Another Admonition of Great Importance
There is much that needs to he known and understood in relation to the devel-
oping Middle East situation.
There is the matter involving the world menace known as Gamal Abdel Nasser.
In a revealing letter to the Nation magazine from Seattle, which appeared under the
heading "Phoenix of Egypt." Karl Oscar Pisk wrote as follows:
Dear Sirs: Exactly ten years prior to the day, June 1, 1967, on which the feuding
Jordan and Egypt patched up their differences with a five-year defense pact, and
Israel let it be known that it would "undergo every sacrifice" to reopen the
blockaded Gulf of Aqaba, The Nation (June 1, 1957) treated the question "Is
Nasser Kaput?" in an editorial as follows:
Is President Nasser of Egypt finished, kaput? The New York Times
thinks so. In an editorial the other clay, it wrote, The power of President
Nasser as the dominating and domineering leader of the Arab nations has
been broken. - It went on to devote a column to offering thanks for his political
We hate to intrude in the Times' fun at Nasser's wake. But we don't
like to see a reputable paper encourage public delusions. It's true that King
Hussein's emergence as master of Jordan was a setback for Nasser. So, too.
was the Baghdad meeting of Saud of Arabia and Feisal of Iraq. .
Who really believes, however, that these Nasser reverses offset his
historic triumph in the Suez conflict? One after another the United States,
Britain and all other maritime nations—except, for the moment, France—
have capitulated to little Egypt's terms. His victory is the more impressive
when one matches the West's armed might and money against Egypt's military
impotence and impoverishment.
If the "silent diplomacy" of the West—this time allegedly aiming at a total
revision of its Mid East policy—fails to take a deep look into the record of its past
misconceptions about Nasser's final intentions. then we may better brace ourselves
Karl Oskar Pisk
against a rerun of the West's capitulation of a decade ago.
There is a serious warning in this message. Will responsible state s men look at
the record and be guided by experience or will they insist upon expediency? The world
is endangered by complacency and indifference, and when the record is set straight
1.‘e should feel deeply indebted to men like the Seattle correspondent whose warnings
are so timely.
Important Historic Data About 'The Wall'
A great deal of ;interest attaches to the so-called Wailing Wall which is really the .
Kozel Maaravi—the Western Wall of the Ancient Temple in Jerusalem. It was not until
the Grand Mufti, Hadj Amin el Hussein, utilized arguments over the Wailing Wall,
which necessitated the formation in 1929—after the horror-inciting Arab riots—of an
International Wailing Wall Commission and resulted in a famed report by the late Dr.
Cyrus Adler. that the Wall assumed a - symbolic role of enmity and strife. Until then
Arabs paid little attention to it and the Wall was treated like other areas, subjected to
filth and stench in the ancient Old City.
There are some details about the Wailing Wall controversy that deserve
recapitulation. On July 5, 1931, the late Joseph M. Levy, then its correspondent.
wrote an interesting account of the controvery for the New York Times. In his
report from Jerusalem, dated June IR, he stated:
Ever since the riots of August, 1929, in Palestine much has been said and written
about that small corner of the globe. Being the cradle of the three great religions of the
world, it has always been a center of interest. The riots of two years ago, however,
brought forth an acute problem there which, though it had already existed for some
time, had previously been comparatively insignificant.
With the recent publication of the report of the International Wailing Wall Com-
mission- the occasion is opportune for an analysis of the entire Palestine problem. On
the surface it might seem that the Wailing Wall is the major factor in this problem, but
such is not the case at all. It served merely as one of the principal elements that helped
to arouse the Arabs and create a strong Arab national and anti - Zionist movement in the
country--a movement which the Zionists are now finding most difficult to combat.
While it may he disputed whether the Prophet Mohammed. when he came from
Mecca to .lerusalem. flew to heaven after tying his horse Buraq to the wall (as Moslem
legend relates) at just the site now known as Al Buraq, which is the present Wailing
Wall area, one thing is admitted by every one who has lived in Jerusalem during the
past twenty to thirty years. That is that never before did the Moslems consider Al Buraq
as one of their holy shrines.
Decidedly to the contrary, the Moslems living in the neighborhood never hesitated
even to throw refuse on the pavement. much to the annoyance of the Jewish worshipers
at the Wailing Wall. Yet there is no question that actual ownership and title to the Wall
and the entire area surrounding it is in the Moslem Waqf (endowed religious estates
and public property). To the pious Jews, on the other hand, this place has been a
sacred shrine for centuries as the only remains of the Temple of Solomon, where they
still go to lament the downfall of Jerusalem.
Weapon Sharpened for Them
Without a doubt, this Wailing Wall has served the Arabs to a degree beyond all
expectation to further and strengthen an Arab nationalist movement in Palestine. And
it was the Zionist leaders themselves who sharpened the weapon and presented it to
the Arabs to use against them.
Prior to the Wailing Wall incidents, which began on the Day of Atonement. Sept.
25, 1928. anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist feeling in Palestine in the Arab ranks was con-
fined to a group of politicians who desired to imitate the national movements in neigh-
boring countries, such as Egypt, Syria and Iraq. They met, however, with but little
success, for the Arab population hardly paid attention to the anti-Zionist propaganda.
Even the disturbances of 1920 and 1921 in Jaffa and Jerusalem respectively did not
create a real spirit of animosity toward the Jews.
Iladj Amin El Hussein, the Mufti and president of the Moslem Supreme Council, a
most intelligent person with an exceptionally charming personality, was but a youth
when chosen for these two high offices by Sir Herbert Samuel, Palestine's first High
Commissioner, despite strong opposition by the majority of Palestine Moslems. Opposi-
tion was not so much to his occupying the position of Mufti, but rather to his being
president of the Moslem Supreme Council. In this latter capacity not only has he un-
limited powers over all Moslem religious institutions and courts, but he has, besides,
practically sole control of an annual income of more than $300,000 from the Moslem
As he saw opposition to himself constantly growing stronger, he enlisted the serv-
ices of his nephew. Jamal Effendi El Hussein, who resigned as a senior government
official to become secretary of the Moslem Supreme Council. With Tama], the Mufti
began devising schemes for fortifying his position as president of the council. They
decided that the best way would be to enter politics by starting a real Arab Nationalist
and anti-Zionist movement. They would expose the "menace" of Zionism to the
Palestine Arabs. They began first by reviving and injecting new life into the already
existing Arab Executive, a purely political body.
Christian Arabs Join
Several Chrstian Arabs joined with them in the anti-Zionist campaign. It is note-
worthy that these Christian Arabs did so not for actual nationalistc and patriotic mo-
tives, nor because they really feared this "Zionist menace," but because—as a very
Prominent Christian Arab leader once told the writer—they were a very small minority
2—Friday, July 7, 1967
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
Vital Data About the Western Wall
in Jerusalem .. . A Vital Admonition
in Palestine, and it was a matter of self-protection. And as time passed they became the
most important factor in the Arab movement.
But the Arab population remained almost unmoved, and the seeds sown by the
Mufti and his entourage bore practically no fruit. In the meantime, opposition to the
Mufti was ever on the increase, and in 1928 the opposition leaders, representing more
than 75 per cent of the Moslem population, began pressing the Palestine government
for the enactment of a law calling for elections to the Moslem Supreme Council, when
they knew the Mufti would have a faint chance of being elected.
Hadj Amin and his followers became desperate. But it was the irony of fate that
just then he should be saved by the very people against whom he bitterly fought—the
Zionists. As the result of a lack of an elementary understanding of the Arab and a lack
of the use of diplomacy and tact on the part of the Zionist leaders in Palestine, these
latter allowed the Wailing Wall incidents, which began with the removal of a partition
(used for the purpose of separating men and women worshipers in accordance with
Orthodox ritual) on the Day of Atonement, 1928, to become a vital issue.
Instead of leaving this Wailing Wall affair to be fought out between the Jewish
religious heads and the Moslem ecclesiasts, the Zionists made such an issue of the
matter that it began to appear to an outside observer as though the fate of 16.000,000
Jews throughout the world depended on the Wailing Wall, which according to
archaeologists, is not even the authentic remains of the temple. as not a single stone
of the present wall dates back that far.
(Editor's Note: This has long ago been refuted. The fact is that temple
walls had been repaired and rebuilt and the Western Wall is definitely ac-
cepted as the last remains of Solomon's Temple. If the stones are not the
originals, they certainly are the replacements in repairs dating back to the
ancient times when the people of Israel worshipped there under guidance
of the Kohanim. The location and the sentiment is undiminished by the
possibility that stones were replacements in repairs. The Western Wall is
on the western spot of the ancient Temple. Its significance to Jewry remains
The Mufti and Jamal seized their opportunity. With the partition incident as a bait,
they began to set a trap for the Zionists in which the latter allowed themselves to he
caught. Every means possible was employed to provoke Zionist protests, and the Mufti
Stirred By Religion
While ordinarily the Arab fellaheen (peasants) and the masses are simple-minded
and peaceful, with no interest in national or political movements, they are, neverthe-
less, extreme fanatics where their religion is concerned, and can easily be aroused to
the wildest passion. The Mufti and Jamal, well aware of this trait, discovered in the
Wailing Wall an excellent means of making the former a hero in the eyes of the Mos-
lem masses. He would become the protector and defender of Islam's sacred shrines in
With the aid of the legend which relates how Mohammed flew to heaven from the
Wailing Wall area, it was a simple matter to convince the Moslems of the sanctity of
the place. As a matter of fact, the propaganda went further. The Jews were aiming to
rebuild their temple on the site of the Haram El Sherif (Mosque of Omar), the Moslem
masses were told. (The Haram El Sherif includes also the Mosque El Aksa, which is one
of the three most sacred shrines of Islam.) As the Wailing Wall forms part of the
Mosque enclosure the masses were quite ready to believe that their holy Mosque El
Aksa was in danger.
