69 million page views

The 1929 Arab Riots in Hebron and Massacre of the Jews - Every Jew must read this article

Reader comment on item: The Left vs. Israel
in response to reader comment: When is the Israeli government stopping in deluding itself that the Arab/Palestinians want peace?

Submitted by YJ Draiman (United States), Jun 24, 2016 at 01:32

The 1929 Arab Riots in Hebron and Massacre of the Jews - Every Jew must read this article I received from a friend. It is a vivid depiction of the Arab atrocities in Hebron.

The Horrifying massacre of the Jews of Hebron, known as the "1929 Riots," resembles the most brutal of pogroms against Jewish communities in Europe. It dealt the Hebron community a devastating blow, from which it is still trying to recover and led to the destruction of the Jewish presence on the central mountain area of Judea, which was rendered "Judenrein".

The traditional Jewish community in Hebron was far removed from any political confrontation or national conflict. Jews and Arabs had inhabited the town for many generations, at times in peaceful coexistence and as good neighbors. The Jews had done much for the town's economy and its development, of which the main beneficiaries had been their Arab neighbors. The wave of terror was set in motion by Amin al-Husseini, who, after being appointed by the British to the post of Mufti of Jerusalem in 1921, launched a campaign of systematic incitement against the country's Jewish population in order to inflate his personal status. (The Nazi tendencies of the Mufti - "founder of the Palestinian National Movement" - were revealed later on, during the Holocaust. In 1941, Husseini visited Berlin, met with Hitler and established a Muslim division in the Nazi SS for the ultimate purpose of annihilating the Jews of Eretz Israel. He is considered one of the most notorious war criminals of the time.) The Mufti exploited Jewish demands for worship rights at the Western Wall as a pretext to incite the country's Arab population, calling for a jihad against the Jews for ostensibly conspiring to demolish Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Jews of Hebron, having nothing to do with any such matter, could not believe that the malevolence would find its way to the city of the Patriarch Abraham. Indeed, on the eve of the riots, a squad of Hagana fighters visited Hebron to offer its assistance but was asked to leave in order not to fan the flames.

The bloodshed in Hebron began after riots erupted in Jerusalem on Friday, August 23, 1929. Inflammatory sermons were delivered in mosques and rioters began to attack Jewish homes and the Slobodka Yeshiva. The devoted yeshiva student Shmuel Rosenholz was stabbed and stoned to death as he labored over his Talmud. The British police did nothing to protect the Jews. Their commander, Major Raymond Cafferata, reprimanded Jewish community leaders who had come to plead for protection and instructed them to hole up in their homes, which were then turned into death traps.

The next morning, August 24, 1929, on Shabbat, a ghastly massacre ensued. Thousands of Arabs carrying knives, hatchets and pitchforks attacked the Jews' homes. The bloodthirsty Arab mobs found the Jews to be easy prey. They broke into one home after another, with compassion for no one. The aged Rabbi Yosef Castel was tortured to death and his home was set ablaze. Rabbi Hanoch Hasson, chief rabbi of the Sephardic community was murdered together with his wife. Benzion Gershon, a pharmacist at the Hadassah clinic who helped anyone who fell ill, Jew or Arab, without any discrimination, was tortured to death after dozens of rioters raped and murdered his daughter before his very eyes. His wife died in agony, her hands amputated. All members of the Slonim family were butchered except for one year-old Shlomo, who survived despite his having sustained serious injuries. Rabbi Abraham Orlansky, rabbi of Zikhron Ya'akov, father of Hannah Slonim, was murdered by hammer blows to the head; his wife was also murdered. The principal of Tel Nordau School in Tel Aviv, the author Haim Eliezer Bobnikov and his wife Penina, visiting Hebron with their children on vacation, were tortured to death; their children, an eight-year-old boy and a twelve-year-old girl, hid in an adjacent cupboard and heard their parents being murdered. Rabbi Zvi Drabkin was stabbed with daggers until his intestines spilled out. Bezalel Lazerowski and his five-year-old daughter, Devora, were butchered. Eliyahu Abushadid and his son Yitzhak were murdered as Yitzhak's younger brother, nine-year-old Yehuda, watched. The marauders raped Liba Segal before the eyes of her husband and son and then murdered them both as she looked on, then amputating her fingers. The baker Noah Immerman was shoved into a sizzling oven and burned to death. R. Moshe Goldschmid's daughter stepped out of her hiding place and saw a ghastly spectacle: her father suspended, his eyes gouged out, over the flame of his burning primus stove.

The Jews pleaded for mercy, wailing and beseeching at the top of their lungs. The Arab monsters responded by shouting "Allahu akbar" (G-d is great) and "Itbah al Yahud" (Slaughter the Jews), mercilessly tormenting and butchering old people, babies, women and children. The streets echoed with cries of terror and filled with blood and feathers. It must be acknowledged that a small number of Arabs, from among a murderous population of many thousands, did conceal and rescue some Jews.

The Hebron police, composed largely of Arab patrolmen and British commanders, turned a blind eye. Several Arab policemen even participated in the massacre. Only several hours later did a British officer fire in the air and force the marauders to begin to scatter. The battered and frightened remnants of the community, as well as the brutalized corpses, were taken to the British police post at Beit Romano. The seriously wounded were moved to the healthcare facilities, where they received little aid or medical care and then died in their agony. The next day, fifty-nine fatalities were buried in a mass grave in the town's old Jewish cemetery; the stunned survivors were not even allowed to give them a proper funeral. Subsequently, eight additional Jews died. The survivors were banished from town, defeated and destitute and the Arab murderers looted and appropriated their homes and property.

The Arab terror wave spread to all parts of the country - Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Motza, Hulda, Safed and other places. In its ghastly course, 133 Jews were murdered, half of them - 67 - in Hebron. The gruesome event totally transformed the nature of Jewish settlement in Eretz Israel. Of all Jewish communities that the rioters had targeted, only the Jewish community in Hebron was not immediately revitalized.

Thus, the brutal terror and atrocities at the hands of a murderous Arab mob, with collaboration from the Mandate government which finished the job off by deporting the survivors, succeeded in obliterating the community of Hebron, the oldest Jewish community in Eretz Israel. The Mufti's evil plan had come to pass. In addition to Hebron, the Jewish communities of Shechem, Migdal Eder (near today's Etzion Bloc) and other villages were destroyed in the riots and the central mountain area was emptied of its Jews. This outcome shaped the geographic reality in Eretz Israel in a manner that has lasted to this day. The main Jewish presence in the country is compressed into the greater Tel Aviv - coastal area, whereas the central mountain area - the source of control, security and water - was abandoned.


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".

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2023 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.)