UNDER TURKISH RULE, PART I
By Andrew G. Bostom
FrontPage magazine.com, CA
July 28 2007
Frontpagemag.com presents part one of a two part series. We will
publish the conclusion of "Under Turkish Rule" in next weekend’s
edition August 3-5. –The Editors.
Ignorance about the plight of Jews under Turkish rule-past, including
Ottoman Palestine, and present-is profound. In lieu of serious,
critical examination one finds whitewashed apologetics concocted
to promote dubious geo-political strategies-even the morally
bankrupt denial of the Armenian genocide, as promoted, shamefully,
by public intellectuals and major US Jewish organizations who abet
the exploitation of their co-religionist Turkish Jews as dhmmi
"lobbyists" for the government of Turkey. These strategies have
"succeeded", perversely, in further isolating Jews, while failing,
abysmally, to alter a virulently Antisemitic Turkish religious (i.e.,
Islamic), and secular culture-the latter perhaps best exemplified
by the wildly popular, and most expensive film ever made in Turkey,
"Valley of the Wolves" (released February, 2006) which features
an American Jewish doctor dismembering Iraqis brutally murdered
by American soldiers in order to harvest their organs for Jewish
markets. Prime Minister Erdogan not only failed to condemn the film,
he justified its production and popularity.
The ruling AK (Adalet ve Kalkinma) Party’s resounding popular electoral
victory July 22, 2007 over its closest "secularist" rival parties is
further evidence of Turkey’s steady re-Islamization.
Indeed this trend dates literally to the first election during which
Turkish voters were offered any option other than one party rule under
Ataturk’s CHP (Cumhuriyet Halk Party)-in 1950, when Menderes’ Demokrat
Party (DP) pursued a successful electoral strategy by pandering to
an Islamic "re-awakening." Upon election, the DP supported religious
schools, and a mosque construction initiative; it also allowed Sufi
orders to reappear, and many of their followers then actively supported
DP candidates in elections. Already by 1952, Bernard Lewis warned,
presciently, about the open re-emergence of Islam in Turkey with the
1950 ascent of Menderes’ DP just twelve years after Ataturk’s death.
Ataturk’s regime and the CHP-lead Republican governments of his
successors manifested their own discriminatory attitudes towards
non-Muslims, generally, including specific outbursts of antisemitic
persecution-most notably the Thracian pogroms of July, 1934. But since
1950, both the Turkish press and Islamic literature have steadily
increased their output of theological Islamic antisemitism-founded
upon core anti-Jewish motifs in the Koran, hadith, and sira. This
theologically-based anti-Jewish animus grew steadily in stridency,
and during the 1970s through 1990s, was melded into anti-Zionist
and anti-Israel invective by the burgeoning fundamentalist Islamic
movement under Necmettin Erbakan-the former Turkish Prime Minister,
and mentor of the current AK Party Prime Minister, Tayyip Recep
Erdogan, whose own Islamic fundamentalist (see here, and here), and
virulently Antisemitic leanings are well-documented. For example, in
1974, Erdogan, then serving as president of the Istanbul Youth Group
of the Islamist National Salvation Party (founded by Erbakan), wrote,
directed, and played the leading role in a theatrical play entitled
Maskomya, staged throughout Turkey during the 1970s. Mas-Kom-Ya was a
compound acronym for "Masons-Communists-Yahudi [Jews]", and the play
focused on the evil, conspiratorial nature of these three entities
whose common denominator was Judaism.
The steady recrudescence of fundamentalist Islam in Turkey since
1950-epitomized by the overwhelming re-election of the AKP-does not
bode well for either the dhimmified vestigial Jewish community of
Turkey, or long term relations between Turkey and the Jewish State
of Israel. But the plight of Turkey’s Jews and the other vestigial
non-Muslim Turkish minorities reveals a more profound challenge
which modern Turkey has failed to overcome since its origins under
Ataturk in 1923-steering a truly progressive course between the
Scylla of autocratic secular Kemalist nationalism (whose often racist
theories are still being taught), and the Charybdis of a totalitarian,
The ruling AK (Adalet ve Kalkinma) Party’s resounding popular electoral
victory July 27, 2007 over its closest "secularist" rival parties-the
CHP (Cumhuriyet Halk) and MHP (Milliyetci Hareket) receiving 20% and
15% of the vote, respectively, to the AKP’s 47%-is further evidence
of Turkey’s steady re-Islamization. Indeed this trend dates literally
to the first election during which Turkish voters were offered any
option other than one party rule under Ataturk’s CHP-in 1950, when
Menderes’ Demokrat Party (DP) pursued a successful electoral strategy
by pandering to an Islamic "re-awakening." Upon election, the DP
supported religious schools, and a mosque construction initiative;
it also allowed Sufi orders to reappear, and many of their followers
then actively supported DP candidates in elections. Already by 1952,
Bernard Lewis warned, 1 presciently, about the open re-emergence
of Islam in Turkey with the 1950 ascent of Menderes’ DP just twelve
years after Ataturk’s death.
…the deepest Islamic roots of Turkish life and culture are still
alive, and the ultimate identity of Turk and Muslim in Turkey is still
unchallenged. The resurgence of Islam after a long interval responds
to a profound national need. The occasional outburst of the tarikas
[Sufi "dervish" orders], far more than the limited restoration of
official Islam, show how powerful are the forces stirring beneath the
surface. The path that the revival will take is still not clear. If
simple reaction has its way, much of the work of the last century
will be undone, and Turkey will slip back into the darkness from
which she painfully emerged.
Ataturk’s regime and the CHP-lead Republican governments of his
successors manifested their own discriminatory attitudes towards
non-Muslims, generally, including specific outbursts of antisemitic
persecution-most notably the Thracian pogroms of July, 1934. But since
1950, both the Turkish press and Islamic literature have steadily
increased their output of theological Islamic antisemitism-founded
upon core anti-Jewish motifs in the Koran, hadith, and sira. This
theologically-based anti-Jewish animus grew steadily in stridency,
and during the 1970s through 1990s, was melded into anti-Zionist
and anti-Israel invective by the burgeoning fundamentalist Islamic
movement under Necmettin Erbakan-the former Turkish Prime Minister,
and mentor of the current AK Party Prime Minister, Tayyip Recep
Erdogan, whose own Islamic fundamentalist (see here, and here),
and virulently Antisemitic leanings are well-documented. Even after
the murderous November 15, 2003 jihadist bombings of two Istanbul
synagogues (Neve Shalom and Beth Israel), Erdogan and the AKP
government never denounced the ongoing (see here, here, and here)
fundamentalist Islamic antisemitic discourse-from which he and his
party emerged-but claimed to have abandoned.
This two-part essay examines at length the tragic living legacy
of Turkish antisemitism: from the archetypal Islamic Jew hatred
and general anti-dhimmi attitudes of the Ottoman Empire, to their
persistence and transmogrification into racially-based antisemitism
by the bizarre and bigoted Turco-centric racial theories promoted
under Ataturk and his successors.
>From Andalusia to the Ottoman Empire
The brutal jihad conquests of the Berber Muslim Almohads-followed
by their discriminatory practices as rulers-resulted in a massive
emigration of Jews and forced Jewish converts to Islam from both
Almohad-controlled Spain, and the North African Maghreb, to the
Christian kingdoms of the Iberian peninsula. 2 During the first
half of the 13th century, Jaime the I of Aragon, in particular,
as Garcia-Arenal notes, 3
…created a general policy of sheltering Jews in his territories,
granting "guidage", safe conduct, and letters of naturalization to
all Jews who, by land or sea were able to come to come and establish
themselves in the states of Majorca, Catalonia, and Valencia. Among
these documents are preserved the safe-conduct passes granted to two
Jewish families from Sijilmasa, dated 1247, Valencia. For some time
prior to this, Jewish converts to Islam had been permitted to return
to their former religion if they so wished.
Between 1367 and 1417, however, Spanish Jewry, including the
descendants of those Jews who had escaped the Muslim Almohad
depredations, experienced an era of "furious persecutions", 4 including
anti-Jewish pogroms, which caused the majority of Spanish Jews to
abjure their faith under coercion and convert to Christianity (becoming
"Marranos"). 5335 Subsequently those Marranos whose conversion was
deemed "insincere", would be subjected to the fanaticism of the Spanish
Inquisition, officially decreed by the Spanish rulers Ferdinand
and Isabella on September, 27, 1480. 6 Following the issuance of
an "expulsion" decree in 1492-a dozen years after the founding of
the Inquisition-until 1499, as Henry Kamen has established, only
a minority of Jews left Spain-most decided to convert. 7 Indeed,
as Kamen observes, 8
The "expulsion" decree of 1492 was a decree aimed not at expulsion
but at conversion.
Moreover a total of perhaps 40,000-50,000 Jews were expelled between
1492-99, and no more than half of those sought refuge under the
suzerainty of Ottoman Muslim rule (debunking the ahistorical notion of
an en masse Jewish emigration to the Ottoman Empire). Kamen describes
these events as follows: 9
…emigration to the Ottoman Empire certainly took place, but slowly
and in stages. Many exiles fled from the Mediterranean coast of
Spain, but virtually all went only to the neighboring countries; the
difficulty of arranging sea transport is sufficient explanation for
the limited radius of movement, though the important fact must also
be borne in mind that Judaism was tolerated in all the territories
concerned, and there was little need to go as far as the Levant.
Thanks to the public toleration of Judaism in neighboring territory
(Navarre, Portugal, Provence), little migration from the peninsula
took place except among communities which faced the Mediterranean
coast, and which therefore were forced to take ship. Possibly over
10,000 Jews left the Mediterranean coast in 1492 and 1493, but many
of these were Castilian and not exclusively Aragonese; the figure of
10,000, in any case, is our ceiling for the likely total of all Jews
in the crown of Aragon. If we accept the Jewish total for Castile as
being around 70,000 persons in 1492, we may allow that over half of
these emigrated; but it was an emigration that was in great measure
reversed by the high number of returnees, so that the possible final
emigration from Castile may not have been much above 30,000 persons.
Even allowing for a possible overlap between this figure and that
given above for Aragon, the total Spanish emigration looks like being
closer to 40,000 or 50,000…
To complete this morose cycle of persecution, the vacuum filled by
those Jews expelled from Spain at the end of the 15th century, and
relocated by the Ottomans, for example, in the regions of Salonika,
and Constantinople (Istanbul), itself, was created when their
co-religionist counterparts-the Jews living under Byzantine rule-were
subjected to massacre, pillage, enslavement, and deportation by these
same Ottoman conquerors, during their jihad campaigns of the early
to mid-15th century. 10
Ottoman "Tolerance": Jews Under Ottoman Rule-From Jihad, to Surgun,
Wittek, citing the oldest known Ottoman source, the versified chronicle
of Ahmedi, maintains that the 14th century Ottomans believed they
(too), " were a community of Ghazis, of champions of the Mohammedan
religion; a community of the Moslem march- warriors, devoted to the
struggle with the infidels in their neighborhood" 11
Sir Paul Rycaut (1629-1700) served as a Dragoman (Turkish interpreter)
and assistant to the British ambassador (starting in 1665),
before being appointed British Consul to Smyrna for eleven years
(1667-1678). 12 Rycaut also wrote major historical works on the
Ottoman Empire, one of which described the importance attached to the
"Office of the Mufti" 12a:
The Mufti (or Shaykh al Islam)12b is the principal head of the
Mahometan Religion or Oracle of all doubtful questions in the Law,
and is a person of great esteem amongst the Turks; his election is
solely in the Grand Signor [Sultan], who chooses a man to that Office
always famous for his Learning in the Law and eminent for his virtues
and strictness of Life; his Authority is so great amongst them, that
when he passes judgment or Determination in any point, the Grand Signor
himself will in no wise [ways] contradict or oppose it…In matters of
State the Sultan demands his opinion, whether it be in Condemnation of
any great man to Death, or in making War or Peace, or other important
Affairs of the Empire; either to appear the more just and religious,
or to incline the People more willingly to Obedience.
And this practice is used in business of greatest moment; scarce a
Visier [Vizier] is proscribed, or a Pashaw [Pasha] for pretence of
crime displaced, or any matter of great alteration or change designed,
but the Grand Signor arms himself with the Muft’s Sentence…
Molla Khosrew (d. 1480) was a celebrated writer and Hanafi jurist,
who was appointed the Ottoman Shaykh-al-Islam by Sultan Mehmed II in
1469. 12c One of Molla Khosrew’s authoritative, widely cited legal
works, reiterated these classical views on jihad: 12d
…jihad is a fard al-kifaya, that is, that one must begin the fight
against the enemy, even when he [the enemy] may not have taken the
initiative to fight, because the Prophet…early on…allowed believers
to defend themselves, later, however, he ordered them to take the
initiative at certain times of the year, that is, at the end of the
haram months, saying, "Kill the idolaters wherever you find them…"
(Q9:5). He finally ordered fighting without limitations, at all times
and in all places, saying, "Fight those who do not believe in God,
and in the Last Day…"(Q9:29); there are also other [similar] verses
on the subject. This shows that it is a fard al-kifaya
The contemporary Turkish scholar of Ottoman history, Halil Inalcik,
has emphasized how this conception of jihad-as formulated by Molla
Khosrew, and both his predecessors and followers-was a primary
motivation for the conquests of the Ottoman Turks. 13
The ideal of gaza, Holy War, was an important factor in the foundation
and development of the Ottoman state. Society in the frontier
principalities conformed to a particular cultural pattern imbued with
the ideal of continuous Holy War and continuous expansion of the Dar
ul Islam-the realms of Islam- until they covered the whole world.
Incited by pious Muslim theologians, these ghazis were at the
vanguard of (both the earlier Seljuk Turk) and Ottoman jihad
conquests. A.E. Vacalopoulos highlights the role of the dervishes
during the Ottoman campaigns: 14
…fanatical dervishes and other devout Muslim leaders…constantly
toiled for the dissemination of Islam. They had done so from the
very beginning of the Ottoman state and had played an important part
in the consolidation and extension of Islam. These dervishes were
particularly active in the uninhabited frontier regions of the east.
Here they settled down with their families, attracted other settlers,
and thus became the virtual founders of whole new villages, whose
inhabitants invariably exhibited the same qualities of deep religious
fervor. From places such as these, the dervishes or their agents would
emerge to take part in new military enterprises for the extension of
the Islamic state.
Vryonis has provided this schematic, clinical assessment of the jihad
conquest and colonization of Asia Minor by the Seljuks and Ottoman
The conquest, or should I say the conquests of Asia Minor were in
operation over a period of four centuries. Thus the Christian societies
of Asia Minor were submitted to extensive periods of intense warfare,
incursions, and destructions which undermined the existence of the
Christian church. In the first century of Turkish conquests and
invasions from the mid-eleventh to the late twelfth century, the
sources reveal that some 63 towns and villages were destroyed. The
inhabitants of other towns and villages were enslaved and taken off
to the Muslim slave markets.
The Islamization of Asia Minor was complemented by parallel and
subsequent Ottoman jihad campaigns in the Balkans. 16 As of 1326 C.E.,
yearly razzias by the emirs of Asia Minor targeted southern Thrace,
southern Macedonia, and the coastal areas of southern Greece.
Around 1360 C.E., the Ottomans, under Suleiman (son of Sultan Orchan),
and later Sultan Murad I (1359-1389), launched bona fide campaigns of
jihad conquest, capturing and occupying a series of cities and towns
in Byzantine and Bulgarian Thrace. Following the battle of Cernomen
(September 26, 1371), the Ottomans penetrated westward, occupying
within 15 years, a large number of towns in western Bulgaria, and
in Macedonia. Ottoman invasions during this period also occurred in
the Peloponnesus [or "Morea", the southern Greek peninsula], central
Greece, Epirus, Thessaly, Albania, and Montenegro. By 1388 most of
northeast Bulgaria was conquered, and following the battle of Kosovo
(1389), Serbia came under Ottoman suzerainty. Bayezid I (1389-1402)
undertook devastating campaigns in Bosnia, Hungary, and Wallachia,
in addition to turning south and again attacking central Greece
and the Peloponnesus. After a hiatus during their struggle against
the Mongol invaders, the Ottomans renewed their Balkan offensive in
1421. Successful Ottoman campaigns were waged in the Peloponnesus,
Serbia, and Hungary, culminating with the victory at the second
Battle of Kosovo (1448). With the accession to power of Mehmed II,
the Ottomans commenced their definitive conquest of the Balkan
peninsula. Constantinople was captured on May 29, 1453, marking the
end of the Byzantine Empire. By 1460, the Ottomans had completely
vanquished both Serbia and the Peloponnesus.
