1834 Safed pogrom
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The 1834 Safed pogrom (Hebrew: ביזת צפת בשנת תקצ"ד, "Plunder of Safed, 5594 AM") was prolonged attack against the Jewish community of Safed, Palestine, during the 1834 Peasants' Revolt. It began on Sunday June 15 (7 Sivan), the day after the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, and lasted for the next 33 days. One account suggests the rioting was premeditated, organised by a local anti-Semitic Muslim cleric, while others believe it was a spontaneous attack which took advantage of a defenceless population in the midst of the armed uprising against Egyptian rule. The district governor tried to quell the violent outbreak, but failed to do so and fled.
Accounts of the month long pogrom tell of large scale looting, killing and raping of Jews as well as the destruction of their homes and synagogues by local Druse and Muslim Arabs. Many Torah scrolls were desecrated and many Jews were left severely wounded. Hundreds fled the town seeking refuge in the open countryside or in neighbouring villages. The rioting was quelled by Lebanese Druse troops under the orders of Ibrahim Pasha following the intervention of foreign consuls. The instigators were arrested and later executed in Acre.
By the 19th-century, Safed had long been inhabited by Jews. It had become a kabbalistic centre during the 16th-century and by the 1830s there were around 4,000 Jews living there, comprising at least half the population. Throughout their history, the Jews of Safed had been the target of violent outbreaks, notably in 1660 and 1628. The upheavals which followed the 1831 annexation of Southern Syria to Egypt by Muhammad Ali threatened the security of the Jews of Palestine. In 1833, at the approach of Ibrahim Pasha, the Jewish quarter of Safed was plundered by the Druses, although the inhabitants managed to escape to the suburbs.
A year later in 1834, the introduction of new taxation laws and conscription into the Egyptian army were met with widespread anger. It resulted in a mass uprising by the fellahin which broke out in the Spring. Most sources contend that the agitators used the prevailing lawlessness as an opportunity to attack and pillage the weaker members of society, namely the Jews and Christians. It was in this setting that the plunder at Safed was unleashed. One account, retold by several Safed Jews to the 25-year-old Alexander William Kinglake, who visited in 1835, blamed the incident on the intolerant rantings of a local Muslim cleric named Muhammad Damoor. The account stated that at the beginning of 1834, Damoor publicly prophesied that on June 15 the "true believers would rise up in just wrath against the Jews, and despoil them of their gold and their silver and their jewels."
According to Kinglake, when June 15 arrived, Muhammad Damoor appeared to the gathered Muslim crowd and incited them to fulfill his prophesy. Kinglake only mentions the occurrence of looting, writing that "the most odious of all outrages, that of searching the women for the base purpose of discovering such things as gold and silver concealed about their persons, was perpetrated without shame."
Other reports, which do not mention the individual involvement of a local Muslim clergyman, suggest the attack was more violent in nature. Isaac Farhi (d. 1853) described how several Jews were killed and raped in the attack. Men, women and children were robbed of their clothes and then beaten. Some fled into the surrounding fields and remained there naked "like wild animals" until the danger passed. 12 year-old Jacob Saphir was among a number of refugees who found sanctuary in the adjacent village of Ein al-Zeitun assisted by a sympathetic Arab sheikh. He describes how for the first three days they had nothing to eat and how they hid in fear of their lives for forty days. Afterwards they had found their homes completely ransacked and emptied, "not even small jugs, doors or windows had been left behind." Menachem Mendel Baum, a prominent member of the Ashkenazi community, published a book (Korot Ha-Eytim, 1839) vividly detailing his recollections. He describes an aggressive onslaught, including one incident in which a group of elderly Jews including pious rabbis were beaten mercilessly while hiding in a synagogue. In May 1934, an article appearing in Haaretz by historian and journalist Eliezer Rivlin (1889-1942) described the event of 100 years earlier in detail. His article, based on similar first hand accounts, tells of how the head of the community, Rabbi Israel of Shklov, was threatened with his life and another rabbi who had fled to the hills seeking refuge in a cave was set upon and had his eye gouged out. Rivlin states many Jews were beaten to death and severely wounded. Thirteen synagogues along with many Torah scrolls were destroyed. Valuable antique books belonging to the 14th-century rabbi Isaac Aboab I were also lost. Jewish homes were ransacked and set on fire as looters searched for hidden gold and silver.
