As a result of the tension now existing between Israel and the Muslim world, it long has been assumed that the anti Semitism to which Jews of the Ottoman Empire were subjected over the centuries was the result of Muslim antipathy for Judaism and Jews, and that it was carried out largely by Muslims. This idea was spread by Christian nationalist groups within and outside the Ottoman Empire for the purpose of gaining the support of world Jewry for their causes. At times, moreover, these groups even stimulated Muslim attacks on their own people to gain the support of the Christian nations of Europe. The fact, however, was quite different. It was the Muslim Turks who invited Jews to the Ottoman Empire as they were driven out of western Europe and Russia by massacres, blood libels, and persecutions of all sorts. It was the Muslim Turks who provided Ottoman Jewry with the kind of opportunities and protection which enabled them to prosper during four centuries of Ottoman rule. During the centuries of Ottoman decline which began in the seventeenth century, it was the Ottoman Turks who provided Jews with what protection they could against the advancing anti Semitism of Christians both within and outside the Empire. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in particular it was Christian armies invading the Ottoman em-pire as well as Christian national movements arising within that carried out most of the mass attacks, persecution and massacres which decimated much of Ottoman Jewry before World War I despite the continued protection provided by the Ottoman government.
CHRISTIAN ANTI SEMITISM. Anti Semitism originated as a Christian and not a Muslim phenomenon. Jews were driven from the Holy Land by Pagan Rome primarily for political rather than religious reasons. The Jews of Eretz Israel refused to accept Roman rule and wanted to remain independent. But once rule over Palestine was settled. Pagan Rome had no antipathy to Jews, and allowed them to settle freely elsewhere in its domains, particularly in Anatolia where they constituted a large portion of the population. It was only after Rome converted to Christianity, and in particular after the East Roman Empire became Byzantium and developed its own form of Orthodox Christianity, which was particularly virulent regarding Jews, that the latter came to be subject to intense persecution so that hardly any Jews were left by the time the Ottoman Turks came onto the scene.
Just as the Turks began moving into the Middle East and Anatolia from Central Asia at the end of the eleventh century, thus beginning the process by which they would take over the area and establish the Ottoman Empire, the Jews who earlier had found refuge and relative prosperity in Europe as they had fled from late Roman pressure and attacks, themselves began to experience new waves of persecution that accompanied the political and moral degeneration of European Church and society. In 1078, the Pope decreed that Jews should not occupy important positions in Christian countries and that in particular no Jew could be superior to any Christian. Jews who had settled in France and Germany found their occupations incereasingly narrowed by economic and religious prejudice to trades associated with banking and money changing, which in turn exacerbated long-held religious prejudices into ever-deepening political and economic persecutions based on racial and religious anti-Semitism. Jews had long been accused of being Christ killers, those who had caused the Crucifixion. Added to this, however, were new accusations, of which the most influential were the popular myths known as the ‘blood libel’, or ‘ritual murder’ accusations, invented by the ancient Greeks, the idea that Jews kidnapped and murdered Christian children and drained their bodies of blood for use in religious ceremonies, especially those associated with wine and the making of unleavened bread, or ‘matzoh’. Added to this was the myth of ‘desecration of the host’, by which Jews were alleged to be profaning the wafer consecrated in the Catholic ceremony of the Eucharist which, since the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215, was believed to the actual body of Jesus, which the Jews were said to be stabbing, tormenting or burning in order to subject Christ once again to the agonies of the Cross. These accusations seem utterly absurd in the modem world. It stretches the imagination to believe that such ideas could stir people up to such frenzies of emotion that they could attack even aged and crippled Jews in the street, not only stoning them and pulling their beards and hair but massacring them and destroying their shops and homes, particularly during the week preceding Easter when Christian religious passions were at their peak. Yet such incidents took place repeatedly in Europe, starting first at Norwich, England in 1144, and continuing into the late nineteenth century, and also, with even more vehemence and violence, in the Middle East by native Christians infected by the prejudices of their European coreligionists. Of course in many cases those who spread the myths and stimulated these attacks had motives which were not religious, using them to avoid payment of debts owed to Jews, to eliminate Jewish competition, or particularly in the Middle East, to transfer to Jews Muslim hatred of Christians resulting from Christian attacks on Muslims in the newly independent states of Southeastern Eu-rope.
Stimulating and exacerbating these long-held religious passions and economic motives were the Crusades, particularly in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. On November 27, 1095 Pope Urban II went to Clermont-Ferrand in southern France and delivered a speech which started almost half a millenium of Crusades against the ‘infidel’ Muslims. With great emotion, he said the Christians of the East, and particularly in the Holy Land, were suffering at the hands of the Muslims, formerly the Arabs and now the advancing Turks. He said that Jerusalem already had been profained by the anti Christians and that Christian Constantinople now was under threat, and he appealed to all of Christian Europe to send off armies to save Byzantium and rescue the Holy Land from the unbelievers, offering remission from all sins, past and future, for those who shared in this endeavor. All of Christian Europe was stirred to frenzy by religious and political leaders who spread the idea of freeing the Holy Land and Byzantium from the infidel Muslims, though again, as with the blood libel and desecration of host accusations, economic motives were probably as important as religious ones, at least for many of the leaders. There was no particular reason that these Crusades should have effected the Jews, but they did because of the passions involved. Those Christians who were stirred to believe that the Muslims were the embodiment of all evil soon found it convenient to include the Jews who were prospering in the Muslim lands and therefore supporting the Muslims against the Crusader attacks in fear of renewed spread of anti-Semitism into the Middle East, and who were in any case considered just as bad as the Muslims. People who felt that they were servants of God, with all sins forgiven in advance for what they were going to do in the Holy Land, were in no way inhibited from plundering the Jews as they went along, particularly when the monks who accompanied them suggested that it would add to their favor with God if they forced the Jews they found to convert to Christianity as well. So as the Crusaders marched along from England and France through Germany and Austria toward the Islamic Middle East, they sacked and often destroyed Jewish communities found along their paths, massacring many as they went in Germany and Bohemia in particular.
When one group of Crusaders led by Emmerich Count of Leinigen, reached Worms they demanded ransom from its Jews, who paid. But soon afterwards he sent his men to break into their houses, slaughtering the men and children and raping the women, with many committing suicide to save themselves. Many Jews were burned alive in their synagogues. After seven days of this, the Jews who survived were offered the opportunity to baptism and convert to Christianity with the alternative of being turned over to the crowd to be tom apart. They were given time to think about it in the local synagogue, but when no answer came, the mob broke in and found all the Jews had committed suicide. The same thing happened as the Crusade went on to Mainz and Cologne, and throughout the Rhineland.
These Crusaders left in their wake new ‘blood libel’ and ‘desecration of host’ passions which in turn led to later attacks on the surviving Jewish communities wherever there was even the slightest rumor which provided a pretext and rallying cry. The spread of the Black Death throughout Western Europe, particularly between 1348 and 1350, provided a new pretext to blame Jews for catastrophe, in this case with the story that they poisoned water supplies to cause the plague and wipe out Christianity, with the hope that by persecuting them its spread would be checked. Many Jews who survived were ultimately allowed to resettle in their old homes, but invariably on worse terms than before. The Black Death and the resulting pogroms not only caused deaths and destruction of homes and shops of thousands of Jews, thus, but also intensified the popular Christan stereotypes of the Jews, many of which have remained the basis for anti Semitism in modem times.
There often were massacres, as for example in Frankurt in 1241, Munich in 1285-6 and Amleder in 1336. Expulsions had been carried out in earlier centuries, but they always had been limited both in time and area. But now as royal authority extended more widely in each kingdom, so also did the expulsions become more permanent and extensive. Now there were sudden and violent deportations, sometimes for very long periods of time. They began in England, strangely enough the last country of Western Christandom to admit Jews, starting with the decree of Edward I issued on t8 July 1290, which was enforced for almost four centuries, until 1650. In France, Louis IX (1226-1270) enforced the decrees of the Fourth Lateran Council with great severity, decreeing the expulsion of all Jews from his Kingdom as he left for the first Crusade in 1249. Philip the Fair (1285-1314) ordered all French Jews to be arrested (July 1306), following this up with a decree condemning them to expulsion and confiscation of their property, though this later was revoked by his successor. Charles IV expelled the Jews again in 1322, and it was only due to a financial crisis in 1359 that they were admitted again. In 1380 and 1382 there were riots against the Jews in Paris, and starting in 1394 they were expelled again, this time not to return for centuries, in some areas not until the start of the French Revolution four centuries later. Jews were excluded from Russia from the fifteenth century until 1772, when masses of Jews were included as a result of the Russian annexation of Poland and Lithuania. They were banned from Hungary after 1376, from Naples in 1510-1511, and from almost everywhere in Germany in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, though in some cases because of its lack of unity these deportations were temporary and local at best, with Jews simply going from one locality to another, and then ultimately returning to their original homes as time passed and the deportation decrees were annulled or forgotten by political and religious leaders who saw their own incomes falling in the absence of their Jewish advisers.
Things were no better in Byzantium. Byzantine Jews were nominally free to follow their own faith, but just as the Romans had reduced Jews to no more than subject status, so also Byzantines excluded Jews from rights of full citizenship. The motives of Romans were mainly political; but Byzantines were moved also by religious reasons as well. From their absolute conviction, taught by the Greek Orthodox church, that the Jews were condemned by God for rejecting his Word and for the Unforgivable Crime of killing Jesus Christ, it was logical to conclude that the Jews ought to be punished by God’s new chosen people, the Christians, by being subjected to various restrictions.
Byzantine leaders demanded on numerous occasions that Jews be removed from Constantinople and the Empire altogether, and several expulsion orders were issued. Judaism actually was outlawed and Jews ordered forceably converted at least five times, by Emperor Heraclius in 632, in 680 in an effort to secure a united front against Islamic attacks, by Leo in in 721-723, by Basil I in 873-874, and by Romanos I in 930. Jews were allowed to seek ‘salvation’ through conversion, but even those who did convert were suspected of potential acts of blasphemy and were therefore subjected to periodic persecution, as was later the case in Spain. Le-gends of Jewish moneylenders took on the negative dimensions of the later Shylock traditions. In church services Jews were normally referred to as “the accursed", but they could benefit from divine guidance to baptism, as opposed to other non Christians who could be converted only by the sword. There were also passion plays and the like which played on popular prejudice. All these religious traditions and folklore accounts influenced the Orthodox urban neighbors of Jews, causing a great deal of persecution and conflict.
Those Jews who lived in Byzantium were subjected to various legal restrictions, severely limiting even minor details of their religious activities, excluding them from most of the privileges of citizenship while imposing all sorts of intolerable burdens. Theodosius II (408-450) excluded Jews from all offices of honor and prohibited them from building new synagogues, though he did allow them to repair old ones. Soon afterwards, during a battle between parties in the chariot races at Rome, many Jews were murdered, their synagogues burned, and their bodies thrown into the fire.
Justinian (527-565) was the first emperor to set a precedent for interference with the social and religious practices of Judaism, in 553 even going so far as to dictate that Greek and Latin translations of the Old Testament should be used in Jewish religious services in hope that this would convince some Jews to convert. He forbad the use of the phrase “our God is the one and only God" in Jewish services because he considered this to be blasphemy against the Christian Holy Trinity, and he outlawed the reading of sayings by Isaiah promising consolation for the downtrodded people of Judaism. He went on to forbid the observance of religious services during Passover, forbad the celebrating of Passover at the same time as Easter, and ordered end to the baking of unleavened bread. He even placed spies in synagogues during services to watch out for any violations of his rules, though he soon found they could not prevent secret praying of the disputed passages at other times of day when the spies were not present. He also imposed many disabilities on Jewish citizens, prohibiting them from testifying against Christians in court and restricting them to minor positions in the bureaucracy. As a result of all of this, when his armies attacked Naples, its Jews gave up their property and even their lives joining in defence of the city against the Byzantines.
Heraclius (610-641) was the first emperor to convert the Jews to Christianity by force, and other emperors did the same between the eighth and tenth centuries. After the Vandals destroyed the Jewish synagogue in.the late fifth century, the Byzantines refused to allow it to be restored, and soon after Heraclius died, the Church prevented the survivers and newly arriving Jewish immigrants from building new synagogues to meet their religious needs. Basil I (867-886) first tried to convert the Jews by persuasion, inviting rabbis to debate to defend their faith and offering them benefits if they accepted defeat. He then had recourse to bri- bary, providing gifts to those who agreed to convert. After that failed, in 884 he ordered all Jews converted to Christianity, and though this effort was abandoned under his immediate successors, the pressure continued, and most Byzantine theologians and church leaders protested vigorously when those who had converted under pressure during the preceding regime were allowed to return to Judaism. Emperor Romanus Lucapenus, in about 935, again ordered the forcible conversion of all the Jews of Byzantium, leading to the murder of hundreds of Jews and the desecration of many synagogues throughout the Empire.
To the Greek Orthodox Church, Jews were absolute filth, whose touch was considered to be contaminating. Christians who had any contact with Jews had to be excommunicated.
Thus the Quinisext Council of 692 declared that “Whatever remnant of pagan or Jewish perversity is mixed with the ripe fruit of the truth must be uprooted like a weed... Neither clergyman nor layman may partake of the unleavened bread of the Jews, associate with them, accept medical treatment from them, or bathe with them. Should anyone attempt to do it, he shall, if a clergyman, be defrocked, if a layman excommunicated.” 
The Corpus of law issued by the Emperor Justinian produced the following laws issued about the year 890:
“Jews are excluded from all civil and military service.
Jews may not testify in cases involving Orthodox Christians on either side.
Intermarriage between Jews and Christians is subject to the same penalty as adultery...
Jews must not be guided simply by their own in contracting mariages, nor may they practice polygamy.
Cases between Jewish litigants involving religious matters are to be adjudicated according to Roman law in Roman courts...
If there be a quarrel between a Christian and a Jew, it must be judged by a magistrate, and not by the Jewish priests.
The Jew who circumcizes a Christian, or who causes one to be circumcized, will have his property confiscated and will be permanently exiled.
The holding of public office is forbidden to Jews.
Although synagogues may be repaired, new ones may not be built...
Attempting to convert a Christian is punishable by confiscation of property and death.
A Jew seeking conversion with the ulterior motive of escaping some obligation thereby, is not to be received into the church.
No Jew may possess a Christian slave...
If a Christian transfers to a Jew the ownership of a plot on which a church is located, or bequeaths it to him, or appoints him administrator over it, both parties forfeit their right to the local church. A newly built synagogue is also subject to seizure by the Church.
The Scriptures are to be read in the synagogue in the (Greek) vernacular, preferably the Septuagint version. Interference on the part of Jewish leaders is forbidden.
