The Damascus affair of 1840 refers to the arrest of thirteen notable members of the Jewish community of Damascus who were accused of murdering a Christian monk for ritual purposes. The anti-semitic blood libelresulted in the accused being imprisoned and tortured by the Ottoman authorities and the populace attacking and pillaging a local synagogue. The affair drew widespread international attention which resulted in negotiations conducted in Alexandria from August 4 till August 28. The aftermath secured the unconditional release and recognition of innocence for the nine prisoners remaining alive and the issuing of a firman (edict) intended to halt the spread of blood libel accusations in the Ottoman Empire.
Damascus is the capital of the Syrian Arab Republic; it is also the country's largest city, following the decline in population of Aleppo due to the battle for the city. It is colloquially known in Syria as aš-Šām (الشام) and titled the "City of Jasmine". In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major cultural center of the Levant and the Arab world. The city has an estimated population of 1,711,000 as of 2009.
Alexandria is the second-largest city in Egypt and a major economic centre, extending about 32 km (20 mi) along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country. Its low elevation on the Nile delta makes it highly vulnerable to rising sea levels. Alexandria is an important industrial center because of its natural gas and oil pipelines from Suez. Alexandria is also a popular tourist destination.
The Ottoman Empire, historically known in Western Europe as the Turkish Empire or simply Turkey, was a state that controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries. It was founded at the end of the 13th century in northwestern Anatolia in the town of Söğüt by the Oghuz Turkish tribal leader Osman I. After 1354, the Ottomans crossed into Europe, and with the conquest of the Balkans, the Ottoman beylik was transformed into a transcontinental empire. The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed the Conqueror.
Under Ottoman Islamic rule, Christians and Jews were considered dhimmis—a class of non-Muslims possessing some limited rights under Muslim rule—and were allowed to practice their religious precepts. In return, they had to pay a tax, or jizya (a tax on non-Muslims similar to the imposition of Zakat - one of the Five Pillars of Islam, an obligatory wealth tax paid on certain assets which are not used productively for a period of a year), and recognize a lower legal and social status than that of Muslims. In 1831-32, Syria came under the rule of the Egyptians under Muhammad Ali. Muhammad Ali was said to have ruled at the sufferance of the European powers, led by France, and under his rule, the rights afforded Christians increased. This aroused a grudge among the Muslim majority toward its non-Muslim population. In the economic struggle between the Jews and the Christians, each side needed the backing and support of the Muslim majority, and tried to incite the Muslims against the opposite group. The Christians in Damascus complained about their cruel treatment by the Muslim judges. Fearing an additional wave of Muslim violence, following the return of Ottoman rule in Syria in 1840, they enlisted assistance of priests from Catholic orders, including the Franciscans (Observants) and the Capuchins. These priests reportedly brought the previously European blood libel myth with them.
Christians are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The words Christ and Christian derive from the Koine Greek title Christós (Χριστός), a translation of the Biblical Hebrew term mashiach (מָשִׁיחַ).
Jews or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and a nation, originating from the Israelites and Hebrews of historical Israel and Judah. Jewish ethnicity, nationhood, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish people, while its observance varies from strict observance to complete nonobservance.
A dhimmī is a historical term referring to non-Muslims living in an Islamic state with legal protection. The word literally means "protected person", referring to the state's obligation under sharia to protect the individual's life, property, and freedom of religion, in exchange for loyalty to the state and payment of the jizya tax, which complemented the zakat, or obligatory alms, paid by the Muslim subjects. Dhimmis were exempt from certain duties assigned specifically to Muslims, and did not enjoy certain privileges and freedoms reserved for Muslims, but were otherwise equal under the laws of property, contract, and obligation.
On February 5, 1840, Father Thomas, a French citizen and a Franciscan Capuchin friar from the Island of Sardinia, and his Greek servant, Ibrahim Amarah, disappeared, never to be seen again.
