At least initially, Jews may have been concentrated in the late Middle Ages in urban mellahs (ghettos) for their own protection, but this segregation was certainly also a sign of their isolation and marginality. Certainly the mellahs established in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were founded with the intent of ostracism rather than protection. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the Jews of Ottoman Islam prospered in comparison with their coreligionists in Western Europe. But during the following centuries the condition of the Jews grew increasingly debased and precarious as the empire grew progressively weaker and, as a result, less tolerant, prey to the European powers baying at its heels. A Western traveler spoke of the Jews as "the. . . most degraded of the Turkish non-believer communities. . . their pusillanimity is so excessive, that they will flee before the uplifted hand of a child. . . a sterling proof of the effects of oppression."(The photo does not appear in Righteous Victims, of course. Aussie Dave's blog was useful for verifying that the person in the photo is indeed Edward Said.)
One measure and symbol of Jewish degradation was the common phenomenon--amounting in certain places, such as Yemen and Morocco, to a local custom--of stone-throwing at Jews by Muslim children. A nineteenth-century Western traveler wrote: "I have seen a little fellow of six years old, with a troop of fat toddlers of only three and four, teaching [them] to throw stones at a Jew, and one little urchin would, with the greatest coolness, waddle up to the man and literally spit upon his Jewish gabardine. To all this the Jew is to submit; it would be more than his life was worth to offer to strike a Mahommedan."
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Further Shameless Neocon Exploitation of Benny Morris: The Grand Rock-throwing Tradition
We continue with something I didn't know about rock-throwing. From Righteous Victims, p. 11: