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April 20, 2014 10:11 am

Guardian Blames 1929 Arab Massacre of Jews on ‘Zionist Provocations’

avatar by Adam Levick

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Haj Amin el-Husseini, better known as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. Photo: American Colony (Jerusalem), Photo Dept., photographer.

During my youth in Poland, I asked a group of Poles why they felt a need to beat up Jews, and they responded that the very presence of Jews was a “provocation.” – Menachem Begin

In an otherwise unproblematic 2010 Guardian review (that we just came across) of a book by Martin Gilbert, titled ‘In Ishmael’s House: A History of Jews in Muslim Lands’, there was the following remarkable claim:

The influx of Zionist pioneers into Palestine from 1897 onwards, and the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, had a fateful impact on Jewish-Muslim coexistence. In such a bitter conflict we are all parti pris and even a scrupulous recorder like Gilbert is drawn into polemics and apologetics. For example, in detailing the shocking Arab riots of 1929 – in which 133 Jews were killed and 339 wounded – he might have mentioned that the violence was fueled in large part by the provocations of Zionist activists at the Wailing Wall (as with Ariel Sharon’s walkabout on the Temple Mount before the second intifada)

Leaving his specious claim about Sharon and the intifada aside, its first important to point out that the ‘1929 Riots’ refers to several massacres that year – one in Jerusalem that the author is referring to, one in Hebron and one in Safed.

Regarding the Jerusalem incidents, to blame “Zionist activists at the Wailing Wall’ for the Arab massacres is nothing but a propagandistic historical fabrication.

The following was written by Ricki Hollander, Senior Analyst at CAMERA, on the 1929 massacres:

In September 1928, a small group of Jews erected a “mechitza” (a divider to separate men and women during prayers) for Yom Kippur prayers at the Western Wall. The British forcibly dismantled the divider, but  Haj Amin al Husseini [the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem] used this incident as a pretext to incite Muslims. He accused the Jews of attempting to seize Muslim holy sites, including the al Aqsa Mosque.

A virulent propaganda campaign calling for jihad against the Jews resulted in the frequent beating and stoning of Jews worshipping at the Wall and culminated in widespread, murderous riots across Palestine in August 1929.

August 15, 1929 was Tisha B’Av, the day on which Jews commemorate the destruction of the Holy Temple. Thousands of Jews marched to the Wall to protest British restrictions on Jewish prayer there, and to reaffirm their Jewish connection to the holy site. They displayed their nationalistic fervor by singing Hatikvah (later to become Israel’s national anthem). The following day, mobs of armed Arab worshippers inflamed by anti-Jewish sermons, fell upon Jewish worshippers at the Wall, destroying Jewish prayer books and notes placed between the stones of the wall. On August 17, a Jewish boy was killed by Arabs during ensuing riots in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Bukharan.

According to the Davar newspaper of August 20, 1929, incitement against the Jews was rampant, especially in the Jerusalem and Hebron area. Rumors were spread that Jews had cursed Islam and intended to take over their holy places; Muslims were told that it was their duty to take revenge. “Defend the Holy Places” became the battle cry.

On August 23, more than 1000 Arabs launched attacks on Jews throughout Jerusalem. Forty-seven people were killed. This was followed by widespread attacks on Jews throughout Palestine. Again, the British forbade Jews to organize armed self-defense units and within several days, 133 Jews had been killed and 339 wounded. Arab attackers sustained high numbers of casualties (116), almost all of whom were killed by British police trying to quell the violence. Jewish leaders reported that Arab attacks showed evidence of organized warfare; Arab assaults on Jewish communities extended from as far south as Hebron to Haifa, Safed, Mahanaim and Pekiin in the north. A state of emergency was declared and martial law was imposed by the British.

Additionally, the Palestine Inquiry Commission appointed by the British Government to investigate the riots unequivocally declared that “the [violent] outbreak in Jerusalem on August 23rd was from the beginning an attack by Arabs on the Jews for which no excuse, in the form of earlier murders by Jews, has been established”.

