Thursday, October 07, 2021

Another Set of Mandate of Palestine Maps

Visiting the offices of the Israel Resource Center, I found another set of Mandate of Palestine maps in this 1948 book:

which even the NYTimes reviewed.

There is a set of maps illustrating the minimizing of the territory of the promised Jewish National Home, ratified by the League of Nations:

And what is unique is that it inludes the summer of 1948 Bernadotte Plan proposal and see here also.

Here is that map in detail:

and here are two others:

Provides more visual perspective on what was being drawn as the borders for the future Jewish and Arab states.


Monday, September 13, 2021

What happened to Solomon Jacobson, an Interesting Jew?

What happened to Solomon Jacobson?

Who is Solomon Jacobson?

MP Josiah Wedgwood asked about him:


HC Deb 08 May 1935 

Colonel WEDGWOOD asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been called to the sentence of 7½ years' imprisonment passed on Solomon Jacobson, aged 18, a Jewish national fund watchman, for shooting an Arab trespasser who was stealing stones from the quarry where he was on guard; and will he call for a report and consider revision of the sentence?

Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER I have asked the High Commissioner for Palestine for a report on this case.

What were the details? According to the local newspaper:

He was released only in June 1938.

He became a seaman, was mobilized for work in Syria 1941-1942 by Yigal Allon disguised as a Moslem preligious official and later served in the Navy.

Interesting Jew.


Sunday, August 22, 2021

A 1934 'Either...Or'

In the David Ben-Gurion Archives, you can find a summary of a conversation between two Arabs from Mandate Palestine with Israel Cohen, general secretary of the World Zionist Organization headquarted in Great Britain, which took place in London in June 1934.

As you can see, the only choice the Arab spokesman offered was that between the Balfour Declaration or Arab friendship:

Who was that Totah who thought so highly of "Arab friendship" for the Jews rather than a statement of diplomatic intent?

Khalil Totah was an Arab-American Quaker Educator and Palestinian Nationalist Crusader who married an American Quaker and Amy Smith writes:

Dr. Khalil Totah belonged to a generation of Syrians who grew up with an appreciation for the “modern” spirit that was sweeping the world...Totah and his fellow intellectuals were not so much inspired by [US President Woodrow[ Wilson’s words, but rather they viewed them as support of a pre-existing sentiment. Greater Syrians had been developing ideas of freedom and democracy since their cultural and intellectual renaissance in the mid-19th century... Dr. Khalil Totah provides one small piece of a larger transformation in Syria. His writings show the evolution of Arab nationalism in Palestine during a transformative era.

Smith's dissertation further informs, p. 134, that as regards that 1934 trip:

The Friends’ Committee requested that in 1934 Totah travel with an American Quaker from Lebanon, Daniel Oliver, to an annual Friends Meeting in London. He was to meet with British Quakers and plead the case for Palestine. The Quaker organization also arranged for him to meet with government officials to discuss “The Question of Palestine.” 

From the rest of Cohen's report, we can see that as Arab propaganda then, so today:



Saturday, August 21, 2021

"The Palestinian Side of the Suez Canal"

I found the following in Hansard, the record of Bitish Parliamentary debates. The referred to Milner Mission was to make recommendations for the future relationship between Egypt and England after World War One when Egypt came under British martial law when a temporary Protectorate was declared. Its recommendations were to end that status and the negotiation of a treaty. It was published in February 1921.

The debate was held on March 14, 1922.

The following extract is from the words of John Mills. In 1923, he served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the pro-Zionist Josiah Wedgwood.

Mills make the point that Egypt really never was any part of the British Empire and in doing so, makes reference to the concept that Palestine should extend well into Sinai, right up to the Suez Canal:
This point is specifically alluded to on page 6 of the Milner Report. I am quoting from the Report of the Special Mission, and it says: It appears to be frequently assumed in current talk and writing in this country that Egypt is part of the British Empire. That is not, and never has been, the case. That is most explicit, and to gentlemen of military experience who talk to us about the tactical value of this or that part of a country, I would suggest that on the Palestinian side of the Suez Canal you have a population who at the moment are welcoming British occupation, and, under the pledge given to the Zionists, it makes it a desirable circumstance for the transfer of the garrison; that in itself is an alternative place where troops can be kept if the Suez Canal is deemed to be such a dangerous part of our communication. Personally I think that the international pact which guaranteed the international character of the Suez Canal makes a very large number of these assertions valueless even if they ever contained some, amount of value. Having regard to the changed circumstances in the East, having regard to the changed circumstances on the Palestinian side of the Canal, we are justified in asking this Government and its military advisers to consider the alternative garrison for the troops, if they are necessary, in order that we may in fact as well as in word carry out this generation-long pledge to the Egyptian people.

Later in the debate Colonel Wedgewood notes:

Indeed, I think it is worth considering whether it would not be possible even to have the troops on the Eastern bank of the Canal instead of on the Western bank, provided that the Palestine-Egyptian frontier were shifted from the Akaba line up to the Suez Canal. That shift in the frontier would put us on the Suez Canal, in a position where we could adequately protect that Canal, with a base in the mandated country of Palestine, where we should be permanently on the spot to protect the Canal and look after our interests.

He is referring to the October 1, 1906, Separating Administrative Line between the Ottoman province of the Hejaz, the governorate of Jerusalem and the Sinai Peninsula which was agreed upon, following nine months of military action and diplomatic activity which nearly brought the British and the Ottoman empires to the verge of war. See here

It began in January that year when British forces from Egypt 
to build up a small post for the Egyptian border police at Umm Rashrash (now Eilat) in Naqb al-Aqaba. Their presumption was that "Naqb el-Akaba... is well within the frontier line settled upon between Turkey and Egypt" after the Wedj incident. 

Taba was then occupied by Turkish troops.

Oddly enough, one of the elements involved in the background to all this dispute was an

"1892 incident [that] was caused, according to Cromer, by the suspicions of the Sultan with regard to planned Jewish settlement on the shores of Aqaba: ‘...The result was that the Firman laid down the Egyptian frontier as drawn from Suez to El-Arish. The peninsula of Sinai, which had been administered by the Khedives of Egypt for the last forty years, would thus have reverted to Turkey... ’

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Rabbi Herschel Schachter and I

I was quite active, starting in 1964, on behalf of the liberation of Soviet Jewry through Betar, SSSJ and others in America and later in Israel and England.

At a Soviet Jewry Rally in 1965 at Seward Park [I think], me at right

I participated in the May 1, 1964 demonstration across from the Soviet UN Legation in Manhattan. In November 1976 I was in Mosow for three days, meeting Sharansky, Ida Nudel, Alexander Lerner, the Beilins and others.

Much later with Natan Sharansky in Jerusalem 
at the premiere of "The Refuseniks" 
(I always preferred "Refusedniks")

Raphael Medoff now has published a new biography of Rabbi Herschel Shachter. On his life here. Here is a discussion of the book held at YU.

I appear in it, as a writer of a column (and thanks to Rebbitzen Penner for informing of that).

The background was the first International Conference on the Soviet Jewry struggle conducted in late February 1971 in Brussels. That was when Rabbi Meir Kahane was arrested on orders by Shachter (as the book proves) and his contretemps with Menachem Begin.

The quoted section appears on pages 294-297.

And by the way, it happened again at the Second Conference in Belgium in February 1976.

And without further ado, the text:

"The Jewish Free Press (Columbia University) published a 1,500-word “open letter” to Schacter and Wexler by Yisrael Winkelman [me], a Zionist student activist. Addressing himself directly to the two Jewish leaders, Winkelman began by asserting that in his seven years of Soviet Jewry activism, during which he had taken part in numerous marches, all-night vigils, meetings, and leafletting, “I have never heard your names mentioned, never saw you holding a protest sign, never marched with you nor found you doing anything for the cause of Soviet Jewry.” Winkelman went on to accuse Schacter of “lying and besmirching a fellow Jew” when the rabbi recently told the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, regarding Rabbi Kahane, “How much money does he make? What does he do with the money? I’m not saying he is a thief, but a lot of money stands at his service.” Winkelman also cited an incident in 1970, in which the national coordinator of the American Conference, Abraham Bayer, physically blocked the door at a Soviet Jewry seminar to prevent the entry of Dov Sperling, a Soviet Jewish émigré who had publicly praised the JDL. A photo of Bayer standing in front of the door, with Sperling peering through the window behind him, accompanied Winkelman’s Jewish Free Press article.102

Winkelman concluded his “open letter” by challenging what he saw as a mindset among established Jewish leaders to exclude dissenting voices. He pointed to the fact that Schacter was quoted in Ha’aretz as calling the Brussels conference “my wedding,” in the context of accusing Rabbi Kahane of attempting to enter without an invitation. “Perhaps,” Winkelman wrote, “the anti-democratic procedures [in Brussels] were an expression of the ‘my wedding’ philosophy of the American Jewish Establishment that has tragically hindered and delayed the development of a true forceful protest movement.”103

Rabbi Schacter was not a writer. He delivered countless sermons and speeches over the years; he also conducted eloquent correspondence with a few close friends. But except for a few rare instances (such as his Journal-American article about his trip to the USSR), he did not author essays for the press. In the case of the Winkelman episode, however, he made an exception. 

His rebuttal to Winkelman, which extended to more than 2,000 words, was published alongside Winkelman’s critique in the Jewish Free Press. Schacter’s decision to engage Winkelman, rather than ignore him, echoed his invitation to the SSSJ hecklers at Hunter College to speak from the stage just a few months earlier. The article offered a rare look at how Rabbi Schacter handled criticism and how he perceived the Soviet Jewry struggle and his role in it.

Schacter began by objecting to what he called the “insolent aspersions” Winkelman had cast on him. “Since my various humble efforts in behalf of Jews have escaped your notice until recently, let me tell you something about myself,” he began. “When I was younger than you are today, although already a rabbi in a substantial congregation, I volunteered for active duty in the U.S. Army and served with front-line combat troops across Europe.” He then described his experiences in Buchenwald, emphasizing, “I organized Kibbutz Buchenwald and was personally responsible for transporting over 500 Jewish children” from Germany to Switzerland. Schacter continued with a summary of his 1956 trip as part of “the very first select American rabbinic delegation” to the Soviet Union. “Since then I have been constantly ‘on the road’ preaching and teaching; bringing the message of Russian Jewry; rousing and calling Jews in America and various parts of the world to focus American and world attention on the plight of Soviet Jewry.”104

If the term “since then” was intended to suggest that he had been continuously engaged in such activities since 1956, then Rabbi Schacter’s assertion was something of an overstatement. The late 1950s and early 1960s were a time during which there was little public activity in the United States, by Schacter or anyone else, concerning Soviet Jewry. But that began to change in 1963–1964, and Rabbi Schacter cited his connection to SSSJ at that time as evidence that he, like Winkelman, was critical of the established Jewish leadership. “I do share your frustration and impatience with the much maligned establishment,” he wrote. “Ask Yaacov Birnbaum how many years ago it was when I worked hard with him to organize and chair the Bronx Council to Aid Soviet Jewry, how we mounted an impressive rally on the Grand Concourse, before it became popular to do so.” He continued: “Long before I reached my present position of leadership and many times since, I marched and carried protest signs. I may very well have been marching alongside of you without our being aware of each other’s presence. Do you still question my own personal commitment to Soviet Jewry?”105

After highlighting the anti-establishment orientation of the SSSJ and the Bronx Council to demonstrate his credentials as an activist, Schacter shifted gears and declared that “it was the American Conference on Soviet Jewry – and not Rabbi Kahane and JDL – [that was] responsible for most of what has been done in America for Soviet Jewry over the last seven years.” Just in the previous five months, he asserted, the American Conference was responsible for “literally millions of pieces of materials, fact sheets, bumper stickers, posters, Passover statements, etc. and large newspaper advertisements.” He was not at liberty to disclose that he had just authorized a $1,200 behind-the-scenes payment by the American Conference to SSSJ to underwrite a one-day “Student Strike for Soviet Jewry,” in which several thousand Jewish public and private school students in New York City left their classes to hold a rally at the United Nations, followed by a march to the Soviet Mission.106

With regard to the arrest of Rabbi Kahane, Schacter wrote:

The Belgian government . . . was determined to avoid any exacerbation of Soviet feelings, which it felt might result from Rabbi Kahane’s presence and activities in Brussels. The Belgian government alone determined, therefore, to ask him to leave the country. The Conference Presidium at no time, individually or collectively, made any representations to the Belgian government about Rabbi Kahane and was in no way involved in his detention and expulsion [that was less than true YM]. No matter how many times this lie is repeated, it remains just that.107

As for the quotations attributed to him in Ha’aretz, Schacter said that his statements about Kahane were “reported in a manner calculated to convey an impression different from what was intended.” He denied that he ever called Brussels “my wedding,” and added that far from “lying and besmirching” anyone, it was “your [Winkelman’s] camp” that was guilty of spreading “accusations, allegations and calumnies” that were “totally unfounded, false and unwarranted.” Rabbi Schacter did not, however, deny or explain the barring of Dov Sperling by the American Conference’s director.108

Concerning Kahane, Schacter wrote that the Brussels conference was “not a public mass meeting,” but was restricted to “accredited delegates and individual invited guests,” and Kahane was neither. Although he and his colleagues had nothing to do with the Belgian decision to detain the JDL leader, Schacter wrote, it was clear that since Kahane’s application had been rejected prior to the conference, his decision to go to Brussels proved he intended to “create a diversion and disturb or disrupt the Conference” – an argument that seemingly justified the arrest. To defend himself against the suggestion that he had acted in an anti-democratic fashion, Schacter charged that Winkelman’s camp was no more democratic: “Why do you deem our procedure any less democratic than yours? How long would I last if I appeared at a JDL meeting to denounce its program?”109

Schacter concluded his essay by citing a statement made by Menachem Begin in Ma’ariv after the conference: “I know Rabbi Schacter well. Today again I repeat and state he is a faithful Jew, dedicated to his people, a person of whom I am fond.” Presumably such words from Begin, who was both the leader of the Israeli right and a critic of the Kahane arrest, would prove beyond a doubt to Jewish Free Press readers that Winkelman’s accusations were unfair and inaccurate. Schacter likely assumed that few American Jews would have access to the full Ma’ariv article. If they had, they might have been surprised to see what followed Begin’s praise of Schacter. The next sentence in Begin’s op-ed read: 

“Precisely because of this, I asked him how he could have had a hand in issuing [the press release condemning Kahane].”110 

