditionally Arab East Jerusalem» and even to just «Arab East Jerusalem,» with no references to the population of the city as a whole, that the long Jewish majority in Jerusalem didn’t begin after 1967, or even after 1948, or during the Mandate, but, «and in spite of every discouragement,» back during Ottoman times.
An Italian Jew living in Jerusalem in 1625 estimated its Jewish community at about 2,000 people. Tal stated that Jerusalem’s 1690 Jewish population was about 10,000. But the Land’s entire population declined during the latter part of the Ottoman era, so that, according to Parkes, «it is probable that in the first half of the nineteenth century the population sank to the lowest level it had ever known in historic times.» Tal, in a sidebar showing «Fluctuations in Jerusalem’s Population 610 BCE to the Present,» put Jerusalem’s total 1800 population at only 12,000.617 As a percentage of Jerusalem’s total population, the Jewish segment continually grew. ……….
Ten years after [first British Consul Young’s 1839] arrival a Christian deputation from Malta’s Protestant College gives a total population of 15,000 with Muslims at 6,000, Jews at 5,000, and Christians at 4,000. In 1872 the Jewish population just outnumbered the combined Christian and Muslim inhabitants (Jews 10,600, Christians, 5,300, Muslims 5,000). In 1899, the comparable figures were: Jews 30,000, Christians 10,900, and Muslims 7,700.»
Gilbert’s 1838 figures agree on a total Jerusalem population of less than 16,000, but show a mix of 6,000 Jews, 5,000 Muslims and 3,000 Christians. His 1896 figures – 28,000 Jews, 8,700 Christians, 8,600 Muslims, of a total Jerusalem population of 45,300619 – agree with Parkes’ in showing more Jerusalem Jews than Christians and Muslims combined, but show almost equal numbers of Muslims and Christians.
Peters cited an 1856 letter by British Consul James Finn that Jerusalem’s Jews «greatly exceed the Moslems in number.» Bahat cited the 1839 counts of Jerusalem’s Jews by Consul Young and the Scottish clergyman, respectively, at 5,000 – 6,000, and 6,000 – 7,000. He cited an 1855 English missionary, Bartlet, as stating Jerusalem’s then Jewish population at 11,000, confirmed, said Bahat, by British Consul James Finn in his 1878 book, Stirring Times. In an 1858 report, Consul Finn reported that «the Mohammedans of Jerusalem» were «scarcely exceeding one-quarter of the whole population.»
1864 British records reported: «The population of the city of Jerusalem is computed at 18,000 of whom about 5000 are Moslems, 8000 to 9000 Jews, and the rest Christians of various denominations.»
Tal included a chart, citing sources, in his book, Whose Jerusalem? of its Jews, Muslims and Christians at various modern times. His figures: 1820-21: «For the first time Jews made up the largest ethnic group as recorded by noted travelers….» 1838: 6,000 Jews, 5,000 Muslims, 3,000 Christians. 1844: 7,120 Jews, 5,760 Muslims, 3,390 Christians. 1876: 12,000 Jews, 7,560 Muslims, 5,470 Christians. 1909: 45,000 Jews, 12,000 Muslims, 10,200 Christians. 1911: 30,800 Jews, 10,000 Muslims, 15,000 Christians. 1948 (pre-Independence): 99,320 Jews, 36,680 Muslims, 31,300 Christians. 1990: 353,200 Jews, 124,200 Muslims, 14,000 Christians.
Tal quoted Karl Marx in the International Herald Tribune, April 15, 1854: «The sedentary population of Jerusalem number about 15,000 souls, of whom 4,000 are Muslim and 8,000 are Jews.» He quoted the July 15, 1899, Pittsburgh Dispatch: «Thirty thousand out of 40,000 people in Jerusalem are Jews….» The following table organizes these figures:
Jerusalem’s Population Under the Turks and British
Date and Source
Jews Muslims Christians Total
1625,Italian Jew 2,000
1690, Tal 10,000
1800, Tal 12,000
1830, Parkes 3,000 11,000
1838,Gilbert, Tal 6,000 5,000 3,000 14,000
1839, Consul Young 5,500
1839, Scottish Clergy 6,500
1844, Tal 7,120 5,760 3,390 16,270
1849, Malta Christians 5,000 6,000 4,000 15,000
1855, Missionary 11,000
1864, British 8,500 5,000 4,500 18,000
1872, Parkes 10,600 5,000 5,300 20,900
1876, Tal 12,000 7,560 5,470 25,030
1896, Gilbert 28,000 8,600 8,700 45,300
1899, Parkes 30,000 10,900 7,700 48,600
1911, Tal 30,800 10,000 15,000 55,800
1948, Tal 99,320 36,680 31,300 167,300
Two conclusions which can be drawn from these numbers derived from multiple sources are, one, that Jerusalem’s Jews were a plurality over Muslims and Christians before the mid-19th century, perhaps as early as the 1830’s, a half century preceding the Zionist movement and more than a century preceding Israel’s statehood; and, two, that by the 19th century’s end the Jews had become and remained the city’s majority.