In fact, beyond the predictable agitprop employed after the 1929 riots by the Palestine Communist Party, it’s difficult to find any source parroting the claim that ‘Zionist provocations’ caused the anti-Jewish violence.

Indeed, there appears to be no historical dispute regarding the fact that Arab mobs, fed by antisemitic incitement (including the propagation of conspiracy theories by Muslim religious leaders), engaged in brutal, unprovoked attacks on Jewish men, women and children over a series of weeks.

However, some Jews reportedly sang Hatikvah at the Western Wall.

So, according to the Guardian contributor, it wasn’t antisemitic incitement and widespread anti-Jewish racism, but nationalistic Jewish songs which provoked the Arabs to kill them.

Though we’re all too familiar with such perverse Guardian logic by which Jewish victims are in some way always to blame for the Palestinian violence perpetrated against them, the mere ubiquitousness of such moral inversions shouldn’t render them any less appalling.

Adam Levick is the managing editor of CiF Watch, an affiliate of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • The Brits are amongst the top 3 anti Israel/anti Semitic countries in Europe.
    The Jewish populous of Britain are very fearful of the muslims.Thats the reason that so many are complicit in this hatred.

  • Fritz Kohlhaas

    The Guardian is DRECK!!!

  • Eric R.

    The Guardian is a terrorist publication, just like Al-Manar, the Hezbollah propaganda machine, and should be treated the same.

    If any Guardian propagandist is in Israel at this moment, they should be immediately arrested and brought as quickly as possible to a plane waiting at some remote airport for a long flight to Europe. And make sure that the plane is waiting in the Negev and is not air conditioned.

  • The GUARDIAN blames Auschwitz and Treblinka on Zionist provocation.

    • Julian Clovelly

      On a simple point of fact, Richard – if you put the word Auschwitz into the Guardian Newspaper search engine you will come up with over 3500 references – Many to pages of personal testimony. No newspaper does more to ensure that the history is never forgotten and that it is universally disseminated, and that the manner in which it is revealed to our children of all backgrounds, and throughout the world, as part of their education, is constantly reviewed and considered

      I would like to give you a quote from one such Guardian article – the writer’s name is given as Hila Schachar. I leave it to stand alone:

      “Perhaps because half my family was wiped by the Holocaust, I’m unable to sit back in silence and watch people casually drop it into sentences as if it is meaningless. Perhaps it’s also because I’ve interviewed Holocaust survivors and touched their trembling hands as they showed me photographs of family members and friends they had lost. You can’t see and experience that and assume that it’s okay to opportunistically use the Holocaust as an metaphorical concept.

      It takes a certain lack of perspective to assume that the images, bodies and murdered silence of victims of historical war and genocide exist for our own consumption and use in contemporary ethical dilemmas. We should remember the victims for themselves – it’s the least we can do for them. ”

      (Guardian online 27 January 2014 accessed 22April 2014)

      Peace

  • Frank Adam

    My first reaction – given I read The G regularly was to try and place the recent publication of this story but it escapes my memory of the week’s if not the fortnight’s editions – unless this is all out of the CIF website “conversations”. There is certainly nothing new in this story that has not already been set out in the printed literature of Christopher Sykes “Crossroads to Israel” and the memoirs of Inspector Duff the police officer in the Western Wall incident, “Poor Man’s Knight” or Begin’s memoir,”The Revolt.

  • Julian Clovelley

    Mr Levick is getting weirder in my opinion in his attacks on fellow(sic) writers who have been published in the Guardian newspaper and truly I question his motives

    On this occasion I note that he does not even identify the writer of the review in question, who is Rabbi Dr David J Goldberg, minister emeritus of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London, and an independent writer whose articles have often been published in the Guardian. In fact what is occurring in this complaint by Mr Levick is more of an internal Jewish row. You are attacking a Jewish opinion, Mr Levick… So what is going on?

