Sunday, July 16, 2017

Ma'alot

As a researcher of historical facts, I have some factual data regarding our area which I would like to share with you.
Much of the information I gleamed from reading “The Survey of Western Palestine 1881” by Lieut Claude Reignier Conder and Lieut Horatio Herbert Kitchener The Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund 1 Adam Street Adelphi London

According to Joseph ben Matityahu aka Josephus Flavius the area of the tribe of Asher was a fertile and flourishing region noted for its olive orchards and the excellent olive oil derived from them.
According to the “Old Testament” the patriarch Yakov blessed his son: "As for Asher, his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties." Genesis 49:20 24. Moses, also promised affluence and importance: "
And of Asher he said: "Blessed be Asher above sons; let him be the favored of his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil." Deuteronomy 33:24 
According to an ancient legend, the oil for the anointment of all the kings and priests of Israel was produced by the tribe of Asher. It was also stated that none of the other tribes were as fortunate in the number of their children. Josephus states in his History of the Jews; "The maidens of the tribe of Asher were exceedingly beautiful and were wedded to the sons of priests and members of the royal family."

During the Roman ‘sojourn’ in the Galilee from 66 to 69 CE  during the (first) Great Jewish Revolt, on orders given by Vespasian and Titus, a number of towns were destroyed. The majority of the population in the Galilee and their villages however, were left predominantly untouched. This is because the populace fled to live in caves as found by archaeologists from the Safed Academic College by Dr. Yinon Shivtiel and Vladimir Boslove of the Israeli Cave Research Center of to have escaped to live in caves where water cisterns carved into the rock, as well as pitchers, pottery shards, coins, and other artifacts dating to the 1st century C.E. were found in many of the cliff shelters.
Historians have questioned the validity of whether Josephus, who wrote extensively about the Roman-Jewish wars, didn't embellish his role in the Jewish uprising by glorifying his own actions. With the discoveries, which were made over a period of years of the presence of Jewish refugees who escaped death at the hands of the Romans to caves in the Galilee. These discoveries have given a new credence to his accounts.

According to the researchers’ assessments and scientific research during the Bar Kokhba rebellion which took place between 132–136 CE the vengeful Romans obliterated the majority of the Jewish population and entire towns in Judaea during the revolt.

In practice, there was not a single village in Judea which survived and continued to function after the revolt. Everything was destroyed. The situation in the Galilee however differed from those in the Judea region since by contrast, no fighting took place. There were Jews who traveled to Judea in order to join in the fight and there were occasional sporadic incidents in the Galilee. Most incidents according to Roman records broke out when the Romans suspected families of stockpiling weapons. These families would then be investigated and their homes would be destroyed. Some Jewish families simply abandoned their homes to escape the Romans and lived in caves which enabled them to survive.

It is written in rabbinic literature that Quintus Tineius Rufus as consul, governor of Judaea from at least 130 to 132, provoked the Bar Kokhba revolt with the proscription of circumcision, the construction of a new city, Aelia Capitolina, over the ruins of Jerusalem, and the erection of a temple to Jupiter on the Temple Mount. 
The Bar Kokhba revolt resulted in the extensive depopulation of Judean communities, more so than the First Jewish–Roman War of 70 CE. According to Cassius Dio, 580,000 Jews perished in the war and many more died of hunger and disease. In addition, Many Judean war captives were sold into slavery. The Jewish communities of Judea were devastated to an extent, which some scholars describe as a genocide. Due to the severity of the Pyrrhic victory that was inflicted upon the Romans Emperor Hadrian ordered that any memory of Judea or Ancient Israel be wiped off the map and replaced with Syria Palaestina.

The area in what is today Ma'alot in 1880 contained some sixty villages. It was almost equally divided between the two Ottoman Turkish districts of Jebel Safed and the Belad Beshara governed by a Mudir living in Tibnin and he ruled under the authority of the Caimacam of Tyre who was under the Musterrif of Beyrout. The Jebel Safed is governed by a Caimacam who lives in Safed and rules under the Musterrif of Akka. -taken from page 196 The Survey for Western Palestine 
To the southeast of Maalot is the village of Peki'in known in Arabic as El Buke'ia-Little Valley is thought to be a Jewish community known as Baca, as mentioned in Josephus' "The Jewish War" From historical references we know that a Jewish Community maintained a continuous presence in Peki'in since the time of the Second Temple, when three families from the ranks of the Cohanim, the priestly caste that served in the Temple, moved there. According to tradition the descendants of the Zinati family are the last remnant of great Galilean Jewish population. "The Jews of Peki'in tilled their land and olive groves and guarded the secret of the silk trade."

