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Agricultural land in Palestine: letters to Sir Moses Montefiore, 1839

Ruth Kark

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Agricultural land in Palestine: Letters to Sir Moses Montefiore, 1839 RUTH KARK Letters on the subject of land and agriculture, written by the Jews of Safed, Tiberias, Acre, Haifa, Jerusalem and Hebron to Sir Moses Monteflore during his second visit to Palestine in 1839, have been dealt with by various authors. Some have seen them in the context of the history of the movement for Jewish national revival and the 'Hibbat Zion' movement, or of European concepts about 'the restoration of the Jews'.1 Others have used them as sources for the study of the history of Jewish settlement in Palestine and of the attempts of Jews to engage in productive occupations there.2 Most authors, however, did not study the documents themselves very carefully. A more detailed examina? tion was published by Israel Bartal.3 The present paper focuses on the availability of land and agricultural activity in Palestine during the period of the Egyptian occupation (1831-41). It is based on a close study of the original manuscripts of the letters, and forms part of a broader study on changes in the pattern of land ownership in Palestine between 1800 and 1917, and their effect on settlement. The letters4 represent a rich, but barely tapped resource relating to the Egyptian administration, and to the historical geography and economic history of the Middle East and Palestine. They contain information on the period preceding the Egyptian occupation as well as on the period of occupation itself, and include references to the state of security (looting and banditry, for example), the treatment of minorities, taxation, local rulers, public health (epidemics) and natural disasters (earthquakes). They also contain information on economic ventures as varied as crafts, trade with Egypt, and details on the measures in use, currency exchange rates, interest rates and prices. Especially important is what can be learned about the land situation in Palestine during the 1830s, a subject on which information is relatively scarce. The letters are informative also on the ownership and owners of land (the government, effendis, Muslims, Christians and Jews), the fellahin, the size of the cultivated areas in the villages, systems of economic cooperation linking town-dwellers and villagers and members of different religions, forms of land tenure, crops and their regional variation, livestock and their produce, the annual expenses and income of farming, agricultural taxation, and more. The aim of this article is briefly to review the features of the Egyptian administration in Palestine and its special characteristics against the background of the period, and to examine in greater detail the legal status of land and the attitude of the authorities towards minorities in general, and in particular 207</page><page sequence="2">Ruth Kark towards Jews who wished to acquire and cultivate land. The documents reveal a picture of land available for purchase and agricultural possibilities, and provide a data-base for analysing the geographical distribution of tracts of land, the characteristics of sites, the extent of population, the types of settle? ment, and also the forms of tenure, the crops planted and the cost of cultiva? tion. The relevant original letters were carefully deciphered and examined with emphasis on the aspects of historical geography, in order to relate discussion of the spatial dimension to the historical dimension, as is presented on p. 220. The author chose not to deal here in detail with the historiography of the attitude of the Jews in Palestine and elsewhere towards agriculture and productive labour, or with the religious or ideological factors represented in phrases such as 'the beginning of the redemption' or 'every man under his vine and under his fig-tree'.5 GOVERNMENT AND ADMINISTRATION The letters dealing with land and agricultural work sent to Sir Moses Montefiore in 1839 should be considered in the context of the conquest and occupation of Syria and Palestine by Muhammad Ali, between 1831 and 1841. Martin Seliger has pointed out that this regime introduced a feature not previously known in the region: public order, a visible degree of public justice, and regulation of the economy, particularly agriculture. A centralized admini? stration was set up, operating on instructions from Egypt, and the inhabitants of the country enjoyed security of life and property.6 Improvements in the administration and its enhanced presence throughout the country provided, above all, increased internal security. Several sources from the period of Muhammad Ali's occupation emphasize the significant change which occurred. The country had become far more peaceful.7 The impact of this change on matters of land and agriculture is described in a letter written to Montefiore on 15 Av 5609 (4 August 1849), by the heads of the Ashkenazi kollelim in Jerusalem (organizational frameworks of Ashkenazi families who originated from a particular country or region in Europe). The writers recall that under the rule of the Pasha of Egypt, the Jews of Jerusalem were able to consider taking up agriculture-ploughing, sowing and the like-because the Pasha had disarmed the Arabs, recruited them into his army and made them fear him. With the return of the Ottomans to the country in 1841 the situation deteriorated once again. They felt that it was not worthwhile considering anything in the way of agriculture 'because the fruit of their labour would be carried off by their enemies and their very lives would be in danger...'8 I. Hofman, who studied the period, cites numerous consular dispatches and other reports which confirm this, and adds that one way Ibrahim Pasha (the son of Muhammad Ali) aimed to promote security was by attempting to keep the Bedouins under control and settle them.9 208</page><page sequence="3">Agricultural land in Palestine For political and economic reasons, which we shall not detail here, the Egyptian administration treated Christians and Jews with greater tolerance and equality. Despite the opposition of the Muslim majority, discrimination against Jews and Christians in matters such as dress, construction, taxation, law and justice, was abolished (though not military conscription).10 In a meeting with Montefiore in June 1839, Ahmed Duzdar, the governor of Jerusalem, explained the new policy of equality this way: 'You know the age when it was said, This is a Christian, and that a Jew, and there is a Mussulman! but now... these times are past. Never ask what he is: let him be of whatsoever religion he may, do him justice, as the Lord of the world desired of us!'11 The Egyptian administration initiated activities aimed at developing agri? culture and commerce. Before the conquest, agriculture in Palestine was in a state of neglect and decline, villages were decaying and were being abandoned. This was the result of instability regarding the ownership of land, various kinds of government taxes and assessments which made agriculture unprofitable, and a reluctance to invest in this branch due to the insecurity of life and property.12 The Egyptians encouraged the cultivation of lands which had formerly been abandoned, and the authorities took large-scale measures in the sphere of agriculture to improve and increase output. In many cases, though, this policy was executed in a tyrannical and arbitrary manner, causing hardship to the population, mainly because many villagers were drafted for long periods of compulsory labour, together with their work animals, and because Muslim men were subject to military conscription.13 Ibrahim showed a marked interest in agricultural matters, first in Egypt and later in Syria. This was evident in experiments with new crops (coffee, indigo, Egyptian cotton, the planting of 300,000 olive trees in the vicinity of Acre and the introduction of a Spanish breed of sheep to the same area). The local inhabitants were impressed by the change, and in many places they themselves began planting and preparing land for cultivation. Many villages which had been abandoned were settled anew. Ibrahim invested considerable capital in agricultural projects.14 Within two years, the area of land in Syria and Palestine under cultivation increased by more than 80,000 feddans. In his correspondence, Muhammad Ali frequently requested an enumeration of the populated villages which had been resettled, the number of feddans under cultivation, the number of ploughs supplied, and similar reports. J. Bowring, the British Consul, relates in a report of 1839 that the Government ordered all its senior officials and army officers, and the wealthiest people, to take on themselves the resettlement of ruined villages and the cultivation of the land attached to them, in order to promote agricultural development. The Austrian Consul of the time, A. Laurin (cited by Hofman), refers to the problems hampering agriculture: military conscription, confiscation of work animals and other essentials, and compulsory labour.15 Alongside these actions were restrictions resulting from the imposition of 209</page><page sequence="4">Ruth Kark government monopolies on various branches of agriculture and trade, and heavy taxes which were systematically and brutally collected. In this manner the bulk of income flowed into the government's treasury. Cultivators paid taxes to the government (directly or through tax-farmers) in money or in kind (wheat, barley, sorghum, butter, for example), proportional to the number of feddans they worked. The village headman was generally granted an exemption on two feddans. On lands belonging to the Pasha, the usual rate was one-fifth of the crop. Often, the amount of tax collected was as much as one-third of the gross profit.16 Several letters allow us to calculate the taxes paid in cash for each feddan (to which payment in kind would ordinarily have had to be added) in a number of villages in Judea, the Shefela (the Judean piedmont), and Galilee. Thus, in descending order, iooo Piastres per feddan were paid in the villages of Jib and Al Eizariya; in Jebel Tur, 'Isawiya, and 'Anata, 833 Piastres per feddan; in Hulda more than 298 Piastres per feddan; in Qazaza 258 Piastres per feddan; in Abu Shusha and Yaquq near the Sea of Galilee 180 Piastres per feddan; and in Beit Jann 162 Piastres.17 In addition to that, cultivators, like the rest of the population, had to pay a poll tax which was levied on every male from the age of 15, amounting to 33 or 35 Piastres per person annually, according to Yosef Ashkenazi and Mordechai Zoref.18 However, despite high taxes and other restrictions, most of the letter-writers thought that agriculture was profitable and likely to yield a good income, as had been demonstrated in the development of orchards by wealthy Christians in the vicinity of Jaffa, and by Christians 'who also have no rights to ownership of land in the country but nevertheless they eat off the fat of the Holy Land and profit from its abundance...'.19 The initiatives taken by the administration, and its support of private ventures, coupled with the more favourable status of minorities and the improved security situation, are the factors which stimulated aspirations with regard to agriculture among the Jews of Safed, Tiberias, Haifa, Jerusalem and Hebron. To a large extent these hopes were also based on discrepant reports regarding the legal status of land during the period of Egyptian occupation, a topic of major importance. THE LEGAL STATUS OF LAND AND THE AGRARIAN REGIME The General Situation Very little has been written about the legal status of land in Palestine during the single decade of Muhammad Ali's rule, though more information is available for Egypt-20 Historians such as Rivlin, Poliak and Baer21 are of the opinion that in Syria and Palestine Muhammad Ali did not expropriate land as he did in parts of Egypt, carry out cadastral surveys, or make any change in the common unit of land measurement (the feddan). During most of the period of Muhammad Ali's rule there was indeed no radical change in the agrarian regime or in the legal status of land in Syria and Palestine. His policy was a continuation of the process begun by the Ottomans: gradually to abolish the timar system,22 tighten government control 210</page><page sequence="5">Agricultural land in Palestine over the estates, increase the revenue derived from them, and restore vacant estates (mahlul) of all kinds to the government's treasury when the owners had died without heirs or the heirs had made no request to have the rights transferred to them.23 Muhammad Ali maintained a 'low profile' with regard to the agrarian regime, according to Hoexter, because in Syria and Palestine his status was that of an ordinary Ottoman vali or governor (surprisingly little has been written about this peculiar relationship between a conqueror and the Ottoman regime he conquered!), and also for diplomatic considerations, including the fear of a renewed conflict with the Sublime Porte and the local population. Thus, Muhammad Ali rejected various proposals put before him to repeal the traditional legislation in this sphere.24 His negative response to such proposals was in part the result of Ottoman pressure or instructions, which forced him to maintain the status quo. An example of this is contained in a letter from the collection of documents on the period of Egyptian occupation assembled by Asad Rustum. On 22 December 1834 Ibrahim Pasha wrote to his father, Muhammad Ali, about the private estates in the Syrian provinces 'in the light of word received from Constantin? ople on this matter'.25 From another letter sent in early 1837 to the central government in Egypt by Muhammad Sharif Pasha, the governor-general in Syria appointed by Muhammad Ali,26 we learn that 'the government does not own all the land in Syria' and that 'the large majority of these lands are properties belonging to wealthy people, and timar, zeamet and waqf lands whose owners pay the tithe'.27 Although, as previously noted, no radical changes were made, the Egyptian ruler did take some measures regarding land, according to Hoexter's findings. Direct government control over all matters relating to the agrarian regime was tightened and records were put in order, to clarify the situation regarding rights to land and taxes held by individuals and to determine the government's share of taxes.28 Muhammad Ali established two rules to guide agrarian policy. Firstly, all existing muqata'as, timars, zeamets and malikanes would be retained by their local holders.29 Upon their death, their heirs would not automatically succeed to these rights, but would have to request approval for the transfer from the authorities. It also decreed that mahlul estates would revert to the government. Secondly, timars, muqata'as and zeamets which had been managed by the state under the former valis would be administered by the Egyptian authorities, in exchange for a fixed sum which was quite low. Absentee holders were required to transfer their estates to government control under the same conditions, and payment for their rights would be sent to them.30 These rules reflected the desire gradually to bring as much land as possible under direct government control and thus to increase the state income. In line with this policy, there were cases where the government bought muqata'as and tried to remove land from private control. The authorities also extended their 211</page><page sequence="6">Ruth Kark control to new lands, which were made non-inheritable. On these lands, taxes were farmed out in various ways, usually for a period of only one year. The iltizam (grant of land) document stated the exact amount due to the treasury and the obligations assumed by the lessee with regard to his muqata'a.31 Despite the conservative policy followed by Muhammad Ali, the position of the state was improved in the legal and agrarian spheres, as indicated by a number of sources. Some historians maintain that Muhammad Ali put an end to the leasing of state lands (as he had done in Egypt at the beginning of the century and particularly from 1838 onwards), and confiscated a large portion of the property of charitable trusts in an attempt to unify the land regime and make state control more effective.32 Hoexter, though, found no evidence in Rustum's collection of documents for the abolition of the timar system in Palestine, or for the abolition of the iltizam system and its replacement by tax-farmers, or by collection of taxes in fixed sums relative to the number of feddans worked, or the size of the crop, except for an attempt made in the Aleppo region in 1838. However, she adds that at the end of his rule the transfer to heirs of zeamets whose holders had died was postponed, and the army was employed to increase the payment of taxes because of financial difficulties and tension with Constantinople.33 From a number of letters sent to Montefiore in 1839 we learn of the existence of state lands in the category of miri,3* which came under the dominion of Muhammad Ali at the time of the conquest of the country, although it is possible that the writers were mistaken about this. In 1833 Baron de Boislecomte pointed out that the lack of clarity regarding the legal status of land was an obstacle in the way of agricultural development.35 Arye Leib Ben Yerahmiel of Jerusalem says in his letter 'that all the land of the entire country belongs to the King of Egypt', but that any legal action taken with respect to these lands should be supplemented 'with the authorization of our sovereign King whose seat is in the royal city of Constantinople, in order to ensure its validity...'.3 6 Other letters list the names of villages which the writers had ascertained to be the property of 'his lordship, the King of Egypt', and no one else had any rights to them. Among the villages mentioned were Kafr Et-Tur, 'Anata, Khizme, Mizra', Silwad, Jericho, Hulda, Qazaza, Seidun, Na'aneh, Al Mansura and Abu Shusha.37 In exchange for granting the right to cultivate these lands, the Pasha would collect a fifth of the crop, or would sell the fifth beforehand. In the village of Qazaza, for instance, situated in the unpopulated area of the Shefela, in which resettlement began only at the start of the nineteenth century, the villagers gave Mordechai Zoref important information on this subject: 'AH the fields belong to the Pasha, and his share is a fifth of the crop, as I said before; but the sheikhs who founded the village have been given 5 feddans to support their families, and in exchange for their service to the community they are exempt from payment of the fifth.' Sheikh Said, who was a local government official 212</page><page sequence="7">Agricultural land in Palestine responsible for the villages in this area, bought the fifth belonging to the Pasha in this village for the annual sum of 15,000 Piastres, with the addition of 100 khabies of wheat and 60 khabies of barley. Zoref believed that 'the land could have been bought outright from the King'.38 Here we have a vivid description by a contemporary of the process which accelerated under Egyptian occupation and which was mentioned above, whereby the state took over collection of the revenues of timars and zeamets in Syria and Palestine. According to Abir, tax-collection was farmed out to the highest bidder and payment of taxes was enforced with the help of Egyptian army units. But according to the letters, as we shall see below, the tax-farmer paid a fixed sum in advance.39 Minorities and Real Estate Ibrahim Pasha's introduction of de facto equality between Muslims and non-Muslims in Palestine, greater security of life and property, and an improved legal system,40 opened up opportunities for Jews and Christians to acquire real estate. At first they bought urban properties in particular, whose legal status was defined as mulk, or real estate held under full and absolute private ownership. During that same period, the Kollel of the Perushim bought courtyards and houses in Jerusalem, some of them outside the Jewish quarter of the city, in the Bab El-Hutta area.41 Eliezer Bergmann, who came to the country and settled in Jerusalem in the middle of the decade of Muhammad Ali's rule, notes in two letters that 'Jews (Heaven preserve them) are now permitted to buy houses for themselves under full ownership, and several Ashkenazi Jews of Polish origin have already... bought houses with full title to them at the edge of the city, not far from one of the gates...'.42 Bergmann may well have had in mind those five courtyards next to Bab El-Hutta, fine properties with gardens and trees and water cisterns hewn from stone which Menahem Arye Ben Shmuel Halevi mentioned in his letter to Montefiore in 1839. Halevi noted that these had been bought from non-Jews, and the deeds of sale were written in Arabic script and had been drawn up by the mahkeme (the Muslim Sharia court).43 Another Jew, Moshe Sachs of Jerusalem, who is known for the plans he developed regarding Jewish settlement in Palestine, described to those whom he met during his stay in F?rth how Jews were now able to acquire real estate in Palestine, which they had not been allowed to do before. On the basis of this report, Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Lehren wrote to the rabbi of F?rth in the summer of 1836 that 'I have learned that Jews are now permitted to buy houses and courtyards in Jerusalem, whereas in the past they could not do so... \44 A difficulty regarding the purchase of urban land emerges from a letter written from Jerusalem on 12 Av 5598 (3 August 1838) by Montefiore's secretary, Louis Loewe. The letter discusses the courtyard which Rabbi Akiva Lehren had bought in Jerusalem and on which he had built dwellings for rent and a Beit Midrash (study hall)-referring to the 'Hurva' building-and Loewe 213</page><page sequence="8">Ruth Kark comments that 'now [the government] has forbidden Europeans to buy property in Palestine'.45 What this suggests is that the rights of Europeans were not the same as those of local Jews and Christians who were Ottoman subjects. A considerable proportion of the Jewish inhabitants of the country at that time were proteges of European countries, according to one of the letters written to Montefiore.46 This inference is supported by dispatches sent to the Jewish Intelligence during the years 1838 and 1839 by the representative of The London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews, the Reverend John Nicolayson.47 From these dispatches we see that in September 1838 Nicolayson was able to acquire for the Society two adjoining plots of land on Mount Zion, opposite David's Citadel, each with a house and garden, for the price of ?800 sterling. The purchase was made in the name of a native Armenian Christian, and not in Nicolayson's name, though Nicolayson was hopeful that this would be only a temporary expedient: 'I have made application to his Highness Mahommed Ali Pasha for permission to purchase and hold in my own name, and I expect a favourable answer by the steamer now due. It will then be transferred into my own name, to hold it for the trustees of the Society...'. On this piece of land within the Old City, the Protestant community built Christ Church in the years 1841-8.48 With regard to agricultural land whose legal status was that of rain, Bergmann's letter of 1835 referred to above indicates that Jews were now able to settle in many villages and coastal towns: 'Now, with God's help, laws passed by the ruler even allow us to buy houses in full ownership anywhere we like. And in the villages food is very cheap and so are plots of land?'49 Confirmation of this was voiced in the same year by Moshe Sachs, who was certain that Jews in Palestine would be able to acquire land for agricultural settlement.50 In 1837 (24 Muharram 1253 AH) the wakil (agent, official represent? ative) of the Ashkenazi community of Jerusalem asked the governor-general Muhammad Sharif and the mutasallim of Jerusalem whether the Ashkenazim would be allowed to buy amlak, and land for agriculture, would be permitted to cultivate the land and to engage in trade, to buy sheep and cattle, and produce soap and olive oil, for which they would pay for the rairi like the Re'ay a (non-Muslim Ottoman- subjects). The majlis (Council) replied that there was no provision in Sharia law for the approval of the request of the petitioners, since the lands in question were tracts of miri and waqf.51 Perhaps this means that Jews who did not possess Ottoman nationality were allowed to buy land whose legal status was raui/r, but were unable to acquire agricultural land in the category of rairi, or land forming part of a charitable trust. The letters sent to Montefiore by the Jews of Palestine in 1839 outline their view of the possibilities for Jews to acquire or sell rairi land in the country. The question is to what extent their perception conformed to reality, and what 214</page><page sequence="9">Agricultural land in Palestine nationality it would have been necessary for them to prove in order to carry out the purchase.52 The relevant letters refer in part to state lands, or as the writers expressed it, land which belonged (as they saw it) to the Pasha of Egypt, Muhammad Ali. A variety of proposals to obtain land for Jews was put forward, with Montefiore assigned the role of intermediary between the government and those Jews who aspired to ownership, either as owners who settle on their land, or as absentee owners. One of the proposals was that Jews buy or lease villages and other lands from Muhammad Ali, or that they buy from other landowners. In Loewe's record of what he was told by Yosef Ashkenazi, during a visit to Safed in 1839, are allusions to Ibrahim Pasha's policy of agricultural development and to the possibility of leasing land for a period of twenty-five years (the rent to be paid in Alexandria), for the development of irrigated farmland, involving canal-works. During this period, orchards cultivated in this way were exempt from additional charges, and also 'he [the Pasha] would not be able to take them'.53 Yosef Ashkenazi's letter indicates the possibility that developers of land would be granted ownership rights to the land: 'for every vineyard Sir Moses will pay an annual sum of 25 Piastres and for every orchard 50 Piastres annually, and these will remain in his hands [?] forever [?]...'; and according to the English translation of the document, Sir Moses would have possession of the vineyards and gardens 'in perpetuity'.54 The writers seemed to believe that at that time it was possible for Jews to buy state lands from the Egyptian Pasha and receive full title to the property (for example in the Jericho area, around Jerusalem, in the Shefela, the coastal plain and outside Tiberias). In the words of Zoref: 'to buy the land [in the vicinity of the village of Qazaza] in complete and full ownership from the King...', or, as expressed in Aharon Ben Shlomo Bigeh's request to Montefiore to have the latter buy a piece of land for him from the sovereign: 'purchased with full title', and to register the places of Sarona and Hittin in his name.55 What the proposals also show is that the writers were anxious about the situation which had prevailed prior to the Egyptian occupation regarding security of life and property, were fearful of frequent changes of regime, and felt that it was necessary to obtain the authorization of the Sublime Porte for any transaction: B. We will have to obtain a document called a beourdi56 from his lordship, good for a number of years, for who knows how long before the present regime is replaced by another. Before his lordship [Muhammad Ali] took over the government we were [?] in mortal danger even while asleep in our beds. As is known, our cousins the Ishmaelites are savages. But we rely on our master who is gifted with the wisdom of angels to appoint rulers to maintain order, and on a permit from his highness the King, whose seat is in the royal city of Constantinople, to ensure the permanent validity of the act...57 In two letters written to Montefiore by Nahum Mizrahi, Shmuel 'Abu and 215</page><page sequence="10">Ruth Kark Avraham Shoshana, residents of Safed, it was suggested that Montefiore meet Muhammad Ali 'and if he would agree to give us land we would cultivate it and pay the taxes...' just like everyone else. In another letter they asked Sir Moses to give them 'the two villages of... 