...“America was at that time the one country which through its political and financial position was able to save [Jewish] Palestine permanently from going under.”
06 October '14..
One hundred years ago the Jews of Palestine suffered terribly from hunger, disease and oppression. The territory was ruled with an iron fist by the Ottoman (Turkish) army. The Middle East teetered on the brink of World War I, and in 1914 Turkey abolished the “capitulation” agreements with European powers which granted them elements of sovereignty over their subjects in the Ottoman Empire. For many Jews of Eretz Yisrael their French, British and Russian protectors were gone. The financial assistance they received from their European Jewish brethren evaporated.
In late 1914, the war in the Middle East began with Turkey massing troops in Palestine and the Sinai to move against the British along the Suez Canal. The Turkish army prepared for the attack by forcibly conscripting locals, including Jews, and by looting (so-called “levies”) supplies, food and animals from residents of Palestine.
In a report on the Jews of Palestine in World War I, the Zionist Organization of London related in 1921, “The harshest and most cruel of all the Turkish officials was the Commandant of the Jaffa district, Hassan Bey.”
The report described how “it would suddenly come into his head to summon respectable householders … with an order to bring him some object from their homes which had caught his fancy or of which he had heard — an electric clock, a carpet, etc. Groundless arrests, insults, tortures, bastinadoes [clubs] — these were things every householder had to fear.” [In April 1917, on the eve of Passover, the Turks ordered the expulsion of approximately 8,000 Jews from Jaffa. An unknown number died. The expulsion of all Jews from Palestine was halted by the German commander in Palestine.]
Lenny Ben-David is the Director of Publications at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and the publisher ofwww.israeldailypicture.com. He served as a senior diplomat at Israel’s embassy in Washington and an arms control consultant in eastern Europe. He spent 25 years working for AIPAC in Washington and Jerusalem.