Way to Jerusalem 1865
Hundreds of rare photographs from the 19th Century reinforce the conclusion emerging from the British Expedition’s map * The photographs were painstakingly collected by Eli Shiller, a Land of Israel researcher, and they can be viewed on the internet * This too is the opportune time to determine which of the terrorist leaders is actually a Palestinian
When I published the article on “The Great Map of the Empty Land”, I had difficulty in finding photographs that would support the conclusion arising from that map.
The map – which was drawn up by a British Expedition that made a comprehensive survey at the close of the 19th Century – proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that the people arriving in the First Aliyah (1882) found a desolate and empty land, exactly as the author Mark Twain and many other tourists had described.
There is an abundance of beautiful etchings of that era in travelogues. The problem with these etchings is that they reflect more about the romantic notions of the etchers towards the landscape and people of the “Holy Land” than the actuality. In Mark Twain’s book there are several photographs, but they are of such poor quality that they are not helpful. So, also, are photographs of that period from other sources, among them the photographs appearing in the books of the members of the British Expedition.
It’s all a matter of luck akin to that of a Torah Scroll in the Holy Ark [a Hebrew reference to the arbitrary-like decision of which of the scrolls is the “lucky” one to be chosen for a service]. And if so for a Torah, how much more so, and no actual comparison intended, for a column in a newspaper. It was a matter of luck that one of my readers, Yoav Rophe, brought to my attention the fact that a website existed in which there was a great treasure of photographs of Eretz Yisrael from the 19th Century. For those readers who cannot resist I will list the website right here. After having seen their fill of these treasures they can resume reading my article. The address of the website is:
The Website’s Contents
The site contains many good items but its primary importance is its album of photographs. These pictures confirm the words of Mark Twain who described what he saw in his visit to Palestine in 1867.
“arid plains hills”. MARK TWAIN
A land of desolate dusty roads, arid plains, hills and mountains, devoid of people and shade, miserable clay houses, pestilential swamps. A photo of Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus from 1865 shows a wretched ruin (the Palestinians did not then know that it was one of their holy sites) in a barren environment. The Arab cities, those to which the Palestinians want to return by virtue of the “Right to Return”, are small settlements – Jaffa, Haifa, Acre, Nazareth. Everything that can be concluded from the map of the British Expedition is apparent, black on white, in actual real-time photographs.
The pictures are accompanied by captions and explanations as to the year the picture was taken and the location. This album of photographs is accompanied by a succinct English text describing the period, written by the veteran researcher of Eretz Yisrael, Eli Shiller.
I asked Elli Schiller about the way in which the collection was assembled. It turned out that what exists on the website was copied (“without my permission”) from a book which he published many years ago and is no longer available. He told me that he gathered the collection after much effort, bit by bit, from archives, private collections, and many other sources.
The site also includes important groups of articles on the history of Eretz Yisrael by Joan Peters, Shmuel Katz, Rabbi Joel Katz, et al. There is also a collection of articles from the “Palestine Post” (the English language daily precursor of the “Jerusalem Post”) from the years 1932-1950.
Compare the PLO Websites
Obviously, a comparison is required between this website and those many of the PLO, and in particular with the “Palestinian Memorial”. Most regretfully there is no comparison. The photographic website is part of “ERETZ YISRAEl” which is infrequently visited. There are no signs of any activity at all – there are no updates, no readers’ responses, and no information on the number of “hits”. There are hardly any links to corresponding sites. In short: it is not what could be expected from a site which is battling an existential war for the Land of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish People.
The Palestinian memorial site, by contrast, is substantial, well-maintained, and dynamic. This is their electronic intifada. There are no photos of the 19th Century that expose the truth. Most of the photos are either nostalgic pictures from the twenties and thirties (of the 20th Century), and primarily contemporary photographs. All corners of this country were photographed portraying Palestinians pointing to homes and locations that were “stolen”, “robbed””, etc. This section of the site also includes no few falsehoods – photos of Jewish homes as if taken from Arabs.
The academic section of the Palestinian site is very impressive. There is a systematic collection of the narratives of refugees who were uprooted in 1948.
There is a series of quotes that ostensibly verify their contentions – beginning with quotes from the essay by Achad Haám – “Truth From Eretz Yisrael” and ending with the slanders of Ilan Pappe. There is an arrangement of questions and answers “What you should answer Zionists”. There are quotations from the letters of Chaim Weitzman, David Ben-Gurion, Arthur Ruppin, Zeev Jabotinsky, Menachem Begin, Yigal Alon, and many others. Then, too, there are dozens of documents and explanations of the intentions and plans of Zionism for transfer of Palestinians from the Holy Land, from its beginnings through the War of Independence and to date.
The initiators of the Palestinian site and those who maintain and update it make considerable use of Israeli texts, precisely to reinforce their point of view. Understandably, the Post-Zionist historians are their stellar attractions, as they relate the terrible injustices we have caused the Palestinians. Moreover, it is precisely these quotations by authors who are part of the Zionist establishment that sound so much more powerful and convincing. Thus, for example, they quote from Michael Bar-Zohar’s biography of Ben-Gurion a sentence that reads that the motto “A people without a land to a land without a people” as being factually incorrect and that Eretz Yisrael was not an empty land when the first Zionists arrived.
The Jewish Collaborators
No doubt that a Jewish mind, or perhaps many Jewish minds are involved in the Palestinian site. The traces of Jewish collaborators are conspicuous everywhere: in the contemporary photos from all parts of Israel, in the search for locations of lost villages without a trace, and in obtaining quotations from forgotten sources. For example: A quote from an article by Zeev Jabotinsky that appeared in Haáretz in 1923.
The website has a section devoted to a “Guest Book” that indicates its influence and effectiveness. There are many letters from Arabs the world over in the vein of “We will never forget a single grain of our land”, “Palestine will yet return to you”. There are, too, many letters from non-Jews in the style of “Now we understand the problem”, or “”It is time to put an end to the sadistic Apartheid regime”. But, there are also letters from Israelis. For example a letter from Dr. Yehuda Ben-Hur, who presents himself as a physicist and patriot, who writes “it is time that I and others like me should use our intellectual and technological position in order to stand against the oppressor and to free ourselves from this pollution”.
Who is a Palestinian
Yasser Arafat was born in Cairo.
Eduard Said, “the ultimate refugee” who claimed to have been expelled from his home in Jerusalem spent most of the years of his childhood and maturity in Cairo.
Fawzi el Kajukji, one of the leaders of the 1936 riots, who headed the Palestinian Liberation Army during [Israel’s] War of Independence, was born in Tripoli.
Na’if Hawatme, the leader of the Popular Front for a Free Palestine, was born in Jordan.
Iz A-din el Qasam was the head of the terror gangs in the twenties and thirties. The military wing of Hamas is named for him. He was born in Syria and educated in Egypt.
Mohammed Budiya, the chief of operations of Black September, was born in Algeria.
The House my Grandfather Built in Safed is
Documented as a Robbed Palestinian Home
The means of deception which the Palestinians exploit in their website are exemplified via the following letter I received from a reader, Atzmona Waxman Shabtai (nee Perl), a Safed native:
“As a result of your article (On The Great Map) I accessed the site of the Palestinian Memorial and found that among the houses documented there as “robbed”, the house built in 1904 by Yoel Bershad, my great-grandfather. My grandfather decorated the gate and façade of the house with Stars of David.
The Palestinian propaganda wizards photographed the house from the courtyard. I have no doubt that they knew exactly that the house had always belonged to Jews, but shamelessly they included the picture into the site.
The Barshad femily house
• He came during the hot season
• In 1861 there had been a fierce war between the Christians, Moslems and Druze.
• In the Lebanon more than 10,000 Maronites were murdered. (How does that relate?)
• His visit was brief and included only the Holy sites.
• He doesn’t mention any statistics about demography or agricultural produce.
• It is unfair of him to compare Eretz Yisrael to the fertile lands of America
SEE THE BIG MAP OF THE EMPTY LAND
[Translated by Joseph Schachter. Words in [brackets] added for comprehension.]