My note: the rapid growth of Jerusalem Jewish population may be explained by 3 sources: 1)natural grow due to reduced mortality 2)re-settling of the Jews from Safed and Galilee 3)newcomers from abroad.
The Beginnings of Modern Jerusalem
But who were these 19th century Jerusalem Jews? A famed British archeologist’s 19th century economic survey dispels any myths that 19th century Jerusalem Jews, for all their reverent remembrance of Jerusalem’s central role in their people’s ancient past, were but ghostly mourners, living in a world divorced from the present, of a destruction that had occurred eighteen hundred years earlier.
They lived a vibrant and practical life in their own time, at their city’s economic and demographic hub. Tal: «With the 19th century, a new era dawned for Jerusalem’s economy. Charles Warren, the famous British archeologist (who carried out excavations in the city in 1867/68) conducted the first survey on the city’s trades and here are some of his findings: apart from 108 Jewish shopkeepers (of a total of 332), many Jewish artisans followed a number of diverse trades —83 shoemakers (out of 230), 11 carpenters (out of 36), 15 silversmiths (out of 57) and 10 bakers (out of 77).
There were also 77 professional letter-writers in the city, all of them Jewish, yet there were no Jews among the 86 coffin makers. Jews of oriental origin, particularly those from Kurdistan, showed a preference for physically more demanding occupations, such as porters and stone-cutters. These facts clearly contradict the myth that 19th century Jerusalem Jews were either old men praying at the Western Wall or religious youth studying the Torah.»
In 1857, Laemle’s Girls’ School opened in Jerusalem; in 1865, the Evelina de Rothschild School for Girls; in 1882, the Alliance Israelite Universelle.629 But it was a different 19th century action, also initiated by Jews, that burst the demographic constraints of Jerusalem’s 16th century walls, creating, unequivocally, modern Jerusalem: «The congested Old City covered a mere 245 acres . . . . The Jews were the first to take the lead by moving out of the city walls.
Comprising the majority of inhabitants, they were the first to suffer from living in crowded quarters and under intolerable sanitary conditions . . . .» In 1855, Montefiore acquired a plot outside the city’s western wall. The community Mishkenot Shananim was built on it, using funds Judah Touro provided. Montefiore also built there a windmill, never used for its intended purpose, but one of Jerusalem’s best-known landmarks today. Oriental Jews’ building of the small Mahane Israel community followed, and then two large-scale development projects, Nahlat Shiva (named after its seven founders, members of some of the city’s oldest established families), and the ultra-orthodox quarter Me’a She’arim, by far the largest quarter, comprising 300 dwelling units.631
Yemin Moshe, adjacent to Mishknot Shananim, was built in 1894, named after Sir Moses Montefiore. There was more to all this than merely moving from the «old» city to the «new.» Jerusalem’s three hundred year old walls were functional, not ornamental, in a lawless time and place of especial insecurity for non- Muslims, and initial settlement in the new Jerusalem communities outside the walls «was accomplished only by the endeavor of the more courageous among the city’s Jews.»
Jerusalem: A Jewish Place
The Jews, already Jerusalem’s majority when they led the burst-out from its walls in the second half of the 19th century, continued to build that majority, in spite of «discouragement» by Turk, Muslim and British, into the 21st century. Those «mere 245 acres» comprising what’s become Jerusalem’s «Old City,» containing the Jews’ ancient Temple Mount with its Western Wall, and two Muslim shrines, the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa, built not coincidentally on the site of Solomon’s Temple, and, the sites associated by the world’s Christians with the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus, are hotly contested today between the Jews and Arabs of Palestine. The liberal western media tells the public at every opportunity about «traditionally Arab East Jerusalem.» It has equal opportunity to tell the public about Jerusalem’s Jewish majority since Ottoman times, but it persistently passes that opportunity by.
Hebron, site of the Cave of Machpelah with its tombs of the Patriarchs, is the fourth of the Yishuv’s four Holy Cities – Jerusalem, Safad, Tiberias and Hebron. However, Hebron’s significance to the Yishuv was not as the site of a shrine and its pilgrimage only, but as the site of a living, scholarly, active community. Ben Zvi wrote of Ottoman era Hebron: «The small Hebron [Jewish] community had survived since Mamluke days; and in fact the Jewish quarter, a courtyard surrounded by stone houses, was not abandoned until the massacres of 1929.
In the 16th century, Hebron was an important place of pilgrimage and, small though its Jewish community was, it included a number of renowned rabbis and biblical scholars who had come from Safad and Jerusalem to be near the tombs of the Patriarchs.»
Hebron’s pre-Ottoman Jewish community had been prominent enough to have stood out, along with Jerusalem’s, from the general Mideast population, in 1486 to a distinguished Holy Land pilgrim, the Dean of the Mainz Cathedral, Bernhard von Breindenbach, who commented that both Jerusalem’s and Hebron’s Jews «will treat you in full fidelity – more so than anyone else in those countries of the unbelievers.»
The Yishuv in Hebron, bolstered in the early 16th century by Sephardic refugees from the Inquisition, exhibited the Yishuv’s characteristic resilience in recovering from murderous plunder. Peters: «The Holy Land’s throbbing, spirited Jewish life continued, even in Hebron, where [quoting Gilbert] ‘the prosperous Jewish community . . . had been plundered, many Jews killed and the survivors forced to flee’ in 1518, three years after Ottoman rule began.
By 1540, Hebron’s Jewry had recovered and reconstructed its Jewish Quarter….»
Both the Jewish presence and Muslim persecution of the Jews of Hebron continued throughout the Ottoman era.
First, the continued presence of Jews:
A 1631 Christian writer included Hebron’s Jewish community among those – Jerusalem, Hebron, Gaza, Haifa, Ramleh, Nablus, Safad, Acre and Sidon – making up some 15,000 Jews in the country.
Ben Zvi wrote that by 1662 conditions of Jewish life had become so bad that Hebron, along with Jerusalem, Gaza and Ramleh, had become the places where «almost the whole of Palestine Jewry was concentrated.»
Hebron’s 17th century Jewish community included Ashkenazim and Kabbalists. Hebron’s status as one of the four Holy Cities attracted immigrants to it. Travelers reported that the previous century’s small Karaite community had ceased to exist. The other Jewish sects took over its synagogues and properties.
Travelers continued to report Jews in Hebron through the 17th and 18th centuries, and British Consul Young in the 19th, where we know they continued to remain until driven out by Muslims in 1929.
Second, the continued Muslim harassment: In Hebron, «in addition to the regular exactions, threats of deportation, arrests, violence, and bloodshed, the Jews suffered the gruesome tribulations of a blood libel in 1775.»
Peters, citing multiple sources, referred to Hebron Jews being «massacred» in 1834 by soldiers from Egypt sent to put down a local Muslim rebellion (“Intifada of fellahin”). Peters (pp. 191-93) recounted, from official British records, vicious Muslim persecution of the Jews of Hebron and elsewhere during the 1840’s and 1850’s, including through oppressive and brutal governmental involvement.
Parkes’ verdict was that the Hebron community, struggling «with isolation and with the constant repression of local rulers and Bedouin tribes, though never wiped out . . . never succeeded in becoming prosperous… But «prosperous» or not, the Yishuv resided in Hebron, one of its four Holy Cities, when the Ottomans arrived in the 16th century, and was there when the Ottomans left in the 20th.
8.3.6 Elsewhere in The Land
Gaza is among the communities mentioned by Dr. Ben Zvi as sites of the Yishuv at the start of the Ottoman era. It was strengthened by the arrival of refugees from Spain. «The Jews of Gaza were mostly merchants who flourished at this crossroads of the great caravan route to Egypt. Others cultivated vineyards and manufactured wine.»
Throughout the Crusades and Mamluk periods, Gaza had been one of several small Jewish coastal communities, including Ashkelon and Rafah, but by the time of the Turkish invasion, only Gaza, dating from the Talmudic era, remained.
Parkes called the «commercial city» of Gaza’s «the only flourishing community» of the Jews in the south. Travelers continued to report Jews there during the 17th and 18th centuries. Ben Zvi included Gaza among the few cities where the Yishuv was «concentrated» during dark times in the 17th century.