Some Jews managed to escape to a nearby fortress and held out there for a few weeks. The mob unsuccessfully tried to break into the building to reach the fugitives. The sources do not indicate how many Jews died. It seems to have not been many, though hundreds were wounded.
The sole Hebrew printing press in Palestine was destroyed along with many copies of the Bible. It was three years before the press started functioning again. Israel Beck, who established the printing house in Safed, incurred a wound on his foot which left him with an enduring limp. Among the distinguished men who gave their lives helping others were Rabbis Leib Cohen, Shalom Hayat and Mendel of Kamnitz, who wandered around the streets without fear of the attackers, to return little children to their mothers, rescuing the victims physically and emotionally, and burying the dead.
Supression and aftermath
With great effort, Israel of Shklov had managed to send letters to foreign consuls in Beirut and informed them of the details of the troubles that befell the Jews, many of whom were the subjects of foreign states. Their complaints encouraged Ibrahim Pasha to send his Lebanese ally Bashir II to restore order. When Bashir and his forces entered Safed on July 17, 1834, the riots ceased immediately. He made sure the Jews were protected from harm and pursued the culprits. Most of the rebels fled, but thirteen ringleaders along with the town's governor were captured, tried and publicly hanged in Acre. The Jews returned to their homes and gathered their few remaining belongings. According to Löwe's investigations, the loss incurred amounted to 135,250 piasters. The consuls tried to raise sums of money as compensation for their subjects and made lists of the damages. When Ibrahim Pasha returned, he imposed an indemnity on the surrounding villages, but the victims received only seven percent of the value of the damage. Only a small proportion of stolen property was ever recovered.
- Bloch, Abraham P. One a day: an anthology of Jewish historical anniversaries, 1987. pg. 168.
- Louis Finkelstein (1960). The Jews: their history, culture, and religion. Harper. p. 679. Retrieved 17 February 2012. Rabbi Isaac b. Solomon Farhi records that the pillage continued for 24 days.
- Alexander William Kinglake (1864). "XXIV: The Prophet Damoor". Eothen. pp. 291–295. Retrieved 17 February 2012. (Web edition published by University of Adelaide, South Australia)
- Martin Sicker (1999). Reshaping Palestine: from Muhammad Ali to the British Mandate, 1831-1922. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-275-96639-3. "However, the insurrection soon lost its original purpose and turned into bloody rioting and excesses directed against the Jewish population. Arab villagers joined with the townspeople to attack the Jews, raping, looting and destroying synagogues. The rioting was most severe in Safed, where assaults and vandalism forced many Jews to flee to safety amount the friendly Arabs of the nearby village of Ein Zetim. Others were afraid to remain in the remote area and decided to relocate to Jerusalem. During the course of the disturbances, some 500 Torah scrolls were destroyed in Safed alone. The rioting continued for thirty-three days, until a contingent of Druse troops from Ibrahim's army arrived to restore order. The governor of Safed and thirteen of the ringleaders were taken captive, summarily tried, and put to death."
- S. Almog (1988). Antisemitism through the ages. Published for the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, by Pergamon Press. p. 218. ISBN 978-0-08-034792-9. "However, the attacks on the Jews of Safed and Jerusalem in 1834, though part of the general uprising, were only minor episodes in a campaign whose wrath was directed primarily against the Egyptian conquest."
- Andrew G. Bostom (2008). The legacy of Islamic antisemitism: from sacred texts to solemn history. Prometheus Books. p. 594.
- Nathan Schur (1992). Twenty centuries of Christian pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Dvir Publishing House. p. 128. "In Galilee the Jewish community of Safed was, for a month, subjected to a wild orgy of looting by its Moslem neighbors"
- Abraham Yaari; Israel Schen; Isaac Halevy-Levin (1958). The goodly heritage: memoirs describing the life of the Jewish community of Eretz Yisrael from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. Youth and Hechalutz Dept.. of the Zionist Organization. p. 37. "Revolt broke out on the 15th June, 1834. The Arab villagers, together with the townspeople, armed themselves and attacked the Jews, raping their women and destroying their synagogues. The riots in Safed went on for 33 days, but in Jerusalem, Hebron and Tiberias they ended sooner."
