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Expelling Jews from Tel Aviv

Lawrence Bush
December 17, 2017

Turkish police (some sources say Bedouin police) went from house to house in Tel Aviv on this date in 1914 and hurriedly forced many hundreds of Jews to board a ship, the Florio, in the port of Jaffa to sail into exile in Egypt. Many Palestinian Jews were from Russia, an enemy of Turkey during World War I, and were seen as “fifth columnists.” However, “When the authorities in Turkey heard about the forced deportation, they ordered a stop to it,” says the World Zionist Organization archives. “International pressure was activated on Turkey to exercise restraint towards the Jews, especially from Germany. Jews who had to leave Palestine were given more time so that they [could] plan their departure.” A second deportation-evacuation of nearly 16,000 Jews in Tel Aviv would be ordered by Ahmed Jamal Pasha, the military governor of Ottoman Syria, on April 6, 1917, as the British army approached from the south. Most of the deportees ended up in the northern regions of Palestine, and most not allowed back into Tel Aviv until the British took over.

“The police caught her in the street. She, her son and two daughters — Shoshana and Sarah, were sent to the ship. The two daughters were deployed from her at the ship. Her husband did not know what happened until the evening when he came back.” —from the diary of a 1914 deportee

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.