The Palestine incidents cry to heaven against the indifference or anti-Jewish malevolence of the Palestine administration.
For days preceding the big attack the Jewish press and representatives had warned the government and the public of the impending disaster and implored the government to prepare. I will bring with me heavy documentary evidence to this effect.
Scattered attacks on the Jews were everywhere taking place. Also, there was fierce unrest among the Arabs. On Friday morning, though it was not High Moslem Holiday, thousands of Arabs, armed with swords, daggers, clubs and firearms, poured into Jerusalem, the police not making the feeblest effort to examine any of them. When the last moment came and the vast mob of Arabs poured after prayer through the Jaffa Gate, the British police had prepared infinitely smaller protection than that which was assembled two days before against the peaceful Jewish funeral when twenty odd Jews were wounded.
On this occasion the place stood by passive, while the slaughter began and only at a certain point made an effort to disperse the mob.
In the Georgian Jewish section the massacre lasted a full two hours against men, women and children before the police interfered. Where the Jews had organized self-defense they behaved heroically as in Yemin Moshe where they threw back the vast, murderous mob, the police arriving later.
The riots began, well organized, on several fronts simultaneously and in many sections the police did not arrive until 3 P. M. though even where they were present they made the feeblest efforts. Orders were given to the police to abstain from firing.
The Jerusalem Jews universally praise the Oxford students’ courageous help.
The amazing fact is that though Hebron is a known center of anti-Jewish violence, where only Jews of the old school and the Yeshiva were quite incapable of self-defense, the government abandoned them to the local Arabs with the results now known.
Acts of unparalleled treachery by the Arab governor of Hebron before and after the massacre are now confirmed. He disarmed the Arab police when the mobs began gathering and restored their arms when the massacre was over. When the surviving Jews wanted to telephone Jerusalem, he refused permission, and when they wanted to telegraph he insisted they use only one formula: “Hebron all right.”
Amazing stories are told of the passive heroism of Jews and the Yeshivah bochurim of Hebron who covered each other with their bodies in their last agonies.
The Palestine administration, having suspended the newspapers, issues bulletins which are incredibly impudent in their misrepresentation. For example, it places the list of Jewish and Arab dead of Jerusalem and Hebron under one rubric to cover the nature of the massacre in Hebron. Also, reporting from Haifa, it says: “A clash took place between Jews and Arabs and the British came and dispersed them,” as though both were equally guilty. This misrepresentation illustrates the continuous policy of the administration in placing the Jews and Arabs in Juxtaposition with itself as the indifferent spectator.
Throughout the country, as in Jerusalem, it is clear that if the Jews had relied on government protection, a massacre unparalleled in its dimensions would have taken place.
In Tel Aviv where I was an eye witness this was obviously so. But here the Jews were half way prepared, though wretchedly hampered by the government’s restriction of the self-defense. The result was that in Tel Aviv the Arabs were thrown back and even most of our losses were due to the heroic but unnecessary and premature effort of the young Jews to rescue Jewish isolated workers in a factory in the Arab district.
In Safed, as in Hebron, there were no “self-defense type” Jews. Therefore the administration was doubly guilty again for the massacre which took place without Arab casualties several days after the riots in other parts of the country. There, as elsewhere, help arrived much too late.
In many parts of the country the Jewish self-defense recalled the early American pioneers surrounded by howling redskins.
In Huldah 27 Jews resisted for eight hours the terrific assault of one thousand Arabs creeping up through the Herzl forest. One Jew, Ephraim Chishik, whose sister was killed with Trumpeldor at Tel Hai, was killed. The British help arrived after eight hours, though blazing buildings and the flames of the thrashing floor were visible at Tel Aviv, Rechoboth and certainly at Naaneh which was the British station. When the Jews were relieved they counted forty or fifty Arab dead in the vicinity. (Continued on Page 8)
Another heroic defense occurred at Hartuv where 125 men, women and children in one house withstood the Arab mobs for several hours until the arrival of the British. In Hartuv there was Judah Eppel of Vilna who fled Poland in disgust of the Polish government eight years before because of its failure to protect Jewish lives, only to face this in Palestine.
Hartuv and Huldah were almost burned to the ground.
Details of the defense at Beth Alpha are unknown, but I remember this: Beth Alpha faces the desert and the Bedouins are different human material than the Palestinian Arabs.
An amazing universal phenomenon is the fact that the Arabs have nowhere attacked such positions where the the Jews were known to be strong but chose isolated points and cities where the government had half crippled our self-defense or we had none at all. This is significant for the future situation. Many incidents are also reported when Arabs refused to participate in the murders while Arabs of Hebron and elsewhere were wounded in defense of Jews.
It should be added that provocative letters were sent out from Jerusalem by the Grand Mufti calling upon the Arabs to come to Jerusalem on Friday, August 23, though this was no High Holiday. Arabs likewise report having received letters from Sammy, the son of Musa Kazim Pasha, the president of the anti-Zionist Arab Executive, inciting them to “go to Jerusalem and attack the Jews.”
Jewish Palestine is in helpless rage against the administration and its misrepresentations of the situation. It should be noted that there is no hatred against the Arabs.
Shortly after his return to the country, the High Commissioner issued a declaration in which one can see the contradicting, mendacious utterances of the Palestine administration concerning the riots during his absence.
Palestine Jews consider their lives and property unsafe unless drastic changes in the personnel and in the spirit of the administration are brought about.