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by Eliyahu m'Tsiyon


Karl Marx reported a Jewish majority in Jerusalem in 1854 in his article in the New York Daily Tribune, April 15, 1854. The article presented the reasons for the Crimean War and its background. Now, Marx was never in Yerushalayim. His source was a book by Cesar Famin, a French diplomat, historian, and man of letters. Marx' information about Jerusalem came from Famin's book on the relations between France and the Ottoman empire since 1507 [according to Famin, the date of the first agreements between France and the Ottoman Empire, called "capitulations"], and about the rivalry between the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches over the Christian holy places in Jerusalem. Marx brought much of Famin's information into his article, sometimes quoting directly at length, sometimes paraphrasing. Famin wrote several books, mainly on history. One book was a history of the Arab invasions of Italy. To be sure, Famin calls the Arabs "Saracens" in the title of this book. The name Saracen comes from the name of a particular Arab tribe familiar to the Byzantines, the Sarakenoi [in French, Sarrasins].

Famin had a very good understanding of the status of the non-Muslim in Muslim society in general and in Ottoman society in particular[1]. He is in basic agreement on this matter with recent authors such as Bat Ye'or, Rafael Israeli, David Bukay, Moshe Sharon, Robert Spencer, Andrew Bostom, etc. As said, Marx brought this information into his own article, so on this matter Marx is very up to date scientifically speaking, yet, at the same time, Marx's article is very "politically incorrect" by today's "leftist" prejudices.

Here are Famin's numbers for Jerusalem's population in 1853. They are the same as those Marx reported in his article of April 1854. First I will give the English translation of Famin's words, and then his words in the original French:

"The sedentary population of Jerusalem is about 15,500 souls:"
"La population sedentaire de Jerusalem est d'environ 15,500 ames:"

Jews . . . . . .8,000 . . . Juifs
Muslims . . .4,000 . . . Musulmans
Christians . 3,490 . . . Chretiens
. . . . . . . . . 15,490

This is the place for the name and other data about Famin's book: L'Histoire de la rivalite et du protectorat des Eglises chretiennes en Orient (Paris: Firmin Didot freres, 1853). The breakdown of Jerusalem's population is on page 49.

Another book by Famin relevant to our topic was on the Arab invasions of Italy, Histoire des Invasions des Sarrasins en Italie du VIIe au XIe siecle (1843). He served in the French legations in Italy, Lisbon, London, and St Petersburg, and as consul in Yassy [sometimes Jassy], then part of the Ottoman Empire, now in Rumania. France under Napoleon III at that time was interested in defending Roman Catholic rights and privileges over the Christian holy places against the Greek Orthodox claims to the same sites, politically backed by Russia. Apparently, the French wanted to elaborate arguments to justify both the Roman Catholic claims and the right of France to represent those claims. For this purpose, they needed to base these arguments on contemporary and historical data as accurate as possible, consonant with serving their political purposes. Expounding the above mentioned themes is the main purpose of Famin's book. It is likely that he was aided in collecting data by other French diplomats, including the consul in Jerusalem.

Bear in mind that Famin mentions two other books; one, by the Prussian consul in Jerusalem, Ernst G. Schultz, of 1845 [Jerusalem, Eine Vorlesung], gives lower numbers for the Jewish population in Jerusalem than does Famin's book published eight years later. The other book is on the Christian holy places (also containing other social and geographic information about the Levant) by Monsignor Mislin [Les Saints Lieux]. This book, its first edition published in 1851, its second in 1857, gives a lower number for the Jewish population in Jerusalem [apparently the same in both editions].

Hence, Famin was well aware of other population figures for Jerusalem when he wrote his own book, and he names the books containing these other numbers. Yet, he consciously chose to present the numbers that he does. This conscious choice indicates a confidence likely based on reliable information obtained by personal inspection on site in Jerusalem and/or through French diplomats and churchmen in the Holy City. Famin shows himself to be a staunch Roman Catholic, so he does not seem to have any motive to falsify data in favor of the Jews, although he did believe that the Jews in Jerusalem were severely oppressed.

Prof. Yehoshu'a Ben-Arieh has examined several sets of population counts for the 19th century in his Jerusalem in the 19th Century: The Old City (Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute, 1984). Unfortunately, Ben-Arieh's book does not take acccount of Famin's data of 1853 [repeated by Marx in 1854[2], nor of Gerardy Santine's estimate[3], published in 1860, that Jews were "a good half" of the Jerusalem population [Trois ans en Judee (Paris 1860)]. Ben-Arieh concludes that Jewish and non-Jewish [Muslims and Christians together] populations reached parity in Jerusalem in 1870. If he had consulted Famin, Marx and Santine, he might have seen parity as arriving earlier. Here[4] are other links[5] on Jerusalem's[6] 19th century Jewish majority.

