The Time and Life of Dr Joseph Elias Gabbay
Mesopotamia: 1987- 22nd August 1921
Iraq: 23rd August 1921 - 6th August 1927
by Edmond Gabbay (1923-2005)
This document was written by his son, Edmond Gabbay and published in 1993. The printed document was scanned and OCR'd by Dr. David Gabbay in 2008. It is published here with the permission of Mrs. Ena Gabbay of London.
The information published in this book had been gleaned from many independent sources and publications written about the period of the late Ottoman Empire and British rule of Mesopotamia under mandate from the League of Nations from 1918 to 1921. In 1921, the Colonial Office under Winston Churchill installed King Feisal I in Baghdad with limited powers, a British protected monarchy with a High Commissioner in Baghdad.
An Iraq Treaty was signed on 10th October 1922 by a reconstituted Cabinet, which resumed office under His Highness, Sir Sayid Ab-du-Rahman, and the Naquib Asharaf of Baghdad, who had resumed Premiership on 4th October 1922.
A Constitution was signed in January 1925, and a new Treaty was signed and passed by the House of Deputies on January 15th 1926 leading to grant of full Independence in 1932.
The life-course of Joseph extends over major events and changes during the transition period of Mesopotamia from Ottoman to British rule until pre-Independence of Iraq. The information records important and significant events and recollections of contemporaries of the years 1878-1927 which bring to mind not merely that Dr Joseph Elias Gabbay (otherwise known in his official capacity as Yusuf Elias Effendi) was my father and mentor during my first few years of childhood but rather as a man of the world, a person who had witnessed Mesopotamia undergoing three re-starts of governments of varied and different administrations, of the Ottoman Empire, the rule of British occupation of Mesopotamia, and of early Iraq. His personality remained closely associated with those respective governments. After the British High Commissioner, Sir Percy Cox, gave permission on the 5th March 1921 for the establishment of the Zionist Society of Mesopotamia Joseph also presided over Zionist activities, a communal leader and ardent contributor to the Jewish cause and ideals. He was a frequent traveler in the Middle East and Egypt, and had close association with contemporary Turkish, British and Arab government officials and politicians who befriended him and sought his counsel.
Joseph was no ordinary man in or out of court. A celebrated lawyer esteemed and respected by Arab and Jew alike. A man who held many government posts, i.e. Head of the telegraph line to India at Fao, Governor of Fao, Ottoman magistrate, successful counsel in private practice, counsel and one of three aides-de-camp to King Feisal I, elected member of the first Parliament of Iraq and Vice-President of the House of Assembly between 1924 until his sudden death in Baghdad in August 1927.
Joseph's aspirations for good peaceful relations between Arabs and Jews before the dawn of Arab extreme culture of nationalism were of timeless relevance and importance. He was not at ease with the Pan Arab aims of King Feisal. Judaeo-Islamic culture was not unknown in the Middle Ages and the glorious history of the Jews of Mesopotamia had lasted two and half millenniums before it ended in the 1950's trail of oppressions and abuse of human rights, which brought about the mass exudes of an entire Jewish community of 100,000 invaluable citizens of Iraq. It could not be amiss that the post-period of Joseph, the rise of extreme selfish Arab nationalism had been to the detriment and misfortune of the disadvantaged and uneducated Arab indigenes. Hostile acts and posturing by political agitators pandered to the base passions and evil designs of the masses against fellow citizens on grounds of race or religious hatreds left common-sense behind.
February 7th 1993 The Temple London EC4
Chapter I: The Formative Years 1878-1903
Chapter II: Post-Graduate Appointments
Chapter III: In private Law Practice
Chapter IV: World War I
Chapter V: POST-OTTOMAN BRA
KINGDOM OF IRAQ
COUNSEL AND AIDE- DE-CAMP TO KING FEISAL I
ELECTED TO FIRST PARLIAMENT OF IRAQ - 27TH MARCH 1921
VICE PRESIDENT OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY 29TH MARCH 1924
Chapter VI: The Jerusalem Visit
Chapter VII: Ancestry
Genealogical Table I
Genealogical Table II
Joseph Elias (Eliahu) Gabbay, second son of Eliahu and Sara Joseph Gabbay was born in 1878 in Baghdad, the metropolis of Mesopotamia. Baghdad has an Iranian origin and named as the city "Given by God", "Gift of God", or also known as the "City of Peace" "Midinat as-Salem". It constituted the central viyalet (province) of the former land of Mesopotamia of the Ottoman Empire.
The land of Mesopotamia, or the former ancient Babylon, was made up of three Turkish vilayets under direct rule of the Ottoman Empire, namely, Mosul in the north, Baghdad in the centre and Basra in the south with the harbor island of Fao (Faw) at the straights of Shatt-el-Arab in the Persian Gulf. "Mesopotamia" is a Greek word for "Land between the Rivers" the land between the Tigris and Euphrates in Western Asia, and was a cradle of human civilization.
Joseph began his early scholastic education at the Alliance Primary School and continued at the Mamluki High School, an Ottoman State Secondary School where he matriculated in 1896. On Joseph's matriculation he was recommended for a government sponsored further education grant under contract to study law. It was a condition of the government sponsorship that he was required to serve in the government administration for a period of five years after completion of his further education at Istanbul University where he was to attend.
In October 1896, Joseph traveled to the Capital of the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul. At Istanbul (Constantinople) University he pursued the study of law for a period of seven years, and on completion of his seven-year course in 1903 he was awarded a Doctorate in Law, signed and sealed by all his tutors, some seventy academic signatories, and was called to the Ottoman Bar.
As a Doctor of Law, Joseph was a truly educated man, well trained and grounded by that time in jurisprudence, Ottoman Codes, the Code Napoleon and the French Code de Instruction Criminelle, with a broad education of life.
His proficiency in French and English in addition to the vernacular, his native Arabic language, made him eligible and invaluable for service in the government judicial service: see POST-GRADUATE APPOINTMENTS.
Istanbul, the gateway and meeting place for East and West was a melting pot for mixed cultures, minds and influences. It was by its unique place, a centre of unrivalled importance, where many worlds met, and a university of life in its own right. A city founded more than 2,000 years ago by Greek colonists who came by sea. It had been the capital of three Empires, the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman. Its impact has continued to bring to bear on every newcomer. The Ottomans called it "Der-saadet", the Gate of Felicity or Happiness.
Joseph had been receptive to change and benefited immensely by widening the scope of his intellectual capacity and integrity. He attained a special rapport with people of different culture or religion. His natural human warmth generated common understanding and developed in him the taste for communal leadership, which he turned to good friendliness.
For once, Joseph found himself in the midst of a City larger than life that could not cease to enchant him, a city dividing the shores of Asia and Europe, the Black Sea to the north and the Marmara to the south linked by the Bosphorus river on one hand, and an overseer of the gateway to the Mediterranean.
The City had been a major port already during Byzantine times under the name of Byzantium or Constantinople and turned to be the biggest old Ottoman Capital of Turkey carrying the weight of government administration. It was estimated to be more than twice the size of Ankara which Mustapha Kemal Ataturk chose and founded in 1923, as the capital of the of the Republic of Turkey.
The University of Istanbul established in 330AD and considered as the oldest in Europe set the intellectual foundation and the cosmopolitan character of the City. It was an intellectual and cultural centre of learning which had helped the administration of the City to promote and update its institutions to the demands of multi-nationals coming from four corners of the Ottoman Empire. In fact, Istanbul actively encouraged multi nationalities to come and play an active part in its administration, creating a plural cultural way of life. This open approach gave rise to encourage the settlement of Sephardi Jews in Istanbul in 1492, when Ferdinand and Isabella decided to expel the Jews from the newly united Spain. Many Spanish Jews came fleeing the Spanish Inquisition and were refused entry to countries throughout Europe, and they were welcomed to the Ottoman Empire as an infusion of talent, some of their successors, leading businessmen are still in Istanbul; and l992 marked the 500th Anniversary of that major event. In addition, the Adampol experience, the founding of the Polish village by Polish refugees, 150 years ago, marked another major event supported or encouraged by the local government.
The old prized assets of the City are still the one kilometer long metro built in 1877, the second oldest metro in Europe; the City Hall, the seat of local administration standing on the same site since Roman Times as the recognized and accepted centre of the old city, built by stone still in existence in the courtyard of the Sehzade mosques opposite it, and the archives, one of the most detailed and comprehensive ones in the world gives full information of the Ottoman period.
The prestigious importance of the Alma Mater of Joseph and the significance of Istanbul bore its stamp of influence on Joseph and his involvement with the "Young Turks", an active political committee. It was at this City that his elder brother, Mordechai qualified as a Doctor of Medicine and called to serve in the Army of Turkey. It was also here where Joseph met again his lifelong friend Naji Swaidi, a Sunni Moslem, who once said to him:
"I am your friend! We sat together at the same bench to learn the law."
Those were the words of abroad-minded Arab, a true friend of an entirely different culture and religion who later on made him involved with the Swaidis in Independent Iraq. This bond of friendship reflected a common bond between Jew and Arab free of the emotive exercise of Arab nationalism: see, IN PRIVATE LAW PRACTICE, post.
After graduation in 1903 Joseph was nominated for appointment in the post and telegraph service. He began to serve in that administration on account of his command of the French and English languages. In the course of a year of service, he acquired exceptional skill in tapping the Morse Code used on landlines in Europe and Foreign countries, and in wireless, and the Code used on Ocean cables. It was noted then that on his return home after his day's work, he used to tap the three dots and bar and a bar and three dots (AB) as a clear message that he was home.
In 1904, Joseph had been promoted and appointed Head of the telegraph station at Fao (Faw). Fao an island at the mouth of the Persian Gulf has always flourished as harbor city of strategic importance. In his capacity as a Director of this telegraphic outpost, Joseph had been entrusted to manage a prestigious and most important station in the southern region with an essential line of communication to India.
He had also been nominated and made an Ottoman Governor for the Island of Fao.
In 1906, Joseph served as an Examining Magistrate in the province of Basra until 1911 when he was transferred to the province of Mosul.
In 1907 Joseph married Lulu (Leah), when she turned 17 years of age, born 1890, a fair looking young lady with blue eyes fresh from the Alliance school endowed with a remarkable memory of knowledge and history and regarded as a walking encyclopedia on history and royalties. Lulu was the second daughter of Yeheskel and Mesouda (Susan) Ezra Raphael, and daughter of the niece of Eliyahu Joshua Gabbay, co-related maternally to Sasson the first: see ANCESTRY, post. Yehekel was an Ottoman Army Cashier (Sanduk Amin), a devout Jew of strict Jewish upbringing. Yeheskel kept the strict observance of the Sabbath and always employed a Moslem as a part-time replacement to act in his place on every Saturday or festival. He was steep in religion, a man of learning in the Bible and Talmud, and dabbled in the Kabbalah, Jewish Mysticism, received or perceived knowledge with the book of the Zohar as its main source of learning.
In 1909, Basra faced an Arab unrest and the Vali requested military re-inforcements: The Times, 5.3.1909, 5f.
The unrest spread to Baghdad: The Times, 18.5.1909, 5; see also Baghdad under the Constitution: The Times.5.6.1909,5c.
Joseph relinquished his position as an Examining-Magistrate in 1912 with a view to start in private practice in Basra. An important incident was bound up with the transfer of Joseph to the province of Mosul. It was an incident of life threats delivered personally to Joseph by Sayid Talab and his strong men in connection with an unusual demand to change and hand over committal papers relating to and in connection with an alleged plot of assassination against the Commission of Enquiry ordered by the Ottoman Government in Turkey.
Sayid Talab, a son of an aristocratic family, which claimed its decent from the dynasty of Mohammed had large following. He was highly placed and an influential person in Arab circles in pursuit of political power; and had no respect nor regard for the Turks in authority.
In 1910, the Turkish Government sent a Commission of Enquiry headed by the Chief of Staff, Farid Beck to investigate complaints against Sayid Talab. Sayid Talab plotted to forestall and undermine the investigation by organizing an ambush in advance of the Commission travailing to Fao, the site of the investigation. When Farid Beck together with the Governor General for Nasariah and the Commander of the Gendarmerie (Force of Gendarmes) travelled to Fao, it was alleged that Sayid Talab hired 200 assassins and spread them at every corner of Fao with a view to kill Farid Beck.
Four of Sayid Talab's gang had ambushed Farid Beck, the Ottoman Governor General of Nasariah and the Commander of the Gendarmerie shot at them and killed both Farid Beck and the Governor General and severely wounded the Commander of the Gendarmerie. The matter of the killing was referred to the Ottoman Government in Turkey, and the ease of the killing came before the Examining Magistrate, Joseph Gabbay, who sat in the province of Basra, Mr. Naim Zilkha appeared on behalf of the Ottoman Government as the District Prosecutor
A day after the legal examination in court had been concluded, six strong henchmen of Sayid Talab called on Joseph on behalf of Sayid Talab and "summoned" him to come and see Talab and when he did so, Talab threatened him with his life if he did not hand over to him all the committal papers relating to the investigation of the killings, and sign instead fresh ones as dictated by Sayid Talab.
Confronted by that life menacing moslem who knew no respect to Ottoman law and order and who had the audacity to make his mortal threats face to face, saying to him in his native vulgar Arabic language "Rajaa ill kus ummak" (return you to the womb of your mother) if you do not comply with my wishes.
Joseph found himself in the horn of a dilemma, for if he were to comply with the wishes of the menacing Sayid Talab, he would be up for serious breach of his judicial oath and duties and the Ottoman Government would see fit to impose the death penalty. Joseph kept his cool and decided to avoid the immediate pressure of the menacing threats by requesting Sayid Talab to give him time to have the counsel of his family, so to say. Sayid Talab "granted" Joseph a day's respite only. During that respite, it was decided that Joseph will send in his place, his chief court clerk, Sayid Khamas with an excuse that Joseph was unwell to attend.
Sayid Talab seized the opportunity to coerce Sayid Khamqs to sign fresh committal papers and made him receive a sum of money from Sayid Talab's men, as a bribe. The freshly signed committal papers were sent to the Central Criminal Court in Turkey where Judge Naim Beck, a Sunni moslem cleared Talab of all charges.
The acquittal of Sayid Talab caused an uproar in Turkey. The Ottoman Government in Istanbul was informed of the scandal of the miscarriage of justice and of the circumstances surrounding the case.
The matter of the miscarriage of justice was heard and dealt with by a hearing at a Tribunal in Turkey in the absence of Joseph and the District Prosecutor and without giving either of them any opportunity of being heard. After that unprecedented hearing, both Zilkha, the Basra District Prosecutor at the time and Joseph, the Examining-Magistrate, were moved to the province of Mosul as what appeared to be a disciplinary action for an act of cowardice.
Joseph remained an Examining-Magistrate in Mosul, a northern city, reputed to be close to the Biblical site of the city of Nineveh. He continued to serve in his judicial capacity as an Examining Magistrate for Mosul until early 1912, when he decided to relinquish his judicial service with a view to set up in private practice with his own law offices in Basra, a city very close to the Biblical city of Ur of the Chaldees, the city from where Abraham set out to Cannan. Ur lies 100 miles west of Basra, reputed to be the birthplace of Abraham and one of the world's earliest city. It lies on the Euphrates close to el Nasirayah.
However, before settling down into private practice, Joseph took a short break and re-visited Istanbul, travailed to Egypt and Syria and only in the autumn of 1912 that he had opened his own law offices in Basra, the city in the province where he had served as an Examining-Magistrate during a period of four years between 1906 and 1910.
In the autumn of 1912 Joseph took the challenge to set up in private practice in Basra, spelt also Busra, the Bassorah of the Arabian Nights, the third most important town in Mesopotamia at the time with a population of over half a million. Basra lies near the western bank of the Shatt-el-Arab and the actual port of Basra lies about 75 miles from the Persian Gulf. The town is connected with Baghdad by a railway running from along the Euphrates and by the Tigris as only stretches of the Euphrates are fit for navigation.
The town came into its own as the port of communication between Mesopotamia and the Indian Continent. The port of Basra served a good third of the ocean-going steamers proceeding up to Shatt-el Arab.
Law practice in this town covered a wide range of mercantile and property law and Joseph succeeded to establish a lucrative commercial practice, representing several English companies and shipping agents trading with Baghdad.