    I am totally unconvinced Mr Levick’s attacks on the Guardian are anything other than part of a Ultra Conservative onslaught on one of the few remaining powerful independent voices in an otherwise increasingly Right Wing monopolised media. In my own country, Australia, the Guardian online is just about the only remaining independent voice, other than our national broadcasters, which themselves are facing an onslaught from our present Right Wing Conservative regime.

    The reason why this matters, is that in its publication of all sides in the political arena the Guardian might well – should the Conservative political forces swing further Right, and get out of the control of those currently riding alongside, be the last man standing in opposing the onrush of an unfettered Fascism, bringing antisemitism in its wake.

    To a sympathiser to the Israeli and Jewish plight, Mr Levick seems to express the very inflammatory fanatically Right Wing position that most endangers Israel by isolating it from the Left. This political stance of deliberate isolation is dangerous. The settler movement may feel that they can stand alone like David versus Goliath but I think this is mythologically based nonsense.

    I respectfully suggest such a stance is suicidal, and that these attacks on the Guardian are wrongheaded, and displaying a total lack of understanding of the kind of Newspaper the Guardian is – a newspaper making all views available for debate, so that its readership is fully informed. We need to know the point of view of Palestinians just as much as we need to comprehend the Israeli viewpoint – both are essential in the pursuit of peace

    Let’s put it simply – I have no doubt that Mr Levick, himself having already been published by the Guardian, would also have his views appear on the blogs and comment columns of that paper.

    But I have had my own posts from time to time rejected by Algemenier’s moderators. This is not a complaint I hasten to add, but truly the Guardian is a very open forum and if Mr Levick disagrees with something he should put his own point of view in the comments columns

    Do let us know if they moderate your comments Mr Levick – and what such rejected comments actually were. If you are being censored Guardian readers will want to know. i have known it happen but it is rare

    The impression I have of some of those attacking the Guardian in your comment columns is that they have never actually read it – only the attacks on it by the Right.. There is a famous poem by Maurice Ogden called The Hangman – read it and learn.

    http://mysite.verizon.net/ffaller/The_Hangman.htm

    • Harvey

      Thank you for pointing out it was the less than illustrious Rabbi Goldberg who penned this infamous screed . Goldberg is well known for hosting anti Israel events at his liberal synagogue in St Johns Wood . Some years ago he held a free Morechai Vanunu debate at the Synagogue . It was attended by the usual suspects comprising boycotters and Jews for justice etc . The Q+A quickly descended into standard demonisation and delegitimisation of Israel over which Goldberg presided with an almost beatific air of happiness , not once bringing the rabble to order .
      So thanks for identifying Goldberg . Not sure why Adam passed up the opportunity of exposing this snake in the grass

    • Raymond Gork

      Mr Clovelly;
      Any distortion of any proven fact, whether by trying to ascribe a “reason” or “provocation” for a well-documented outrage like the Hebron massacres is dishonest. Left-wing or right-wing, it remains dishonest regardless of the source of any such “clarification”. Trying to cite a “Jewish source” such as Rabbi Goldberg only serves to magnify that dishonesty.

      • Julian Clovelly

        I quite agree Raymond . but that is why I pick Adam up when he misrepresents the Guardian newspaper

        Adam has an obvious conservative agenda. It is my impression that he attacks the Guardian precisely because it is not a Right Wing newspaper. The Guardian is one of the most important independent news and opinion outlets in a western media that is becoming dangerously the province of Right wing ownership.

        It is perfectly correct to disagree with a particular writer in any newspaper, but should I, for example, attack this excellent Algemeiner newspaper simply because I find the articles it publishes that are written by Adam frequently contain material I find reprehensible. Of course not

        Adam has a right to be published, and to be disagreed with, without the Algemeiner itself coming under attack. I believe the same rule should be applied to the Guardian

        I am disturbed that Adams attacks seem to have a hidden agenda of discrediting an entire publication on the basis of disagreement with individual writers – in this case a highly respected Rabbi, with whom I presume Adam has ongoing disagreement.