'Alma and Qadas... \58 In the same vein, a request was made by the rabbis of Safed to Montefiore 'to obtain or lease from the authorities a good piece of land, planted with grapes and olive trees, and to hand it over to those people....59 And, likewise, an appeal was made to Sir Moses by a group of people who lived in the village of 'Ein Zeitim: 'Please give us 'Ein az Zeitun... '.60 On 26 June 1839, while Montefiore was in quarantine in El-Khaddur at the foot of Mount Carmel, the British consular representative in Acre, Finzi, paid him a visit and provided him with 'descriptions of the various villages in his vicinity, of the lands, and their quality and productions'.61 According to the text of Finzi's letter, eight of the nine villages which he lists in the vicinity of Acre were the property of the governor of Acre, and he was prepared to lease them to foreigners. It was also possible to lease a large number of villages around Safed and Tiberias.62 Based on what Ashkenazi had told him, Loewe hints that the orchards in the mountains [in the Safed area] which Jews had the opportunity to develop were in the possession of Iskander Katafago.63 Approaches to the Pasha Concerning the legal status of land during the Egyptian occupation, it appears that the writers were convinced, in the light of the changes that had taken place in Palestine in the period of Ibrahim Pasha's rule, that Jews would be able to obtain political and legal approval to hold and cultivate land, whether by means of crop-sharing with the fellahin who occupied a part of the land or by other means. The prevailing atmosphere is captured by an entry in Montefiore's diary: 'From all information I have been able to gather, the land in this neighbour? hood appears to be particularly favourable for agricultural speculation'.64 Montefiore wrote this in May 1839, and he had in mind the area around Safed. Perhaps the belief was based, as some writers in fact noted, on direct observation, or on personal experience of the change which had occurred in the country since the beginning of Egyptian occupation, or maybe on word which had spread to Palestine and Europe regarding changes in the land regime in Egypt and the grants of land made by Muhammad Ali to private individuals, government officials, Bedouin and foreign nationals (most of them Greek and British traders). These grants might have been construed as a preview of what was in store for Palestine.65 Local members of the Jewish community did in fact try to do something about the matter. Arye Ben Yerahmiel Marcus (Leib), a trustee of the Kollel of the Perushim, who was involved in various initiatives in the sphere of agriculture even before Montefiore's arrival on the scene, refers in a letter he wrote on the first day of the new month of Tammuz 5599 (12 June 1839) to a 216</page><page sequence="11">Agricultural land in Palestine meeting he had the year before with the ruler of Egypt to discuss agriculture: 'I spoke about this last year with his lordship the King, the ruler of Egypt'. But he says nothing about the outcome of the meeting.66 This is the fitting place to mention that Montefiore preferred to operate by political means, to secure the agreement and support of the Pasha of Egypt for large-scale agricultural development by Jews in Palestine. At the start of his visit to the Holy Land Montefiore had in mind 'a project' for enabling and encouraging Jews to earn their livelihood from agriculture. After a series of meetings he had with various people eager to act and knowledgeable about agriculture, studying their letters, and visiting some of the sites, Montefiore formed a plan which he wrote about in his diary as follows: I am sure if the plan I have in contemplation should succeed, it will be the means of introducing happiness and plenty into the Holy Land. In the first instance I shall apply to Mohhammad Ali for a grant of land for fifty years; some one or two hundred villages; giving him an increased rent from ten to twenty percent, and paying the whole in money annually at Alexandria, but the land and villages to be free during the whole term, from every tax or rate either of Pasha or governor of several districts; and liberty being accorded to dispose of the produce in any quarter of the globe. This grant obtained, I shall, please Heaven, on my return to England, form a company for the cultivation of the land and the encouragement of our brethren in Europe to return to Palestine. Many Jews emigrate to New South Wales, Canada, and e.[sic]; but in the Holy Land they would find a greater certainty of success; here they will find wells already dug, olives and vines already planted, and a land so rich as to require little manure. By degree I hope to induce the return of thousands of our brethren to the Land of Israel. I am sure they would be happy in the enjoyment of the observance of our holy religion, in a manner which is impossible in Europe.67 Montefiore's plan and the way he chose to operate (a meeting with Muham? mad Ali in Alexandria) differed from the course of action recommended to him by William Tanner Young, then the British Vice-Consul in Jerusalem. Young, who had assumed his post in February 1839, met Montefiore in Jerusalem on 8 June 1839. At their meeting, the Vice-Consul expressed his support for the idea of Jews engaging in agriculture in order to alleviate their grinding poverty, but he recommended that they begin 'in a small way', so as not to arouse the suspicions of Muhammad Ali.68 Muhammad Ali was not inclined to assist the Jews to realize their hopes. When Montefiore met the Pasha on 13 July 1839 and asked him to lease lands and villages in Palestine that would not be subject to any taxes or demands of local officials and for which he would pay rent for a 50-year period directly to the Pasha in Alexandria, Muhammad Ali's reply was cleverly evasive, which may be seen from Montefiore's report: Referring to the one for renting land of him [sic] in Palestine, he said he had 217</page><page sequence="12">Ruth Kark no land there, but any contract I might make with the Mussalmans should have his approval and he would send it to Constantinople for confirmation. On repeating that I had been led to believe that his Highness possessed land there, from information I had received when in the country, he replied that if I could point out the parts belonging to him, I could have them. He said he would be glad to see the land better cultivated, and I might send proper persons with agricultural implements... I told him that in the cultivation of land, security was necessary for both land and person, and I hoped they would have it. This he also promised...69 However, Muhammad Ali was not prepared to put in writing what he had guaranteed orally. He put off Montefiore's secretary with minor requests, and had him running back and forth until Montefiore and his party left Alexandria on 14 July 1839. Before their ship sailed, the Pasha promised: 1 shall send him [to Montefiore in reply to his letter] two letters in reply, one which will reach him when he will be performing quarantine in Malta; acknowledging the receipt of his letter and informing him that I will take steps to ascertain all particulars respecting the land he wishes to take on lease;... The second letter, in which all particulars respecting the contract, and the pointing out of land which belongs to me [to the Pasha], or which I shall have to take for Sir Moses from others, he will receive as soon as we shall have obtained all the required information.'70 This was a way of evading the matter, since these letters were never sent to their destinations. At the end of December 1839 Montefiore sent a reminder from England to the Egyptian Minister of Finance, Boghoz Bey, who had been personally involved in the meetings and had been a party to the promises made. But the reminder received no reply, and in March 1840, when word arrived of the Damascus blood libel, and then of Ibrahim Pasha's withdrawal from Palestine, the plan was dropped.71 At the very same time, in the spring of 1840, the English clergyman T. S. Grimshawe (who advocated the return of the Jews to the Holy Land in connection with beliefs concerning the coming of the millennium in or around the year 1840) met Muhammad Ali in Alexandria. At their meeting the minister tried to find out from the Pasha what his attitude towards the Jews would be and what status he would grant them. The Pasha replied that he would welcome them, assist them, and give 'full protection both to person and to property'. In response to Grimshawe's question as to whether he would be willing to grant the Jews land in Palestine for which they would pay rent to the Pasha and which would enable them to raise themselves from their state of great destitution, Muhammad Ali replied as he had to Montefiore a year before: 'I have no land in Palestine that I can appropriate to such a purpose. I have a supreme right over all-but I have an individual right to no part. The land belongs to whom it belongs. But I beg leave to make this reply, that if those who are proprietors are willing to sell, and the Jews are willing to buy, I will 218</page><page sequence="13">Agricultural land in Palestine guarantee the faith of such a covenant, and secure them in all the rights of their purchase.'72 AVAILABLE LAND AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR AGRICULTURE The Geographical Distribution of Available Lands and Places Detailed examination of the original letters on land and agriculture addressed by Jews in Palestine to Montefiore during his second visit to the country in 1839, tell us a great deal not only about the Egyptian administration and the legal status of land, but also about the location, the size, the general characteristics and the agricultural features of the places proposed. The present author compiled a detailed table of all the sites referred to in the letters, including data on their relative location, their site, their area in feddans and their physical and agricultural features. On the basis of the table an inclusive map was compiled showing the villages and places mentioned (see page 220 below). Their