During his stay in Baghdad in 1912, Joseph was elected a member of the Jewish Committee of Baghdad. He was richly literate and versed in Hebrew and its contemporary literature.
The Jewish community continued to increase fairly rapidly in Baghdad, and Joseph continued to practice in Basra until early 1919 when he moved to Baghdad and set up his practice near the Maude Bridge, He was by then well known in legal circles as Yusuf Elias Effendi. The title Effendi (lord) was of Turkish origin bestowed on a person as a mark of respect and honor for officials in government service or members of a learned profession.
The law practice in Baghdad had become extensive and prominent and Joseph soon distinguished himself in murder trials with a chronology of acquittals.
Joseph's old Arab colleague, Naji and his brother Tawfik Swaidi of Beit el Naquib joined him in his law practice as partners and competitors until their appointments as Ministers in the Government of Iraq.
Joseph became lifetime friend of the Swaidis of Beit el Naquib. He was much esteemed, admired and respected by them, and not surprisingly, he joined the Swaidis in the movement for the Independent Iraq. Naji sat as a member of several Cabinets in the Government of Iraq and served as the Minister of Justice and later became a Prime Minister of Iraq. Tawfiq Swaidi too a member of several Cabinets and served as a Prime Minister of Iraq.
The social bond of friendship with Naji had been since childhood and they remained steadfast friends in business and in politics until the premature death of Joseph from a severe sun-stroke on Saturday night, August 6th 1927 : see POST-OTTOMAN ERA, post.
The Chief Clerk in the law practice was Joshua Battat, later on managing clerk of a prominent and leading firm of advocates, Horowitz & Co of Jerusalem; and Ezra, Joseph's youngest brother was employed as an assistant at the practice. Horowitz & Co. of Jerusalem was one of many firms of Advocates who kept regular correspondence with Joseph seeking his advice and opinion on issues of law and practice.
Joseph appeared in many cases and celebrates; fashionable lawsuits that had excited and drawn much public attention. In most cases the accused were acquitted. It is said that he had saved no fewer than thirteen persons from the gallows.
In one most rare case of murder on a roof-top in an alleyway, a murder-of a moslem, a local municipal attendant of street lamp-lighting, a moslem constable on night patrol was charged with his murder. The prosecution had alleged that the constable killed the attendant premeditatedly. Joseph was called to defend the constable who maintained his innocence on the ground that he had suspected the man was on a roof-top in the course of committing a burglary and had not responded to his shouts of "stop" and carried on with his task without heeding his calls to stop. The constable claimed that he was not aware at the time of his shooting that the man he shot at was deaf from birth and could not have heard his call to stop. After close examination of the forensic evidence and numerous witnesses who gave evidence as to the deafness of the municipal attendant, it came to light that the murdered man was deaf from birth and could not have heard the calls of the constable. The defense of accidental shooting put up by Joseph on behalf of the constable who was found not guilty and cleared of the unlawful killing of the attendant.
In another case, a love-affair murder of crime of passion occurred in the City of Baghdad in 1923 when the Government of Iraq had already been established. Joseph was engaged by the accused in the case, the longest running murder trial. An intriguing triangle love-affair which became the talk of the day for a year and a half until a verdict of not guilty was brought in. It had been one of the longest trials ever to be defended in Iraq. The murder implicated a Jew, named Samuel Gamilah who was indicted with the murder of a Christian Armenian, named Kazarbriyan. The murder took place in 1923 when Sayid Talab served as a Minister of the Interior in the Government of Iraq. Sayid Talab was known to be a party involved in the triangle love-affair. The love affair was surrounded with jealousy, intrigues and mystery. Sayid Talab fell in love with the wife of Kazarbriyan who was in love with a Jew, named Samuel Gamilah. Talab had been courting the married woman at the time, and it became common knowledge that he had plotted the murder of her husband by an unknown proxy who shot Karabriyan at the back of his neck. This was done in pursuit of winning the woman's love, and laid the accusation for the murder on Gamilah. Gamilah was put on trial for the murder of Karabriyan.
The case called for great skill of advocacy to establish full-proof alibi, rebuttal of the forensic evidence produced by the prosecution, and arguable lack of motive for the murder. Above all, how to prove the innocence of a Jew alleged to have murdered a Christian Armenian in the face of prejudice and bias. In social terms it was a daunting trial of skill to defend such an emotive and intriguing case before a hostile court. It augured dire consequences for the Jewish community at large. Fortunately, Joseph had discharged his responsibility successfully. A not guilty verdict was recorded and Gamilah was acquitted of the murder of Karabriyan to the relief of the accused, his relatives and counsel.
The outbreak of the First World War was largely brought about by the rivalry over the Ottoman project for the construction of an ambitious rail line from Berlin to Baghdad. That project was the central political issue of contention between Britain and the Ottoman Government in Turkey.
The Berlin Baghdad railway project, via Istanbul was seen by the Imperial Powers as a short cut to the Indian continent. The Ottoman Government in Turkey had planned to construct a rail line from Istanbul to Baghdad as early as 1888. In 1902, the Ottoman government granted a German company rights to lay railway lines between Berlin and Baghdad: see The Times, March 6th 1911,5b; Baghdad Railway Company rights - Berlin correspondent's comments; and The Times, November 26th 1915, 7f - Railways: New project's particulars. However, financial matters and technical problem of tunneling the Taurus mountains by burrowing subterranean passage proved a slow process and made progress slow. By 1918,the line had reached Nussaybin, few hundreds miles short of Baghdad, but not to reach Basra.
Britain regarded the project of the Berlin Baghdad railway line to reach Basra as a threat to establish control on the shores of the Persian Gulf. The British Foreign Secretary at the time, Lord Landsdowne made the view of Britain clear:
"England would consider it an unfriendly act for any power to establish itself on the shores of the Persian Gulf."
On November 5th 1917, Britain declared war on Turkey. In the initial stages of the war, the scale of operations by the combined Anglo-Indian contingent was on modest lines. Britain attacked Turkish positions around the southern part of Basra to safeguard the Anglo-Persian Oil Company across Shatt el Arab waterways. An Indian brigade of the 6th Division had been dispatched and landed at the island of Fao, at the mouth of the Gulf. The object at the outset was to protect the Anglo-Persian oil installations, to occupy the greater part of the Basra Vilayet and secure possession of Shattel-Arab and the districts near the head of the Persian Gulf. It was an exercise of public relations to impress the Arabs and others in the region and the surrounding Ottoman territories between the Ottoman Empire and the Sub-Continent of India.
Shortly after the outbreak of the World War, the sad news came through that Joseph's elder brother; Dr Mordechai (Murad) Gabbay became a war casualty. He was serving at the time as a doctor in the Turkish Army, attending to soldiers at a garrison post affected by the cholera plague when he was struck by cholera. The Chief Rabbi of Istanbul sent a telegram to his next of kin, notifying them of his tragic war death.
At the time, his wife Rena was pregnant and posthumously gave birth to a boy, called Salim who had immigrated with her to Israel in the 1950's.
The campaign for the conquest of Mesopotamia took four and a half months after the Turkish flotilla of river vessels had been decimated earlier. There was a four to one British superiority of force over the Turkish Forces.
Historically, the military occupation of Mesopotamia ended with its conquest, a country crudely carved out of the map of the Ottoman Empire. It was obvious that the lofty mountains to the north and east of Mosul were a military barrier in any further advance to contiguous countries. Moreover, Britain was eager to achieve success in the Mesopotamian Campaign after the abortive naval effort of the Allies to force the Dardanelles, the strait that unites the Sea of Mamora with the Aegean, whereby the Turks were forewarned and reinforced and after the repulse of the small Allied landing in Gallipoli in August 1917, it had been obvious that a landing venture in the Gallipoli Peninsula for the Dardanelles could not succeed without substantia] re-enforcements.
Neither the British nor the French were prepared to divert substantial military resources from the main theatre of war, resulting in the insufficient number of Allied troops landing.
Britain's s success in the Mesopotamia Campaign was a morale boost, A mandate over Mesopotamia was entrusted to Great Britain after the discussions of the San Remo Peace Conference in April 1920: The Times, 26th April 1920,8c; see "The Mesopotamian Mandate: Framework of Civil Administration" The Times, May 2rd, 1920, 17a; Britain's policy was discussed in Parliament - Comments by Correspondent: The Times, June 26th 1920,16f. Britain occupied and ruled Mesopotamia between 1918 and 1932 under its mandate from the League of Nations.
A new country of Iraq emerged out of the extensive Mesopotamian campaign which redrew the map of the Ottoman Empire for the Middle East. At the end of 1920, Britain discussed a National Government for Iraq and sent Sir Percy Cox from London to hasten the process. In June 1921, Emir Feisal made his entry into the City of Basra amidst addresses of welcome: The Times, 30th June 1921,9b.
Emir Feisal el Hussain was the third son of Hussain thin Ali, Emir and Grand Sharif of Mecca ruled Hedjaz from 1916 to 1924. Feisal was born at Taif on May 20th 1885 and died in Berne on 8th September 1933. He was raised among tribesmen of his clan until the age of seven when he was educated privately in Istanbul until 16 years of age. He returned to the Hedjaz, appointed deputy for Jiddah in 1913 and became involved with the Pan Arab movement.
The biographical notes of the Colonial Office described the Emir Feisal:
"... will be remembered as the leader of the Sherifian Army which co-operated brilliantly with Lord Allenby in the conquest of Palestine and Syria. Later Feisal was at the head of the Arab Government established at Damascus, he also attended the Peace Conference as the representative of his father, Disagreement with the French followed and Feisal was compelled to quit Syria [July 1920]. He came to Palestine and subsequently spent some months in London. Meanwhile, a provisional Arab Government had been set-up in Mesopotamia by the British and influential Arabs in that country invited Feisal to become a candidate for the throne." cf. The Times, 23rd August 1921, 8g.
Feisal was elected King after he had received 96% of the votes cast in a plebiscite; cf."Emir Feisal": I. Creator of the Arab Army: A Modern Saladin" The Times, August 7th 1920, 8a; II. The Sykes-Picot Treaty: Impatient Arabs", The Times, August 11th 1920; and "The Emir Feisal's Fall: Concession lead to rebellion", The Times, August 21, 1920, 9a.
A Provisional Council of State passed a resolution for the establishment of the Government of Iraq: The Times, 21st June 1921, 3c.
Protests were voiced against the terms of the Mandate for Mesopotamia and Palestine: The Times, 9th February 1921, 9b. The proposed establishment of an Arab Government in Mesopotamia Special Correspondent in Middle East and messages: The Times, 2nd February 1921, lOa, 16, 10e.
The Times of Mesopotamia first appeared and noticed with official appointments published: The Times, 5th September 1921 7g; Comments by Correspondent of the Times in Basra: The Times, 9th September 1921,8c. A Monarchy had been established in August 1921 as a British protectorate and Feisal was crowned King of Iraq: The Times, 6th October 1921.
The first General Election was declared in 1922 and Sir Percy Cox withdrew his opposition to it: The Times, 4th October 1922.
Constitution for the Government of Iraq was negotiated and signed in 1925 by the founding fathers of Iraq, leading to full Independence in 1932, when the country was divided into 18 governesses, three of which constitute the Kurdish autonomous Region of limited self government with the Court of Cassation as the highest court of the country.
The story of Mesopotamia ends with the crude carve-up of the Mesopotamian lands in 1920 captured from the Ottomans, vast region of plural society composed of Kurds, Armenians in the north-west, Shiates and Arabs of the Marshes in the south-east with majority of Sunni Arabs in the centre, the heartland. Several countries bordered it, Turkey on the north, Syria and Trans-Jordan on the southwest, the Kingdom of Arabia and Kuweit on the south and Persia on the east. It extended over 865 miles [1,402 km] north to South and 775 miles [1,256 km] from west to its widest point.
Long-term rule of the country did not appeal to Britain whose interest was in oil; and the process of handing over rule to an established national government began in earnest immediately after Britain was entrusted with its mandate by the League of Nations.
The Emir Abdulla, the second son of the King of Hedjaz was first proclaimed King by the British Government: The Times 16th March 1920.
On June 28th 1920, the Emir Abdulla was invited by Mesopotamian Notables to become King. This was unknown to the Emir and the information had been reported and covered by the Press. Amongst the Mesopotamian notables who extended an invitation to the Emir were representatives of all walks of life in Baghdad, and the names of notable lawyers from Baghdad were: Naji Swaidi and Tawfique Swaidi, colleagues and partners with Joseph in Private Law Practice: The Times,28th June 1920.
Lord Curzon spoke on the Friday in the House of Commons on the invitation extended to the Emir Abdulla: The Times, 25th June 1920.
At the end of 1920, Sir Percy Cox arrived from London to expedite the formation of a new National Government of Irak. The selection of the Emir Abdulla had been sounded and discussed in Parliament: The Times, 4th October 1920, lOe,20.
However, Winston Churchill, the Colonial Secretary announced in July 1921 that influential Arabs in Mesopotamia invited Emir Feisal, third son of the King of Hedjaz, to be a candidate for the throne and that he had been informed that he was at liberty to go to Mesopotamia, and if chosen as their ruler by the people would receive the support of the British Government. The Emir reached Basra on 24th June 1921 and has received the support of all Arab notables of Irak; and a resolution passed by the Provisional Council of State confirmed that Feisal should be chosen.
On the 22nd August 1921,it was announced by the Colonial Office that Emir Feisal will be crowned King of Iraq at Baghdad on the 23rd August 1921, and that the British garrison in Irak shall be reduced: The Times, 23rd August 1921,8g; cf. "The Throne of Irak": The Times,28th December 1921,3a; "Feisal King of Irak - Accession Ceremony" (Photo): The Times, 6th October 1921, 9b.
Feisal was crowned King in the courtyard of the Qushla, the Great Ottoman Barracks adjoining the Serai, the Eastern Mansion (a quadrangular inn with great inner court where caravans were put up) which became the home of the various Ministries of the Administration of Iraq. The High Commissioner, Sir Percy Cox was present at the ceremony of inauguration. A residence was secured for His Majesty, in the fashionable part of the City near the source of the river stream and along the road to Maudlum.
Six Sheikhs of Senussi, however, were to challenge King Feisal: The Times,9th June 1922,19c. Later on, a revolt broke out against an imposed Monarch and reluctantly, Churchill had to condone the use of force. Although Churchill sponsored Feisal as a King of Iraq, he held a dim view of his regime. He told Lloyd George repeatedly that unless the Monarch of Iraq mended his way, Britain should leave, and by the end of 1921 he wrote to the Prime Minister, saying that Iraq is "an ungrateful volcano." Churchill never saw the point of an unpopular British presence in Iraq while he was a Colonial Secretary, a view endorsed by successive administrators.
Election was held for the Beladiyah (The Municipality), local government in 1922, a year of summer and autumn outbursts of plaques, and the question of new national Parliament began to be discussed: The Times, 28th March 1924,13c - The New Iraq Parliament." It was only by the end of 1924 that the first parliament (Majelis) or Constitutional Assembly was to be opened at Taiss by the King in person: The Times,29th March 1924,Ile "Feisal King of Mesopotamia opens Parliament."
King Feisal's health became a matter of concern as he was unable to attend to work: The Times, 7th February 1922,10e; 24th August 1922,7d. The King had promised to refrain from interfering with the work of the Ministries of the Government: The Times,4th August 1922.
In August 1922, the High Commissioner, Sir Percy Cox is insulted-and the King expressed his regret: The Times, 28th August 1922,8b. The King attended to work later that year in September: The Times,20th September 1922,9d.
Again and again, the King's health raised concern: The Times,4th August 1924,7d; 30th July 1925: and 17th August 1925,9g.
Largely through the influence of Arab political and diplomatic circles close to the Swaidis that Joseph had been sucked into the Arab movement for the Independence of Iraq. His judicial and legal practice and skills in the English and French languages were invaluable for mediation and helped him to promote community of interests and peace between contending rivals for power. It will be observed that King Feisal I was born in Taiff in the Hedjaz, and as a stranger to Mesopotamia had been acclaimed by a large majority of Mesopotamian society mainly for his known fervent for Arab nationalism and leadership against the Ottomans.
Between 1921 until his premature death in 1927, Joseph served as one of the three Aide-de-Camp and counsel to King Feisal I, and was a frequent visitor to the Royal Palace. On Moslem Holidays, he often attended with one of his children. It is recalled that on arrival the British guards at the Royal Palace immediately mounted a guard of honor and presented arms. On any public Royal occasion, Joseph was seated near the Royal- Box. His Majesty did extend invitation to Lulu, Joseph’s wife, but she was not keen to attend as it was the custom at the time for women at the time to be seen and but not heard.
Joseph was elected a member of the first Parliament of Iraq on March 27th 1921, as a Deputy for Baghdad Jewish Community.
On the Opening Day of this Parliament the gallery of the Assembly was crowded by numbers of the principal Iraqi and British officials, and Sir Henry Dobbs, the British High Commissioner was present. Of the 83 Deputies who took their seats, 10 were tribal sheikhs.
In his Inauguration Speech of the Constitutional Assembly, King Feisal directed the special attention of the Assembly to the Treaty with Britain, that trust and two years' labor amid varying influences needed the help of Great Britain and of the League of Nations against menacing calamities, and that the country's own existence could be guaranteed, if the boundary questions were settled on a just basis, and in conclusion, his Majesty urged the members of the Assembly to work wisely, expeditiously and patriotically: The Times, 27th March 1921.
After the King's departure, the Assembly elected as its President, Abdul Mushin Beg el Saadum, the Senior member for Basra and lately Prime Minister, by a large majority over General Yasin Pasha of Haslumi, a former Minister of Public Works. In the short subsequent debate, the Assembly showed signs of independence as some members objected to Government's promulgation of the standing orders as a law before the Assembly adjourned to debate the issue:cf. The Times, March 29th 1921,11e.
Joseph was an elected member of the first Parliament of Iraq and was voted Vice-President of the Assembly. In May 1924 he served as a Deputy in the Legislative Assembly in place of a Deputy who had resigned. That House of Assembly was dissolved in August 1924.
A New Treaty was signed in January 1926 and passed by the House of Deputies: The Times, January 20th,1926,11c; cf. Attitude of the Opposition (idem). The new treaty signaled full Independence; the founding fathers for the movement for independent Iraq with the assistance of Britain saw the light for good national government. An Honorary Knighthood, Hon . K. C . M. G was bestowed on His Majesty, King Feisal: The Times, January 1st 1927,5c;30th May 1927,18.
On gaining independence in 1932, Iraq was admitted to the League of Nations as a member state. However, King Feisal was not able to preserve the Monarchy as events proved after his death in 1933 in Berne in Switzerland. Iraq moved rapidly against the Monarchy and overthrew it in an uprising in Baghdad on July 14, 1958, killing Feisal II who took the royal oath on his 18th birthday, son of King Ghazi and grandson of King Feisal I.
The politics of the new regime deviated from the moderation of its predecessors. It created a single Ba'ath socialist party. A somber regime of terror and oppression prevailed with no free speech and denial of civil rights to minorities. One party alone, the Ba'ath Socialist party, ran the country as one state government.
A provisional constitution of Iraq adopted in 1970 vested the Court of Cassation with the supreme judicial authority of the country. The country is divided into 18 governesses, three of which constitute the Kurdish Autonomous Region which give the Kurds a limited self government.
Joseph took keen interest in farming in addition to his legal and parliamentary duties during the period between 1925 and 1927.
During the last two years of life he was also engaged in farming. He went into farm partnership with an Arab named Muhammed el Fayed, one of the Arab farmers who farmed near Baghdad, some 30 miles south of the City but good fortune was not with Joseph.
The event leading to the sudden and premature death of Joseph had been related and attributed to a severe sunstroke he had sustained on one of his farm visits. It was on a date of a hearing fixed for the settlement of farm land. That day was a Moslem Feast and an intense hot summer day and no public transport available. It seemed sheer mishap that the hired car in which Joseph travailed broke-down mid-way and he had to complete his journey on foot and on horse-back with his head uncovered and exposed to the tense heat of the sun. On his return home, a Chemist nearby wrongly injected him with a dose of medicine believed to give him relief. It aggravated his condition and did not help his recovery. Before the doctor arrived, Joseph passed away on Saturday night, the 8th Ab 5687, August 6th 1927.
A communal man who led a crowded active life was suddenly taken away in his late forties without gracefully reaching old age. It is recollected that on the day of his funeral procession, owners and customers of two Moslem cafes nearby stood in silence as a mark of respect. Joseph was survived by his wife, Lulu and six children by her, two daughters and four sons:
Sophie (Simha) b.l914 - d. July 2nd 1963; Ellis (Eliahu) b.l916; Shlomo (Salim) b.25.12.1919; Mordechai (Naim) b.l922 - d. 12.5.1958; Edmond (Balfour) b.l5.8.23; Shoshana (Mesuada) b.3.11.26-d.7.10.1982
Lulu set out to organize and implement her cherished hope to move to Tel-Aviv to re-start a new life. She sought the help of Beit el Naquib who had friends and influential contacts in Palestine. When she called on them, she was moved by the warmth of their friendliness. They arranged for the hire of a limousine to be driven by Sayid Yahyeh for 26 gold sovereigns and gave her a letter of recommendation to a sheikh in Jerusalem to give her all the assistance he can give, which she did not require.
On the 27th June 1929, Lulu packed her worldly possessions with three Sifrie Torah (Scrolls of the Law), one dedicated to Joseph and two to each of her 1 ate parents. She bade farewell to Babylon and set out with her family on an overnight journey to the Holy Land. After an overnight stay in a Damascus Hotel, the journey continued to Rosh Pina via Rutba. At one stage of the journey, the car was surrounded by a pack of seven wolves. An Iraqi Minister appeared by morning, standing and admiring the beauty of Shoshana, who had just turned two and a half years old.
On reaching Rosh Pina, the northern town of the Holy Land, serving as a border checkpoint for control of immigration, Lulu kneeled and kissed the soil and said her prayer. The immigration officer seized this moment of excitement and asked Lulu to repeat her performance and offered her a pear from an orchard next door to say the seasonal blessing. Lulu knelt again, kissed the soil and said in Hebrew the seasonal blessing of Shehianu: "Blessed are thou .., who has kept us in life, and has preserved us, and enabled us to reach this season."
Lulu and her children arrived in Tel-Aviv at the end of that day to occupy the largest flat in a house at 100, Derech Petah Tikva (Hebrew for "The road of the doorway of Hope"),near Tel-Aviv central railway station and the Electric Power Complex of Rutenberg. British troops were stationed close by as the threat of Arab riot was looming.
The land for the house in Tel-Aviv had been previously purchased by Joseph and had paid a great deal of money for the building of the house, one of the earliest buildings in Tel-Aviv; and after few years, the house had been renumbered as 32, Petah Tikva Road: see, THE JERUSALEM VISIT post, p.49.
On the death of Joseph, Muhammed el Fayed paid a visit to his home in Baghdad and demanded of Lulu to pass onto him the Mauser pistol of Joseph together with a bandoleer of 100 bullets. It's ironic that with this pistol, Muhammed el Fayed, some time later on shot and killed a man-for which he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
A great deal of money was invested in the Arab farm was completely lost although a court possession order was made against the Arab farmer with no prospect of levying execution at the time before Lulu's departure to Palestine.
Joseph had interests in trade with Persia. It is recollected that there were two loss making partnerships in commodities, one with the Hardouns, a total loss; and another with Abdulnabi a commodity merchant in tea and coffee. Joseph soon discovered losses in both partnerships. The partnership with Abdulnabi was running at a loss and he quickly stopped the flow of supply of commodities to the business.
At the close of the First World War, the Congress of Zionists at Odessa passed a resolution urging the inclusion of the question of the cessation of rights over Palestine at the Peace Conference:: The Times,4th April 1917,5e; and Mr. Balfour discussed the Zionist movement with the President of the Canadian Zionists Federation: The Times, 30th May 1917,5e.
The British Government made known her scheme for Palestine when Lord Balfour (then, Mr. Arthur Balfour), the Foreign Secretary, made the historic declaration on November 2nd 1917 for the establishment of a National Home for the Jewish people, and that the British Government will use its best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of that object, it being understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by the Jews in any other country, Mr. King, Labor Member of Parliament for Somerset North, asked the Secretary of State for. Foreign Affairs in the House of Commons whether the desire of the British Government to see established a Jewish Zionist "nationality" in Palestine had been communicated to the Allied Powers. Mr. Balfour replied that no official communication had been made to the Allies on the subject; but H.M. Government believed that the declaration referred to would meet with approval and that H.M. Government hoped that the establishment in Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish people will result from the present war: The Times, November 20th 1917, 10b. In fact, the declaration was endorsed by the principal Allied Powers and embodied in the Treaty of Sevres, and the mandate over Palestine was entrusted to Britain.
The event of the Balfour Declaration was marked a month later by a visit of Lord Rothschild at the London Opera House: The Times,3rd December 1917, 2c; and on the occupation of Jerusalem by General Allenby, he visited No 1O Downing Street in Whitehall to congratulate Lloyd George on the special occasion following the capture of the Gaza region and the advance along the coastline and the Turkish Army in retreat: The Times, l5th December 191;also cf. The Times, November lOth,1917,17e and November 14th 1917,5con General Allenby review of operations.
After the Balfour declaration the Zionist organization sent a commission to act as a link between the British authorities and the Jewish population as a constituent part of the Zionist Executive. Hebrew was recognized with English and Arabic as the third official language. Sir A. Wilson made a Statement in the House for a proposed Baghdad to Haifa rail line: The Times, 20th February 1922,9c.
A Zionist Society of Mesopotamia was formed in Baghdad on March 5th 1921 with the permission of the High Commissioner for Mesopotamia, Sir Percy Cox. It was presided over by Aharon Sasson, ("Hamoreh", Heb. for the Teacher), and Joseph Elias (Eliyahu) Gabbay, Vice-President: Yehudei Babel, Second Edition, 1979 at pp.243-244 - giving a profile of Joseph and his devotion to the Zionist cause; see also The Story of the Exile: History of the Jews of Iraq, TelAviv,1982 at p.35;Leaders of the Zionist Organization in Baghdad, 1921, at p.36 (photo).
In its first two years, the membership of the Society exceeded the thousand mark and spread its activities to all Iraq and Kurdistan. Links were forged with the World Zionist Organization in London and delegates attended the 13th Zionist Congress. A Charitable Trust for Keren Hayesod was endowed: see pp.43-45 on the efforts and influence of Joseph to secure a valid charitable trust on the land of Yeheskel Gourgie Shem-Tov in Basra. In 1922, Joseph served also as Chairman of the Hebrew Literary Society after the death of Judge Yitshak Eini.
Arab protests were raised over the terms of Mandate for Mesopotamia and Palestine and Feisal returned to Hedjaz to consult his father, King Hussain: The Times,9th February 1921 9b; 26th March 1921,8g; 31st March 1921, 7g. Winston Churchill received a Moslem deputation at Jerusalem to reply to a request for repudiation of the Balfour Declaration: The Times 2nd April 1921,7d; cf. "Some Truths About Palestine: Our Increasing Unpopularity - Arab and Zionist Conflict:" The Times, 3rd April 1922, 13f .
Law and order began to prevail in the Holy Land. Civil and religious courts were established in Palestine under a Draft Order-in-Council and a Chief Secretary had been appointed: The Times, 10th February 1922,8a;16th October 1922, 1g,11g and 12d. Regular weekly rail service between Haifa and, Amman had commenced: The Times 26th August 1921,9g.
Ottoman codes enlarged by enactments under military law according to the "laws and usages of war" governed the country by legal necessity. However, a Constitution for the Government of Palestine by Order-in-Council was issued and published in the London Gazette: The Times,2nd December 1922,9g. Enactments by Ordinances were considered first by the High Commissioner in executive council after receiving the provisional approval of the Colonial Secretary, and submitting it to the Advisory Council consisting of ten senior officials and then published in the official Gazette. The Ordinances became law after at least one month after publication to give an opportunity for expressions of views by interested parties, save in cases of special urgency.
A Jerusalem Arab college for Language and Science was established in the presence of the high Commissioner for Palestine, Sir Herbert Samuel. Professor Benjamin Yahuda was sent from London to lecture on the Judeao-Islamic Era: The Times,29th December,1920,7e.
On the Fourth Anniversary of the Balfour Declaration in favor of a National Home for the Jewish people in Palestine, H.M. Government re-affirmed the establishment of National Home for the Jewish people: The Times,12th January 1923 9b.
The Balfour Declaration and its reaffirmation in January 1923 opened the door of hope for settlement of Jews in Palestine and increased the volume of Zionist activities of the Mesopotamian Society. The Society was administered by a Secretary, Joshua Battat, Secretary, and Menashie Shammai, Accountant, and approved local agents were appointed to look after local interests: see CZA File No. 697, 1922 [5682 in the Hebrew Calendar]. Its range of activities was enlarged and included, the founding of a free fee private Jewish school, arranging for the immigration of Russian Jews who had found refuge in Iraq between 1924-1928; encouraging the purchase of land in Palestine, the study of Hebrew and its contemporary literature; distribution of the "Shekel" of the Zionist and Mizrahi organizations; collection of donations for the Jewish National Fund, and the establishment of agricultural settlement for Iraqi Jews in Palestine and the Khadoorie school of agriculture: cf. The Central Zionist Archives (CZA), File No. 2470 - Report of the Mesopotamian Zionist Society for the years 1922-1926 [5683-5685].
In 1922, the Committee for Keren Hayesod was formed in Baghdad by Dr Ariel BenZion, the emissary for Keren Hayesod. A special inauguration ceremony took place at "Meir Eliyahu" synagogue in the presence of the leaders of the community and the Chief Rabbi. The Committee consisted of the best and most influential persons in Baghdad. Dr BenZion was introduced to King Feisal and the Naquib of Baghdad: CZA, File No.239 Dr Ben-Zion's letter dated July 7th 1922 - 27th Sivan 5682. At the time, Keren Hayesod was canvassed as a Jewish English registered company whose objects were set out in its Memorandum and Articles of Association to raise funds for the relief of Jews.
A proposed legacy by Mr. Yeheskel Gourgie Shem-Tov of a huge estate in Basra with date-trees plantation was wished to be endowed to Keren Hayesod, as he had an only daughter to survive him. The donor and donee had to resolve the problem of how best to make a legally binding Charitable Trust in Iraq. The liberal English law on charitable trusts did not apply to Wakfs (Pious Foundations). The Minister of Wakfs was at the time, Mohamed Ali Fadhil, in the Cabinet of The Naquib Asharaf of Baghdad, His Highness Sir Sayid Ab-du-Rahman. The transfer of land to any company could only be made for benevolent or pious purposes like the relief of the poor. The Tabo (The Land Registry) in Basra argued that Keren Hayesod was a Zionist foundation of political character and refused to register the transfer of land: CZA File 261 - Benzion's letter dated 13th Nissan 5683). The matter was bound up with government policy and required a great deal of efforts and patience. It was clearly stated in the Endowment Trust Instrument that the income arising out of the endowment shall be spent on schools, hospitals and other similar institutions of Keren Hayesod.
Joseph, who was a long-standing friend and legal adviser to Mr. Shem-Tov and took up his trust issue in 1923 without a fee. He travailed to Basra at his own expense no fewer than five times, and consulted influential Arab lawyers.
Eventually, Solicitors for Keren Hayesod in London sent a Power of Attorney to Joseph to draw up the Trust Instrument and to execute a legally binding Charitable Trust of the estate of Mr. Shem-Tov. Three trustees, citizens of Turkish nationality were appointed to hold the estate in trust for the benefit of Keren Hayesod. The three trustees were Dr Ariel Ben-zion, Rabbi Chai Uziel and Mr. HaCohen and, the trust received the approval of the Parliament of Iraq. In 1948, with the establishment of the State of Israel, the Government of Iraq annulled the Charitable Trust for political motives and the estate reverted to the daughter of Mr. Shem-Tov.
The devotion of Joseph to the ideal of Zionism reached its climax at the end of March 1925 with the realization of an official visit to Jerusalem for the day of opening of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was invited as one of the guest delegates at the inauguration day of the Hebrew University, representing Iraq's Jewish Community.