The Order of Friars Minor Capuchin is an order of friars within the Catholic Church, among the chief offshoots of the Franciscans. The worldwide head of the Order, called the Minister General, is currently Roberto Genuin.
Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is located west of the Italian Peninsula and to the immediate south of the French island of Corsica.
The Greeks or Hellenes are an ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus, southern Albania, Italy, Turkey, Egypt and, to a lesser extent, other countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world.
Upon Thomas' disappearance the French consul at Damascus, Ulysse de Ratti-Menton, who supported Christian merchants and advisers over Jewish ones, and Christian families seeking economic ascendancy over the formerly empowered Farhi family, instituted investigations in the Jewish quarter giving rise to the suspicion that Jews were behind the priest's disappearance. The Egyptian governor of Syria, Sherif Pasha, wishing to court French sympathies engendered by relations between the French government and the Egyptian pasha, Muhammad Ali, allowed the accusations to take root. A confession was extorted by torture from a Jewish barber named Negrin, and eight of the most notable Jews, among them Joseph Lañado, Moses Abulafia, Rabi Jacob Antebi, and a member of the Farḥi family. Four members of the Jewish community died under torture. In spite of the stoic courage displayed by the sufferers, Sherif Pasha and Ratti-Menton agreed to the trumped up charges. While Ratti-Menton published libels against the Jews in French and in Arabic, Sherif Pasha wrote to his master, Muhammad Ali, demanding authorization to execute the murderers of Father Thomas.[ citation needed ]
Haim Farhi, was an adviser to the governors of the Galilee in the days of the Ottoman Empire. Among the Jews he was known as Hakham Haim, because of his Talmudic learning.
Also, the populace fell upon the synagogue in the suburb of Jobar, pillaged it, and destroyed the scrolls of the Law.
The Jobar Synagogue was an ancient synagogue complex destroyed in May 2014. Also known as the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue it was situated in the village of Jobar now encompassed by the metropolitan area of the City of Damascus. It was once adjoined to a complex with rooms for the rabbi and other functionaries of the community. The synagogue was built atop a cave traditionally thought to have served the prophet Elijah in hiding. The hall center was said to be the place where Elijah anointed Elisa. During the Syrian civil war it was hit by mortar bombs, looted, and later 2/3 of the Synagogue were totally destroyed at the end of May 2014.
Torah has a range of meanings. It can most specifically mean the first five books (Pentateuch) of the 24 books of the Tanakh, and it is usually printed with the rabbinic commentaries. It can mean the continued narrative from the Book of Genesis to the end of the Tanakh (Chronicles), and it can even mean the totality of Jewish teaching, culture and practice, whether derived from biblical texts or later rabbinic writings. Common to all these meanings, Torah consists of the origin of Jewish peoplehood: their call into being by God, their trials and tribulations, and their covenant with their God, which involves following a way of life embodied in a set of moral and religious obligations and civil laws.
This incident, which illustrates the tensions that existed between the Jewish and Christian populations of Syria, was notable for being an exception to the rule of Jewish-Muslim relations which during the Tanzimat era in the Ottoman Empire (1839–1920) were generally much better than Christian-Muslim relations due particularly to the economic ascendancy afforded to the Christian community with the relaxation and eventual elimination of the dhimmi status rules in the 1850s. While occasional outbreaks of anti-Jewish violence erupted during this time, far more serious outbreaks of violence occurred between Muslims and Christians and Christians and Druze.
The Tanzimât was a period of reform in the Ottoman Empire that began in 1839 and ended with the First Constitutional Era in 1876.
The Druze are an Arabic-speaking esoteric ethno-religious group originating in Western Asia who self-identify as Al-Muwaḥḥidūn. Jethro of Midian is considered an ancestor of all people from the Mountain of Druze region, who revere him as their spiritual founder and chief prophet. It is a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion based on the teachings of Hamza ibn-'Ali ibn-Ahmad and the sixth Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, and Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle.
