Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Ethnic Cleansing of Old Jerusalem


The War of Independence
The greatest Arab atrocity of the war occurred on May 13, 1948, at the Etzion Bloc settlements. Dozens of surrendering defenders, including some twenty women, were killed at Kfar Etzion just north of Hebron,. The Etzion Bloc had seen a previous massacre in January 1947 when a Haganah platoon of 35 soldiers sent to help them with medical supplies and ammunition was slaughtered by hundreds of Arab militants. Their stripped, mutilated bodies were found the next day by a British patrol.

Ben-Yehuda St. Jerusalem 1948

Shirlee emails a just published eye witness account by British clergyman, Hugh Jones,  of the battle for the Old City of Jerusalem after the Israeli Declaration of Independence on 14 May 1948, the fall of the ancient Jewish Quarter to the British sponsored and officered Arab Legion and the ethnic cleansing of the remaining Jews from their City.

Caught between Jewish and Arab forces fighting in Jerusalem’s Old City was Hugh Jones. Refusing to flee to safety, Jones instead recorded a journal, never before published, that offers a unique personal glimpse of the drama and tragedy of Israel’s birth

Sixty-four years ago, in the days and weeks around the declaration of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, Jews and Arabs were battling for control of Jerusalem. The Jewish areas of the city were cut off by Arab ambushes along the road up from the coast. The bitterest fighting raged in the Old City, where Arab and Jewish soldiers battled house to house inside the walls as Jewish forces tried repeatedly — and failed — to break in from outside.

Also in the Old City in the midst of the fighting was a British missionary, Rev. Hugh Jones of Christ Church. Warned by British authorities to “urgently consider the desirability of leaving Jerusalem,” Jones stayed nonetheless and, holed up in the church’s compound near Jaffa Gate with 50 others, observed the violence raging outside, and sometimes inside, the compound’s walls. He wrote a remarkable journal that has, like Jones himself, been forgotten. It was rediscovered two years ago in the archive at Christ Church, and appears here as a unique take on the dramatic and horrific days around Israel’s birth.

Jones’s journal includes descriptions of violence, asides about regular life — notably the reverend’s seemingly unshakable commitment to tennis, which not even a war could dampen — and expressions of the faith that sustained him through the harrowing events that saw the loss of the Old City by Jewish forces and the creation of the state of Israel.

The Journal is compelling reading. See it here.

Hat tip  Shirlee


Yom HaAtzmaut , Israel Independence Day, this year falls on 26 April 2012 ( Iyah 4 in the Hebrew Calendar).  Iyah 4 commences at sundown of the previous day, this year 25 April 2012.

Shortly it will be sundown 25 April 2012 in this part of Australia.

Hat tip Shirlee

1 comment:

  1. Here's a book that might interest you Geoff, the reviews were interesting:

    The Crisis of Zionism

    "Two kinds of people will hate this book. The first is the political right which supports the occupation and believes it can be sustained forever.

    The other is people who despise the very idea of Israel.

    Peter Beinart is a Zionist. He opposes the occupation primarily (although not exclusively) because he believes it is destroying Israel. If there is one message that comes through in this book (I read a review copy) it is that Beinart wants the Israel he grew up on (one that he understands was far from perfect) to be there for his children.

    He thinks that the continued occupation will ultimately either destroy Israel's soul or even its physical existence.

    Those fears clearly drove him to write this book.
    Reading it, I kept thinking of my father-in-law who survived the Holocaust and how much he worried that Israel's leaders would let it be destroyed.

    He used to say, "These Jews from Poland and Russia figured out how to create a Jewish country from nothing. What did they know? But sitting in Warsaw and Lodz, they figured out how you create ministries and embassies and a whole government. They figured out how to build an army. But I'm afraid that their children aren't so smart. They take it for granted. They will lose it all unless they get smart."

    That is what Beinart thinks too. An old Jewish soul in a young American man.

    This book can change history. That is why it is creating such a ruckus. The noise you hear are the moans of those who are devoted to the status quo and worry that Beinart is challenging it.
    It's a great book and a pleasure to read.
    Not to sound too much like the late 1960's person I am, Beinart's plea reminds me of the quote Bobby Kennedy always invoked. I think it's Tennyson.

    "Some people see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask "why not."

    That is what Beinart is doing."

    MJ Rosenberg

    What say you Geoff?