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I think that a large portion of the history of Safad/Safed is still missing from this article. I suggest someone start by adding some more information about the Canaanite origins of the town, and more importantly about the role the Crusades played in the town. The Knights Templars used Safad as a base for decades, and heavily utilized the Fortress at the upper level of the old city. After the Templars withdrew from Safad, the Hospitaller Knights replaced them for a time. Also, in addition to the obvious Ottoman Turk presence in the city, the Mamelukes left a legacy behind which is conspicuous in the black and white bricks at the base of a couple of the mosques (which are no longer in use, except one which is an art gallery now). The inhabitants of the city are generally of mixed ancestry, whether they be Jew or Muslim, because of the general nature of historic events which transpired over the centuries in the Mediterranean. (So you'll see Jews of Spanish, North African, Russian, or "indigenous" ancestry, and Muslims coming from a blend of Arab, "indigenous," Turkish, Balkan, and Crusader (Anglo/Saxon/Germanic) ancestry.

There are numerous articles and authors which may be cited that show the maximum population of Safad proper to never have exceeded 10,000 in the past several centuries. Figures showing more than that are either exaggerated or are inclusive of surrounding townships/suburbs. ["A report issued by a delegation of the Protestant College of Malta in 1849 reveals that the entire population of Safad at that time reached 5,000. Of this total, 1,500 to 2,000 were Jews, 60 were Christians, and all the rest were Muslims. Nathan Shur notes that, in the years 1850-1855 the population of Safad reached 7,000, of whom 2,500 to 3,000 were Jews. Ben-Arieh affirms that the population was 6,000 in the 1840s and 1850s and that the majority were Arab, but he gives no breakdown. In 1871, the Ottomans carried out a survey of all parts of the Province of Syria. The results of this survey indicated that the overall number of households (khanes) in Safad was 2,595, with the following distribution: 1,395 Muslim; 1,197 Jewish; and three Christian households. Scholars differ in their estimates of the number of persons per khane, but most agree that the most acceptable number is five. Therefore, by multiplying the number of khanes by five, the population would be 12,975, divided as follows: 6,975 Muslims (53.76%); 5,985 Jews (46.13%); and 15 Christians (0.11%)."]-excerpt from Jerusalem Quarterly Feb 2003, issue 17. This is but a small example of the plethora of information which still needs to be disseminated to those interested in learning more about Safad.

The commercial and economic role that Safad played during the Ottoman period is a lengthy subject. Integral to that were the prosperous Safadi Muslim families that maintained relations with Jerusalem, Damascus and Beirut. FYI: The "scholarly" families, those who maintained and executed Islamic doctrine and jurisprudence in the land, were the Nahawi, Qadi, Mufti, and Naqib families. The "landlord" families, those who actually owned the land and homes of Safad and surrounding areas and who collected the rents, were only three: the Qaddoura, Soubeh, and Murad families. (Just to give an example, according to a 19th century Ottoman document, the Murad family owned approximately 14,000 dunums of land in the upper Galilee stretching from Safad towards Tiberias.)

To balance the scales, whoever is interested in revising the Safed page by explaining more of the non-Jewish history can cite works from Mustafa Abbasi, Ph.D.. Dr. Abbasi lectures in the history departments at Tel-Hai College, and at the Jordan Valley College. He has a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern History from Haifa University. His book on the social history of Safad, was published in 2003 by the Institute for Palestine Studies in Beirut. Tanneen ____________________________________________________________________________________

I changed the title to "Safed" because this is the most common English name, even used in the town's official tourism advertising.--Pharos 12:04, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Amazing, not a single mention of the rich Arab history. That will change. --Zero 13:36, 7 August 2005 (UTC)

That's a very hostile comment, Zero. The article barely has any history section at all; I'm sure everyone would welcome some expansion. Jayjg (talk) 04:27, 8 August 2005 (UTC)
It is more than just incomplete, it is written from the "Arabs don't exist" POV. This is most clearly seen from the phrase "long decline for Safed" when that was only true for the Jewish community in Safed. Sometime this week I'll expand the article. In the process I'll add more Jewish history too. --Zero 05:47, 8 August 2005 (UTC)

The city has an English name. I aim for accuracy. The Arabic name is Safed, the English (original) name is Tsfat, which in Hebrew is Tzfat.

Guy Montag 04:43, 26 August 2005 (UTC)

We're not aiming for "accuracy" or for whatever may be the "original" English name but for the most common name among English speakers today (please see Wikipedia:Naming conventions (common names)). "Safed" is the most common name in English, and is, as noted above, the name used in the town's official tourism advertizing.--Pharos 04:48, 26 August 2005 (UTC)

The English name has been "Safed" with essentially no competition since the 1830s at least. I would like see any evidence that "Tsfat" was ever used as the English name before the 20th century. Moreover, the relationship between Tsfat and Tzfat is only that they are alternative transliterations of the Hebrew name צפת . The modern way of transliterating it would be Tsfat. --Zero 09:08, 26 August 2005 (UTC)

Safed is much more common in English, but does anyone pronounce it that way any more? Jayjg (talk) 03:19, 28 August 2005 (UTC)

Yes, but I don't know how to estimate frequency. Israelis usually use the Hebrew name even when they are speaking English, but I don't know if that counts. The spelling "Safed" is lots more common (more than 5 times in Google) and I don't know why anyone would write "Safed" yet say "Tsfat". While I'm typing: in the entire Palestine Post from its founding to its change of name in 1950, there isn't a single appearance of "Tsfat" or "Tzfat" that the search engine finds. Only "Safed" appears. --Zero 03:33, 28 August 2005 (UTC)
I, actually, would tend to follow Tzfat as the most accurate spelling precisely due to these phonetic considerations. See:,,, (PDF), (note: address). El_C 04:02, 28 August 2005 (UTC)
Note that Rangoon redirects to Yangon, even though the former produces 1.4 million to the latter's 630,000 google hits. El_C 04:18, 28 August 2005 (UTC)
We should follow the common English spelling in accordance with usual Wikipedia practice, even if you can find an example where the practice is not followed. A more similar analogy is that Rome is not a redirect to Roma. On a philosophical level, I'd prefer to see all place names primarily listed under the name used by the majority of the people who live there, but that is not the practice that Wikipedia follows. I bet that all the major English encyclopedias list this city first as "Safed". Btw, I don't know what phonetic considerations you refer to, and I don't know why that should matter in a written document like this one. Your links just establish that the Hebrew name is Tsfat, but we already knew that. --Zero 05:17, 28 August 2005 (UTC)
Good points, which cover my answer as per majority of inhabitans. Still, I notice that Encyclopædia Britannica titles it as Zefat. El_C 06:24, 28 August 2005 (UTC)
The first paragraph in EB would cause a revert-war here. --Zero 13:07, 28 August 2005 (UTC)
Shochad hu sheck gadol — Ilbartil al sheck kbir! You know how it goes. :) El_C 01:06, 29 August 2005 (UTC)
O Help Me. While the debate goes on about how to spell the name, I am unable to find its purported reference in the English bible, which apparently does not use any of the spellings under discussion. A reference to the verse number in Judges would be helpful in the Ancient History section, if the KJV or other Biblical spelling is not wanted in the wiki article for some reason. I would like to be able to tie in English Bible readers to the information in this article. Rolinbruno (talk) 00:05, 28 December 2013 (UTC)
Actually it isn't mentioned by name in the Bible at all. The region it belongs to is mentioned in Joshua 19:32–39. Zerotalk 00:29, 28 December 2013 (UTC)

historical demography[edit]

(~1800) Arabs: ~5,000(?)* - "non-Jews" Jews: ~15,000.
(~1850) Arabs: not listed. Jews = ~1,500. (2,000 Jews die in an earthquake in 1837).
(1913) Arabs: not listed. Jews = ~11,000.
(1948) Arabs: ~10,000. * Jews = ~2,000.
If anyone can easily get ahold of the missing figures for and/or pertinent dates, that would prove instructive in grounding the history section to-be. I need to get around in tracking the contributors to צפת to verify some of their sources (national increase from 3% in 2000, as stated here, down to 0.9% in 2003, as stated there). I updated the total population and added some other figures based on 2003 (and 2001) figures. El_C 07:54, 28 August 2005 (UTC)

I just typed in a whole lot of figures and my browser crashed. Grrrr... Trying again:

  • Cohen and Lewis (1978) based on Ottoman taxation records: In 1525, 1093 housholds of Muslims, 719 of Jews. In 1567, 986 households of Muslims, 945 of Jews. In both cases, no Christians.
  • Parfitt (1987) gives more than 40 values for the 19th century, and a few others. Most are estimates made without counting (and so are inaccurate).
    • In 1759 after an earthquake, 50 households of Jews (no figure given for Muslims).
    • In 1812, 750 Jews in a total population of 3000. In 1816, 1500-1750 Jews in a total population of 5000-7500. The difference between these probably reflects the difficulty of estimating population without counting. Parfitt describes the preceding decade as one of steady immigration, so the figure you give of 15,000 Jews in 1800 is completely impossible.
    • Before the 1837 earthquake, about 4000 Jews in a total population of 9000. The earthquake killed about 2000 Jews and many left, so by 1839 there were exactly 1338 Jews (Montefiore census). The latter figure was comprised of 601 Ashkenazim and 737 Sephardim.
    • From 1840 to 1860, Jewish population 1500-3000 and total population 3500-7000 (in each case the range of several estimates).
    • In 1878, ca. 5600 Jews based on Montefiore census.
    • In 1882, two estimates give 7000-7200 Jews and 14000 total.
    • In 1896, 6200 Jews (Parfitt calls this "authoritative").
  • Jewish Encyclopedia [1]: In 1904, 7000 Jews in 21,000 total. (Btw, their header is "Safed (Hebrew: Zefat)".)
  • A book of Tretsch quoted by McCarthy gives for 1906: 4600 Muslims, 10000 Jews, 400 Christians.
  • British figures:
    • Census of 1922: 5431 Muslims, 2986 Jews, 343 Christians, 1 Other. I don't remember reading about massive departures of Jews from Safed in the 1900-1920 period; maybe I missed it, or maybe the 1906 and 1913 estimates are too high. JE's non-Jewish population for 1904 looks unlikely too. On second thoughts, we know that a large fraction (more than half) of the Jews who immigrated to Palestine in the "Second Aliyah" left again. Maybe that caused the hump we see in the figures?
    • Census of 1931: 6465 Muslims, 2547 Jews, 426 Christians, 3 Others.
    • British and Jewish Agency estimates for end of 1946: 9780 Muslims, 2400 Jews, 430 Christians. --Zero

That article does not provides for any authoritative, verifiable sources, whereas yours are, so obviously I'm inclined to go with them and discard any unsourced claims. I'll try to remember to contact the respective author/s and point them to some of these discrapencies. Good work! El_C 01:06, 29 August 2005 (UTC)

Hezbollah have been called terrorists, when they are a political party and army.

My advice is to change the word terrorists ti militia. It's NPOV but keaps the idea of an army not controlled by the government. Shia1 07:08, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

History of safed[edit]

some arabic references [2] claim that safad was first build by the kananites on (probably ruins) of trifot (a castle?), was mentioned in egyption scripts around 14th century bc, and in the roman times was know as syfa! any idea how true/untrue all that is?

I have found similar results in arabic, again, any idea how true/untrue that is ? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:48, 4 October 2008 (UTC)

Why is reference made to "the brutal Jewish invasion of 1948"? Palestine was partitioned by the UN 1948 into Jewish and Arab states. The provisional Israeli government accepted the partition; the Arabs did not, and five Arab armies (of Egypt, Transjordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq) immediately invaded. Many Palestinian Arabs, the family of Abu Mazen being amongst these, were urged to flee by their political and religious leaders, so that they would be out of harm's way as the Arab armies attacked Israel. The Israeli army prevailed in many areas, including the Galilee, but there was no brutality or massacre of Safed's Arab residents as a result. Many remained, and became Israeli citizens.

Finding peace between Jews and Arabs will be difficult enough without distorting the historical record, or hurling abuse at each other.


I've uploaded three photos to the Commons, called Safed1.jpg, Safed2.jpg, Safed3.jpg . Please add them to the article. Thanks, Volland 22:06, 3 June 2006 (UTC)

The map showed in the article in not of Safed, and Safed is not a part of the Palestinian Territories but of Israel. This is the exact location. --Sagion (talk) 18:56, 23 June 2013 (UTC)

Tag on history section[edit]

The history section completely ignores all the history except the Jewish history. The Jewish history is rich and indeed should be presented, but pretending that the Arabs didn't exist except as a "mob" is unacceptable. --Zerotalk 04:15, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

I don't know if you noticed, but the paragraph was blanked a while back by an spa. I restored it. Cheers, TewfikTalk 22:40, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

Too good to be true : It's the first press in Palestine and the first in whole Asia.[citation needed][edit]

I learned that Gutemberg took the press idea from Chinese people. Or is it Palestine's ?

Thank you! And I am glad with you if the statement is true, for it is nice to know that and partake it. But ? Look, this must be an encyclopedia here. Be precise. The first press in the middle east ? The first press still extant ? The first press cited in a book ? Thank you again. -- DLL .. T 18:51, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

Nachel Novea[edit]

This blurb about their magnificent contributions to religious civic life is NPOV as well as unreferenced and probably self-promotion and should be drastically cut if not removed. Plutonium27 16:03, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

I don't know if it was self promotion, but nachal novea is notable in a discussion of safed. it built an entire neighborhood, and dominates religious life in the old city. Shia1 07:06, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

Article is Judeocentric[edit]

The article right now is uber judeocentric. One would think nobody else ever lived there. Safed was a major trading post in the Ottoman days, and, if I recall the capital of the province. Shia1 07:12, 19 June 2007 (UTC)

confusing history with myth[edit]

why is the first line in the history section a statement from the book of judges saying the land was given to a tribe of israel? this is mythology, not history, and doesn't belong in that section. there should be a "religious/mythological significance" section for this and the other "according to legend" statements that are erroneously placed in the section labeled "history". untwirl(talk) 17:26, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

Agreed. The section then says the city was first mentioned in Jewish sources in the late Middle Ages, and immediately claims it was mentioned in the Talmud (long before the Middle Ages). The early parts of this section really need bulk rewriting. In the process, things from the Vilnay travel guide (not a reliable source for history) should be resourced to history books. Zerotalk 19:45, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

the 1929 pogrom[edit] This could easily explain the change in demographics and why the population by 1948 was only elderly. A case could be made that the Jews fled from the town. Also this interesting article about Safed - which claims that Speaking with Al-Palestinia TV on Monday, Abbas admitted that his family was not expelled or driven out, but rather left for fear that the Jews might take revenge for the slaughter of 20 Jews in the city during the Arab pogroms of 19 years earlier. and they quote him saying "Abbas said, “brought [our families] to understand that the military balance had changed, and that [we] no longer had military forces in their real meaning. There were only young people who fought, and there was an initial action. They felt that the balance of power had collapsed and they therefore decided to leave. The entire city was abandoned based on this thought – the thought of their property and saving themselves.”

If this is so it puts a different spin on the story as told in this article I think. And also speaks to expanding the section on the '29 massacre as well as that is clearly a part of the context.Stellarkid (talk) 14:59, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

The article can always be improved, but your sources have dubious reliability. Especially the second, which is quite unacceptable ("israel national news" is the mouthpiece of the far-right settlers). The first is an interesting anecdote, but who is this person? Using a history book would be much better. Zerotalk 17:24, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
I guess the AntiDefamation League source actually came from a book which can be found here: [3] . It is a book written by a Jewish witness (it says he "reported on the news"). Also it seems that Mr Hacohen went on to become a member of the Knesset if he is the one I think he is... yes, it appears he is : [4]. That is interesting about the Israel National News being an organ of the settlers. Would that be similar to the Wall Street Journal being a right wing newspaper? Does that mean it is dubious? Stellarkid (talk) 13:57, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
I looked up the Israell National News and take your point on that. It probably doesn't qualify as a neutral news source. Stellarkid (talk) 16:08, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

Palestinian-Israel Conflict section issues[edit]

Supposedly the Arab population of Safed was 12,000 in 1948. Yet later in the article it is said that some say that 15,000 fled!? Stellarkid (talk) 17:20, 8 July 2009 (UTC) ps I am going to try to fix the references to Gilbert that I used but if I don't do a good job maybe someone more experienced could step in? Thanks Stellarkid (talk) 17:22, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

15,000 is a definite exaggeration. The estimates of the British government suggest about 12,000 Muslims+Christians lived there. Zerotalk 19:17, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
Zero, do you know if they all left? The reason I ask is that Gilbert's book mentions 2000, but it is not clear if these are just those who left for Syria. Maybe we could get a reference for those flight figures. Stellarkid (talk) 00:23, 10 July 2009 (UTC)
Also Benny Morris says (page 157 --"1948") re Safad "But all of this was merely a prelude to the battle for Safad, the strategically important mixed town that served as the 'capital' of Eastern Galilee. Safad, with fifteen hundred Jews, and ten to twelve thousand Arabs with a tradition of anti-Yishuv violence, was evacuated by the British on 16 April." I am not sure this article makes it clear that there was actually a "battle" for Safad, and Morris says the Arabs shelled the Jewish quarter. Anyway according to Morris, the town was completely cleared of its population, so in my view, it would be fair to say 10-12 thousand. Stellarkid (talk) 00:38, 10 July 2009 (UTC)
The paper of Abbasi also is very clear that all the Arabs left. But not all at once, so the 2000 might refer to one phase only. Zerotalk 08:59, 10 July 2009 (UTC)

