Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mood in 1948 Cairo was of anti-Jewish terror

Solomonia has been posting fascinating extracts from the photo-journalist John Roy Carlson's 1951 work, Cairo to Damascus (link to in-print paperback). [All posts in the series collected on this page.] This excerpt captures the anti-Jewish mood in Cairo before the outbreak of the Arab war with Israel.

Still in early 1948, still in Cairo, before the official end of the mandate. pp. 118-119:

"It was about this time that I found plastered on the walls of Cairo buildings huge, luridly colored posters, violently anti-Jewish. One of them, showing a bloodstained dagger with the Star of David on its handle, and blood dripping from it, exhorted: "Arm Arabism!" Other posters read: "Don't talk to the Jews...Don't do business with them...Kill their business and they die...Consider them as our deepest enemies." (...)

"Cairo's mood, the hour before our departure, was one of excitement or terror -- depending on your religion. Jews were imprisoned because they were Zionists, and beaten on streets because they were Jews. They huddled in their homes, afraid to leave, afraid to worship on the Sabbath because the Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood) had spread rumors that synagogues were used for "plotting." Newspapers daily whipped up new excitement with news from Palestine: FIERCE BATTLE IN HOLY CITY'S NO-MAN'S LAND...HAIFA EXPRESS BLOWN UP AGAIN...MARTIAL LAW PROCLAIMED...There were celebrations as news of the dynamiting of the Jewish Agency building in Jerusalem, by a car carrying TNT and "flying an American flag," was announced, and later when Arabs ambushed a large convoy near Bethlehem, seized scores of vehicles, and killed many Jews. Under Arab League sponsorship, Fawzy Bey el Kawoukjy (who had spent the war years in Germany, marrying there) had begun to attack with his Yarmuk Army of Liberation.

"Arabs everywhere were confident of victory. They gloated over their arms, their money, their numbers. "If we Moslems choose to spit on the Jews we could drown them," one said contemptuously. From another: "We are like a ball of snow. We have just begun to roll. We will crush the microbe of Zionism forever."

"The Arab Goliath of eight States and forty-five million people would win over a tiny, sausage-shaped, "militarily indefensible" area, encircled by Arabs, and containing 650,000 poorly armed Jews and a fifth column of at least as many Arabs. There was no doubt that the Arabs would win easily. They said so."

Solomonia blog


Anonymous said...

Just a short but important information about EL-KAOUKJY Army, who attacked the North of Israel under the Arab League sponsorship, as written in this article. Yolande Harmor (Gabbai de-Botton), an Egyptian Jewish reporter from Alexandria, who was appointed at this time by Moshe Shertok (later the Prime Minister of Israel) to gather information in Egypt for the Hagana, succeeded to bring among others, the minutes of the Arab League meetings about El-Kaoukjy Plan. This previous information to the Hagana, helped leading El-Kaoukjy Army to defeat. Yolande Harmor has been imprisoned in Cairo in 1948, and because of a serious illness was deported. Today, there is a street on her name in Jerusalem, and a Film has been produced about her great contribution to the Yishuv before and after the creation of the State of Israel.

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

Carlson's book is indeed important. Today it would be considered most incorrect politically. Here is a link to some photos of the Mufti Amin el-Husseini --and his friends-- from Carlson's book.

by the way, Carlson's real name was Avedis Derounian. In America he used the name Arthur Derounian. Carlson was strictly a penname. He was a refugee from the Ottoman massacres of Armenians.