Know Your History: The 1929 Hebron Massacre

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series where I use history to debunk common misconceptions about the Middle East conflict.

Today is the 87th anniversary of the 1929 Hebron massacre of Jews at the hands of Arabs – 19 years before the establishment of the modern state of Israel, and 38 years before the so-called “occupation” of lands following the Six Day War.

Guest poster Rachel Steinmetz has already given invaluable insight into what occurred in late August, 1929, with her must-read post about her murdered relative Eliyahu Yissachar Senderov zt”l. If you have not read her post yet, you really need to.

Looking at newspaper articles of the time, we can gain additional insight.

Like this Palestine Bulletin report from Monday September 2, 1929. Note in particular:

  • The Hebron massacre was part of a widespread Arab campaign of riots and massacres around Palestine – in Jerusalem, Motza, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Tzfat, in addition to Hebron – with over 100 Jews killed and over 200 wounded
  • The frightened Jews of Hebron being assured by the Arab district officer that there was nothing to be afraid of
  • Some of the murderers coming from an Arab village with friendly relations with the Jews
  • The terrorists murdering prominent Jews who had established good relations with the Arabs, and who, in one case, had even spent large sums on Arab education
  • The Muslim world claiming the Jews had provoked the “disturbances”
  • Muslim leaders asking the Jews be disarmed, as if that was the problem
  • Nowhere in the report are the Arabs referred to as “Palestinians”

Click on the screenshots to enlarge.

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The Palestine Bulletin from Wed September 4th gives further insight into events. Note in particular the eyewitness noticing his (Arab) landlord among the murderous mob, as well as the despicable treatment the victims endured after the attack at the hands of the British police.

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There were also some interesting consequences of the massacre. Like some of the Arabs of Hebron claiming they were “haunted” by Abraham.

Jerusalem (Sep. 23)

The pangs of conscience felt among certain elements of the Arab population at Hebron for the anti-Jewish massacre on Saturday, August 24, has found expression in a legend which is spreading among the local Arab population, reports the correspondent of the “Palestine Bulletin,” only English daily newspaper in Palestine.

“Why have ye slaughtered my children, ye sons of Ishmael? Why dishonored your father’s name?” This and similar cries are said to have been heard by Arabs on many nights, emanating from the Cave of the Machpellah, the tomb near Hebron where the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were buried, according to the Biblical narrative.

The Machpellah, sacred to Jews and to Moslems, is now the site of a mosque. Local Arabs relate that since the massacre, the wrath of the patriarch, Abraham, has been aroused. At first, there is a low moaning coming from the tomb of Abraham, followed by wails, then words uttered indistinctly, growing clearer as the night draws on. Women are said to hear a woman’s voice cry: “Why did ye shed innocent blood? Why did ye not have pity? Why have ye slaughtered my children?”

The Arabs of Hebron are greatly disturbed by these voices and the legend is spreading rapidly among the population. The Arabs are considering ways of appeasing the spirit of the patriarchs.

And economic ramifications, as this report from The Sentinel December 30, 1932 shows (in yet another echo of the situation today, where the Arabs’ terrorism leads to their economic hardship).

sentinel dec 1929

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