Ben Zvi likewise listed Shechem as among the Yishuv communities extant at the Turkish invasion. But «unlike Gaza, the ancient town of Shechem was impoverished. . . . Six years after the Turkish conquest, there were only 12 Jewish householders (all Moriscos) and a small synagogue in Shechem.
The census for 1533-39 gave the total as 71, which by 1549 was reduced to 40. Shechem had also a substantial Samaritan population.»
As noted above, Ramleh is where Jerusalem Jews fled in the 1600’s, when unable to pay repeated oppressive taxes imposed on their community.» Ramleh was among the cities sited by 17th and 18th century travelers as having resident Jews.
Other Ottoman Era Yishuv Communities
Through the First Half of the 19th Century
In addition to the Yishuv communities mentioned, 17th and 18th century travelers and Western diplomats and family members reported Jews residing in Acre, Sidon, Tyre, Haifa, Jaffa, Irsuf, Caesarea and El Arish.
And there were Jews in The Land whom the travelers did not see. Bahat cited 17th century Turkish tax maps, which «tell us of the existence of Jewish farmers in the most remote parts of Palestine.»
A Spanish Fransican monk in 1665: «There are large numbers of Jews everywhere.»
A Dutch scholar’s 1667 compilation of travelers’ descriptions of their journeys: «There are Jews all over Syria and the Holy Land, especially in Acre, Sidon, Damascus, Jerusalem, Hebron and Gaza. No transactions take place without the knowledge of the Jews and even the smallest dealings pass through their hands.»
Zahir al Umar was a virtually independent Arab ruler originated from Arab (Bedouin) Zaidani clan that established autonomous state over Galilee and Sothern Lebanon (1730-1775).
“ Zahir’s tolerance of religious minorities encouraged Christian and Jewish immigration to his domain. The influx of immigrants from other parts of the empire stimulated the local economy and led to the significant growth of the Christian communities in Acre and Nazareth and the Jewish community in Tiberias. He and his family, the Zaydani clan, also patronized the construction of commercial buildings, houses of worship and fortifications throughout Galilee. Zahir’s founding of a virtually autonomous state in Palestine has made him a national hero among Palestinians today.
“Zahir maintained tolerant policies and encouraged the involvement of religious minorities in the local economy. As part of his larger efforts to enlarge the population of Galilee, Zahir invited Jews to resettle in Tiberias around 1742, along with Muslims. Zahir did not consider Jews to be a threat to his rule and believed that their connections with the Jewish diaspora would encourage economic development in Tiberias, which the Jews considered particularly holy. His tolerance towards the Jews, the cuts in taxes levied on them, and assistance in the construction of Jewish homes, schools and synagogues, helped foster the growth of the Jewish community in the area. The initial Jewish immigrants came from Damascus and were later followed by Jews from Aleppo, Cyprus and Smyrna. Many Jews in Safad, which was governed by Zahir’s son Ali, moved to Tiberias in the 1740s to take advantage of better opportunities in that city, which at the time was under Zahir’s direct rule. The villages of Kafr Yasif and Shefa-‘Amr also saw new Jewish communities spring up under Zahir’s rule.
Zahir encouraged local Christian settlement in Acre, in order to contribute to the city’s commercial dynamism in trade and manufacturing. Christians grew to become the largest religious group in the city by the late 18th century. Zahir’s territory became a haven for Melkite and Greek Orthodox Christians from other parts of Ottoman Syria who migrated there for better trade and employment opportunities. In Nazareth, the Christian community prospered and grew under Zahir’s rule, and saw an influx from the Maronite and Greek Orthodox communities of Lebanon and Transjordan, respectively. The Melkite patriarch lived in Acre between 1765 and 1768. Along with the Jews, the Christians contributed to the economy of Zahir’s sheikhdom in a number of ways, including the relative ease with which they were able to deal with European merchants, the networks of support many of them maintained in Damascus or Istanbul, and their role in service industries.”
8.4 The 19th Century Revival of the Yishuv
At the 18th century’s end, Napoleon, invading Palestine, issued his famous appeal to Palestine’s Jews to rise up and reclaim the land of their fathers. The Yishuv didn’t bite. But who knows whether Napoleon’s stirring appeal didn’t continue to resonate in the heads of Palestine’s Jews long after he himself had gone from The Land? In any case, driven by awakening forces in the Jewish world both within and outside The Land, fundamental change occurred in the Yishuv in the 19th century.