Rabbi Schacter’s bitterness over the Kahane episode lingered for many years. In an interview about Brussels nearly twenty years later, he recalled “that whole sordid chapter” of “the trouble that we had with Kahane and with the JDL”:

There are still Jews in America who think that Meir Kahane was the one who awakened American Jewry to the plight of the Jews in the Soviet Union. All he did was create a lot of noise. . . . We kept following everything that was happening the Soviet Union. We were involved in organizing civilized demonstrations, not the mishegoss of Meir Kahane and his few crazy followers. [H]e made a lot of noise and got a lot of publicity for himself, and, you know people – the old story of “man bites dog” makes news, and he did a lot of things that we thought were counterproductive. [T]he real efforts on behalf of Soviet Jewry, which led to the beginnings of the Soviet Jewry movement and the response of the Soviet government, were not launched by Kahane. They were launched by the organized, authentic spokesmen of the American Jewish, if you will, establishment. . . . Civilized, meaningful  demonstrations were definitely helpful. . . . Do it like menschen [gentlemen]. Not like Meir Kahane, don’t throw bombs, but with tact and with diplomacy".111


102. “Winkelman’s Letter: Activist Scores Jewish Leaders’ Commitment,” Jewish Free

Press, May 1971, 4.

103. Ibid.

104. “Schacter’s Reply,” Jewish Free Press, May 1971, 4–5.

105. Ibid.

106. Ibid.; Marc Schulman interview with Rafael Medoff, March 4, 2019; “2,000 Public

School, Yeshiva Students Leave Classes to Hold Strike for Soviet Jewry,” JTA, May 28,

1971; “Student Strike for Soviet Jewry” (leaflet), Box 8, Folder 12, SSSJ: Richter to Bayer,

June 30, 1971, Box 8, Folder 12, SSSJ.

107. “Schacter’s Reply,” op. cit.

108. Ibid.

109. Ibid.

110. Begin, “On the Brussels Conference.”

111. Wiener Oral History interview (1989), 4–6.


The PDF images:


Sunday, August 08, 2021

Do You Know about Iltyd Nicholl Clayton?

Iltyd Nicholl Clayton cannot be ignored if one wishes to comprehend post-WW II British stratgey and diplomacy in the Middle East.

Offically, he was  Advisor on Arab Affairs to the British Government (1943–45). He was later Special Advisor to Head of British Middle East Office and served as Minister attached to the British Embassy in Cairo (1947–48). Between 1920-1928 he was in Iraq.

Just by the by, his older brother, Gilbert, was also a British Army intelligence officer and colonial administrator who served in the famous Arab Bureau, was Civil Secretary of Palestine from 1922 to 1925 and at one point briefly acted as High Commissioner.

Let me expand on him:

Daniel Rickenbacher

The Middle East Intelligence Centre (MEIC) was headed by Brigadier Iltyd Clayton, a mysterious figure, whose influential role in determining Britain’s Middle East policy has until recently been underestimated due to its clandestine character. The historian of British Arabists McLoughlin calls him “the greatest mover and shaker in planning Britain’s future role in the Arab world.” Clayton pursued a grand imperial strategy to secure Britain’s dominating influence in the Middle East in the post WWII era. His plans aimed at expelling France from the region and establishing a regional military alliance against the Soviet Union. Clayton opposed an independent Jewish State in the Middle East. Instead he envisaged a Jewish entity in a Greater Syrian state, which was to enter into a confederation with Iraq.

He had a hand in establishing the  Arab Office in Jerusalem and having Albert Hourani head its propaganda division. It targeted a Western educated and liberal minded audience. Hourani:

addressed them in a scholarly tone, using rational arguments rather than emotions to press his case. In ‘Is Zionism the Solution of the Jewish Problem’, one of the first publications authored by Hourani for the Arab Office, he contended that Zionism offers no solution to the ‘Jewish Problem’. Instead, Hourani opts for assimilation of Jews into Western societies.

Asher Susser's book review of Meir Zamir's

The French passed on to the Jewish Agency information on the plans of “the Arabists,” led by Brigadier Clayton, to partition Palestine between the neighboring Arab states and to encourage the Arabs to “join forces to prevent a Jewish state” (164). French and Zionist sources from late 1947 and early 1948 point to Clayton’s “key role in instigating the Arab-Jewish conflict in 1948”

From Meir Zamir 

The fact that the French followed closely the exploits of both Clayton and Azzam against France in North Africa is significant, as they both played key roles in provoking King Faruq to participate in the war against Israel...Nuri al-Sa’id, who had coordinated his initiative with Clayton, proposed that Britain persuade the US to withdraw its support for an independent Jewish state and renew its efforts to implement the 1946 Anglo-American Morrison-Grady cantonization plan...In coordination with Clayton, Azzam, Syrian Prime Minister Jamil Mardam and Lebanese Prime Minister Riad al-Sulh, they began a campaign to amend the Arab League Pact in order to consolidate military ties between its member states against the Zionist threat...In early January 1948, the Russian newspaper Izvestia warned that British agents, Clayton in particular – ‘the notorious British intelligence agent’ – were provoking an Arab-Jewish conflict in Palestine to further Britain’s interests. Referring to criticism in the Arab world against the Soviet Union’s support for the UN Partition Plan, the article asserted that ‘ creating this artificial tension regarding the Palestinian problem, colonial reactionaries, like Clayton, are attempting to use it in order to slander the Soviet Union in the eyes of the Arab people’.