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The affair drew wide international outrage in particular due to the efforts of the Austrian Consul in Aleppo Eliahu Picciotto who made representations to Ibrahim Pasha, Muhammad Ali's son in Egypt, who then ordered an investigation. In 1840, G. W. Pieritz also exposed the matter in The Times to public indignation, after personal representations to the Pasha on 15 May. [ citation needed ]British politician and leader of the British Jewish community, Sir Moses Montefiore, backed by other influential westerners including Britain's Lord Palmerston and Damascus consul Charles Henry Churchill, the French lawyer Adolphe Crémieux, Austrian consul Giovanni Gasparo Merlato, Danish missionary John Nicolayson, and Solomon Munk, led a delegation to the ruler of Syria, Muhammad Ali.
Negotiations in Alexandria continued from 4 to 28 August and secured the unconditional release and recognition of innocence of the nine prisoners still remaining alive (out of thirteen). Montefiore persuaded Sultan Abdulmecid I in Constantinople, to issue a firman (edict) on 6 November 1840 intended to halt the spread of blood libel accusations in the Ottoman Empire. The edict declared that blood libel accusations is a slander against Jews and to be prohibited throughout the Ottoman Empire, and read in part:
"... and for the love we bear to our subjects, we cannot permit the Jewish nation, whose innocence for the crime alleged against them is evident, to be worried and tormented as a consequence of accusations which have not the least foundation in truth...".
Nevertheless, pogroms spread through the Middle East and North Africa: Aleppo (1850, 1875), Damascus (1840, 1848, 1890), Beirut (1862, 1874), Dayr al-Qamar (1847), Jaffa (1876), Jerusalem (1847, 1870 and 1895), Cairo (1844, 1890, 1901–02), Mansura (1877), Alexandria (1870, 1882, 1901–07), Port Said (1903, 1908), and Damanhur (1871, 1873, 1877, 1891).
In a new and groundbreaking effort, the American Jewish community of 15,000protested in six American cities on behalf of their Syrian brethren. "For the first time in American Jewish life, Jews... organized themselves politically to help Diaspora Jewry in distress." Among the new ethnic immigrant populations to the United States, the Jews were the first to attempt to sway the government to act on behalf of their kin and co-religionists abroad; with this incident, they became involved in the politics of foreign policy, persuading but not pressuring President Van Buren to protest officially. The United States consul in Egypt expressed the protest.
According to Hasia R. Diner, in The Jews of the United States, 1654 to 2000, "For the Jews, the Damascus affair launched modern Jewish politics on an international scale, and for American Jews it represented their first effort at creating a distinctive political agenda. Just as the United States had used this affair to proclaim its presence on the global scale, so too did American Jews, in their newspapers and at mass meetings, announce to their coreligionists in France and England that they too ought to be thought of players in global Jewish diplomacy."
According to Johannes Valentin Schwarz, the events also encouraged the growth of the modern Jewish press. "As a result, a sense of solidarity was evoked among the Jewish communities of Europe they had never experienced before. Thus, the Damascus Affair gave birth to modern Jewish press especially in Western Europe, such as to the long-lived papers Les Archives Israélites de France (1840-1935) in Paris or The Jewish Chronicle (1841 ff.) in London."