According to the Survey for Western Palestine page 197;
"Every year in the summer several hundreds of Jews come here from Tiberius to pass the hot season. Most of these Jews came originally from Europe and are happy in finding here the last indigenous scions of the ancient national stock...at Bukeiah, thanks to the two springs which issue from the hillside, they cultivate on the slopes and almost to the bottom of the valley delicious gardens, watered by numerous streams. Here grown on different terraces, kept up by great walls, probably ancient, fruit-trees of all kinds, such as citrons, oranges, pomegranates, figs, quinces and mulberries. The vine flourishes marvelously, as is shown in the enormous trunks. The Jews worship in a synagogue of "modern date'- Guerin" (which had been recently restored then)
When the town's Jews fled the Arab riots of 1936-39, most of them went to what they called the Hadera Diaspora. But one family, Zinati's, returned home in 1940. They were forced to flee to other parts of the country during the War of Independence but when it ended they returned home. In the village is an ancient Synagogue that was restored in 1873 according to the Hebrew inscription above the entrance. In the wall are two carved stones that were quarried near Jerusalem. Legend says that when the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed the stones fell on their side as a sign of mourning.

According to a legend in the Babylonian Talmud, Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai criticized the Roman government and was forced to go into hiding with his son Rabbi Eleazar b. Simeon for thirteen years in a cave in Peki'in. Rabban Shimon bar Yochai, also known by his acronym Rashbi, was a 2nd-century Tanitic sage in ancient Israel, was said to be active after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. According to popular legend, he and his son, Rabbi Eleazar b. Simeon, were noted Kabbalists. Both figures are held in unique reverence by Kabbalistic tradition and they were buried in the same tomb in Meron, Israel, which is visited by thousands year-round.

Next to the mouth of the cave in Bukeiah a spring flowed with water and a carob tree grew which provided them against hunger and thirst. It is said that they cast off their clothing except during prayers to keep them from wearing out, embedded themselves in the sand up to their necks, and studied the Torah all day long. He and his son left the cave when they received a bat qol (divine revelation) saying that the Roman emperor had died and consequently all his decrees were abolished.

With regards to Suhmata- "Foundations and ruins, some drafted stone, one rock-cut tomb filled with rubbish; probably a Crusading Village This village divided into two distinct quarters occupies two hills near each other, between which is a great birket, partly cut in the rock and partly built. on of these hills is crowned by the remains of a fortress flanked by towers and built with simple rubble; it contained several subterranean magazines, a mosque and various chambers. The foundation is attributed to Dhaher sl Amer It is now three parts demolished and on the place where it stood grow vines and tobacco."- Guerin 1870 page 192 The Survey for Western Palestine

To the West of Ma'alot is the village of Ma'alia with it's ancient Chateau du Roi. 
"It was a walled village with many drafted stones used in the wall and laying about a large number of rock-cut cisterns and a ruined Mosque. The position is strong rising steeply from the plain on the east and south. The ancient name of the site is unknown. In the Crusading period it was clled Castellum Regium or Chateu de Roi. Buchard (1285) says of it: "Inde" - that is from the "Castellum Judin"- leucis III. est Castellum Regium in valle, quondum domus ejusdem - ie of the Teutonic Order -habundans omnibus bonis et fructibus qui eciam in terra illa rari sunt nisi ibi. Nunc Saraceni tenent illud". (The village of Judin (?) is in the valley of the castle of the king, too, of the house of the same that it abounds in all the good and a few of its fruits, which are also on the earth, but only there. Muslims now hold it) Buchard is in error, first by putting it three leagues from the Kulat Jiddin and secondly, in placing it in a valley and not on a hill. But there is no doubt that M'alia is the place he speaks of. It was bought on the 31st of May 1220, by the Teutonic Knights, from Otho Count of Hennebuk, for the sum of 7000 marks of silver. The purchase included M'alia with it's dependencies, and a third of the fief of St. George. Guerin says: "On the highest part of the hill we remark the remains of an ancient fortress, flanked by four square towers; considerable portions remain, showing it was built of regular blocks, some leveled plain and some embossed; the latter were reserved for angles. The ruins and interior of this fortress are now inhabited by about twenty families, which have built their little habitations in the midst of the debris." page 191 The Survey for Western Palestine
Kulat el Kurein -the Crusading castle of Montfort was situated on the southern side of the Wadi el-Kurn. In reading the text from page 199 of The Survey for Western Palestine I thought this to be an interesting observation regarding Montfort:
"The top of the ridge was widened by a wall built up from below, as was done by Solomon on mount Moriah, to enlarge the platform of the Temple. This basement work is very solid and exhibits very fine specimens of the old Jewish or Phoenician bevel."
The northern Israeli city of Ma'alot is located in the Western Galilee, 18 km east of Nahariyah, and some 50km north northeast from Haifa.

For those Jewish immigrants, refugees who had been released from Nazi Concentration Camps and confinement in Ghettos after the Holocaust they had no homes to return too.  
Many who had tried to return home found that their homes had been taken and those who wanted to stay were murdered in Pogroms.
So the Jews fled Europe in mass to other countries that would accept them. For many there was no place to turn to only “Eretz Yisrael” but until the creation of the state the doors were closed.

