Killing of Moshe Barsky

Moshe Barsky (1895 – 22 November 1913) was the first member of a Zionist kibbutz to be killed by an Arab.[1]

Memorial erected at Degania Alef on the centennial of Barsky's death

Barsky was a member of Degania Alef, the first kibbutz established by Jewish Zionist pioneers. It was founded in 1909.[2] He was 18 years old when he was killed.[3]

Following his death, Barsky quickly became a Zionist symbol. Moshe Dayan, a well-known Israeli politician and notable public figure who was named after Barsky, pointed to his death as a reason to move forward with establishing a Jewish state. Scholars and historians have recognized Barsky's death as a significant event in pre-Israeli history, and, being a non-militaristic raid associated with a hate crime, is considered to be the first Islamist terror attack.[4]

MurderEdit

Barsky was alone when he was shot by "Bedouin raiders".[5][6]

Moshe Dayan, whose parents were members of the kibbutz, was named after Barsky.[7] Barsky had gone on a mule to obtain medicine from Menahemia for his friend and fellow kibbutz member, Shmuel Dayan.[8] When the mule returned without him, a search was undertaken and his body was discovered.[9]

According to the memoir of a fellow pioneering kibbutznik, "It wasn't until late that night that we found him, lying with a stick and a pair of shoes on his head: this was a sign of vengeance, it meant that in the fighting he had killed or wounded someone."[10][11]

AftermathEdit

Barsky's father, a Zionist in Kiev (then in Tsarist Russia), wrote a letter to the kibbutz in which he urged, "that your spirit will not flag and that you will not retreat, God forbid!" But rather, "that the memory of my late son will bestow upon you strength and courage to withstand all the difficulties in this Holy endeavor until we realize our great ideal, for which my son has sacrificed his life and soul."[12] The letter was the focus of a 1914 speech by Chaim Weizmann, urging European Zionists – shaken by the murder – not to abandon hope of building a Jewish homeland in Palestine.[13][14]

Shortly after Barsky's death, his brother immigrated to Palestine to join Dagania Aleph.[15]

As a symbolEdit

Literary scholar Rachel Havrelock understands the memorialization of Barsky in the years shortly after his death as part of a Zionist narrative "in which peril lurks to the unknown east, and the Jordan serves as a line between danger and safety", and his death – he was understood as having killed one of his attackers – of "the image of the Jew in Bedouin eyes as soft and easily killed."[16]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Dayan, Moshe (1992). Moshe Dayan: Story of My Life. DeCapo. pp. 21, 27.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-12-15. Retrieved 2011-12-13.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Stein, Leslie (2003). The Hope Fulfilled: The Rise of Modern Israel. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 102. ISBN 9780275971410. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  4. ^ Chazan, Meir (2006). "The Murder of Moshe Barsky: Transformations in Ethos, Pathos and Myth". Israel Affairs. 12 (2): 284–306. doi:10.1080/13537120500535373. S2CID 170113226.
  5. ^ Gavron, David (2000). The Kibbutz: Awakening from Utopia. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 30. ISBN 9780847695263. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  6. ^ La Guardia, Anton (2002). War without end: Israelis, Palestinians, and the struggle for a promised land. Macmillan. p. 113.
  7. ^ Taslitt, Israel Isaac (1969). "Soldier of Israel: the story of General Moshe Dayan". Funk and Wagnalls. p. 8.
  8. ^ Havrelock, Rachel (June 2007). "My Home is Over Jordan: River as Border in Israeli and Palestinian National Mythology". National Identities. 9 (2): 105–126. doi:10.1080/14608940701333720. S2CID 145644225. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  9. ^ Bar-On, Mordechai (2012). Moshe Dayan: Israel's Controversial Hero. Yale University Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-0300183252. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  10. ^ Baratz, Yosef (1956). A Village by the Jordan: The Story of Degania. Ichud Habonim, Tel Aviv. p. 80.
  11. ^ Zartman, I. William (2010). Understanding Life in the Borderlands: Boundaries in Depth and in Motion, Chapter 8, Pioneers and Refugees: Arabs and Jews in the Jordan River Valley, Rachel Havrelock. University of Georgia Press. p. 199. ISBN 978-0820336145.
  12. ^ Stein, Leslie (2003). The Hope Fulfilled: The Rise of Modern Israel. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 102. ISBN 9780275971410. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  13. ^ Weizmann, Chaim (1 January 1983). The Letters and Papers of Chaim Weizmann: August 1898-July 1931. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers. pp. 115–118. ISBN 9780878552795. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  14. ^ Meir, Chazan (April 2006). "The Murder of Moshe Barsky: Transformations in Ethos, Pathos and Myth" (PDF). Israel Affairs (Vol.12, No.2, April 2006): 284–306.
  15. ^ Stein, Leslie (2003). The Hope Fulfilled: The Rise of Modern Israel. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 102. ISBN 9780275971410. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  16. ^ Zartman, I. William (2010). Understanding Life in the Borderlands: Boundaries in Depth and in Motion, Chapter 8, Pioneers and Refugees: Arabs and Jews in the Jordan River Valley, Rachel Havrelock. University of Georgia Press. p. 199. ISBN 978-0820336145.