On this day 87 years ago one of the worst Arab massacres of Jews occurred in the ancient Jewish city of Hebron.
Prof. William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection has written an excellent recounting of the horrific events of the 1929 Hebron Massacre:
Hebron is a hot spot in many ways. Hebron and its immediately surrounding Arab areas are the single largest source of terror attacks during the so-called Knife or Stabbing Intifada.
It’s also a place where anti-Zionist and left-wing “liberal Zionist” American Jews love to gather to protest the Jewish “settlers” who live in a tiny section of the city. That section is under Israeli military control by agreement with the Palestinian Authority, with good reason. Hebron has a long history of violence directed at Jews.
Hebron had one of if not the oldest continuous Jewish communities in the world, dating back several hundred years at least. Until 1929.
On August 23, 1929, the Arabs attacked the Jews of Hebron along with numerous other Jewish communities.
But in Hebron it was particularly vicious. It was a blood frenzy in which the Jews were set upon with particular glee and slaughtered with knives, machetes and anything else available.
August 23, 1929, marked the beginning of two days of murderous rioting against the Jewish population of Hebron. More generally, it marked a week’s worth of disturbances in British-controlled Palestine, in which Arabs attacked and killed their Jewish neighbors, with there being some attacks by Jews on Arabs.
At the end of a week of violence, 133 Jews were dead, and 110 Arabs had been killed, nearly all of the latter by British security forces.
By far, the worst of the violence against Jews took place in Hebron, at the time a city of some 21,000 residents, of whom some 700 were Jewish and the remainder Arab Muslims.
As with attacks earlier in the 1920s, it was a Jihad against the Jews:
According to Dutch-Canadian journalist Pierre Van Passen who was in Palestine at the time, fabricated pictures of Muslim holy sites in ruins were handed out to Hebron Arabs as they were leaving their mosques on Friday, August 23, 1929. The captions on the pictures claimed that the Dome of the Rock was bombed by the Zionists. That evening, armed Arabs broke into the Yeshiva (Talmudic academy) and murdered the lone student they found. The following day, an enraged Arab mob wielding knives, axes, and iron bars destroyed the Yeshiva and slaughtered the rest of the students there. A delegation of Jewish residents on their way to the police station was lynched by an Arab mob. The mob then proceeded to massacre Hebron’s Jews — both Sephardi and Ashkenazi — who had lived peacefully with their Arab neighbors for years. With only one British officer supervising, the Arab police made no attempt to prevent the massacre.
The head of Hebron’s Ashkenazi community, Rabbi Ya’akov Slonim, had been on good terms with his Arab colleagues and offered his home as a refuge to Hebron’s Jews, believing that they would be spared. But the mob broke in and killed the Rabbi, members of his family and all those assembled there….
In total, sixty-seven Jews were killed and 60 were wounded. The Jewish community in Hebron was destroyed.
Watch this disgusting video of an Arab woman who fondly remembers the massacre:
Read the rest of the article if you have the stomach for it.
Aussie Dave at Israellycool also has a very good overview of the terrible events of that day:
Looking at newspaper articles of the time, we can gain additional insight.
Like this Palestine Bulletin report from Monday September 2, 1929. Note in particular:
- The Hebron massacre was part of a widespread Arab campaign of riots and massacres around Palestine – in Jerusalem, Motza, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Tzfat, in addition to Hebron – with over 100 Jews killed and over 200 wounded
- The frightened Jews of Hebron being assured by the Arab district officer that there was nothing to be afraid of
- Some of the murderers coming from an Arab village with friendly relations with the Jews
- The terrorists murdering prominent Jews who had established good relations with the Arabs, and who, in one case, had even spent large sums on Arab education
- The Muslim world claiming the Jews had provoked the “disturbances”
- Muslim leaders asking the Jews be disarmed, as if that was the problem
- Nowhere in the report are the Arabs referred to as “Palestinians”
There is much more at the post. Go and read the rest.
The following post on Facebook gives us the first-hand account by a British policeman – who was also Jewish – and who recorded the events as they happened. Below is my free translation:
The British Cavalry policeman in the picture below was called Hanoch Brodzitzki z”l.
