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The U.S. Navy Saved the Jews of the Holy Land 100 Years Ago
U.S. Navy receipt for emergency aid supplies destinedfor the Jews of Palestine from the Joint
Distribution Committee 100 years ago, February 21, 1916. According to the JDC file,
the supplies included matzot for Passover.(JDC Archives)
We have written previously how the United States Government rallied to save the Jews of the Holy Land from famine and expulsion by the Turkish army during World War I. But we are now adding an important historic document from that episode showing the vital involvement of American Jewry and the United States Navy exactly 100 years ago.

At the start of the war, Jewish men were forcibly conscripted into the Turkish Army, a devastating locust plague ravaged the land in 1915, Turkish troops were looting supplies in preparation fortheir attack on the Suez Canal, charitable funds from European Jewish communities for the Jews of Palestine were cut off, and plans were being drawn up by the Turks to expel the Jews from the land. The United States Ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morgenthau, warned American Jewish leaders of the danger to the Jews of the Holy Land and appealed to them for funds.

The forced conscription and looting of Jerusalem homes. (1914, Ottoman Imperial Archives)
The American government had not yet enterred the war and U.S. aid could still get through. But to ensure that the money and supplies would not be stolen by rapacious Turkish officials, the U.S. secretary of state approved the use of American warships for the deliveries. Thirteen U.S. ships were used for the deliveries and for providing passage to Jews expelled from the land by the Turks.

More information and photographs on this historic episode will appear in the forthcoming book, American Interests in the Holy Land, Revealed in Early Photographs by Lenny Ben-David.

Approaching 2 Million Visitors to Israel Daily Picture!

1,968,848 visitors as of today --
and counting.

And the book is almost ready.

Photo:U.S. Senators and spouses visiting Jerusalem in 1936 to protest
Britishrestrictions on Jewish immigration into Palestine and to investigate
attackson Jews by Arabs.

Hardcover, Urim Publications, ISBN 978-9655242355

Why the Jerusalem Merchant Closed His Shop when the Emperor Came in 1898

The shuttered shop at Jaffa Gate when the German
Emperor arrived in 1898. (Ottoman Imperial Archives)
The full picture of the Emperor's arrival

The German Emperor's arrival in Jerusalem on October 28, 1898 was a major news item around the world. The Ottoman rulers of Jerusalem and Palestine changed the face of Jerusalem to receive him. Victory arches were built along his route, and the Old City wall wasbreached to allow passage of his carriage.

And as the picture above shows, one shopkeeper closed his shutters. Why?

Enlarged photo of the millinery shop
The day was Saturday, and as we discovered in a photographin the Library of Congress archives, the shop was a Jewish-owned hat store. We enlarged that picture and discovered the shop and its clientele. A sign with Hebrew writing hung above the store. (Readers are invited to decipher it.)The owner closed his store for the Sabbath, and the Jews of Jerusalem received the Emperor elsewhere in the city.

The Emperor and his wife passing under the Jewish community's arch on Jaffa Road.
The photos of theEmperor's visit established the photographers of the American
Colony in the world market.

Below is the full Library of Congress picture of Jaffa Gate with the following caption: "Photograph taken before October 1898 visit of Kaiser Wilhelm II to Jerusalem when a breach was made in the wall near the Jaffa Gate. (Source: L. Ben-David, Israel's History - A picture a day.)"
Jaffa Gate and the Jewish shop (Library of Congress)

Coming Attractions: Ottoman Rabbis and the Jerusalem Store that Boycotted the German Emperor

The Ottoman Imperial Archives continues to share its digitized photographic treasures online.

These important historical pictures were recently released. We will be providing the background to these pictures in the near future.

Ottoman Rabbis of the 19th century.

The German Emperor arrived in Jerusalem in 1898. All of the city turned out to receive him with great fanfare, but we noticed that one shop, the closest to the Jaffa Gate, closed its shutters. Why?

The German Emperor arrives at Jaffa Gate in 1898, but why did one shop stay closed?

This shop shuttered its front.

Readers of this site know that it was a millinery store.

Answers next week.

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