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)

Sunday 19 December 2010

The Heroine from the Harem – and Jewish Dhimmitude in Old Barbary

My latest dip into historical archives turns up this not uninteresting little item from the London Voice of Jacob (24 June 1842). It tells of a stubbornly Christian captive rescued from Muslim slave traders by two Jews. If only the Coptic girls of the present day, seized from their families and forced to convert to Islam, could be rescued from their living nightmare the way the trafficked (and uncommonly lucky) Christian girl in this report – probably captured somewhere along the Mediterranean coast by Barbary corsairs, who took innumerable Europeans (and Americans) into captivity and enslavement over the centuries – was rescued from hers:

"According to private communications ... from Alexandria [is] a curious fact concerning two Jews, Messrs. T. Sonino and Guiseppus di L. Marpurgo [sic; Guiseppe di L. Morpurgo?], of Trieste, who succeeded whilst travelling near the mouth of a channel of the Nile, called Mahmudin, in releasing, though not without endangering their own lives, a Christian female slave from Turkish captivity. She had been conveyed, some time previously, into the harem of a powerful dignatory of Constantinople, who out of revenge, because she persisted in remaining faithful to her belief, sent her to Alexandria, to have her sold there as a slave.
Under the pretext of a walk, she was brought to Mahmudin, to be embarked for Cairo; she, however, resisted vigorously, and attracted by her cries, the above gentlemen, among many other persons, came to the spot; recognising that the person so ill-used was a Christian, they interfered, without being deterred by the imminent danger to which they exposed their lives, and a great crowd of fanatical Arabs having gathered round them, and having succeeded in releasing the heroic girl, they brought her to Alexandria, where the Russian vice-consul took her under his protection, and thus put a stop to all further persecution [of her]."
And here’s a report from the same newspaper (28 March 1845), concerning the degraded dhimmi Jews of the Barbary States; it’s actually an extract from Notes on North Africa, the Sahara and Soudan (New York, 1844) by William Brown Hodgson, formerly US Consul in Tunis:

"Jews are numerous in all the villages of Biscara and the Wadreng. They enjoy an efficient protection among the Berber tribes in all the wide regions of Algiers and Morocco. This is afforded by a system of individual relationship, which may be compared to that of patron and client. Every Jew has his particular Sidi, patron or magister, who is responsible for his acts, and to whom he looks for counsel and protection. The defence of his Jewish dependant is a point of honour with the free Amazirgh, or Numidian; and he will protect him from injury or aggression at the risk of his life. Such is the patronal relation of the Israelites among the Scbelechs [sic] or Berbers of Morocco, where their numbers are estimated at half a million. The Arabs do not yield to them this protection. Deprived of civil rights in Barbary, the social condition of the Jews merits investigation."


  1. Not relevant to this post, but reader Shirlee has just sent me this, which gives "seats of learning" and "apartheid" a whole new edge:

  2. Thanks for pointing your post out - have put in a link. Gt blog, by the way.

  3. And the Islamic persecution of Christian women continues...

    The secular media have not mentioned the fact that the American was Christian and the Englishwoman a messianic Jew.

  4. If I find anything else of relevance in my future archival searches, I'll alert you, batatween. Your blog is most interesting.

    Ian, what a horrible attack on those poor people.

  5. PA Continues to Prepare for Unilateral Declaration of State
    by Chana Ya'ar
    The Palestinian Authority is continuing its drive to unilaterally declare independent statehood next year, with or without a negotiated settlement with Israel.
    PA spokesman Nabil Shaath continued to lay the public relations groundwork Saturday by telling reporters the peace process with Israel is in a “deep coma” and that U.S. proposals for negotiations are “totally useless.”
    While PA officials are talking up the “uselessness” of final status negotiations, others are working on building up diplomatic ties with South America. A third group is working on a resolution for the United Nations Security Council.
    Meanwhile, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad remains steady at the helm, telling listeners in an interview broadcast Saturday on Israel’s Channel 2 television “we should not be discouraged because we have failed so many times before.”
    Fayyad vowed in a speech delivered in Ramallah more than a year ago that he would unilaterally declare the PA to be an independent sovereign entity in August 2011 if no final status agreement was reached with Israel by that time.
    On Saturday, however, Fayyad phrased the plan a little differently: “We are looking for a State of Palestine, not a unilateral declaration of statehood.” The PA prime minister set concrete plans in motion for such a state more than a year ago, with the approval of the United States.
    Since that time, however, PA officials went further, having taken the initiative and asked most Asian and Latin American nations to recognize the entity as an independent, sovereign state. Moreover, the PA has also formally requested for the first time that European countries recognize a Palestinian state, should one be declared – even in the absence of a final status agreement with the State of Israel.
    The Fayyad government last week officially contacted Britain, France, Sweden and Denmark with a request to formally recognize a State of Palestine along Israel’s 1949 Armistice borders.


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