And why is that of interest today? Because Hanoch, the British policeman, was serving in Hebron at the time of the crazed and vile massacre in 1929. Today many people have written about all the details fo the murder, and the crazed thirst for Jewish blood. And here in front of our eyes is the testimony of a Jewish policeman who was present in Hebron and even testified that he killed six murderers during the riots.
A summary of Hanoch’s testimony reached my late father z”l many years ago from the hands of Hanoch himself. My father went to Hebron, to the Machpela Cave (Cave of the Patriarchs), to the Avraham Avinu neighbourhood and Bet Hadassah, as a sort of closing the circle from Hanoch.
Hanoch left his Chumash (his Hebrew Bible) in which he wrote the chilling testimony. You are welcome to look at it. together with his Chumash, Hanoch passed on the murder weapons that he picked up in Hebron during the pogrom. My father passed on one of the weapons to the Hebron Museum where it lies as a silent witness to that terrible pogrom.
May their souls be bound up in everlasting life. HY’D.
Another horrific testimony from the massacre was passed on by the grandfather of pro-Israel activist Rachel Steinmetz. Rachel brings us the story of her grandfather’s cousin, Eliyahu Yissachar Senderov zt”l, who was murdered in the massacre:
The stories of Arabs storming Jewish homes while police casually watched has been written many times over and I won’t elaborate on the details, but the barbaric savagery which left 67 murdered and dozens injured is beyond belief. Over a couple of days, the Hebron community was wiped out and Jews in Jerusalem, Safed, Tel Aviv, Haifa and moshavim were attacked, maimed, raped, robbed, looted and murdered in a variety of creative ways. The casualty list is a lengthy one.
This massacre isn’t just a blurb in a history book for me, it’s personal. My grandfather Rabbi Ephraim Rubin zt”l rarely opened up about his childhood in Jerusalem, but after my first trip to Israel, he shared a shocking story. He was nine in August of 1929 and his 17-year-old first cousin from Petah Tikva came for a visit, accompanied by his mother. His cousin was traveling from Jerusalem to his yeshiva (seminary) in Hebron after a break. Rumors of Arab unrest were circulating and his aunt asked her son to stay home for a few more days, but Eliyahu Yissachar Senderov zt”l was eager to get back to his learning and insisted he’d be fine. His mother’s intuition kicked in, and, increasingly agitated and upset, she ran back and forth between her sister (my great-grandmother and namesake Chaya Rochel Rubin zt”l) and the bus stop at Sha’ar Yafo hoping to change his mind. This went on for several hours, as the bus only left when full. Unfortunately, the bus filled up, Eliyahu Yissachar zt”l left to Hebron, and he was soon after brutally murdered.
Over Shabbat, the violent Arab mob moved from home to home, torturing, raping, looting and murdering the defenseless Jews. They eventually made their way to Beit Burland, where many of the yeshiva students stayed, and after surrounding the building, began breaking down the doors. Avrohom Dov Shapira zt”l grabbed a knife and fought back valiantly, but was killed. Then they went after Zvi Heller zt”l and Shmuel Izak Bernstein zt”l. Moshe Aron Ripps zt”l asked for a brief moment to say vidui (‘confession’), but they cut him down before he could finish. My cousin Eliyahu Yissachar Senderov zt”l was reportedly so badly wounded, he was nearly cut in half, but languished painfully for almost a full day. Horrifying. His final whispers were “I am the third victim in my family.”
The final words of Rachel’s post are so vitally important for us to understand the delegitimization and incitement against Israel, against “the settlers” and against Jews everywhere, that is still ongoing today:
The small Jewish community of Hebron today understand the history of our people and the massive crime that took place over that bloody Shabbat. That’s why they have staked their spot in Hebron in lieu of a much cozier life. They are bravely standing up to world opinion, to those who smear them and try to portray them as some sort of obstacle to world peace. On this day, the 87th anniversary of the ethnic cleansing of a 3,000 years old Jewish community, I am asking you to please think of Eliyahu Yissachar Senderov zt”l and the 66 other Jews martyred during the Hebron Massacre of 1929. There is no legitimate reason that a Jew should be unable to live safely in Hebron or anywhere else in the world. If anyone suggests otherwise, tell them about my cousin and his friends who were murdered for the crime of being Jewish, decades before “occupation.”