Contents [by original pages]

Introduction ................................................... 25

I. The Tip of the String ................................... 41

II. The Crime ............................................... 57

III. Blood for the Bread of Zion (The Jews) .................. 73

IV. The Slaying of the Servant Ibrahim Amarah ............... 85

V. The Denial of the Austrian Embassy
Employee Isaac Picciotto ................................ 111

VI. The Memo of Accusation Against Isaac Picciotto .......... 148

VII. Lawful Use of Christian Blood and Wealth ................ 159

VIII. The Role of the Foreign Consulates ...................... 165

Readings ....................................................... 185

Documents ...................................................... 211

 

Setting the stage

The Case: The Slaying of Father Thomas Al-Capuci and his servant Ibrahim Amarah Al-Roumi to use their blood in the preparation of the "Bread of Zion".

The Date: Wednesday, the 2nd of Zul-Hijjah, 1255 H. (February 5, 1840 A.D.).

The Place: The Jewish Quarter in Damascus.

The Participants in the slaying of Father Thomas Al-Capuci were the following Jews:

1. David Harari, 2. Aaron Harari, 3. Isaac Harari, 4. Joseph Harari, 5. Joseph Lifyado, 6. Rabbi Moussa Abou Al-Afieh, 7. Rabbi Moussa Bokhoor Yehuda (known as the Salaniki), 8. Saliman Al-Hallaq (the Barber).

The Participants in the slaying of Ibrahim Amarah were the following Jews:

1. Moussa Farhi, 2. Murad Farhi, 3. Aaron Salamboli, 4. Isaac Picciotto, 5. Aslan Farhi, 6. Jacob Abou Al-Afieh, 7. Joseph Menachim Farhi, 8. Murad Al-Fattal.

 

The Franciscan Church - Damascus, Bab Toma,
The site of Father Thomas Al-Capuci's Tomb.

 

A Marble Plate marks the Tomb of Father Thomas Al-Capuci inside the Franciscan Church in Damascus, Bab Toma.

 

The Translation of the Document affixed over the Marble Plate.

THE HISTORY OF THIS PLATE

The renewal of accusation regarding the religious ritual murder, in Damascus, led Sir Moses Montefiore to realize that the Metallic Plate which is placed inside the Capucin Church in this city, in addition to the accusation of the Jews of murdering Father Thomas, will continue to be the source of religious hatred towards them (the Jews). And after he received, in the year 1840, from Cardinal Rivorola (the Chief of the Capucin Order in Rome) the assurance that the text of the hostile writing will be removed; and the obtaining a firm and adequate support from the French Government, Sir Moses found an appropriate chance to travel to Damascus and intervene, in person, on the actual scene of the matter.

He arrived in Damascus on July 3, 1849. Sir Moses had the courage to go, in person, to the Church, and in the presence of two priests he copied the text in Arabic and Italian languages. It appears that there was some doubt regarding the accuracy of the text....

The tombstone in the Capucin Church in Damascus, as a reminder of Father Thomas' death, became a source of continuous concern for Sir Moses. In order to request the assistance of the French Government, Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore returned to Paris during the month of December, 1849. In Paris, Sir Moses met with General Lafitte, the Minister of Foreign Affairs; and soon thereafter he was received by Louis-Napoleon, the President of the Republic.

According to Sir Moses, the following conversation took place at the Elysee Palace with the Future Emperor of France:

  "He received me with a great welcome....Then I asked His permission for me to read my request. He listened with great attention and expressed His agreement many times. And when I finished reading He said: 'I shall give direct and strong orders; I am very happy to be able to serve a rightful cause!'."

In 1855 Sir Moses was planning to travel again to Palestine. During his stop in Paris he presented to the Emperor, through the French Ambassador, a request for a directive to be sent to the French Ambassador in Damascus to secure the theft of the hostile anti-semitic document from the Capucins' Church. There was no apparent response. Great pressures were placed by Sir Moses from that time forward as well as by King Frederic-Guillaume of Prussia, during his visit to London in 1842. Their continuous intercession did not succeed in putting an end to this blind prejudice, or the fanaticism which lay at the foundation of this shameful document in the Church of Damascus.*

* Quoted from the book Sephardic Judaism by Paul Goodman.

 

The Document affixed on Marble Plate next to the Tomb of Father Thomas inside the Franciscan Church - Damascus, Bab Toma.

 

The Tomb of Father Thomas Al-Capuci inside the Franciscan Church - Damascus, Bab Toma.

 

INTRODUCTION

In the thirties of the 19th century, Muhammad Ali managed to liberate Syria and unify it with Egypt, the thing that generated a serious international crisis emanating from the dangers that it could constitute against the European interests. A new international coalition emerged under the leadership of England with the aim of destroying this unity. France monopolized a special standing in favour of Muhammad Ali in the hope of utilization this friendship and obtaining privileges in this important area. Later on, and due to European pressure, it was obliged to quit him. Several schemes sprang to existence trying to destroy this unity assuming different forms. Some tried to attach to Syria a special standing to alienate it from its surroundings, and others asked for the return of the Jewish Kingdom.l

1 Vienna, Feb. 8th 1841. Abstract from a telegram sent from Prince Metternich to Count Appon. Archives of foreign affairs, Turkey, French Embassy in Constantinople, Political Department Volume 282. Fol. 70-78.

 

In this turbulent era and in Muhammad Ali Pasha's final phase of mandate upon Syria, Damascus was terribly shocked by a horrific crime, the victim of which was Father Thomas Capuchi.2 This crime was committed by a group of Jews who wanted to extract his blood to make a matzo (For Yum Kippur). It was not the first crime of its kind for the West had already experienced many crimes of this sort, not to forget those ones that found their scene on Czarist

2 Capuchin Priest, spent 33 years in Damascus, (1807-1840). He was familiar with Pharmacology and Medicine. He used to treat the patients in Damascus free, Muslims, Christians or Jews. He was skilled in Vaccination against smallpox, which he practised for the first time in Damascus. He rendered great human services during the proliferation of epidemics. He was an object of trust, respect and love by all people.

On the day of the crime he happened to be in the Jewish Quarter treating a smallpox-struck Jewish boy. (See Al-Macsoud Fi Qawa'id al-Talmud Trans. Yussef Hanna Nasr Allah, pages 29-30).

 

Russia. Some crimes were discovered and recorded despite all efforts to cover up or to destroy the evidence.2

Researchers' pens flocked from the East and the West to present the contents and to reveal the hidden motives of these crimes. Thus this crime of slaying Father Thomas Al-Capuci, and his servant, was not the first of its kind.3

2 A similar crime was committed in Algeria in the middle of the 18th century when Jews kidnapped a Christian boy and drained his blood; but the Jews succeeded in getting this incident dismissed by offering money to the Turkish governor of Algeria.

3 The Consul General of Egypt wrote to the French Foreign Minister, on April 2, 1840: "I find myself obliged to present to you a copy of a report, which was sent to Mohammad Ali and prepared by a Rabbi who was converted to Islam, that reveals to us the truth that human blood is necessary for the Jewish celebration of Yom Kippur. This strange discovery helps us understand the disappearance of large numbers of people without any knowledge of their fate, and certain Greek slaves bought by the Jews during the war may have disappeared for this reason."

Also, the French Consul in Damascus referred to similar incidents. He was watching and observing the development in this particular case because the victim Father Thomas was a French subject living in Damascus.

 

This crime, surely, is not the last of its kind either.1 But this particular case gained special meaning because of the surrounding political environment.

The Egyptian authorities in Cairo and Damascus were very concerned about this horrible crime. The French Consul participated, personally, in the investigation because the victim was a French subject. The investigation revealed serious matters that surpassed the crime itself as to the nature and motives connected with the Jewish teaching, prescribed by the Talmud, which contained destructive deviations guided by black hatred of humanity and all other religions equally, and together.2

1 See Rohling: Jewish Beliefs According to the Talmud. A chapter contained quotes from the Talmud says: "The life of misery and subjugation over the People of Israel will continue until the elimination of foreign rule over them. Before the Jews finally rule over the rest of all nations, war must break out and destroy two thirds of the world. Then the Jews will spend seven continuous years destroying the weapons they had captured after their victory. (p. 65)

2 The French Consul in Damascus sent a translation from the Talmud:

1. There is nothing said or done in Christian Churches which is not different from the truth, and not different from what the unbelievers practice. The duty of the Jew is the destruction of these Churches. The Christian Bible is nothing but a belief of Great Sins; therefore, the duty of the Jew is to burn it, regardless of the presence of God's name in it.

2. It is the duty of the Jew to curse the Christians three times daily, and pray that God may destroy them all, especially their Kings and Rulers. This is the Law, and its faithful observance falls upon the leaders of this belief, especially those whose duty it is to urge the curse of the Christians. God has ordered the Jewish People to put their hands on Christian wealth by all means possible, it matters not whether they use trick, theft, or interest charge.

3. It is the duty of the Jews to consider the Christians as beasts and to treat them as such. If a Jew sees a Christian on the edge of a cliff, he should push him or throw him to the bottom.

The French Consul explained that there are some Talmudic references to the Muslims, which are even more severe than those for the Christians; and that he refrained from translating them due to his fear of Muslim anger over them.

 

The Jewish reaction created a great tumult everywhere; and their leaders and supporters were knocking on the doors of the rulers in Europe and the United States to intervene on their behalf and efface the traces of this crime, and declare that the Jews were not guilty of this crime.

Even today, whenever the Jews commit a crime which stirs world opinion, they are not satisfied to be declared innocent of such a crime but they exploit to the maximum the opportunity to obtain more influence over public opinion.

They started this strategy by exploiting the office of the Austrian Consul in Damascus to intervene in the investigation on behalf of some of the accused Jews on the ground that they were Austrian subjects; and they requested the intervention of his government on their behalf.

The Jews exploited the tolerance of the Egyptian authorities and the French Consul in Damascus, when they got in touch with the accused persons urging them to deny any involvement; they enticed those who had already admitted committing the crime, and threatened them in order to reverse their confession. Then they started applying pressure over the French Consul through his superiors in Paris and Constantinople. They accused the French Consul in Damascus of injustice and oppression, and of being jealous of their Jewish wealth.1 This accusation came from the Austrian Consul who also accused the national authorities, who were conducting their investigation, by using torture to compel the accused persons to admit their crime. They repeated certain statements concerning the Islamic law in this regard;

1 The French Consul responded by saying that Mr. Laurin the Austrian Consul, was not aware of the fact that the Jews of Damascus paid much of their gold in the case of Father Thomas Al-Capuci because they knew, and for long time, that they were responsible for the disappearance of a large number of other religious communities' members. He further referred to the huge sums of money offered by the Jews, as a bribe, to some French Consulate staff, members to get them to cooperate in wiping out all traces of this crime.

and as to the accusation of torture, even if it truly took place, this was an act of some individuals so, therefore, Islamic Law had no role or connection in this matter.

Although, the use of torture with the accused criminal, in order to obtain his confession, was a known practice then in Europe and in the United States. We will not overstate the fact if we say that torture is still practiced in these countries today.

The Jewish leaders made their move in Europe and in the United States by using their financial and public information influence, and by urging these Great States to intervene on their behalf. They stirred their supporters in Parliaments and the Press; they organized demonstrations supportive of their cause, and sent notable representatives of the European Jews to Mohammad Ali.

The Jews succeeded in their exploitation of the dilemma facing Mohammad Ali by the Great Powers hostility and encirclement in Syria; and they also exploited his financial crisis by offering him huge sums of money.

Because of all this, they succeeded in obtaining a Firman or Declaration Order from Mohammad Ali. In fact they hoped by forming its contents - to end the case in their favor, and to do away with it altogether.

And when the Sultan of Turkey recovered Syria, from Mohammed Ali, Montefiore obtained from him another Firman declaring the protection of the Jews from the investigation of crimes similar to that of Damascus.l

But the Jews were not satisfied with what they had achieved so far, and directed their concentrated effort to erase the writing inscribed on the Tomb of Father Thomas in the Franciscan Church which reads: "Here lies the bones of the missionary Father Thomas Al-Capuci, who was murdered by the Jews on the fifth of February, 1840."2

Thus, the Jews continue to commit individual crimes and collective slaughtering, and succeed in wiping off the evidence of their crimes by the virtue of using their financial, political, and propaganda influence in the ruling circles of Europe and the United States. And they are not satisfied with this but they end up with political and economic gains, almost always. For the demonstrations which were organized by the Jews and their supporters in Europe, especially so in the Anglo-Saxon countries; and the petitions they introduced in the wake of this crime, were centered on their demand of the return of the Jews to Palestine.

They succeeded in convincing people with high responsibility and political status in some European states that the return of the Jews to Palestine would be the best solution to the Eastern Question.1 Therefore, through the influence of the Jews and their supporters in England, the British Government adopted the subject of Jewish Protection throughout the Ottoman Empire, and the adoption of the idea of the return of the Jews to Palestine. Accordingly, Palmerston sent a letter to his ambassador in Constantinople stating that there exists the idea of

Archives Affaires EtrangeresAlexandrie, Direction Commerciale, Vol 28, No. 220, pp. 542-543.

2 Montefiore wrote to Palmerston and to Louis-Napoleon on this matter. The French Consul in Damascus was concerned about the anxiety and restlessness of the Christians in Damascus over the visit of Joseph Rothschild, the famous French Financer, and his effort to remove the inscription on Father Thomas' Tomb.

See Archives Affaires Etrangers Consulat de Damas-Correspondance politique, Vol. 2 (1848-1853), No. 1, pp. 132-135.

1 The English Newspaper, The Globe, wrote that the return of the Jews to Palestine amounts to the formation of the most beautiful diamond in the English Crown.

The Morning Chronicle, which represented the official views of Palmerston, the Foreign Minister, confirmed that the creation, or more plainly, the recreation of this Syrian-Palestinian (Jewish) Kingdom is the ultimate need of the Eastern Policy, and it will serve England.

See Dr. Hajjar: L'Europe et les destinees du Proche-Orient (1815-1848) p. 333.

Dr. Ibrahim Hajjar pp. 334-335.

 

returning to Palestine among the scattered Jews in Europe; and that this idea needs a suitable response, and that everything indicates that their wish now is closer to its fulfillment than ever before. It is clear that the Jews possess huge wealth. As it appears, clearly too, that each country that receives a great number of the Jews will obtain great benefits. But their settlement in Palestine depends on the solution of the Eastern Question. Accordingly, it is useful that the Sultan should encourage the return of the [Jews] to Palestine, and their settlement there. Not only because he will benefit materially from this but because this will prevent the prospect of future expansion plans by Mohammad Ali or his successors.

Palmerston requested that his ambassador explain this to the Ottoman Government and to advise it, strongly, to encourage the return of the Jews to Palestine. What happened in 1840 was repeated many times in the twentieth century when the Zionists committed collective crimes in Palestine and in Lebanon, that stirred the conscience of the noble ones throughout the world, and were denounced by world's opinion. But, again, Zionist financial, political, and propaganda influence succeeded every time in thwarting the resulting feeling of deep anger, distracting the people's attention and thought from these crimes. And the Zionists, instead of being penalized, came out with great rewards of huge sums of financial aid, and huge amounts of the most modernized and sophisticated weapons. And, instead of one Mohammad Ali in the nineteenth century, they found more than Mohammad Ali in the twentieth century.

This crime, the slaying of Father Thomas by the Jews, took place in the city of Damascus, Syria, the city of religious tolerance and peace. Many more crimes similar to it took place in many different parts of the world. How could such a crime take a place when the Jews live in societies where they are only a very small minority? And, how did those societies ignore the impact and influence of this small spiteful minority?

Here too, it must be said that both Western and Eastern societies were way ahead of Arab-Islamic countries in discovering the Jewish ideology, and its hidden contents of destructive evil. Accordingly; these societies embarked upon research and serious inquiries regarding the self-isolation of the Jews, in their own quarters (the ghettos), and their own insistence upon this isolation, in order to attract and invite hatred, so they will be singled out for their marked character and characteristics. And it may have been that the imposed environment of tolerance by the Muslim Arabs was the primary factor which provided the opportunity for the Jews to enjoy the life of complete freedom throughout the Arab-Islamic region. They came to know everything about the regions of this world, at the same time, they benefited from their private isolation, and shrouded their own world with obscurity, so that the world would not know of them except a meager amount of information.

It was not strange, therefore, that the city of Damascus was strongly jolted by the discovery of this horrible crime, and to be awakened suddenly to what had befallen her, to the sad reality of not knowing those who lived with them, and among them.

The alarmed call of the city was expressed by the mothers warning their children: "beware of going far from your own house; because the Jews might pass by you, they might put you in their sacks and take you away to slay you and drain your blood, to make their bread of Zion."

Generation after generation carried this warning of "Jewish betrayal" with them. Then the Jews established a country for themselves in the land of Greater Syria. But did the Jewish hatred of others disappear? Or had the Talmudic teachings, with their crimes and distortions, continued the practice of their hatred against humanity, and the surrounding societies?

The observation of the daily events as to what is happening in the occupied land gives daily confirmation beyond the shadow of a doubt that what is described as the Zionist Racism is nothing but an extension and remolding of the Talmudic teachings. And if the Jew refuses to live in a non-Jewish home, this led the refusal of the enlarged ghetto's society (Israel today) to live in the home of some other societies.

My intention in publishing this book was nothing more than the exposure of some secrets of a Jewish religion sect and the practices of its adherents. Their hateful, blind solidarity to their beliefs, and the execution of Talmudic teachings which were formulated by their religious beliefs and teachings (The Law of their Prophet Moses). The Holy Quran revealed, adequately, God's saying: Suras II: 75, 79:

Can Ye (O Ye Men of Faith) entertain the hope that they will believe in you? - Seeing that a party of them heard the Word of God, and prevented it knowingly after they understood it.

Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands; and then say: "This is from God," to traffic with it for a miserable price!

Woe to them for what their hands do write, and for the gain they make thereby.

It is also my intention through the writing of this book to show, indirectly, the importance of the state's national sovereignty in the Syrian region because it clearly reveals the arrogance and defiant behavior of Isaac Picciotto (a Jew working in the Austrian Consulate in Damascus) in front of the Chief Justice of the Court. This particular incident could not have taken place if foreign influence in Syria had been non-existent at the time. Therefore, we want to direct our attention and open the eyes of our Arab brothers to these facts, and examine the subject of national sovereignty as indivisible. We want also to show that no foreigner has any right whatsoever to ignore these facts. President Sadat's (President of Egypt after Nasser) grave mistake, which was the cause of his assassination, was that he had a low regard for the national rights of (Egypt, and) the Egyptian people, and subsequently he sold their national rights to the devil.

For those reasons we have witnessed the submissive posture of the leader of Egypt, the largest Arab country, idly standing by as a spectator while the tragedy of Lebanon took place in the summer of 1982.

The sovereignty of Egypt became relative and incomplete after the Camp David agreement.

Finally, I want very much to direct my great appreciation and thanks to my comrade in arms, Al-Muqaddam Bassan Assali, who was my right arm in the preparation of this book. I hope that I have been able to fulfill some of my duties in the process and the task of exposing the practices of our nation's historic enemy, seeking only the cause of God.

Damascus

September, 1986

 

THE MURDERING OF FATHER THOMAS AL-CAPUCI
AND HIS SERVANT IBRAHIM AMARAH
IN
DAMASCUS, 1840 A.D.

 

The Elements of the Research:

I. The Tip of the String

II. The Crime

III. Blood for the Bread of Zion (The Jews)

IV. The Slaying of the Servant Ibrahim Amarah

V. The Denial of the Austrian Embassy Employee Isaac Picciotto

VI. The Memorandum of Accusation Against Isaac Picciotto

VII. The Lawful Use of Christian Blood and Wealth

VIII. The Role of the Foreign Consulates

 

I

THE TIP OF THE STRING

 

Damascus was quiet as usual on Fridays. On this day people attend to their own private lives and to their living conditions, regaining during their day of rest what they have lost in strength during the week, and prepare for work the next day. Government offices and state buildings are empty on Friday except for those who are responsible for maintaining security and the requirement of public service. During this day on Friday (the 4th of Zul-Hijjah, 1255 A.H) the 7th of February 1840 A.D., the Assistant to the French Consul in Damascus, Mr. Beaudin, came to the Office of the Governor of Damascus and informed him of the fact that Father Thomas Al-Capuci had left his house on Wednesday (two days ago), as was his daily custom to go to the Jewish Quarter to practice his work of treating the

1 The Patriarchate Magazine, (formerly The Syrian Magazine), VI, vol. 19 (November 15, 1931), pp. 598-608.

 

sick and to give vaccinations against smallpox, and had not returned home. Due to the fact that the Muslim community Quarters were far from his residence, Father Thomas arranged his visits to the Muslim Quarters early in the morning. After work he would return to take his lunch and rest for a short time before he would go to the Christian section, and enter the Jewish Quarter at the end of the day, and return to his house later in the evening.

On this particular day he was carrying with him an advertisement for a public auction for the Tarnoba estate, since Tarnoba had died earlier. The time for the return of Father Thomas to his house drew near, and passed, and yet he was nowhere in sight. His servant, Ibrahim Amarah, became concerned and he hurriedly went to the Jewish Quarter looking for Father Thomas, but he too did not return.

Mr. Beaudin stated that the pharmacist of the Sham's Hospital, Mr. Santi, who borrowed a book from Father Thomas earlier, came that day to return the book. He knocked on the little church door several times, and when no one answered the door he went to the big Franciscan Church. However, the priests did not show much concern about the matter, as they assumed that he might have been visiting some sick people. The next day, which was Thursday, February 6th, some Christians came early for prayer and finding the Church's door closed they thought that Father Thomas had already conducted the service and that he had left on his daily rounds; so they also left. Also Mr. Massari, the physician of the Governor of Damascus, Sharif Pasha, had invited all the priests for a dinner party at his home on that day. All came except for Father Thomas. This caused the other priests to become concerned for Father Thomas. After the dinner party was over they went to see the French Consul to inform him regarding their concern over the absence of Father Thomas since Father Thomas was a French subject.

The French Consul, Mr. Comte De Ratti-Menton also received the information with concern. He went immediately to the Church of Father Thomas Al-Capuci where he found a crowd of concerned people gathered. They shouted at once saying that the priest had left yesterday afternoon to the Jewish Quarter and that he and his servant were missing in that area.

The Consul ordered one of the neighbors to climb down the ladder inside the Church and to open the door. When the neighbor climbed down he went to the door and found it closed but not locked. This fact seemed to indicate that the servant left the church with the intent of coming back shortly. The Consul entered the Church, and when he went inside the kitchen he found dinner had been prepared for both, Father Thomas and his servant. It was ready to be eaten which indicated that both men went out with intention of returning for dinner.

Their concern turned to fears that both had met with death outside the Church. There was no evidence to indicate death caused by a theft of money or valuables as everything inside was in its proper place and orderly. In addition many had witnessed Father Thomas entering the Jewish Quarters yesterday afternoon. However, no one had seen him leaving the Jewish Quarters. The Consul returned to his office and sent his assistant to meet with the Egyptian Governor of Damascus, Sharif Pasha, carrying with him what information he obtained.

The Governor of Damascus immediately issued an order to make necessary searches and investigations, and sent the man who was responsible for security (Ali Nounou) to inspect suspected places in the Jewish Quarter and some houses inside it. But researches did not result in anything. Then two Christian natives, Catholics, (Nima Kassab and Michael Kallam) gave their evidence which said that they were passing through the Jewish Quarter, on the day father Thomas disappeared, 15 minutes before sunset. And when they reached the lane of Talei Al-Fiddaha in the first part of the Jewish Quarter, they saw the servant of Father Thomas going hastily while he was entering the Jewish Quarter. They stopped him and asked where he was going and why he was walking so fast. He replied that his master had told him before that he was going to the Jewish Quarter, but he had not come yet, so, he came to look for him. At that time, suspicions pointed that Father Thomas and his servant had been lost together in the Jewish Quarter.

Sharif Pasha, the Governor of Damascus sent for four rabbis and asked them to announce in their temples, that forgiveness would be granted to anyone who gave information that would help in revealing the criminal case, coupled by a promise to keep their names secret in case of an attempt on their lives. Moreover, Sharif Pasha, issued his orders to inspect some houses belonging to the Jews, but all efforts proved to be of no avail.

Mohammad Ali succeeded in the 19th century in the liberating of Syria and unifying it with Egypt. This action caused a serious international crisis because the unity posed a grave danger to European interests. Therefore, an international alliance was formed under the leadership of England. France did not join this alliance because she was hoping to cultivate the friendship of Mohammad Ali in order to gain certain privileges in this sensitive region. But later on France deserted Mohammad Ali because of the increasing European pressure on her. And in order to destroy this unity numerous plans were formed either to isolate Syria in the region or to bring back to reality the establishment of the Jewish Kingdom.

During this unstable period, and about the end of Mohammad Ali's rule over Syria, a horrible crime shocked Damascus, a crime that resulted in the slaying of Father Thomas Al-Capuci by a group of Jews who wanted to use his blood in the making of the Yom Kippur unleavened bread.1

This was not the first crime of its kind. The West knew of many similar ones, and so did Czarist

1 Father Thomas spent thirty-three years in Damascus (1807-1840). He was a knowledgeable physician and a trained pharmacist. He treated the sick regardless of their religious belief - Muslims, Christians, and Jews. He was active in eradicating and fighting contagious diseases. He earned the love and the respect of all. Father Thomas was murdered on the same day he was visiting and treating his patients in the Jewish Quarter, while treating a Jewish boy against smallpox.

 

Father Thomas had placed public notices for the Auction Sale of the estate of Tranoba in all the Christian Churches. When it was observed that there were no such notices found in the Roman Orthodox Churches or the Jewish Temples it was concluded that the disappearance of Father Thomas was before his arrival to these places. And when on the next day a notice was seen mounted, in the regular place, where public notices were usually placed, next to the Jewish Barber shop of Soliman Saloom, suspicion now turned on this Jewish Barber.

The authorities removed the notice and examined it. It revealed that two wafers (medicine capsules) were used on two corners as stickers when all notices were mounted by the use of four wafers. Upon examination of these capsules it became clear that all were of white color, the same kind used by Father Thomas. But the two capsules used to fasten the notice next to the Barber Shop were of different color - one being red, and the other violet.

The Jewish barber, Soliman Saloom, was brought for questioning. He said that the notice on the wall was mounted by Father Thomas himself. When he was asked about the method of mounting it he said that Father Thomas used two capsules. Then he was asked again about the color of the two capsules in spite the fact that they were on the back of the paper and how did Father Thomas place the notice on a place that was too high for him to reach. The barber confessed that because so many people handled the notice he was concerned that it would fall and be lost if he did not remove it from its original place and place it on a higher spot.

The barber, Soliman Saloom, was recalled for further questioning and was vigorously drilled with many questions. He was also warned and threatened. On Friday, 14th of February, 1840, the barber confessed that Rabbi Moussa Abou Al-Afieh, Moussa Bokoor Yehuda (Salaniki), David Harari, and his brothers Isaac and Joseph Harari, and Joseph Lifyado were together, and that they all walked through Ziqaq (alley) Al-Tallaj, in the Tallaj neighborhood, passing the house of David Harari between noon and afternoon of Wednesday, the day of Father Thomas' disappearance, when Father Thomas met with them.

The barber, Soliman Saloom, also confessed that Isaac Picciotto, one of the Jewish elites, stopped at his barber shop after his first questioning to ask him if he had confessed to anything. When the barber replied negatively, Mr. Picciotto said to him: "I was expecting that of you, and hoped it would be the case." He also stated that he had been to the French Consul regarding the investigation to help the barber during his jail-detention. This was in order to keep Mr. Saloom, the barber, silent. Following these revelations by Mr. Saloom, the authority summoned those whose names had been given by Mr. Saloom. They were asked to state what facts they knew regarding the disappearance of Father Thomas Al-Capuci and his servant. Their answers were as follows: Joseph Lifyado stated that his daughter had died on a Friday, fifteen days earlier, and as was their custom for the family of the deceased, they did not leave their homes so that he did not know anything regarding the case.

Isaac Harari stated that he did not know anything about the case, and that he and the barber Soliman Saloom were the type of business men who did not interest themselves in matters other than their work which was buying and selling. He denied any knowledge of what had been reported.

David Harari stated that he had not seen Father Thomas for two months. He denied that he had a meeting with those mentioned by Mr. Saloom. He further stated: "It is true that my house is located in the Tallaj Alley, but I know nothing about the meeting of those mentioned by Mr. Saloom during his interrogation by the authorities.

Joseph Harari stated that he was an old man who seldom left his house; that he had not met with Father Thomas in more than three months. He said that he had lived with the Christians all his life, spending the night in their homes, and they in turn slept at his home.

Finally it was the turn of Rabbi Moussa Abou Al-Afieh to speak and he stated that: "I returned to my house from work around sunset. Enroute I passed from Qassatliyeh road and not through the Tallaj neighborhood. Therefore, I did not see Father Thomas even one time. As far as the association is concerned, it is not ours. I have not met with them once in the last six months. However, we might have seen each other casually and then departed. I have no knowledge regarding the meeting of those mentioned in the case.

Aaron Harari stated that: "I live in a house near the British Consul's residence. Seldom do I go to that area to meet with my brethren. I have not seen the barber for eight days, and I leave for my work, and do not leave the market to return home before sunset. So this being the case, how could the seven of us have met."

Those men gave their statements in the absence of the barber because they were all booked together in a single room. Therefore, they were able to agree among themselves on what to say and to deny their meeting. Then the barber Soliman Saloom was brought back to face them with his own statement. They insisted on their own statements, and everyone turned to him saying: "O beloved one, did you see us yourself? I pray to God for your salvation."

Then Joseph Lifyado decided to confirm his statement by saying: "I have proof; the death of my daughter was on the night of Thursday. Both Isa Al-Mukhowil and Matta Ghibreel were in my house and they can confirm that." The others insisted by stating that the report of the barber was false and had no foundation in the truth since they did not return to their homes from the market place until sunset.

When Rabbi Moussa Bokhour Yehuda came for questioning, he stated that he had no knowledge of the case; that he did not meet with the mentioned group association; and that he knew nothing regarding this so called "meeting," and that he did not leave his house before sunset. Therefore, he did not see Father Thomas and did not meet with him.

Faced with the denials of these accused, the authorities decided to book them for further investigation.

The investigation resumed on Sunday, 13th, Zul-Hijjah (February 16, 1840). At this point, the barber Soliman Saloom did not confess to other than having seen Father Thomas meeting with the seven men. The investigators decided to direct their efforts to the barber because they felt that he knew more regarding this case, more than he had told thus far. They continued their questioning of him, and kept up their interrogation of him at times with kindness, at other times with threats. The barber began to break down and requested that he be granted immunity and pardon before giving further testimony. This was granted. Then he confessed that the above mentioned group of seven men took Father Thomas to David Harari's house. "After half an hour they called me from my shop, it was after sunset. They said to me:

'Slay this priest.' Father Thomas was in the room with his hands tied. I said to them: 'this is not my business,' and I refused to do it. Then they gave me money, and they also gave me the public notice of the estate auction sale. Aaron Harari gave it to me. They instructed me to mount it near my shop.

When you first brought me for questioning, David Harari saw me and he said to me: 'beware of admitting anything. We will give you money.' It was the servant (Murad Al-Fattal) of David Harari who came to my shop to request me to go to the meeting place.

The above statement of confession was recorded, and the servant Murad Al-Fattal was summoned for questioning.

The Investigator resumed his questioning of Soliman Saloom, the barber, by saying to him: "Your confessions yesterday were statements different from your statements today. And you said that the questioning and the confession was obtained due to beatings. That is to say that the confession was obtained from you by force. Now you are accusing these men; we want to know the truth. Do not be afraid. We do not want to accuse anybody. And if there is another side to the case, state it and do not be afraid."

The barber insisted that he had told the truth, and that he was not denying anything of what he said. The Investigator then asked: "Were there any women or children in the house?" The barber answered: "There were none other than the seven men, and the servant who remained outside the house."

The questions by the Investigator and the replies of the barber, Soliman Saloom, were as follows:

 

Q: Who opened the door?

A: David Harari opened the door.

Q: After they asked you to slay the Priest, did you stay there? Where did you go?

A: I did not stay. I left for my shop, closed it, and then I went home.

Q: Did Father Thomas try to cry out?

A: He was encircled by the men. This I think prevented him from crying. Even if he had
cried, his voice would not have been heard outside. In addition, the surrounding houses
were all occupied by Jews.

Q: Was his servant with him or not?

A: His servant was not with him. Another group murdered the servant. This I know to be true.

Murad Al-Fattal, the servant of David Harari, came and was questioned by the Investigator. The servant said: "My teacher sent me after sunset to call the barber Soliman Saloom. I called him then went to my house."

 

Q: Was anyone else present? Who was with your teacher?

A: I did not see anyone other than my master (teacher) who did not leave the house on that day because he was complaining of a toothache.

Q: How did you spend your day on Wednesday of Zul-Hijjah 2nd, the day on which Father Thomas disappeared?

A: I was in the marketplace. I went to the custom house to claim a bale of wool material. Then I went to Georgi Anjouri. I remained in the market place until about sunset.

Mr. Anjouri was questioned regarding the truthfulness of what David Harari had said of his meeting with him last Wednesday. He said that David Harari did not come to his place on Wednesday, but that he came on Thursday afternoon. Some of what he said to me was that "the Christians were accusing us regarding the case of Father Thomas. Is it possible that we would do something like that"? Are we that kind of people? I answered him: "That's what they are saying".

 

Then the Investigator sent a written letter to the custom house. The reply to the letter arrived, sealed with the custom officer's seal. It stated that David Harari did not come on Wednesday, but that his servant came on Thursday and claimed a bale of wool; that David Harari had not come to the custom house at all.

 

The Assistant to the French Consul Beaudin - performed the investigation on Tuesday, 16 Zul-Hijjah. He started by questioning the barber Soliman Saloom.

Q.   Who gave you the public notice of the auction which was found mounted next to your shop?

A.   Aaron Harari is the one who gave me the public notice paper.

Q.   Where did he give you that paper? And at what time?

A.   He gave it to me half an hour past sunset on Wednesday. That was when I went to David Harari's house. It was there that he gave it to me.

Q.   Where did you get the capsules for mounting it?

A.   Aaron Harari gave it to me.

Q.   Where did Aaron Harari get the capsules?

A.   I do not know. All I know is that he gave it to me with the notice paper.

Q.   Did anybody see you when you were mounting the paper? At what time was that?

A.   I mounted it early Thursday morning. No one saw me.

Q.   Did you discuss this with anyone of your family, like your father or your wife?

A.   I did not discuss this with anyone at all.

Q.   Did they pay you money to buy your silence?

A.   They gave me nothing except a promise to give a sum of money.

Q. Who has been responsible for your family and house expenses since the day of your imprisonment?

A. They promised me that they would take care of the expenses for my family. However, they have not lived up to their promises.

Q.   How did they give you this promise?

A.   When the police-Abou Shihab Tofnakji-came and arrested me on Sunday afternoon, David Harari passed by my side and whispered to me saying: "do not be afraid, we will give you money".

Q.   Are you prepared to swear, according to your faith, to the truth of your testimony?

A.   I am very much ready to swear.

 

Until this point in the investigation the barber Soliman Saloom had maintained his denial of any knowledge of the murder, or of his presence thereof. So Beaudin asked him:

Q. Did you try to spy on what had happened to Father Thomas after you left David Harari's house on Wednesday?

A.   The barber answered that he was not able to come back to enter the house.

Q.   Did you know that Father Thomas has posted the notice paper on Wednesday?

A. Yes! I did. But I did not see it because I was not in the shop at that time. I was at Rabbi Moussa's house. He had sent for me. When I returned to my shop I found a crowd of laborers reading the advertisement. I asked them what does it contain? They said that Father Thomas had put it there for the auction.

Q.   Did you know the shape of the paper?

A. I did not see it. There is no doubt that the Harari's family removed it because if they were not the ones who removed it, they would not have given it to me to put it back.

 

On Wednesday, Zul-Hijjah 14, Murad Al-Fattal was brought in again, and the Investigator asked him:

Q. Where were you, and where was your master David Harari when he asked you to bring the barber Soliman Soloom to him?

A. I was in the marketplace. When I passed by the Harari Family houses, he was standing in front of his house. He said to me: "Send the barber to me." So I went to the barber and sent him. Then I returned to my house.

Q.   Your master has denied that he asked you to send the barber to him.

A: What is my job? Am I not a servant? That is what he ordered me to do, and that is what I did.

Q:   If he was the one who demanded of you to send the barber to him, why is he denying it?

A: Perhaps the barber is accusing him of this because if he denies it he might be labeled with the accusations.

Q: David mentioned that he was suffering from a toothache. This does not seem to agree with the statement that he was standing in front of his house. If it was necessary for him to stay inside his house due to a toothache. You need to give us whatever information you have. Because you are a servant, no harm will come to you. So tell the truth and do not be afraid.

A: The truth of the matter is that I was afraid, and that is why I said what I have said. The truth is that my master did not ask me to send for the barber, and I did not send for him.

 

At this point in the investigation pressure on the servant Murad increased with added threats. Then he stated: "You brought me in front of my master Rafael Farhi and questioned me. He looked at me and winked, so I denied it."

The Investigator said to him: "Do you fear Rafael more than you fear me?" The servant answered, "You will whip me and then let me go. But he will beat me until death. For that I am more afraid of him than of you."