The study of post Biblical literature is prohibited.
It is permitted to the Jews to circumcize their own children, but if they circumcize another’s, they will be punished by decapitation and confiscation of property.
The Christian who turns Jew will have his property confiscated.
A Jew who throws stones at, or in any other manner, disturbs a convert to Christianity will be burned.
A Jew may not purchase a Christian slave. If a Jew circumcizes a slave who is a Christian or an adherent of some other non Jewish group, he will be punished by decapitation..."
In 894, Emperor Leo VI issued a decree stating that “we hereby annul ail the old laws enacted with reference to the Hebrews, and we command that they not dare to live in any other manner than in accordance with the pure and salutary Christian faith, and if any if any of them should be found disregarding the ceremonies of the Christian religion and to have returned to his Jewish practices and beliefs, he shall suffer the penalties prescribed for apostates.” 
The Orthodox church theologian Matthew Blasteres wrote in 1335:
Concerning the Jews, one must not have any communion with them at all.
Canon 70 concerns fasting with Jews, either celebrating with them or accepting festival gifts from them, either the feast of the unleavened bread or any other of these the cleric who does must be defrocked and the noncleric excommunicated. Even if he admits he does not believe, although he acts in such a way that he does, but they give scandal to many and suspicion against him that he honors the Jewish rite, which before the kiling of Christ God seemed to have detested, saying ‘Fast and rest days, my spirit hates your fasts...’
The 71st Christian canon concerns the Christian who offers oil in pagan temples or in synagogues of the Jews, or the Christian who lights oil in the evenings. It excommunicates him because he will be thought to have honored their rites...
The 11 th canon of the Vito Synod, in the case of one who does not stop eating the unleavened bread of the Jews; who does not stop esteeming their friendship worthy; who does not stop from summoning them for medical aid when sick; who does not stop bathing together with them in the communal bath; if a cleric he must be defrocked, if a non-cleric he must be excommunicated...
The 29th canon of the Laodikeian Synod says: Christians who have received the true law, which is more perfected, yet who still follow a shady and incomplete end must not adhere to the Jews or to the Sabbath as they celebrate it and their resting from business is to be condemned, but rather on this day they should work, honoring the Mistress of Days by regular attendance in the churches for those staying away from work. For the one who out of poverty or any other need and who during this day, which has the name of the Lord, does work, but does it secretly, he is thought as one who acts without judgment and therefore pardon will not be granted. Also for all those who do not avoid the Jewish customs, but openly honor the thing dedicated, all things will happen and they shall openly be given anathema.
The Jews in the Sabbath and their other feasts neither minister bodily nor do anything nor are brought to trial for public or private reason, nor can they accuse Christians.
If a Jew possesses a Christian and circumcises him, or if anyone dares to pervert his Christian thinking, let him suffer capital punishment...
Concerning the cleric who because of fear of danger is weighed down, the 62nd canon of the Holy Apostles says if any cleric because of human fear, whether of a Jew or a pagan Greek, or a heretic, denies the name of Christ, Jet him be defrocked completely.
Canon 64, concerning the cleric or non cleric who enters a synagogue of the Jews or heretics to seek a favor, the first defrock, the second excommunicate...
Canon 37 does not allow one to partake of things sent by Jews or heretics for a feast, or to celebrate with them... A Jew must not marry a Christian woman nor a Christian a Jewess; nor a heretic nor one another faith with the excuse that he would be united through marriage to the Christians”.
Jews came under increasingly savage attack by Byzantine popular preachers and writers as well as by the rulers who tried to stir the Greek populace to resist the knights coming from the West.
Things became even worse for the Jews during the time of the Latin Kingdom, when the presence in Constantinople of thousands of Crusaders who brought with them all the anti Semitic prejudices of Christian Europe, as compounded by the Crusading fervor under which they lived, added to the persecution, not only by the invaders but also by the established population. The Jewish quarter of Salonica was burned several times by the Latins, while the Jews of Constantinople and the other major cities were subjected to a series of attacks. During the Byzantine restoration that followed, the danger posed by the rise of the Muslim Turkomans and Seljuks in Anatolia added to the fear, not entirely without justification, that the surviving Jews were sympathetic to the Muslim drive to take over the Byzantine world. Frequent Byzantine attacks on Jews and efforts to suppress Judaism followed during the the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, particularly particularly under John Vatatzes (1222-1254).
As the Byzantine empire declined further, the Byzantine state repeatedly attempted to outlaw Judaism as means to restore religious unity within the embattled state. Emperors pressured Jews even more through secular laws which restricted their social and economic activity. Emperors who happened to favor Jews were condemned for allowing them to live and work beside Christians so that they might contaminate or even influence them. Thus patriarch Athanasius I complained to the Emperor Andronicus II Palaeologues early in the fourteenth century about the presence of a Jewish synagogue in Constantinople:
... the Byzantines simply tolerate that one should erect in public view of the Orthodox city a synagogue of the deicide people who ridicule that (city’s) religion, its faith in Jesus Christ, its sacraments, and its worship of images... The masses have not only been allowed to live in ignorance, but have also been contaminated by the admission of Jews...
Some felt that even touching Jews could produce illness, as for example the 14th century writer Joseph Bryennios, who stated:
We make use of Jewish physicians and those things which are touched by their hands and sullied by their saliva, and we thoughtlessly eat on plates that they have used...
While Byzantine Jews continued to live in uneasy toleration during the late Byzantine centuries, they were subjected to many new legal restrictions in 1345, among which were:
A heretic or a Jew cannot testify against an Orthodox Christian, but they may witness against each other.
If one bom a Christian becomes a Jew, all of his property is to be confiscated.
If a Jew purchases a Christian and circumcises him, he is to be decapitated.
If a Jew should act to pervert the Christian faith, let the one bom a Jew be decaptitated.
Nor were things any better in the Christian lands which threw off Byzantine rule. Following the establishment of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom at Timovo starting in 1186, the Bulgarian monarchs, while extending their realm from the Danube to the Aegean and the Black Sea to the Adriatic, including Albania, Serbia, Macedonia, Thessaly and Thrace, and attempting on several occasions to capture Constantinople, continued Byzantine persecution of the Jews who were accused of having ‘preached the religion of Israel among the Christian population in the capital itself, with the result that ‘Jewish propaganda undermines the foundation of the dominant Christian faith. By emulating the nobility, Jews endeavor to penetrate the ruling classes in order to create the necessary conditions for the triumph of their religion.’ Jews were accused of conducting ‘themselves arrogantly toward the priests, cursing the icons, and denying the sanctity of Christ and the Virgin. Three advocates of Judaism were sentenced to death, but subsequently, by order of the king the sentence was commuted to expulsion. One of the Jews renounced his faith and embraced Christianity. But the other two stubbornly resisted. Then irate Tumovo citizens attacked them, beating one to death, while the other was taken away and his tongue was cut out. The pious were overwhelmed with joy, whereas the theophobe Jews, now threatened with complete annihilation, were mortified and devastated.’
There had been thousands of Jews living in Byzantium following the exodus from the Holy Land, but in consequence of all this persecution many were forcibly converted or massacred, and most of the remainder fled in the north of the Black Sea to the Russian Principality of Kiev, where they soon found more persecution in the eleventh century when it was converted to Orthodox Christianity, leading most of them to move onward to more friendly territory, to the Jewish Khazar Empire in the Caspian region and, as it was subsequently conquered by Muscovy, to Kafa and the Khanate of the Crimea in the thirteenth century. As a result by the time that the Ottomans conquered Anatolia during fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, hardly any Jews remained.
JEWISH PROSPERITY IN THE EMPIRES OF ISLAM. In Islam, there were two parallel traditions regarding Jews. On one hand it shared and strengthened the pre-Islamic Arab feeling of friendship with their Jewish neighbors, both in northern and southern Arabia, who were praised in the Arabic literature of the time for their loyalty, hospitality and generosity. It considered Jews, like Christians, to be ‘people of the book’, or dhimmis, possessors of the Old and New Testaments, which were accepted as being as much the word of the one God as were those which he spoke to the Prophet Muhammed in words set down in the Koran. This was emphasized by the fact than the great figures of the Old and New Testaments, Moses, Isaac, Abraham, and Jesus Christ, were incorporated into the Koran, with the familiar biblical stories appearing in only slightly altered form in the holy book of Islam. To Muslims, Moses was a Prophet just like Muhammad. Moses was the man that God chose to speak to the Jews just as he later chose Muhammad the Prophet to speak to the Muslims and Jesus Christ to speak to the Christians. Therefore to Muslims the Jews and Christians were considered to be people of the same God who had to be tolerated and accepted and protected in the Muslim community.
At the same time there was another less favorable tradition, less influential but still important. Since Jews and Christians worshipped the same God as did Muslims, and since Moses and Jesus Christ were considered to be earlier recipients of the message of God, and since the Prophet Muhammad brought a later version of the same message, there was no real reason, insofar as the Prophet and later Muslims were concerned, why Jews and Christians should not accept his message and become Muslims. The fact that they did not, even when invited to do so, brought a certain irritation, in a few cases persecution, and at times attacks. But these cases were few and far between in the great Islamic empires, except in Shi’a Iran and the parts of Irak which it ruled, where extreme religious fanaticism led to persecution, not only of Jews but also of Muslims who followed the Orthodox Sunni Islam which dominated most of the Muslim world. Except in Iran, there were hardly ever any cases of the kind of forced conversion or open attacks that were all-too common in Christian lands. For the most part, then, Jews and Christians lived as prosperous minorities in the classical Islamic empires of the Umayyads of Damascus and Spain and the Abbasids of Baghdad, preserving their religions and freedoms within their own religiously-based communities and paying a special poll tax called haraç ar cizye in return for the protection of the Muslim rulers and exemption from military service while living with great comfort and prosperity. There were limitations, there were some marks of discrimination, so that one could say that Jews and Christians were not as equal as Muslims, but compared to the active persecution to which Jews were subjected in the Christian lands of Europe, the world of Islam was paradise for them.
But Muslim Spain began to disappear with the start of the Christian reconquest in i too, which continued steadily until the elimination of the last Muslim state at Granada in 1492. The Christian reconquest of Spain did not mark a sudden change for its Jews. The new Christian rulers found it convenient to retain Jews in their service for a time, not only as bankers but in many other high court positions, so that many Spanish Jews prospered for quite some time after the reconquest began. King Alfonso VI (1072-1109) and his grandson Alfonso VII (1126-157) in fact offered refuge to Jews fleeing from persecution in the Almohad kingdom in North Africa, taking them into the court to serve as interpreters, bankers, advisers and even tax farmers. Jews were granted large estates and they were encouraged to engage in trade and commerce in the major cities. Jewish men of letters made significant contributions to the development of Castillian literature in the early centuries of the reconquest. But conditions became more and more difficult as time went on and Christian victones over Muslims made them more and more confident. As the Christians drove out the Muslims and as Christian rule in Spain became solidified, then, there was less need for Jews than there had been earlier, so the Jews of Christian Spain came to be subjected to the same persecution as had taken place earlier elsewhere in western Europe. Starting early in the fourteenth century, blood libel and desecration of host accusations spread through Christian Spain. Jews were attacked and driven from their homes. Blood libel attacks took place at Saragosa early in the thirteenth century. Crusaders in Toledo attacked its Jews in 1212, and again just a century later. In 1281 all the Jews in Castille were arrested and imprisoned, and they were released only after the payment of a huge ransom. Under the influence of preachers from France, a whole series of disturbances almost exterminated the Jewish communities of Navarre in 1328. The Jewish community of Toledo was sacked in 1355. Violence spread throughout the Iberian Peninsula in 1391, causing the extermination of many Jewish communities and destruction of their synagogues, including those at Cordova, Barcelona, and Toledo and throughout Castille and Valencia, with only those of Granada remaining untouched because of its continued rule by the Muslim Nasirids. Many Jews who survived were forced to flee elsewhere in Europe and some were forced to convert to Christianity, particularly in mass conversions carried out in 1391, though many of these ‘new Christians’, called Conversos or Marranos, secretly continued to practice the Jewish faith and, along with those whose conversions were sincere, were at times persecuted and burned at the stake as the Inqusition extended its activities throughout the Iberian peninsula, into Portugal, and into the Spanish possessions elsewhere in Europe.
Repression increased during the early years of the fifteenth century. Under the influence of the converso Bishod of Burgos, in 1408 Jews were forbidden to be given positions in Castille which would enable them to have any authority over Christians, and in 1412 they were forbidden to leave their quarters, to practice the professions or crafts, to employ Christians, carry arms, go into public without beards, or even to levy community taxes or have cases judged in Jewish community courts. The year before mobs inspired by the Dominicans forced thousands of Jews in Castille and Aragon to convert to Christianity. These New Christians actually did amazingly well, rising rapidly in all aspects of life and becoming extremely prosperous and important in the government, the army and the universities, so that it did not take long for the more fanatic clergy to inspire the masses to jealousy of these as well, accusing them of secretly remaining Jews and causing attacks on them as well during the later years of the century. As a result of two centuries of anti-Semitic persecutions, including mass conversions, thousands of Jews had already fled from Spain long before the final expulsion took place. So it was that by the accession of the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon (1479-1516) and Isabella I of Castille (1474-1504), the once flourishing Jewish communities of Barcelona and Valencia had already disappeared, while even Castille, which once had the most densely-settled Jewish quarter in Europe, had no more than 30,000 Jewish families, though many more had become conversos, seeking to prove their loyalty by persecuting their former co-religionists even more fiercely than their Christian colleagues.
In the end, it was the accession of Isabella in 1474 that led to the final destruction of Spanish Jewry. Her advisers convinced her that the only way to solve the kingdom’s many problems was to purify it religiously by introducing a special court called the Inquisition, established in 1478, which was given the job of hunting out and punishing all heretics, particularly those like the conversos who were accused of remaining Jews in secret and thus corrupting not only the Church but also the Kingdom. The work of the Inquisition led to nothing less than Genocide, imposed first on many conversos, and then on all Jews who had continued to be attached to their religion despite the persecution. It was the defeat of the last Muslim dynasty in Spain, with the capture of Granada in 1492, that doomed Spanish Jewry, for as a result of the long centuries of persecution in Christian Spain, its Jews had strongly supported the Muslims, leading directly to the expulsion that followed. By this time, despite the fact that hundreds of Jews were converting daily to Christianity, it had become clear to the masters of the Inquisition that such conversions could not solve the problem of converts who secretly remained Jewish so long as professing Jews continued to live in Spain to influence them.
The final expulsion of Jews from Spain and Sicily decreed by Ferdinand and Isabella on the 31st of March 1492 , and their forced conversion and subsequent expulsion from Portugal starting in 1497, thus were only culminations of what had been going on for at least three centuries. While the Marranos remained longer, their persecution by the Inquisition intensified, particularly in the seventeenth century, forcing many of them to immigrate as well, just like their Muslim counterparts, the Moriscos, whose conversion to Christianity remained equally suspect by the Inquisition, and after their use of Arabic as well as their traditional customs and costumes were forbidden by Philip II in 1566, were also deported between 1609 and 1614.
The expulsions from Spain were particularly brutal, with over 100,000 Jews being forced to leave in just four months between the end of April and the start of July 1492. The cruelty and chaos was described by an eye witness, the learned Spanish Jew Jacob Tam ben David Ibn Yahya, in his Josippon, published in Istanbul in 1510:
I witnessed with my own eyes the bitter expulsion. I saw how my brethren were pursued with venomous wrath from land to land, from one people to another, and nowhere found rest-only bestial hatred and cruel, barbarous massacre... Deadly terror seized the exiled people. Cold despair filled their heart, for the people do not remember what happened to them in former times. They do not know of the sufferings and afflictions they endured in earlier generations, and why this great misfortune occurred. And this ignorance is an immense loss, especially in our frivolous day, for great would be the consolation of downcast spirits if they knew that their fathers suffered much only because they departed from God’s way, and that as soon as they directed their hearts to God He manifested His great wonders and redeemed them from suffering and distress with his mighty hand.
But where to go? Where could they go? Some survived for a time in Germany and Italy where, despite the many persecutions, massacres and expulsions, their very lack of unity made possible refuges in neighboring districts at least for a time, but these were temporary and uncertain at best in view of the popular prejudices and passions particularly in Germany, where people often were stirred up as a result of the arrival of more than a few Jews at once. As a result, few refugees remained there for any length of time. Many took the relatively easy overland road eastward into Poland and Lithuania where they founded the great Jewish communities of Eastern Europe which flourished for centuries before being destroyed, first by the great nineteenth century Russian pogroms and then by the Holocaust. But already in the fourteenth century the Jewish immigrants to Eastern Europe were being subjected to persecution, not only by native Polish Christians who resented the influx of so many strangers, but also by Germans emigrating eastwards who brought with them the same religious prejudices which had driven the Jews out of their Central European homes not long before. Thus John of Capistrano, who had spread a blood libel in Germany which had caused the massacre of most the Jews of Breslau and the expulsion of the rest early in the fif-teenth century, was brought to Poland by Roman Catholic religious leaders, leading to the Edict of Nieszawa in 1454, which annulled all the charters of freedom which the Jews had obtained from earlier rulers and caused their temporary expulsion from Lithuania in 1495. These edicts ultimately were annulled and the charters restored, but a feeling of incipient persecution remained, so nowhere as many Jews went to Eastern Europe at that time as might otherwise have been the case. Some instead joined the Arab Moriscos in going across the Straits of Gibraltar to the seaports of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, themselves soon to come under Ottoman rule. But most followed the bulk of Jewish brothers from all of Europe eastward through the lands bordering the Mediterranean into the territory of the greatest Muslim power of the time, the Empire of the Ottoman sultans, in the hope of regaining the power and prosperity they had achieved in Islamic Spain.
JEWS ENCOURAGED TO TAKE REFUGE IN EMERGING OTTOMAN EMPIRE. Byzantium was breaking up, fortunately for the Jews who remained under its dominion. The Ottomans first established their principality in northeastern Anatolia about 1300 under the leadership of the founder of the dynasty. Osman I (1300-1324?). Within a century, after taking over most of Western Anatolia they had expanded through Southeastern Europe all the way to the Danube, conquering what are today Greece, Bulgaria, Rumania and Yugoslavia for a time bypassing Constantinople, which remained, though already depopulated and ravaged by the Crusaders who reached it early in the thirteenth century, isolated from the outside world, until it finally was conquered by Mehmed II the Conqueror (1451-1481) in 1453. At the same time the Ottomans expanded rapidly thorugh Anatolia to the East, reaching the Tigris and Euphrates in the late fourteenth century, and after a temporary check due to an invasion of Anatolia by the Tatar chief Tamerlane, solidifying their rule of eastern Anatolia by the end of the fifteenth century and then going on to conquer Eretz Israel and the Arab world under the leadership of Selim I (1512-1520). His successor, Suleyman the Magnificent (1520-1566), completed the great Ottoman conquests in Europe, crossing the Danube and conquering Hungary in 1526 and then moving on unsuccesfully to place Vienna under siege, and in the East by conquering Irak and much of the Caucasus in 1535, and then extending Ottoman rule across North Africa almost to the Atlantic before his reign came to an end.
These Ottoman conquests marked a very substantial change for the Jews of the Middle East and Europe. They meant instant liberation, not only from Christian subjugation, persecution, and humiliation, but often from actual slavery. As a result, Jews contributed significantly to the Ottoman conquests. There are countless stories how the Jews of Bursa, in northwestern Anatolia, actively helped Osman’s son Orhan capture the city from the Byzantines in 1324, and then how he brought in Jews from Damascus and Byzantine Adrianople to repopulate the city after the flight of its Greek inhabitants so that it could become the first Ottoman capital, with the ancient Etz Haim synagogue marking the center of the Jewish quarter (Yahudi Mahallesi) established there to assure autonomy in religious and secular matters. The Ottoman capture of Adrianople (Edirne) soon afterwards also was accomplished with considerable assistance from the small and impoverished Jewish community there, as a reward for which the Turks settled there large numbers of Jews transported from within the expanding empire as well as new refugees coming from Hungary, parts of southern Germany, Poland and Russia, making it quite suddenly the largest Jewish community in Europe at the time, with its Chief Rabbi being appointed to lead all the Jews of Southeastern Europe as the Ottomans conquered their provinces. When the Ottomans captured Constantinople in 1453, they are said to have broken into the city through the Jewish quarter, not for purposes of killing and destruction, as the Greeks later claimed as part of their campaign of vilification of the Muslim Turks throughout Christian Europe, but very likely with the encouragement and help of the local Jewish population who were overjoyed at the opportunity to throw off their Greek oppressors. So also at Buda in 1526, on the island of Rhodes, at Belgrade, in Azerbaijan (1534), Irak and Iran (1534-1535, 1638), Yemen (1628) and elsewhere Jews played significant roles. In each case they were rewarded with tax exemptions, concessions for trade and exploitation of minerals, repair or expansion of old synagogues, and even free houses and shops to meet the needs of the increasing Jewish populations.
Right from the start Mehmed the Conquerer conceived of conquered Constantinople, soon afterwards transformed into his capital Istanbul, as becoming the center of a great multinational empire, extending far beyond the Roman Empire and incorporating all the people of the world as he knew it, Muslims, Jews and Christians alike, all under the dominion of his Turkish dynasty. Therefore though by Muslim tradition Constantinople should have been subjected to looting since it had resisted the Muslim conquest by force, he prevented his soldiers from taking any more than nominal revenge during a single day, in order to fulfill Islamic tradition in theory, while in fact sparing it from destruction and going on to rebuild it so that it could become the capital of his great empire.
But how to repopulate the city? It had already been despoiled and depopulated by the Latin crusaders at the start of the thirteenth century, and there were few people and little wealth left by the time the Ottomans arrived. Mehmed II could not have an empire if his capital lacked people and prosperity. So he began an effort at forced migration of different elements of the population, Muslims, Jews and Christians, from all the conquered lands to constitute the populace of the rebom Istanbul. Sometimes they were brought by forced resettlement programs, sometimes by inducements such as free land and tax-free incomes if they developed shops, trades, and commerce, and, insofar as Jews were concerned, they were given the right to construct new synagogues and to repair and expand the old ones surviving from Byzantium, a considerable modification of Islamic tradition, which limited new construction in particular. As a further inducement Mehmed II allowed the members of the major religious groups to govern themseles in their own religiously based communities, or mil-lets, first the Greeks, then the Armenians, and finally the Jews, meaning that they would not be forced to accept Islam and could live under their own leaders in their own quarters and follow their own religions and customs as they had in past. This system gave Mehmet II another great advantage in his conquest, the support of the religious leaders to whom he was giving secular as well as religious authority over their followers, an extent of power they never were able to achieve or exercise in states where they had to share it with temporal rulers.
But Mehmed could secure only so many people from the conquered lands without depopulating them. And in any case he did not entirely trust his new Christian subjects, since they remained strongly anti Muslim and, still not reconciled to the Ottoman conquest, also were trying to stir Christian Europe to reconquer their lands from the Ottomans. It was therefore to the Jews that he turned most of all. Not only did they offer the same sort of economic and financial skills which had earlier attracted them to political and even religious leaders in Europe despite great religious prejudice, but they also constituted a people who had no liking for Christian Europe, who were in fact being driven out and were desperately seeking new homes where they could live and work and prosper. Just as the Jews of England, France, Germany, Spain, and even Poland and Lithuania were being subjected to increasing persecution, blood libels, massacres, and deportations, the Turkish rulers of the expanding Ottoman state actively encouraged them to come and live in the Ottoman Empire under the same conditions of tolerance and freedom which had characterized the lives of Jews in the Empires of the Umayyads and Abbasids in Damascus and Baghdad, and more recently in Muslim Spain.
The sixteenth-century Jewish historian Elijah Capsali wrote at the time:
In the first year of the Sultan Mehmed, King of Turkey..., the Lord aroused the spirit of the king..., and his voice passed throughout his kingdom and also by proclamation saying: (from Ezra I, 1-3)
“This is the word of Mehmed King of Turkey, the Lord God of Heaven gave me a kingdom in the land; he commanded me to number his people the seed of Abraham his servant, the sons of Jacob his chosen ones, and to give them sustenance in the land and to provide a safe haven for them. (Based on verses in Ezra and Genesis) Let each one with his God come to Constantinople the seat of my kingdom and sit under his vine and under his fig tree with his gold and silver, property and cattle, settle in the land and trade and become part of it.’ (From Genesis 34:10).
The Jews gathered together from all the cities of Turkey both near and far, each man came from his home; and the community gathered in the thousands and ten thousands and God assisted them from heaven while the king gave them good properties and houses full of goods. The Jews dwelled there according to their families, and they multiplied exceedingly. (Exodus 1:7) From that day hence, from every place that the king conquered wherein there were Jews, he immediately forced them to emigrate (paraphrasing Isaiah 22:17), taking them from there and sending them to Istanbul the seat of his kingdom. And he bore them and carried them all the days of old. (Isaiah 63:9).
Because the Jews feared the Lord, He gave them prosperity (based on Exodus 1:21), and in the place wherein formerly in the days of the Byzantine king there were only two or three congregations, the Jews multiplied and increased and became greater in number than (40) congregations and the land did not let them settle together because their property was so great. (Genesis 13:6). The congregations of Constantinople were praiseworthy. Torah and wealth and honor increased among the congregations. In the congregations they blessed the Lord, the fountain of Israel (Psalms 68:27), the doer of great wonders. They opened their mouth in song to heaven and blessed the Lord, all the servants of the Lord who stand in the house of the Lord in the night seasons. (Psalms 134:I).”
The Ottoman rulers actively propagandized throughout Europe to secure Jewish emigrants to their newly expanding state. The most famous example of this effort was the letter supposedly sent by the Ashkenazi Rabbi Isaac Tzarfati, who had come to the Ottoman dominions from Germany, apparently just before the conquest of Istanbul, became Chief Rabbi of the Jewish community in the second Ottoman capital Edirne (Adrianople), and who some time afterwards sent a letter to his brothers in Central Europe, in particular in Swabia, the Rhineland, Steuermark, Moravia, northern France, and Hungary, informing them of the advantages of the sultanate and of its liberal attitude toward Jews.
Several versions of Tzarfati’s letter have survived. One of them expresses vividly the enthusiasm which he conveyed to the oppressed Jews of Central Europe:
“My brothers and my masters, having prayed to God to grant you peace, 1 wish to relate to you the circumstances under which the young Rabbi Zalman and his companion Rabbi David Cohen came to me. They recounted to me all the ordeals, harsher than death, which our brothers, the sons of Israel who live in Germany, have undergone and still endure; the decisions taken against them, the martyrs, the expulsions, which take place very day and compel them to wander from country to country, from town to town, endlessly, without any place accepting them; for when these unfortunates arrive in a town of refuge hoping to find repose there, they do not find it, and they have so much misfortune that they say: the first town was the most welcoming and the second is more harsh than the first. It is ‘As if a man did flee from the lion and a bear met him; or went into the house and leaned his hand on the wall and a serpent bit him’ (Amos v. 19); also ‘they shall not escape and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost.’ (Job xi 20)... Now a decree harsher than all the others has been enacted, and no Jew is permitted to embark, and they are lost in a country which has closed the sea routes to them; and they do not know where the wind of persecution will blow them, nor whither they can flee.
These are the circumstances which Rabbi Zalman and Rabbi David recounted to me. When they arrived here in Turkey, a land on which the wrath of God has not weighed heavily, when they saw the peace, the tranquillity and the abundance which holds sway in these lands and when they saw that the distance between Turkey and Jerusalem is short, and may be traversed overland, they were overcome with great joy and they said: without any doubt if the Jews who live in Germany knew a tenth of the blessings which God has bestowed on His people of Israel in this land, neither snow nor rain, neither day nor night, would be of consequence until they had journeyed here.
They have asked me to write to the exiles, to the Jewish communities which reside in Germany, in the towns of Swabia, of the Rhineland, of Styria, of Moravia and of Hungary, to inform them how agreeable is this country... When I realized that their desires were disinterested, I decided to acquiesce in their entreaties, for I too would like to give Israel the opportunity of acquiring its just deserts...”.
Another version of the same appeal was even more emotional:
“Your cries and sobs have reached us. We have been told of all the troubles and persecutions which you have to suffer in the German lands... I hear the lamentation of my brethren... The barbarous and cruel nation ruthlessly oppresses the faithful children of the chosen people... The priests and prelates of Rome have risen. They wish to root out the memory of Jacob and erase the name of Israel. They always devise new persecutions. They wish to bring you to the stake... Listen my brethren, to the counsel I will give you. I too was bom in Germany and studied Torah with the German rabbis. I was driven out of my native country and came to the Turkish land, which is blessed by God and filled with all good things. Here I found rest and happiness; Turkey can also become for you the land of peace... If you who live in Germany knew even a tenth of what God has blessed us with in this land, you would not consider any difficulties; you would set out to come to us... Here in the land of the Turks we have nothing to complain of. We possess great fortunes; much gold and silver are in our hands. We are not oppressed with heavy taxes, and our commerce is free and unhindered. Rich are the fruits of the earth. Everything is cheap, and every one of us lives in peace and freedom. Here the Jew is not compelled to wear a yellow hat as a badge of shame, as is the case in Germany, where even wealth and great fortune are a curse for a Jew because he therewith arouses jealousy among the Christians and they devise all kinds of slander against him to rob him of his gold. Arise my brethren, gird up your loins, collect your forces, and come to us. Here you will be free of your enemies, here you will find rest...”.