positions were identified on a Palestine Exploration Fund map, and on relevant sheets of 1:100,000 official maps from the Mandate period. The works of Joseph Schwarz and Eliyahu Sapir were used to verify the names in Arabic and in Hebrew, and the actual identification of the places.73 According to the reconstructed list we see that land was available for the agricultural settlement of Jews in Palestine at more than a hundred sites. Loewe also compiled a list on the basis of information he received from various people during his stay in the country and from the letters he had, but the total he arrived at was only thirty-eight villages, which shows how incomplete his list was. The figure suggested by Montefiore was closer to the actual count.74 We can only estimate the total land area involved, due to the incomplete data given by the letters. Our calculations of the number of feddans mentioned (which do not include all of the places) yielded a total of nearly 2000 feddans. Despite the difficulties in pinning down the meaning of the term feddan in Eretz Israel, it is safe to assign an area ranging from 80 to 160 metric dunams as the equivalent of one feddan, or roughly 120 dunams. This is a very large area of land^ if we recall for the sake of comparison that up to 1890 the Jews, including Baron Rothschild, had purchased only 60,000 dunams in Palestine.75 Aside from the question of legal category, the lands can be classified in terms of population and type of settlement. Among the places and villages mentioned some were completely unpopulated. Anyone with the means and the initiative could settle in them, or could have the work done by share? croppers. Some villages were populated entirely by Muslims, while others had a mixed population of Muslims and Christians (for example, Al Majdal near Tiberias), or Muslims and Jews (Peqi'in, Shefa 'Amr). The tracts of land proposed in 1839 clearly show a concentration in three blocs of territory in two regions of the country-in Galilee, around Safed and Tiberias and in the vicinity of Acre, and in the centre of the country in a belt of 219</page><page sequence="14"></page><page sequence="15">Agricultural land in Palestine settlements running from Jericho in the Jordan Valley via Jerusalem to the environs of Ramleh and Jaffa. From the data presented in the map we see that thirty-seven of the places proposed for farming were near Safed, twenty-four were near Tiberias, nine were around Acre, ten were around Jerusalem, six were in the Shefela, and there were also a number of isolated places around Haifa, Nablus, Jaffa, the southern coastal plain, Jericho and Hebron. The map shows very clearly those regions that were excluded in the proposals. There is almost certainly a connection between the sites proposed and the geographical concentration of the Jewish population. Part of the agricultural activity was to have been managed not at the sites themselves, but in urban centres which were 'holy cities' or seats of the administration-Safed, Tiberias, Acre and Jerusalem. The fact that the writers sometimes noted the distances of the places from the nearest central town or city reinforces this point. The high concentration of lands and places in Galilee, and particularly in eastern Galilee, stems from the fact that in the first half of the nineteenth century, and certainly until 1839, Safed and Tiberias were the focal points of the Jewish population in Palestine. Additional factors which explain this pattern of distribution are connected with the state of ownership and the availability of vacant lands, which was far more extensive than is apparent from the table and map. The documents themselves reveal that the writers had certain regional preferences. Regions such as the Jericho valley or the villages between Ramleh and Gaza occupy a lower category of preference, perhaps because of fears about security. Selection of sites was also influenced by their physical characteristics-level land, sources of water, size of the area, additional resources present (building materials, mills, fish), the rate of tax to be paid on the produce, and the annual sum which foreigners were required to pay in return for leasing land. And of course the quality of the land was an important consideration.76 Arye Leib's evaluation of the Jericho region provides an example. He is full of praise for the area and notes the many advantages of the land, which was the property of the Pasha, fertile, and well endowed with sources of water. Yet he qualified his assessment with the following observation: 'The disadvantage is that our fellow Jews are not permitted to live there because of Joshua's well-known curse... '77 Classification of the proposals and requests shows that they can be divided into several groups of writers and a variety of plans which were basically similar though unequal in scale. There is no doubt that many of the writers had dealt in some way with land and agriculture even before Montefiore's visit, though to different degrees. Thus, for example, Aharon Ben Shlomo Bigeh emphasizes in the letter he wrote from Tiberias that he had 'sown fields' in the past and that he was 'very familiar with the work involved in sowing'. Mordechai Zoref, Yosef Ashkenazi and Arye Leib also indicate that they were knowledgeable and experienced in this are. Leib had been in the country for twenty-four years and, by his account, was familiar with a variety of matters.78 An important distinction is to be made between those, on the one hand, 221</page><page sequence="16">Ruth Kark who lived in villages and had been working in agriculture for some time, like some of the inhabitants of Peqi'in or, since the earthquake in 1837, those in 'Ein Zeitim and Khirbat Jarmaq (which Rabbi Israel Druker-Bek had received from Ibrahim Pasha in 1832 but took up residence there only after the earthquake),79 and, on the other hand, urban Jews who earned their living from crop-sharing during the period of Egyptian occupation. The latter were engaged in an activity which in those days was practised by Muslim and particularly Christian effendis (absentee landlords),80 whereby they would supply the means of production (seed, oxen, land), and the fellah or the sharecropper, the labour.81 Jews who made their living this way sometimes entered into partnerships with other entrepreneurs, Jews, Christians or Muslims. An example of this method of agricultural activity at the end of the 1830s was Hakham Reuven Pinto, a Sephardi Jew from Jerusalem who cultivated land he had leased in Hulda in partnership with a non-Jewish effendi. From the sesame crop he raised there he produced oil (edible oil and oil for illumination) at an oil press he owned in Jerusalem.82 Mordechai Zoref describes how he, in partnership with another Jew and a Christian, cultivated a piece of land measuring two feddans in an unnamed village. Zoref and his Jewish partner supplied six oxen and 6000 Piastres to cover the expenses of seed and fodder for the oxen, and the Christian partner furnished six oxen and houses for the two fellahin. The profit was to be divided equally after the deduction of expenses. Zoref adds that it was necessary for him to be present in the village only for a few days, to oversee the reaping and the harvest.83 Another Jew, Yitzhak Shemesh from Jerusalem, was engaged in agricul? tural business for thirteen successive years (from 1836 to 1849 as a minimum) in partnership with two Muslim fellahin from the village of Beit Iksa. They cultivated wheat, barley, other grains and grapes, with Shemesh paying the taxes to the government and supplying animals for ploughing and carrying loads, as well as seed and subsistence loans to his partners. At harvest time he recovered half of the expenses and split the crop with his partners.84 From further cases of this kind we may mention Mordechai Harah, from Safed, who had a partnership with a non-Jew in ploughing, harvesting and various business deals; and Shepsil Ashkenazi from the same city, who in the past had worked [he meant in agriculture] in Yaquq, and had also raised sheep and cattle there.85 Shimshon of Brad (Brody), also from Safed, asked Montefiore for two oxen to replace the pair with which he used to plough but which he had been forced to sell.86 Montefiore was asked to assist, on the one hand, by providing means of production (land, pairs of oxen, goats, sheep) as a solution to the problems for earning a living of individuals or families, and on the other, by working out solutions on a larger scale for communities or for entire sectors of the population. Many people from Safed and Tiberias asked for individual assist? ance. Among them was Yitzhak Turzeman, who was prepared to take up 222</page><page sequence="17">Agricultural land in Palestine ploughing or business or to raise cattle and sheep; Yehuda Leib Ben Haim who was interested in some sort of agricultural work or business activity; Ze'ev Duber; the Hayyun brothers; and others.87 Ya'akov Ben Avraham specifically stated that he was unemployed, and asked Sir Moses to give him 'animals and farming work, in your great generosity, so that I will be able to support myself and my family...'