When this juncture was reached, the Mufti organized a "Society for the Protection
and Defense of the Moslem Holy Shrines," with himself at the head. Yet, in spite of all
this, the Zionists did not foresee the disaster threatening them and failed to drop the
issue. Quite to the contrary. the Wailing Wall became a major matter at the Zionist
Congress in Zurich in the early Summer of 1929. The speeches delivered and decisions
adopted there were cabled to the Hebrew press in Jerusalem, then translated by the
Arabic papers—all of which served to strengthen the contention of the Moslem leaders
that the Jews had designs on Islam's most sacred places, and that they were using the
Wailing Wall merely as a step toward a higher goal.
At the beginning of August 1929, Arab hostility toward the Jews grew more and
more. By this time it was accepted among the Moslem masses in the towns and villages
that the Jews had designs on their sacred Mosque El Aksa and the whole of the Ilaram
El Sherif. In isolated places Arabs would throw stones and beat Jewish passers-by.
The issue was also the cause of inciting hot-headed Jewish youths and the militant
Like all militant groups. they refused to recognize the danger and the serious con-
sequences that were bound to result from their acts of provocation. With an attitude of
defiance, several hundred of these Revisionist youths marched to the Wailing Wall on
Tisha b'Av (Jewish fast day commemorating the destruction of the temple) and raised
the Zionist flag there.
On the very next day, which happened to be Friday, the Moslem Sabbath, when
they congregate in the Mosque of Omar, the Moslems retaliated after their prayers at
the mosque with a demonstration of about 2,000 persons at the Wall, burning and tear-
ing the prayer books used by the Jews there.
This was followed by a series of almost daily squabbles. With tension raised to such
a pitch, it was an easy matter to fan the kindling flames of animosity. Rumors were
circulated among the Moslem masses in the towns and villages that their sacred Mosque
El Aksa had been threatened and letters were sent urging all to come to Jerusalem on
Friday, Aug. 23, to protect Islam's shrines.
It was on this day that matters came to a head and the notorious riots broke out
throughout the country, costing the lives of 132 Jews and as many Arabs.
Although anti-Zionist propaganda prior to the Wailing Wall incidents had been
practically unheeded by the masses, the religious campaign served as an effective me-
dium to arouse them and they became willing to lend a ready ear to any anti-Zionist
talk. Thus gradually the importance of Al Buraq, the Mosqe El Aksa, the Haram El
Sherif and the "danger to Moslem shrines" diminished, and the aspect of the issue
changed from religious to political, with the Christian Arabs actively joining in. Among
the Arabs the air was full of talk of "the wretched Balfour declaration," the Zionist
menace," "our land is being taken from us."
The Mufti was now firm in his saddle and to all outward appearances opposition to
him disappeared. Even his bitterest foe, Ragheb Bey Nashashibi, the Mayor of Jerusa-
lem, who had headed the opposition, was now forced to join him, because the Mufti wag
almost idolized by the masses. To have tried to oppose him under such circumstances
would have been futile.
Ragheb Bey had always displayed a most friendly attitude toward the Jews and has
innumerable friends among them. When Jewish leaders expressed astonishment at the
sudden unity between him and the Mufti, the Mayor replied: "It is you Jews who have
brought it about. It is you Jews with your Wailing Wall that forced me to join hands
with the hero that you created."
Whether this unity unprecedented in Arab ranks was genuine or not, on the surface
and to the outside world it undoubtedly gave the appearance of a strong, united front of
all Palestine Arabs, ready to fight the "Zionist menace." And the Zionists are regarded
as having themselves only to blame for this strong movement against them.
Joseph Levy was not a tzaddik. He was an embittered man who, in
the later years of his service as New York Times correspondent, turned
anti-Zionist and rendered disservice to the Jewish people. His report just
quoted was taken with a grain of salt by many. Nevertheless, as an historical
background in relation to Arab charges, the above material has merit in
a current discussion in which so many elements who don't give a damn
for Jerusalem or religion suddenly make sanctimonious demands on Israel.