Friday, June 19, 2009

175 years to the Great Plunder of Safed

On June 15 1834, in the midst of a regional crisis due to a war between Muhammad Ali’s Egypt and the Turkish Ottoman Empire, Arab mob, incited by a ‘prophet’ named Muhammad Damoor, attacked the Jews of Safed, forcing them to flee and hide in the inhospitable conditions of the surrounding mountains. For 33 days they brutalized the Jews of that holly city, seeking hidden treasures in the Jewish houses that they decimated. In the middle of that carnage they stopped, assembled and democratically decided to continue, and did so until forces from the Lebanon interfere on the 17 of July and stopped that forgotten pogrom.
That crime is worth remembering for two reasons, it shows that the Palestinian conduct of attacking and murdering unarmed Jews predates not only the 1967 occupation and even the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, but it also predate Zionism. In 1878 Jews from Jerusalem and Safed got organized and founded the first Zionist communities of Petakh – Tikvah and Rosh – Pinah, marking the official beginning of the Zionist movement as far as mainstream history is concern. The second reason is that this was a regular pogrom, no different then any other experienced by Jews in other parts of the world throughout the 19 century, in Russia, Yemen, east and central Europe, North Africa and Iran.
It was the consistency of these pogroms throughout the Jewish world, not only in 19 century but also before and after, that had lead to the evolvement of the Jewish national liberation movement, Zionism. Each pogrom alone demonstrated the helplessness and hopelessness of the Jewish condition. Jews felt they had become a dust of a people, both as a collective and as individuals. But it wasn’t just one pogrom, it was endless, and Zionism showed one way to end it, one that worked.

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