Islam and Non-Muslims

As said, Marx not only repeats Famin's population data and quotes from him at length -- or paraphrases -- on the status of the Jews and other non-Muslims [called Rayahs by Famin and Marx] in Muslim [particularly Ottoman] society, but presents the Muslim outlook on the world and the non-believers within and without the Islamic domain. We quote below some of what Famin said on these matters, some of which may have have been relayed by Marx:

The law of Muhammad ... recognizes in the whole world only two nations: the nation of believers and the nation of unbelievers... the latter are called rayahs [when they live in the Ottoman Empire as its subjects] ... The second nation [both inside and outside the Islamic domain] embraces the totality of peoples who do not profess Islam: Christians, Jews, Buddhists ... [Exactly which non-Muslim religion is of] Little importance! It is the nation of unbelievers. Every unbeliever is harby, which means enemy. ...

Islam has outlawed the nation of unbelievers, and has erected a permanent state of hostility between their country and that of the believers. War was declared against all non-Muslim peoples, from the very foundation of Islam . . . Every good believer is obliged to go after the infidels, and to treat them as born enemies. Submission to the nation of the believers has for its purpose the obtaining, not of peace, but a simple truce; since peace is not possible except on one condition, that of apostasizing and embracing Islam ... [pp 7-9]

End Notes

1. "The Basic Rules of Dhimma," Emet m'Tsiyon, February 15, 2005

The dhimma was the code of rules governing life for the non-Muslim subjects in the Muslim state. It also told Muslims how to treat the dhimmis. The dhimma could be described as a system of oppression, humiliation, and pecuniary exploitation of non-Muslims by the Muslim state.

Like any body of law, the dhimma was subject to changing interpretations at different times and places. For instance, in early Islam only peoples of the Book [ahl al-Kitab] were to be tolerated, as inferior subjects in the Muslim empire. Zoroastrians were added to those to be tolerated at an early stage. But polytheists were forbidden and were to be annihilated. However, when Muslims conquered parts of India, the exploitative, oppressive toleration of the dhimma was extended to the Hindus, probably since there were so many of them, too many to be annihilated.

Here are the basic rules of dhimma:

  1. taxes: dhimmis had to pay a tax per head on each adult man, usually called jizyah. There was also a tax for dhimmis to pay on real estate, including agricultural land, called kharaj. Since the dhimmi farmer or peasant had therefore to pay two taxes, both the jizyah and the kharaj, his situation became very difficult and this led to dhimmi abandonment of farm lands, and sometimes to conversion to Islam. Conversion was not allowed in the very early period of the Muslim conquests, since the policy was to keep Muslims and conquered peoples separate, with the Muslims living off the tribute and loot. However, later in the Umayyad period conversion seems to have been first allowed.
  2. dhimmi peoples could retain a certain communal autonomy under their own religious leadership which was of course subject to Muslim overlordship. This was called the millet system in the Ottoman empire
  3. a Muslim woman could not marry a non-Muslim man; that is, a dhimmi man could not marry a Muslim woman, but the reverse was allowed
  4. a non-Muslim could not possess a Muslim slave, but the reverse was very much allowed
  5. the child of a mixed marriage must be a Muslim
  6. the blood price for a Muslim --who had been murdered-- was higher than that for a non-Muslim who had been murdered
  7. Non-Muslims could not build new places of worship, hold religious processions, ring bells
  8. Non-Muslims could not make converts among Muslims
  9. Dhimmis could not bear arms
  10. Dhimmi garments must differ from Muslim garments
  11. Dhimmis had to always show respect and deference for Muslims, such as dismounting from their donkeys when encountering a Muslim on the road
  12. the testimony in court of a dhimmi was worth half of the testimony of a Muslim

Of course, not all of these rules were applied at every time and place in the Islamic domain. After all, it was difficult for Muslim troops to penetrate the Maronite mountain villages in Lebanon if they were situated high enough up in the mountains and had a good defensive position. On the other hand, the regular taxes on dhimmis, jizyah and kharaj, were supplemented at various times and places by irregular taxes, extorted fees, exactions, forced bribes, etc. These rules and other rules enforced on dhimmis at various times and places in the Islamic domain as elaborations of the dhimma, should be compared with the apartheid system formerly in effect in South Africa. There is great similarity between dhimma and apartheid, although dhimma was not formally based on skin color or biological race, although there was a racial-ethnic element and there were color prejudices in Islamic society. As skin color and racial prejudices, consider the depiction of Blacks in the Arabian Nights [1001 Nights] Tales, an Arab book easily available in translation in Western countries. Bernard Lewis has written books on race and slavery in Islam, which are helpful.