Bosnia and Trebizond fell in 1463, followed by Albania in 1468. With
the conquest of Herzegovina in 1483, the Ottomans became rulers of the
entire Balkan peninsula. Angelov, highlighting the later campaigns of
Murad II (1421-1451) and Mehmed II (1451-1481), described the impact
of the Ottoman jihad on the vanquished Balkan populations. 17
…the conquest of the Balkan Peninsula accomplished by the Turks
over the course of about two centuries caused the incalculable ruin
of material goods, countless massacres, the enslavement and exile of
a great part of the population-in a word, a general and protracted
decline of productivity, as was the case with Asia Minor after it
was occupied by the same invaders. This decline in productivity is
all the more striking when one recalls that in the mid-fourteenth
century, as the Ottomans were gaining a foothold on the peninsula,
the States that existed there – Byzantium, Bulgaria and Serbia –
had already reached a rather high level of economic and cultural
development….The campaigns of Murad II (1421-1451) and especially
those of his successor, Mehmed II (1451-1481) in Serbia, Bosnia,
Albania and in the Byzantine princedom of the Peloponnesus, were of a
particularly devastating character…It [the Peloponnesus] was invaded
in 1446 by the armies of Murad II, which destroyed a great number of
places and took thousands of prisoners. Twelve years later, during
the summer of 1458, the Balkan Peninsula was invaded by an enormous
Turkish army under the command of Mehmed II and his first lieutenant
Mahmoud Pasha. After a siege that lasted four months, Corinth fell
into enemy hands. Its walls were razed, and many places that the
sultan considered useless were destroyed. The work by Kritobulos
contains an account of the Ottoman campaigns, which clearly shows us
the vast destruction caused by the invaders in these regions. Two
years later another Turkish army burst into the Peloponnesus. This
time Gardiki and several other places were ruined. Finally, in 1464,
for the third time, the destructive rage of the invaders was aimed
at the Peloponnesus. That was when the Ottomans battled the Venetians
and leveled the city of Argos to its foundations.
The Initial Incorporation of the Jews into the Ottoman Empire: From
Jihad to Surgun
Joseph Hacker’s pioneering scholarship 18 has revealed the origins
of another myth-that of a remarkable Ottoman Muslim benevolence
toward Jews. Hacker notes that historians since Heinrich Graetz (who,
as discussed earlier, 19 also promoted the ahistorical notion of a
"Golden Age" Muslim-Jewish symbiosis in an ecumenical Muslim Spain), 20
…described in idyllic colors the evolution of relations and links
between the Jews and Ottomans, and even the happenings of the conquest
of Constantinople and the fate of the Jews of the city were not
depicted authentically. These approaches affected the understanding of
the scholars of the Ottoman Empire who relied on students of Jewish
history and upon "their sources". Thus they tended to continue to
minimize and swallow up all tensions in those relations and links,
and to describe them as idyllic only.
Hacker’s research singles out the 1523 book of the Talmudist Eliyah
Kapsali (Seder Eliyah Zuta) composed in Crete in 1523, and its
embellishment by the 17th century Egyptian chronicler Rabbi Yosef
Sambari (probably from Alexandria) in his Divrei Yosef, 21
…that became the version accepted by modern historiography of the
history of the Jews in the Ottoman Empire, and the surgun [forced
population transfer] phenomenon and all its attendant [discriminatory]
features features was not considered at all. If the surgun was
mentioned at all in the writings of the [Jewish] scholars of the
Empire, it was held to be an insignificant, indecisive episode in
the history of the Jews. The relations between Jews and Ottomans
were thus felt to be both idyllic and monotonous from their very
inception, no distinction being made either between kinds of Jewish
populations or between one period and another throughout the fifteenth
and sixteenth centuries.
Kapsali conceals all criticism and tries to cover up and obliterate
inconvenient facts…This is also apparently the reason for his utterly
ignoring the Romaniot [Byzantine] Jews and their fate at the time of
the conquest of Constantinople, and of the suffering of the others
exiled there after the conquest.
The Jews, like other inhabitants of the Byzantine Empire, suffered
heavily from the Ottoman jihad conquests, 22 and policies of
colonization and forced population transfer (i.e., the surgun
system). 22a This also explains the disappearance of several Jewish
communities, including Salonika, and their founding anew by Jewish
immigrants from Spain. 22b Moreover, even these Spanish Jewish
immigrants could subsequently be subjected to surgun deportations
(as were elite families of Spanish Jews settled in Salonika [~1508],
and then exiled to Rhodes in 1523), 23 with relegation, thereafter,
to permanent surgun status.
Hacker emphasizes how the surgun (the meanings of the root "sur"
and the suffix "gun" include exile, persecution, and expulsion 24)
decrees of obligatory transfer were experienced as a punishment which
its victims sought to avoid. 25 Those who refused to emigrate once
ordered, could be put to death, 26 and Hacker describes the lasting
impact of being designated "surgun"-a form of vassalage that restricted
movement and social interactions, and resulted in economic penalties,
including double taxation: 27
…it is completely evident that departing and settling in the ruined
city [i.e., Constantinople] were considered a severe decree. A
study of the status and obligations of a person exiled by decree
of the authorities shows that from the time the person exiled to a
certain region he was forbidden to leave it without permission of
the shubashi (the chief of police) or some other representative of
the authorities. Not only he himself was forbidden to leave the area,
his children were likewise forbidden to leave, and he was sometimes
forbidden to marry a person who was not, like himself, an exile.
Furthermore he was obliged to engage in certain occupations if it was
for this occupation that he had been exiled and was not permitted to
change his occupation. Though he enjoyed a partial tax exemption for
a given period of time and in most cases a dwelling place, as well,
the property (real estate) he had owned in his previous domicile was
on occasion taken from him by the authorities-without compensation,
and sometimes divided up amongst the military. These limitations on his
freedom would continue indefinitely. In fact a person becoming a surgun
would assume a special appropriate legal status which differentiated
clearly between him and the other residents of the regions in his
personal status, in his freedom of movement, and sometimes in his
occupation as well. In Istanbul, for example, all new arrivals were
first organized in special neighborhoods and in predetermined areas
according to their origin, and were not permitted to move to other
parts of the city to reside.
When a person was registered by the authorities as a surgun, and when
he had been sent to his new place of residence, this surgun status
adhered to him and his offspring until "the end of time." No one
was able to free himself of this status, which obligated him-first
and foremost-to be a vassal of his place of residence, without the
ability to leave it before first having obtained the permission of the
authorities. This limitation had decisive effects on the lives both of
the individual and the general public. This topic comes up quite a few
times in the sources available, both with respect to the individual
and regarding the public. Concerning the individual, the subject
is mentioned with regard to brides and bridegrooms who were surgun:
one of the parties involved considered this to be justification for
cancellation of the wedding. People were also unable to leave their
place for either the purpose of bearing witness or for a legal session
elsewhere. However, the more complex subject which surely left its
impression on the lives of these Jews is that of double taxation. The
surgun’s status as a vassal to his place of residence was expressed
on occasion not so much by virtue of his physical presence in his
place of exile as by his registration in the authorties’ taxation
books. The individual was sometimes permited to leave the city for a
limited or lengthy period of time, on condition that he pay his taxes
at the place where he was registered. This arrangement would lead
to the community where he actually resided (lived and worked there)
demanding that he pay taxes to the authorities and to the community
in his place of active residence.
And though at first glance, he was exempt from this by Ottoman law
(at least insofar as paying taxes to the authorities), the communities
refused to concede, for in their opinion the taxes were determined
by the tax collectors according to the quantity of the economic
activity and the number of people in the community. They claimed that
the authorities imposed their taxes on the community without taking
into consideration the fact that a person was surgun and paid his
As a result those Romaniot [Byzantine] Jews exiled to Istanbul in the
fifteenth century, who asked permission to leave the town for economic
activities, had to receive permits for that from the authorities
(either the shubashi or his assistant, or by by agreement of the
directors of the wakf [Muslim religious endowment, typically plots of
land and/or buildings; like a "trust"] to which they paid their taxes,
for the money was earmarked for this wakf from the very earliest of
times, when they were exiled to Istanbul). When they received their
permit to leave or when they left without a permit, and operated in
another town, the community in which they lived would not agree to
give up its portion of the taxes in their new place.
Thus, every such person was obliged to pay double taxes. From the
available Hebrew sources it would seem that this demand remained
valid as late as the seventeenth century; it may even have grown
stronger as the Romaniots left town in larger and larger numbers. It
was a serious economic obstacle for the descendants of the Romaniots,
most of whom were surgun, and for the descendants of those Spanish
and Portuguese emigrés who became surgun as a result of one of
the sixteenth-century conquests.
>From a letter by the scholars of Istanbul written between 1601 and 1605
to assist a Romaniot Jew of Istanbul, we learn that about one hundred
and fifty years after they became surgun, this status was still an
obstacle for their descendants. And though "individuals became nay
and [the authorities] no longer distinguished between Romaniot and
Spaniard," the Romaniot congregations responsible for the payment
of their members’ taxes in Instanbul did not facilitate a person’s
leaving "unless he guaranteed his congregation by means of a certain
guarantor who would pay for him any tax requirement and levy imposed by
the crown." This encumbrance of being vassal to a place, or at least
this heavy financial obligation to one’s previous place of residence,
was a burden endured by the vast majority of Romaniots, and it seems
that only a few Spanish Jews were encumbered by it. The problem was
well known, and suffices to explain somewhat the Romaniot inferiority,
whose legal and economic status was inferior to those of the migrants
from Europe (even though they were the more ancient population
group). This is a surprising situation whereby it was preferable to
be a migrant Jew from a foreign land than to be a long-time Jewish
resident of the Empire as early as the fifteenth century.
As an external sign of the degree of influence the surgun phenomenon
had on the Jews of Istanbul, as late as the eighteenth century, one
might consider the fact that the term came to be accepted as a familial
name for the Jewish community, though it bore negative connotations.
Hacker records the observations of prominent contemporary Jews
forcibly deported from their places of origin to Constantinople
(renamed Istanbul) after its brutal 28 jihad conquest in 1453. Twenty
to thirty Jewish communities were removed en bloc from Anatolia and
the Rumelia [Albania, Macedonia, and Thrace] to Istanbul, including,
by 1456 all the Karaite dignitaries previously living in Edirne. 29
He notes, 29a
The Karaites (too) experienced bitterness and sorrow arising from
the new circumstances.
Writings of Byzantine Jews also address the Ottoman conquest of
Constantinople. Laments on the fall of Constantinople and the fate of
its community and other communities subjected to the ravages of the
15th century Ottoman jihad campaigns were written during this period
by Jews such as Rabbi Ephraim b. Gershon, a doctor and homilist from
Veroia [Macedonia, 40 miles WSW of Salonika], and Rabbi Michael Balbo
of Crete. 30
Ephraim b. Gershon’s "relatively moderate words", describe his own
fate, and that of the Jewish community of Veroia. He initially fled to
Negroponte (under Venetian control) when his community was forcibly
exiled to Istanbul. Later he joined his co-religionists in Istanbul
expressing his anti-Ottoman feelings during a homily delivered in
1469. Ephraim b. Gershon writes that these surgun Jews suffered not
only property and financial losses, but the abandonment of places
to which they were emotionally attached, and great damage to their
physical health. 31 His 1469 sermon includes these words: 32
All this stems from our enslavement and the sorrow we cause ourselves
in our pursuit of a livelihood: we call upon God and He will hear
our voices. He will take pity and have mercy on us and redeem us.
According to Hacker, Ephraim saw Islamic (i.e., Ottoman) and
Christian (i.e., Venetian, Byzantine) rule over Jews-living "among
the Gentiles"-as equivalent: 33
Rabbi Ephraim views the Ottoman Empire as the prophet Daniel’s fourth
kingdom from which Israel will be redeemed when it collapses, and
the Jews retrun to their homeland.
…it is clear that after his arrival in Istanbul no change took
place in Ephraim ben Gershon’s basic approach to the Ottomans. As
a Jew living (and who apparently was also born) under Ottoman rule,
he perceived no difference between this regime and a Christian one,
with regard to the function and status of these kingdoms in universal
history and with regard to their place in the redemption of the Jews
from among the Gentiles. At first he preferred to move to a Venetian
area; later he returned to the Ottoman sphere of influence and
rejoined his brethren in Istanbul, wher he spoke in public, hinting
at his reservations regarding the regime and the kingdom. Under this
Ishmaelite government, just as under other authorities, there prevailed
circumstances where the individual would be well advised when "in
exile amongst the seven tribes and asked to pay taxes or to convert
[Hacker’s emphasis reproduced], hand over a portion of your capital in
order to be saved. This is the meaning of ‘Give a portion to seven,’
i.e., to the seven tribes.’ "
Rabbi Michael Balbo of Candia, Crete (born spring, 1411, and still
alive December, 1480), was a well-known community figure who compiled
his own letters in addition to those of others, most of which were
written during the second and third quarters of the 15th century. 34
His observations, as Hacker notes, provide "more severe descriptions"
of the fate of these Byzantine Jewish communities. 35 One letter
apparently originating from Corfu includes this characterization of
the political upheavals which accompanied the Ottoman jihad: 36
At this time the King maker [the Ottoman Sultan] enthroned a king
of the Archers [Genesis 21:20, Ishmael] over each town and district;
he decreed upon the poor, wandering nation go into exile, and went to
gather them up to the daughter of Edom, Constantinople [Lamentations
4:21, as applied to Constantinople], and the Almighty enabled him to
succeed [according to Exodus 21:13: "And one who did lie in wait,
but God caused to come about."]. Everyone lamented. The robbery
[Isaiah 51:19-20: "These two have befallen you; who shall lament you?
Desolation and ruin, famine and war; how shall I console you? Your sons
have been wasted, they lie at the head of all the streets…"] and
the disaster, the famine and the sword and the forced conversion
of children at this time defy comforting. All are affected and
desolated by the oppressor [Isaiah 51:13], and there is no tranquility
The fate of the Jews was not different from that of Christians in
either Constantinople itself or other areas conquered by the Ottoman
jihad campaigns. 37 Large numbers of Jews were killed; others were
taken captive, and Jewish children were enslaved, some being forcibly
converted to Islam, and brought to devshirme (the coercive levies of
adolescent non-Muslim male children, almost exclusively Christians,
for the Ottoman slave-soldier Janissary system). 38 Extant letters
describe the forced exiling of the captive Jews to Istanbul and are
filled with anti-Ottoman sentiments. Hacker elucidates the contents
of the Corfu letter in the overall context of other contemporary
observations from prominent Byzantine Jews, before drawing his own
summary conclusions. 39
This letter paints a picture of Jews severely harmed by the Ottoman
wars and conquests in the days of Mehmet II. The description indicates
that the Jews of Corfu were well aware of the processes of the
Ottoman conquest. The conquest was accompanied by the appointment
of governors over the occupied territories by the "Kingmaker,"
i.e., the Sultan. These Muslim governors were responsible for the
stabilization and the development of the conquered region. At the
same time, this letter describes the colonizing activities and the
transfer of the Jewish population to Istanbul. Whether the letter is
describing the conquest of an area previously under Byzantine or Latin
control, subsequent to the conquest of Constantinople, or an event
during the conquest of Constantinople itself and its consequences,
the process is similar. The people view their exile as a catastrophe,
and the conquest as manslaughter and loss of property.
The picture is one of crisis and distress. This letter also hints
at the phenomenon of converting Jewish children to Islam. In fact,
this would seem to be the first evidence of the fact that in the
heat of the conquest, the fate of Jewish children was the same as
that of Christian children: conversion, in order to absorb them
into the Janissary army. The induction of Christian children into
the Janissary army, known as devshirme, was one of the harsher
decrees imposed upon the conquered populace, and various towns
that surrendered to the Ottomans without resistance requested, and
sometimes received by virtue of this, an exemption from the surgun
and from the devshirme. The evidence before us is somewhat vague.
Were the conquerors incapable, in the heat of battle, of distinguishing
between Christian inhabitants and non-Christians? Or perhaps they had
not yet formulated the policy familiar to us from the later periods,
in accordance with which they exempted the Jews from devshirme and
even forbade them from being drafted into the Janissary army.
>From the letter, furthermore, it becomes clear that the person
for whom it was compiled had gone into exile to Istanbul, and lost
whatever he had owned. When he tried to return and engage in trade,
he was taken captive, and now people succeeded in redeeming him from
captivity and in rehabilitating him and his family. Another source
also discusses the fate of Jews in the unstable period and their
captivity at the hands of the Ottomans. In this source, the Ottomans
are termed "men of wickedness and deceit, Riphath and Togarmah"
(referring to Genesis 10:3), and fear is expressed, lest the captives
"be assimilated" into their captors. The personal histories of two of
the intellectuals of the period show, too, that they were captives, and
it would seem that they were referring to their captivity at the hands
of the Ottomans. R[abbi] Mordekhai Comtino tells of his imprisonment
in the town of Edirne, whereas R[abbi] Shalom Anabi of Istanbul-who
was in contact with R[abbi] Michael Balbo who copied many of his
writings-wrote of himself: "Ensnared in the net of captivity," or
"who surrounded us so that we were ensnared in the net of captivity."
…in Michael Balbo’s aforementioned notebook there is a dirge to
the fall of Constantinople into Ottoman hands, which was probably
written shortly after news of the event had been received. This dirge
calls the conquerors "a violent people." "The embroidered great eagle,
Riphath and Togarmah" is here depicted as one who destroys, who ruins,
who robs and kills Jews. This is a dirge in which R[abbi] Michael
Balbo mourns the fate of the Jewish community of Constantinople,
and according to his description, this event was a terrible disaster
for the Jews, who were robbed and killed by the conquering force,
as were the other inhabitants of the city.
The picture painted by the writings of these Romaniots in the Ottoman
Empire and in the Latin colonies on its outskirts during the third
quarter of the fifteenth century, is one of people who underwent heavy
suffering as a result of the processes of conquest and population
transfers to Istanbul.
The surgun policy was applied rigorously throughout the reign of Mehmet
II-often affecting the lives of Jews-and at least intermittently
by his successor Bayezid II. While it is unknown whether the Jews,
specifically, were involved in the population transfers of Bayezid II,
the subsequent regimes of Selim I and Suleyman the Magnificent did
exile and transfer Jews between regions of the expanding Ottoman Empire
in the aftermath of their jihad conquests: from Egypt to Istanbul after
Selim I conquered Mamluk Syria and Egypt in 1516-1517; from Salonika
to Rhodes following the conquest of Rhodes in 1522 by Suleyman the
Magnificent; and after the conquest of Buda(pest) following the battle
of Mohacs in 1526 (and the final subjugation of Buda and its environs
in 1541), Jews were exiled from this ancient capital of Hungary to
locations throughout the Ottoman Empire, including Istanbul, Sofia
[Bulgaria], Kavalla [NE Macedonia], Edirne, and perhaps even Safed. 40
Upon reviewing the available contemporary evidence regarding the
1517 surgun of Egypts Jews, especially a letter from the Cairogeniza
(by Meir Saragos of Egypt) written during the first half of the 16th
century, Hacker concludes, 41
The description tells of the limitations and the supervision to which
they were subjected and which prevented them from moving their location
and accepting appointments to the positions they desired.
The limitations of the surgun are very prominent here. Similarly,
it is clear that the phenomenon of surgun was common and many were
ensnared in its coils. People were responsible for dealing with the
affairs of those who became surgun, while the latter attempted to
free themselves by attaching themselves to some position-either to
avoid going into exile or to leave one place of exile for another,
steps which were forbidden to any surgun.
Yitzhak Ibn Farash was originally exiled from Spain to Portugal,
and later departed for Salonika, where he settled in 1508. Yitzhak
apparently wrote about the 1523 transfer of Jews from Salonika to
Rhodes because his son-in-law was one of those designated as surgun.
He states, 42
>From Salonika, Monday the 13th of Av 5283 (1523) there went to Rhodes
against their will a hundred and fifty of the richest and the most
respected landlors in the country, men, women, and children, at the
command of the king [Suleyman the Magnificent]…an official coming
and taking them off by boat.
While such transfers "…of the richest and most respected…in
the land" accrued obvious advantages to the Ottomans who sought
to facilitate the socioeconomic development of new areas of jihad
conquest, in this case Rhodes, as Hacker observes, 43
The hasty and rapid process of exiling the surgun led to various
familial, social, economic and legal complications…These exiles would
seem to have been forced to remain in Rhodes, and were unable to leave,
but the sources adduced make it evident that people did succeed in
escaping from the island even though they were forbidden to do so.
Concerted efforts by the Jews of Safed did succeed ultimately in
canceling the decreed surgun deportation of two-thirds of their
community to Cyprus, following the island’s conquest (under Selim II)
by the Ottomans in 1571 (the reprieve being confirmed, January 1579).
44 Yosef Mataron provided a contemporary account of a surgun decree
imposed upon his family in conjunction with these events. Yosef’s
description of his extensive efforts to have this transfer abrogated
reflect how oppressive the surgun decrees were considered by Jews.
However, despite the success of the Safed community appeals, Hacker
…at the same time, …the governor [of Cyprus] succeeded in delaying
a boat with 100 Jews on board who had been on their way from Salonika
to Safed, and in getting permission to resettle them in Cyprus,
despite their desire to go on to Palestine.
During this period various members of the Jewish communities in
Salonika, Safed and elsewhere, whose status was questioned, who lost
favor with the authorities, or were caught engaging in economic and
criminal offenses, were exiled to Cyprus.
Regarding the later surgun deportations (primarily under Selim I and
Suleyman the Magnificent), Hacker writes, 46
>From the various facts exhibited here, it may be deduced that
the surgun system remained in force throughout the sixteenth and
the beginning of the seventeenth century, and affected to a very
considerable degree the lives of the Jews of the [Ottoman] Empire.
These facts, which certainly do not reflect every event which actually
took place, show that whenever a significant conquest occurred-under
Selim I, Suleyman the Magnificent or Selim II-Jews were moved from
their homes and, as they were considered a productive element of
the population, it was considered good to exploit them for purposes
of regional development. Whenever the Jews were living in territory
recently conquered, they would be exiled to Istanbul or some other
urban area, while on other occasions they were moved from their homes
in the Empire in order to resettle and develop new territories.
Three overall conclusions are drawn by Hacker: 47 (i) Strong
anti-Ottoman feelings prevailed among important Byzantine Jewish
circles in the first decades after the fall of Constantinople. These
feelings were openly expressed by people living under Latin rule
and to some extent even in Istanbul.; (ii) Mehmed II’s policies
toward non-Muslims made possible the substantial economic and social
development of the Jewish communities in the empire, and especially in
the capital-Istanbul. These communities were protected by him against
popular hatred, including blood libels. However, this policy was not
continued by Bayezid II and there is evidence that under his rule the
Jews suffered both forced conversions to Islam, and severe restrictions
in their religious life.; (iii) The friendly policies of Mehmed on the
one hand, and the good reception by Bayezid II of Spanish Jewry on the
other, cause the Jewish writers of the sixteenth century to overlook
both the destruction which Byzantine Jewry suffered during the Ottoman
jihad conquests, and the later outbursts of oppression under both
Bayezid II and Selim I. Hacker illustrates this latter process (iii)
in his animated discussion of the rather crudely redacted narrative
of the 16th century Ottoman hagiographer, Eliyah Kapsali: 48
…though he [Kapsali] was well aware of the fact that Bayezid II’s
policies towards the Jews were very different from those of Mehmet II,
and that in his day attempts were made to pressure the Jews to adopt
Islam and strict decrees were promulgated against the existence of
synagogues erected after the Ottoman conquest, he was still careful to
describe Bayezid II as the perfect Jew lover and protector. The truth
is revealed with his description of Selim [I], Bayezid’s heir. Here
he saw fit to praise Selim as follows: "Now on the third day of
the reign of Sultan Selim, the Sultan gave an order and permitted
the Jews to reopen the synagogues his father Sultan Bayezid [II],
had closed…for he was pious…and he even restored to Judaism many
Jews whom the Turks had forced to convert contrary to their own wishes"
And so not only did he conceal the fate of surgun Jews and disguise
them as voluntary migrants who came to settle in the royal capital at
the invitation of the King; not only did he obscure the bitter fate of
the Jews of conquered Constantinople; he also attempted to cover up as
much as possible the zealous policies of Bayezid II against religious
minorities-including the Jews-after the expulsion. And all to avoid
harming the image of the Sultan and his major work: throwing open the
gates of the kingdom before the expelled Jews of Spain and Portugal,
guaranteeing their physical security and preparing the conditions for
their free economic activity. There is thus in his book not a single
hint or even trace of criticism of the Sultans of his generation:
Mehmet [Mehmed] II, Bayezid II, and Selim I.
Ottoman Dhimmitude: The Jewish Experience
The institutional regulations of dhimmitude were applied to all Jews
(and the much larger Christian minority populations) under Ottoman
suzerainty, regardless of whether or not they were designated,
in addition, as surgun. Once again, the influential writings of
Mehmed II’s leading cleric (Shaykh-al-Islam), Molla Khosrew, 49
elucidate the guiding principles and concrete directives of these
theological-juridical regulations-which are entirely consistent with
the vast corpus of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence. 50
Molla Khosrew reiterates these classical views on the jizya-a
blood ransom poll-tax demanded in lieu of being slain and completely
dispossessed. The jizya was collected regularly (most often annually),
in person, and in a manner that confers the subjects humiliation, due
to their willingly imperfect belief, consistent with Qur’an 9:29. Of
note also, is the specific admonition to Jews: 51
Jizya is a term that refers to that which is collected of the dhimmi,
in exchange for their life and belongings…[belongings] referring
here exclusively to land and non-moveable property [as] nothing else,
except the land and the home, remain in the hands of the conquered.
There are two kinds of tribute, or jizya: one is agreed upon
following surrender; the other is set by the Imam if the enemy has
been vanquished by Muslims following a battle. The agreed-upon jizya is
not subject to later negotiations. The only situations that allow the
cessation of payment are the following: death, conversion to Islam,
the onset of a physical handicap, such as blindness, mutilation,
or old age, to such a degree as to no longer allow work..[and]
the debt contracted due to the non-payment of the previous year’s
jizya should not expire… The obligation to pay the jizya ends with
death or with conversion to Islam, because the divine law, [Shari’a]
considers such an obligation to be an earthly punishment: it serves
the punitive purpose of chasing away evil from the world.
The jizya should not be accepted when payment is made through an
intermediary, rather, the payer should come in person to pay, and
remain standing: he who is collecting should, on the other hand, be
sitting. In the al-hidaya text, the tax collector is also expected to
shake the clothing of the payer, saying "Pay the jizya, oh dhimmi",
further, … the tax collector can also say, "Oh Jew, enemy of God,
pay!". [emphasis added]…In other texts…we read that the dhimmi
should be hit on the neck 52 at the time of collection.
Also in accord with classical Islamic jurisprudence, Molla Khosrew
outlines the typical regulations-regarding religious structures and
practice, the prohibition on bearing arms, and distinguishing forms of
dress, modes of travel, neighborhoods, and abodes-which complemented
the jizya collection, and formed the basis for the system of dhimmitude
(in this specific case, the Ottoman version): 53
Building a synagogue or a church or a [Zoroastrian] Temple of Fire is
not allowed. The term synagogue [kanisa] indicates a place of worship
of the Jews, while church [bay’a] indicates a place of worship of the
Christians. A place for spiritual retreat is also considered like a
church. The prohibition concerns places constructed specifically for
the purpose of religious rites, not areas for prayer set up within
private homes, and this is applicable within the dar-al-islam. In
any case, the right to rebuild that which was destroyed is granted,
as buildings devoted to worship can be built in a place where such
a building had been erected previously. It is not possible, however,
to move from the original location, and to build elsewhere, as this
would require erecting another building.
It is possible for dhimmis to coexist with Muslims, but in specified
locations such as a particular neighborhood. In no case should that be
on Arab land, because the collaborators may not take those lands as a
place of residence, according to the Prophet’s hadith, which states,
"there may not coexist two religions on Arab land". The houses of
the dhimmi must be marked, in order not to violate the terms of the
contract [ahd] so as to deserve to be put to death.
…the dhimmi must be distinguishable by his clothing and by his
means of transportation, by the way he loads his beast of burden ,
by his equipment, etc. For these reasons he may not appear riding a
horse, or bearing arms, and he must always show his kusfig. This is a
small cord, as thick as a finger, made of wool or animal hair, tied
around the belly of the dhimmi, but different from a belt [zunnar],
as the latter is made of silk.
The dhimmi must ride a saddle of the kakaf type. The ideal situation
would be for them not to ride any animal, but if they should do so
out of necessity in a place crowded with Muslims, they should dismount
and proceed on foot. Their passageways should be made narrow. Dhimmi
women, too, must be distinguishable by keeping to pre-established
roads and hammams.
In any case, they must be kept from exhibiting their sinful practices,
such as usury, and their customs, their songs, their dances, all
that which is forbidden in any case…Should there be a festival,
they should not celebrate by carrying crosses.
The Ottoman system of dhimmitude-consistent with all other variants of
this Shari’a-based institution-conferred upon Jews (and all dhimmis)
two basic legal disabilities which denied them both protection,
and redress, when victimized: prohibition of the right to bear arms;
and the inadmissibility of dhimmi legal evidence when a Muslim was a
party. 54 And (as noted earlier) even the series of reforms imposed
by European powers (as so-called "capitulations") upon the weakening
Ottoman Empire during is final eight decades, almost continuously
(through 1914), failed to rectify these institutionalized legal
discriminations in a substantive manner. 55 For example, Dadrian
notes that during a December, 1876 Ottoman Turkish conference in
Constantinople-twenty years after the second iteration (in 1856)
of the Tanzimat reforms-the right of non-Muslims to bear arms was
rejected as a violation of the Shari’a: 56
After summoning and consulting the Ulema, the Islamic doctors of law,
the Shaykh-al-Islam, their head, issued a Fetva [fatwa], the peremptory
final opinion declaring such possession of arms by non-Muslim subjects
a violation of the Islamic Sacred Law.
A series of extensive European consular investigations conducted
throughout the Ottoman Empire during the latter half of the 19th
century confirmed the trivial impact of these reforms on the
fundamental right of Jews and Christians to present legal evidence
in Muslim administered courts. Their testimony continued to be, 57
…utterly rejected in the lower criminal courts, and only received
in the higher courts when corroborated by a Mussulman…A Mussulman’s
simple allegation, unbacked by evidence, will upset the best founded
and most incontrovertible claim.
As a result of this ongoing dual disenfranchisement, the modern
Ottomanist Roderick Davison concluded: 58
Ottoman equality was not attained in the Tanzimat period [i.e.,
mid to late 19th century, 1839-1876], nor yet after the Young Turk
revolution of 1908…
Jews in Ottoman Palestine, Early 16th Century Until the End of World
Although episodes of violent anarchy diminished during the four
centuries of Ottoman suzerainty the degrading conditions of
the indigenous Jews (and Christians) living under the shari’a’s
jurisdiction remained unchanged. For example, Samuel b. Ishaq Uceda,
a major Kabbalist from Safed at the end of the 16th century, refers
in his commentary on The Lamentations of Jeremiah, to the situation
of the Jews in the Land of Israel (Palestine): 59
"The princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary!"
…Perhaps this is an allusion to the situation that prevails in our
times, for there is no town in the [Ottoman] empire in which the Jews
are subjected to such heavy taxes and dues as in the Land of Israel,
and particularly in Jerusalem. Were it not for the funds sent by the
communities in Exile, no Jew could survive here on account of the
numerous taxes, as the prophet said in connection with the ‘princess
of the provinces’: ‘They hunt our steps, that we cannot go into our
own streets’…The nations humiliate us to such an extent that we are
not allowed to walk in the streets. The Jew is obliged to step aside
in order to let the Gentile [Muslim] pass first. And if the Jew does
not turn aside of his own will, he is forced to do so. This law is
particularly enforced in Jerusalem, more so than in other localities.
For this reason the text specifies ‘…in our own streets,’ that is,
those of Jerusalem.
A century later Canon Antoine Morison, 60 from Bar-le-Duc in France,
while traveling in the Levant in 1698, observed that the Jews in
Jerusalem are "there in misery and under the most cruel and shameful
slavery", and although a large community, they were subjected to
extortion. Similar contemporary observations regarding the plight of
both Palestinian Jews and Christians were made by the Polish Jew,
Gedaliah of Siemiatyce (d. 1716), who, braving numerous perils,
came to Jerusalem in 1700. These appalling conditions, recorded in
his book, Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, forced him to return to
Europe in order to raise funds for the Jews of Jerusalem: 61
We [Jews] were obliged to give a large sum of money to the Muslim
authorities in Jerusalem in order to be allowed to build a new
synagogue. Although the old synagogue was small and we only wanted
to enlarge it very slightly, it was forbidden under Islamic law to
modify the least part. . . . In addition to the expenses in bribes
destined to win the favor of the Muslims, each male was obliged to
pay an annual poll tax of two pieces of gold to the sultan. The rich
man was not obliged to give more, but the poor man could not give
less. Every year, generally during the festival of the Passover,
an official from Constantinople would arrive in Jerusalem. He who
did not have the means to pay the tax was thrown into prison and the
Jewish community was obliged to redeem him. The official remained in
Jerusalem for about two months and consequently, during that period,
the poor people would hide wherever they could, but if ever they
were caught, they would be redeemed by community funds. The official
sent his soldiers throughout the streets to control the papers of
the passers-by, for a certificate was provided to those who had
already paid the tax. If anyone was found without his certificate,
he had to present himself before the official with the required sum,
otherwise he was imprisoned until such time as he could be redeemed.
The Christians are also obliged to pay the poll-tax…during the week,
the paupers dared not show themselves outside…in their wickedness,
the [Muslim]soldiers would go to the synagogues, waiting by the
doors, requesting the certificate of payment from the congregants
No Jew or Christian is allowed to ride a horse, but a donkey is
permitted, for [in the eyes of Muslims] Christians and Jews are
inferior beings…The Muslims do not allow any member of another
faith-unless he converts to their religion-entry to the Temple [Mount]
area, for they claim that no other religion is sufficiently pure to
enter this holy spot. They never weary of claiming that, although God
had originally chosen the people of Israel, He had since abandoned
them on account of their iniquity in order to choose the Muslims…
In the Land of Israel, no member of any other religion besides Islam
may wear the color green, even if it is a thread [of cotton] like that
with which we decorate our prayer shawls. If a Muslim perceives it,
that could bring trouble. Similarly, it is not permitted to wear a
green or white turban. On the Sabbath, however, we wear white turbans,
on the crown of which we place a piece of cloth of another color as a
distinguishing mark. The Christians are not allowed to wear a turban,
but they wear a hat instead, as is customary in Poland. Moreover, the
Muslim law requires that each religious denomination wear its specific
garment so that each people may be distinguished from another. This
distinction also applies to footwear. Indeed, the Jews wear shoes of
a dark blue color, whereas Christians wear red shoes. No one can use
green, for this color is worn solely by Muslims. The latter are very
hostile toward Jews and inflict upon them vexations in the streets of
the city…the common folk persecute the Jews, for we are forbidden to
defend ourselves against the Turks or the Arabs. If an Arab strikes a
Jew, he [the Jew] must appease him but dare not rebuke him, for fear
that he may be struck even harder, which they [the Arabs] do without
the slightest scruple. This is the way the Oriental Jews react, for
they are accustomed to this treatment, whereas the European Jews,
who are not yet accustomed to suffer being assaulted by the Arabs,
insult them in return.
Even the Christians are subjected to these vexations. If a Jew offends
a Muslim, the latter strikes him a brutal blow with his shoe in order
to demean him, without anyone’s being able to prevent him from doing
it. The Christians fall victim to the same treatment and they suffer
as much as the Jews, except that the former are very rich by reason
of the subsidies that they receive from abroad, and they use this
money to bribe the Arabs. As for the Jews, they do not possess much
money with which to oil the palms of the Muslims, and consequently
they are subject to much greater suffering.
Moshe Maoz maintains that this state of affairs persisted for Jews
(and Christians) living under Ottoman rule within (Syro-) Palestine,
through at least the 1830s: 62
…the position of the Jews was in many ways precarious. Like their
Christian fellow subjects, the Jews were inferior citizens in the
Muslim-Ottoman state which was based on the principle of Muslim
superiority. They were regarded as state proteges (dhimmis) and had
to pay a special poll tax (jizya) for that protection and as a sign
of their inferior status. Their testimony was not accepted in the
courts of justice, and in cases of the murder of a Jew or Christian
by a Muslim, the latter was usually not condemned to death. In
addition, Jews as well as Christians were normally not acceptable for
appointments to the highest administrative posts; they were forbidden
to carry arms (thus, to serve in the army), to ride horses in towns
or to wear Muslim dress. They were also not usually allowed to build
or repair places of worship and were often subjected to oppression,
extortion and violence by both the local authorities and the Muslim
population. The Jews in Ottoman Palestine and Syria lived under such
ambivalent and precarious conditions for a number of centuries…
Maoz describes the fate of the Jew Hayim Farhi, who became treasury
manager and administrative advisor to Ahmad Pasha al Jezzar, vali
(governor) of the Pashalik (territory) of Sidon (1775-1804).
Subsequently, during the reign of al-Jezzar’s successor, Sulyaman Pasha
(1804-1818), Farhi was appointed supervisor of income and expenditure,
coordinator of the province’s accounts with the central treasury, and
overall director of administrative functions, accruing considerable
power and influence. As Maoz, explains, however, 63
Farhi’s prominent position in Acre was, however, unique at that time,
due to the mild character of Sulayman Pasha "the Just" (al-Adil) who,
in addition, owed Hayim his ascendancy to the pashalik. For during
the previous reign of Jezzar Pasha, Farhi was no more than an ordinary
senior official, and upon falling into disfavor-he was even discharged
and arrested, one of his eyes was gouged out and his nose and ears cut.
That the position of Hayim Farhi was very precarious was even more
evident under Sulyaman’s successor, ‘Abdallah Pasha (1819-1831). At
the beginning of his rule, Farhi’s influence was at its peak and the
Pasha was allegedly "unable to do anything without Hayim’s consent."
But a short time later, in 1820, Farhi was executed and his property
confiscated upon ‘Abdallah’s orders. It is evident that such a case
was by no means uncommons regards Jews or Christians during the period
of the Pashas’ rule. J.L. Burkhardt, the perceptive Swiss traveler,
noted in 1811: "…there is scarcely an instance in the modern history
of Syria of a Christian or Jew having long enjoyed the power or riches
he may have acquired. These persons are always taken off in the last
moment of their apparent glory".
The case of the notable Hayim Farhi (and his family) illustrates the
tenuous status of the Jewish community in Syro-Palestine. 64
The unstable position of the Farhis in Acre and Damascus (in Damascus)
too the Farhis were occasionally subject to arbitrary treatment)
may serve as an illustration of the shaky position of the Jewish
communities in Ottoman Palestine and Syria for many years. In
certain circumstance-under tolerant rulers such as Sulayman Pasha,
and in certain places-such as Aleppo, Jews enjoyed a certain degree of
personal safety and religious freedom, and a few of them also acquired
economic prosperity as well as social status. These circumstances,
however, were rare or limited. Sulayman al-Adil ("The Wise") was
unique; more typical rulers were Ahmad al-Jezzar (the Butcher) and
‘Abdallah Pasha. They conducted a tyrannical and oppressive regime
which affected large sections of the local population, particularly
the Jews and Christians.
Maoz makes these additional observations about Aleppo which was
a thoroughfare for international commerce, and center of European
activities (including consular and business communities), versus
outlying areas, comparing the conditions for Jews under consular
protection, relative to the local population under Ottoman rule: 65
A number of Jewish families, mostly foreign protégés who
belonged to those communities, were indeed relatively secure and
prosperous. But many other local Jews, ordinary Ottoman subjects,
were occasionally subject to violence and oppression from various
quarters. If that was the case in tolerant Aleppo, in other towns
which were imbued with religious intolerance and were distant from
Istanbul, the Jewish population was perhaps the most oppressed element.
One of the major sources of their oppression was the local governors,
public officials, soldiers and policemen, who maltreated Jews and
extorted money from them in various ways. It is true that Muslim
townsmen were occasionally oppressed and squeezed by tyrannical rulers
and greedy soldiers. But many Muslims were nevertheless able to protect
themselves against their oppressors with the help of the influential
religious notables, or by placing themselves under the protection
of local powerful leaders and military groups. It was also not very
infrequent that Muslim masses would revolt against oppressive rulers
and expel them from the town, or even kill them.
The Jewish population obviously did not dare and was unable to
oppose its oppressors; and in places where they managed to acquire
protection of influential local notables they had to pay high sums
for that protection. Otherwise-and this was another source of their
misery-Jews weer squeezed by local Muslim notables and molested by
Muslim mobs. To quote a Jewish source: "When a Jew walked among them
[the Muslims] in the market, one would throw a stone at him in order
to kill him, another would pull his beard and a third his ear lock,
yet another spit on his face and he became a symbol of abuse"
There were clear improvements in prevailing conditions for Christian
dhimmis when Ibrahim Pasha occupied and ruled the Syro-Palestinian
provinces from 1830-1841. The Jews, in contrast, experienced much
less amelioration of their oppressed status according to Maoz. 66
Their position was, no doubt, improved in some respects, in
comparison with the past. They were occasionally permitted to repair
old synagogues or to erect new ones; Jews were also represented in
the new local majlises (legislative assemblies) and were officially
given equal status before the new civil courts. Muslim notables were
strictly ordered not to levy illegal dues and taxes on Jews, while
a number of Muslim civilians, as well as some Egyptian soldiers,
were severely punished for having maltreated Jews.
It should, however, be noted here that the measures taken to protect
the Jews were only partly a result of the government’s initiative and
good will; they were mainly the consequence of the intervention and
pressure from the European consuls. As Jews themselves stated: "Had
it not been the consuls’ supervision, we would have been destroyed
and lost, since the Gentiles wish but to eat the Jews and to accuse
Nevertheless neither the consuls nor the authorities were able to
prevent all the acts of aggression which were directed against Jews,
particularly in small towns…in fact, there occurred during the short
period of Egyptian rule some of the gravest anti-Jewish outbreaks in
the recent history of Palestine and Syria. In Hebron, for example,
Jews were massacred [including the rape-murder of five young girls
67] in 1834 by Egyptian soldiers who came to put down a local Muslim
rebellion. About the same time Jewish houses and shops in Jerusalem
were broken into and looted by local Muslim insurgents, who dominated
the town for a long time. Similarly, the Jews of Safed were brutally
attacked by Muslim and Druze peasants from the vicinity in 1834 and
again in 1837 (after the Safed earthquake).
As Mr. Young, the English Consul in Jerusalem, noted in 1839:
"The spirit of toleration towards the Jews is not yet known here to
the same extent it is in Europe…still a Jew in Jerusalem is not
estimated much above a dog."
The Safed pogrom, alluded to by Maoz, lasted 33 days in June/July
1834, and was particularly devastating-many Jews were killed, hundreds
wounded, and the town nearly destroyed. Malachi has provided these
details based upon eyewitness sources and accounts: 68
The Arabs slaughtered the Jews who could not flee Safed. Many who
hid in caves and graveyards were found out by the vandals and killed
in their hiding places… They did not show compassion towards the
elderly or the young, children or pregnant women. They burned Torah
scrolls and tore holy books, ripped prayer shawls and phylacteries
(tefillin)… The rioters tortured women and children in the synagogues
and "defiled gentle women on parchment scrolls of the Torah" in front
of their husbands and their children. Those who tried to protect their
wives and courageously defend their honor were murdered by the bandits.
The prevailing conditions for Jews did not improve in a consistent or
substantive manner even after the mid 19th century treaties imposed by
the European powers on the weakened Ottoman Empire included provisions
for the Tanzimat reforms. These reforms were designed to end the
discriminatory laws of dhimmitude for both Jews and Christians,
living under the Ottoman Shari’a. European consuls endeavored to
maintain compliance with at least two cardinal principles central
to any meaningful implementation of these reforms: respect for
the life and property of non-Muslims; and the right for Christians
and Jews to provide evidence in Islamic courts when a Muslim was a
party. Unfortunately, these efforts to replace the concept of Muslim
superiority over "infidels", with the principle of equal rights,
Although Maoz contends the the Tanzimat period was accompanied by
"markedly better" conditions for Jews, at least "..in comparison with
the past…", he concedes, 69
It should not be denied that Jews as well as Christians in Palestine
and Syria were in that period still far from being equal members
in the local political community. Despite the Tanzimat edicts,
which promised equality between non-Muslims and Muslims, the dhimmis
continued to be actually inferior before the law of the state and its
institutions. They had still to pay the poll-tax (jizya)-or from 1855
the bedel (compulsory exemption tax from military service). Their
testimony against Muslims was completely discounted in the mahkama
(Muslim court), and in the various new Ottoman secular courts
such testimony was occasionally rejected. Jews and Christians
would similarly be discriminated against in cases brought before
the majlises; even their deputies in these councils were usually
disregarded and occasionally maltreated by their Muslim colleagues.
Eyewitness accounts from the time of the first iteration of the reforms
(in 1839), almost a decade later (1847), and again two years after
(i.e., in 1858) the second series of reforms in 1856 (issued at the
conclusion of the Crimean War), paint a rather gloomy picture of
continued anti-Jewish discrimination in Syro-Palestine. For example,
the Scottish clerics A. A. Bonar and R. M. McCheyne, who visited
Palestine in 1839 to inquire into the condition of the Jews there,
published these observations in their A Narrative of a Mission of
Inquiry to the Jews from the Church of Scotland in 1839 (Edinburgh,
There is none of the sacred places over which the Moslem’s keep so
jealous a watch as the tomb of Abraham…travelers in general being
forbidden to approach even the door of the Mosque [built by the
conquering Muslims over the tomb of Abraham]…The Jews at present
are permitted only to look through a hole near the entrance, and to
pray with their face toward the grave of Abraham…the synagogues of
Jerusalem…are six in number, all of them small and poorly furnished,
and four of them under one roof…The reading desk is little else than
an elevated part of the floor, enclosed with a wooden railing…We were
much impressed with the melancholy aspect of the Jews in Jerusalem.
The meanness of their dress, their pale faces, and timid expression,
all seem to betoken great wretchedness…We found all the Jews here
[in Safed] living in a state of great alarm…the Bedouins were
every day threatening an attack to plunder the town…We observed how
poorly clad most of the Jews seemed to be, and were told that they
had buried under ground all their valuable clothes, their money, and
other precious things. It was easy to read their deep anxiety in the
very expression of their countenances…And all this in their own land!
The Jewish traevelogue writer J. J. Binyamin II recorded the following
account after his 1847 sojourn in Palestine: 71
Deep misery and continual oppression are the right words to describe
the condition of the Children of Israel in the land of their fathers…
They are entirely destitute of every legal protection and every means
of safety. Instead of security afforded by law, which is unknown in
these countries, they are completely under the orders of the Sheiks and
Pashas, men, whose character and feelings inspire but little confidence
from the beginning. It is only the European Consuls who frequently take
care of the oppressed, and afford them some protection….With unheard
of rapacity tax upon tax is levied on them, and with the exception of
Jerusalem, the taxes demanded are arbitrary. Whole communities have
been impoverished by the exorbitant claims of the Sheiks, who, under
the most trifling pretences and without being subject to any control,
oppress the Jews with fresh burdens… In the strict sense of the word
the Jews are not even masters of their own property. They do not even
venture to complain when they are robbed and plundered…Their lives
are taken into as little consideration as their property; they are
exposed to the caprice of any one; even the smallest pretext, even a
harmless discussion, a word dropped in conversation, is enough to cause
bloody reprisals. Violence of every kind is of daily occurrence. When,
for instance in the contests of Mahomet Ali with the Sublime Porte,
the City of Hebron was besieged by Egyptian troops and taken by storm,
the Jews were murdered and plundered, and the survivors scarcely even
allowed to retain a few rags to cover themselves. No pen can describe
the despair of these unfortunates. The women were treated with brutal
cruelty; and even to this day, many are found, who since that time
are miserable cripples. With truth can the Lamentations of Jeremiah
be employed here. Since that great misfortune up to the present day,
the Jews of Hebron languish in the deepest misery, and the present
Sheik is unwearied in his endeavors, not to allow their condition to
be ameliorated, but on the contrary, he makes it worse…The chief
evidence of their miserable condition is the universal poverty which
we remarked in Palestine, and which is here truly astounding; for
nowhere else in our long journeys, in Europe, Asia and Africa did we
observe it among the Jews. It even causes leprosy among the Jews of
Palestine, as in former times. Robbed of their means of subsistence
from the cultivation of the soil and the pursuit of trade, they exist
upon the charity of their brethren in the faith in foreign parts… In
a word the state of the Jews in Palestine, physically and mentally,
is an unbearable one.
British Jerusalem Consul James Finn, reported in (July and November)
1858 that both physical insecurity for Jews in Palestine, and their
inequality before the law, persisted despite the second iteration of
Ottoman reforms in 1856: 72
[July 8, 1858]…in consequence of a series of disgusting insults
offered to Jews and Jewesses in Hebron, I obtained such orders as I
could from the Pasha’s agent in this city…Finding these not answer
entirely as might be desired, I repaired to the neighborhood of Hebron
myself-and found the whole government of that important and turbulent
district being administered by a very old Bashi Bozuk officer as the
ton governor; and a military Boluk Bashi with five starved and ragged
Bashi Bozuk man as soldiers-The rural district is left entirely to
peasant Sheikhs, with one responsible over the rest.
The streets of the town were paraded by fanatic Dervishes-and during
my stay there a Jewish house was forcibly entered by night, iron bars
of the window broken, and heavy stones thrown by invisible hands at
every person approaching the place to afford help. One of the Members
of the Council affirmed that they were not obliged to obey orders from
the Pasha’s deputy-and another declared his right derived from time
immemorial in his family, to enter Jewish houses, and take toll or
contributions any time without giving account. When others present in
the Council exclaimed against this he said-"Well then I will forbear
from taking it myself, but things will happen which will compel the
Jews to come and kiss my feet to induce me to take their money." On
hearing of my arrival in the vicinity he went away to the villages,
refusing to obey the summons to Jerusalem, and I believe the Pasha
cannot really compel him to come here-he being a privileged member
of the Council, and recognized in Constantinople.
[November 11, 1858] And my Hebrew Dragoman [translator] having a
case for judgment in the Makhameh [Muslim court] before the new Kadi
[judge], although accompanied by my Kawass [constable], and announcing
his office, was commanded to stand up humbly and take off his shoes
before his case could be heard. He did not however comply-But during
the process although the thief had previously confessed to the robbery
in presence of Jews, the Kadi would not proceed without the testimony
of two Moslems-when the Jewish witnesses were offered, he refused to
accept their testimony-and the offensive term adopted towards Jews in
former times (more offensive than Giaour for Christians) was used by
the Kadi’s servants…such circumstances exhibit the working of the
present Turkish government in Jerusalem.
Tudor Parfitt’s comprehensive 1987 study of the Jews of Palestine
during the 19th century, concluded with these summary observations
covering entire the period of his analysis, through 1882: 73
Inside the towns, Jews and other dhimmis were frequently attacked,
wounded, and even killed by local Muslims and Turkish soldiers. Such
attacks were frequently for trivial reasons: Wilson [in British Foreign
Office correspondence] recalled having met a Jew who had been badly
wounded by a Turkish soldier for not having instantly dismounted
when ordered to give up his donkey to a soldier of the Sultan. Many
Jews were killed for less. On occasion the authorities attempted to
get some form of redress but this was by no means always the case:
the Turkish authorities themselves were sometimes responsible for
beating Jews to death for some unproven charge. After one such occasion
[British Consul] Young remarked: "I must say I am sorry and surprised
that the Governor could have acted so savage a part- for certainly what
I have seen of him I should have thought him superior to such wanton
inhumanity- but it was a Jew- without friends or protection- it serves
to show well that it is not without reason that the poor Jew, even in
the nineteenth century, lives from day to day in terror of his life".
…In fact, it took some time [i.e., at least a decade after the
1839 reforms] before these courts did accept dhimmi testimony
in Palestine. The fact that Jews were represented on the meclis
[provincial legal council] did not contribute a great deal to
the amelioration of the legal position of the Jews: the Jewish
representatives were tolerated grudgingly and were humiliated and
intimidated to the point that they were afraid to offer any opposition
to the Muslim representatives. In addition the constitution of the
meclis was in no sense fairly representative of the population. In
Jerusalem in the 1870s the meclis consisted of four Muslims, three
Christians and only one Jew- at a time when Jews constituted over
half the population of the city…Perhaps even more to the point, the
courts were biased against the Jews and even when a case was heard in
a properly assembled court where dhimmi testimony was admissible the
court would still almost invariably rule against the Jews. It should
be noted that a non-dhimmi [eg., foreign] Jew was still not permitted
to appear and witness in either the mahkama [specific Muslim council]
or the meclis.
During World War I in Palestine, between 1915 and 1917, the New York
Times published a series of reports 74 on Ottoman-inspired and local
Arab Muslim assisted antisemitic persecution which affected Jerusalem,
and the other major Jewish population centers. For example, by the
end of January, 1915, 7000 Palestinian Jewish refugees-men, women,
and children-had fled to British-controlled Alexandria, Egypt. Three
New York Times accounts from January/February, 1915 provide these
details of the earlier period: 75
On Jan. 8, Djemal Pasha 75a ordered the destruction of all Jewish
colonization documents within a fortnight under penalty of death…In
many cases land settled by Jews was handed over to Arabs, and wheat
collected by the relief committee in Galilee was confiscated in order
to feed the army. The Moslem peasantry are being armed with any weapons
discovered in Jewish hands…The United States cruiser Tennessee has
been fitted up on the lines of a troop ship for the accommodation of
about 1,500 refugees, and is plying regularly between Alexandria and
Jaffa…A proclamation issued by the commander of the Fourth [Turkish]
Army Corps describes Zionism as a revolutionary anti-Tukish movement
which must be stamped out.
Accordingly the local governing committees have been dissolved and
the sternest measures have been taken to insure that all Jews who
remain on their holdings shall be Ottoman subjects…Nearly all the
 Jewish refugees in Alexandria come from Jerusalem and other
large towns, among them being over 1,000 young men of the artisan
class who refused to become Ottomans.
By April of 1917, conditions deteriorated further for Palestinian
Jewry, which faced threats of annihilation from the Ottoman
government. Many Jews were in fact deported, expropriated, and starved,
in an ominous parallel to the genocidal deportations of the Armenian
dhimmi communities throughout Anatolia. 76 Indeed, as related by Yair
Fear of the Turkish actions was bound up with alarm that the Turks
might do to the Jewish community in Palestine, or at least to the
Zionist elements within it, what they had done to the Armenians. This
concern was expressed in additional evidence from the early days of
the war, from which we can conclude that the Armenian tragedy was
known in the Yishuv [Jewish community in Palestine]
A mass expulsion of the Jews of Jerusalem, although ordered twice by
Djemal Pasha, was averted only through the efforts of [the Ottoman
Turks World War I allies] the German government which sought to
avoid international condemnation. 78 The 8000 Jews of Jaffa, however,
were expelled quite brutally, a cruel fate the Arab Muslims and the
Christians of the city did not share. Moreover, these deportations
took place months before the small pro-British Nili spy ring of
Zionist Jews was discovered by the Turks in October, 1917, and its
leading figures killed. 79 A report by United States Consul Garrels
(in Alexandria, Egypt) describing the Jaffa deportation of early
April 1917 (published in the June 3, 1917 New York Times), included
these details of the Jews plight: 80
The orders of evacuation were aimed chiefly at the Jewish population.
Even German, Austro-Hungarian, and Bulgarian Jews were ordered to
leave the town. Mohammedans and Christians were allowed to remain
provided they were holders of individual permits. The Jews who
sought the permits were refused. On April 1 the Jews were ordered
to leave the country within 48 hours. Those who rode from Jaffa to
Petach Tikvah had to pay from 100 to 200 francs instead of the normal
fare of 15 to 25 francs. The Turkish drivers practically refused to
receive anything but gold, the Turkish paper note being taken as the
equivalent of 17.50 piastres for a note of 100 piastres.
Already about a week earlier 300 Jews had been deported in a most cruel
manner from Jerusalem. Djemal Pasha openly declared that the joy of
the Jews on the approach of the British forces would be shortlived,
as he would make them share the fate of the Armenians.
In Jaffa Djemal Pasha cynically assured the Jews that it was for
their own good and interests that he drove them out. Those who had not
succeeded in leaving on April 1 were graciously accorded permission
to remain at Jaffa over the Easter holiday. Thus 8000 were evicted
from their houses and not allowed to carry off their belongings
or provisions. Their houses were looted and pillaged even before
the owners had left. A swarm of pillaging Bedouin women, Arabs with
donkeys, camels, etc., came like birds of prey and proceeded to carry
off valuables and furniture.
The Jewish suburbs have been totally sacked under the paternal eye
of the authorities. By way of example two Jews from Yemen were hanged
at the entrance of the Jewish suburb of Tel Aviv in order to clearly
indicate the fate in store for any Jew who might be so foolish as to
oppose the looters. The roads to the Jewish colonies north of Jaffa are
lined with thousands of starving Jewish refugees. The most appalling
scenes of of cruelty and robbery are reported by absolutely reliable
eyewitnesses. Dozens of cases are reported of wealthy Jews who were
found dead in the sandhills around Tel Aviv. In order to drive off
the bands of robbers preying on the refugees on the roads the young
men of the Jewish villages organized a body of guards to watch in
turn the roads. These guards have been arrested and maltreated by
The Mohammedan population have also left the town recently, but they
are allowed to live in the orchards and country houses surrounding
Jaffa and are permitted to enter the town daily to look after their
property, but not a single Jew has been allowed to return to Jaffa.
The same fate awaits all Jews in Palestine. Djemal Pasha is too
cunning to order cold-blooded massacres. His method is to drive the
population to starvation and to death by thirst, epidemics, etc,
which according to himself, are merely calamities sent by God.
Auron cites a very tenable hypothesis put forth at that time in a
journal of the British Zionist movement as to why the looming slaughter
of the Jews of Palestine did not occur-the advance of the British army
(from immediately adjacent Egypt) and its potential willingness "..to
hold the military and Turkish authorities directly responsible for
a policy of slaughter and destruction of the Jews"-may have averted
this disaster. 80a
The Jews of Bosnia and Turkey Under Ottoman Rule
Moritz Levy 81 and Ivo Andric 82 have documented the dress codes,
transportation and arms prohibitions, and excessive taxation (or
bribes, and outright extortion) imposed upon the Jewish community
of Bosnia under Ottoman rule throughout the 17th century and 18th
centuries. These observations recall the contemporary experiences of
the Jews in Ottoman Palestine during this same period, as described
>>From at least 1579, as decreed by Sultan Murad III, through 1714,
the Ottoman authorities applied "strict measures" to prevent Jews
and Christians from dressing like Muslims. Particular attention was
paid to headdress; distinctions in footwear, while less fastidious,
were also required, and violations of the footwear prohibitions became
a source of bribery extorted by the Muslim constabulary and religious
authorities. 84 Jews and Christians were also forbidden to ride horses
in towns and their precincts. Levy describes these prohibitions
and cites an example of a bribe required to lift this restriction
(transiently) during an early 19th century funeral for a Jew: 85
When Christians or Jews set out on a journey, they had to wait until
they were outside the town before mounting their horses. Even outside
the town, non-Muslims must not be ostentatious or conspicuous. The
harness must be cheap and simple. The saddle must not have fittings of
silver or any other metal, or have fringes or any other decoration. The
reins must be made exclusively of black leather (not red, white or
yellow) and be without tassels or other appendages on the horse’s head,
neck or mane, as was customary among the Turks of Bosnia. There is
only one brief mention of these matters in the records, from 1804,
which states: 22 groschen [coinage of silver or copper] to the Qadi
and Mutessellim, for permission to ride horses at the funeral of
(the Shasham David).
Predictably, Jews and Christians could not bear guns, sabers, and
other "prestigious weapons." 86 Levy further documents how bribes were
required from the Sarajevo Jewish community to allow Jewish women to
bathe after menstruation in accord with Mosaic purity laws: 87
…the Qadi forbade Jewish women from visiting the baths after the
second hour before sunset, i.e. at precisely the time when Jewish law
prescribes the aforementioned ablutions. In this respect we find in
the records: 1767 – 53 groschen to the Qadi for permission for women
to visit the baths [at the appropriate time]…The same point appears
in the records for 1769 and 1778.
Moreover, between 1748 and 1802, payments were extorted from Sarajevo’s
Jews by the Muslim Buljukba~Za (i.e., Pasha, who also acted as the
public executioner) so that condemned Christians (almost exclusively)
would not be hung at the Jewish ghetto gates, thereby averting another
form of public humiliation of the Jewish community.
88 Ivo Andric provides two additional 18th century examples of
Sarajevo’s Jews as "profitable targets of extortion" by the Muslim
ruling elites. The payments Andric documents were required in order
for the Jewish community to avoid unpaid, forced labor corveés,
and be allowed to rebuild a synagogue destroyed by fire. 89
The Pinakes…the account books of the Sarajevo Jews, offer a true
picture in many ways of conditions as they were then. The year
1730 saw a disbursement of 720 puli [90 dinar] for the mutesilim,
so as to be spared working Saturdays on the fortification [i.e., in
corveés; Andric further indicates that Christians were deployed
in such corveés on Sundays]. It was an outlay repeated in the
years to come.
…In the year 1794 the Jews of Sarajevo won permission through an
imperial firman to rebuild their synagogue, which had recently burned
down. It hardly need be said that the usual stipulations applied. "No
more than any of the confessions are they allowed to enlarge such a
structure by so much as a jot or a tittle in the process of re-erecting
it". And to the imperial firman were attached the usual formalities-
permission of the vizier, permission of the kadi, two separate
commissions, and so on. All this took more than two years and cost
a tidy sum.
The readiness with which the Jews acceded to such extortions was
explained by Levy as follows: 90
Acts of violence and extortion by the Pashas against the Jews plunged
them into the depths of darkest night…There were many unpleasant
run-ins with the authorities from time to time, which, however,
were susceptible to settlement by means of money.
Lastly, regarding the brutal enforcement of dhimmi dress restrictions
in the heart of Istanbul itself, British Ambassador James Porter (who
served there between1746-1762) recorded two tragic examples from 1758,
involving the summary executions of a Jew and an Armenian: 91
(February 3, 1758) The order against Christians and Jews dress, except
in modest Cloaths [clothes], browns, blacks…as to caps and boots…is
most rigorously executed in a Manner unknown before which alarms much
all those who are not Mahometans, and makes them apprehend the most
Rigour; it seems however but natural, when it is considered, that it
comes from a self-denying religious Prince [Sultan Mustafa III].
(June 3, 1758) This time of Ramazan [Ramadan] is mostly taken up by
day in sleep, by Night in eating, so that we have few occurrences of
any importance, except what the Grand Seignor [Sultan Mustafa III]
himself affords us he is determined to keep his laws, and to have
them executed concerning dress has been often repeated, and with it
uncommon solemnity, yet as in former Reigns, after some weeks it
was seldom attended to , but gradually transgressed, these people
whose ruling Passion is directed that way, thought it was forgot, and
betook themselves to their old course, a Jew on his Sabbath was the
first victim, the Grand Seignor going the rounds incognito, met him,
and not having the Executioner with him, without sending him [the Jew]
to the Vizir, had him executed, and his throat cut that moment, the day
after an Armenian followed, he was sent to the Vizir, who attempted to
save him, and condemned him to the Galleys, but the Capigilar Cheaia
[head of the guards] came to the Porte at night, attended with the
executioner, to know what was become of the delinquent, that first
Minister had brought him directly from the Galleys and his head struck
off, that he might inform his Master he had anticipated his Orders.
The messianic career of Shabbetai Zevi (1626-1678)-his rise and
ignominious fall in the latter half of the 17th century-engendered
discord, and ultimately, despondent apathy in the Ottoman Jewish
community. 92 The son of a Jewish commercial agent from the port of
Izmir (ancient Smyrna; SW Turkey today), Shabbetai was expelled from
his community in 1651 (for pronouncing the name of God publicly), and
by 1658 he and his acolytes had begun a campaign of proselytization
designed to prepare the Jewish communities of the Ottoman Empire (and
beyond) for the looming messianic age. By 1665, Shabbetai declared
himself the messiah inspiring numbers of Jews to abandon their
regular occupations in anticipation of the onset of his messianic
reign. Alarmed at the ferment within these Jewish communities, and
the theological-juridical challenge Shabbetai Zevi’s mission posed
to Ottoman authority, Sultan Muhammad IV had him imprisoned. 93
Shabbetai was converted to Islam under threat of death (or via
other coercive means). The contemporary travelogue of Edward Brown
(1644-1708) maintains simply that a Kasim Pasha (a physician married
to the Sultan’s sister, who served as Ottoman Governor of Budapest
from April, 1666-May, 1667), 94
…so handled him [Shabbetai], that he was glad to turn Turk.
A more detailed account is provided from another contemporary
historical memoir published by Sir Paul Rycaut in 1680: 95
That having given public scandal to the Professors of the Mahometan
Religion, and done dishonor to his Sovereign Authority, by pretending
to withdraw from him so considerable a portion as the land of
Palestine, his Treason and Crime could not be expiated without becoming
a Mahometan Convert; which if he refused to do, the State was ready at
the Gate of the Seraglio to impale him. Shabbetai being now reduced to
his last game and extremity, not being in the least doubtful what to
do; for to die for what he was assured was false was against Nature,
and the death of a mad man: replied with much cheerfulness, that
he was contented to turn Turk, and that it was not of force, but of
choice, having been a long time desirous of so glorious a profession,
he esteemed himself much honored, that an opportunity to own it first
in the presence of the Grand Signor [Sultan].
Shabbetai Zevi’s conversion to Islam-the Ottoman authorities were loath
to execute him at any rate lest he become a martyr 96-demoralized and
divided the Jewish community. Zeitlin offers this bleak assessment
in the aftermath of the messianic fervor aroused by Shabbetai and
his followers: 97
The messianic movement did not collapse entirely because of the
conversion of Shabbetai Zevi to Islam. True, many Jews became
despondent and lost their worldly possessions and were disillusioned
in their ideals when they saw how they had been deceived. But the
adventurer Nathan "the prophet" continued his propaganda tinctured
with mysticism. Many of those who had been followers of Shabbetai
Zevi accepted Islam and became known as Donme, 98 a Judeo-Muslim sect.
Those Jews who opposed Shabbetai Zevi before his conversion either
were passive or weer afraid of being persecuted, but some like Rabbi
Jacob Sasportas and Rabbi Jacob Cagiz who did not accept Shabbetai
Zevi as the messiah and fought against the movement were persecuted.
After the conversion those who were suspected of being adherents of
the messianinc movement were condemned. Those who were persecuted
previously for their disbelief in Shabbetai Zevi now became the
persecutors. Some rabbis adopted the role of inquisitors; anyone
who did not conform to theuir point of view was branded a heretic,
a follower of the Shabbetai movement, and was persecuted. A reign
of suspicion prevailed among the Jewish people who were divided into
hostile groups, issuing anathemas against each other.
The rabbis had been greatly venerated during the Middle Ages and the
Jews always considered them their spiritual leaders; now the rabbis
of the seventeenth century failed them; they did not lead them during
this "messianic" movement. They followed the masses. Either through
fear or lack of courage they failed to fight this movement as being
dangerous and deceptive. Thus the Jews lost their faith in the rabbis
and spiritual leaders. The consequences of this movement…were tragic
in every respect. The price the Jewish people paid for mysticism
Perlmann summarized the legacy of the Donme, the Judeo-Islamic
converts, as follows: 99
On the whole the Muslims were indifferent to the sect’s existence,
but from time to time there was a spurt of inquiry, or persecution
(e.g., in 1720, 1859, and 1875). Imputing Donme origin to undesirables
is not unknown.
