1 readers online now  |  69 million page views
You're invited: Join Daniel Pipes & MEF on a fact-finding mission
to Poland, Hungary & Austria. For more information, click here

An Australian lighthorseman's perspective on the Jews of the Holy Land

Reader comment on item: Jerusalem Falls to British, "Great Rejoicing in the Christian World"

Submitted by Dumbledoresarmy (Australia), Apr 2, 2009 at 04:39

From the personal diary of a humble Australian Light Horse trooper, who took part in that campaign that swept east and north from Egypt through the Holy Land toward Jerusalem, and beyond, the following passages read with almost unendurable poignancy. I have annotated occasionally, in brackets thus { }. Ion L Idriess, The Desert Column, Chapter 50, Page 183: "I think this is the 17th (December, 1917). Yesterday we rode by numbers of vividly pretty little red-roofed towns. The inhabitants are very fair skinned, mostly Jews. They are by far the most cleanly people we have yet met. They are very hospitable although they do charge us a hefty/ p. 184 / price for brown bread, honey and tobacco. LOTS OF THEM HAVE HAD A HARD TIME FROM THE TURKS. THEY SEEM TO LIVE BETWEEN TWO DEVILS, THE TURK AND THE ARAB. APPARENTLY THE TURK PREVENTS THE ARAB FROM MASSACRING THEM OUTRIGHT, BECAUSE THE JEWS ARE A VERY HANDY PEOPLE TO SQUEEZE TAXES FROM…. {My emphasis added. And thus this Australian journalist and bushman sums up, in three simple sentences, agonising centuries of Jewish dhimmitude in eretz Israel. The diary is not reproduced in full, and at this point there is a gap: I would very much like to see the original diaries, which are at the War Memorial in Canberra.

Some 20 000 words were cut in condensing the battlefield diaries into book form – I think the diary may have had more to say here, about the Jewish towns and their situation, caught between Arab Muslims and Turkish Muslims}. "Distantly we see the city roofs of 'Jaffa the beautiful' – very pretty in its hills and trees and orchards, even at this distance… "Some of our boys got wine yesterday from the {non-Muslim, obviously! - dda} inhabitants of the little town near by, and things are a bit lively. I think the town is Richon.

"Yesterday we rode through the place along a narrow road, the {Jewish} inhabitants in such queer garments lining the roads and shady lanes to stare at these brown sleeveless soldiers. "We must have seemed queer fighting men to them for they stared as if they had expected to see supermen, not rough-clad Australians. "I don't think they could realize that we actually were the men who had driven back their taskmaster of centuries [the Turk]. "They seem also to be on the verge of something they cannot believe, cannot understand; they tremble when they whisper of Jerusalem. "It appears there is some prophecy, centuries old, that one day Jerusalem will fall and will be taken from the Turk or from whatever infidel [here, Idriess seems to mean, non-Jew] holds it."... And, a little further on, he writes: "We passed a quaint little building with 'Hotel' prominently on a signboard, and other signs in Greek. A fair Hebe was leaning/ p. 185 over the veranda with bared arms and a winning smile {one must presume, not a Muslim - dda}. She had won, too, for the place was full of officers of the forces taking occupation, others seemed to be arriving per horse and lorry every minute.

"These {Jewish; and Christian? - dda} towns have plenty of flocks, plenty of wine, plenty of bread; the people are clean and civilized. We are coming into orchard towns now. The green oranges have given the whole regiment the tummy-ache. Reminds me of the melons of the Bardawil. "…A beautiful period of our ride was after crossing the Wadi Hanein. We rode through tall mimosa hedges, in perfumed bloom, into the colony of Nachalat (the heritage of Reuben). Crowds of white men, women and children flocked the scented roads shouting: "Shallome! Shallome! Shallome!" . END QUOTE.

It may be that the swift advance of the Australians and the English had, quite possibly, averted the mass murder of all 55 000 Jews still left in 'Palestine' in 1917 – some 55 000 of the population of 110 000 in 1914, had already been either deported, or killed. I get the impression that Idriess liked the Jews of the Holy Land much more than the other peoples he had encountered along the way. He has not much time for the Arab Muslims; speaking from much bitter experience in Egypt, Sinai and 'Palestine', he calls the Bedouin 'the ghouls of the battlefield', who would slit the throat of a wounded man, Turk or Australian, and steal everything he possessed, and who even dug up buried soldiers in order to rob and desecrate the bodies. He and the other Australian troopers took a very dim view of the English fascination with, and kid-glove treatment of, the [Muslim] Arabs.


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Submitting....

Submit a comment on this item

<< Previous Comment      Next Comment >>

Reader comments (24) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
1Letter to the Editor: Former acquiescence of Arab League to Palestine Partition Recalled [835 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
YJ DraimanDec 10, 2017 19:21241525
2Balfour was an anti-semite [237 words]NeilJun 3, 2009 14:35156614
1Balfour [102 words]BertEDec 19, 2009 10:21156614
Moderate Muslims? [44 words]sfcmacApr 24, 2009 12:58154393
One Cannot Understand the Middle East Without Torah [74 words]DavidApr 17, 2009 13:11154020
400 years of Turkish Rule [52 words]Robert ArbetmanApr 16, 2009 09:24153965
Islam is a religious-cultural and not a geographical entity [91 words]o.wilhelmssonApr 27, 2009 04:27153965
Lamb living in the shadow of sleeping Lions [254 words]MansoorApr 15, 2009 13:45153922
The ultimate outcome [76 words]UgriApr 16, 2009 02:45153922
Jerusalem, if under Moslem rule would not be the same as now ! [113 words]Phil GreendApr 9, 2009 00:38153620
Jewish Palestine vs. Islamic Spain [222 words]Sunil SarangApr 6, 2009 01:08153378
Jesus predicted about Jerusalem [51 words]CugdApr 5, 2009 00:53153329
The article touches, timidly though, the truth by stating the joy of Zionists. [79 words]Isaac HaskiyaApr 2, 2009 05:32153164
2An Australian lighthorseman's perspective on the Jews of the Holy Land [777 words]DumbledoresarmyApr 2, 2009 04:39153162
1A strange view of progress you have [77 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Paul, England.Apr 1, 2009 11:45153106
If the West can travel so far in less than a century, why not Muslims as well? [8 words]SvetlanaMar 31, 2009 22:08153072
1Vagaries of 'a self-conscious "Christian world" ' [500 words]IanusMar 31, 2009 17:21153059
Comments on some comments [746 words]IanusMar 31, 2009 15:53153053
Self-interest of the Liberal West... [46 words]M.D'SouzaMar 31, 2009 15:46153051
Why the "Muslim world" won't travel where the West has. [84 words]Shawn CohenMar 30, 2009 23:50153001
Speaking as a Christian fanatic-- [42 words]Peter.HerzApr 1, 2009 15:21153001
why rejoice? [40 words]amirMay 4, 2009 16:02153001
Who's promoting hatred? [91 words]Shawn CohenMay 6, 2009 09:54153001
hatred [77 words]Amir Ali TayyabMay 7, 2009 09:27153001

Comment on this item

Mark my comment as a response to An Australian lighthorseman's perspective on the Jews of the Holy Land by Dumbledoresarmy

Email me if someone replies to my comment

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

See recent outstanding comments.

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2018 Daniel Pipes. daniel.pipes@gmail.com and @DanielPipes

Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum.Daniel J. Pipes

(The MEF is a publicly supported, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax-ID 23-774-9796, approved Apr. 27, 1998.

For more information, view our IRS letter of determination.)