Responsibility for the anti-Jewish massacres during the past fortnight in Palestine was traced to the agitation carried on by Amin el Hussini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and president of the Moslem Supreme Council, and to certain members of the Palestine government, in a memorandum submitted to the High Commissioner of Palestine, Sir John Chancellor, by the united Jewish organizations in the country, the National Council of Palestine Jews, the Chief Rabbinate, and the Orthodox Jewish organization, Agudath Israel. The memorandum, representing the statement of Palestine Jewry as regards its position, reads as follows:
“The hour has not yet arrived to summarize all the terrible experiences of the last ten bloody days which have ruined a great part of the upbuilding work carried on for two generations and which resulted in the killing of 130 and the wounding of hundreds of our brethren. We still have no assurance that the chapter of these horrors has been closed. We still receive, day and night, news concerning new victims and new places which are threatened. But we, the representatives of the Yishub (Jewish settlement), deem it our duty to express to Your Excellency on your return to the country our opinion and to submit our findings at which we arrived in judgment of the bloody events and destructions, and put before you our pressing demands.
“1. For a long time an open and hidden propaganda was being conducted in this country, inciting to attacks on Jews who were occupied with the work of peace and reconstruction. In 1921 they aroused among the Moslem population suspicions that their property, their belongings and their women are in danger, while this time the propagandists chose the Wailing Wall as the starting point because they understood that on the religious field they would have an easier start to arouse the masses.
INDICTS GRAND MUFTI
“One of the chief inciters of the Jerusalem pogrom in 1921, who was afterwards made chief of the Council of the Moslem population by the government, was the Jerusalem Mufti. He is appearing now as a protector of the Moslem holy foundations against our alleged attacks. This propaganda was
conducted by a well organized force before the very eyes of the government, which is responsible for the security of the country and the safety of its inhabitants and which did nothing in order to stop this dangerous propaganda and prevent the results.
MAKES DIRECT CHARGE AGAINST GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS
“This strange indifference on the part of a modern and strong government, which knows how to use its power if it so wished, strengthens our conviction that in the government circles there are elements which are interested in this propaganda and in making distinctions between the nations of this country.
“2. Since the scandal at the Wailing Wall on the last Day of Atonement, which aroused the Jewish world which saw in this act a great insult to its religious feeling, an act which was carried out by an order of the government of Jerusalem, we again and again warned the government about the great danger which threatened the peace of the country.
THE WAILING WALL QUESTION
“It was the attitude of the government in ignoring the insults which were inflicted on the Jews and in strengthening the hands of the insulters that augmented the danger which was hastened by the government’s giving permission to the Moslems to build new additional parts to the Wall and granted them a permit to open a new door which makes the gate a public thoroughfare.
GOVERNMENT ABSTAINS FROM DENYING FALSEHOODS
“3. The government of Palestine did not take the slightest steps before the outbreak nor after the events up to this day to publicly deny the calumnies which the instigators have circulated among the Arab population and establish the truth about the attitude of peace and respect which the Yishub always feels towards the Arab people and their Holy Places.
“4. Before the outbreaks several steps were made by the government which gave the Moslems the right to believe that the government is a party to their suspicions and is supporting their movements. The government permitted a Moslem demonstration at the Western Wall as if really some Jews had thought of attacking the Mosque of Omar. The government made an official statement which compares this mass demonstration of Arabs at the place of prayer of Jews with a demonstration of several hundred young Jews on the ninth day of the month Ab, the national day of mourning, at their own place of prayer. While the Jewish demonstration did not the slightest thing which could incite anyone, the Moslem demonstration desecrated the religious place of the Jews by committing acts of terror, burning prayer books and destroying religious vessels, while nobody was arrested for committing these criminal acts and the government in its official statement tried to cover these acts and minimize their significance.
GOVERNMENT DID NOT AFFORD PROTECTION; ATTITUDE ENCOURAGED ATTACKS
“5. In the first days of the bloody outbreak, the whole Yishub under attack was without any government protection. In most cases the police came too late, after the assailants had finished their work and in many cases the police were passive eye-witnesses of attacks without interfering. To all warnings of the Yishub and its cry for help, the government had only one reply: ‘The situation is now in hand.’