The Zionists saw Clayton as their most dangerous enemy. In reports from Eliyahu Sasson, Reuven Zaslani/Shiloah (Ben-Gurion’s Chief Intelligence Adviser) and from the Hagana’s intelligence, Clayton emerges as a key figure in the formation of the Arab war coalition. In fact, Ben-Gurion and his advisers directly warned MI6 in London of the possible outcome of the activities of their Arabist officers against the Jewish state. In a report sent by an MI6 officer to MI5 on his meeting with Zaslani on 16 February 1948, he wrote that the latter had stated: The immediate Jewish aim is to localize the conflict in Palestine, but if they fail in this because of – for instance – tacit British encouragement of the Arabs, and the surrounding Arab countries extend the area of conflict by participating actively in the operations against the Jewish state, the Jews will themselves make arrangements with minorities, such as the  Kurds, to stir up trouble to keep the Iraqis and other armies occupied.’ Zaslani then warned that ‘if this happened, the Russians would be sure to try and take advantage of the general state of unrest in the Middle East’.

Coming a month after Britain’s failure to ratify its treaty with Iraq, Zaslani’s warning, especially his allusion to the Soviet Union and the Kurds, should have carried some weight, yet Clayton in Cairo, Stirling in Damascus, Ambassador Alec Kirkbride and Glubb Pasha, Commander of the Jordanian Arab Legion, in Amman, Azzam in Cairo, and Nuri al-Sa’id in Baghdad, continued their efforts to form a coalition against the Jewish state. 


In discussions with Prime Minister Sidqi in August–October 1946, Eliyahu Sasson had made a similar proposal as part of his efforts to gain Egypt’s support for a Jewish state. Sasson had submitted his plan to Clayton, who thwarted it.


Azzam and Clayton coordinated their moves in the inter-Arab arena and in fomenting the conflict, first against the Zionist movement and later against the State of Israel. Azzam’s role, from September 1947 until May 1948, in forming the Arab war coalition and bridging the gap between Faruq and Ibn Sa’ud, on the one hand, and Abdullah and Abd al-Ilah, on the other, enabled Clayton and other Arabist intelligence officers to operate behind the scenes. A pamphlet sent to the French Embassy in Cairo, titled The Tragedy of Palestine, signed by ‘the National Guard’, sharply criticized Azzam for his role in Egypt’s defeat: We can finally establish that Glubb Pasha, the British Head of the Transjordanian Army, was given the responsibility to lead the Palestinian affair from the military perspective, and that General Clayton, with Azzam Pasha, was charged to lead it from the political perspective and through their malice, they compelled the President of the Egyptian Council to give in to their pernicious will.


Already in October 1947, French intelligence had reported to Zionist agents that Clayton and Sulh were instigating the organization of irregular forces under Qawuqji’s command to invade Palestine and attack Jewish settlements. At the December 1947 Arab League Conference in Cairo, Sulh told a French informer that ‘Clayton had proposed the establishment of ties between the British headquarters in Palestine and Fawzi al-Qawuqji, in such a way as to avoid a clash between Arab irregular forces and English Police forces, thus facilitating guerilla operations against the Zionists.’

And from the archives:

January 1, 1946 

President Quwatli to Cabinet members


From the President of the Syrian Republic to the noble Council of Ministers

The mission of General Clayton, head of the Special Section of Arab Middle Eastern Affairs, has two aims:

First: to convince us that Syrian unity will come about;...As for unity, he presents us with two plans: - Syrian unity including Syria, Transjordan and part of Palestine with a plebiscite on the nature of the regime and on the choice of king if the regime is a monarchy.

Quite a fellow.

Saturday, August 07, 2021

The Jews to Go into the Sea

Tracking down statements can be difficult at times. Everyone "heard"/"read" it but years later, no one can find its source.

One such issue is, did Arabs threaten to throw the Jews into the sea, and when?

EOZ had this published tracing the history whether in 1948 or during the 1950s or on the eve of the 1967 war.

Of course, the "Palestine from the River to the Sea" chant basically means destroying Israel but it is not the same as actually throwing Jews into the sea. I noted previouslycaricature of Israel as a ship sinking. Still, not exactly the same.

Well, we now have a testimony in real time, from August 1948*.

