Appendix One
Palestine's Jewish Population, A.D. 638-1800
You will read:

I. Palestine Before the Crusades, 638-1099.
II. Palestine During the Crusader Era, 1099-1291.
III. Palestine Under the Mamluk Dynasty, 1291-1517.
IV. Palestine Under the Ottoman Turks, 1517-1800.

   This appendix expands on some historical points and population estimates for part of the period covered briefly in Chapter Two.
   According to Israeli demographer Roberto Bachi, from the start of the Arab period in A.D. 638 until into the nineteenth century, Palestine's Jewish population was always less than ten thousand and in some periods was only a few thousand.

I. Palestine Before the Crusades, 638-1099.

   After Arabian Muslims conquered Palestine, the new rulers, pri-marily military leaders, left its civil service in native Byzantine hands. Greek remained the primary language. Palestine's conqueror, Caliph Omar I (582-644), was a devout, austere Moslem and personal friend of Mohammed. He treated Jews and Christians quite well. At the south end of the Temple Mount, Omar or a suc-cessor began to build a simple mosque, which was later replaced by the magnificent al Aqsa Mosque, which is still there.  Christian pilgrims were welcome in Palestine.
   Under ensuing caliphs, treatment of Jews and Christians fluctuated. In about 688-91 Caliph Abd al-Malik (ruled 685-705), in a political move against his Muslim competitors in Arabia, erected the exquisite Dome of the Rock on the site of Solomon's temple. With it he hoped to divert Muslim pilgrims to Jerusalem and away from Mecca and Medina. Jews worked on the shrine's staff in lieu of paying taxes. Christian conversions to Islam under the harsh Caliph Omar II (ruled 717-720) plus continuing Muslim immigration from surrounding lands changed Palestine from a primarily Christian to a primarily Muslim area.  Caliph Harun al-Rashid (ruled 786-809) forced Christians to wear blue badges and Jews yellow ones. However, his son, Caliph al-Mamun (ruled 813-833), restored religious tolerance. In about 935, Jerusalem Jews were allowed to build a synagogue near the Wailing Wall.
   During the tenth and eleventh centuries, as Fatimid power declined, Palestine was subject to raids by Seljuk Turks and Bedouin tribes. In 1071 Seljuks captured Jerusalem and mistreated and overcharged Christian pilgrims. In 1076 Jerusalem revolted against the Seljuks but failed; many of its inhabitants were ordered killed. This deteriorating situation helped trigger the Crusades. In 1098 the Fatimids recaptured the city. The continuing havoc and resulting emigration also reduced Palestine's Jewish population to only a few thousand before the first Crusaders came.
   These mainly Frankish soldiers conquered Jerusalem in 1099 after a forty-day siege. Reportedly defying orders, they massacred its Jewish and Muslim inhabitants - almost forty thousand men, women and children. Some were tortured. This halted 461 years of Muslim rule over Palestine.

