Mohamed Ali Eltaher



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1 - Nabil Khaled El-Agha, “Mohamed Ali Eltaher Aasheq El-Horreyya (Mohamed Ali Eltaher: A Man Infatuated with Freedom) - Al-Doha Magazine, Qatar, April 1981.
2 - Most Arab last names take the article "El" or "Al" meaning "the". There is no definite rule as to which spelling to use when translating from Arabic into other languages. Roughly speaking, Arab countries which were influenced by French culture have used "El". Those influenced by English culture use "Al".

The use of a (-) between El/Al and the name is also a matter of usage rather than rule, but the hyphen denotes that the two go together, since El or Al as stand-alones are meaningless. Furthermore, transliterating names of persons or places from Arabic into any other language has no universally accepted rules, hence the diversity in spelling one encounters. This Website will respect name spellings as normally used by the individual concerned, or as it is customary in his country, otherwise it will be rendered in a manner that is phonetically easier to read and pronounce by the reader.
3 - Aboul-Hassan, i.e. Father of Hassan, is the traditional form by which men are addressed in most, but not all, Arabic speaking countries. Normally a man is addressed as such by attaching his first-born son’s name to the prefix "Abou", or "Aboul", but there are cases where the individual would be addressed as such without having a male son, or even if he were not even married. Such was the case for Eltaher before he was married and his son was born.
4 - "Bilad Ash-Sham", i.e. the Sham countries, means Greater Syria, or the Levant, which included then current Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and what became known later on as Trans-Jordan. The name Sham is also used to mean Damascus, whose formal Arabic name is Dimashq.
5 - The term "Arab and Islamic world", which appears quite often throughout this website, is meant to define the nature, or rather the composition of this "world". When speaking of the "Arab world", what is meant by that is the Arabs in general, whether they are Muslims or Christians, and whether they are ethnically of Arabian extraction or from other roots, but whose main link among themselves is the Arabic language and culture. However, when reference is made to the "Islamic world", the term is meant to define the countries that have already been described as Arab, but also includes those with large Muslim populations or large Muslim minorities, but who have no ethnic links to the Arabs, such as Indonesia, India, Turkey and Iran for example.
6 - It is very important to remind the reader that in those days, and to a great extent even today, peoples' identity in many parts of the world, including in the Arab countries, is defined by their religion rather than by their ethnic origin. In the context of Palestinian historiography in particular, until the creation of Israel, Jewish Arabs were considered as Arabs of the Jewish faith. Today the term Jews is used to mean the Jews as a whole, irrespective of whether they were of Arab descent, or were European Jews who had entered Palestine illegally, or were allowed in by British colonial authorities. In the same vain, the term Muslims means people of the Muslim faith anywhere in the world, irrespective of whether they were Arabs or not. The reference to "All Arabs" as indicated in this document is meant to include both Arab Muslims and Christians.
7 - For an in-depth pictorial and historic view of Egypt during the early to mid-twentieth century, please consult the following quality website by Samir Rafat:
8 - As is the usage in Northern Ireland as well as in other countries religion is considered to be one’s identity. A person is either an Irish Catholic or an Irish Protestant. Until 1948/1949, even now, members of the community of the Jewish faith in Palestine called themselves Jews ("Yahood" in Arabic), following the "millet" (ethnic or religious origin) system that the Ottomans used to identify the various communities. The other communities referred to themselves as Christians (Nosrani, or Masihi, in Arabic); and Muslims. The Jews of Palestine eventually adopted the expression Israelis following the creation of the State of Israel. In the Arab world, the terms Jews and Israelis are often used interchangeably to mean the same thing, the same way some Israelis refer to the Palestinians as “The Arabs”, while others simply refer to them as “The Palestinians”.
9 - The Maghreb countries, i.e. "the countries of the setting sun", are Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and sometimes Mauritania. The expression Mashreq denotes the countries of the Levant, i.e. all the other Arab countries starting from Egypt.
10 - For further information on Palestinian nationalists, freedom fighters and public figures, please consult the following academic website.
11 - Banque Misr and its group of companies were founded by Talaat Harb Pasha in 1920 as the first national and totally indigenous Egyptian modern economic entreprise. His purpose was to counteract the economic invasion of the country by foreign interests, specifically to discourage the shipping of raw Egyptian cotton for weaving in mills in the U.K., instead of weaving it in Egypt, by Egyptian labour.
12 - The word "Zionism" is derived from the word "Zion", or "Sahyoon" in Arabic, which denotes biblical Israel. Zionism is also the name of a nineteenth century European socialist political movement calling for the establishment of a homeland for the Jews in the "Land of Israel" (Eretz Israel in Hebrew), i.e. in Palestine.
13 - Pasha, Bey, Effendi, etc. are all Ottoman-style honorific titles, used extensively in Egypt under the monarchy and other countries of the Levant and given to civilians and military officers depending on rank, much along the same lines of the peerage system in the U.K.
14 - Michael J. Cohen, "Churchill and the Jews", 2nd Edition, Frank Cass, London, 2003.
15 - The policeman assigned to watch over Eltaher the day he run away was eventually flogged by his superiors for having let this happen. Following his release, Eltaher looked for the policeman until he found him, and paid him a compensation for what he had endured because of him.
16 - Some Arabic names and first names start with the attribute "Abdel" or "Abdul", which by itself does not have a useful meaning. Hence, all such names must either be attached or hyphenated, e.g. Abdel-Nasser or Abdelnasser. To simplify things even further, the attribute Abdel is sometimes dropped altogether, and the name becomes simply Nasser.
17 - Russel B. Huckstep was an American officer whose name was given to a U.S. military base north of Cairo on the Suez Highway a few kilometres from Farouk Airport, which is the current Cairo International Airport. After World War II, the base was turned by the Egyptian government into an internment camp for political prisoners.
18 - Dar Ashoura, i.e. House of Ashoura, is the name given to Eltaher’s office whence his newspaper was published. The large sign behind him in the very first portrait of him on the Home page of this website shows the name "Dar Ashoura" in Arabic.
19 - To her great astonishment, the neighbour, Mrs. Nefissa Gamgoum, found the cage and the bird, which she recognized readily on the staircase. She brought it into her apartment after having knocked at Eltaher’s apartment without getting an answer. She understood immediately that something serious must have happened. The Eltahers loved animals, and kept a cat wherever they went. Even when he was a fugitive, Eltaher kept a cat in his hideout, which he named "Habissa", i.e. "prisoner"!
20 - For an indication as to the political situation in Egypt during that period, please consult the following book (In Arabic): “Muzakkerat Ibrahim Talaat” (The Memoirs of Ibrahim Talaat), Dar Al-Hilal, Cairo 2002.
21 - John Bagot Glubb, "A Soldier with the Arabs", Harper (1957)
22 - Avi Shlaim, "Collusion across the Jordan: King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement, and the Partition of Palestine". New York: Columbia University Press, 1988. See also the movie "A Woman called Golda", starring Ingrid Bergman, released in 1982 by Paramount Television.
23 - The full name of the Haganah in Hebrew is "Irgun ha-Haganah be-Eretz-Yi’sra’el", i.e. "Organization for Defense in the Land of Israel". The Haganah was the forerunner of the current Israel Defense Forces (IDF, or TSAHAL in Hebrew)
24 - It is ironic that when the PLO was created in 1964, its first leader, Ahmad Shuqairy, had asked Eltaher to support the organization, but Eltaher refused categorically to do so, and pointed out that the PLO was an organization created by the Arab governments in order to control and liquidate the Palestine question. The second leader of the PLO, Yasser Arafat, never met Eltaher, but, after the latter’s death, he presented his condolences to Eltaher’s family in person.
25 -  Benny Morris – 1948: The First Arab-Israeli War – Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut (2008) - P392. See also Vincent Sheean – "Personal History", Doubleday, Doran & Co., Garden City, New York (1935), particularly the last Chapter entitled “Holy Land”, pp.333-398.
26 - In July of 1853, as the Crimean war loomed and the position of Turkey was challenged by Egypt’s ruler Mehmet Ali, Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, an Evangelical Christian, wrote to Prime Minister George Hamilton-Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen that Greater Syria was “a country without a nation” in need of “a nation without a country… Is there such a thing? To be sure there is, the ancient and rightful lords of the soil, the Jews!” In his diary that year he wrote “these vast and fertile regions will soon be without a ruler, without a known and acknowledged power to claim dominion. The territory must be assigned to someone or other… There is a country without a nation; and God now in his wisdom and mercy, directs us to a nation without a country. Thus was born the phrase that eventually became the Zionist slogan of “A land without a people for a people without a land”. .” It is worthwhile to note that there is no indication if Earl Shaftesbury who wrote these lines had ever visited that part of the world to find out if there were people living there, or if it was an empty wilderness.

Source: Diana Muir, Middle East Quarterly, spring 2008, pp. 55-62 as cited by Garfinkle, Adam M., “On the Origin, Meaning, Use and Abuse of a Phrase.” Middle Eastern Studies, London, Oct. 1991, vol. 27, p. 539).

In his book “Jerusalem: The Biography”, Simon Sebag Montefiore specifies that “Shaftesbury borrowed the notorious phrase “a land without a people” from a Scottish minister, Alexander Keith, and it was later attributed (probably mistakenly – Montefiore’s qualification) to Israel Zangwill, a Zionist who did not believe in settling Palestine, precisely because it was already inhabited by Arabs. See Simon Sebag Montefiore, “Jerusalem: The Biography”, footnote p. 348 - Alfred Knopf, New York (2011).
27 - Benny Morris – 1948: The First Arab-Israeli War – Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut (2008) - P393. “David Ben-Gurion well understood these contradictory perspectives. As he told his colleagues, against the backdrop of the Arab Revolt of 1936-1939: We must see the situation for what it is. On the security front, we are those attacked and who are on the defensive. But in the political field we are the attackers and the Arabs are those defending themselves. They are living in the country and own the land, the village. We live in the Diaspora and only want to immigrate (to Palestine) and gain possession of the land from them.”(Ref: Protocol of meeting of the Jewish Agency Executive, 7 July 1938, Ben-Gurion Archive).

“Years later, after the establishment of Israel, (Ben-Gurion) expatiated on the Arab perspective in a conversation with the Zionist leader Nahum Goldmann: “I don’t understand your optimism….Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: We have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it’s true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: We have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that?” (Goldmann, Nahum. The Jewish Paradox. Translated by Steve Cox. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1978.
28 - The Jewish people hail originally from the Mediterranean as well as the Arabian Peninsula. Ethnically, or even possibly genetically the ancient Jews could have been cousins or brothers to the Arabs. Actually many Jews look exactly like Arabs, hence they are occasionally stopped and frisked by Israeli police suspecting them of being “Arab terrorists”.
29 - For a better understanding of the forces at play within the Israeli and Jewish political establishment refer to the following book (in French only): “Au Nom du Temple: Israël et l’Irrésistible ascension du Messianisme juif” by Charles Enderlin, Seuil Publishers, Paris 2013.
30 - See Gila Svirsky’s description of New Profile’s 2002 “Women Refuse” campaign, in which the participants refused: “To raise our children for war, to ignore war crimes committed in our name, to support the occupation, to continue our normal lives while another nation is suffering because of us”.

Gila Svirsky, “Nonviolence in the Israeli Women’s Peace Movement” August 31, 2003 - Quoted from the book by Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta, “Refusing to be enemies”, Ithaca Press, Reading, UK (2010) pp. 334, 437.
31 - For further reading, please see: Seth G. Jones, “Fighting Networked Terrorist Groups: Lessons from Israel”, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, By RAND Corporation, Arlington, Virginia, USA - Security Studies Program, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA – 30:281–302, (2007).
32 - For a good example, please refer to the book by Shlomo Sand, “The Invention of the Jewish People”, Verso Books, London (2009). Originally published in Hebrew “Matai w’ekh humtza ha’am hayehudi?” When and how was the Jewish People Invented? Shlomo Sand has dedicated his book “To the memory of the refugees who reached this soil, and those who were forced to leave it.” Another example is Professor Avi Shlaim. See in particular “Reflections on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”. Edited text of a lecture he gave to the Royal Society for Asian Affairs on 20 October 2010. Asian Affairs, vol. XLII, no. 1, March 2011.
33 - Uri Avnery, “Count me Out”, Gush Shalom, October 31, 2009
34 - Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), “Alice in Wonderland”, 1865
35 - For a more in-depth analysis, please see: “The Israel Lobby, and U.S Foreign Policy” - By John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University - March 2006. publications/workingpapers/citation.aspx?PubId=3670
36 - Tony Judt, “Israel: The Alternative”, New York Review of Books, 23 October 2003. Quoted from Benny Morris, One State, Two States: Resolving the Israel/Palestine Conflict, Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut (2009), p. 9. Tony Judt passed away in August 2010 as these lines were written.
37 - Ibid p. 165
38 - Israel’s real or implied nuclear threat or rather nuclear blackmail/deterrent does not necessarily have to be aimed at any country in particular in the Middle East region. It ensures a front row seat for Israel within the nuclear club of nations; it serves as an efficient threat to the Arab governments, and through them a visible scarecrow to the strategic interests of their allies.
39 - For a comprehensive and very well presented study regarding the various phases of the Middle East Peace Process including the Interim and Permanent Status Negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis, it is highly recommended to consult the following book: “Back Channel Negotiation: Secrecy in the Middle East Peace Process”, by Anthony Wanis-St.John – Syracuse University Press (2011).
40 - The Emir’s first name is Mohamed and his father’s first name is Abdelkrim. He also had a brother whose name was Mahammad (not Mohamed). However, throughout history the Emir was known by his father’s first name, i.e. Abdelkrim. The same usage will be continued in this site to avoid further confusion.
41 - Zakya Daoud, "Abdelkrim - Une épopée d’or et de sang" - Séguier, Paris 1999
42 - Karim Thabet - “Aashru sanawaten maa Farouq” (Ten Years with Farouq) – The Memoirs of Karim Thabet Pasha – Dar Ash-Shourouq, Cairo (January 2000) – Second Printing, volume 2 Pages 54-57 (In Arabic). Selected parts from the memoirs were originally serialized in the "Al-Gomhoreyya" daily in Cairo starting from May 2, 1956.
43 - Aziz Mhidi, "El-Khattabi Batal Tahrir Al-Maghreb" (El-Khattabi Hero of Moroccan Liberation), article published in Arabic in "Koul Shay" newspaper, Toronto - Canada, issue number 67, 23 January - 5 February 1995.
44 - The bureau was created by Maghreb nationalists to disseminate information about the various issues of concern to their colonized countries. Among its prominent members were Habib Bourguiba (Future Prime Minister and President of Tunisia, Habib Thameur (Killed in an airplane accident in Pakistan), Rachid Idriss (Future Tunisian Minister), Hammadi Badra (future ambassador to Syria, Italy and the Holy See), and Tayeb Slim (Future Tunisian ambassador to the United Nations) on behalf of Tunisia; Allal El-Fassi (Leader of the Istiqlal Party), Mohamed Larbi Alami (Future Moroccan ambassador to Egypt), and Mohamed Ben Abboud (Killed in the same airplane accident with Habib Thameur), as well as others representing Morocco; and Ibrahim Toubal representing Algeria.
45 - Morocco’s name in Arabic is "Al-Maghreb" (i.e. Land of the Setting Sun). "Al-Maghreb Al-Arabi" is also used to denote all four North African countries, namely Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and sometimes Mauritania. Morocco however used to be referred to by Arabs in the Levant as "Marrakech", which at one time of its history was the capital of Morocco. In Turkey, Morocco is called until now "Fas Memleket", i.e. Kingdom of Fez, which at one time was also Morocco’s capital under a different dynasty.
46 - Hassan M. Eltaher, "Emir Abdelkrim El-Khattabi", Asharq Al-Awsat daily, London, June 24, 1993.
47 - Rashid Al-Haj Ibrahim “Defending Haifa and the Problem of Palestine: The Memoirs of Rashid Al-Haj Ibrahim (1891-1953), in Arabic – Institute of Palestine Studies, Beirut, July 2005.
48 - Avi Shlaim – The Rise and Fall of the All-Palestine Government in Gaza”, Journal of Palestine Studies, vol.20, No. 1 (Autumn, 1990), pp. 37-53.
49 - Naqqada is the small town in Upper Egypt where the ‘father of Egyptology’ Sir Flinders Petrie undertook successful archaeological excavations in 1894 following meticulous scientific excavation techniques. The forty two years he spent as an archaeologist in Egypt left an indelible mark on Egyptology until our days.
50 - "Abdallah Al-Tal: Batal Maaraket Al-Quds" (Abdallah Al-Tal: Hero of the Battle for Jerusalem), by Dr. Ahmad Youssef Al-Tal – Dar Al-Fourqan, Amman 1999 (In Arabic). (This is a modified re-issue of Colonel Abdallah Al-Tal's original book "Karethat Falastin" (The Palestine Catastrophe) published in Cairo in 1959 (in Arabic).
51 - The history of Haj Amin Al-Husseini is well told by Zvi Elpeleg in his book “Mufti Ha-gadol” (The Grand Mufti: Haj Amin al-Hussaini, founder of the Palestinian National Movement). Translated from Hebrew by David Harvey, Frank Cass, London (1993). Despite some mistranslations and mistransliterations of source material from Arabic into Hebrew and then into English, beside gratuitous, stereotyped, inaccurate comments by the author regarding Haj Amin and the Holocaust, the book provides a good read about Haj Amin and his times.

A more recent book by Ilan Pappé gives a fuller, more accurate and certainly more balanced account of the life and times of the whole Husseini family including of course Haj Amin: Ilan Pappé – "The Rise and Fall of a Palestinian Dynasty: The Husaynis 1700-1948", University of California Press, Berkeley, California (2010). First published in Hebrew as “Azulat Haaretz: HaHusaynim Biographia Politis, Bialik Institute, Jerusalem (2002).

A few years before he died, Haj Amin had commissioned Zuhayr Mardini, a Syrian journalist resident in Beirut in those days, to write a book about his life. Eventually Haj Amin changed his mind and offered to pay Mardini for the work he may have already completed and asked him to return whatever reference and source material the Mufti had lent him. According to the writer of those lines, who witnessed the conversation, Mardini seemed to have acquiesced, but it is not clear if he had returned the documents as agreed, and if he had received any payment from the Mufti as agreed.
52 - Mohamed Ali Eltaher, “Nazarat Ashoura”, Ashoura Press, Cairo (1932), p. 252.
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