web analytics
November 23, 2014 / 1 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Hebron Then And Now


Jews have been marking the 80th anniversary of the Hebron massacre that began on August 23, 1929. It is one of the most horrible pogroms in all of history. With a new American administration seeking to portray Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria as obstacles to peace, one wonders what would happen – what would be the reaction – were such an attack to be perpetrated against the Jews of Hebron today.

The slaughter that took place in 1929 was part of a series of attacks on Jews. On August 17 in Jerusalem, in what was later seen as a portent, a Jewish boy had been stabbed to death. The killings in Hebron were particularly barbaric, with Arabs wielding hatchets against yeshiva students and women and babies. Before the affrays – to use the word the New York Sun used in its editorial of the time – had passed, scores had been slaughtered.

The story is retold in gruesome detail in a just-published book, Hebron Jews, by a professor of history at Wellesley, Jerold Auerbach. I have known Auerbach for years, as our mothers were cousins, and have admired his work on both labor and Jewish subjects. He uses the skills of a long-tenured professor to remind us not only of the importance of the Hebron story, from Abraham’s original contract on a burial site for Sarah to the return of the Hebron Jews of our generation, but also of its ironies.

Back in 1929 the Jews who called themselves “settlers” were the relatively secular Zionists who lived on the Mediterranean coast and in northern Eretz Yisrael. The Jews of Hebron had dwelled there intermittently for thousands of years and continuously since the expulsion from Spain in 1492. In the 1920s there was an influx of young scholars from a Lithuanian yeshiva, Knesset Israel. Their arrival coincided with rising tensions throughout Palestine. By August, trouble was sensed by the one British police officer in the town, Raymond Cafferata. He was told by both Arabs and Jews in Hebron that “any trouble” was “out of the question.”

Yet that same week a Jewish teacher named Haim Bagayo was warned, “This time we are going to butcher you all.” Earlier that day, there had been clashes in Jerusalem, in which three Arabs and three Jews died.

The Jews of Hebron, Auerbach writes, “refused to believe that their Arab neighbors, with whom they had lived in relatively peaceful coexistence for four centuries, meant them harm.” Cafferata noted that in Hebron “everything appeared normal.” But before the day was out, Arabs began to attack Jews with clubs, and Jewish shops were quickly shuttered.

The first to die was a student, Shmuel Rosenhaltz, who was set upon as he studied, alone, in the main yeshiva. The Jews were warned to stay inside their homes. Early the next morning, Arabs, screaming “Allah akbar” and “Itbach al Yahud,” or “kill the Jews,” began surging through the streets. Two Jewish youths were stoned to death outside the house of the Heichel family.

Some 70 Jews sought refuge inside a relatively large house, owned by Eliezer Dan Slonim. Almost the whole family of Slonim – his wife, Hannah, and their son, his father-in-law, who was the chief rabbi of Zichron Yaakov, and his wife – were among 22 persons who were clubbed or stabbed to death and, in some cases, disemboweled. The Slonims’ one-year-old son survived, having been hidden under dying Jews.

Rabbi Hanoch Hasson was murdered, along with his family. A pharmacist, Ben-Zion Gershon, who’d served both Arabs and Jews, “had his eyes gouged out before he was stabbed to death,” Auerbach relates. His wife’s hands were cut off before she and their daughter were killed. Mr. Goldshmidt was tortured, his head held over a kerosene flame, before he, his wife, and one of their daughters were killed.

Twenty-three corpses were discovered in the Anglo Palestine Bank, where women were raped on a floor covered with thick pools of congealing blood. Rabbis Meir Kastel and Tzvi Dabkin and five of their students were tortured and castrated before being murdered. The killings went on for two hours, and the final death toll reached 67.

In the aftermath, the left tended to support the Arabs. The Forward, a pro-labor paper, broke sharply with the comrades, siding instead with the religious Jews and praising those, albeit those few, who were reported to have fought back. One American writer, Maurice Samuel, who’d been visiting Eretz Yisrael at the time, wrote a book about the event titled, What Happened in Palestine? Like a number of other Zionists, he focused blame on the Mandatory authorities, while insisting relations between Jews and Arabs were broadly amicable. The sheik who incited the slaughter served a month in prison. Any moral standing of the Mandate, if it had ever existed, drained away.

About the Author: Seth Lipsky, founding editor of The New York Sun, writes a bi-weekly column for Tablet Magazine, where this first appeared. He can be contacted at lipsky@nysun.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Hebron Then And Now”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Islamic State flag displayed from Arab residence
IDF Arrests Terrorist Linked with ISIS
Latest Indepth Stories
Dalia Lemkos, HY"D Is this the image you think of when you hear the word "settler?"

The “Media” didn’t want us to know what a kind, giving, loving young woman Dalia was.

A “Palestine” could become another Lebanon, with many different factions battling for control.

Temple_Mount_aerial_from_south_tb_q010703bsr-300x225

Maimonides himself walked and prayed in the permissible areas when he visited Eretz Yisrael in 1165

voting

Having a strong community presence at the polls shows our elected officials we care about the issues

Israel’s Temple Mount policy prefers to blames the Jews-not the attackers-for the crisis.

When Islam conquered the Holy Land, it made its capital in Ramle of all places, not in Jerusalem.

I joined the large crowd but this time it was more personal; my cousin Aryeh was one of the victims.

Terrorists aren’t driven by social, economic, or other grievances, rather by a fanatical worldview.

The phrase that the “Arabs are resorting to violence” is disgraceful and blames the victim.

Tuesday, Yom Shlishi, a doubly good day in the Torah, Esav’s hands tried to silence Yaakov’s voice.

Because of the disparate nature of the perpetrators, who are also relatively young, and given the lack of more traditional targets and the reverence Palestinians have for their homes, one now hears talk of Israel returning to a policy of destroying the houses of terrorists’ families.

In any event, the Constitution gives Congress what is popularly described as the “power of the purse” – that is, the power to raise revenues through taxation and to decide how the money should be sent.

It is difficult to write about such a holy person, for I fear I will not accurately portray his greatness…

There was much to learn from Judge Kramer and the examples he set remains a source of inspiration and a resource from which to learn. He was and remains a great role model.

More Articles from Seth Lipsky

Jews have been marking the 80th anniversary of the Hebron massacre that began on August 23, 1929. It is one of the most horrible pogroms in all of history. With a new American administration seeking to portray Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria as obstacles to peace, one wonders what would happen – what would be the reaction – were such an attack to be perpetrated against the Jews of Hebron today.

“What did we learn?” is the question posed at the end of “The Accomplices,” Bernard Weinraub’s play about the mission to America of Peter Bergson, who, in 1940, was sent by Vladimir Jabotinsky to rouse the Roosevelt administration to save the Jews of Europe.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/hebron-then-and-now/2009/08/26/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: