Modern Jerusalem
Modern JerusalemFlash 90

A memorial will be held Sunday for 23 Jews who were slaughtered in Jerusalem in 1929 at the hands of their Arab neighbors. The ceremony will take place in the Nissan Beck neighborhood, the same area where the slaughter took place.

The pogrom was inspired by then-Muslim leader of British Mandatory Palestine, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, who incited similar massacres in Tzfat and Hevron in the same year.

Resident Nitai Shilo spoke to Arutz Sheva about the massacre and memorial. He explained that the Muslim mob responsible for the Nissan Beck massacre had originally intended to slaughter Jews in Me'ah Shearim. However, a resident of that neighborhood came out to meet them with gunfire, and the mob fled.

Unfortunately, as they fled they remembered the Jewish families living near Shechem Gate outside the Old City, and decided to attack them instead, Shilo said. They roamed the alleyways attacking any Jews they saw. Shilo avoided describing the brutal killings in detail, but noted that the victims could not be identified, and were buried in a mass grave.

Many of the victims and killers had been neighbors.

The massacre ended when Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook called British commanders and insisted they put a stop to the slaughter. The deputy commander initially said he was not authorized to act. Only after the rabbi implored him did he send British officers, who ended the attack by simply firing two gunshots in the air.

“The British had the power to stop and prevent this massacre,” Shilo said.

One of the participants in the memorial will be Shmuel Tzafania, who survived the massacre at age two. He was protected by his mother, who held him as she was murdered.

The killers thought they had slaughtered young Shmuel as well, but when he was taken with other victims to a hospital morgue, doctors discovered that he was alive. He is now a supporter of the Jewish presence in the neighborhood, and welcomes it as a form of closure.