Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Thursday, 24 February 2011

“They Stuck a Sword Down his Wife’s Throat”: A Hebron Schoolgirl amid the Arab Riots, 1929

Devorah Schneersohn was born in Hebron, one of the holy cities of Judaism, in 1916, to a family connected with the Chabad movement. Her great-grandfather had moved to Eretz Yisrael, then part of the Ottoman Empire, from Russia, where his father was a famous rabbi. Her grandparents ran an Arab-owned hotel in the holy city of Hebron, and her parents had a dairy.  Here’s her eyewitness account of the bloody Arab Riots that occurred in Hebron in 1929:

‘I remember that I went up in the afternoon on the Friday [23 August] to serve the milk; I used to go on the road to Jerusalem on the main highway; nothing happened when I was walking, but when I was walking back I saw these little groups ... of about ten Arabs here and there, talking. And as I was nearing home, one of them threw a stone at me and hit me in the cheek, and of course I started screaming and ran to the house, and as I ran up the stairs my father opened the door, dragged me in and shut the door again quickly. “We are leaving, we are going to our [i.e. her] grandparents,” he said, which was only down the road actually...

We took few belongings; we didn’t have time.... [M]y father said we were going to the hotel, and sure enough we went through the back way and ran through the different yards, and got to the hotel and there were already different people there. There was an elderly couple that came on holidays ... and the doctor was upstairs, he was staying there; and a few of our friends came and then later I found out there were 33 souls staying there, my aunties and Uncle Sholem and his wife, and so on, and some friends. I’ll never forget, we locked all the doors, and they said we would be safer upstairs, so we all walked upstairs ...

There we were, Esther [her sister] and I, standing at this big window, upstairs in the hotel, and when we were looking out to another house not very far at all, and it was called the Yeshiva School... where Orthodox young men were learning the Torah ... that’s the house where they stayed, where they lived.

And ... we could see the Arabs – they had hardly any guns but there were these long swords – screaming “Kill the Jews, kill the Jews” in Arabic.

And first they opened the doors, and a few minutes later they came out and ... we could see the blood ... on those swords ... Anyway, the next thing, all of a sudden, the Arab who was the owner of the hotel – my grandparents were just running it, of course – and this wonderful man, this Arab, who was in his vineyard with his two wives ... heard apparently of the massacre that was going on, and came running up with his wives ... and said: “Come on, you are not safe here. Come down quickly.” He took us down the back steps to his home. It was one big room and off it were the bedrooms (and whatever other rooms), but we, all 33 of us, went into this room and sat down; and he locked the doors and put his two wives on guard outside the door...

We stayed there a day and a night, and then at one time the Arabs kept knocking and the women would say: “There are no Jewish people here ... just our friends who are so afraid of you, you mustn’t do it.” They went away, lucky us! ...

M]y auntie had a baby, and she had her hand over the baby’s mouth because the baby was just starting to cry, and there were these Arabs standing outside.... You could smell the fear! ... Then ... this voice from outside near the school shouted “Help! Help!” It was our cousin; Slonim was his name. My father jumped up and he was running towards the door and the uncles got up and said to father: “Where do you think you’re going?” He said: “I’m going to help ... they’re killing him.” They said: “You can’t do anything.” It was a really shocking moment.

... [Eliezer Dan] Slonim was the bank manager [the local branch of the Anglo-Palestine Bank], and he had all these people working for him, and amongst them was a friend of his, an Arab, a great friend of his, working there with him. And these Arabs were running up the steps to his home and he came up and saw his friend and he said: “Thank G-d it’s you. Now I feel safe.” And the fellow took a gun and shot him.

Then the others ran in and they stuck a sword down his wife’s throat. The couple had two boys, so they killed one of them, but the other one miraculously survived. They had a neighbour, a very big fat woman, wearing these big, big clothes that were hanging down, and she lay down on top of the other child. His name was Binyamin Slonim, and he is still alive today, somewhere in Israel...

These Arabs went around and killed and killed and massacred. Our baker, our poor darling baker; they lit the primus stove, and they put his head on it, and another was found upside down in the toilet. The toilet was just a hole in the ground; and they just did atrocious things....

[W]e saw bodies lying in different parts of the road. We saw bodies lying on the ground and being picked up, and when we came to the big square in front of the police station, there were so many dead lying around and so many people sitting next to them howling, crying, moaning, holding their heads. It was a terrible picture: there were bodies and blood everywhere, and one poor woman, whose husband was on a stretcher, was on her knees and her dress was all red with blood and she was crying for her husband and the scene was just absolutely shocking.’

(Devorah Schneerson later married, and moved to Australia; the above is extracted from The Australian Jewish Historical Society Journal, vol. 17, 2003.)

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1 comment:

  1. See also this video based on survivors' testimony