The Nebi Musa Riots

Fringe History

Zvi Besser
The JTown Times

Nebi Musa riots, Credit: Commons

After a two-week hiatus due to my reserve duty and then followed by my catching COVID-19, we are finally back with a new edition to Fringe History!

Today’s column will be a somber one that fits the current atmosphere in Israel – today we speak about the Nebi Musa Riots.

This day in the year 1920 saw another violent week in Jerusalem, only a month after the Battle at Tel-Hai, disaster strikes again.

April 4, 1920 – It’s the second day of Passover, while simultaneously Muslims are celebrating Nebi Musa, a pilgrimage to the supposed grave of Moses (Musa) according to Muslims. Jews say he has no tomb. Two celebrations are occuring simultaneously.

Only this year the festivities would not pass in peace and quiet.

No one knows for certain what set off this deadly day, but there certainly were catalysts.

Muslim religious leaders delivered passionate speeches against Jews who were returning to Israel, stirring a frenzy in their worshippers. A frenzy so great that it caused them to run out and sack the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem’s Old City. The riots lasted from April 4th until the 7th, killing 5 Jews and 4 Arabs; while hundreds more (mainly Jews) were wounded.

The bloody week saw a huge setback in Arab, Jewish, and British relations. After the riots a sense of distrust and malice was felt by all sides.

The Arabs and the Jews distrusted the British for essentially abandoning Jerusalem to anarchy. The Arabs and the Jews, given the bloodshed, were set back once again.

At the time, the British Military Governor of Jerusalem was Ronald Storrs, and the following is what he wrote about that fateful week.

“Enough that for the time all the carefully built relations of mutual understanding between British, Arabs and Jews seemed to flare away in an agony of fear and hatred.

“Our dispositions might perhaps have been better (though they had been approved by higher authority), but I have often wondered whether those who criticized us in Europe and America could have had the faintest conception of the steep, narrow and winding alleys within the Old City of Jerusalem, the series of steps up or down which no horse or car can ever pass, the deadly dark corners beyond which a whole family can be murdered out of sight or sound of a police post not a hundred yards away.

“What did they know of the nerves of Jerusalem, where in times of anxiety the sudden clatter on the stones of an empty petrol tin will produce a panic?

“The Police were but partially trained and wholly without tradition. There was no British Gendarmerie: we had not one single British Constable.” (Storrs, Ronald, The Memoirs of Sir Ronald Storrs, 1937, p. 348).

The outcome of these riots left profound change on geopolitics of that time. The British had decided that there should be a civilian administration ruling British Mandate Palestine and not a military one, while also promising that they would not let British Mandate Palestine follow suit to a Jewish majority or be submissive to Arab rule.

The Jews in response formed the Haganah, which not only played a major rule in the liberation of our homeland, but is as well the predecessor to the I.D.F.

Today we remember those who needlessly lost their lives in the violence of Nebi Musa 1920, and still over 100 years later our countrymen are being gunned down in the street for the same reasons.

Cheers, good tidings, and keep your head on a swivel; may we see peaceful days soon.


Exclusive: Israeli man alive after encounter with deadly porcupine

The creature can apparently hiss according to an eyewitness and even shoot needles.

A porcupine whose needles are deadly. If eaten. Credit: Wiki Commons

Greg Tepper


Be’er Sheva – After a struggle of a few seconds Shmuel Tepper got the scoop. Shmuel is also Greg.

Got the scoop. It’s an old Newsies insider thing.

Greg was not mortally wounded as the Israeli porcupine did not attack him though it did hiss like a snake hiding inside of another snake’s mouth hissing from the tip of its tongue.

These deadly beasts can shoot their needles tipped with poison when threatened.

Or so the old desert fable goes.

MADA emergency services did not have to be called and rush Greg to hospital within minutes of being poisoned to ensure that the poison did not reach his eyes causing them to melt within their sockets and his tongue causing it to turn yellow and his vocal cords causing an inability to speak and only scream like Sam kinison.

The porcupines needles are tipped with the deadliest poisons on Earth.

Or so the legend goes.

Nearly extincting these ferocious rodents was one of the first things the Israeli pioneers had to do in order to turn the arid dry wasteland too hot and unforgiving for even Mad Max into a hospitable the welcoming environment that the Negev desert is today.

At least that’s the folklore told by local old timers throughout Be’er Sheva.

We actually think it was a porcupine and not a hedgehog. But it was dark out and Greg’s first thought and other thoughts and subsequent thoughts and final thoughts were to not get shot with poison needles.

A cute little hedgehog which wouldn’t be much of a story. Unless it talked. Credit: Wiki Commons

He did not stop and interview the wild animal regarding its preferred species and kingdom.

By final thoughts we do not mean before death rather before removing the threatening predator, which is said to be carnivorous, from his property.

An interesting fact and perhaps one of the few in this article is that the property is actually not his. It is a rented property.

And all property in Israel is said to only be owned by the owner for a maximum of 99 years after which time property is returned to the state because in Israel you don’t mess with the state.

Or so they say.

The kissing porcupine, thought to be deadly, was scooped in a shovel then by The JTown Times Staffer before being dropped over a low fence.

The editorial staff italicized thought as Greg was acting out of fear. He never put too much thought into porcupines though they make a delicious snack in certain Latin American countries.

Or so he’s heard.

The porcupine’s life was not endangered and in any case they can bounce and roll from tall heights.

Or at least they are claimed to be able to buy a fringe internet page Greg found on a Google search and is now citing but cannot remember the name of or the web address.

Shmuel, who is also Greg, but in the way a person has several names rather than personalities, was concerned it might fire it’s needle arsenal at him so the operation was lickety split and successful.

By concerned we mean he was crying to God in fear.

If it is a hedgehog, which legend has it can burrow underground surviving the temperatures of Earth’s core which rumor has it exceed that of the sun, it, like the T 800, will be back.

And we hope you will be too, dear reader. This has been a Friday no news for Jews in Israel night update.

Because sometimes it’s not the news that tells you what happened that makes it news but us telling you what didn’t happen that makes it not.

Shabbat shalom.

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