As a result of these appeals, large numbers of Ashkenazi Jews who just then were being subjected to tortures, massacres, and expulsions from Bavaria and elsewhere in Central Europe, Hooded into Mehmed’s newly-conquered provinces in southeastern Europe, settling at Sofia, Vidin, Plevne and Nicopolis, establishing Ashkenazi synagogues and communities which subsequently received hundreds of Jewish refugees from persecution in Hungary.
Mehmed H’s successor, Sultan Bayezid II, who ruled at the time of the expulsion from Spain, is said to have remarked during a conversotion in his court ‘you call Ferdinand a wise king, he who impoverishes his country and enrishes our own’ by expelling the Jews. Despite considerable religious conservatism of his own, Bayezid went on to decree that all Jews fleeing from Spain and Portugal should be admitted to his dominions without restriction, and with the same inducements that had been offered during the reign of his predecessor. Ottoman officials were ordered to do everything they could to facilitate the entry of Iberian Jews into Ottoman territory, and strict punishments were provided against al) those who mistreated the immigrants or caused them any sort of damage.
As Elijah Capsali related:
“Sultan Beyazid, king of Turkey, having learned all the evil deeds that the King of Spain did to the Jews, who were seeking a place of refuge, had pity on them and ordered his country to greet them well, and he ordered the same thing for the island of Chios, which had been paying a tribute to him ”.
So it was not just in 1492, but already starting with the Ottoman conquest of Bursa in northwestern Anatolia in 1324, and particularly after Mehmed Il’s conquest of Constantinople, that Jews started flooding into the Ottoman Empire, Ashkenazi Jews from Germany, France, and Hungary, Italian Jews from Sicily (under Spanish rule), Otranto, and Calabria, Sephardic Jews from Spain and Portugal, first those driven out because they would not convert to Christianity, and starting in the early years of the sixteenth century Marranos who had converted but who had continued to be persecuted because either they continued to practice Judaism secretly or were accused of practicing it by the Inquisition.
Jews saw in the victorious Ottoman armies the punishing rod of God, his iron hand, predestined to cany through the righteous judgement of the Almighty against the enemies of his people and to destroy what they called the ‘kingdom of Edom’, steeped in blood and sin. They declared the Ottoman leaders to be scions of the ‘righteous Cyrus’, the ‘annointed of God’, and firmly believed that at the head of the warlike Ottoman hosts the angel Gabriel himselif strode with sword in hand to bring near the ‘end’ and prepare the way for the glorious Messiah.
Some of the new emigrants came directly by sea through the Mediterranean or overland from Central Europe. Some of them came indirectly, stopping off first across the Straits of Gibraltar in North Africa, or going by land or sea to Naples, Genoa or Venice in Italy or to the islands of the eastern Mediterranian and the Aegean, where they settled for a time before they were expelled and had to move on to the East. Some of them came in small boats with nothing but the clothes on their backs and had to be helped by the older Ottoman Jewish communities. Many of the wealthier Spanish and Portuguese Jews managed to survive in the West European dominions of the Spanish Habsburgs under Habsburg protection, in return for sizable gifts, before the Inquisition finally caught up with them and forced them onwards, though they still managed to bring with a great deal of their wealth. But whether in the fourteenth century or the sixteenth, and rich or poor, they continued to come in large numbers, settling in all the Ottoman dominions, in modem Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, Egypt, Anatolia, Cyprus, and the other Aegean and Mediterranean islands. But most commonly they settled in the places that became the centers of Jewish life in the Ottoman Empire, in the capital Istanbul, along the shores of the Aegean at Salonica, or Thessaloniki, and in the Holy Land, Eretz Israel, in numbers estimated anywhere from 100,000 to 150,000 people, compared to little more than 30,000 Jewish refugees in Poland and Lithuania at the end of the fifteenth century, and seventy-five thousand in the mid sixteenth, thus making the Ottoman Jewish community by far the largest Jewish community in the world at the time, at least during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, which constituted the Golden Age of Ottoman Jewry.
CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION OF OTTOMAN JEWS IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY. Ottoman Jews were quite aware of a community of interest between them and Muslims, in relation to Christians in particular, for if there was persecution of Jews in the Ottoman Empire at its height, it came not from the Ottoman rulers and their Muslim subjects but, rather, from the Christian subjects, bitter not only at the establishment of Muslim rule in lands which had long been Christian, but also at the imposition in urban life, particularly in the spheres of finance, industry and trade, of domination by Jews, whom most Christians contin-ued to consider beneath contempt, in particular as a result of the well-known contribution to Ottoman military armaments on the part of the Marranos. The Greek and Armenian Orthodox religious leaders in consequence constantly agitated at the Porte to advance their rights and privileges at the expense of the Jewish community and to denigrate the Jews and Judaism in the eyes of their Ottoman masters. The Orthodox patriarchs insisted with great vehemence, for example, that they, rather than the Chief Rabbis, should have precedence in official Ottoman ceremonies, finally achieving this objective in 1697 as a result of foreign pressure in the Ottoman court. As the Jewish community in the Ottoman Empire rose in numbers, influence and prosperity, moreover, there followed a long series of blood libels and persecutions led by Christians, who dragged Muslims along whenever they could, though with nowhere the sustained vigor and effect as in Europe because here the ruling Ottomans suppressed them as quickly and completely as possible so as to protect the economic prosperity which their Jews were providing.
Blood libel accusations were made against Jews by Ottoman Christian subjects starting in the sixteenth century, most frequently in the Arab provinces, first at Jerusalem in 1546. The most famous Christian assault on Ottoman Jews in medieval times came in the central Anatolian town of Amasya some time between 1530 and 1540, when a blood libel accusation against local Jews was spread by local Armenians who said that an Armenian woman had seen Jews slaughter a young Armenian boy and use his blood at the feast of Passover. Several days of rioting and pillaging and attacks on Jews followed. Finally the local Ottoman officials were convinced to imprison several Jews who, after severe torture, were said to have ‘confessed’ to their crimes and were hanged. Later, however, the Armenian boy who supposedly had been murdered was found and the Ottoman governor punished the Armenian accusers, though nothing could be done about the Jews who had suffered. At this point, however, the Sultan’s personal physician, Moses Hamon, got him to issue a ferman which prohibited provincial and local officials and judges from hearing any such blood libel cases in future, requiring that all be brought before the Sultan and his Imperial Council in Istanbul so that real justice could be provided outside the highly emotional atmosphere such cases produced among the provincial Christian populations.
During the centuries that followed, whenever Christians resumed their attacks on Jews, or for that matter when Muslims showed prejudice, the Ottoman government intervened strongly in defense of the Jews, who therefore continued to live in a security far more permanent than that of their co-religionists who remained in Europe. Blood libel incidents in the Ottoman Middle East were not as frequent as they became later, in the nineteenth century, but there were reports from time to time. In 1633 two Janissaries, recently converted from Greek Orthodoxy, accused Jews of having killed a Christian child six days before Easter, and it was only from the intervention of Sultan Murat IV (1623-1640) himself that the resulting attacks on Jews in the capital were finally put down. And there were other incidents of this sort which the Ottomans firmly suppressed.
PLAGUES AND FIRES. If anything brought the different millets and communities together, it was the constant threat of plague and of fires which decimated these closely packed urban communities on numerous occasions, affecting people of all classes and religions regardless of where they lived. The practices of cleanliness adhered to by Jews and Muslims alike had little effect, with all suffering terribly from the plague, which ravaged Salonica in 1532, 1545, 1553, 1570, 1581 and 1588 as well as numerous occasions thereafter, and Istanbul in 1526, 1599, 1625, 1647, 1660, and 1812. Typhus, cholera, and other such diseases easily developed into city-wide epidemics against which even the wealthy had little defense. All sorts of precautions were taken, isolation houses or abandonnent of the cities for refuge in the countryside or mountains for months on end, and citywide organization of the removal and burial of bodies, but with little impact so long as the real essentials of quarantine and infection were not yet known, and thousands of people of all religions were carried off on each occasion. If not epidemics, moreover, huge fires damaged communities extensively throughout the centuries. Needless to say, moreover, it did not take much for the same Christian communities who spread ‘blood libel’ and ‘desecration of host’ rumors to accuse Jews of starting the fires and causing plague by poisoning water supplies, leading inevitably to new mass attacks, by Muslims egged on by Christians, just as soon the immediate dangers had passed.
DECLINE OF OTTOMAN JEWRY AS A PRODUCT OF OTTOMAN DECLINE. As the Ottoman Empire disintegrated starting in the seventeenth century, the ability of Ottoman leaders to protect the Jews from Christian attacks declined accordingly, and the condition of Ottoman Jewry beame worse and worse. Without the security and stability which had characterized the Empire in its age of greatness, it was inevitable that the trade, industry and commerce on which most Jews depended for their livelihood should decline, with depreciation of the currency and inflation adding to the difficulties.
In addition, as the ability of the Ottoman sultans and Ruling Class to protect their subjects from misrule lessened, as rule fell into the hands of converted Christians who retained much of the anti-Semitism which dominated the lands of their origins, as Christian European diplomats and merchants came into the Ottoman Empire to take advantage of its weakness for their own profit, and as Catholic Marseilles replaced Venice and Livorno, in which many Jews at least shared trade opportunities, as the principal port for the Levant trade, while Greek-dominated Izmir replaced Jewish-dominated Salonica in the East starting in the 1740’s, and as the expansion of Christian rule into the Ukraine and Hungary after 1683 shut Ottoman merchants out of the rich markets which lay behind them in Central and Eastern Europe, it was inevitable that the participation of Ottoman Jewry in international trade should largely cease, while the same anti-Semitic prejudice which had driven so many Jews out of western Europe gained an increasing presence and influence within the Ottoman Empire.
Devşirme converts from Christianity and European diplomats and merchants actively worked to drive Jews out of positions of importance in the Ottoman palace and to replace them with native Christians, both Armenians and Greeks. They told the sultans and their officials that they would not deal with Jews as interpreters or agents, forcing the Sultans to hire Christians if they wanted to negotiate. Jewish merchants often were not allowed to import or export goods from and to Europe, as the Europeans used the Capitulations agreements signed between their nations and the Ottoman government to favor the local Christians, who thereby got legal, financial and trade privileges and tax exemptions not available to their Jewish and Muslim counterparts.
The Devşirme men in control of the Istanbul government, moreover, in active cooperation with the Janissary infantry, sometimes even with the cooperation of their puppet sultans, directed the misrule, the overtaxation, and the robbing and ravaging of homes and shops against Jews and Muslims more than the Christian elements of the population, particularly since the latter were able to rely on the protection of the European diplômants and consuls against the worst abuses, while the Jews and Muslims had no outside protectors. Jews thus were frequently subjected to the corvee, or forced labor, on roads as well as farms owned by members of the Janissary corps. Jewish corporations were charged double the fees demanded of other corporations, which themselves were excessive. Agents of the Treasury collected far more than the official taxes. Special war taxes, moreover, were charged on businessmen and merchants as well as wealthy householders whenever the army marched through or even near var-ious cities and towns. At the accession of each new Sultan, whether the result of a revolt by the Janissaries or natural causes, each community had to pay him an accession tax, contribute to the ‘gift’ which he customarily gave to the Janissary garrison of Istanbul in return for allowing him to ascend the throne, and then also provide subtantial ‘gifts’ to the local Janissary garrisons in the European provinces and to the Mamluks who supplanted their Ottoman masters in most of Arab provinces. Sometimes even this failed to protect them.
The pillaging went on every where, by the Janissaries throughout the empire along with local Christian bands in Macedonia and Thrace, Muslim Celali rebels, only partially restrained by the notable Derebeyis in Anatolia, and converted Christian Mamluks in the Arab provinces, with the Sultan having little power or ability to protect anyone outside the capital. In July 1703 the Janissary rebellion which dethroned Sultan Mustafa II in Istanbul was followed by large-scale Janissary sacking of Salonica’s Jewish quarter. After the death of Osman II in October 1757, Jews as well as Greeks were the objects of exactions on the part of the military garrisons in most Ottoman cities and towns. All the wars that the Ottomans had to fight with Russia, Austria and other enemies during the eighteenth century, whether succesful or unsuccessful, were paid for by the levy of new and higher taxes on those still able to pay, as well as the various illegal taxes which continued to be collected. Süleyman III (1687-1691) charged an extra high war tax to pay for the costs of the war with Venice then in progress. After Venice siezed the Morea in April 1715, Grand Vezir Damad Ali Pasha brought an army of 12,000 men as well as a powerful fleet to Salonica, remaining there for a month in preparation for the campaign to regain the lost territories. Even though cultivation that year had been very limited due to lack of sufficient rainfall as well as the usual anarchy and was in very short supply, he confiscated almost all the food and money that could be found, leaving the inhabitiants even worse off than usual. And on his return from the Morea, the Janissaries sacked Salonica’s Jewish quarter once again, adding to the booty which they had secured from the Venetians. In 1721 the Janissary garrison of Salonica revolted against the governor because their salary had not been paid in time, and sure enough the revolt soon spread into the Jewish quarter, pillaging, burning and demolishing houses and shops and mercilessly killing all those tried to resist. Again in the spring of 1727 the Ottoman forces gathered in Salonica to resist an Albanian revolt in eastern Macedonia imposed their keep on the Jewish quarter, seizing goods and massacring people without mercy during April and May. Even after the Albanian revolt was put down, the troops returned to the attack while passing through Salonica on their way home, causing unusually terrible suffering and deaths throughout 1728. The Patrona Halil revolt which ended the Modernizing ‘Tulip Period’ in Istanbul in 1730 was followed by new Ja-nissary exactions and massacres of Jews in Salonica, Izmir, and Bursa as well as throughout Macedonia. There were numerous appeals for protection to the Sultan and the Imperial council in Istanbul, and the attacks relented for a time, perhaps less because of imperial action than the fact that there were no wars during these years and, thus, no occasion to bring the army together and send it on its destructive campaigns. On 30 July 1752, however, the Janissaries again revolted in Salonica and sacked the Jewish quarter in reaction to an earthquake, with neither their own officers or the local governor able to stop them. Similar attacks took place in 1758 and 1763. In 1770 after the Russian fleet commanded by Admiral Orlov sailed from the Baltic through the Mediterranean into the Aegean and armed Greek rebels, the latter proceded to massacre large numbers of Turks and Jews in southern Greece and the Morea, and then went on to massacre the same peoples on many of the Aegean islands. In revenge the Janissaries in Salonica rose up and massacred not only Greeks but also Jews In the summer of 1774 one of Orlov’s Russian squadrons captured an Ottoman ship carrying a number of wealthy Jews, freeing one of their number in the expectation that he would be able to deliver substantial ransoms or the remainder from Salonica, but after he failed to return in time, they put the remaining Jews to the sword. After the Muslims of Salonica revolted against the central goverment in 1808, the Janissaries put down the revolt and then charged local Greek and Jewish merchants for their expenses.
