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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Israel's 1948 Fight For Birth and How Abbas Left Safed

Nadene Goldfoot
Abbas,  leader of Fatah in Judea and Samaria,  finally decided to tell his friends the real story of how his family came to leave Safed in 1948.  They were afraid of retribution for their killing of Jews in previous years, most likely in the riots of 29 and so they left quickly.   This riot happened on August 29, 1929 when 18 to 20 Jews were killed and 80 were wounded.  The Jewish street had been looted and burned as well.   What he had been telling everyone was that the Arabs had been forced out in 1948 , which was not true.  Safed had been designated as a Jewish city by the UN in their division of land, so the Jews had good reason to defend it. 

Americans may be thinking that the only reason that Israel has won its wars is because of American aid which has been extremely necessary, but I think we have had help from above as well.  There have been some outlandish situations with the outcome in Israel's favor.  Here's one of them.

Many times the Arabs of Safed had rioted against the Jews there because they had been incited to do so by their leaders.  The riots of 1930's were very brutal with much killing.    When Britain had the mandate, the Jews there had to seal themselves into a concrete building with enough food to last until the British authorities got around to coming and rescuing them.  Jews had been in Safed we know since Josephus in Roman days as he mentioned it, when it was called Sepph. Being the country had been ruled by King David, it most likely was in existence then as well.   It's mentioned in the Talmud and in the days of the Crusades.  A fortress was built there by the king of Jerusalem, Fulk of Anjou in 1140 AD.  It was then Templar property in 1168 and destroyed by the Baybars in 1266.  By the 16th Century it was a rabbinical and kabbalistic center.  Rabbi Isaac Luria and Joseph Caro lived here and L'cha Dodi was written then. They experienced epidemics that killed many.   A great earthquake happened in 1837 so that by 1845 there were only 400 people remaining.  In 1948 there were 12,000 Arabs and 1,800 Jews; a ratio about 12:2.    By 1990 there were 16,400 Israelis, and I was one who left there at the end of 1985.  It's a great summer resort as it's high up at 2,720 feet and is has an art colony. 

In 1948 the Jewish defenders of Safed were few in number.  There were two men and a 14 year old boy in a trench in front of a reinforced concrete building and the only  arms they had were one pistol, a sten gun with a broken stock and a few grenades.  Two of them were pleading with the Haganah commander for reinforcements when they heard the first shots fired in the battle for Safed.  They met up with more than a dozen armed Arabs and the older man just froze.  The  14 year old pulled the pins on his 2 grenades and threw them.  Then the three  turned around and ran, thinking they would be shot in the back when Hamous, the largest man on the Safed Defense Force ran toward them.  He had ammunition and weapons in his pockets and belt.  The two grenades had killed most of the group of armed Arabs and the others got away.  Hamous had picked up the weapons of the deceased.  Thus the four fighters held their position until the Palamach fighters came.

The Arabs were attacking here by the concrete building with many fighters because they thought the money and jewels the Jews had were in the  building  hidden for safekeeping.  One can see the walls are pocked with bullets so that you can imagine the battle that went on.

The birth of Israel was accompanied with much labor pain involving  fighting, and that fighting was miraculous.  It wasn't missiles against slingshots and rocks.  Israel had help of a higher power than man.   To me it's a miracle that the few Jews were able to win against so many Arabs, but this is only one of the miraculous events that happened.  . 

Resource: Legends of Safed by Dov Silverman, writer/school principal friend of mine in Safed
The Standard Jewish Encyclopedia

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