Accounts from European travelers to Ottoman Turkey throughout the
18th and 19th centuries are quite uniform in their depiction of the
prevailing negative Muslim attitudes towards Jews. The objects of
hatred and debasement, Jews reacted with servile pusillanimity.
Despite the financial success of a small elite (an observation which
dates back to the Jews first integration into the Ottoman Empire)
100, the majority of Ottoman Jews lived in penury, and attendant
squalor. 101 Carsten Niebuhr (1733-1815), the German traveler who
reached Constantinople (Istanbul) in (February) 1767, observed
that Turkish Jews were routinely insulted by the local Muslims,
who addressed them as, 102
Tschefied ["dirty Jew’, colloquially] which is still more opprobrious
than Dsjaur [giaour; "infidel"]
Charles McFarlane who visited Istanbul in 1828 wrote that the Jews were
"…the last and most degraded of the Turkish Rayahs [minorities]." 103
McFarlane contrasted the resulting obsequious attitudes of the Jews
in Turkey with those of their European British co-religionists: 104
Throughout the Ottoman domains, their pusillanimity is so excessive,
that they will flee before the uplifted hand of a child. Yet in England
the Jews become bold and expert pugilists, and are as ready to resent
an insult as any other of His Majesty’s liege subjects. A striking
proof of the effects of oppression in one country, and of liberty,
and of the protection of equal laws, in the other.
A confirmatory description was provided by Julia Pardhoe in her 1836
eyewitness account of conditions for Istanbul’s Jews: 105
I never saw the curse denounced against the children of Israel more
fully brought to bear than in the East; where it may truly be said
that "their hand is against every man, and every man’s hand against
them."-Where they are considered rather as a link between animals and
human beings, then as men possessed of the same attributes, warmed by
the same sun, chilled by the same breeze, subject to the same feelings,
and impulses, and joys, and sorrows, as their fellow-mortals.
There is a subdued and spiritless expression about the Eastern Jew,
of which the comparatively tolerant European can picture to himself
no possible idea until he has looked upon it…It is impossible to
express the contemptuous hatred in which the Osmanlis [Ottoman Turks]
hold the Jewish people; and the veriest urchin who may encounter
one of the fallen nation on his path, has his meed [recompense] of
insult to add to the degradation of the outcast and wandering race
of Israel. Nor dare the oppressed party revenge himself upon this
puny enemy, whom his very name suffices to raise up against him.
I remember, on the occasion of the great festival at Kahaitchana
(Kâthane), seeing a Turkish boy of perhaps ten years of age, approach
a group of Jewesses, and deliberately fixing upon one whose delicate
state of health should have been her protection from insult, gave her
so violent a blow as to deprive her of consciousness, and level her to
the earth. As I sprang forward to the assistance of this unfortunate,
I was held back by a Turk of my acquaintance, a man of rank, and
I had hitherto believed, divested of such painful prejudices; who
bade me not agitate, or trouble myself on the occasion, as the woman
was only a Jewess! And of the numbers of Turkish females who stood
looking on, not one raised a hand to assist the wretched victim of
Two decades later (1856), the Turcophilic Italian traveler Ubicini,
echoing the observation 70 years earlier of Niebuhr 106 that the
Ottoman Muslims, "..despise the Jews, and freely apply to them the
epithet tchîffut (cifit; mean, avaricious; colloquially, "dirty
Jew")…," 107 also recorded these poignant characterizations of the
Ottoman Jews plight, which emphasized their resigned degradation
(tinged with patient faith in their deliverance), and extreme
Patient, industrious, and resigned to their fate, they wore without
apparent sense of humiliation the colored beneesh [jehoudane; a cloak
with open sleeves] which the ancient sumptuary [denoting restrictions,
in this case, regarding dress] laws of the empire enjoined as a mark to
distinguish them from the Mussulman, and took as much pains to withdraw
from notice as the Greeks to put themselves forward. United by an
indissoluble bond of common faith and common interest, which gathers
strength from their isolation and the contempt with which they are
regarded, whilst they appear to be occupied only with their commerce
and indifferent to all beyond, secretly cherish the hope of one day
regaining possession of Jerusalem, and therefore with patient assiduity
continue the uninterrupted series of their annals up to the day marked
as the end of the great captivity. This indeed is the central point
of their union; this is rather their faith than their hope; and for
this reason Jews are seldom found engaged in the cultivation of soil,
which for them is always the "land of the stranger, and house of
bondage." Here they may have been born-here perhaps they may die:
but still they may be called upon to depart at a moment’s warning,
and, holding themselves, therefore, in readiness for the long expected
signal, they await its arrival with that patient and submissive faith
from which oppressed races derive their strength and consolation.
Rarely do we see the Jews of Turkey in any elevated position, or
following any of the liberal professions; and such of the nation as
are distinguished by their wealth as merchants, or their skill as
medical practitioners, 109 or whose science and talents shed luster
on their community. Will generally be found to belong to the colonies
of European Jews already mentioned. Thus, as we perceive, the Jews
are the poorest of all the subjects of the Porte. To form any idea
of their poverty it is only necessary to ride, on any day of the
week, through the quarter of Balata, where the Jews of the capital
chiefly dwell. Few more filthy places can be found; the observer
is afflicted by an appearance of misery, resulting not from design,
as in the neighboring quarter of the Fanar, but from real poverty:
whilst in the street his path is constantly crossed by men in ragged
garments, with haggard countenances, wearing an anxious expression. The
half-opened windows of the low, damp houses reveal glimpses of women
of small stature, thin, wan-looking, and of a livid paleness, wearing
no veil, but a coarse linen cloth round the head; and surrounded by
a swarm of meager, dropsical, rickety children, the whole forming a
sad and depressing spectacle…Poverty in turn engenders uncleanly
habits…and the effect is a proportionate mortality. Thus, when
the cholera was raging in Constantinople in 1848, the deaths from
October to the end of December were 16 percent among the Jews; whilst
among the Greeks the ratio was only 7 ½ ; among the Armenians 4 ½ ;
and among the Mussulmans scarcely 4 [percent].
Reports from the Alliance Israelite Universále 110 during the
late 19th century and early 20th century reiterate the findings of
Ubicini (above) from the mid-19th century. Descriptions of the Jewish
communities make repeated references to their "poverty, misery, and
distress." 111 Although Istanbul-a city of nearly one million in 1900,
including a Jewish community of some 50,000-included a small affluent
elite of Jews inhabiting comfortable quarters, their living conditions
were clearly exceptional. 112
…the two most characteristic Jewish suburbs of the Ottoman capital,
Haskoy and Balat, looked like a network of half-ruined hovels and there
misery was more hideous than anywhere else. Balat, whose narrow alleys
sheltered some ten thousand Jews, had even the dubious distinction
of being one of the foulest smelling localities of the Golden Horn
[an estuary which divides Istanbul].
…it sufficed to wander through a Jewish quarter to be aware of the
extent of extreme destitution of its inhabitants. Dark and tortuous
alleys, dilapidated houses, cramped and unsanitary living quarters,
such was at the end of the nineteenth century the characteristic aspect
of most of the [Jewish] ghettoes of Turkey. In certain Anatolian
towns, in Izmir [Smyrna] and Aydin for instance, an important part
of the Jewish population lived in cortijos, vast enclosed yards where
dozens of families were herded together.
Sometimes these families, each confined to a single small room,
comprised ten to fifteen members…For example, one of the numerous
rabbis of the city of Aydin lived with his wife, their children, and
the family of his married son in a slum of three-by-four meters, with
a single room, at once bedroom, kitchen and washroom…The situation
was very similar in the cortijos of Izmir. And when each Friday the
Muslim landlord came with his suitcase to collect the rent, numerous
lodgers could but sob and implore for a delay in payment of the debt.
Jewish ghettoes meant misery, but also overpopulation. In the
correspondence of the [Alliance] schoolmasters, poverty and
proliferation of the species appear practically always together,
closely related to each other. It would seem that families of eight,
ten, or even fifteen people living under the same roof, were not
exceptional, especially in smaller towns, such Silivri [in Thrace],
Aydin, or Tire.
Such abject poverty, and concomitant malnutrition and overcrowding,
made the Jewish communities especially vulnerable (as also described
earlier by Ubicini) to the epidemics of the era: cholera, smallpox,
diptheria, typhoid, and puerperal ("childbed") fever [a post-partum
In large cities, such as Izmir or Istanbul, such epidemics were more
frequent and more deadly than elsewhere. The "suspect illness" that
broke out in Izmir in 1893-the word cholera was carefully avoided-was
doomed to remain in the memory of local Jews, like the great plague
of 1865, as one of the most terrible calamities that ever struck
their community. Neither were small localities immune from danger.
The cholera epidemic which broke out in Bursa in 1894 was, it would
seem, just as deadly as that of Izmir. In this same city, in November
1900, four to five children died of smallpox every day in the Jewish
Not surprisingly, in order to escape these conditions, at the onset of
the 20th century Turkish Jews began emigrating to North (and South)
American, European, and African cities. 114 Thus according to the
American Jewish Yearbook, 115 almost 8000 Jews emigrated from Turkey
to the United States between 1899 and 1912.
The Alliance reports further indicate that Jews living in rural eastern
Anatolia suffered severely throughout this period due (primarily)
to Muslim Kurdish depredations. 116
In Diyarbarkir, Urfa, Siverek, Mardin, and several other cities of
this region, Kurds continuously attacked Jewish communities, forcing
them to pay taxes and contributions in addition to those already
exacted by the Turkish authorities. The slightest tendency to resist
was immediately suppressed with blood. Jews were crushed with scorn
and had to accept all sorts of humiliations. Thus, for instance, when
rains were delayed in spring or late in autumn, Kurds went to Jewish
graveyards, dug up newly buried corpses, cut off the heads and threw
them in the river to appease Heaven’s wrath and bring on rain. In spite
of the complaints of Jews to Turkish authorities, the perpetrators
of such misdeeds remained, as was to be expected, undiscovered.
Toward the end of the nineteenth century, the insecurity of the
Kurd[ish] country was so great that Jewish peddlers could not longer
venture outside the cities. The communities of the vilayet [province]
of Diyarbarkir fell into misery and diminished year after year. Thus,
whilst in 1874 the town of Siverek situated on the Urfa road counted
about fifty Jewish families, three decades later Joseph Niego,
entrusted with a mission in Asia Minor by the Jewish Colonization
Association, found only twenty-six household, totaling about 100
persons. Similarly, the 500 Jews who, according to Vital Cuinet,
constituted the community of Mardin toward the end of the nineteenth
century, were all gone by 1906. At that time, there remained in this
town only one Jew, who had the task of guarding the synagogue.
The conclusion to "Under Turkish Rule" will be published in next
weekend’s edition August 3-5. –The Editors.
1. Bernard Lewis. "Islamic Revival in Turkey", International Affairs,
Vol. 28, p. 48.
2. Mercedes Garcia-Arenal. "Jewish Converts to Islam in the Muslim
West", Israel Oriental Studies, 1997, Vol. 17, p. 239.
3. Ibid., p. 239.
4. Benzion Netanyahu. The Origins of the Inquisition, New York, 1995,
p. 3; For discussions of the persecutions of this 50-year period,
i.e., 1367-1417, see pp. 116, 142-164, and 191-196.
5. For the numbers of Marranos of Spain, see Benzion Netanyahu. The
Marranos of Spain, Ithaca, New York, 1999 edition, pp. 238-248,
and 255-270; See also, Netanyahu. The Origins of the Inquisition, pp.
1095 ff. Netanyahu concludes (p. 248, Marranos of Spain) that the
1480 census of Marranos was 600,000-650,000.
6. Netanyahu. The Origins of the Inquisition, pp. 3; 1048-1092.
7. Henry Kamen, "The Mediterranean and the Expulsion of Spanish Jews
in 1492", Past and Present, 1988 (May), Vol. 119, pp. 30-55.
8. Ibid., p. 44.
9. Ibid., pp 39,44.
10. For Ottoman attitudes toward the Jews of the conquered Byzantine
Empire, including Salonika, see Joseph R. Hacker. "Ottoman policy
toward the Jews and Jewish attitudes toward the Ottomans during the
fifteenth century" in Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire:
the functioning of a plural society. Edited by. Benjamin Braude and
Bernard Lewis, New York , 1982, Vol.I, pp. 117-126; For the devastating
nature of the Ottoman jihad campaigns of the fifteenth century, see
Dimitar Angelov"Certain aspects de la conquete des peuples balkanique
par les Turcs" in Les Balkans au moyen age. La Bulgarie des Bogomils
aux Turcs, London: Variorum Reprints, 1978, pp.
220-275; full English translation as, "Certain phases of the conquest
of the Balkan peoples by the Turks" in Bostom, The Legacy of Jihad,
11. Paul Wittek. The Rise of the Ottoman Empire. London, p. 14.
Wittek (also p. 14) includes this discussion, with a block quote from
The chapter Ahmedi devotes in his Iskender-name to the history of the
Ottoman sultans, the ancestors of his protector Sulayman Tshelebi, son
of Bayazid I, begins with an introduction in which the poet solemnly
declares his intention of writing a Ghazawat-name, a book about the
holy war of the Ghazis. He poses the question" "Why have the Ghazis
appeared at last?" And he answers: "Because the best always comes at
the end. Just as the definitive prophet Mohammed came after the others,
just as the Koran came down from heaven after the Torah, the Psalms
and the Gospels, so also the Ghazis appeared in the world at the last,
" those Ghazis the reign of whom is that of the Ottomans. The poet
continues with this question: "Who is a Ghazi?".
And he explains: "A Ghazi is the instrument of the religion of Allah,
a servant of God who purifies the earth from the filth of polytheism
(remember that Islam regards the Trinity of the Christians as a
polytheism); the Ghazi is the sword of God, he is the protector and
refuge of the believers. If he becomes a martyr in the ways of God,
do not believe that he has died- he lives in beatitude with Allah,
he has eternal life".
12. Sonia Anderson. An English Consul in Turkey: Paul Rycaut at Smyrna,
1667-1678. Oxfoed, 1989, 323 pp.
12a. Sir Paul Rycaut. The Present State of the Ottoman Empire, London,
1686, [electronic version], pp. 200, 201.
12b. The Ottoman Office of the Mufit and Shaykh al-Islam were
synonymous. J.H. Karmers, R.C. Repp. "Shaykh al-Islam". Encyclopedia
of Islam. Edited by: P. Bearman , Th. Bianquis , C.E. Bosworth , E.
van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2006/2007.
12c. Babinger, Fr "Khosrew, Molla" Encyclopaedia of Islam. Edited by:
P. Bearman , Th. Bianquis , C.E. Bosworth , E. van Donzel and W.P.
Heinrichs. Brill, 2006/2007.
12d. Molla Khosrew. Il Kitab Al-Gihad. Italian translation (Trattato
Sulla Guerra) by Nicola Melis, Cagliari, Italy, 2002, pp. 95-96.
English translation by Ughetta Lubin
13. Halil Inalcik. The Ottoman Empire-The Classical Age, 1300-1600,
London, 1973, p. 6.
14. A.E. Vacalopoulos. Origins of the Greek Nation- The Byzantine
Period, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1970, p. 66.
15. Speros Vryonis. "The Experience of Christians under Seljuk and
Ottoman Domination, Eleventh to Sixteenth Century", in Conversion
and Continuity: Indigenous Christian Communities in Islamic lands,
Eighth to Eighteenth Centuries, edited by Michael Gervers and Ramzi
Jibran Bikhazi, Toronto, 1990, p. 201.
16. Angelov, "Certains Aspects de la Conquete Des Peuples Balkaniques
par les Turcs", pp. 220-275; Vacalopoulos. Origins of the Greek Nation-
The Byzantine Period, pp. 69-85.
17. Angelov, "Certains Aspects de la Conquete Des Peuples Balkaniques
par les Turcs", pp. 236, 238-239.
18. Joseph Hacker, "Ottoman Policy Toward the Jews and Jewish
Attitudes toward the Ottomans during the Fifteenth Century", in,
Christians and Jews in the Ottoman empire : the functioning of
a plural society, edited by Benjamin Braude and Bernard Lewis,
New York, 1982, pp. 117-126; Joseph Hacker, "The Surgun System and
Jewish Society in the Ottoman Empire during the 15th-17th Centuries"
[Hebrew], Zion 1990, Vol. 55, pp. 27-82 and re-published in English
translation in Ottoman and Turkish Jewry-Community and Leadership,
edited by Aron Rodrigue, Bloomington, Indiana, 1992, pp. 1-65.
19. Jane Gerber. "Towards an Understanding of the Term: ‘The Golden
Age’ as an Historical Reality", in The Heritage of the Jews in Spain,
Tel-Aviv, Israel, Aviva Doron, Editor, p. 15, 20-21.
