As the Palestinian-Israel peace talks stand on the verge of collapse, Jerusalem Post columnist Sarah Honig muses that nothing much has changed since the 1920 Nebi-Musa riots in Jerusalem. Then indigenous non-Zionist dhimmis were deemed fair game for murder simply because they were not entitled to the right to self-defence. Britain, as the colonial power, connived with the rioters.
Those deadly landmark rampages were kick started on April 4, 1920,
exploiting Muslim celebrations to rally thousands of raiders at Nebi
Musa in the Judean Desert. Serially inflamed by Husseini’s vitriolic
harangues, they poured into Jerusalem, descended upon the Old City’s
Jewish Quarter and began butchering, raping, pillaging and burning – all
in the name of their God.
The premeditated atrocity lasted four days. Even passing reflections
on its overlooked anniversary (it’s so uncool to recall crimes against
Jews), can contribute considerably to our present-day perspectives.
This unprovoked killing-spree was launched before any of the excuses
for Arab bloodlust – now so conveniently and commonly cited – had
existed. There was no Jewish state to fulminate against and no Israeli
occupation with which to justify any outrage against Jews in the Jewish
There was no hint of what the Palestinians market so effectively as their nakba – catastrophe. There wasn’t a single Arab refugee. There was no war, no displacement, no reason to rage.
The 1920 victims were largely members of the old-time, traditional,
pre-Zionist Jewish community that had long before then constituted
Jerusalem’s outright majority. Yet this ancient community was deemed
fair game. The subtext was that Jews have no rights – not even
Considering their penchant for distorting history, Israel’s
detractors are doubtless tempted to describe 1920’s predators as
oppressed Palestinian peasants protesting against usurper Jews. It must,
therefore, be a whopping downer to discover that none of this homicidal
fury was unleashed on behalf of Palestine. The Arabs loathed the very
name introduced to this country by its new British overlords.
Ironically, it was the Jews who became known throughout the first half of the 20th century as Palestinians and it was the Arabs who scornfully rejected the moniker.
The executioners who swooped down on Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter
championed the cause of Greater Syria. On March 7, 1920 Britain crowned
Feisal, a Hashemite princeling from today’s Saudi Arabia, as king in
Damascus. By July that year the French would chuck him out. In response,
London earmarked its latest invention, Iraq, for Feisal’s next
monarchy. So much for the fictitious nature of Arab nationalities.
Feisal, incidentally, conferred with Dr. Chaim Weizmann, president of
the World Zionist Organization, on January 1919 and they produced the
Faisal-Weizmann Agreement for Arab-Jewish Cooperation. Thereupon Faisal
issued the following statement, which appears quite fantastic in view of
all that ensued:
“We Arabs… look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement… We
will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home… I look forward, and my
people with me look forward, to a future in which we will help you and
you will help us, so that the countries in which we are mutually
interested may once again take their places in the community of the
civilized peoples of the world.”
Nothing even minimally approaching such recognition can be expected
nowadays of Abbas, who preposterously claims no less than 9000 years of
“Palestinian” Arab history in this land and who denies any Jewish
connection to it whatsoever.
But truth be told, Faisal failed miserably to enlist support for his
pro-Jewish inclinations. Syria’s loyal enthusiasts right here were busy
murdering Jews during Feisal’s brief reign as their king. They yearned
to be ruled by Damascus – as Syrians, not Palestinians. It would serve
to note that Husseini’s co-instigator of the Nebi Musa bloodbath was
Aref Aref, significantly editor of the “Southern Syria” newspaper.
Most instructive in regard to Israel’s current international standing
is the reaction in 1920 of the international community’s representative
– Britain, claimant to the mandate to rule this land. How did it
respond to the Jerusalem pogrom?
Not unsurprisingly, as if by a magic wave of the mufti’s wand, His
Majesty’s military units actually exited Jerusalem during the onslaught.
Top officers, like Allenby’s chief of staff, Col. Bertie Walters-Taylor
trained and abetted the assailants. Inspired by him, British and Arab
policemen even joined the rioters.
No wonder the mob howled deliriously: “A-Dawla ma’ana” – the government is with us. They knew whereof they screamed and their assessment of the government’s bias was spot on.
How little things have changed. The entire watching world still seethes with bias against this land’s Jews.
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The Arab pogrom that started it all, by Michael Freund