In this academic article on the machinations of British Intelligence Services during the 1940s, I read, on page 14, that England's Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin, "After being notified that the Arab leaders were blaming Britain for their defeat", instructed his diplomats in the Arab capitals, as well as in Washington and the UN, to respond that:

It is quite untrue to suggest that we have let the Arabs down or failed in any obligations towards them. We did not urge them to intervene by force in Palestine, nor did we promise them support if they did so. They went in of their own accord, in most cases without telling us beforehand. Very small measure of military successes which they achieved shows that their forces, while capable perhaps of occupying friendly territory, were not prepared for and incapable of undertaking major military operations, which would have been necessary to achieve the announced object of the Arab states, namely to drive the Jews into the sea.

I think that should settle matters.


* The footnote reads: 

TNA, FO141/1247, no. 1454, London, 25 August 1948, Bevin to Cairo, and no. 821, August 21, Bevin to Kirkbride; Louis, Ends of British Imperialism, 635-6, 694-8 



EOZ in a follow-up.

Monday, July 05, 2021

Julius Kahn, His 1919 Letter and the Irony

In a (Hebrew-language) tweet, I mentioned the 1919 letter of 299 Reform Rabbis to President Woodrow Wilson not to support the Zionism, the Balfour Declaration and a decision to reestablish the Jewish Nation Home.

I had previously included the episode in this previous blog post in 2017.

As some people asked my for sources, I simply upload here more material from the Hebrew Standard, The Sentinel and the New York Times as well as a book and an academic article. The episode is also mentioned here and here.

And just by the way, the  Julius Kahn Park in San Fransisco, so named in 1926, had it named changed.

members of the Chinese community...announced the effort to remove Kahn’s name — and his racist legacy — from a 92-year-old city playground.

Julius Kahn led the effort in 1902 to make permanent the Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred Chinese laborers from entering the United States. Members of the Chinese community today say that decision, rooted in racism, tore families apart. The act was finally repealed in 1943.

In calling for the Chinese Exclusion Act’s passage, Kahn called Chinese people “morally the most debased people on the face of the Earth,” and portrayed them as criminals. The rhetoric echoes our current national struggles.

Irony of ironies.


Tuesday, June 29, 2021


My blog has multiple posts documenting that the Arabs residing in the territory of what was to become the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine viewed themselves not as "Palestinians" but "Southern Syrians" and did not reognize "Palestine" as a separate geo-political entity.

Have you heard of the 1921 Syro-Palestinian Congress?

It was founded on August 25, 1921 in Geneva by a group of Arabs from Greater Syrian, including  Palestine and even the Syrian National Society based in Boston, under the auspices of the Syrian Unity Party. The main aim of the congress was to try to influence the terms of the proposed League of Nations mandate over the region that would be awarded to France.

Its formation followed the July 1919 "Pan-Syrian" Syrian National Congress. 

On September 21, after almost a month of deliberations in the Plainpalais Assembly Hall , a public statement to the League of Nations was issued demanding:

Recognition of the independence and national rule (al-Sultan al-Qawmi) of Syria, Lebanon and Palestine; Recognition of the right of these countries to unite in the framework of a civilian government, responsible to a parliament elected by the people, and in association with the other Arab lands; Immediate annulment of the Mandate; Departure of the French and British forces from Syria, Lebanon and Palestine; and the annulment of the Balfour Declaration.

From the New York Times report:

Some of the attendees:

The members of the Interim Executive Committee of the Syro-Palestinian Congress:

Additional source.

An academic review suggests, contradistinctively, that Arabs representing Palestine "desired separate recognition of their cause". The author, Reem Bailony, notes that

in 1922, the Congress collected Palestinian protests against Zionism, the Balfour declaration, and the British mandate, in order to publish them throughout Egyptian newspapers. The Jerusalem branch was run by the Palestinian notable, Haj Amin al-Husayni [Jamal al-Husayni was the acting as secretary of the Jerusalem committee]. It acted as an important linkage between the activists within Syria, and those in Cairo and Europe

As Raja Adal suggests, to former Ottomans like Arslan, Syria meant "greater Syria and included not only the French mandates of Syria and Lebanon but also the British mandate of Palestine".

In other words, throughout the 1920s, the Mufti of Palestine was a pro-United Syria activist. A central figure, Michel Lutfallah, a Greek-Orthodox from a wealthy merchant landowner family of the Syrian community in Egypt, was the driving force and financier of the Congress and was appointed its president, was known for his "steadfast friendship" to the Hashemite family. Just prior to the French bombardment of Damascus in October 1925 responding to the Syrian Revolt which had begun in August, the Congress addressed an appeal to the League of Nations’ General Assembly to inform about ‘the unhappy position of the Syro-Palestinian people’.

For sure, other voices in Lebanon sought a reverse course of complete atomization of Syria into its Moslem Shiite and Sunni, Christian, Druze, Alawite, Ismaili, Kurd and Circassian and other components. Nevertheless, the concept of a 'Greater Syria' was the dominant narrative.