One major repercussion of the 1840 Damascus Affair was the introduction in the Middle East of the French education system later integrated into Alliance Israélite Universelle. Following his [ who? ] 1840 visit to Damascus and review of the social and education system in Damascus, he decided to give all the Jews of the Ottoman Empire a European education based on the French model to replace the Arabic and Hebrew (mainly religious) curriculum. In a few generations, almost all of the Jewish minorities of the Middle East learned several languages (French, English, Italian and Hebrew, among others) and acquired academic skills that proved extremely valuable to their subsequent integration in the World's economies and emigration to Western countries in the 20th century.[ citation needed ]
Accusations of the affair were published in the Egyptian daily Al Akhbar in 2000 and again in 2001 in an article titled The Last Scene in the Life of Father Toma.In 2002, the Middle East Media Research Institute reported that some of the 1840 accusations emerged in a 1983 book The Damascus Blood Libel (1840) by the Syrian Minister of Defense, Mustafa Tlass. The book was described as being influential in international antisemitic circles as a reliable source of information on "ritual murder by the Jews." In 1983, Tlass wrote and published The Matzah of Zion, which is a treatment of the Damascus affair of 1840 and repeats the ancient "blood libel", that Jews use the blood of murdered non-Jews in religious rituals such as baking Matza bread. In this book, he argues that the true religious beliefs of Jews are "black hatred against all humans and religions", and that no Arab country should ever sign a peace treaty with Israel. Tlass re-printed the book several times, and he stands by its conclusions. Following the book's publication, Tlass told Der Spiegel that this accusation against Jews was valid and that his book is "an historical study ... based on documents from France, Vienna and the American University in Beirut."
In 2007, Lebanese poet Marwan Chamoun, in an interview aired on Télé Liban, referred to the "... slaughter of the priest Tomaso de Camangiano ... in 1840... in the presence of two rabbis in the heart of Damascus, in the home of a close friend of this priest, Daud Al-Harari, the head of the Jewish community of Damascus. After he was slaughtered, his blood was collected, and the two rabbis took it."A novel, Death of a Monk , based on the affair, was published in 2004.
The blood libel was featured in a scene in the Syrian TV series Ash-Shatat , shown in 2003,while in 2013 the Israeli website Arutz Sheva reported cases of Israeli Arabs asking "where Jews find the Christian blood they need to bake matza".
Antisemitism in the Arab world increased greatly in the 20th century, for several reasons: the breakdown of the Ottoman Empire and traditional Islamic society; European influence, brought about by Western imperialism and Arab Christians; Nazi propaganda; resentment over Jewish nationalism ; and the rise of Arab nationalism.
Blood libel or ritual murder libel is an antisemitic canard accusing Jews of murdering Christian children in order to use their blood as part of religious rituals. Historically, these claims—alongside those of well poisoning and host desecration—have been a major theme of the persecution of Jews in Europe.
Religious antisemitism is aversion to or discrimination against Jews as a whole based on religious beliefs, false claims against Judaism and religious antisemitic canards. It is sometimes called theological antisemitism.
Mustafa Abdul Qadir Tlass was a Syrian senior military officer and politician who was Syria's minister of defense from 1972 to 2004. He was part of the four-member Regional Command during the Hafez Assad era.
Bashir Shihab II was a Lebanese emir who ruled Lebanon in the first half of the 19th century. Born in a family who had converted from Sunni Islam, the religion of previous Shihabi Emirs, he was the only Maronite ruler of the Emirate of Mount Lebanon.
The First Egyptian-Ottoman War, First Turco-Egyptian War or First Syrian War (1831–1833) was a military conflict between the Ottoman Empire and Egypt brought about by Muhammad Ali Pasha's demand to the Sublime Porte for control of Greater Syria, as reward for aiding the Sultan during the Greek War of Independence. As a result, Muhammad Ali's forces temporarily gained control of Syria, advancing as far north as Kütahya.
This is a list of countries where antisemitic sentiment has been experienced.
Syrian Jews derive their origin from two groups: those who inhabited Syria from early times and the Sephardim who fled to Syria after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. There were large communities in Aleppo, Damascus, and Qamishli for centuries. In the early 20th century, a large percentage of Syrian Jews immigrated to Israel, the U.S., and Latin America. The largest Syrian-Jewish community is located in Israel and is estimated at 80,000.
Ali Pasha Mohamed Sherif was an Egyptian government official and a renowned breeder of Arabian horses during the late 19th century.
The Rhodes blood libel was an 1840 event of blood libel against Jews, in which the Greek Orthodox community accused Jews on the island of Rhodes of the ritual murder of a Christian boy who disappeared in February of that year.