        Should the Guardian turn down any article by a Rabbi Adam dislikes? – If so maybe we could have a list in case they write for any other journal.

        The Guardian is a world media outlet which in its revelations about the actions of aspects of American intelligence and Administration has offended the American Right

        Are Adams complaints really about content referring to Jewish matters or is he merely joining in the American Right’s attack on a newspaper they would dearly love to silence?

        If the media ever becomes totally dominated by the Right, then a scapegoat will have no one to defend them – So long as the Guardian exists – and indeed papers like Algemeiner – the opressed will retain a voice

        That is why I speak out on this subject. Adam is simply wrong and it seem that even a respected Rabbi can be the object of his annoyance

        • Julian,

          Thanks for your reply. First, beyond your ad homimem attacks, do you have any substantive critiques of my posts about the Guardian in general or my critique of Goldberg’s review in particular? More broadly, I will just add that there is no hidden agenda. If you go to the blog I manage (where this first appeared), CiF Watch, you’ll see that our mission is quite clear: combating antisemitism and the assault on Israel’s legitimacy at the Guardian. We don’t concern ourselves with partisan politics, nor take a “right-wing” position. Our only concern is Israel and antisemitism. And, I hope you’d agree that defending Jews from racism and protecting Israel’s inalienable right to exist as a Jewish state are not a Left-Right issues.

          Adam

          • Julian Clovelly

            Could we start Adam, with what I believe we agree on, the essential task of combating antisemitism and assault on Israel’s legitimacy.

            Any form of racism is a stain on the face of humanity. It is never excusable, and where we find that in ourselves I believe we should always seek to deal with it. I have always been a person who has sought to do that. I cannot guarantee to have entirely succeeded, sometimes the prejudices culturally run so deep that spotting one can be difficult

            I also agree with the principle and practice of constantly monitoring media, particularly nowadays when the media is being owned by fewer and fewer people. So I totally agree too with your conclusion, but I’d like to take that a step further. Yes I agree that defending Jews from racism and protecting Israel’s inalienable right to exist as a state(sic) is not a Left-Right issue. I left out the word “Jewish” because I see the matter within the context of UN policy and resolutions that founded the State of Israel, which did not apply a factional definition of the word “Jewish”. So far as I am concerned, I see modern Israel as an Israeli state. I believe that we need to progress towards clearly secular states. My own two countries, Britain and Australia, are hopefully progressing rapidly to that position, which is already a de facto reality for most people.

            Where I think Right Wing Israeli and Jewish commentators fail, is in interpreting agreement with UN and International Law assessment of the West Bank occupation, and the legitimacy of the settlements, as being synonymous with Antisemitism. Similarly great concern and compassion for Palestinians caught up in the mess is not Antisemitism either. But I do feel that the Conservative Right does play this card. So far as I am concerned the settlements are no different from what my own birth nation was responsible for, and of which I disapprove. They are imperialism, and sadly they are justified all too often by those involved in building them by the fable that “G-d gave that land to me”

            The two world wars resulted in the abolition of Tyrannies that had shaped the boundaries of much of the world. Unfortunately those boundaries crossed cultural regions in a manner that without the repression, those territories could easily descend into chaos, there being no single legitimacy to fill the vacuums created. Reverting to history merely resulted in different groups clinging to different conflicting histories, in which as a result G-d was viewed as giving the land to several conflicting groups. Religious difference inflamed those divisions – just as they had at the time of the Great Schism, and of the wars of the Reformation.

