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The Safed Trial Proceeds

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The grim tragedy of the Safed attack on the sixth day after the Jerusalem outbreak, when Safed Jews believed they had escaped and while nearly the whole country was embroiled they were safe, was today painfully recalled piecemeal as the Jewish witnesses courageously testified against the three young Arabs accused of the murder of Isaac Mamaan.

The court was opened this morning with Assistant District Officer Bergman as the Hebrew interpreter. Everybody, the witnesses, the inscrutable British Judges and the public jammed into the courtroom no bigger than a small living room, breathed a sigh of relief. The proceedings were only marred by the grueling cross-examination.

The cross-examination, however “fishing” did not shake Joseph Benderly’s evidence that he saw the three accused and a fourth man, who absconded, attack Mamaan.

Mordecai Klinger, young, tall, with a blond mop of hair, squarely facing the lawyer who was seeking to discredit him, proved an excellent, impressive witness earning the Chief Justice’s repeated approbation. He corroborated under unceasing fire that Benderly told him, as they both sped to their houses, which they heard were burning, to run for his life from Mamaan’s assailants who had just appeared. While Benderly escaped, Klinger was trapped and a knife was about to descend on him when one of the accused for some re-son said “Pass.”

This dramatic scene was told simply, Klinger only pointing to the accused man who saved him from certain death. Simplicity and directness also marked Klinger’s recital of how they heard their houses were burning while the mob fired on the defenseless occupants. Without pathos, answering a direct question about his house which also served as a bank-Klinger is the son of Safed’s richest Jew-he said: “When I heard my family was attacked, I thought of my people not the property.” Without moving an eyelash he identified the prisoners as Maughanan rained blow upon blow on his credibility. Knowing both English and Arabic, Klinger unflinchingly spoke only through the Hebrew interpreter, disdaining all the lawyer’s questions about his knowledge of other languages. Quietly he said that from Saturday until Wednesday all Jewish stores in Safed had been had been closed on the government’s advice, none stirring from their houses, he only leaving for the first time on Wednesday for a short walk which he repeated on Thursday just as the outbreak began, mistakenly believing, in common with most Safed Jews, that nothing would happen after the first demonstration. Nevertheless, all except the food stores were closed in order not to give the Arab boys any chance to provoke a quarrel.

Altogether young Klinger represented the intelligent, proud; fighting Jew not commonly associated with Safed Jewry, indicating that even in the oldest cities there are among the native sons an element of which Jewry may be proud.

The dark complexioned, medium-sized, curly-haired Nissim Adam, an Oriental Jew speaking nothing but Arabic was different. He described himself as “a son of Arabia” and was distinguished from the Ashkenazic witnesses with whom he admitted he had little to do, although he knew all of them as well as the Arabs, including the prisoners whom he saw attack Mamaan with “daggers gleaming in the sun.” Eyes sparkling, arms eloquently gesticulating, Nissim, who is a tinsmith, held the court enthralled with his simple narrative, fencing with the Arab counsel’s purposeless questions which again exasperated the harassed Judge to warn the second lawyer “Please don’t burst out into unnecessary outbreaks.” When the lawyer attempted to bully the unshakeable eyewitness, Nissim said: “We were that day like floating wreckage. Our brains were not in our heads. We did not know whence death would come.”

The small courtroom was crowded to suffocation at the first night session of the murder trial last night, the glaring unshielded electric lights making brighter the Chief Justice’s scarlet robes. Two witnesses for the prosecution were heard, one, Nissan Finkelstein, 70 year-old native of Safed, who spoke in Yiddish, to which the Arab defense objected as an unofficial language but the court ruled as permissible, as the venerable Yeshiva man, versed in Hebrew lore and acquainted with the Arabic vernacular, expressed himself best in Yiddish. The Judge expressed admiration for the old man’s ability to locate places on the map. Finkelstein, however, saw eight men attacking Mamaan, one holding the dagger and all the others having clubs. He was able to iden- (Continued on Page 4)

Probably the best witness for the prosecution so far is a young chickendealer named Namous who, lying in the next bed when Mamaan was brought to the Hadassah hospital, heard the wounded man tell his wife that the four accused, including the one who absconded, attacked and robbed him of £34.

It was reported here last night that many Safed Arabs are assembling in Haifa to await the result of the trial. The authorities are taking all precautions against possible demonstrations.

A sensational development came on the second day of the trial of three Safed Arabs for the murder of Isaac Mamaan when Maughanan, chief counsel for the defense, who is secretary of the Arab Executive, after a scathing rebuke from the Chief Justice, Sir Michael MacDonnel, threw up his brief, leaving the defense in the hands of the junior counsel, Asfour, also a Christian Arab. The scene occurred at the close of the morning session when the exasperated Judge took the excellent Jewish witness, Mordecai Klinger, under protection after Maughanan, during three hours of cross-examination, was twice reminded that his questions were irrelevant, the Judge once saying: “You are wasting our time. There is a limit to my patience.” Nothing daunted, the counsel continued to worry Klinger, whom the Judge described as a “very fair witness” until the witness appealed to the court to protect him from personal questions unrelated to the evidence.

It was then that Chief Justice MacDonnel, addressing Maughanan in a firm tone said: “You are conducting a fishing examination. My brother, Judge Litt, thinks it is a gross waste of time. If the witness is exasperated he has my full sympathy. We will now adjourn and I advise you to reflect what I said before the next sitting.”

Maughanan did not appear at the afternoon session nor did he send direct word that he had withdrawn. Accordingly, he was reprimanded at the end of the afternoon session for discourtesy and inconvenience caused to the court, whereupon the counsel apologized. The Judge simply said: “I understand you wish to withdraw.”

During the recess Maughanan went to call on Judge MacDonnel, after which he informed the Jewish Telegraphic Agency representative that he had withdrawn in spite of the wishes of his Moslem colleagues who threw the whole burden of the defense upon him. He had been endeavoring, said Maughanan, to prevent an Arab lawyers’ strike, but he now thinks a strike is highly probable, both on account of Judge Litt’s previous sentences and “the af front” to himself. He also said he never hoped to obtain the acquittal of the accused but to save them from the death sentence, getting them off with fifteen years imprisonment.

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