As a result of all this musrule and anarchy, the resurgence of Christian blood-libel attacks against Jews starting at Amasya as well as the depredations of Janissaries and robber bands, there was an increasing tendency among Jews to flee their original centers at Salonica, Edirne and other places in Southeastern Europe as well as at Bursa and Manisa in Anatolia, going to places which were less subject to the prevailing anarchy, either to the capital Istanbul or to the increasingly important Aegean port of Izmir which though it had no Jews at all the time of the Ottoman conquest, and even at the end of the seventeenth century, became a major Jewish center by the end of the eighteenth century, though here Greeks remained dominent in the economy, doing all they could to prevent the Jews from achieving the success they had reached elsewhere, with the help of the Christian merchants from its principal trading par- ther, Marseilles.
OTTOMAN AND JEWISH 19TH CENTURY REVIVAL LEADS TO RENEWED PERSECUTION OF OTTOMAN JEWS. During the nineteenth century, the Ottoman Empire undertook a systematic reform effort known as the Tanzimat, which had beneficial effects on all elements of the Sultan’s subjects. The resulting modernization and secularization of the Jewish community, as well as the support of the newly emancipated and prospering Jews of Western Europe, led Ottoman Jewry to revive and Jews rose high once again in the Ottoman government and economy. Despite all the advances, however, the breakup and disintegration of the Ottoman Empire was disastrous for Ottoman Jewry. This was the age of Christian nationalism among the subjects of the Sultan, starting with the Greek Revolution early in the nineteenth century, which, based on the Megali Idea, or Great Idea, sought to take over large portions of the Empire, with the idea that there were in fact two main centers of Greek Hellenism, not only Athens and centers of the old Greek kingdom, but also the lands of the former Byzantine Empire centered in Istanbul and western Anatolia. The success of the Greek national movement, provided more in fact by the intervention of the Powers, stimulated similar uprisings among the other Christians of Southeastern Europe who had long been oppressed, not so much by the Ottomans but, rather, by the Greek religious hierarchy within the orthodox millet, leading first to pressure for religious independence, granted to the Bulgarian Orthdox Exarchate in 1870, to the Serbian Church in 1879, and to the Rumanian Church in 1885, with aspirations for, and achievement of, political independence soon following. These movements were helped by the Tanzimat reform policies which undermined the authority of the traditional millet leaders, who preferred continuance of Ottoman rule as a vehicle for their absolute domination of their communities, just as they faced the challenge of new modernist and nationalist leaders who were able to use the lay participation in millet affairs imposed by the Ottomans to exite the passions and allegiance of their followers. In this they were often greatly as-sisted not only by official foreign representatives but also by Christian missionaries from Britain and America, who emphasized feelings of superiority and hatred for Muslims which fortified the religious as well as ethnic bases of their pursuit of independence.
Christian nationalism, based as much on religious as on ethnic identity, and fueled by resentment at Jewish revival, soon resurrected the medieval religious bigotries which had driven Jews and Muslims together in the past, developing vicious anti Muslim and anti-Semitic movements, characterized by large-scale persecutions and massacres, carried out both by invading Christian armies and by the resulting independent Christian peoples, particularly because of Jewish and Muslim support for Ottoman integrity in fear of their fate in the emergent Christian states. The results were explosive and damaging, with Christian attacks on Jews far exceeding those of Muslims during the nineteenth century in both frequency and brutality.
I. ATTACKS ON OTTOMAN JEWS DURING EUROPEAN INVASIONS AND NATIONALIST REVOLTS AND UPRISINGS
The invading armies of Russia and Austria as well as the revolting Christian nationalists and, later, successfully established independent Christian states, committed systematic genocide against Jews and Muslims throughout the nineteenth century, despite Great Power admonitions to the contrary in the treaties of Paris (1858) and Berlin (1878). Starting with the Greek Revolution during the first quarter of the century, Christian nationalists attacked and murdered Ottoman officials, destroyed Jewish and Muslim villages and quarters, and spread not only anti-Muslim hatred but also anti-Semitic propaganda, particularly the old ‘blood libels’ which had largely been laid to rest two centuries before as Ottoman Jewry had fallen into decline. As the Christian nations of Southeastern Europe achieved their independence, not only their Muslim minorities but also their Jews were systematically persecuted, massacred and driven beyond the ever-shrinking boundaries of the retreating Ottoman Empire in a kind of slaughter which had not been since the dispersal of the Jews from Palestine centuries earlier.
This genocide began as long before as the late sixteenth century. In 1579 the ruler of Moldavia, Peter the Lame, banished its Jews because of their competition with its Christian merchants. When Prince Michael the Brave revolted against the Ottomans in the Rumanian principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia in 1593, he ordered the massacre of all the Jews as well as Turks in Bucharest. Many Jews immigrated to Rumania in the late seventeenth century as a result of the Chmielnicki Cossack massacres in Poland and the Ukraine, but this added to Rumanian hostility, with the encouragement of the Cossacks, who at times invaded the Principalities and murdered Jews and Muslims alike. Greek Orthodox churches in Rumania declared all Jews to be heretics, forbad all relations with them and refused to allow their testimony to be accepted in courts. After the Ottomans regained control and turned the Principalities over to the Istanbul-based Greek Phanariotes, Jews were readmitted with special charters, exempting them from taxes and providing special places for temples, cemeteries and the like, but this enraged the Rumanian masses even more, and they became particularly hostile to the Jews because of their defense of the Ottomans who protected them. Blood libel charges and anti-Semitic tracts led to anti Jewish riots in Bucharest in 1801. When the Principalities were occupied by Russian forces in 1806-1812 Jews again were subjected to intense persecution. The Jews of Rusçuk fled across the Danube after the Russian ‘liberators’ had burned their synagogue and the Jewish quarter to the ground. After the Russians left, most of the refugees returned, only to be subjected to similar violence by the Rumanians in 1811 and again in 1828. After signature of the Treaty of Bucharest in 1812 which gave up Bessarabia to Russia, the Jews of Rusçuk returned once again to their homes, but continued persecution followed with little break throughout the remainder of the century.
Serbian nationalist uprisings against the Ottomans also severely affected their Jewish community. In 1807 the Serbs who were revolting against the Janissary garrison of Belgrade (dahis) expelled all the Jews and Turks, most of whom lied southwards, and while some subsequently returned, Alexander Karageorgevich (1842-1858) enacted a series of restrictions on Jewish residence, acquisition of property and participation in the professions. Jews were accused of competing unfairly with their Serbian counterparts and so were prohibited from settling in the countryside and instead concentrated in a dank ghetto in Belgrade, immediately beneath the great Ottoman fortress at Kalemeydan where they could be constantly watched by the army. The Serbian press was virulently anti-Semitic, accusing Jews of robbing the peasants and debauching them with drink, as well as of being Ottoman agents because of their continued support of Ottoman rule.
When the Greeks started to revolt against Ottoman rule early in the nineteenth century, many Greek volunteers coming from Russia and the Principalities to join in the effort slaughtered and plundered the Jewish communities along their paths as they went through Moldavia and Wallachia toward Greece. During the Russian occupation of the Principalities between 1835 and 1856, Jews were actively persecuted on the Russian model, including regulations denying them citizenship, forbidding them from settling in the countryside, leasing land, or establishing factories in the urban communities, all because of the prevailing belief that they had exploited the Rumanian Christians during the centuries of Ottoman rule.
Things were no better in Hungary when it was conquered by the Habsburgs after 1683. After Austria captured Buda in 1688, most of its Jews were slaughtered by the conquering army because they had sided with the Turks in defending the city. Austrian soldiers burned, looted and killed both the Turkish and Jewish population. The Jewish quarter was pillaged and the Torah scrolls were burned. A few managed to flee, but most were imprisoned and sold as slaves in Vienna or offered to other Jewish communities for ransom. Emperor Charles III later allowed the survivors to return, but Maria Teresa (1717-1780) exiled them again in 1746, though a protest by the Ottoman goverment subsequently caused this order to be annulled. The Austrian captures of Belgrade and Vidin in 1689 similarly were followed by massacres of their Jewish inhabitants. About a century later when the revoking governor of Vidin, Pasvanoğlu, suddenly died, his Jewish physician was blamed by his bandit supporters, who subsequently ravaged the Jewish quarter of the city and killed most of its inhabitants, though some managed to flee on the Danube to Rusçuk.
When Venice occupied the island of Chios in 1694, its Jewish population was either massacred or deported and all Jewish communal and personal property was stolen by the Greeks, leaving those who returned in utter poverty and reduced to begging during the eighteenth century, no longer able to compete with the Greeks in commerce.
Jews living in Greece suffered terribly because of their continued support for Ottoman rule. During the height of the Greek revolution in 1821, five thousand Jews were massacred in the Morea along with most of the Muslim population, numbering about twenty thousand in all, with the remaining Jews driven to the island of Corfu. Greek nationalists went from town to town on the mainland and from island to island in the Aegean, exterminating all the Jews and Muslims they could find, many along the roads as they desperately lied to safety in what was left of the Ottoman Empire. Contemporary accounts relate that the Greeks left the murdered Jews and Muslims lying exposed so their bodies could be tom apart by the buzzards.
The extermination of Jews and Muslims by the Greek revolutionaries, more than any other event, set the pattern for similar actions by later nineteenth century Christian independence movements against the Ottomans elsewhere in southeastern Europe, in Serbia, Bulgaria, and particularly Rumania, which had a population of 134,168 Jews in 1871, in a predominantly Russian Orthodox country. Jews as well as Muslims were massacred, persecuted and driven out as part of the process by which independence was achieved. Jews were forbidden to own property and to acquire nationality, though they were at times able to get around these rules through bribary and the use of third parties. Jews unable to find work were often expelled from one town after the other until they finally were huddled together into dirty and insanitary ghettos in the larger towns and cities, where they were despised by the Rumanians as dirty and unsanitary menaces to public health In 1866, during the course of anti-Semitic demonstrations organized by the police, the principal Jewish synagogue in Bucharest was demolished and the Jewish quarter plundered by Rumanian nationalist mobs. The new Rumanian constitution restricted citizenship to Christians, thousands of Jews were expelled from the villages, and Jews who were not citizens were expelled from the country. Large numbers of Jewish refugees from Russia, and particularly from the Crimea, came to the Ottoman Empire in 1865 as a result of persecutions resulting from the Crimean War. In 1867, Rumanian police arrested Jews in the streets, dragging them off to prison in chains. Self organized popular courts organized house to house searches, tried and sentenced their Jewish captives and deported them. The anti Semitic press, for the most part operated by unemployed Rumanian teachers, incited the Christian masses against the Jews, saying that the latter had stolen their property, with British protests against these outrages being rejected by Prince Carol and the government who stated blandly that there were no such persecutions.
During the Russian invasion of Bulgaria in 1876-1878 in support of the Bulgarian national movement, Jews were officially declared to be a hostile element supporting the Turks, so they were subjected to intense persecution. Cossacks and Bulgarians plundered the shops of Muslims and Jews in Sofia and Vidin for four days, raping and killing all the non Christians they could find, and leaving the bodies along the road to be eaten by the dogs, very much in the manner of the Greek rebels a half century earlier. The Jewish communities of Kazanlık, Sıshtov, Stara Za- gora, Vidin and Nicopolis were ravaged and many were murdered by Bulgarian mobs with the help of the occupying Russian troops. Russian cannons destroyed the newly-built Vidin synagogue and completely des-troyed the Jewish community of Nicopolis, one of the oldest in Bulgaria. Assaults, robberies and murders engulfed Jews all over the country. Thousands of Bulgarian Jews followed the fleeing Muslims out of Bulgaria into the shrinking territories of the Ottomans, taking refuge for the most part in Istanbul, where they were helped, not only by the Ottoman goverment and the local Jewish community, but also by a special fund set up in London by Baron Maurice de Hirsch.
During the same war, large numbers of Jews were persecuted in Serbia, but they were allowed to take refuge in Ottoman territory by terms of the Ottoman-Serbian peace treaty of 17 February 1877. And once again, following the war, large nembers of Russian Jews, as well as others from all the Balkan nations, were given refuge on Ottoman territory from mounting persecution of all sorts. The sufferings of Serbian and Rumanian Jews in particular were described in a memorandum drawn up by the Alliance Israelite Universelle and presented to the representatives of the Great Powers who met in Istanbul late in 1876.
The Treaty of San Stephano (3 March 1878) imposed on the Ottomans by the victorious Russian army left the Balkan Jews in the same state as their brothers in the Russian Pale, providing some rights for minorities, but no sort of equality, freedom of religion, or representation in parliaments of the newly-independent Christian states. However the Treaty of Berlin (July 1878) which supplanted San Stephano as a result of the intrusion of the western powers, dictated, largely as a result of Alliance pressure on the French and British governments, that all the newly independent Balkan countries should provide equal rights and protection to those Jews and Muslims who remained under their rule, with full access to all public offices, equality for the minorities, and religious freedom for the Jews of Bulgaria, Rumania and Serbia in particular, despite the objections of the Russian delegate Gorchakov that the Balkan Jews constituted a veritable cancer to the local populace.
Despite the protections for minorities written into the Treaty of Berlin, it only stimulated even more anti-Semitic and anti Muslim hysteria in all the Balkan countries, with blood-libel accusations once again being hurled forth as immediate pretexts for attacks. Because the Rumanians and Greeks regarded the Jews as supporters of the Turks, members of both groups were exeiled in equally atrocious and brutal manners, with the survivors fleeing in desperation to Edirne and Istanbul.
During the years from the Treaty of Berlin until World War I, the Balkan Jews did best in Bulgaria, though not without problems. In 1878, its new Prince Alexander of Battenberg attempted to fulfill the provisions of the Treaty by telling the Grand Rabbi of Bulgaria, Gabriel Almosnino, that: 1 shall love all my subjects, regardless of their creed. The law shall be applied to all without discrimination’. As a result, many Jews who had fled into exile to Istanbul returned with hope to their Bulgarian homes, resulting in increases in the Sofia Jewish population to 4.274 in 1881, 5,102 in 1888, 6,872 in 1893, and 12,862 in 1910. Jews began to participate actively in Bulgarian public life, entering the administration and Parliament. However this enraged most Bulgarians, particularly since the newly-liberated Jews tended to emphasize their Ladino heritage and French culture in their schools, leading to increasing anti-Semitism during subsequent years, bias against Jews in government, anti Semitic attacks in the press and some political parties, mob attacks at times, but with the Jewish community continuing to maintain its legal position until World War I .