.88 There were even people who set up companies or associations for this purpose.89 The intention of most was to become absentee landowners, earning a living by crop-sharing. When the term 'business' is used, it probably refers to the possibility of trading in agricultural products, or to commercial activities related to agriculture or land, such as the operation of mills (Tabgha, Khirbat Rubadiya, Hittin, the vicinity of Jaffa), fishing and the production of charcoal (around Qazaza). Proposals for improving the economic situation at the public level appear in the letters of Yosef Ashkenazi, Avraham Finzi, Yitzhak Schnitzer, Arye Leib and Mordechai Zoref, among others. These also mention the particular difficulties which agriculture presented to Jews, due to their need to observe the Sabbath and study the Torah, their poor physical condition, which would not allow them to do heavy work like ploughing and sowing, and the religious commandment to leave the land fallow every seventh year (Shemitta).90 The letters are informative about the practice of farming and about the economic potential of the agricultural sector. Various types of farming are proposed, ranging from the cultivation of crops irrigated naturally by rain, to cultivation employing artificial irrigation. Wheat, barley and legumes (beans, lentils, chick-peas) are mentioned as winter field crops, while the summer crops, which apparently were much more profitable, included cotton, sesame and sorghum.91 The letters also mention groves, orchards and fruit cultivation, which included naturally irrigated plantations (olives, grapes) and artificially irrigated produce (mainly citrus fruit), and the cultivation of winter and summer vegetables, rice and indigofera and tuton (tobacco) used in the production of dyes and grown in suitable regions such as the Jericho and Ginnosar valleys.92 The raising of livestock was noted as being very profitable, and figures are cited to substantiate this. The writers had in mind goats, sheep, cattle, camels, mules and horses, as well as fish and bees. Animal husbandry could bring in income from the sale of meat, milk, cheese, butter and buttermilk, and from camels hired out for transport.93 Notable also is the regional variety of the agriculture, and the adaptation of crops and livestock to differences in soil, climate and water resources in the sub-regions. Thus, for example, the Shefela was particularly suited for raising naturally irrigated field-crops and livestock; the area around Acre and Jaffa for citrus fruit; the Ginnosar valley for rice; while around Nablus, olives and grapes were grown, but little wheat.94 The descriptions of methods of cultivation indicate that crop rotation was practised, and that there was an awareness of the importance of improving the 223</page><page sequence="18">Ruth Kark fertility of the soil.95 In the Shefela, where naturally irrigated field-crops were cultivated, summer crops such as sesame and sorghum were planted, and in later summer were harvested. This practice improved the fertility of the field (which in its improved state was called krab) and prevented the growth of thistles and weeds when winter wheat, barley and legumes were planted.95 In krab fields the yield was higher. The owners or lessees of the land made the decisions as to what crops would be raised on their property.96 There is also some evidence that Montefiore and others had thoughts about introducing techno? logical advances in agriculture, by bringing in ploughs and implements from England.97 All the writers stressed the economic advantages of agriculture. Some of them drew up detailed calculations specifying types of crops, the division of the yield, and estimates for expenditure and income per feddan. According to these considerations, the owners of the lessees had to determine the types and quantities of subsistence crops (for human and livestock consumption) in relation to cash or industrial crops (cotton, sesame, olives). Some also gave thought to the relative profitability of different strains of crops and to the marketing of agricultural produce-in natural form or after processing-in urban areas. There were also plans to export produce abroad by sea, after obtaining an exemption from taxes from the government.98 Where crop-sharing was under discussion, calculations had of course to take into account the fee for use of the land (foreigners had to pay more) and the proportional division of the produce. Ordinarily, a fifth of the crop went to the Pasha as tax for the land, a fifth to the fellah (which the writers considered sufficient for his needs), and three-fifths to the owner of the oxen. According to another account, the non-Jew who ploughed and sowed received a fifth of the income (net?), after deduction of the expense of cultivation-seed, tools, fodder and so on-and of the fifth due as tax to the Pasha.99 In various letters there are calculations of the estimated expenditure of the entrepreneur per feddan. In the section above, on government and administra? tion, figures were given on the monetary tax paid to the Pasha, which ranged from 162 to 1000 Piastres per feddan, computed on an annual basis. In addition to that, the entrepreneur had to put out between 2000 and 3000 Piastres, most of which went to cover the expenses of oxen and seed. In a breakdown of expenses listed by Finzi, 44 per cent of the total expenditure went for three oxen, 30 per cent for different kinds of seed, 12 per cent for a mule and a work bag, and the remainder for tools, seasonal labourers' wages and fodder for the other animals.100 The data regarding income is less detailed. Leib notes that in the places near Jericho and Ramleh 'the return is at least 40 per cent annually', to which was added a large profit from sesame oil. Zoref also gives a balance sheet of income and expenditure for 100 feddans in the Shefela.101 There is no doubt that all the letter-writers believed that the 'business' of land and agriculture would yield a 224</page><page sequence="19">Agricultural land in Palestine very high income and from it a single family or a large number of individuals could be supported. SUMMARY Although Egyptian rule in Palestine was of short duration, the period was important as a time of transition and change with regard to the functioning of the government. Change was apparent, on the one hand, in the orderly administration, security, the improved status of minorities, the development of agriculture and settlement, and, on the other hand, in the imposition of monopolies, military conscription and forced labour which led to rebellions. Evident also was the ambivalence of the Egyptian Government regarding the legal status of land. While the Egyptians acknowledged the authority of the Sublime Porte and tried to avoid conflict with the Ottoman Government or with the local population, Muhammad Ali worked to expand the government's control over settled and unpopulated areas, private and public, in order to increase his revenue and tighten his grip on the country. The Egyptian administration was also more flexible in allowing non-Muslim Ottoman subjects, and even foreign nationals, to purchase or lease urban and rural property, though this matter is not entirely clear. Against this background, and with awareness of what was taking place at the same time in Egypt, Algeria, Syria and Palestine, plans of various types involving land and agriculture in Palestine were formed by Jews in the country, by Jewish philanthropists and by Christian missionaries. Economic considerations and/or religious ideas were the motivating factors, and were expressed at the personal and public levels. In practice, a start was made to fulfil several of the plans, and high-level approaches were made to the Pasha of Egypt. The letters sent to Montefiore in 1839 are a mirror of the desires of a section of the Jewish population of the country at the period in which they were written, and outline the realities of settlement. Moses Montefiore served more as a conduit than as an active participant, though some of the letter-writers actually believed that nothing was beyond his capability and that he would be able, either single-handed or with the aid of the European powers, to influence Muhammad Ali to grant them lands, rights, an exemption from military conscription and tax privileges. They subsequently proved to be mistaken. Reconstructing the various plans and proposals of that year shows that in terms of magnitude they involved the purchase or lease for agricultural purposes of more than a hundred sites, comprising an area measuring approximately 250,000 dunams. Analysis of their geographical distribution indicates their concentration in two regions-Galilee and Judea. Most of the places were in the mountainous area around Safed and Tiberias, the focal points of the Jewish population of Palestine at that time. The present author is in no doubt that this factor was of major importance in determining the 225</page><page sequence="20">Ruth Kark selection of mountainous areas by the writers, despite the fact that the total amount of vacant land available in Palestine was far larger and included other regions such as the coastal plain, the Jezreel valley, the Beit She'an region, and Trans-Jordan. Finally, looking beyond the brief time-span of the decade of Egyptian occupation reveals two very interesting trends in the ownership of land in Palestine, and the effects of this on settlement.102 Firstly, as can also be seen from the documents we have dealt with, the transition can be seen from a situation in which state lands are not under the direct control of the government at the beginning of the nineteenth century, to an attempt on the part of the government to tighten its control by legislative, military and other means. The process had begun before the Egyptian occupation and continued during the occupation period and afterwards. More effective control enabled the state to recover some of these lands, particularly those which had been abandoned or were uninhabited. Afterwards, some of this land continued to be held by the state or by the Sultan as his private property, while other portions were taken over by urban entrepreneurs, village sheikhs