A huge amphitheater was prepared behind the University buildings overlooking the valley of Jordan, capable of seating the 2,000 guests expected on the opening of the University. The Arab Executive had urged all Arabs to prepare for an effective proclaimed general strike for the day, April 1st 1925, when Lord Balfour was to open the Hebrew University: The Times,12th February 1925, lle; llth March 1925,17e,18 and 13b.
The Opening Inauguration Ceremony took place on April lst,1925 on Mount Scopus just to the north-east of Jerusalem and the Holy City was full of official guests who included some most distinguished representatives of the European and American Universities. Hotel accommodation was taxed to the limit by a large number of tourists, increasing the congestion in the City; but the town was perfectly quiet: The Times,31st March 1925.
Lord and Lady Allenby travelled in a special saloon car as far as Ludda (Lod) from where they motored to Government House where a reception was held and all the guests were invited to meet Lord Balfour before he opened the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The scene of the amphitheater on Mount Scopus during the address by Lord Balfour at the inauguration of the Hebrew University was awe inspiring. Seated at the table of the ceremony were Sir Herbert Samuel in academic robes as the High Commissioner for Palestine, Lord Allenby in silk hat, the two Grand Rabbis in their robes and, leaders of the Zionist Movement: The Times, 9th April 1925, 14 (photo).
After the Opening Ceremony, Lord Balfour visited various settlements on the plain of Esdraelon including Balfouria, a place of which he gave his eponym.
During his stay in Jerusalem, Joseph purchased land in Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv and was so enchanted with the Holy Land that he made it his dream to settle in the Promised Land.
Joseph contracted the building of a house in Tel-Aviv at 100 Derech Petah Tikwa and returned home with a tome on the Laws of Palestine.
Joseph saw his future life in the Holy Land. He foresaw the third opportunity in Jewish history for Jews becoming sovereign people with their own land. The first two opportunities ended with the destruction of the First and the Second Temples in 586 BC by Babylonian troops of Nebuchadnezer and in AD 70 by the Romans. But good fortune was not with him to live long enough to see the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. He passed away in Baghdad on Saturday night, the 8th of Ab 5687, August 6th 1927. A Sefer Torah dedicated to Joseph is placed together with Sifere Torah of Lulu's parents at "Ohel Rachel" synagogue at 33,David Yelin Street, Jerusalem see POST-OTTOMAN ERA, ante. His life ambition was realized by his wife, Lulu who lived to see his dream fulfilled. Lulu died in Jerusalem on July 12th 1962 and lay to rest at Givat Shaul Cemetery outside Jerusalem next to the grave of her third son, Mordechai who died in Jerusalem in 1958 shortly after he gained his MSc (Agr) degree by the Hebrew University.
The lineage of Joseph is traceable to a unique lineal descent of a family of well known persons who occupied positions of importance in Constantinople (Istanbul) and Baghdad. Some rose to positions of financial advisers and bankers to the Sultan at Istanbul, Judges of the Supreme Court of Turkey, and others held positions of government responsibility. They were also imbued with sense of public duty towards their brethren.
Joseph's great grandfather was Joshua (Yeshua) Gabbay (b.1680 d.l763) had many branches in Baghdad and India. He came to Basra in Mesopotamia from Baharein where he was in the pearls and gems business, trading with India and Baghdad. He moved with his family later on to Baghdad and some of his family members returned to Basra. His son, David, had six sons, Abraham, Yitzhak, Jacob, Saleh, Michael and Moses. Amam (b.t746 d,l821),daughter of Abraham David Joshua Gabbay married the Nasi, Sheikh Sasson (b.1750 d.l830), son of Saleh David Jacob, known as David Sasson the first, father of the famous David Sasson, the founder of the House of Sasson (b.1792 d.l864):see Voyage in Babylon by Rabbi David Solomon Sasson, Jerusalem 5715,1953 at pp.222,224;History of the Jews in Baghdad by the late David Solomon Sasson, Letchworth 5709,1949 p.206
A notable member of the family was Yitzhak (Isaac) Gabbay, son of David Joshua Gabbay, a grandson of Joshua Gabbay. He was known as Sheikh Isaac Pasha and ruled with firmness between 1745 and 1773 and acted as "Saraf Bashi" or the Imperial Banker for the governor of Baghdad. He also served as the Nasi (President) of the Jewish community. He died together with three of his sons in the plague of 1773. An inscription in 1868 in a Sefer Torah (Scroll of the Law) deposited in a Jerusalem synagogue dedicated to Mordechai, son of Yitzhak who died in 1868 states his immediate genealogy to Joshua Gabbay, where names of his ancestry is given, namely:
Mordechai Joseph Haim Mordechai Yitzhak David Joshua Gabbay 5687.
The grandson of Yitzhak Pasha was Joseph Haim. Yitzhak Pasha was the great grand father of Eliyahu Mordechai Joshua Gabbay who married Sarah Peretz. Sarah bore him three sons, Mordechai (Murad), Joseph who was named after Joseph Haim after his great grandfather, Ezra, and three daughters, Aziza, Simha and Farha.
Joseph was the second son of Eliyahu Mordechai Joshua Gabbay, a precious stones businessman settled in Baghdad. Murad went to Istanbul to study medicine, and Joseph was among the first to study law at Istanbul University.
A noteworthy scholar and shrewd man of business, a branch member of Joshua Gabbay was Heskel Joshua Gabbay, b.1824 d.l896. He was one of the first Baghdad men to extend his business to China, and gave Ma'aser, tenth of his income to charities in India. He married Aziza, daughter of Sir Albert (Abdallah) Sasson. Aziza bore him five sons and five daughters, included Flora (Farha) married to Sir Solomon, David President of the Jewish community in Shanghai, and one son who became a judge in Bombay. Aziza died in 1897.
In a co-related branch of the family, Heskel (Yehezkel) Joseph Nissim Menachem Gabbay was a prominent banker in Baghdad. He gave his assistance to Hallat Effendi in 1811 to suppress the rebellion of Suleiman Pasha, the governor of Baghdad: Baghdad: The City of Peace by Richard Coke at pp.245-261,267, published in 1927 by the Thornton Butterworth Ltd.
Heskel was called to Constantinople and became a favorite of the Secretary to the Sultan, Rhalid Effendi, who introduced him to the court of the Sultan and appointed "Saraf Bashi", Chief Imperial Banker, duties of which he cherished and discharged with exceptional ability and skill. He was good looking, educated, knew several languages, especially Arabic and Turkish and was well versed in customs of the East. Many honors were bestowed upon him and was considered the richest man in Istanbul. He managed to stop the jealous and conniving Armenian faction from the court of the Sultan. The Armenian leaders plotted at one time to inflict harm to a great part of the Jewish community. Complaints were made to Hallat Effendi that secrets were divulged to Greek rebels by the Armenian leaders. Hallat, Heskel's friend reported the matter to the Sultan Mahmud II, who passed an edict for their execution, and an Armenian, Arton Kazaz, controller of the Imperial Mint was deported to Rhodes Island for conspiring against Heskel by spreading false and malicious allegations and the latter vowed to avenge Heskel.
Ezra, brother of Heskel became the Nasi of Baghdad Jewish community between 1817 and 1824, replacing the Nasi Sasson Saleh David Jacob, the father of the first David Sasson.
The story of the two brothers, Heskel and Ezra came to a tragic and regretful end after the devious and scheming Armenian faction had gained a foothold in the court of the Sultan by their wealth and influence. They managed to manipulate secret connections in the court of the Sultan, as the Armenians were not able to form a bond of friendship and live in peace with the Jews. To regain their power of influence over the Sultan, the Armenian leaders decided to restore the position of Arton Kazaz first, which they succeeded to achieve by influencing the Sultan to change his mind. After Arton
Kazaz was restored to his former position as controller of the Royal Mint, they decided to remove Hallat Effendi first and afterwards the "Jew" Heskel. On 15th November 1822, the Sultan was forced to order the imprisonment of Hallat in Brusa with a second order to behead him. His wife bought his corpse and buried it but his archenemies exhumed it and throw it into the sea: see Robert Walsh, Reise van Konstantinopel durch Rumelein, Leipzig 1828; Yehudei Babel. 2nd ed, 1979 at p.202.