The Rumanian reaction to the Treaty of Berlin was far stronger, and its anti-Semitism far more severe and lasting. After 1885, Romanian Jews were excluded from the professions. They were not allowed to be lawyers, teachers, chemists, railroad officials, doctors in state hospitals, army officers or stock brokers and they were forbidden from selling commodities controlled by government monopolies, such as tobacco, salt and alcohol, causing 41,754 Jews, out of a total of 262,348, to migrate between 1899 and 1905 .
In 1891 Jews being persecuted on the island of Corfu (Greece) found refuge on Ottoman territory with the help of a popular subscription drive carried out in Istanbul under the leadership of the Banque Camondo. In 1881 and 1884, and again in 1892 and 1903, thousands of Jews came to Ottoman territory as a result of pogroms in Russia. In 1893, Rumanian Jews were expelled from al) public schools, and many Jewish political leaders and journalists were summarily expelled from the country, even those who had participated actively in the Rumanian War for Independence. In 1899 Jewish families arrived in Istanbul in flight from persecution at Vidin, in independent Bulgaria. And the conquest of Ottoman Thrace and Macedonia by Greek and Bulgarian forces during the Balkan Wars (1912-3), including Saionica and Edirne, was followed by general attacks on Jews, their homes and shops, resulting in a renewed exodus toward Istanbul and beyond. The Ottoman Empire thus reeived literally thousands of Jewish refugees who joined the Muslims who survived persecutions in eastern and southeastern Europe, flooding into the Ottoman Empire where they provided their skills as well as capital, when they had any remaining, joining with its old-established Jewish community in contributing significantly to the modernization of Ottoman agriculture and industry.
2. CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION OF JEWS WITHIN THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE
The revival of Ottoman Jewry during the last half of the nineteenth century produced ugly reactions among their Christian rivals within the territory that remained under Ottoman rule. So long as the Jews were excluded from economic and financial life and remained in ignorance and poverty, the Ottoman Christians, secure in the protection they were getting from the Christian powers of Europe, left the Jews alone. But once Jewish competition rose once again, the violence resumed, as the Christians sought to divert onto the Jews the increasing Muslim hatred resulting from Christian assaults on Muslims throughout Southeastern Europe as well as North Africa and Russian Central Asia. Frequent Greek up-risings, particularly in Macedonia and during the Ottoman-Greek war over Crete that started in 1897, exacerbated relations, not only between Greeks and Muslims, but also between the former and Jews, who invariably supported the latter against their persecutors. Jews thus were attacked in the Salonica newpaper L’Acropolis on May 2, 1897, with the accusation that they were profaning Christian churches. Muslims sometimes were convinced to join the Christians in the resulting attacks in the Arab provinces, but these were relatively minor and far between compared with the Christian hatred which was nourished by both religious and economic factors, particularly since the Ottoman government regularly intervened to protect the Jews whenever possible. In addition to the Greeks, “The Jews were also hated by the Christian Syrians, the Christian Arabs, and the Armenians for religious reasons-a religious hatred which was deeply implanted in their hearts-and out of jealousy for the general competition of the Jews in the Ottoman Empire.”
The American Presbyterian missionary H.H. Jessup, who spent some fifty three years in the Middle East at his church at Beirut, said about the Jews:
“They are hated intensely by all the sects, but more especially by the Greeks and Latins. In the gradations of Oriental cursing, it is tolerably reasonable to call a man a donkey, somewhat severe to call him a dog, contemptuous to call him a swine, but withering to the last degree to call him a Jew. The animosity of the nominal Christian sects against the Jews is most relentless and unreasoning. They believe that the Jews kill Christian children every year at the Passover and mingle their blood with the Passover bread. Almost every year in the spring, this senseless charge is brought against the Jews... the Jews of Beirut and Damascus are obliged to pay heavy blackmail every year to the Greek and Latin ‘Lewd fellows of the baser sort’ who threaten to raise a mob against them for killing Christian children..., and not only do they regard them as children of hell, but would rejoice to send them there if they could”.
On the basis of examining literally thousands of reports of anti Semitic attacks found in the archives of the Alliance Israélite Universelle in Paris, Professor Paul Dumont reported:
"... the increase of anti-Semitic incidents in Turkey during the second half of the nineteenth century is striking. Though the Ottoman government never failed to punish the guilty parties, the antagonism between communities remained intense. In most towns of Rumelia, as well as Anatolia, Muslims, Jews and Christians lived in apparent harmony, often intermingled in the same quarter. But the slightest spark sufficed to ignite the fuse. Whenever a young Christian disappeared at the approach of Passover, Jews were immediately accused of having kidnapped him to obtain blood necessary for the manufacture of unleavened bread. Threats and violence followed close behind the suspicions and generally things ended with a boycot of Jewish shops and peddlers. It is especially with Greeks that the Jewish commuities had a bone to pick. But anti-Semitic prejudice was also frequent among Armenians and Bulgarians. Furthermore, as a general rule, when an incident occurred, Christians, without regard to their particular ethnic or religious affiliation, forgot their own quarrels and formed a block against Jews. In the region of Izmir, where the Greek population was particularly cohesive the correpondents of the Alliance from the 1870’s onward, reported anti-Jewish upheavals practically every year. These upheavals were usually based on the blood libel. Similar disorders were frequent in certain cities of Rumelia, in the islands, (Crete and Rhodes), and even in Istanbul in spite of the presence of the central government...
These disorders nearly always had a religious basis. It was usually at the approach of great Jewish or Christian holidays that accusations of ritual murder were made and nots broke out. During Easter week, the recital of the death of Jesus never failed to awaken the fury of Christians. At the least provocation, the ‘Murderers of the Savior’ were pursued, insulted and eventually beaten up. Naturally, such outbursts of anti-Semitism cannot be explained by solely religious motives. Suspicions against Jews were also due to the fact that most of them exercised ambulant trades. In the eyes of the sedentary population, Jewish peddlers, ragpickers, tinkers and cobblers seemed just as dangerous as Gypsy sellers of charms and fortune tellers. They were charged with spreading epidemics, suspected of carrying in their bales stolen goods, and were accused of abducting children. When some incident occurred in a locality, the scapegoat was always the same: the accusations were directed at a band of Gypsies or a Jewish ragpicker who had wandered through some time earlier.
It is striking to note that numerous anti-Jewish riots were accompanied by boycott. As soon as some trouble accurred, Christians forbade Jews access to their quarters and stopped trading with Jewish bazaar merchants. A simple phenomenon? These ‘penalties’ were in fact the direct expression of a growing anxiety among Greeks and Armenians faced with competition that ceaselessly encroached upon them. It would be an exaggeration to see in the intercommunal conflicts of the end of the nineteenth century nothing more than a reflection of economic rivalries, but this aspect of the question must nevertheless be stressed. As already stated the re-emergence of anti Semitism among the Christian populations of Turkey, from the sixties onwards, was certainly linked-at least in part to the slow but steady progress of Jews in certain key sectors of the Ottoman economy (export of agricultural products and raw materials, import of manufactured goods and, to a lesser degree, light industry).
Naturally the disorders that occurred from time to time were a violent and occasional from of intercommunal rivalry. Ordinarily the rivalry was manifested in other ways: mockery, insults and various vexations. In certain towns Christians increased their efforts to prevent Jews from gaining access to crafts. The most significant example of this was the silk craft of Bursa, which was almost entirely in the hands of Greek and Armenian women. In 1899, the Jewish community had to undertake numerous steps with the inspector of the Public Debt to obtain the right to spin and weave silk at home. When this permit was finally granted, the weaving workshop created by the school of the Alliance met with incessant difficulties: under the pressure of Greek weavers, most of the silk traders refused to support the project. Women who were hired by the school to act as monitors left the workshop one after the other, looms were sabotaged, goods were soiled or tom. In spite of all these obstacles, the experiment was pursued and the workshop functioned through several years. But the women trained as weavers and spinners by the Alliance continued to meet with open ill will on the part of the Christian workers. The example of the silk workshops in Bursa is certainly an excessive but not an isolated case. Though Jews and Christians often worked together in the same offices and workshops, it also happened, not infrequently, that Greek and Armenian employers refused to accept young Jews as apprentices. They generally justified themselves by referring to the problem of the sabbath which reprived them of their Jewish workers for two consecutive days Saturday and Sunday.
Relations between Jews and Muslims were, on the whole, much more satisfactory. Naturally we must not take the reports of the teachers of the Alliance too literally; at the time of Abdülhamid, it was decidedly more risky to complain of Turks than of Armenians or Greeks, but there is no doubt that Muslims of Rumelia and of Anatolia, even if they tended to despise to a certain extent the çıfıt, were much more tolerant than Christians. Though the belief in the blood libel was quite prevalent among Turks..., serious incidents based on such prejudice were extremely rare. The documents which we examined, covering a period of thirty years, note only two or three cases of anti-Jewish riots in Muslim quarters. In general the feelings of ill will of certain Muslim elements against Jews were expressed by quibbles and minor vexations...”
The distinguished Israeli scholar Professor Moshe Ma’oz, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, used contemporary Jewish reports to describe similar conditions in the Arab provinces:
“The employment of the blood libel weapon by Christians against Jews had already started in Ottoman Syria at the beginning of the nineteenth century and gradually replaced the traditional instruments of Christian-Jewish struggle, i.e., the Financial and political use of influence, intercession and subversion. These blood accusations which appeared sporadically in Syria from 1810 on took place more regularly during the reform period. This occurred not only because Christian-Jewish economic competition expanded with the growth of both economic activités and government administration, but also, particularly after 1840 when the incidence of such accusations increased, presumably because the growing Muslim animosity to the Christians induced the latter to try by this means to divert the hatred from themselves to the Jews-thereby providing Muslims and Christians with a common scapegoat. By accusing the Jews of such crimes, the Christians aimed at discrediting and delegitimizing the Jews in the eyes of Muslims, thus undermining the moral basis for their existence and justifying their physical destruction”.
The first big pogrom within the Empire came early. In 1663 two Janissaries of Christian origin accused Istanbul Jews of killing the child of one, who had fact been killed by his own father, throwing the body into the Jewish quarter on the night on which Passover began. Greeks started assaulting Jews the next day, but the Grand Vezir learned of the plot, informed the Sultan, and the Janissaries in question were put to death. In 1774 Greeks in Izmir attacked the Jewish quarters in consequence of the first blood libel accusation in modem times. In 1821 Greek rebels in the Archipelago captured a ship coming from Mecca and mistreated the Muslim pilgrims on board including the Molla of Mecca and his ha-rem. The cruelties inflicted against the veiled women and a venerated old man excited the indignation of Muslims throughout the Empire. As a result on 27 April 1821, first day of Christian Easter, Grand Vezir Benderli Ali Paşa went to the Patriarchate of Fener with a battalion of Janissaries who seized Patriarch Gregory V and hung him at the door of his palace in the presence of a large crowd. Those in attendance were mainly Greeks, but some Jews also were present, attracted by curiosity. The Grand Vezir is said to have remarked to them “Welcome you Jews. Here is hung your enemy and mine. Take him to the sea, I order you.” Either because they wanted to or because of the application of force, three Jews named Moutal, Bitachachi and Levy took the body to the shore of the Golden Hom and dumped it into the water under the watchful gaze of the Janissaries. This led to an absurd rumor which spread rapidly through the Greek community that Jews had inspired the government to murder the Patriarch, leading to large-scale anti Jewish riots most of the major cities, with many deaths and considerable damage. By the time the rumor arrived in Greece, it was so exaggerated that it was the Jews of Istanbul who had hung the Patriarch, and thousands of Jews as well as Muslims were besieged and massacred throughout mainland Greece and the islands. Blood libels followed at Safed in 1834 and 1838.
During the remainder of the nineteenth century Blood Libel accusations were spread hundreds of times to excite Christian mobs to attack and kill Jews and ravage their homes and shops.
There was the famous Damascus Pogrom of 1840, in which hundreds of Damascus Jews were attacked and killed as a result of the disappearance of an Italian Friar named Thomas and his Muslim servant and the rumor circulated by Capuchin monks, apparently with the support of the French Consul General, Batti-Menton, to counteract fears that Britain was gaining influence, that they were murdered by Jews in order to use their blood for the Passover service. Soon afterwards in the same year there was a terrible blood libel in Rhodes, in which similar charges that a Jewish peddler kidnapped and murdered a ten year old Christian child led to large-scale Greek attacks on the Jewish community as well as the arrest and torture of leaders of the Jewish community before the real culprits were found .
Leading British Jews led by Sir Moses Montefiore interceded with the Sultan and secured the famous ferman of 18 October 1841 in which he specifically absolved the Jews of guilt in these particular incidents and ordered that if such accusations were made anywhere in the Empire, they should be investigated and judged only by his own Imperial Council, where the Jews would be assured of justice .
Sultan Abdulmecit issued another declaration in 1843 ordering equality and protection for all his subjects regardless of religion:
“The Sultan, our master and father to us all, has come among us as in the midst of a family whose joys are his joys and sorrows are his sorrows. He knows all the obligations that divine Providence has imposed on him... you should not doubt for an instance his justice. Muslims, Christians and Jews, you are all subjects of the same emperor, Children of the same father. If there are oppressed among you, it is the intention of His Majesty that the laws safeguarding life, honor and property of all subjects be strictly observed in the entire Empire... Muslims or Christians rich or poor, civil, military or religious officials, all Ottoman subjects should have full confidence in the sovereign who holds equal balance for all....
Grand Vezir Mustafa Reşid Paşa issued a similar statement in 1846:
“His Majesty the Emperor, just as he wants the good fortune of his Muslim subjects, wants also that the Christians and Jews, who are equally his subjects, enjoy tranquility and protection. Differences in religion and sect do not concern him, nor do they hinder their rights; and as we all are subjects of the same government and citizens bom in the same empire, we should not look on each other with a bad eye. Our sovereign is spreading his good works among all classes of his subjects, and they should live in good harmony among each other, and work together for national prosperity”.
But the accusations continued, stimulating pogroms elsewhere in the Ottoman Empire, occasionally by Muslims but most often by Christians. They followed first on the island of Rhodes, then against the Jews in Istanbul, who were accused of murders or murder attempts by Greeks, Orthodox Armenians and Arab Christians, in order to use the blood of the dead in baking Matzohs, and were attacked by Christians and some Muslims who been encouraged by them. There were nine more blood libels in Damascus between 1840 and igoo. In Eretz Israel itself there were blood libel assults in 1847, 1848, 1870 and 1871. Similar incidents took place in Mosul in 1841 Cairo in 1844 (started by Muslims) and 1846, Alexandria in 1844, Damascus in 1840, Cos island in 1850, Kuş adası in 1859, Damascus in 1860, Rhodes in 1861,. Beirut in 1862, Büyükdere (in Istanbul on the Bosporus) in 1864 and İzmir in 1864.