Monday, June 14, 2021

More on 'Palestine is But Southern Syria'

Not only did the Arabs of Mandate Palestine claim they were but Southern Syrians, moreover, elements in Transjordan did as well.

June 14, 1928, Palestine Post:


Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Butto's Map Illustration

Diana Butto published an op-ed in the New York Times, entitled The Myth of Coexistence in Israelץ

It was illustrated by this misleading map series (yes, misleading):

So, to point out some very basic but important facts, I created another few maps:

And there's more: the diminishing Zionist homeland version (maps from decades ago)


Friday, May 14, 2021

An American Jewish Zionist Forgotten Hero

Some two years ago, the Jewish Press published an appeal of mine:

Among the Jewish seven [six] killed victims listed in the newspaper report was an American Rabbi it seems, Yehudah Leib Lozovsky or a phonetic variety of that spelling [Lazovsky].

No other information about the Rabbi is available. It would be fitting that he be remembered.

I am asking the readers of to assist with locating biographical information about the Rabbi. If you are aware of any details that could help, please contact...

I was unsuccessful.

I have now read a letter that has appeared in HaUmma quarterly, No. 222 by Moshe Ehrenfeld, an historian of the Haredi community's role in the 1948 fighting, relating that Lazovsky, an American, who was killed on April 6.

Lazovsky had immigrated to Eretz-Yisrael some ten years earlier from America. He was an amateur geographer and researcher of the land's antiquities. He was in the house of Shmuel Eliezer Zilberman where, for three days, they held off the Arab rioters. At one point, he crawled out above the barriaded entrance and fired off some shots from a small Browning pistol he had.

The Arabs complained to the British troops in the area, who were Indian Moslems (those soldiers had been brought in earlier to guard the Haram A-Sharif). They tried to enter the buidling but were repulsed and then shot through the door and killed Rabbi Lazovsky and Zilberman.

They are buried on the Mount of Olives with the other casualties. Their graves are also, like Itzkkowitz, not in the best condition. Here is Zilberman's gravestone from several years ago:

Lazovsky's is also in bad condition and cannot be identified as which one in that row.

Worse, he is not yet (!) recognized by the National Insurance Institute. And, of course, as he was not a soldier or a member of an underground, not by the Ministry of Defense.

Lazovsky, an American Jewish Zionist. Little is known about him.

And a forgotten hero.


Sunday, May 09, 2021

Jews in the Temple Mount 1833

What were two Jewish youngsters doing in the Temple Mount in 1833, reportedly?

Found here, in an article by Judith Mendelsohn Rood:

An example of the relations between the Muslim community of Jerusalem and the Khedival government is a case involving the Jewish community. On 11 July, 1833, in the period before the 1834 rebellion, a group of Khedival soldiers, along with a servant of the al-Aqsa Mosque escorted a Jewish youth, aged 15, to the shari'a court.27 They explained that some workers had found him in the draperies of the windows in the mosque. The mutasallim decided that the court should consider the case, and called for an investigation to be conducted by himself and a group of Muslims to ascertain what the “scoundrel,” who is not named in the document, did. The investigators found that the youth had broken most of the stained glass in a large window above the mihrab, as well as damaging the tops of some of the columns above the mi hrab which were found crushed and broken. They also found three broken windows to the right of the mi hrab above the school door. The stained glass in question “had been fashioned in an adroit way out of coloured gypsum in a strange and wonderful form long ago; this method is no longer used in this city.” They also found that the youth had come from the Maghariba quarter through a garden known as the Khatuniya and from there through the school known as Dar al-Aqsa, which is attached to the mi hrab.

This alleged vandalism had caused chaos (balbala) and the document records that “it seemed proper to turn the case over to highest authority because such a thing had never before been encountered.” According to the document, “[a]ll of the people of Islam grieved over this, and everyone lamented the contempt that was shown for the al-Aqsa Mosque whose virtues cannot be counted.” The mosque “had to be restored, and the scoundrel detained.” The mutasallim would detain him until an order would be issued concerning the correct course of action had been determined.

The next morning, another Jewish youth was found inside the mosque, and he too was arrested. The mutasallim asked what to do about this and the mulla qa di answered that Istanbul had to be contacted since this was a strange occurrence because the Jews did not “usually enter the Haram” (because of Rabbinical law concerning the holiness of the site and the danger that a Jew might inadvertently step upon the Holy of Holies, a law with the Muslim authorities were familiar) and because “they lived far from the place”. Therefore, the case was to be judged at the highest level. Unfortunately, neither the court registers nor other records reveal the outcome of these cases. However, it appears that the Khedival authorities, working with the Ottoman chief judge of the city, prevented any kind of mob action and maintained public order in the city, since there is no mention of an outbreak of violence during this incident in contemporary accounts of this period.

In addition to revealing some interesting architectural details, and their appreciation by the Muslims of Jerusalem, this document also gives us a glimpse of the significance of the al-Aqsa mosque to the Muslims in Jerusalem. The Khedival authorities in Jerusalem clearly recognized the importance of this case to the Ottoman authorities, and referred the case to them, rather than to Ibrahim Pasha or the hikimdar. It was only on this symbolic level that the Khedival government conceded the authority of the Ottoman State.

