This coming weekend will mark ninety years since the Hebron Massacre in which sixty-seven Jews were killed and sixty wounded. That and subsequent violent events brought hundreds of years of Jewish life in Hebron to an end for nearly four decades.
Ten years ago the BBC published a report titled “Long shadow of 1929 Hebron massacre” which is still available online.
The background to the violence is presented as follows:
“Hajj Yussef says problems with the Jewish community started in the mid-1920s, when more Jews began to arrive from abroad. They did not speak Arabic and they dressed differently. They were coming in their hundreds.”
The article closes with a quote from its main interviewee:
“Hajj Yussef believes today’s settlers have no right to live in Hebron at all.
“I have no problem living with the Jews, like we lived many years ago,” he says. “But today’s settlers are not Palestinian Jews, they came here from abroad. And I have a problem if the Jews live in my country as occupiers and settlers.””
In 2014 BBC Radio 4 aired a history programme (also still available online) which included an account of “an outbreak of rioting between the Muslim and Jewish population” which completely erased one key piece of context: the role played by the British-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al Husseini in inciting the violence.
Another BBC report relating to the Hebron Massacre which is still available to audiences is a 2018 edition of the BBC World Service radio religious programme ‘Heart and Soul’.
“…listeners heard an account of the 1929 Hebron Massacre which whitewashed the fact that “violence broke out” because of incitement by Arab leaders against Jews…”
While all three of those items available to any member of the BBC’s audience trying to find information on the topic stress that some Hebron residents did help their Jewish neighbours escape the 1929 massacre, notably less attention is paid to the still relevant issue of the incitement that was behind that and other mob violence.