20. Hacker, "The Surgun System and Jewish Society in the Ottoman
Empire", pp. 7-8. Hacker elaborates (note 21, p. 44) on this point
maintaining that, "…the approach adopted by nineteenth and twentieth
century historians to the question of the Jewish-Ottoman encounter in
the fifteenth century", including "H. Graetz, S. Dubnow, S. Rozanes,
M. Franco, A. Galanté, S. Baron, and H.Z. Hirschberg" was unduly
influenced by "…the romantic picture sketched by the sixteenth-and
21. Ibid, pp. 23, 22; See also The Jewish Encyclopedia.com "Capsali"
by Louis Ginsberg, and "Joseph Ben Isaac Sambari" by Joseph Jacobs,
22. For the overall impact of the jihad conquests see references
542-545, above, and 556 below. For a discussion of jihad enslavement
by the Ottomans in the Balkans, especially Romania, see M.M.
Alexandrescu-Dersca Bulgaru. "The Roles of Slaves in Fifteenth
Century Turkish Romania". Byzantinische Forschungen 1987, Vol. 11,
pp. 15-22. English translation in Bostom, The Legacy of Jihad, pp.
22a. For the impact of Ottoman policies of surgun on Christian
populations see Doukas. Decline and Fall of Byzantium to the Ottoman
Turks. Annotated translation of Historia Turco-Byzantia, by Harry J.
Magoulias, Detroit, Michaigan, 1975, pp. 241, 243, 257-258. Doukas
mentions deportations of Christian populations from Anatolia and
Rumelia, the Balkans, and the Peloponnesus.
After 5000 families were registered from both the eastern and western
provinces [Anatolia and Rumelia], Mehmed [II] instructed them and
their households to take up residence in the City [Constantinople]
by September on penalty of death.
Mehmed [II] returned to Adrianople with the booty [from Serbia,
outside Smederovo] by way of Sofia. There he awarded one half to his
officials and the troops who labored with him. After claiming half of
the captives for himself, he sent them to populate the villages outside
Constantinople. His allotted portion was four thousand men and women.
Aftre taking all of the Peloponnesus, the tyrant [Mehmed II] installed
his own administrators and governors. Returning to Adrianople, he
took with him Demetrios [Paleologus?] and his entire household,
the palace officials and wealthy notables form Achaia [northern
Peloponnesus] and Lakedaimonia [southern Peloponnesus] and the
remaining provinces. He slaughtered all the nobles of Albania and then
allowed no fortress to remain standing with the exception of Monemvasia
[southeast Peloponnesus], and this grudgingly and against his will…He
transferred about two thousand families from the Peloponnesus and
resettled them in the City [Constantinople]. He also registered the
same number of youths among the Janissaries.
22b. Hacker, "Ottoman Policy Toward the Jews and Jewish Attitudes
toward the Ottomans", p. 123.
23. Hacker, "The Surgun System and Jewish Society in the Ottoman
Empire", pp. 27-30.
24. Ibid., p. 2
25. Ibid., p. 5
26. Ibid., p. 8
27. Ibid., pp. 8-9, 36-37.
28. See these accounts in English translation from, Vryonis, S. Jr.,
"A Critical Analysis of Stanford J. Shaw’s, History of the Ottoman
Empire and Modern Turkey. Volume 1. Empire of the Gazis: The Rise
and Decline of the Ottoman Empire, 1280-1808", off print from Balkan
Studies, Vol. 24, 1983, pp. 57-62, 68; all reproduced in Bostom,
The Legacy of Jihad, pp. 616-618.
[Both Turkish and Christian chroniclers provide graphic evidence of
the wanton pillage and slaughter of non-combatants following the
Ottoman jihad conquest of Constantinople in 1453. First from the
Turkish sources]: Sultan Mehmed (in order to) arouse greater zeal
for the way of God issued an order (that the city was to be) plundered.
And from all directions they (gazis) came forcefully and violently
(to join) the army. They entered the city, they passed the infidels
over the sword (i.e. slew them) and…they pillage and looted, they
took captive the youths and maidens, and they took their goods and
valuables whatever there was of them…" [Urudj] The gazis entered
the city, cut off the head of the emperor, captured Kyr Loukas and
his family…and they slew the miserable common people..They placed
people and families in chains and placed metal rings on their necks."
[Speros Vryonis, Jr. has summarized the key contents of letters sent
by Sultan Mehmed himself to various Muslim potentates of the Near
East]: In his letter to the sultan of Egypt, Mehmed writes that his
army killed many of the inhabitants, enslaved many others (those
that remained), plundered the treasures of the city, ‘cleaned out’
the priests and took over the churches…To the Sherif of Mecca he
writes that they killed the ruler of Constantinople, they killed the
‘pagan’ inhabitants and destroyed their houses. The soldiers smashed
the crosses, looted the wealth and properties and enslaved their
children and youths. ‘They cleared these places of their monkish filth
and Christian impurity’…In yet another letter he informs Cihan Shah
Mirza of Iran that the inhabitants of the city have become food for the
swords and arrows of the gazis; that they plundered their children,
possessions and houses; that those men and women who survived the
massacre were thrown into chains.
[The Christian sources, include this narrative by Ducas who gathered
eyewitness accounts, and visited Constantinople shortly after its
conquest]: (Then) the Turks arrived at the church [the great church of
St. Sophia], pillaging, slaughtering, and enslaving. They enslaved all
those that survived. They smashed the icons in the church, took their
adornments as well as all that was moveable in the church…Those of
(the Greeks) who went off to their houses were captured before arriving
there. Others upon reaching their houses found them empty of children,
wives, and possessions and before (they began) wailing and weeping
were themselves bound with their hands behind them. Others coming to
their houses and having found their wife and children being led off,
were tied and bound with their most beloved…They (the Turks) slew
mercilessly all the elderly, both men and women, in (their) homes, who
were not able to leave their homes because of illness or old age. The
newborn infants were thrown into the streets…And as many of the
(Greek) aristocrats and nobles of the officials of the palace that he
(Mehmed) ransomed, sending them all to the ‘speculatora’ he executed
them. He selected their wives and children, the beautiful daughters and
shapely youths and turned them over to the head eunuch to guard them,
and the remaining captives he turned over to others to guard over
them…And the entire city was to be seen in the tents of the army,
and the city lay deserted, naked, mute, having neither form nor beauty.
[From the contemporary 15th century historian Critobulus of Imbros:]
Then a great slaughter occurred of those who happened to be there:
some of them were on the streets, for they had already left the
houses and were running toward the tumult when they fell unexpectedly
on the swords of the soldiers; others were in their own homes and
fell victims to the violence of the Janissaries and other soldiers,
without any rhyme or reason; others were resisting relying on their
own courage; still others were fleeing to the churches and making
supplication- men, women, and children, everyone, for there was
no quarter given…The soldiers fell on them with anger and great
wrath…Now in general they killed so as to frighten all the City,
and terrorize and enslave all by the slaughter.
29. Hacker, "Ottoman Policy Toward the Jews and Jewish Attitudes
toward the Ottomans", p. 120; Hacker, "The Surgun System and Jewish
Society in the Ottoman Empire", p. 12.
29a. Hacker, "Ottoman Policy Toward the Jews and Jewish Attitudes
toward the Ottomans", p. 121; See also the reference to a letter
of the Karaite polymath Caleb Afendopolo (d. 1499) by Jacob Mann in
Texts and Studies in Jewish History and Literature, Vol. 2, Karaitica,
Philadelphia, 1935, p. 292, note 15. Mann writes,
Caleb speaks of an "expulsion" which would indicate an act of
persecution on the part of the government, as if wanting to keep the
Jews under stringent supervision by congregating them in the capital.
30. Hacker, "The Surgun System and Jewish Society in the Ottoman
Empire", pp. 12-18; See also The Jewish Encyclopedia.com "Ephraim B.
Gershon" by Richard Gottheil, and Michael Ben Shabbethai Cohen Balbo"
by Joseph Jacobs, M. Seligsohn.
31. Hacker, "The Surgun System and Jewish Society in the Ottoman
Empire", pp. 12-15.
32. Ibid., p. 15
33. Ibid., pp. 15, 18
34. Ibid., p. 15
35. Ibid., p. 15
36. Ibid., p. 16.
37. See references 542-545, 550a, and 556, above.
38. Speros Vryonis, Jr. (in Speros Vryonis, Jr. "Seljuk Gulams and
Ottoman Devshirmes", Der Islam Vol. 41, 1965, pp. 245-247) for example,
makes these deliberately understated, but cogent observations:
…in discussing the devshirme we are dealing with the large numbers
of Christians who, in spite of the material advantages offered
by conversion to Islam, chose to remain members of a religious
society which was denied first class citizenship. Therefore the
proposition advanced by some historians, that the Christians welcomed
the devshirme as it opened up wonderful opportunities for their
children, is inconsistent with the fact that these Christians had
not chosen to become Muslims in the first instance but had remained
Christians…there is abundant testimony to the very active dislike
with which they viewed the taking of their children. One would expect
such sentiments given the strong nature of the family bond and given
also the strong attachment to Christianity of those who had not
apostacized to Islam…First of all the Ottomans capitalized on the
general Christian fear of losing their children and used offers of
devshirme exemption in negotiations for surrender of Christian lands.
Such exemptions were included in the surrender terms granted to
Jannina, Galata, the Morea, Chios, etc…Christians who engaged in
specialized activities which were important to the Ottoman state were
likewise exempt from the tax on their children by way of recognition
of the importance of their labors for the empire…Exemption from
this tribute was considered a privilege and not a penalty…
…there are other documents wherein their [i.e., the Christians]
dislike is much more explicitly apparent. These include a series of
Ottoman documents dealing with the specific situations wherein the
devshirmes themselves have escaped from the officials responsible
for collecting them…A firman…in 1601 [regarding the devshirme]
provided the [Ottoman] officials with stern measures of enforcement, a
fact which would seem to suggest that parents were not always disposed
to part with their sons. "..to enforce the command of the known and
holy fetva [fatwa] of Seyhul [Shaikh]- Islam. In accordance with this
whenever some one of the infidel parents or some other should oppose
the giving up of his son for the Janissaries, he is immediately hanged
from his door-sill, his blood being deemed unworthy."
Vasiliki Papoulia (in Vasiliki Papoulia, Vasiliki Papoulia, "The
Impact of Devshirme on Greek Society", in War and Society in East
Central Europe, Editor-in-Chief, Bela K. Kiraly, 1982, Vol. II, pp.
554-555) highlights the continuous desperate, often violent struggle of
the Christian populations against this forcefully imposed Ottoman levy:
It is obvious that the population strongly resented…this measure
[and the levy] could be carried out only by force. Those who refused
to surrender their sons- the healthiest, the handsomest and the most
intelligent- were on the spot put to death by hanging. Nevertheless
we have examples of armed resistance. In 1565 a revolt took place in
Epirus and Albania. The inhabitants killed the recruiting officers
and the revolt was put down only after the sultan sent five hundred
janissaries in support of the local sanjak-bey. We are better informed,
thanks to the historic archives of Yerroia, about the uprising in
Naousa in 1705 where the inhabitants killed the Silahdar Ahmed Celebi
and his assistants and fled to the mountains as rebels.
Some of them were later arrested and put to death..
Since there was no possibility of escaping [the levy] the population
resorted to several subterfuges. Some left their villages and fled
to certain cities which enjoyed exemption from the child levy or
migrated to Venetian-held territories. The result was a depopulation
of the countryside. Others had their children marry at an early
age…Nicephorus Angelus…states that at times the children ran away
on their own initiative, but when they heard that the authorities had
arrested their parents and were torturing them to death, returned and
gave themselves up. La Giulletiere cites the case of a young Athenian
who returned from hiding in order to save his father’s life and then
chose to die himself rather than abjure his faith. According to the
evidence in Turkish sources, some parents even succeeded in abducting
their children after they had been recruited. The most successful way
of escaping recruitment was through bribery. That the latter was very
widespread is evident from the large amounts of money confiscated by
the sultan from corrupt…officials. Finally, in their desperation
the parents even appealed to the Pope and the Western powers for help.
Papoulia (Vasiliki Papoulia, "The Impact of Devshirme on Greek
Society", p. 557) concludes:
…there is no doubt that this heavy burden was one of the hardest
tribulations of the Christian population.
39. Hacker, "The Surgun System and Jewish Society in the Ottoman
Empire", pp. 16,17,19,20.
40. Ibid., pp. 24-33.
41. Ibid., p. 27.
42. Ibid., p. 27.
43. Ibid., p. 28.
44. Ibid., p. 31.
45. Ibid., pp. 31, 32.
46. Ibid., pp. 32-33.
47. Hacker, "The Surgun System and Jewish Society in the Ottoman
Empire", pp. 1-65; Hacker, "Ottoman Policy Toward the Jews and
Jewish Attitudes toward the Ottomans during the Fifteenth Century",
48. Hacker, "The Surgun System and Jewish Society in the Ottoman
Empire", p. 23.
49. Molla Khosrew. Il Kitab Al-Gihad., pp. 177-189.
50. Suyuti wrote a famous, and ubiquitous commentary, *Tafsiir
al-Jalalayn* he composed with his teacher, Jalaal al-Diin al-MaHallii;
the latter composed the second part, and then Suyuti wrote the
first part to complete it, including this translation/quote for
Q9.29.Tafsīr al-Jalālayn. Beirut 1404/1984.
244.from Suyuti’s Durr al-Manthūr… Beirut, no date, Vol.
III, p. 228, where Suyuti quotes various traditions. These quotes,
in English translation, are reproduced from, Andrew Bostom , editor,
The Legacy of Jihad, Amherst, New York, 2005, p. 127; Georges Vajda.
"Un Traite Maghrebin ‘Adversos Judaeos: Ahkam Ahl Al-Dimma Du Sayh
Muhammad B. ‘Abd Al-Karim Al-Magili’ ", in Etudes D’Orientalisme
Dediees a La Memoire de Levi-Provencal, Vol. 2, Paris, 1962, p. 811.
English translation by Michael J. Miller; Bat Ye’or, Islam and
Dhimmitude, pp. 70-71; David Littman, "Jews under Muslim Rule in
the late Nineteenth Century" The Wiener Library Bulletin, 1975,
Vol. 28, p. 75; Norman Stillman. The Jews of Arab Lands in Modern
Times, Philadelphia, 1991, p. 51; Jacques Chalom. Les Israelites
de la Tunisie: Leur condition civile et politique, Paris, 1908,
p. 193; For Yemen: Parfitt, The Road to Redemption, p. 163, and Aviva
Klein-Franke. "Collecting the Djizya (Poll-Tax) in the Yemen", in
Tudor Parfitt editor, Israel and Ishmael : studies in Muslim-Jewish
relations, New York, 2000, pp. 175-206; For Afghanistan: S. Landshut.
Jewish Communities in the Muslim Countries of the Middle East,
Westport, Connecticut, 1950, pp. 67-70; Klein-Franke. "Collecting the
Djizya (Poll-Tax) in the Yemen", pp. 182-83, 186; S. Landshut. Jewish
Communities in the Muslim Countries of the Middle East, p. 67; Al-
Mawardi, The Laws of Islamic Governance [al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyyah],
London, United Kingdom, 1996, p. 211; Bat Ye’or, The Dhimmi: Jews and
Christians Under Islam, 1985, Cranbury, New Jersey, p. 169; K.S. Lal,
The Legacy of Muslim Rule in India, New Delhi, 1992, p. 237; See
also Marghinani Ali ibn Abi Bakr, d. 1197, al-Hidayah, The Hedaya,
or Guide- A Commentary on the Mussulman Laws, translated by Charles
Hamilton, 1791, reprinted New Delhi, 1982, Vol. 2, pp. 362-363;
Joseph Schacht, An Introduction to Islamic Law, Oxford, United
Kingdom, , 1982, p. 132.; Al-Ghazali (d. 1111). Kitab al-Wagiz fi
fiqh madhab al-imam al-Safi’i, Beirut, 1979, pp. 186, 190-91; 199-200;
202-203. [English translation by Dr. Michael Schub.] Reproduced from
Bostom, The Legacy of Jihad, p. 199. Parfitt, The Road to Redemption,
p. 187; Yehuda Nini. The Jews of the Yemen, 1800-1914. Translated
from the Hebrew by. H. Galai. Chur, Switzerland, 1990; pp. 24-25;
Eliezer Bashan. "New Documents Regarding Attacks Upon Jewish Religious
Observance in Morocco during the Late Nineteenth Century" Pe’amim 1995,
p. 71. English translation by Rivkah Fishman.
51. Molla Khosrew. Il Kitab Al-Gihad., pp. 177ff.
52. The Hanafi school of jurisprudence, which predominated in the
Ottoman heartland, did not sanction the administration of blows during
jizya collection. See for example the writings of the seminal Hanafi
jurist (d. 798) Abu Yusuf (in Bostom, The Legacy of Jihad, pp.