27.  Law Court Record of Jerusalem 317, 123. 23 Safar 1249.

One can only but wonder what, indeed, was their fate.


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Lechi and "Hebrew Christians" in 1948

In this source, "Operation Mercy on the Eve of the Establishment of the State of Israel – The “Exodus” of Jewish Disciples of Yeshua from the Land of Israel in 1948" by Gershon Nerel, the English translation of his Hebrew article published in Iggud – Selected Essays in Jewish Studies, Vol. 2 – History of the Jewish People and Contemporary Jewish Society, ed. Gershon Bacon, Albert Baumgarten, Jacob Barnai, Chaim Waxman, and Israel J. Yuval (Jerusalem: The World Union of Jewish Studies, 2009), 83–109, I found a quite astonishing claim:

there were a few Hebrew Christians who were arrested and interrogated by the so-called “Stern Gang” (known in Hebrew as LEHI, an acronym for Israel Freedom Fighters), the most militant of the pre-state underground groups, who suspected that as Christian agents they were spies and collaborators with the British enemy. Some of the LEHI members suspected that the regular religious association of “the baptized Jews” with the English in joint meetings in their churches was nothing more than a guise for an espionage organization

In the Hebrew version, there is an assertion based on a R.G. Allison that one member of the community was executed.

I had never read such a claim in any Lechi publication or in other research works. I asked Aryeh Eldad who recently published a history of Lehi in its last year in Hebrew.

I will investigate.

P.S. Palestine Post, June 17, 1948


Thursday, April 22, 2021

Who Was Joan M. Thompson?

According to the report in the Palestine Post of March 31, 1948, Miss J. M. Thompson was shot and killed in Jerusalem:

Joan M. Thompson was the Acting Deputy Director of the British Department of Social Welfare.  She had attended Mildred Marston’s funeral on Easter Monday, according to one source. Marston had worked for CMJ as a teacher at the Girl’s College (CMJ is "The Church's Ministry Among Jewish People" is an Anglican missionary society founded in 1809). 

Mildred and a colleague, Hannah R. Hunard writes, were on their way to St. George’s Cathedral on Easter morning (March 28) when there was a sudden burst of gunfire. The companion threw herself on the ground and was unhurt. However, the sniper fire struck and killed Mildred.

Thompson's life was recalled in this Palestine Post obituary:

Here is Bet Safafa on the 1945 British Survey of Palestine map:

and enlarged

The hospital mentioned is on another grid:

The Hebrew press carried the story and, in several versions, blame was apportioned to the Arab side. The Government version blamed the Hagana.

In this Davar report, while snipers are mentioned, the story, illogically, notes she was approached up close and shot.

HaBoker notes that Jewish snipers were targeting Arab vehicles traveling on the Hebron Road to and from Bet Lehem. The story claims Thompson was on her way to visit an Arab nurse recuperating at the Government Hospital in Bet Safafa. It adds that the car was driven by an Arab who also was wounded. The official notice of the Mandate press office suggested she was killed by Jews.

Haaretz (which calls her 'Majorie') asserts she was shot while standing by her car near the Bet Safafa hospital but adds "near Kilometer 5". It convery the response of the Hagana's "Kol HaMagen" radio denying any Hagana members were involved. The tstimony of an Arab nurse it quoted whereby, while standing some 150 yards away, she saw a Jew armed wih an automatic weapon approach the car and even though she yelled out that the woman was British, he opened fire and raked the car with bullets. Miss Thompson died at 5:45 the next morning:

Some more maps show the area, its relative emptiness, the distance from Ramat Rachel but closeness to other Arab villages:

Thompson was in Mandate Palestine eleven years. She arrived in the midst of the 'Disturbances', that violent three-year period of an Arab revolt. Why did she come? Where was she from in England? What was her early life? Did she only work with the Arab population?

There is so much here. Was she a Hebrew Christian missionary or just friends with members of the group?

Hopefully, to be continued.

Now see here.


I have been contacted now, June 15, by her relative who adds this information:

On June 5th you wrote an article about my great aunt, Joan Thompson.

Joan Thompson [born 1906], unmarried/no children, was the twin sister of my paternal grandfather, Douglas Thompson [decorated Royal Artillery Colonel in the British Army in WWII, later a bank manager].  It was my understanding from family members that the responsible Zionist paramilitary group apologised for the shooting (she was know to them but was not driving her own car at the time); she was well connected and liked by senior people at both the major Jewish insurgent and Arab liberationist organisations at that time.

If you were interested I could get information from my aunt (Jan’s niece) on where in England she was come and her early life. Per the attachment, her memorial service was held in London on 7 May 1948 at St Botolph’s Church in Bishopsgate.

Best Regards,

Paul Thompson