- Abigail Green (15 March 2010). Moses Montefiore: Jewish liberator, imperial hero. Harvard University Press. p. 119. ISBN 978-0-674-04880-5. "During the revolt of the Arab peasantry against Mehmed Ali in 1834, villagers from the surrounding area had sacked the Jewish quarter, assaulting and killing the men, raping the women, plundering and destroying their homes."
- Moshe Maʻoz (1975). Studies on Palestine during the Ottoman period. Magnes Press. p. 67. "Up to 1837 the population of Safed showed an increase. A considerable number of sources report a population of 7000-8000, with half, or even more than half, being Jews."
- Louis Finkelstein The Jews: Their history - 1960 "In 1628 the Druses attacked Safed. Mulhim, brother of Fakhr-al-Din, took the city and plundered the Jews, many of whom fled for their lives. In 1633 the Pasha of Damascus routed Fakhr-al-Din and again Safed felt the heavy hand of a conqueror. After Mulhim's defeat the Jews returned to Safed, once more under Turkish rule, but again they did not long enjoy peace."
- Safed Jewish Encyclopedia.
- Baruch Kimmerling (1 July 2010). Clash of Identities: Explorations in Israeli and Palestinian Societies. Columbia University Press. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-231-14329-5.
- Gudrun Kramer; Graham Harman (14 March 2011). A History of Palestine: From the Ottoman Conquest to the Founding of the State of Israel. Princeton University Press. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-691-15007-9.
- Introduction to Eothen: Traces of Travel Brought Home from the East, Northwestern University Press, 1 Apr 1997
- Bat Yeʼor (2002). Islam and Dhimmitude: where civilizations collide. Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press. p. 119. ISBN 978-0-8386-3943-6. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- Jacob Saphir. Even Sapir (I:1-2) 1866.
- Menachem Mendel Baum. Korot Ha-Eytim (Hebrew), Vilnus, 1839.
- Eliezer Rivlin. The Great Plunder of Safed: June 15-July 17, 1834, Haaretz, (May 22, 1934).
- Tudor Parfitt (1987). The Jews in Palestine, 1800–1882. The Royal Historical Society; The Boyden Press. pp. 57–63.
- Andrew G. Bostom (2008). The legacy of Islamic antisemitism: from sacred texts to solemn history. Prometheus Books. p. 88. "The Safed pogrom alluded to by Maoz lasted thirty-three days in June/July l834, and was particularly devastating — many Jews were killed, hundreds wounded, and the town nearly destroyed."
- Israel M. Ta-Shma (1975). The Hebrew book: an historical survey. Keter Pub. House Jerusalem. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-7065-1389-9. "In 1834 Bedouin peasants attacked the Jewish quarter in Safed, and the damage they caused brought the press to a standstill for three years."
- Jeff Halper (1991). Between redemption and revival: the Jewish yishuv of Jerusalem in the nineteenth century. Westview Press. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-8133-7855-8. Retrieved 17 February 2012. "For the next year or more everything went well. The press flourished and Bak found himself employing some thirty workers. Then, in 1834, disaster struck. The Druze of the Galilee revolted against Ibrahim Pasha. Joined by Arabs who resented the Jews' collaboration with the Egyptians, they fell upon the Jewish community of Safed just as the Jews in Jerusalem were being attacked. For days the looting and killing continued until Ibrahim Pasha finally suppressed the rebellion. Bak himself sustained an injury to his left foot that caused him to limp for the rest of his life. Even more painful was the damage done by the rioters to his press."
- Schur, Nathan. Toldot Tzefat, Tel Aviv: Am Oved; Dvir, 1983, pp. 189-193.
- Andrew G. Bostom (2008). The legacy of Islamic antisemitism: from sacred texts to solemn history. Prometheus Books. p. 596. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- Sherman Lieber (1992). Mystics and missionaries: the Jews in Palestine, 1799-1840. University of Utah Press. p. 215. ISBN 978-0-87480-391-4.
- Dovid Rossoff (2001). Where heaven touches earth: Jewish life in Jerusalem from Medieval times to the present. Feldheim Publishers. p. 183. ISBN 978-0-87306-879-6.
- Karagila, Zvi. Samuel ben Israel Peretz Heller Describes the Sack of Safed 1834. Cathedra 27 (1983), pp. 109–116. (Hebrew)
- Schwartz, Joseph. A descriptive geography and brief historical sketch of Palestine. A. Hart, (1850), pp. 403–407.