53. Molla Khosrew. Il Kitab Al-Gihad., pp. 177ff.
54. On the prohibition against bearing arms, in addition to Molla
Khosrew’s (confirmatory) opinion see for example, Schacht, An
Introduction to Islamic Law, p. 131. See note 112 above regarding
inadmissibility of dhimmi testimony when a Muslim is a party. These
legal disenfranchisements are also discussed extensively in the
pioneering works of Antoine Fattal Le Statut Legal de Musulmans en
Pays’ d’Islam, Beirut, 1958; and Bat Ye’or The Dhimmi, 1985.
55. For the continued inadequacy of the reforms through 1912-1914,
see for example, Roderick Davison. "The Armenian Crisis, 1912-1914",
The American Historical Review, 1948, Vol. 53, pp. 482, 483:
Wild rejoicing among Armenians, and great hopes for the future, arose
with the Young Turk revolution of 1908. Armenians co-operated with
the Turkish Committee of Union and Progress [the political party of
the Young Turks]. A few steps were, in fact, made toward realizing
the Armenian hopes…But these embryonic measures of improvement from
1908-1912 were far outweighed by old and new grievances. When measured
against the hopes of 1908, furthermore, the situation seemed to the
Armenians as black as ever…Armenian disillusionment sprang from the
[Adana] massacres of 1909..The Young Turks, furthermore, soon turned
from equality and Ottomanization to Turkification, stifling previous
Armenian hopes. This policy extended even to limiting privileges of the
Armenian Patriarch Arsharouni, installed at Constantinople in 1912. In
short, the constitutional regime had done little for the Armenians.
56. Dadrian. "The Clash Between Democratic Norms and Theocratic
Dogmas", p. 15.
57. Reports from Her Majesty’s Consuls Relating to the Condition of
the Christians in Turkey, 1867 volume, pp. 5,29, cited in, Dadrian.
"The Clash Between Democratic Norms and Theocratic Dogmas", p. 17.
58. Davison, "Turkish Attitudes Concerning Christian-Muslim Equality
in the Nineteenth Century", p. 864.
59. Samuel b. Ishaq Uceda, Lehem dim’ah (The Bread of Tears)
(Hebrew). Venice, 1606. [English translation in, Bat Ye’or, The Dhimmi:
Jews and Christians Under Islam, p. 354.
60. Bat Ye’or, Islam and Dhimmitude, p. 318.
61. Gedaliah of Siemiatyce, Sha’alu Shelom Yerushalayim (Pray for the
Peace of Jerusalem), (Hebrew), Berlin, 1716. [English translation in,
Bat Ye’or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam, pp.
62. Moshe Maoz, "Changes in the Position of the Jewish Communities
of Palestine and Syria in the Mid-Nineteenth Century", in Moshe Maoz
(Editor), Studies on Palestine During the Ottoman Period, Jerusalem,
Israel, 1975, p. 142.
63. Ibid., p. 144.
64. Ibid., pp. 144-145.
65. Ibid., pp. 145-146.
66. Ibid., pp. 147-148.
67. According to the Monk Neophytos’s contemporary account, the
Jewish victims included, "…five [Jewish] girls, who were still
minors, [and] died under the bestial licentiousness of the Egyptian
solders". From, S.N. Spyridon. "Annals of Palestine, 1821-1841",
Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society, 1938, Vol. 18, p. 114.
68. A.[sic] E. R. Malachi . Studies in the History of the Old Yishuv.
Tel Aviv, Israel, 1971, pp. 67 ff.
68a. Edouard Engelhardt made these observations from his detailed
analysis of the Tanzimat period, noting that a quarter century after
the Crimean War (1853-56), and the second iteration of Tanzimat
reforms, the same problems persisted:
Muslim society has not yet broken with the prejudices which make the
conquered peoples ubordinate…the raya [dhimmis] remain inferior to
the Osmanlis; in fact he is not rehabilitated; the fanaticism of the
early days has not relented…[even liberal Muslims rejected]…civil
and political equality, that is to say, the assimilation of the
conquered with the conquerors. [Edouard Engelhardt, La Turquie et La
Tanzimat, 2 Vols., 1882, Paris, Vol. p.111, Vol. 2 p. 171; English
translation in, Bat Ye’or. Islam and Dhimmitude- Where Civilizations
Collide, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2001, pp. 431-342.]
A systematic examination of the condition of the Christian rayas
was conducted in the 1860s by British consuls stationed throughout
the Ottoman Empire, yielding extensive primary source documentary
evidence. [Reports from Her Majesty’s Consuls Relating to the Condition
of the Christians in Turkey, 1867 volume, pp. 5,29. See also related
other reports by various consuls and vice-consuls, in the 1860 vol.,
p.58; the 1867 vol, pp. 4,5,6,14,15; and the 1867 vol., part 2, p.3
[All cited in, Vahakn Dadrian. Chapter 2, "The Clash Between Democratic
Norms and Theocratic Dogmas", Warrant for Genocide, New Brunswick,
New Jersey, Transaction Publishers, pp.
26-27, n. 4]; See also, extensive excerpts from these reports in,
Bat Ye’or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity, pp. 409-433.] Britain
was then Turkey’s most powerful ally, and it was in her strategic
interest to see that oppression of the Christians was eliminated, to
prevent direct, aggressive Russian or Austrian intervention. On July
22, 1860, Consul James Zohrab sent a lengthy report from Sarajevo to
his ambassador in Constantinople, Sir Henry Bulwer, analyzing the
administration of the provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, again,
following the 1856 Tanzimat reforms. Referring to the reform efforts,
The Hatti-humayoun, I can safely say, practically remains a dead
letter…while [this] does not extend to permitting the Christians to
be treated as they formerly were treated, is so far unbearable and
unjust in that it permits the Mussulmans to despoil them with heavy
exactions. False imprisonments (imprisonment under false accusation)
are of daily occurence. A Christian has but a small chance of
exculpating himself when his opponent is a Mussulman (…) Christian
evidence, as a rule, is still refused (…) Christians are now
permitted to possess real property, but the obstacles which they
meet with when they attempt to acquire it are so many and vexatious
that very few have as yet dared to brave them…Such being, generally
speaking, the course pursued by the Government towards the Christians
in the capital (Sarajevo) of the province where the Consular Agents of
the different Powers reside and can exercise some degree of control,
it may easily be guessed to what extend the Christians, in the
remoter districts, suffer who are governed by Mudirs (governors)
generally fanatical and unacquainted with the (new reforms of the)
law. [Excerpts from Bulwer’s report reproduced in, Bat Ye’or, The
Decline of Eastern Christianity, pp. 423-426]
Finally the modern Ottomanist Roderick Davison (in "Turkish Attitudes
Concerning Christian-Muslim Equality in the Nineteenth Century"
American Historical Review, 1954, Vol. 59, pp. 848, 855, 859, 864)
also concludes that the reforms failed, and he offers an explanation
based on Islamic beliefs intrinsic to the system of dhimmitude:
No genuine equality was ever attained…there remained among the Turks
an intense Muslim feeling which could sometimes burst into an open
fanaticism…More important than the possibility of fanatic outbursts,
however, was the innate attitude of superiority which the Muslim Turk
possessed. Islam was for him the true religion. Christianity was only
a partial revelation of the truth, which Muhammad finally revealed in
full; therefore Christians were not equal to Muslims in possession of
truth. Islam was not only a way of worship, it was a way of life as
well. It prescribed man’s relations to man, as well as to God, and was
the basis for society, for law, and for government. Christians were
therefore inevitably considered second-class citizens in the light of
religious revelation-as well as by reason of the plain fact that they
had been conquered by the Ottomans. This whole Muslim outlook was often
summed up in the common term gavur (or kafir), which means ‘unbeliever’
or ‘infidel’, with emotional and quite uncomplimentary overtones. To
associate closely or on terms of equality with the gavur was dubious at
best . ‘Familiar association with heathens and infidels is forbidden to
the people of Islam,’ said Asim, an early nineteenth-century historian,
‘and friendly and intimate intercourse between two parties that are
one to another as darkness and light is far from desirable’…The
mere idea of equality, especially the antidefamation clause of 1856,
offended the Turks’ inherent sense of the rightness of things. ‘Now
we can’t call a gavur a gavur’, it was said, sometimes bitterly,
sometimes in matter-of-fact explanation that under the new dispensation
the plain truth could no longer be spoken openly. Could reforms be
acceptable which forbade calling a spade a spade?…The Turkish mind,
conditioned by centuries of Muslim and Ottoman dominance, was not
yet ready to accept any absolute equality…Ottoman equality was
not attained in the Tanzimat period [i.e., mid to late 19th century,
1839-1876], nor yet after the Young Turk revolution of 1908…
69. Maoz, "Changes in the Position of the Jewish Communities of
Palestine and Syria in the Mid-Nineteenth Century", p. 156.
70. A. A. Bonar and R. M. McCheyne, A Narrative of a Mission of
Inquiry to the Jews from the Church of Scotland in 1839, Edinburgh,
1842, pp. 180-81, 273.
71. J.J. Binjamin II. Eight Years in Asia and Africa. From 1846 to
1855. Hanover, 1863, pp. 54-57.
72. The British Consulate in Jerusalem (in relation to the Jews of
Palestine, 1838-1914), Part I, 1838-1861. Edited by Albert M.
Hyamson, London, 1939, pp. 260-261.
73. Tudor Parfitt, The Jews of Palestine, Suffolk, UK, 1987, pp. 168,
74. "Jews in Flight From Palestine" The New York Times, January 19,
1915; "Turks and Germans Expelling Zionists", The New York Times,
January 2, 1915; "Zionists in Peril of Turkish Attack", The New York
Times, February 2, 1915; "Threatens Massacre of Jews in Palestine"
The New York Times, May 4, 1917; "Cruel to Palestine Jews", The New
York Times, May 8, 1917; "Turks Killing Jews Who Resist Pillage",
The New York Times, May 19, 1917; "Twice Avert Eviction of Jerusalem
Jews", The New York Times, May 30, 1917; "Cruelties to Jews Deported
in Jaffa", The New York Times, June 3, 1917
75. "Jews in Flight From Palestine"; "Turks and Germans Expelling
Zionists"; "Zionists in Peril of Turkish Attack".
75a. Ahmed Djemal Pasha (May 6, 1872-July 21, 1922). Between 1908-1918,
Djemal was one of the most important administrators of the Ottoman
government. When Europe was divided in two camps before World War I,
he supported an alliance with France. Djemal traveled to France to
negotiate an alliance with the French but failed and sided with Enver
and Talat Pashas favoring the German side. Djemal, along with Enver
and Talat took control of the Ottoman government in 1913.
The Three Pashas effectively ruled the Ottoman Empire for the duration
of World War I. Djemal was one of the designers of the government’s
disastrous internal and foreign policies, including the genocidal
policy against the Armenians (Vahakn Dadrian. The History of the
Armenian Genocide, Providence, Rhode Island, 1995, p. 208).
After the Ottoman Empire declared war on the Allies in World War I,
Enver Pasha nominated Djemal Pasha to lead the Ottoman army against
English forces in Egypt, and Djemal accepted the position. Like Enver,
he proved unsuccessful as a military leader.
76. For the Armenian deportations, see Dadrian. The History of the
Armenian Genocide, pp. 199-200, 220-222, 235-243, 255-264, 383-384.;
For the April 1917 deportations of Jews from Jaffa-Tel-Aviv, Palestine,
see "Cruelties to Jews Deported in Jaffa" .
77. Yair Auron, The Banality of Indifference, New Brunswick, New
Jersey, 2000, p. 75.
78. "Twice Avert Eviction of Jerusalem Jews".
79. Auron, The Banality of Indifference, p. 83.
80. "Cruelties to Jews Deported in Jaffa".
80a. Auron, The Banality of Indifference, p. 82.
81. Moritz Levy. The Sephardim in Bosnia: a Contribution to the
History of the Jews in the Balkans, [German], Sarajevo, 1911, pp.
52-61. (English translation by Colin Meade)
82. Ivo Andric. The Development of Spiritual Life in Bosnia under
the Influence of Turkish Rule, 1924, English translation by Zelimir B.
Juricic and John F. Loud, Durham, North Carolina, 1990, pp. 23-38,
83. See note 61, above.
84. Levy. The Sephardim in Bosnia, pp. 52 ff.
89. Andric. The Development of Spiritual Life in Bosnia under the
Influence of Turkish Rule, pp. 37, 86 note 72, 29
90. Levy. The Sephardim in Bosnia, pp. 28, 35 (English translation
in Andric, The Development of Spiritual Life in Bosnia under the
Influence of Turkish Rule, p. 86, note 71).
91. British Ambassador to Constantinople, James Porter.
Correspondence to William Pitt, the Elder, London, dated February 3,
1758 (SP 97-40), and June 3, 1758 (SP 97-40), reproduced in Bat Ye’or,
The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam, pp. 384-386.
92. S. Zeitlin. "Review: The Sabbatians and the Plague of Mysticism",
The Jewish Quarterly Review, 1958, Vol. 49, pp. 145-155.
93. Paul Rycaut. The History of the Turkish Empire from the Year 1623
to the Year 1677, London, 1680, [electronic version], pp. 200-219;
William G. Schauffler. "Shabbaetai Zevi and His Followers", Journal
of the American Oriental Society, 1851, Vol. 2, pp. 1-26; Gershom G.
Scholem. Sabbatai Zevi: The Mystical Messiah. Princeton, New Jersey,
1973, pp. 140-267, 327-460, 603-686; Geoffrey L. Lewis, Cecil Roth.
"New Light on the Apostasy of Sabbatai Zevi", The Jewish Quarterly
Review, 1963, Vol. 53, pp. 219-225; Jane Hathaway. "The Grand Vizier
and the False Messiah: The Sabbatai Sevi Controversy and the Ottoman
Reform in Egypt", Journal of the American Oriental Society, 1997,
Vol. 117, pp. 665-671.
94. Lewis and Roth, "New Light on the Apostasy of Sabbatai Zevi", pp.
95. Rycaut. The History of the Turkish Empire from the Year 1623 to
the Year 1677, p. 214.
96. Lewis and Roth, "New Light on the Apostasy of Sabbatai Zevi", p.
223; Hathaway. "The Grand Vizier and the False Messiah", p. 665.
97. S. Zeitlin. "Review: The Sabbatians and the Plague of Mysticism",
98. Moshe Perlmann. "Donme" Encyclopaedia of Islam. Edited by: P.
Bearman , Th. Bianquis , C.E. Bosworth , E. van Donzel and W.P.
Heinrichs. Brill, 2006/2007.
100. Hacker, "Ottoman Policy Toward the Jews and Jewish Attitudes
Toward the Ottomans during the Fifteenth Century", p. 123. Describing
the financial status of the surgun Jews who re-populated Constantinople
after its juhad conquest (during the relatively halcyon days) under
Mehmed II in the latter half of the 15th century, Hacker writes,
We must note that the majority of the Jews of Constantinople were
not wealthy and that the gap between the few who were, and the many
who were not, was large.
101. M.A. Ubicini. Letters on Turkey. Part II. The Raiahs. Translated
from the French by Lady Easthope. London, 1856, pp. 365-366.
102. Carsten Niebuhr. Travels Through Arabia and Other Countries in
the East. English Translation by Robert Hebron, Edinburgh, 1792, p.
102a. Tschefied: "contemptuous Jew; mean, stingy; malicious.".
However in common, colloquial usagae, "dirty Jew".
103. Charles McFarlane. Constantinople in 1828. London, 1829, pp.
115-116. Cited in Bernard Lewis. The Jews of Islam, Princeton, New
Jersey, 1984, p. 164.
105. Julia Pardoe. The City of the Sultan and Domestic Manners of the
Turks in 1836. London, 1837, pp. 361-363. Cited in Bernard Lewis. The
Jews of Islam, Princeton, New Jersey, 1984, p. 167-168.
106. See note 102 above.
107. Ubicini. Letters on Turkey. Part II. The Raiahs, p. 371; tchîffut:
"the quality of a Jew." Like Tschefied, above, in note 608, i.e.,
commonly, "dirty Jew"
108. Ibid. pp. 346-347, 365-366.
109. Ibid., p. 365, note 1, Ubicini names one prominent Jewish
physician in Turkey, a "Doctor Castro, chief surgeon of the military
110. Paul Dumont. "Jewish Communities in Turkey During the Last
Decades of the Nineteenth Century in Light of the Archives of the
Alliance Israélite Universelle", in " in Christians and Jews
in the Ottoman Empire: the functioning of a plural society. Edited
by Benjamin Braude and Bernard Lewis, New York , 1982, Vol.I, pp.
111. Ibid., p. 210.
112. Ibid., pp. 211, 210
113. Ibid., pp. 213-214
114. Ibid., p. 214.
115. Rev. de Sola Pool. "The Levantine Jews in the United States",
American Jewish Yearbook, 1913/1914, Vol. 15, p. 208.
116. Dumont. "Jewish Communities in Turkey During the Last Decades
of the Nineteenth Century in Light of the Archives of the Alliance
Israélite Universelle", p.p. 224-225.