As to ethnic prejudices, the Arabs have traditionally considered themselves superior to other Muslims, and have used the term shu`ubiyyah, meaning non-Arab nationalism among peoples converted to Islam, in a derogatory, pejorative sense [one of the first issues of the Middle East Journal, back in 1946 or 1947, had an article on this]. This topic is especially important now that the Arabs and other Judeophobes, Leftist neo-Nazis, Rightist neo-Nazis, academic mad professors and liars, are charging Israel with apartheid. Other charges have failed, so they have made up the apartheid charge. This is a gross lie, which anyone living in Israel is aware of. Apartheid was a social system in South Africa based on skin color and biological race. Blacks were forced to ride on separate buses and trolleys, were not allowed to eat with whites in restaurants, paid lower wages for the same work, etc. None of this true in Israel. Since Arabs are not so visibly distinct from Jews in physical appearance, as Blacks and whites were in South Africa, how could they be kept off the buses? We may ask how Arab suicide bombers got on the buses. Arabs eat in the same restaurants as Jews. Many Arab students are studying at the Israeli universities, etc. The apartheid charge is a sign that Communist and Nazi Judeophobia and Judeophobic techniques have merged. The dhimma system can be considered in fact a model for apartheid, although it is not exactly the same of course.

The code of dhimma in Islam, starting with the so-called Pact of Umar, the set of Muslim laws governing the treatment of and obligations of the non-Muslims in the Muslim state, contains a number of provisions humiliating the dhimmis and restricting their freedom, compared with the dignity afforded to Muslims and with the freedoms allowed to Muslims. Here is an account of Muslim/Arab humiliation of Jews in Iraq in the eleventh century:

Prior to this, the ruler of Baghdad, whose name was al-Muqtadi, had given full authority to his vizier, Abu Shuja, to make a change in policy regarding the Jews living in Baghdad. Now he (Abu Shuja) had already sought on many occasions to destroy them, but the God of Israel had thwarted his intention, and on this occasion too, he protected them from his fury.

He (Abu Shuja) directed that yellow badges should be affixed to the headgear of every Jewish male. In addition to the badge on the head, another of lead, the weight of a silver coin, was to hang round the neck of every Jew. The lead pendant was to be inscribed with the word "dhimmi" indicating that the Jews were tribute bearers. He also imposed that every Jew should wear a distinguishing belt around the waist. Abu Shuja imposed two distinguishing signs upon Jewish women. Each woman had to wear one red shoe and one black shoe. Furthermore, each woman had to have a small copper bell on her neck or on her shoe which would tinkle so that all would know and differentiate between the women of the Jews and of the Muslims. he assigned cruel Muslim men to watch over the Jewish men and cruel Muslim women to oversee the Jewish women, in order to oppress them with every sort of insult, humiliation, and contempt. The Muslims would mock them, and the common rabble, together with their children, would beat Jews throughout all the streets of Bagdad. [quoted from Norman Stillman, The Jews of Arab Lands (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1979), p 251]

2. "Karl Marx on the Treatment of the Jewish Majority in Jerusalem," June 16,2005,
( karl-marx-on-treatment-of-jewish_16.html).

3. "The Jews A 'good Half' Of The Jerusalem Population In 1850s: dixit Gerardy Santine (in 1860)," September 20, 2005,
( jews-good-half-of-jerusalem-population.html)

4.  "The Jerusalem Population in the 19th Century -- Part 3," September 2, 2005,
( jerusalem-population-in-19th-century.html)

5. "Jewish Population in 19th Century Jerusalem," February 2, 2006
( jewish-population-in-19th-century.html)

6. "Jerusalem Jews in 1843," January 5, 2006,
( jerusalem-jews-in-1843.html)


Eliyahu m'Tsiyon lives in Jerusalem. He describes his occupation as "research and cogitation." This article appeared on his website Zion Truth ( jewish-majority-in-jerusalem-in-1853.html).


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