“6. We have the strongest impression that if drastic measures would have been taken, it would have been possible to stop the bloody events immediately after their commencement. On that famous Friday, August 23, in Jerusalem the government did not take such measures. The outbreak in Jerusalem was, at the beginning a local incident with a tendency to establish what attitude the government would take towards the attackers. After the Friday prayers, when the masses of worshippers left the Mosque of Omar, they started with single acts against Jews, with shots, knives, with throwing of stones, the breaking of windows and attacks on individuals. The government did not show up with any protection against these attacks. A few English and Arab policemen were posted, armed with sticks. The few machine guns which were spread over the street did not do the slightest thing toward frightening the attackers. The police did nothing to disperse the rioters or drive them back. Nothing was done to stop the first attack and the masses of attackers felt immediately that there would be no objection on the part of the government to the carrying out of a serious pogrom.
DESCRIBES JERUSALEM EVENTS
“7. The Jews protected themselves with everything they could and repelled the first attackers with their own strength and readiness for sacrifice. The first attacks were made on the following places: the Old City, Romema, Mea Shearim, Nachlath Achim, Rechavya, Talpioth, Yemin Moshe, San Hedriya, Machnaim, Baith V’gan, Beth Ha’Kerem, Montefiore quarter, Givath Shaul and Shekunath Haguryim. The government did not care to send help in time even to the Dishkin orphanage, where 300 children were exposed to slaughter. The children were saved by help which arrived from the nearby settlements.
“8. On Saturday, at 6 A. M., there were heard simultaneously shots from all parts of the city. This attack was intended to destroy Kiryath Anavim, Beth Ha’havara, Arza. Motza, Ataroth and all the farthest settlements of Jerusalem. Several houses were pillaged in Talpioth, Mekor Chaim, Bait V’gan and Nveh Shaanan, and attempts were made to set fire to them. This time, also, the city was saved chiefly on account of the heroic attitude of the Jews. Otherwise, they would have had in Jerusalem the massacre of Hebron and Safed.
“A word of thanks and blessing may be here expressed to the Oxford students and a few English officials, who voluntarily came that day to help the attacked Jews and accomplished their work with honor and self-sacrifice.
“But not all the settlements were able to protect themselves with their own forces. Some were forsaken, for instance, Bait V’gan. The settlement of women workers, which is near the new palace of the High Commissioner, was pillaged and destroyed, also Jedud Haavoda and Ramath Rachel. In the last settlement the inhabitants fought to their last strength, but were compelled to evacuate and so the door to Talpioth was opened for the robbing bands.
“The enterprise and courage of the attackers and their appetite began growing and the field of their activity was broadened owing to the lack of energetic activities on the part of the government. The bands simply spread from Jerusalem to all parts of the country.
“9. The government allowed the assault to go unchecked and took no steps during all these days to make any serious attempts to protect our lives and property. Nor were the attackers given any serious punishment, and the position was such in the country that it was as if no penalty would be attached to them. No steps were taken to prevent those who were looting the wealth of the Jews, as if they were abandoned to anyone. The government did not arrest or bring to court a single one of the chief agitators, although they were principally responsible for the great shedding of blood and for the destruction of the various centers. As for the government officials, there is no doubt whatever as to their responsibility. They have still not been turned out of office nor brought to justice.
“10. The guilt of the officials is extremely great, particularly with regard to the slaughter at Hebron. On Friday there passed through the quarters of Hebron crowds of Arabs who flung stones at Jewish houses and they tried to break into them. They killed a student of the Yeshiva. All these were clear signs that danger was threatening the Jews of Hebron. Nevertheless, no steps whatever were taken to defend them. Before the eyes of the governor, to whom they cried for help but received no reply whatever, and before the eyes of the police, who had put away their arms and were armed merely with sticks, the slaughter took place and the result of the catastrophe was that 63 people, among them women, children, rabbis and students, were slaughtered, the like of which is not to be found throughout our history of Palestine since the destruction of the Temple.
“A few shots in the air would have (Continued on Page 4)
been sufficient to put an end at once to the trouble.
“11. After a whole week of bloodshed rife in the country, there was repeated at Safed the same horrors as at Hebron. The Jewish part of the city was burned, looted and put to sword. Thousands of people, before the eyes of the government, which stood against us, were without sufficient protection or help.
“12. There was a whole chain of destruction, and the work of death in the Jewish settlements, the attack on Beisan, assaults at Tel Aviv and Haifa, raids on the settlements in the south, destruction of Beer Tuvia, the ruin of Ekron, the burning of Artuf, Hulda and Kfar Uria. The mass attack on Gedera before help arrived and after the slaughter there, came a growing danger in Northern Galilee and in the settlements of the Jordan valley and in Lower Galilee, where much of the settlers’ produce was flung into the fire and where the settlers had to withstand attacks with no hope of help for the next day.
“13. Having regard to this condition of affairs and to the state in which the whole Jewish settlement found itself, it was the first duty of the government to strengthen the hands of those men who were in this great danger and to give them means of self-defense, to create such units and to grant permission to strengthen their self-defense as much as they could, so that innocent blood should not be shed and the work of a generation should not go up in flames.
GOVERNMENT INTERFERED WITH JEWISH SELF-DEFENSE
“On the contrary, the government harassed and pursued those Jews who were defending themselves, and took from them the arms they still had left against those who were attacking them, arrested them and handed them over to the court as if they were criminals.
“14. The government prevented the use of the telephone between various towns. This prohibition fell heavily not only on individuals, but also on public institutions, excepting the Zionist Organization, by which the government took from the colonies the possibility of direct application for immediate help. The government imposed a rigid censorship on telegrams dispatched abroad. Also, it preevnted newspapers from appearing, without making any distinction between those newspapers which incited violence and those which did their best to preach peace. All these regulations but added to the danger and terror of the Jews. They looked upon themselves not only as despoiled of their only means of defense and robbed of government help, but also without the possibility of calling help from any one else in the country and they were not able, therefore, to rely upon the help of any friend in the world, nor to deny the rumors and slanders which were spread abroad against them by those who hated them both within and outside the country.
“15. In the middle of our peaceful activities in the work of peace, reconstruction, upbuilding and cultural activities, which are not harming anyone and which were not injurious to any community, bands of incited savages were thrown upon us, who shed the blood of more than a hundred Jews, killing with horrible tortures; children were slaughtered, women were raped, limbs were cut off, Torah Scrolls were desecrated and burnt, synagogues were pillaged and burnt and huge wealth, the result of the greatest efforts of the whole Jewish world, was annihilated. During ten days, the Yishub was exposed to entire annihilation and it is still in danger.
“In spite of the fact that the picture of events is now clear and open, the government is still trying to indicate in their official statements, even those issued during the bloody days, that it is all a quarrel between two nations, of whom it is not yet clear who is attacking and who are attacked. In this attempt to mutilate the truth of the events, we see, in addition to an attack on our lives, an attempt to attack our honor and a tendency to deceive public opinion, which throughout the civilized world knows that our attitude toward other people’s religions is one of respect and peace. This mutilation of the truth is the crowning work of the bloody action and the tendencies of destruction which were realized only partly because of the Jews’ heroic defense. We are sincerely convinced that if the government of Palestine would have taken the necessary measures they could have prevented the disturbance of the peace of the country. Even now peace will be reestablished and life will be brought back to normal routine if there will be established in this country an administration which is faithfully confirmed in its upholding of the peace and will fulfill the tasks which were entrusted to it by the Mandate.
STATES PALESTINE JEWRY’S DEMANDS
“We demand :
“1. The appointment of a commission of inquiry which shall be independent of the London government for the purpose of inquiring into the roots of the bloody events and with a view of fixing the responsibility.
“2. Security of life and property in all cities and colonies of Jews through the augmentation of the military posts and the mobilization of Jewish policemen into the regular police forces in a measure which is in accordance with the needs.
“3. The establishment of Jewish defense forces, organized and supervised by the government and wearing the government’s badge, to be stationed in the Jewish settlements for the protection of life and property.
“4. Release of Jews who were arrested for carrying arms for self (Continued on Page 8)
defense and stoppage of search for arms by the police.
“5. The arrest and trial of all guilty, beginning with the attackers and instigators and ending with the government officials who were unfaithful to their duty.
“6. The payment of compensation to the victims of the attacks, the rebuilding of destroyed property, houses, etc., at the expense of the government.
“7. Speedy relief in money and medical aid to the sufferers and enabling refugees to return to their homes.
“8. To levy heavy fines on the Arab villages which participated in the attacks and in the looting.
“9. To arrange suitable measures between the Jewish settlements and government officials with reference to the organization of self defense.”
The memorandum was dated Jerusalem, September 2, 1929, and submitted by Elia Berlin, Isaac Ben-Zvi, Chaim Solomon, on behalf of the National Council of Palestine Jews; Rabbis A. J. Kook and Ben Zion Uziel on behalf of the Chief Rabbinate; and Rabbi Blau on behalf of the Agudath Israel.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.