Hassan Bek Mosque
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|Hassan Bek Mosque|
|Architectural style||Ottoman style|
The Hassan Bek Mosque (Hebrew: מסגד חסן בק, Arabic: مسجد حسن بك), also known as the Hasan Bey Mosque, is one of the most well-known mosques of Jaffa, a city which is now part of the Tel Aviv-Yafo municipality in Israel. It has been a site of much controversy, as demonstrated in recent years.
The Hassan Bek Mosque was built in 1916 at the northern boundary of Arab Jaffa with what in time became the Jewish metropolis of Tel Aviv, and its history is closely bound up with the various stages of the Arab-Jewish conflict, from its beginnings as a communal strife under Ottoman and British rule and up to the present. It has been on various occasions the subject of heated debate and eventful controversy, and has a deep symbolic and emotional meaning to Jaffa Arabs.
Its Ottoman-style architecture contrasts sharply with the contemporary modern high-rises situated near it. It is located between Neve Tzedek neighbourhood and the Mediterranean Sea, on the fast road to Jaffa.
The Hassan Bek Mosque was built in 1916, by Jaffa's Turkish-Arab governor of the same name. At the time, Arab Jaffa and the recently founded Jewish Tel Aviv were both competitively expanding and seeking to block each other; the mosque was part of Manshiyya, Jaffa's northernmost neighbourhood which spread northwards along the Mediterranean seashore.
The governor of Jaffa who had the mosque built is named as Hassan Bey or Bek, Hassan Bey al-Basri, or Hassan Bey al-Basri al-Ghabi (or Jabi). Hassan Bey headed Jaffa between August 1914 and May 1916.
The mosque was built on a plot of land selected and confiscated by Hassan Bey from its Arab Christian owner, which he re-registered in his own name. On his orders, building materials were plundered from construction sites in the area, and the work force consisted of people, mainly Muslims, grabbed by force from the streets.
The mosque's minaret was often used by Arab snipers to shoot at Jews in Tel Aviv and Manshiya, in the months preceding the British withdrawal.
According to Yosef Nahmias, former member of the Irgun unit which conquered the area in April 1948, he and his men planted demolition charges in the Hassan Bek Mosque immediately upon its capture and prepared to blow it up, but this was strictly vetoed by his commander Menachem Begin (future Israeli PM).
After the demolition of Manshiya
The place of the razed Arab housing was taken by high-rise office buildings and a park. The Hassan Bek Mosque - spared due to the state and municipal authorities hesitating to be seen as desecrating a Muslim house of worship - remained, together with the building now housing the Irgun Museum of Tel Aviv, the last two remnants of the area's pre-1948 Manshiya neighbourhood.
Real-estate scheme of 1979
The Hassan Bek Mosque lay derelict and neglected for many years, its empty shell used on some occasions by vagabonds and drug addicts.
In 1979, it was suddenly announced that the Jaffa Islamic Properties' Trustees had sold the mosque and its compound to real-estate developer Gershon Peres (brother of Shimon Peres, then Israeli Labor Party leader and former President of Israel) and that it was to be transformed into a shopping mall.
The disclosure aroused a storm of protests by Israeli Arabs, supported by Israeli Jewish peace and human rights groups, who claimed that the Trustees had been appointed by the Government of Israel, that they did not represent the Muslim community of Jaffa, and that they had pilfered the money from the Peres deal into their own pockets.
The outcome was that the real estate deal was cancelled and the mosque returned to the hands of the Jaffa Muslim Community.
Minaret collapse and reconstruction
Soon after title was handed over to the Jaffa Muslims, the mosque's minaret collapsed overnight in what was officially described as "an accident" but which was generally considered by Jaffa Arabs and left-wing Israelis to be a deliberate sabotage by extreme right groups and/or veterans of 1948.
While never investigating such rumors, the authorities gave permission for the Jaffa Arabs to restore the minaret, using volunteer work and funds provided by the governments of Jordan and Saudi Arabia. This is considered by Jaffa Arabs an important milestone in their recovered self-awareness and assertiveness in defence of their communal rights.
The reconstructed minaret is twice as tall as the original one.
Up to the present, Jaffa Arabs maintain an ongoing presence in the renovated mosque, and prayers are held in it regularly, though it is a considerable distance from the neighborhood where the surviving post-1948 Arab community of Jaffa is living.
On June 1, 2001, a Hamas suicide bombing occurred nearby at the Tel Aviv Dolphinarium dance club, claiming the lives of 21 Israeli, teenagers in their majority. Israeli police suspected that the perpetrator had been harboured at the mosque.
A major anti-Arab demonstration soon developed with over one thousand Israelis besieging the mosque, with sporadic rock and fire-bomb attacks along with calls for revenge against Arabs. For their part, Muslim worshipers inside the mosque hurled rocks and bottles at the besiegers. This entire event led to over 20 people suffering light injuries from the demonstrators.[dubious ] The rock attacks led to increased Arab violence and attacks in the area, leading to stone-throwing attacks on Jaffa's Yefet Street, motorists were injured as a result and the street had to be closed to car traffic.
In August 2005, an Israeli Jewish couple, previously known to police for their alleged involvement in prostitution, threw a pig's head on the lawn of the Hassan Bek Mosque. The pig's head was wrapped in a keffiyeh with "Prophet Muhammad" written on it. The suspects were promptly arrested and charged by the police.
In November 2005 this event was named as a reason for revenge by Abed al-Muaz Jueba, a Hamas sympathizer and resident of Hebron, who stabbed three yeshiva students on their way to the Old City of Jerusalem. The stabbing attack killed one, Shmuel Eliyahu Mett, while seriously wounding the two other boys who accompanied him.
The Ottoman-style mosque initially measured 21 by 28 metres, was well-proportioned and fit well into the Al-Manshiya neighbourhood. It had a courtyard partially paved and in part used as a garden; the prayer hall was entered by a staircase on its northern side. In 1923 the mosque was already the object of politically motivated renovations ordered by the Supreme Muslim Council, and its overall area was substantially expanded in the 1980s.
The mosque employs a white limestone instead of using the more common stone of the area, kurkar, a yellow-brown calcareous sandstone. The walls of the mosque are perforated with intricately decorated and colourfully glazed windows. The walls are also refined by narrow engaged piers that divide the wide façades into smaller sections.
The current minaret was rebuilt at twice its original height as part of the renovation in the 1980s; extremely tall and slender, it contrasts with the square prayer hall. A very low tower rises on the opposite side of the mosque. The concrete roof is flat and proportionally low, with a shallow dome over the central bay.
Bird's-eye view of the mosque from southeast
- Mark LeVine (2005). Overthrowing Geography: Jaffa, Tel Aviv, and the Struggle for Palestine, 1880-1948. University of California Press. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-520-93850-2.
- Nir Mann (31 July 2014). "Unlikely Saviors: How Germany Helped Save Palestine’s Jews During WWI". Haaretz. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
- "Hassan Bek Mosque". The Blue Route Tour Tel Aviv. Yourway Tourism Ltd. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
- Palestine: Information with Provenance (PIWP database)
- "The Hassan Beq mosque neighborhood". al-Manshiyya Neighborhood (Yaffa). Zochrot (NGO). Retrieved 14 September 2016.
- Marshall J. Breger, Yitzhak Reiter, Leonard Hammer (editors), Holy Places in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Confrontation and Co-existence, chapter "The making of a landmark"
- Mark LeVine (2005). Overthrowing Geography: Jaffa, Tel Aviv, and the Struggle for Palestine, 1880-1948. University of California Press. p. 344, note 146. ISBN 978-0-520-93850-2.
- Interview (in Hebrew) in Ma'ayeney Hayeshua (מעיני הישועה ) Weekly, April 11, 2008
- Nimrod Luz, The Politics of Sacred Places. Palestinian Identity, collective memory, and resistance in the Hassan Bek mosque conflict, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 2008
- "Sacking synagogues". The Jerusalem Post. 11 September 2005. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
- Anti-Arab Protests at TA Mosque - Arutz Sheva News Briefs
- Avi Cohen and Efrat Weiss (26 August 2005). "Two arrested for pig's head incident". Ynetnews. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
- Efrat Weiss (11 October 2005). "J'lem stabbing - to 'avenge pig in mosque'". Ynetnews. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
- Hasan Bek Mosque on Archnet digital library