and bedouin sheikhs in various ways we shall not describe here. Secondly, one sees renewed agricultural settlement on lands which were uninhabited or had been abandoned (in some cases for hundreds of years), and an influx of population in villages which had been only partially inhabited. Sometimes these newly populated places were abandoned and resettled later in the nineteenth century. The letters to Monteflore in 1839 clearly refer to this process of agricultural resettlement of abandoned regions by fellahin. They give the impression that this began before the Egyptian occupation, but further study is necessary to clarify this matter. In some cases, this type of settlement was encouraged by the government or was promoted by urban effendis who profited by it and invested part of this wealth in property in their urban places of residence. From other sources assembled in several regional studies, we see that in the 1830s, Egyptians and local inhabitants settled in villages which had fallen into ruin in the Hauran, the Hula valley, lower Galilee, the Jordan valley, the Beit She'an region, the Judean piedmont and the southern coastal plain.103 The attempts of Jews to acquire land and establish agricultural settlements during the remainder of the nineteenth century following the Egyptian occupation are part of a process whereby various groups of people, for a variety of reasons, wished to or were required to settle on uninhabited lands. The process involved both local inhabitants, representing various ethnic and religious groups who had been in Palestine for long periods, and settlers from outside the country Muslims (Egyptians, Mugrabis, Circassians, Bosnians), Bahais, Christians (from Europe and America) and Jews (from North Africa, the Middle East and Europe). Settlement sometimes was only temporary, and the lands reverted to their former state, available for purchase or settlement again. This explains why the 226</page><page sequence="21">Agricultural land in Palestine names of places listed in the 1839 table, but not acquired then, recur again and again in various sources which speak about lands that Jews could purchase. (Sometimes Jews had to compete for these places with German Templars, missionaries, investors and others.) To cite a few examples, lands available in the Galilee in 1839, such as Abu Shusha, Ja'una, Hittin, 'Ein Zeitim, Meiron, Peqi'in and Khirbat Jarmaq, recur in the 1870s;104 Gush Halav (Al Jish), Kafr Bir'im, 'Ein Zeitim, Sa'sa, Qadas, many places around Rosh Pinna (Ja'una) and Yesud Hama'la (Hula), the Ginnosar valley, Capernaum and Al Majdal, recur in the middle of the 1880s;105 and Biriya, 'Ein Zeitim, the Hula area, and regions around the Sea of Galilee, the lower Galilee and the Zevulun valley (near Acre), recur at the beginning of the 1890s.106 The same pattern is evident in the Judean piedmont, the Jericho region and other regions.107 Some of the places vacant in 1839 were taken over by various owners or settlers. Egyptians settled in Khirbat Kerak and Dalhamiya during the 1830s for example, and Muslim Mugrabis settled in Kafr Sabt and 'Ulam at the end of the 1850s and the beginning of the 1860s. It seems that at none of these places did settlement last very long.108 By comparing maps illustrating the geographical distribution of the regional preferences of Jews with regard to the acquisition of land between the years 1839 and 1900, we discern a shift from the mountain region to actual purchase and settlement along the coastal plain and in the valleys. This process, which among other things created new territorial links and established contiguity between the older centres of the Jewish population in Judea and Galilee, intensified in the twentieth century and was an important factor in determining future political boundaries. NOTES I wish to express my gratitude to the custodians of the Monteflore collection at Jews' College in London, who generously enabled me to examine and photocopy the manuscripts, and particularly to Mr Ezra Kahn and Mr Ernest Ettinghausen who assisted me in the cold and wet storeroom; to Tamar Sofer, cartographer of the Dept of Geography at the Hebrew University, who drew the map; to Simonetta Delia Seta, Dr Emily Kark, and Dr Arthur F?rst who helped in deciphering passages in English and Italian, and to Mira Yehudai who identified a number of sites on the map. An extended Hebrew version of this paper was published in Cathedra 33 (Oct. 1984)57-92. 1 Citron, Sokolow, Gelber, Medzini and Dinur, cited by I. Bartal, 'Settlement Proposals During Montefiore's Second Visit to Eretz-Israel, 1839', in Joseph Hacker (ed.) Shalem: Studies in the History of the Jews in Eretz-Israel II (Jerusalem 1976) 231-5 (Hebrew). 2 Luncz, Ya'ari, Harisman, Gat, Klausner, Zvi-Zehavi, Kressel and others, cited by Bartal (see n. 1); see also M. D. Shub, Memories of the House of David (Jerusalem 1937) 45-50 (Hebrew). 3 The major article is the one which appeared in Shalem II (see n. 1) 231-96. Further references to the year 1839 are found in another article which deals mainly with 1849, see I. Bartal, 'Two Letters Addressed to Sir Moses Montefiore by the Jews of the Galilee Concerning Agricultural Matters', Cathedra 2 (Nov 1976) 141-52 (Hebrew). 4 Most of the letters are in two volumes of manuscripts in the Montefioriana collection in London, numbered 5 74 and 575. 5 For example, see the letter to Moses Montefiore written by the heads of the Ashkenazi -Perushim Kollel dated the eve of the new month of Tammuz 5599 (11 June 1839), Ms 574/67 and Ms 575/8ib. 6 M. Seliger, European Policy in the Near East: Its Foundation in the Epoch of Mehemet Ali of Egypt (Jerusalem, 1941) 91 (Hebrew); I. Hof man, Muhammed Ali in Syria (PhD thesis 227</page><page sequence="22">Ruth Kark submitted to the Hebrew University of Jeru? salem, 1963) 393 (Hebrew), 7 (Judith Montefiore), Notes from a Private Journal of a Visit to Egypt and Palestine by Way of Italy and the Mediterranean (London, 1844), 281, according to what Ahmad Duzdar, the governor of Jerusalem, told Montefiore on 9 June 1839; Rev. M'Chene expressed himself in a similar fashion in a letter from Beirut dated 5 June 1839, published in the Jewish Intelligence (Nov. 1839)269. 8 Ms 577. 9 Hofman (seen. 6)227-31. 10 Ibid. 330-41, 397-8; M. Maoz, Ottoman Reform in Syria and Palestine, 1840-1861 (Oxford 1968) 12-20,187. 11 (J. Montefiore) (see n. 7) 280. 12 Hofman (seen. 6)218-73. 13 M. Abir, 'Local Leadership and Early Reforms in Palestine 1800-1834', in M. Maoz (ed.) Studies on Palestine During the Ottoman Period (Jerusalem 1975) 308-9; U. Heyd, Pales? tine During the Period of Ottoman Rule, lectures edited by M. Maoz (Jerusalem 1972) 48-51 (Hebrew). 14 Hofman (seen. 6)218-73. 15 Ibid. 218-73. The feddans referred to are probably Egyptian feddans, which would mean an area of about 340,000 metric dunams. 16 Ms 574/70-letter of Avraham Finzi, the British consular agent in Acre (hereafter cited as Finzi); Ms 574/72-letter of Mordechai Ben Avraham Shlomo Zalman Zoref (Salomon) (hereafter cited as Zoref); Ms 574/67c-letter of Yosef Ben Shimon Ashkenazi (hereafter cited as Ashkenazi); Ms 574/72a-letter of Arye Leib Ben Yerahmiel Marcus, trustee of the Kottel of the Perushim (hereafter cited as Leib). 17 Leib loc. cit; Finzi, loc. cit; Ms 5 74/67c information taken down by Louis Loewe, Monte fiore's secretary (hereafter cited as Loewe), from Israel Druker (Bek) (hereafter cited as Loewe from Druker). 18 Ashkenazi and Zoref loc. cit 19 Leib and Zoref loc. cit. Also see Bartal (see n. 1)258-9. 20 H. A. B. Rivlin, The Agricultural Policy of Muhammad 'Ali in Egypt (Cambridge, Mass. 1961) 37-104; A. N. Poliak, The History of the Land Regime in Egypt, Syria, and Palestine at the End of the Middle Ages and During the Modern Period (Jerusalem 1940) 72-85 (Hebrew); G. Baer, Introduction to the History of Agrarian Relations in the Middle East 1800-1970 (Tel Aviv 1971)19-58 (Hebrew). 21 Rivlin (see n. 20); Poliak (see n. 20); Baer (see n. 20); Hofman (see n. 6) 167,277-8. 22 Timar-a feudal estate which in the Otto man Empire was granted to a knight in return for military service; originally (according to Baer [see n. 20, 134] an estate of this kind yielded a maximum income of 19,999 23 Ibid. 28; A. Granott, The Land System in Palestine: History and Structure (London 1952) 29-33. According to Abir, the order abolishing the timars was issued by Mahmud II in 1827 to the governors of Acre and Damascus (Abir [see n. 13] 299). 24 M. Hoexter, 'Egyptian Involvement in the Politics of Notables in Palestine: Ibrahim Pasha in Jabal Nablus', in G. Baer and A. Cohen, (eds.) E?UPt and Palestine-A Millennium of Association (868-1948) (Jerusalem 1984) 190-213. 25 A. J. Rustum, A Calendar of State Papers from the Royal Archives of Egypt Relating to the Affairs of Syria II (Beirut 1940-1942) 488, no. 3858 (Arabic) a letter from Ibrahim Pasha to Muhammad Ali Pasha, 20 Sh'aban 1250 (22 Dec. 1834). 26 Ibid. Ill 186-8, no. 4851, a letter from Muhammad Sharif Pasha to Sami Bey, 15 Shawali252(i3jan. 1837). 27 Zeamet - an Ottoman feudal estate which yielded an income of between 20,000 and 99,999 akca; awqaf-property which had be? come non-transferable by means of ordinary transactions, the income of which was set aside for the benefit of individuals or for some purpose, on condition that the last beneficiary be a charitable enterprise (Baer [see n. 20] 128). 28 Hoexter (see n. 24). 29 Muqatata - a feudal estate, timar or zeamet; it also meant an iltizam (lands granted to a multazim who paid a tax for them to the state treasury and in addition collected a profit for himself). Malikane- an iltizam held for life by a multazim. 30 Hoexter (seen. 24). 