            The main disagreement between us for me, is that I see you as blaming the horse for the words of the rider. I do not see a Guardian “position” on this matter. I see the Guardian as publishing a multitude of conflicting opinions because they are “news”, and should be published for open comment. In other words I see the Guardian more as a real-time “library” than as having a specific policy. In this it is a mature newspaper that treats its readership as intelligent people, who – given access to the material and sources – can make up their own minds.

            In doing this it’s writers can ofttimes upset anyone, including me – From time to time my wife and I have also written in to the Guardian on comment pages, and asked “why on earth did you publish this?”

            The Guardian has long been a media organ of social democracy. It holds a fairly conservative liberal democratic position as a source of information, and an arena for debate. I generally find that the only well informed people I ever come across, all include it in their basic reading.

            Thank you for responding to me Adam. If I have a particular message for you it is to remember that it was the Left that resisted the rise of Fascism, and sadly in the early days, as the Left pressed for social and democratic progress it found itself attacked by many in the Conservative and capitalist Jewish community. It was British working people who stopped Mosleys Blackshirts in England. Offending the left has been the biggest mistake Israel has made, and in part this has been through a mistaken alignment with the American Right for defence purposes, that has used fundamentalist religion and an outmoded literal interpretation of the Bible as tools.

            I fear it is elements of Israel and the Jewish community which, in their alignment with the American Right, are responsible for making Left-Right issues out of what should be common ground – the happy future of all of the peoples, especially the children of the Middle East and indeed the world. If only those children, Arab and Jew, black and white, the children of all continents, could walk and play together, seeing the world as fresh and new and joyful – they might lead us all where we, their parents, most want to go.

            The nicest thing said about Christianity was supposedly said by a Jew, the grandson of Rabbis and of Ashkenazi background. He is reported as saying “we can forgive Christianity much for it taught us the worship of the child” – he was a left wing writer named Karl Marx. At least he got that right. That should be our focus.

            The greatest trauma a person faces is often the destruction of childhood. Sadly for Israel that happened to an entire nation. It has happened to Palestinian children too. There needs to be a shared grieving, for in that grief you may find peace

  • Marv Hershenson

    I agree with all of the previous comments. So sad but so true.

    • esther noodelman

      I disagree..I don’t think Israel has the luxury to grieve its childhood. The whole world knows what’s best for Israel…or rather thinks they know.How would you like it if the whole world took it upon themselves to be your mentors?…without being asked and sometimes,even forced?

  • Shalom-Hillel

    The best response for Israel and for Jews, and to keep alive the memory of the innocent people killed in Hebron and other cities, is to hold on to the land and see to it that Israel grows stronger every day. The lies and distortions need to be confronted, but ultimately they won’t matter. Israel will prevail.

    • esther noodelman

      Great!

  • Elliott

    The Guardian – merely a reflection of the “genteel anti-semitism” (to quote W.H. Auden)endemic to the society from whence it comes.

  • Uriel Priwes

    Once upon a time, a very long time ago, the Guardian (then the Manchester Guardian) was a worthwhile, respectable newspaper. Oh how times have changed!!!

  • Joseph Silver

    But the Guardian is not anti-Semitic, is it?
    And Jewish-owned papers like the NYT or HaAretz (when will they change the name to alArd [‘The Land’ in Arabic], so we know how they really feel?) couldn’t be anti-Semitic, now could they?

    • artcohn

      Antisemitism, a word concocted by German Jew haters, has never been the best word to identify hatred of Jews. HaAretz, The Guardian, and The New York Times do not hate individual Jews. They are antagonistic to the Jews having their own State, or utilyzing the methods which are needed to ensure that State, Israel.

    • esther noodelman

      Never!

  • Joseph Australia

    Guardian, the once great paper sadly has become a newspaper that has been written only by local Pakistanis for Local Pakistani consumption.

    So nothing in that magazine will ever be ever newsworthy. Like the other two anti semitic fallen on hard time step sisters, the NYT and Haaretz it will only a matter time that they three are finally put out to pasture.
    And that won’t be a moment too soon.

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