In the first months and years after the foundation of the State of Israel and the War of Independence, housing as well as money for the construction of housing for all of the Jewish refugees from the displacement camps in Europe was in short supply.
 In the first years of the State factories for the production of building materials had to be either created or worked overtime to produce concrete, metal for building, ceramics for flooring and sanitary facilities.

Due to the severity of the housing shortage and the urge need to settle the peripheral areas of the young country immigrants were settled in the abandoned homes and villages like Tarshicha. Whose residents had fled out of fear inspired by the atrocities carried out by Fawzi al-Qawuqji and his Arab Liberation Army (ALA) who had massacred the convoy to Kibbutz Yehi'am.

A newspaper in Scotland published an account of the convoy ambush:
"The second ambush occurred at Kabri, near Nahariyah, seven miles north of Acre. Here the bodies of 42 Jews were found near five burnt out lorries. It is stated that in this action a column of six Jewish lorries were ambushed by 250 Arabs who were armed with rifles, two inch mortars, and light machine guns. The column, escorted by an armoured car, was attacked an hour before sunset on Saturday night. A British flying column was sent to relieve the Jews but failed to reach them, it is reported. British artillery then opened fire with 12-lb and 25-lb high-explosive shells, and the Arabs withdrew."
In the ambush 47 Haganah members were killed and 6 Arabs. During the second phase of Operation Ben Ami the Arab siege of Yehi'am was lifted and the first retaliatory attack in a direct response to the butchery of the remains of the fallen was carried out against al-Kabri, Umm al-Faraj and al-Nahr, where the commander gave orders
“To attack with the aim of capturing the villages of al-Kabri, Umm al-Faraj and al-Nahr, [and] to destroy and set fire to the villages.”
With the abject defeat of the Arab armies of the Arab League, during the foundation of Israel in 1948, the level of animosity and hatred towards Jews in their homes in Arab lands life became intolerable. Jews who had lived in relative peace for generations, many as Dhimmis from North Africa and the entire Middle East were no longer safe in the countries where they lived.

Over nine hundred thousand of these Jews from "Arab lands" became refugees from hostile Arab nations and they too had nowhere to go but to Israel as new immigrants. At that time due to the severe housing shortage in all the country, especially in the major cities, there arose a dire need to populate and secure the peripheral areas of the new state.

The new development town Ma'alot was founded in 1957 as part of this plan near the Arab village of Tarshicha by the Israeli Government for the absorption of Jewish refugees, new immigrants primarily from Morocco and Tunisia.

In May of 1974 there was a terrible atrocity of the cold-blooded murder of the 22 High School students from Tsfat - Safed. Three members of the Cohen family and Sylvian Zerach, a 27 year old soldier from Akko who was married to a resident of Ma’a lot and the father of a one month old baby girl was also murdered in cold blood.

As I point out in my thoroughly researched Blog entry, few realize that in the blind hatred inherent on the Palestinian side of this long conflict the first casualty of the "Freedom Fighters" was a young Arab Christian woman Hasibah Shalala from the village of Fassuta. Seven of her fellow workers from Fassuta were also wounded After the terrible incident in 1974 Ma’alot began to develop slowly.

Since 1974 the citizens of the Galilee attempted to live normal lives under the daily threats of terrorism from the PLO until the first war in Lebanon in June 1982. From 1982 until July of 2006 we lived in relative peace.


It is also ironic that The Second Lebanon War in 2006, which began on the 12th of July 2006, started with a cross border ambush by the Hezbollah on Israeli patrol vehicles in the same area where the three Terrorists crossed in May of 1974 under the supposed watchful eyes of the UNFIL forces. The immediate result was the kidnapping by the Hezbollah murderers of the two Israel soldiers; First Sergeant Ehud Goldwasser and Sergeant First Class Eldad Regev.


For 34 long hot summer days during that summer of 2006, the immediate vicinity of the Ma'alot was bombarded by more than 1,600 Katyusha rockets. The civilian population of Ma'alot and Tarshicha were exposed to daily rockets attacks. Many of those who could fled to safer parts of Israel with their families. Many had nowhere to go but there crowded dark and dank bomb shelters.

The only casualties that occurred on the 3rd of August 200 when one of the Katyusha rockets launched by the Hezbollah in Lebanon landed near three young Bedouin and murdering them; Shanati Shanati, 18; Amir Naeem, 18; and Muhammad Fa'ur, 17, all of Tarshiha. Altogether there were 43 Israeli civilians casualties. Most were in their homes and nowhere near military bases or facilities. 15 out of a total of 43 Israeli civilians (including four who died of heart attacks during rocket barrages) were Arab-Israelis.

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