After the death of Hallat, the Armenian began to tilt the balance of power in their favor. Their leaders started to engage in false and malicious allegations against Heskel and his brother. It lead the authorities in Istanbul to order a search of the house of Heskel who found a treasure chest full of many valuables and precious stones estimated at 5,000,000 Grushes. The chest took eight porters to bring it to Istanbul, and the authorities, not content with value of the treasure chest, made Heskel part with another three million Grushes, bringing the total amount extracted from Heskel one million Talirs.
In 1824,Heskel was deported as a prisoner to Adalia, and subsequently the Armenian leaders rushed to obtain a Firman (an edict of the sovereign) from the Sultan to execute the brothers, Heskel and Ezra. Both brothers were executed the same day in 1824. Two hours after the issue of the Firman, the Sultan regretted his action and sent a second courier with another Firman to pardon Heskel, but the courier was stopped in his tracks and the execution was rushed by the Pasha of Adalia. As soon as the Sultan heard of it he ordered the beheading of the first courier for racing his horse to deliver the execution warrant, killed the second courier and ordered the beheading of the Pasha of Adalia as a rebel against the Sultan for rushing the execution, telling him that he had not ordered an immediate execution.
The grandson of Heskel Gabbay was born in Istanbul in 1825 and died there in 1898. He displayed unusual abilities, had command of several languages and served in high offices during the rule of the Sultans and was the first Jew to hold office in the Ministry of Education and later became President of the Supreme Criminal Court. He also held the leadership of the Jewish community in Istanbul. In 1650 he founded a Ladino newspaper E1 Zhurnal Israelit in which he advocated reforms within the Jewish community. He also published a summary of the laws of the Ottoman Empire with respect of the Jews: Encyclopedia Judiaca,1971 edn,vol.7 at p.231, published in Jerusalem; Yehudei Babel by A Ben-Yacob, 2nd edn, 1979 published in Jerusalem; Ohel David by D S Sasson,1932, at pp.430-1; History of the Jews in Baghdad,1949.
Isaac, the son of the grandson of Heskel Gabbay followed in his father's footsteps and published until 1930 the newspaper E1 Telegrafo.
Another grandson of Eeskel, Joseph Effendi Gabbay of Baghdad traveled to Istanbul and settled there in 1887. He was commissioned a Captain in the Turkish Army and was awarded many decorations.
Joshua (Yeshua) Gabbay
Amam Abraham Gabbay m.Sasson Ben Saleh
b.l746 d.l821 b,l750 d.l830
s. David Sasson b.t782 d.1864
Mordechai b.---- d.l868
Eliyahu Mordechai Gabbay m. Sarah Peretz
Joseph Elias Gabbay m.Luiu Ezra Raphael.
b.l878 d.l927 b.l890 d.l96Z
d.Sophie - m. Bekhor Aknin - no children
s. Ellias - m. Eileen Dabell :
d.Anne Gabbay m. George Apostolatos
d.Michelle Gabbay m. Ross Forman
s.Shlomo Gabbay m. Mazal Murad
d.Ilana m.Christopher Duncan
s.Edmond Gabbay m. Ena Kleiberg
d.Shoshana m.Reuben Ben-Daniel
Mordechai (Murad) Gabbay
s.Salim m. Blanche Balbul
Aziza Ezra Gabbay m. Hardoun
Ezra Eliyahu Gabbay m.
s . Joseph Ezra Gabbay m.
s.Ezra Joseph Gabbay
d. Sara m.
s.Mordechai Ezra Gahbay m.
s . E1ad
s.Eliyahu Ezra Gabbay
d. Farha Ezra Gabbay m.
d. Tikva m.
Nissim Menachem Gabbay
Joseph Nissim Menachem Gabbay
Heskel Joseph Nissim Menachem Gabbay
known as Imperial Banker to Sultan Mahmud II
Heskel Joseph Gabbay m.
b.l825 d.l898 grandson of Heskel
s.Isaac Reskel Joseph Gabbsy
Sheikh Ezra Nissim Menachem Gabbay also known as Joseph Raphael
Sheikh Ezra Raphael also known as Raphael Raphael m. Hannah b.l838 d.l903
Heskel Ezra Raphael b.l852 d.l925 m. Mesuada b.l886 d.l915
Lulu Heskel Ezra Raphael b.1890 d.1962 m. Joseph Elias Gabbay b.l878 d.6.8.1927 children:
d.Sophie m. Bekhor Aknin b.1914 d. 2.7.1963 d.1965
s.Ellis m. Eileen Dabell b.l2.1.1916 b.8.11.1918 children: d.Anne m. George Apostolatis b.26.4.194418.10.1940 children: s.Andres b.1972 s.Nicholas b.21.7.1974 d.Danielle b.26.1.1978 d.Michelle m. b.5.10.1948 children: d.Alexandra b.6.7.1989
Ross Forman b.
s.Shlomo m. Mazal Murad b.25.12.19 b.30.9.25 children: d. Ilana m. Chritopher Duncan b.l3.10.1956 b.children: d. Rachel b.l4.1.1990 d Semadar b.20.1.1959 d. Lea b.30.11.1968
s.Mordechai b.1922 d.12.5.1958
d. Shoshana m. 2nd Reuben Ben-Daniel b.22.3.1926 d.7.10.1979 b.- children: d. Penina b.10.1.1963 s. Joseph b.l965
s.Edmond m. Ena Kleinberg b.l5.8.23 b.6.7.1935 children: s. Jona than b.5. 5.1965
David Heskel Raphael b.- d 1963
Avner Heskel Raphael m. Rena (Noor) Asian
children: s.Nimrod (James) Raphael m. b.14.10.1932 children: d.Tamar b.l5.11.1965 s.Michael b.21.12.1966 d Rosi Raphael m. Salomon Atzmon
children: d.esther b.1959 s.Tzion b.1961 d.Abnora b.1962 s.David b.1969 d.Aviva b.1969 s.Sami Raphael m. b.children: d.Nurit b.1965 d.Dilka b.1968 d.Elit b.s.Edwin Raphael chilfren: s.Avner b.1971 d.Tanya b.l867
b.l910 d. 1978
m. Penina Hamawi
Chala Heskel Raphael m.Ephraim Ephraim
children: d.Fahima Ephraim m. Isaac Zebulunb b.- b-. d.
Rene Heskel Raphael m. MoLle Wolfe b.lO.2.1894 d.22.3.1950 b.23.11.1927 children:
s.Harold Raphael b.22.1.1930 children: d,Renee Raphael b.9.1.1963 d.Ai^inee Raphael b.2.2.1965
s.Edwin Raphael b.children: s.Marcus Aurelius Raphael b.20.1.1962 s.Victor Raphael b.28.3.1964
m. Francine Tannenbaum b.9.10.1933
m. Judith Wright b.
Shaul Heskel Raphael m. Gergia b. - .- b.s Anwar Raphael m. Carmella b - b.children: s.Shaul Raphael b.s.Heskel Raphael
The Times l908-1927
Encyclopedia Britannica 14th Edition 1929 vol 15 Mesopotamia
The New Encyclopedia Britannica 15th Edition 1992 Vol.8
Encyclopedia Judiaca 1971 Edition published in Jerusalem vol.6 p.615 vol.7 p. 231-2
Ohel David by Rabbi Solomon David Sasson published in 1932 Part I.
The Sassoon Dynasty by Cecil Roth published in 1841 by Robert Hale Ltd Clerkenwell House Clerkenwell Green London EC l
A History of the Jews of Baghdad by the late Rabbi Solomon David Sasson published in Letchworth,1949
Voyage in Babylon by Rabbi Solomon David Sasson published in Jerusalem 5715-1953 pp.222,224
Victor Sassoon by Stanley Jackson published by Heinmann London,1968
Yehudei Babel by Abraham Ben-Yaacob Second Edition 1979 published in Jerusalem pp.212,242-5
Babylonian Jewry in Diaspora by Abraham Ben-Yaacob published in Jerusalem 1985 p. 516.
The Story of the Exile: QA Short History of the Jews of Iraq by Nir Shohet published in Tel-Aviv 1982 pp. 35-36
Figure 2 Keter Tora Dedicated to Mordechai Joseph (Yeshua) Gabbay
Figure 1 Joseph and Lulu 1917