I feel that this section also has some POV issues really relating to the use of quotation marks. It comes across anti-Jewish, presenting the '48 conflict in terms of the big bad Jews slaughtering and terrifying the poor wee Arabs. I feel there has to be better language to use here. I don't deny either side's right to feel a certain way. I know wiki is anit-pov but perhaps this is a place where we need to subsection it and present both sides from each's pov since we can't really accurately state, without pov, how certain groups of people felt at any point in history without personal testimony. Which I am sure would be refuted by the other side. THDju (talk) 09:21, 15 September 2010 (UTC)

Abbas a refugee?[edit]

I do not think the fact that Abbas is a refugee from Safed should be made in this Article. Especially since he stated on his July 6th, Al Palestinia "People were motivated to run away... They feared retribution from Zionist terrorist organizations - particularly from the Safed ones. Those of us from Safed especially feared that the Jews harbored old desires to avenge what happened during the 1929 uprising. This was in the memory of our families and parents... They realized the balance of forces was shifting and therefore the whole town was abandoned on the basis of this rationale - saving our lives and our belongings" —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:07, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

This is an interesting quote from Arutz Sheva or the Israeli National News but it is my understanding that that source is not an acceptable one on wiki because it is considered to be too biased. Do you have another source for this information? Stellarkid (talk) 19:19, 21 July 2009 (UTC)

Found one from Sarah Honig at the Jerusalem Post ! [5] Another Tack: Self-exiled by guilt July 17, 2009 Jerusalem Post. Stellarkid (talk) 23:23, 21 July 2009 (UTC)

Tell you what, Stelllarkid; nobody here in Scandinavia takes Jerusalem Post seriously any longer, (much less an "opinion" by a ms Sarah Honig). See here why. I also see you have removed relevant material, sourced to Morris, from the article. Also needless to say; this is not acceptable, and will be reinserted. Regards, Huldra (talk) 00:23, 22 July 2009 (UTC)

What exactly does Scandinavia have to do with anything? TFighterPilot (talk) 20:53, 30 September 2010 (UTC)

Tsfat vs. Safed[edit]

Can anyone think of a good reason for the article to be titled "Safed"?
Everyone in Tsfat spelles it either Tsfat or Tzfat; Safed is the Arab name and hasn't been in use for decades. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Yclorfene (talkcontribs) 21:13, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

The article name has to be changed in acordance to official Israeli name of this city to Tzfat. If there is no objection we can change the name of this article immediately.--Tritomex (talk) 11:08, 19 December 2012 (UTC)

Wikipedia guidelines object, see Wikipedia:Naming conventions (geographic names). For the same reason, we use Rome even though most people who live there call it Roma. Zerotalk 11:53, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
Exactly because of Wikipedia guidelines I believe that the name of this article have to be changed. Safed is not "a widely accepted English name" nor it is the official name of Tzfat. Similarly like in the case of Beit She'an, the official Hebrew name of this Israeli town has to be the name of this article. I do not see any sources suggesting that the Arabic name of this town represents "a widely accepted English name"--Tritomex (talk) 02:19, 28 December 2012 (UTC)
Safed is overwhelmingly the common English name, and the more scholarly the source the more overwhelming it is. You can easily check this for yourself. The Arabic name is Safad, not Safed, but even that is much more common in English than Tsfat/Tzfat/Tsefat/Zefat. Seems to be about 50 to 1 overall. Zerotalk 02:48, 28 December 2012 (UTC)

Article on claimed 1660 massacre[edit]

There is an article by a new editor entitled 1660 Safed massacre asserting mass murder of Jews by Arabs and sourced primarily to Joan Peters and some other doubtful sources. I notice you make no mention here of any such massacre. I have nominated the article for deletion but hope some of you will come over and take a look and help with the talk page discussion on the sourcing, as well as weighing in at the afd page. Thanks.Jonathanwallace (talk) 07:19, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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External links modified[edit]

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