31 Ibid. (seen. 20). 32 Poliak (see n. 20) 83; Baer (see n. 20); Abir (seen. 13); Bartal (seen. 1)252-6. 33 Hoexter (seen. 24). 34 Miri-land the raqaba (full ownership) of which belonged to the state. 35 Boislecomte cited by Hofman (see n. 6) 277-8. 36 Ms 5 74/72a Leib. 37 Ms 574/7id Leib; Ms 574/89-letter of Arye Leib and Yeshaya Ben Issakhar Baer; Ms 574/72bZoref. 38 Ms 5 74/72b Zoref; D. Grossman, 'Rural Settlement in the Gezer Region During the Ottoman and Mandate Periods', an internal publication of Bar-Ilan University (1983) 6-7 (Hebrew). Khabie - a measure of capacity, 35 105 litres. The weight of a Khabie of wheat in 228</page><page sequence="23">Agricultural land in Palestine the north of the country was around 75 kilograms. 39 Abir(seen. 13)307-9. 40 Maoz(seen. 10)12-20,187. 41 Letters of the Pekidim and the Amarcalim cited in A. Morgenstern, The Pekidim and Amar? calim of Amsterdam and the Jewish Community in Palestine 1810-1840 (PhD thesis submitted to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1981) 168 (Hebrew). 42 E. and S. Bergmann, Let the Mountains Bear Peace: Letters of Travel and Aliya, 1834 1836, edited by A. Bartura (2nd ed., Jerusalem, n.d.) 93-letter no. 3 dated 24 March 1835; and p. 97-letter no. 4 from around early May 1835 (Hebrew). See also Y. Yellin Memories of a Son of Jerusalem, 1834-1918 (Jerusalem 1924) 5-6 (Hebrew). 43 Ms 5 74/69C-letter of Menahem Arye Ben Shmuel Halevi (hereafter cited as Menahem Halevi), and also see Bartal (see n. 1) 287-8; Y. Ben-Arieh, A City Reflected in Its Times; Jerusalem in the Nineteenth Century (The Old City) (Jerusa? lem 1977) 323, 356 (Hebrew). 44 Morgenstern (see n.41) 176, 189; N. M. Gelber, 'Moshe Sachs (One of the Fathers of Agriculture in Eretz-Israel)', Sinai I (1937) 568-83 (Hebrew). 45 Allgemeine Zeitung Des Judenthums, 3, 59 (16 May 1839) 238. 46 Ms 574/30 Nahum Mizrahi, Avraham Shoshana and Shmuel 'Abu (hereafter cited as Mizrahi, Shoshana and 'Abu). 47 Jewish Intelligence (Feb. 1838) 38-9, (Nov. 1838) 272, (Jan. 1839) 6, (June 1839) 141-2. I am grateful to Dr Arie Morgenstern who called my attention to this source. 48 Ibid. (June 1839); Ben-Arieh (see n.43) 289-92. 49 Bergmann (see n. 42) 9 7, letter no. 4. 50 Seen.44. 51 A. J. Rustum, Material for a Corpus of Arabic Documents Relating to the History of Syria Under Mehemet Ali Pasha TV (American Press; Beirut 1930-4) (Arabic) 65-6. 52 Various letters in manuscript vols 574 and 575. 53 Ms 574/67d-information taken down by Louis Loewe from Yosef Ben Shimon Ashken? azi on 22 May 1839 (hereafter cited as Loewe from Ashkenazi). 54 (J. Montefiore) (see n. 7) 3 76. 55 Ms 5 74/72c Leib; Ms 5 74/72b Zoref; Ms 574/69b, 7ia-letter of Aharon Ben Shlomo Bigeh (hereafter cited as Bigeh). 56 Beourdi-SL word current in those days (see also Mr Farman's letter in Monthly Intelli? gence (July 1832) 100, which relates that he received his beourdi from the Pasha of Acre). This is an incorrect form of the Turkish word buyuruldu-an order issued by a provincial governor. I am grateful to Dr Haim Gerber who helped me determine the meaning of this word. 57 Ms 574/72aLeib. 58 Mss 574/30,33,68d. 59 Ms 5 74/2 3a Avraham Dov from Avrotsch and others, emissaries of the Ashken azi community of Safed. 60 Ms 575/3ib-letter of Jews from 'Ein Zeitim. 61 (J. Montefiore) (see n. 7) 3 2 3. 62 Ms 574/70 Finzi. 63 Ms 574/67d; perhaps Iskander Katafago was a relative of Antun Katafaku, the Austrian consul in Acre and Sidon for forty years, from the beginning of the 19th century, who himself was (as Hofman relates [see n. 6] 9) a wealthy lessee of villages. 64 Written in Safed on 24 May 1839, and quoted in L. Loewe (ed.) Diaries of Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore I (London 1890, new ed. 1983) 167. 65 Rivlin (see n.20) 62-4. Evidence that word of developments in Egypt had reached Palestine may be seen in Bergmann (see n. 42) 68. Bartal (see n. 1) 254, also makes this point. 66 Ms 575/8ocLeib. 67 Loewe (see n.64) I, 167 (Safed, 24 May 1839). 68 Ibid. 178. 69 Ibid. 199. 70 Ibid. 200-207. 71 Ibid. 200-207. We may assume that the report is reliable, though perhaps Loewe has soft-pedalled the failure of the plan. 72 Jewish Intelligence (June 1841) 170.1 wish to thank Dr Arie Morgenstern who called my attention to this source. 73 C. P. Conder and H. Kitchner, Map of Western Palestine, Special Edition, 1:168,960 (London 1881) (from survey conducted for the Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund); and also relevant sheets of official maps publish? ed by the Mandate government in the 1:100,000 series; Joseph Schwarz, Descriptive Geography and Brief Historical Sketch of Palestine (Philadelphia 1850); E. Sapir, Ha'aretz (Jaffa 1911) (Hebrew). 74 Ms 5 74/6 7b, c, d Loewe. I shall not discuss the reasons why Loewe's list was so incomplete when all the letters were available to him. On the figure suggested by Montefiore see above (Montefiore's project). 75 For further details, see R. Kark, 'Land Acquisition and New Agricultural Settlement in Palestine During the Tyomkin Period, 229</page><page sequence="24">Ruth Kark 1890-1892', in Daniel Carpi (ed.) Zionism IX (Tel Aviv 1984) 179-93 (Hebrew). 76 Ms 574/72bZoref and Ms 574/7id, 72a, 72c Leib. 77 Ms 574/72c Leib. 78 Ms 574/713 Bigeh; Ms 574772b Zoref; Ms 5 74/66 Ashkenazi and Ms 5 74/723 Leib. 79 Jews from Peqi'in tell of their work in ploughing and sowing, Ms 575/43; Ms 575/ 3ib-letter of Moshe and Aharon Gigi and the members of their family (hereafter cited as Gigi); Loewe (see n.64) I, 164-6; Hahavazelet, 2, 14 (1872) 105 (Hebrew). 80 See, for example, 'The Uncircumcised [Christians] from Jaffa', Ms Leib, loc. tit.; Shmuel Avitsur, Daily Life in Eretz Israel in the XlXth Century (Tel Aviv 1972) 189-94 (Hebrew). 81 Bartal (see n. 1) 244-61. 82 Ms 574/72C Leib; Z. Ilan, 'Hakham Reuven Pinto-A Sephardi Jew who Cultivated his Land in Hulda 150 Years Ago', Bama'arakha, 12,280 (15 Feb. 1984) 10,21 (Hebrew). 8 3 Letter of Zoref, loc. cit. 84 Letter of Yitzhak Shemesh, 1849, Ms 577 85 Ms 574/69b-letter of Mordechai Ha rah; Ms 575/4ob-letter of Shepsil Ashkenazi (hereafter cited as Shepsil Ashkenazi). 86 Ms 575/34d-letterofShimshonofBrad. 87 Ms 575/44e-letter of Yitzhak Turze man; Ms 5 7 5/4 sd-letter of Yehuda Leib Ben Haim; Ms 575/22c-letter of Ze'ev Duber Ben Eliezer; Ms 5 74/69a-letter of Pinhas and Shlomo Hayyun (hereafter cited as Hayyun); Ms 575/25b-letter of Nahum Ben Avraham; Ms 574/69dBigeh. 88 Ms 575/4ig Ya'akov Ben Avraham. 89 Ms 574/68a-letter of Zvi Hirsch and Shmuel Ben Dov (Ranis) (hereafter cited as Hirsch and Ranis); see also Ms 575/3. 90 See letters of Ashkenazi, Finzi, Leib and Zoref, loc. cit. and 5 75/8 ib Schnitzer. 91 See letters of Leib, Finzi and Zoref, loc. cit. 92 Letters of Ashkenazi, Mimran, Finzi, Loewe, the Hayyun brothers and Zoref, loc. cit. 93 Letters of Finzi, Leib and Zoref, loc. cit; Hayyun brothers, Shepsil Ashkenazi, Nahum Ben Avraham, Bek and others, in ns. 79, 85 and 87 above; Ms 5 74/6 7c Loewe from Druker (Bek). 94 See details in Ms 574/310, 66, 68b, 68d, 70, 7id(c), 72a, 72c, 8ib, 90a. 95 Letter of Zoref, loc. cit. Krab-a field planted with crops whose growth improved the quality of the soil (sesame, chick-pea, etc.) or a field which was left fallow and ploughed in order to restore the fertility of the soil before the planting of winter crops. 96 Letter of Finzi, loc. cit. 97 Loewe from Druker, loc. cit; Loewe (see n. 64)1,199. 98 Ms 574/66e Ashkenazi; Ms 5 74/67c Loewe. 99 Ms 5 74/72a Leib; letter of Zoref, loc. cit. 100 Letter of Leib, loc. cit.; letters of Zoref and Finzi, loc. cit. 101 Ms 5 74/72C Leib; letter of Zoref, loc. cit. 102 R. Kark, 'Changing Patterns of Land Ownership in Nineteenth Century Palestine: The European Influence', Journal of Historical Geo? graphy X (1984) 357-384; R. Kark, 'Land Ownership and Spatial Change in Nineteenth Century Palestine, an Overview', in M. Rosci zewsky (ed.) Transition from Spontaneous to Regulated Spatial Organization, Polish Academy of Sciences (Warsaw 1984) 183-96. 103 A. Bitan, Changes of Settlement in the Eastern Lower Galilee 1800-1978 Qerusalem 1982) 27-80 (Hebrew); Y. Ben-Arieh, The Central Jordan Valley (Merhavia 1965) 141-52 (Hebrew); D. Nir, The Bet-Chean Region (Tel Aviv 1966) 111-14 (Hebrew); Y. Karmon, The North? ern Hulleh Valley-Its Natural and Cultural Land? scape (Jerusalem 1956) 62-6 (Hebrew); for the region of the Judean piedmont see Grossman, 'Settlement in the Gezer Region' and R. Kark and Z. Shiloni, 'The Resettlement of Gezer', in Ely Schiller (ed.) Zev Vilnay's Jubilee Volume (Jerusa? lem 1984) 331-41 (Hebrew). 104 Simon Berman, Masuoth Simon (Cracow 1879) 90-1 in the Hebrew edition published in Jerusalem in 1980; Shub (see n. 2)5 5, 74. 105 Statement of Mr Felixsohn from Safed, Hazeflra, 12, 13 (29 Nissan 5645-15 April 1885) 105; statement of L. Pinkser, ibid., 12,15 (i3lyar 5645-29 April 1885) 119 (Hebrew). 106 Kark (seen. 75). 107 Yehiel Brill, Yesud Hama'ala: The Immi? gration of Eleven Farmers from Russia in 1883, photocopy edition, edited by G. Kressel (Jerusa? lem 1978) 56-103 (Hebrew), originally publish? ed in 1883; see also a seminar paper by A. Ron, 'The "Fluid" Inventory of Lands in Eretz-Israel in the 19th Century (1800-1899) and Its Influ? ence on Settlement' (Jerusalem 1982), written under the supervision of R. Kark and R. Ahronson, Dept. of Geography, Hebrew Univer? sity of Jerusalem (Hebrew). 108 Y. Schechter, 'The Contents of a Confi? dential Land Ledger from the Turkish Period', Ikkarei Yisrael CLXX (1977) 5-8 (Hebrew); A. L. Avneri, The Jewish Land Settlement and the Arab Claim of Dispossession 1878-1948 (Tel Aviv 1979) 252-3 (Hebrew). 230</page></plain_text>