In 1865, immediately after enactment of the new Organic Statute for the Grand Rabbinate, and just as Jewish capital from Europe was begin- ing to make its weight felt in Istanbul, local Armenians and Greeks started a ‘pogrom’ against Jews immediately across the Sea of Marmara from Istanbul, at Haydarpaşa, terminus of the railroad being built across Anatolia, which the local police were unable to stop, with over three hundred Jews massacred and many more beaten and raped before the disturbance was stopped when the Sultan sent his personal guard across the bay to protect the Jews.
Blood libel attacks mostly mounted by native Christians against Jews, often with the assistance of the local French consuls, took place at Bursa in 1865 at Kusguncuk and Büyükdere, both in Istanbul, in 1866, Arbil in 1867, at Balat, Galata, Beyoğlu and Büyükdere in Istanbul in 1867, when local Greeks attacked Jews because of the latter’s celebrations of the Ottoman defeat of Greek rebels in Crete, which led to accusations by Greek priests that Jews were desecrating Christ, at the Eyub section of Istanbul in 1868 , at various places in Istanbul in 1870, at Alexandria, Egypt later the same year, in Izmir in 1871, in Edirne, Izmir, Marmara, Janina and Candia in 1872, also throughout Rumania starting in 1872, at Edirne, Izmir and Janina in 1873, at Damanhur in Egypt in 1871 and 1873, the latter started by Muslims, at Thrace, including Marmara, Gallipoli, Bursa, Çanakkale, Salonica, Monastic, Metelin, Izmir,, Manisa, Chios, Edirne, Rusçuk, Varna, Lüleburgaz, Köstendil, Vidin, Janina, Filibe, Kamabad, Samakoff and Silistria throughout 1873 and 1874, at Kermasti in 1873, at Izmit in 1874, at the Fener section of Istanbul in 1874, at Aleppo in 1875, ended only when the governor sent troops to guard the Jewish quarter, in Izmir and Istanbul in 1876 and at Damanhur and Mansura in Egypt in 1877.
There were literally thousands of incidents in subsequent years, invariably resulting from accusations spread among Greeks and Armenians by word of mouth, or published in their newspapers, often by Christian financiers and merchants who were anxious to get the Jews out of the way, resulting in isolated and mob attacks on Jews, and burning of their shops and homes. The attacks were brutal and without mercy. Women, children, and aged Jewish men were frequently attacked, beaten, and often killed. Macedonia was a living hell, not only for Muslims, but also for Jews, with the terror bands organized by Greek, Bulgaria, Serbian and even Rumanian nationalists slaughtering all those who failed to share their national passions. Those Jews who survived fled particularly to Salonica, whose Jewish population inceased substantially as a result, from 28,000 in 1876 to 90,000 in 1908, more than half the total population. The famous Turkish-Jewish historian Avrom Galante, who lived for many years among the Greeks on the island of Rhodes, relates how he tried desperately to secure assistance from the Greek religious authorities to end the pogroms, securing Patriarchal encyclicals in 1873, 1874, 1884 and 1898, but with only limited success as they felt pressure from their co-religionists to go along or not to object, while the lower priests actively encouraged the attacks against Jews, not only on the part of their own followers but also by Muslims. Efforts of the Grand Rabbi and individual Jews within the empire to stop these pogroms were supported by leading European Jewish bankers such as Baron de Hirsch, principal builder of the railroads between Vienna, Istanbul and the East, and by the Alliance Israélite Universelle, who usually were able to get the culprits imprisoned, but little could be done to remedy the damage done to Ottoman Jews during the course of the repeated attacks, and only the constant efforts at protection by the Ottoman government prevented things from becoming even worse as time went on .
Despite all the pressure from Ottoman and foreign Jews alike, the blood libels and other assaults by Christians on Jews went on and on, culminating in 1912 and 1913, following the Greek conquest of Salonica during the First Balkan War, when most of its Jews, who had increased to half the city’s total during the previous half century due to mass emigration from persecution in Bulgaria and Rumania as well as by Christian nationalist bands elsewhere in Macedonia, were terrorized into leaving so they could be replaced by Greek immigrants from Ottoman Thrace. The Greek occupation of Salonica was an utter disaster for its long-established Jewish community. By killing and driving out large numbers of Jews, the Greek army left a substantial Greek majority in the city for the first time, starting Salonica Jewry on the way to its final decimation by the Nazis during their occupation of Greece in World War II.
The same thing happened during the Greek invasion of Izmir, western Anatolia, Thrace and the Aegean islands during the Turkish War for Independence following World War I, in which Muslims and Jews alike were terrorized and massacred by the invading army, also for the purpose of establishing a Greek majority which could subsequently be used to justify continued Greek rule of the area .
Salonica of course was not the only place of refuge for refugees entering the Empire during its last century of existance. Istanbul, Edirne, Izmir and other parts of Rumelia as well as Anatolia received thousands more. Jews, moreover, were not the only refugees received and helped by the government of the Sultan. Thousands of Muslims accompanied them in flight to Istanbul and into Anatolia, as a result of similar conditions wherever Christian states gained their independence or expanded. The Russian conquest of the Crimea and the Caucasus starting in the late eighteenth century, and particularly during and after the Crimean War, combined with the same independence movements in Southeastern Europe that had caused so much suffering and flight among its Jews caused thousands of helpless, ill, and poverty-stricken Muslim refugees to accom-pany them into the ever shrinking boundaries of the Ottoman Empire, with the Istanbul goverment struggling mightily but vainly to house and feed them as best it could. From 1850 to 1864 as many as 800,000 Crimean Tatars, Circassians, and other Muslims from north and east of the Black Sea had entered Anatolia alone. As many as 200,000 more came during the next twenty years, while 474,389 refugees entered in 1876-7 as a result of the Ottoman wars with Russia and the Balkan states, with an equal number gaining in what was left of the European portions of the Empire.
Christian revolts against the Ottomans with European help along with attacks on Muslims and Jews in the newly independent Christian nations as well as within the Ottoman Empire, particularly in Macedonia, and a common poverty among the masses created a feeling of brotherhood in suffering between Muslims and Jews within the shrinking bouda- ries of the Ottoman Empire which has lasted right into the Turkish Republic to the present day. It was the Jews and Muslims against the Christian with the Jews extremely grateful for the protection provided by the Ottoman government. And it was therefore not just the modern education, not just the modernization of the Jewish millet, not just the help of the Jewish financiers of Europe, but also an increasing Muslim feeling of togetherness with the Jews above all other non-Muslims in the Empire which contributed to the revival of Ottoman Jewry in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Ottoman Jewry therefore remained far more loyal to the Ottomans than any other minority, resisting not only the efforts of Armenian and Greek nationalists to secure Jewish support during and after World War I, but even those of European Zionists to gain their support for the establishment of a Jewish home in Palestine.
There were repeated attempts to secure Ottoman approval for Jewish settlement in Palestine during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, but while the Ottomans repeatedly responded with encouragement for the continued flow of Jewish emigrants which had begun much earlier in the century in response to political repression all over Europe, they specifically discouraged such settlement in Palestine and attempted to divert it to other parts of the Empire, particularly to Anatolia, where Jewish settlers had done so much already to revive Ottoman agriculture and trade. It has been suggested that Ottoman opposition stemmed at least partly from fears of creating a new minority problem in an empire already suffering from major nationalist revolts, of expanding the number of subjects benefiting from the protection of foreign powers through the hated Capitulations, and, since most of the prospective immigrants were Jews fleeing pogroms in Russia, of helping spread Russian influence in the Empire, but while these may have been considered, since the Ottomans were willing to settle Jews elsewhere in the Empire, including areas of Eastern Anatolia where the Russian threat was even more imminent than in Palestine because of Russian support for Armenian national aspirations, these do not really seem to have been decisive factors.
In 1879, the well known British writer Laurence Oliphant proposed to the Ottoman government that Jews be placed in a utopian settlement on the River Jordan. Efforts of a group of British and German businessmen in 1881 to secure an Ottoman concession for building a railroad from Izmir to Bagdad with the help of Jews who would be settled along its route was met with a decision of the Ottoman Council of Ministers that Jews could, indeed, be “settled as scattered groups throughout Turkey excluding Palestine...” but they would have to”... submit to all the laws of the Empire and become Ottoman subjects,” and this was repeated during the next two years in offical notices posted in Ottoman diplomatic and consular missions throughout Europe. Sultan Abdülhamid II himself favored the idea as it was presented to him by Grand Rabbi Moshe Levy, proposing to rescue Russian Jews by settling them in agricultural colonies, particularly in Eastern Anatolia, if only the Jewish community would agree to allow its men to be conscripted into the Ottoman army, a proposal which was willingly accepted by the Millet council but ultimately abandoned by the government when the Greek and Armenian communities refused to join in the effort.
In June 1896, Theodor Herzl, shortly after publishing his famous Der Judenstaat, suggesting that the ‘Jewish problem’ could be solved only by establishing a Jewish state somewhere, perhaps in Palestine, visited Istanbul for the first time, meeting with the Grand Vezir and other leading Ottoman officials and advocating a plan for the Sultan to allow the establishment of Palestine as a Jewish homeland in return for settlement of all the external debts of the Ottoman treasury by the wealthy Jewish bankers and investors of Europe. Abdulhamid and his officials had already decided as early as 1888 to allow Russian Jews to settle in Palestine as individual immigrants, though not in groups, so he and his officials replied to Herzl’s plan that they would be happy to have to have the support of European Jewry in paying off the Ottoman debts and building the empire, and were most anxious to continue to receive the Jewish refugees wishing to come to the Ottoman Empire from persecution in Central Europe and Russia who wished to help build its economy, but that they wanted them in Anatolia and Irak, not in Palestine, which, Abdulhamid said to one of Herzl’s colleagues in 1896, was as holy to Muslims as it was to Jews:
“If Mr. Herzl is a much your friend as you are mine, then advise him not to take another step in this matter. I cannot sell even a foot of land, for it does not belong to me but to my people. My people have won this empire by fighting for it with their blood and have fertilized İt with their blood. We will again cover it with our blood before we allow it to be wrested away from us... The Turkish Empire belongs not to me but to the Turkish people. I cannot give away any part of it. Let the Jews save their billions. When my Empire is partitioned, they will get Palestine for nothing but only our corpse will be divided. I will not agree to vivisection”.
Abdülhamid II’s opposition to a Jewish state in Palestine was supported not only by most of the Jewish bankers of Europe, who preferred to develop Jewish colonies in Eretz Israel under continued Ottoman rule, but also by the Grand Rabbi, Moshe Levy, and the other leaders of the Ottoman Jewish community, who were very satisfied with their situation in the Ottoman Empire and feared that such a Jewish state would undermine it . In fact, Abdülhamid was surprised by the extent of Herzl’s plan, and initially blamed the Grand Rabbi until the latter assured him that the Jewish community had nothing to do with it and strongly op-posed the idea. While Jewish immigrants in Palestine and some foreign diplomats in Istanbul at the time assumed that this opposition stemmed from Sephardic fears that they would be overwhelmed by a new Ashkenazi influx, this does not seem to have played an important role in the millet’s policies. There were equally strong protests against Jewish immigration from local Palestinian Arab notables, Christian and Muslim alike, who correctly perceived the inherent dangers to their dominance over their own communities. It was, however, the Arab Christians in particular who led the way, reviving the old blood libel accusations against Jews to rouse up their Muslim brothers in fear that the new immigrants would compete successfully with them in business and trade as well as for the favor of the Muslim majority. The Ottoman government also feared that the end result of the plan would be only to create another insolvable nationality problem amidst all those already threatening to destroy the empire, and perhaps add to the already large number of minorities claiming foreign citizenship and protection in addition to exemption from Ottoman laws . In response therefore to objections coming from Jewish, Muslim and Christian sources, the Ottoman government in Istanbul repeatedly issued orders prohibiting Jewish settlement in Palestine, requiring that those coming as visitors be required to leave after several months, but in practice local Ottoman officials allowed these ‘visitors’ to remain, presumably as a result of bribes and other considerations, and the central government not only did nothing substantial to stem the tide aside from repeating its orders, despite numerous reports that they were being flouted repeatedly, but in fact authorized Ottoman and foreign Jews who were legally resident in Palestine to purchase property if they agreed not to allow illegal Jewish immigrants to settle on it and use it for agriculture. As a result, the Jewish population of Palestine rose dramatically in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, from 24,000 in 1882 to 47,000 in 1890 and 80,000 in 1908, increasing their percent of the total population from five to over eleven percent during the period, and living not just in the cities but also in over twenty agricultural colonies operating with considerable success.
But Herzl wanted more than mere settlement of a Jewish minority in an Ottoman state. He visited Istanbul a second time in May 1901, securing an audience with the Sultan for the first time through the intercession of the Hungarian Jewish Turkologist Arminius Vambery, offering once again to arrange for Europe’s Jewish bankers to pay off the Ottoman Public Debt in return for some measure particularly friendly to the Jews, though this time, evidently as result of the Sultan’s hostile reaction to his previous suggestion to establish a Jewish state in Palestine, Herzl was much more vague on the subject than he had been previously. Abdiilhamid’s continued desire to settle Jews in the Empire, though not in Palestine, was evidently reflected in his réponse, also however vague, promising to provide Herzl with a detailed account of the Empire’s financial problems and to make a public proclamation favorable to Jews at a suitable opportunity. Herzl seems to have read much more than was intended into this, for while the sultan subsequently lived up to what he thought he had promised by allowing thousands more Jewish refugees from Germany and Russia to settle in the Empire, not only in Anatolia but also in Istanbul and İzmir, when Herzl returned to Istanbul in February and July of 1902 to hear these decisions, he felt betrayed because Palestine also was not included .
Relations between Jews and Muslim Turks were impoved by the role played by the Salonica dönmes, through their membership in the city’s Masonic lodges, in the Young Turk revolution of 1908 which overturned Abdiilhamid’s autocracy, though how important this role was remains a matter of debate among scholars. Jewish communities throughout the empire, however, actively supported the revolution and its results.
There also was a close alliance at times between Young Turks and Zionists based in Istanbul, led by Vladimir Jabotinsky, with the encouragement of the French-dominated Alliance Israélite and the German government as well as German Zionists, with the former supporting the latter’s efforts to establish Jewish colonies in Palestine in return for Zionist financial support of the CUP after 1910, including publication of the Istanbul newpaper Jeune Turc, one of the capital’s most influential dailies, not, as anti Semitic British observers claimed at the time, because the CUP was no more than a front for Jewish national ambitions.