II. Palestine During the Crusader Era, 1099-1291.

   Palestinian Jews experienced mixed fortunes under the Crusaders. Jerusalem's first Crusader ruler initially reinstated the ban against Jews living there; however, he or his successors exempted a few Jewish families. By 1110 the Crusaders, having gained mil-itary control throughout most of Palestine, relaxed their policies toward local populations and allowed them to remain. Jewish com-munity life was centered in Acre, which had some two hundred Jewish families in 1167, in Ashkelon and some other cities. In about 1169 a Jewish traveler wrote that some two hundred Jewish families lived in the Tower of David area of Jerusalem. The Cru-saders brought from Europe a rigid feudal system, to which Pales-tinian Jews had to conform.
   In 1187 Saladin (ruled 1187-1193) defeated the Crusaders mil-itarily, and most of Palestine returned to Muslim rule. He be-friended Jerusalem's Jews and allowed other Jews to move into it, where they have been allowed to live ever since (except in the Old City while under Jordan's rule from 1948 to 1967).  Under Sala-din Jews increased both in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Palestine.
   In 1211 three hundred rabbis and other Jewish scholars fleeing persecution in France and England settled in Crusader Palestine and built new synagogues and schools. In 1229 Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor, negotiated a ten-year treaty that returned Nazareth, Jerusalem and Bethlehem from Muslim to Christian rule. In 1244 Kwarizmian Turks invaded Jerusalem, plundered and destroyed it and massacred many of its inhabitants. However, in 1248 the Turks were driven out by Mamluks, a Muslim dynasty based in Egypt, which ruled the city until 1517. In 1260 Mongols invaded northern Palestine but were decisively defeated before reaching Jerusalem. The Mamluks also kept pounding away at the Crusaders in their increasingly few remaining fortresses along the coast. This frequent warfare played havoc with Palestine's inhab-itants. In 1263 a traveler wrote that "only a handful" of Jews lived in Palestine. Virtually all of Jerusalem's Jews fled, many of them moving to Sechem, thirty miles north, in Samaria. At one point during that decade a visiting rabbi reported that Jerusalem had only two thousand Muslims, three hundred Christians, and one or two Jewish families. In 1267 Nahmanides, a Jewish visitor to Jeru-salem, wrote that there were barely enough Jewish men there to form a minyan - ten men - to hold prayers in their house on the Sabbath. Nahmanides started a synagogue there but did not form a Jewish community.
   Despite raids from the east and the gradual Mamluk advance from the south, Ashkenazi Jews from Europe immigrated to Palestine, especially to the fortified Crusader towns along the northern coast. The Jewish population in Acre, the Crusader capital from 1191 to 1291, grew considerably during the thirteenth century. Until this large influx of Ashkenazim, the majority of Palestine's Jewry had been Arabic-speaking "Eastern" Jews. Tensions developed between the two groups, who soon were declaring bans on each other.  In 1291 the Mamluks drove the Crusaders from Acre, their last Palestinian fort. The Sultan, avenging the slaughter by the Crusaders in Jerusalem 192 years earlier, ordered a massacre, which killed many Acre Jews.

III. Palestine Under the Mamluk Dynasty, 1291-1517.

   Having ejected the Crusaders, the Mamluks wanted to prevent their return. They therefore destroyed the Crusader beachheads - Palestine's coastal cities. This forced these cities' people, including Jews, to move inland. But destruction of the port cities deprived the inland cities of commercial access to the sea and to other international trade routes, causing a depression. Jewish emigration from Palestine exceeded immigration from Europe and North Africa; the Jewish population hit a new low which continued for several decades.  This trend was somewhat reversed during the mid 1300s as Jewish refugees increased, especially from France and Germany, where Jews were persecuted partly because of hysteria following the Black Death. In the early 1480s a visiting Christian reported that five hundred Jewish families lived in Palestine. However, a Jewish traveler at about that time said only about half that many lived there. Economic conditions were poor; Palestine shared with other lands in droughts, famines, earthquakes, epidemics, high taxes, high prices, government cor-ruption, and attacks by Bedouins and bandits. In 1481 marauders attacked Jerusalem and plundered and burned nearby Ramla. A visiting rabbi that year reported that Palestinian Jews' primary income was donations from Diaspora Jews.  In the latter part of the 1400s the Mamluks forbade Jews and Christians to visit the Temple Mount or the Patriarchs' tombs in Hebron.
   Spanish monarchs in 1492 expelled some 175,000 Jews from Spain and subsequently additional Jews from Spanish-ruled areas in the Mediterranean. This immense cruelty resulted in refugees settling in the four Palestinian cities holy to Jews - Jerusalem, Hebron, Safed, and Tiberias - during the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Estimates of Jewish population differ, but each of them indicates it was very low. One estimate in the early sixteenth century put Palestine's Jewish population at no more than five thousand.

IV. Palestine Under the Ottoman Turks, 1517-1800.

   In 1517 Ottoman Turks completed their conquest of Palestine. An estimated five hundred Jewish families lived in the entire country at the time, with less than half of them in Jerusalem. Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (ruled 1520-1566) greatly enhanced the city by restoring and erecting Muslim shrines, including the Dome of the Rock, and by repairing the city wall and adding handsome gates, which still add to the city's charm. He was a great improvement over the Mamluks. Under Suleiman and the Turks generally, Jews were treated relatively well. They continued to have freedom of worship and freedom to administer their own marriage, divorce and inheritance laws.
   By 1550 Palestine's total population was probably more than 200,000, of which 90 percent were Muslim, and 10 percent were non-Muslims, a substantial number of whom were Jews.  By that time Jerusalem had an estimated six thousand Muslims, three thousand Christians and one thousand Jews. A Jew who visited the city in about 1551 reported seeing a large school and two synagogues, the smaller for Ashkenazi Jews, and the larger for Sephardic Jews. The latter speak Ladino, a Judeo-Spanish dialect which soon became the common language of North African and Mideast Jews, later known as "Oriental" Jews. Safed, by then the main center of Jewish life in Palestine, had perhaps another one thousand or more Jewish families.
   About 1560 Don Joseph Nasi (1524-1579), a Jew who was an Ottoman tax official and adviser to the Ottoman government, persuaded Suleiman and his son and successor, Prince Selim II, to deed over to him Tiberias and the surrounding region, including seven villages. This area was to be used as a homeland for Jewish refugees, especially from Spain, as well as from Portugal, which in 1498, under Spanish pressure, had also banished all Jews. The Tiberias project was under way by 1564 but increasing opposition from neighboring Arabs worked against building the new settlement. Moreover, Nasi was either too busy with his government duties in Istanbul (Constantinople renamed) or had lost interest in the project and it failed. However, Solomon Aben-Jaish (1520-1603) revived the plan and received government approval. His family moved to the Tiberias area and restarted the project but this too failed.
   Meanwhile, the Jews in Safed prospered and increased. It again was a thriving center for Jewish studies as well as for trade in grain and cloth, especially silk and wool fabrics. However, many Palestinian Jews, especially scholars, students, elderly and indigent, still depended primarily on donations from Diaspora Jews for their livelihood.
   Toward the end of the sixteenth century Ottoman sultans began to lose their powerful hold on the empire. As generals vied for power, the role of Jews in the government in Istanbul shrank. Local officials squeezed high taxes out of their subjects, including Jews. Palestine became an increasingly neglected backwater of the hard-pressed empire - a condition that continued throughout the next three hundred years until the British and Arabs took it in 1917-18. By the late seventeenth century many Jews had abandoned smaller villages because of marauding nomads in search of grazing lands and plunder. Jews continued to live in Hebron and Gaza city; about twelve hundred lived in Jerusalem.
   During the eighteenth century Palestine's Jews increased, especially through immigration of Hasidim from Poland and Russia. The Ottoman governor of northern Palestine rebuilt Tiberias; at his invitation Jews moved there in 1738. It soon became a center second only to Safed, which had a plague in 1742 and an earthquake in 1769. By 1776 a number of Russian Hasidim had moved to Safed.  Meanwhile, by the mid-1700s, the world-wide Jewish population stood at perhaps slightly more than two million.  About half lived in Poland, their ancestors having been welcomed there during persecutions in England, France, Germany and Spain.

   Palestinian Jews, Samaritans and Christians alike had chafed under the harsh Roman-Byzantine imperial rule between A.D. 136 and 638. Yet this period often gave Palestine a peace and prosperity which supported a much larger population, including a much larger Jewish population, than did most or perhaps all of the Arab and Crusader periods between 638 and 1800. Not only was the Jewish population of Palestine very low between about A.D. 1000 and 1800, Palestine's total population was very low. After the Black Death in the fourteenth century its total population dipped to perhaps 150,000. Israeli demographer Bachi sums up much of the 800-year period:
 As shown by an impressive quantity of historical records, throughout the late Middle Ages and up to the 19th century, Jews individuals or in groups, prompted by the desire to be in the land of their fathers in order to pray, to study, and finally to be buried there. Sometimes they were inspired by Messianic hopes, and sometimes they sought asylum in the Holy Land during times of distress in the Diaspora.
 However, statistically speaking, these movements were limited in size. It is also likely that poor economic conditions, lack of personal security and low health standards prevailing in the country were causes of substantial re-emigration and high mortality, which therefore greatly reduced the demographic influence of immigration.
   By 1800 perhaps 5,000-6,500 Jews and some 265,000-325,000 Arabs lived in Palestine.