The Ottoman Empire at least nominally ruled Lebanon from its conquest in 1516 until the end of World War I in 1918.
The Peasants' Revolt was a rebellion against Egyptian conscription and taxation policies in Palestine. While rebel ranks consisted mostly of the local peasantry, urban notables and Bedouin tribes also formed an integral part of the revolt, which was a collective reaction to Egypt's gradual elimination of the unofficial rights and privileges previously enjoyed by the various classes of society in the Levant under Ottoman rule.
The 1834 looting of Safed was prolonged attack against the Jewish community of Safed, Ottoman Empire, during the 1834 Peasants' Revolt. It began on Sunday June 15, the day after the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, and lasted for the next 33 days. Most contemporary accounts suggest it was a spontaneous attack which took advantage of a defenceless population in the midst of the armed uprising against Egyptian rule. The district governor tried to quell the violent outbreak, but failed to do so and fled. The event took place during a power vacuum, whilst Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt was fighting to quell the wider revolt in Jerusalem.
Antisemitism in Turkey refers to acts of hostility against Jews in the Republic of Turkey, as well as the promotion of antisemitic views and beliefs in that country.
The 1838 Druze attack on Safed began on July 5, 1838, during the Druze revolt against the rule of Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt. Tensions had mounted as the Druze captured an Egyptian garrison outside of Safed. The local Safed militia of several hundred was heavily outnumbered by the Druze, and the city was gripped in despair as the militia eventually abandoned the city and the Druze rebels entered the city on July 5. The Druze rebels descended on the Jewish quarter of Safed and, in scenes reminiscent of the Safed plunder four years earlier, spent three days attacking Jews, plundering their homes and desecrating their synagogues. Some Jews ended up leaving the town, moving south to Jerusalem and Acre. Among them was Israel Beck, whose printing press had been destroyed a second time.
The 1834 Hebron massacre occurred in early August 1834, when the forces of Ibrahim Pasha launched an assault against Hebron to crush the last pocket of significant resistance in Palestine during the Peasants' revolt in Palestine. After heavy street battles, the Egyptian Army defeated the rebels of Hebron, and afterward subjected Hebron's inhabitants to violence following the fall of the city. About 500 civilians and rebels were killed, while the Egyptian Army experienced 260 casualties.
Abdullah Pasha ibn Ali was the Ottoman governor (wali) of Sidon Eyalet between May 1820 and May 1832, with a nine-month interruption in 1822–23. Like his predecessors Jazzar Pasha and Sulayman Pasha, Abdullah Pasha ruled from the port city of Acre. During his reign, all of Palestine and the Syrian coastline came under his jurisdiction. Among his major military victories was his survival of an imperial-backed siege of Acre in 1822 instigated by the Farhi family in retaliation for Abdullah's execution of his mentor Haim Farhi, the suppression of revolts in Mount Lebanon and Jerusalem in 1824 and 1826, respectively, and the 1831 capture of the Sanur fortress.
Mehmed Rashid Pasha, also spelled Muhammad Rashid Pasha, was an Ottoman statesman who served as governor of Syria Vilayet in 1866–1871 and as minister of foreign affairs of the Ottoman government in 1873–1874 and 1875 until his death. Rashid Pasha was raised in Egypt where his father was an aide of the governor Muhammad Ali and was educated in Paris before joining government service in Istanbul in 1851. There he became a protege of the grand vizier Ali Pasha, a key figure in the empire-wide Tanzimat reforms. After the latter was reappointed grand vizier in 1866, Rashid Pasha was appointed governor of the Damascus-centered Syria Vilayet which extended from Tripoli and Hama in the north to Palestine and Transjordan in the south.
The Syrian Peasant Revolt was an armed uprising of Arab peasant classes against the rule of Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt in 1834–35. The revolt took place in areas of Ottoman Syria, at the time ruled by semi-independent ruler of Egypt, who conquered the region from loyal Ottoman forces in 1831.