Members of the Jewish community played active political roles during the Constitutional period (1908-1912), participating in party politics, with four Jewish representatives serving in the Parliaments of 1908, 1912 and 1914. This was despite the fact that the rise of Zionism led to antiSemitic statements by a few Muslim Ottoman politicians, led by Gümülcine Ismail Bey, leader of the People’s Party (Ahali Fırkası), who voiced fears that a Jewish state would be established, not only in Eretz Israel, but also in Mesopotamia, seat of the ancient Jewish refuge in Babylon, with some feeling that it was a plot to establish German hegemony in the Ottoman Middle East, and although Greek opposition to the Turkish nationalist policies of the Young Turks had led to considerable decreases in their Parliamentary representation at the time. The Young Turks’ dönme Minister of Finance Cavid Bey was particularly subjected to criticism because of his presumed support for Zionism. Many Young Turks themselves questioned how much support should be given to a Zi-onist move which threatened to separate from the Empire one of the holiest places in Islam. Soon after the Young Turk coup in 1909 the CUP publicly declared its support for Jewish immigration to all parts of the empire except Palestine, but the governor of Jerusalem continued to allow land sales to Ottoman Jews to continue. To preclude anti-Semitic feelings from spreading among Turks in the face of continued Jewish settlement in Palestine, moreover, leading Ottoman Jews founded the Jewish Brotherhood Society (Müsevi Uhuvvet Cemiyeti) in 1909 to promote friendship and good feeling with their Muslim counterparts. Jews also were involved in early Ottoman Social Democratic movements and labor organizations that developed in Istanbul and particularly in Salonica after 1908, with Avrom Benaroya bringing together various ethnic labor groups into the Salonica Socialist Club in October 1908 and publishing the Amele Gazetesi (Workers’ Gazetesi) followed by the Ladino La Solidaridad Ouvradere (Workers Solidarity) before the movement broke up into its constituent elements early in 1909. Benaroya was sent into exile to Serbia and the Salonica Socialist movement was suppressed in 1911 because of accusations of their involvement in an attempt to assassinate Sultan Mehmed V Reşad during his visit to Salonica the year before.
There were more Jewish bureaucrats in goverment than there ever had been under Abdülhamid II, and they tended to do better than even the Muslim officials both in compensation and promotions. Jews now served willingly in the Ottoman army, with special arrangements being made to provide for kosher food and observance of Sabbath and other religious rituals by Jewish soldiers, with relations between Jews and Muslim Turks improving even more as a result. At the same time, Jewish bankers, merchants and industrialists prospered due to the improvement of Ottoman administration and the tax system, the freeing of trade and commerce from the restrictions imposed during Abdülhamid H’s reign, the continued development of Ottoman public education, of which young Jews now full advantage in addition to the Alliance Israélite Universelle and the more recent German Hilfsverein der Deutschen Juden schools, and the arrival in Istanbul of numerous wealthy Jewish bankers and businessmen from Europe, who more than ever ‘took care of their own’, so for some time there was little support for Zionism among most Ottoman Jews. As more and more Jewish refugees Hooded into the Empire from persecution in Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, Rumania and Russia, however, the Ottoman Jewish community was forced to modify these attitudes in the face of their tremendous need for new homes and support, as well as a result of the influence of graduates of the Alliance schools, with several influential Jewish deputies in the Parliament, Nissim Rousseau and Nissim Mazliyah, and perhaps also Emmanuel Carasso (Karasu), cooperating with Jabotinsky and the other Zionist leaders in Istanbul in support of settling the refugees in Palestine.
Most of these refugees initially came to Istanbul, where they literally overwhelmed the community’s ability to help, counteracting whatever im-provement of economic conditions had provided the mass of Istanbul Jews, so most were sent on the east as soon as possible. Many were settled in Izmir and in southeastern Anatolia, very much as Sultan Abdülhamid II had suggested, but most wanted to and did go on to Eretz Israel, where they settled in agricultural colonies organized by the Zionists and others. This movement contributed significantly to the development of agriculture in the barren lands of Eretz Israel, and this increased Ottoman food supplies and tax revenues. On the other hand, however, Arab Christians as well as Muslims who lived there were bitterly hostile to the new immigrants, and in reaction developed new ‘blood libel’ attacks on Jews, not only in Palestine but also in the other Arab provinces, with a vehemence and hatred that exceeded any of the attacks elsewhere in the Empire or in Europe. While not entirely sympathetic to the Zionist movement as such, the leaders of Ottoman Jewry, and in particular Moshe Levy’s successor as Grand Rabbi, Haim Nahum Efendi (1909- 1920), did everything they could to help and protect these immigrants, and in the process were compelled to support Jewish settlements in the Holy Land, though still advocating their maintenance under Ottoman rule so as not to stimulate a Muslim reaction which might well undermine the position of Jews elsewhere in the Empire.
Young Jews now accepted conscription into the Ottoman army without paying the bedel-i askeriye, in contrast to the Sultan’s Armenian and Greek subjects, whose continued avoidance of military service stirred considerable antagonism in the government as well as on the part of the general public, greatly increasing the tensions which were already rising as a result of increasingly violent independence movements in the Balkans and Eastern Anadolia. Ottoman Jews strongly supported the empire’s resistance against the invasions of the Balkan states during the Balkan Wars (1912-1913), with the Jewish community’s participation in the defense of Edirne and Salonica and refusal to welcome the Bulgarian and Greek armies as they entered these cities resulting in their pillaging of Jewish houses, shops and synagogues and attacks on individual Jews which added to the rush of Jewish refugees and enhanced Jewish determination to support the Ottomans in the world war that followed .
Following the war the situation became even worse. The Allies restored the Capitulations almost immediately after occupying Istanbul, thus favoring the Christian minorities as well as their own economic interests at the expense of the non-Christian Ottoman subjects. Ottoman Jews were particularly discriminated against by the Allied High Commissioners, who turned Muslim as well as Jewish properties over to Christians who claimed them, seriously disrupting trade and commerce as well as the import of food for the capital, arrested a few of the more prominent Jewish leaders because of their support for the Young Turk movement and the involvement of a few Russian Jewish refugees in Communist and Socialist activities in the Ottoman capital as well as at Baku, in the Caucasus, at times sent Russian Jewish refugees back to Russia so as to avoid having too many Jews in Istanbul and several times rejected the Istanbul government’s request to enlist Jewish soldiers in its army so as to quell disturbances in Anatolia. The Allies proceded to abolish the secular laws introduced by the Young Turks after 1912, reestablishing the authority of the millet leaders and laws in many areas, including education and justice, and in general strengthening the conservative elements in Ottoman society as well as in the various communities as part of their effort to root out the Young Turks who had brought the empire into the war on the side of Germany. In Thrace and Southwestern Anadolia also the invading Greek army, which was attempting to provide the Paris Peace Conference with a fait acompli regarding territories it wished to retain, armed the Christian minorities and encouraged them to attack Muslims, with the Jews suffering as well because of their support for the Turks, and with the once-flourishing Jewish community of Salonica in particular being permanently displaced by Greek refugees settled there after the Greek army evacuated Anatolia .
It was only with the triumph of the Turkish War for Independence under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, that the survivors of Ottoman Jewry found permanent refuge in the new Turkish Republic, which has remained, right to the present day, a haven for Jewish refugees in (light from persecution and massacre by Bolsheviks and Nazis, in particular during the Holocaust, and later by Arabs and Khomeini’s Iran as a result of the emergence of Israel and the resulting Arab-Israeli confilict.
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
BA: Başbakanlık Arşivi, Prime Minister’s Archives, Istanbul.
Barnai: Dr. Jacob Bamai, “The Origins of the Jewish Commuity in Izmir in the Ottoman Period”, (in Hebrew), Pe’amim: Studies in the Cultural Heritage of Oriental Jewry (Ben Zvi Institute for the Study of Jewish Communities in the East Quarterly, Jerus- alim, no. 12, 1982).
Braude/Lewis: Benjamin Braude and Bernard Lewis, Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire (2 vols, New York, Holmes and Meier, 1982).
Barkan, “Statistique”: Ömer Liitfi Barkan, “Essai sur les Données Statistiques des Registres de Recensement dans l’Empire Ottoman aux XVe et XVe Siècles”, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 1(1957). 3-26.
Baron: Salo W. Baron, A Social and Religious history of the Jews: Late Middle Ages and Era of European Expansion (1200-1650): Second edition, revised and enlarged. Vol. XVIII. The Ottoman Empire, Persia, Ethiopia, India and Chios (Columbia University Press, New York, 1983).
Steven Bowman: The Jews of Byzantiom (Alabama Press, 1985).
BSOAS: Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (London)
Cohen, Islam: Amnon Cohen, Jewish Life Under Islam: Jerusalem in the Sixteenth Century (Cambridge, Mass., 1984).
Cohen, Middle East: Hayyim Cohen, The Jews of the Middle East, 1860- 1972(John Wiley, New York and Toronto, 1973).
Cohen/Lewis: Amnon Cohen and Bernard Lewis, Population and Revenue in the Towns of Palestine in the Sixteenth Century (Princeton, 1978).
Dumont: Paul Dumont, “Jewish Communities in Turkey during the Last Decades of the Nineteenth Century in the Light of the Archives of the Alliance Israélite Universelle”, Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire, ed. B. Braude and B. Lewis (2 vols, New York, 1982) I, 209-242.
EJ: Encyclopaedia Judaica (17 volumes and supplements, Jerusalem, 1972).
Emmanuel: Isaac Samuel Emmanuel, Histonre des Israelites de Salonique (2 vols, Paris, 1936).
Epstein: Mark Epstein, The Ottoman Jewish Communities and their role in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries (Freiburg, K. Schwarz, 1980).
Franco: Moise Franco, Essai sur l’histoire des Israélites de l’empire ottoman depuis les origines jusqu’à nos jours (Paris, 1897).
Galante, Anatolie: Abraham Galante, Histoire des Juifs d’Anatolie (2 vols, Istanbul, 1937-1939). Reprinted in Abraham Galante, Histoire des Juifs de Turquie (Istanbul, 1987) II, 243-290, III, 1-352, IV, 1-377.
Galante, Documents: Abraham Galante, Documents officiels turcs concernant les Juifs de Turquie (Stamboul, 1931). Reprinted in Abraham Galante, Histoire des Juifs de Turquie (Istanbul, 1987) V. 1-208.
Galante, Istanbul: Abraham Galante, Histoire des Juifs d’Istanbul depuis la prise de cette ville en 1453 jusqu ’a nos jours (Istanbul, 2 vols, 1941-2). Reprinted in Abraham Galante, Histoire des Juifs de Turquie (Istanbul, Isis, 1987)1, 113-396,11,3-241.
Galante, Rhodes: Abraham Galante, Histone des Juifs de Rhodes, Chio, Cos, etc. (Istanbul, 1935), reprinted in Abraham Galante, Histoire des Juifs de Turquie (9 vols, Istanbul, 1987) VII, 60-242.
Galante, Turcs et Juifs: Abraham Galante, Turcs et Juifs: Etude historique, pol-itique (Istanbul, Haim Rozio, 1932). Reprinted in Abraham Galante, Histone des Juifs de Turquie (Istanbul 1987) VII, 321-342, VIII, I-I 14.
Goldman, Zimra: Israel M. Goldman, The Life and Times of Rabbi David Ibn Abi Zimra: A Social, Economic and Cultural Study of Jewish Life in the Ottoman Empire tn the 15th and 16th Centuries as reflected in the Responsa of the RDBZ (New York, 1970).
Hirschberg: H.Z. Hirschberg, “The Oriental Jewish Communities”, Religion tn the Middle East, ed. AJ. Arberry (2 vols, Cambridge, England, 1969) I, 119-225.
IJMES: International Journal of Middle East Studies, ed, S.J. Shaw, 1970-1981.
JESHO: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient (Leiden).
Levy: Avner Levy, “The Jews of Turkey on the Eve of the Second World War and During the War”, Pe’amim no. 26-29 (Tel Aviv, 1986), pp. 32-47.
Lewis, Jews: Bernard Lewis, The Jews of Islam (Princeton, 1984).
Lewis, Semites: Bernard Lewis, Semites and anti-Semites: An Inquiry into Conflict and Prejudice (New York and London, Nordon, 1986).
Mandel, Arabs: Neville Mandel, The Arabs and Zionism before World War I (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1976).
Mandel, “Ottoman Policy”: Neville Mandel, “Ottoman Policy and Restrictions on Jewish Settlement in Palestine: 1881-1908 Part I”, Middle Eastern ó'/urfuí X (1974), 312-332.
Mantran: Robert Mantran, Istanbul dans la Second Moitié du XVIIe Siècle (Paris, 1962).
Nehama: Joseph Nehama, Histoire des Israelites de Salonique (7 vols, Salonika, 1935-1978).
REJ: Revue des Etudes Juives
Rosanes: Soloman Rosanes (Rozanes), Divrey Yemey Israel be- Togarma (History of the Jews in Turkey) (5 vols. Sofia, 1908-1938, vol. VI, Jerusalem, 1945. (covers years 1300-1835).
Shaw: Stanford J. Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, vol. 1, Empire of the Gazis: The Rise and Decline of the Ottoman Empire, 1280-1808 (Cambridge University Press, 1976 and later editions).
Shaw and Shaw: Stanford J. Shaw and Ezel K. Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modem Turkey, vol 2, Reform, Revolution and Republic: The Rise of Modem Turkey, 1808-1975 (Cambridge University Press, 1977 and later editions).
Shmuelevitz: Aryeh Shmuelevitz, The Jews of the Ottoman Empire in the late fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries: administrative, economic, legal and social relations as reflected in the Responsa (Leiden, Brill, 1984).
Starr: Joshua Starr, The Jews in the Byzantine Empire, 641-1204 (Athens, 1939).
TK: Tapu ve Kadastro Genel Müdürlüğü, Directorate of Cadastres, Ankara.
TKS: Topkapı Sarayı, Palace of the Ottoman Sultans, Istanbul.
Tuval: Shaul Tuval, “The Jewish Community in Turkey Today”, Pr’amtm Yad Ben-Zvi, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, no. 11-14 (1982). pp. 114-139.
Zimmels: Rabbi H.J. Zimmels, Ashkenazim and Sephardim: Their Relations, Differences, and Problem as Reflected tn the rabbinical Responsa (London, 1958).
Zinberg: Israel Zinberg, A History of Jewish Literature: The Jewish Center of Culture in the Ottoman Empire, ed. Bemard Martin (New York, 1974).