Katz captured a sense of it, in referring to immigrants of 1810, disciples of the Vilna Gaon, …………
Turkish rulers generally have barred Jewish immigration to Palestine but simultaneously encouraged its settling by Muslim, Druze and Christian subjects. In the course of 19 century Turkish sultans seized all deserted Palestine land, then granted big parcels to any subject ready to settle and cultivate it, excluding the Jews.
In the course of 18-19 centuries Turkish authority and Egyptian ruler Mohammad Ali settled the emptied Palestine land. Most of Arab Galilee villages arose over abandoned ancient and medieval Jewish villages and towns. The settlers came largely from, Syria , Lebanon and Trans-Jordan. Even the short time period of Egyptian control (1830-1840) produced tens of thousands of settlers from Egypt and Sudan to the Coastal Plain and Gaza. Current Gaza population descent traces largely from these Egyptian settlers.
Arab settlers came from Hejaz (Arabia), too. The family name Hejazi is common among Israeli Arabs. I’m acquainted with a family that re-settled in the course of 19 century from Mecca to Gaza, Yaffo, Tulkarm and Galilee, while obtaining land “from Sultan”.
It was not until 1897 that Theodor Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland. The Zionist movement had already begun with pioneers from Russia dedicating themselves to reclaiming The Land, but even before them the Yishuv was stirring inside The Land.
The mid-19th century Yishuv-led breakout from Jerusalem’s 16th century walls, was followed, inter alia, by the 1870 establishment of Palestine’s first modern agricultural school at Mikveh Israel, near Jaffa, and in the same year the establishment of the village of Motza, near Jerusalem, and in 1878, the founding by Jerusalem Jews of The Land’s first modern Jewish agricultural settlement, Petah Tikva, each exemplifying the pre-Zionist revival of the Yishuv.
Volnay captured the spirit of the Petah Tikva volunteers in his incomparable Guide: «Petah Tikva – Door of Hope, the oldest Jewish agricultural settlement in Israel, is often referred to as ‘Em Hamoshavot’ – Mother of the agricultural settlements. It was founded in 1878 by Jews from Jerusalem who believed that tending the soil would redeem Israel. “
From their very first days, hardships and ordeals were the lot of the pioneers, who found in these remote surroundings vast malarial swamps. Although many fell victim, the survivors continued with their constructive efforts until they saw their labor bear fruit, when Petah-Tikva, the marshes drained, blossomed into a great center of citrus culture – a basic element in its development.»
It was to this already reviving Yishuv that, beginning in the 1880’s, the Zionists came. Certainly, they brought an influx of vitality and a mindset of modern practicality to the Yishuv, but their «aliyah» («going up to The Land») was hardly unprecedented. They followed in the footsteps of countless generations of Jews Returning before them: «Modern Zionism did indeed start the count of the waves of immigration after 1882, but only the frame and the capacity for organization were new: The living movement to the land had never ceased.»
Travel of Jews to Palestine has always been fraught with difficulties and dangers con-fronting all audacious travelers in every era, but superimposed upon them, from decrees of medieval popes to the British blockade, have been obstacles placed uniquely for Jews. Inside The Land – ruled for two millennia from afar by Romans, Byzantines, Arabs fading to Turks, Crusaders, Mamluks, Ottoman Turks, and finally British – it is Palestine’s Jews, the Yishuv, that has faced «every discouragement.»
E.g.: «In the middle of the seventeenth century, there passed through the Jewish people an electric current of self-identification and intensified affinity with its homeland. For the first time in Eastern Europe, which had given shelter to their ancestors fleeing from persecution in the West, rebelling Cossacks in 1648 and 1649 subjected the Jews to massacre as fierce as any in Jewish history. Impoverished and helpless, the survivors fled to the nearest refuge — now once more in Western Europe.
Again the bolder spirits among them made their way to Palestine.» And so too has it been in every age the presence, beacon, magnet of the Yishuv, at times diminished to a pummeled minor minority, that has made the millennia-long return of countless generations of Jews possible, even thinkable, and formed the continuous generational link between ancient Israelites and Israel today.
The «mainstream» western media persistently refers to the modern state of Israel, not as part of a post-Ottoman Palestine Mandate partitioned in 1947 by the UN between its Arabs and Jews, but as having been «born,» «created,» «established,» even «founded, » as though out of the blue, in «1948,» characteristically coupling such simplistic imbalances with equally imbalanced references exclusively to Arab (called «Palestinian») refugees displaced by «the war that followed Israel’s creation.» This book’s thesis is that modern Israel’s roots in Jewish Palestine presence run three millennia deeper than «1948.