Thursday, November 19, 2020

July 5, 1922: The U.S. and a Jewish National Home in Palestine

What was the understanding of the United States in 1922 when discussing a treaty with Great Britain that would supervise the rights of American citizens in Palestine?

From a July 5, 1922 exchange of diplomatic consultations:


New York Times Owner/Publisher in Palestine Trip

 It took place in April 1922, Passover time.


Wednesday, November 18, 2020

When It Was Suggested Jews Buy Milking Stools

One of the more contentious issues Jews had to contend with at the end of the Ottoman Empire rule in Jerusalem and on into the British Mandate period was whether or not Jews could sit on benches in front of the Wetern Wall.

From Robert W. Nicholson's thesis here:

"...Jews did not own the Western Wall. Legally, it was the absolute property of the Muslim community: the Wall itself was part of the Haram, and the alley was part of an ancient waqf dedicated to North African Muslims. Islamic tradition venerated the site as the place where Muhammad had tethered his Buraq before ascending into heaven. Under the Ottomans, Muslim ownership was rigidly enforced. In 1840, government officials had denied a Jewish request to pave the alley since it was waqf property and connected to the Haram. Jews were forbidden to even raise their voices or display their sacred books before the Wall. In late 1911, the trustee of the waqf appealed to the Ottoman government to stop elderly Jews from bringing benches to the Wall. The concern was that it would establish a precedent that later generations might imply as a sign of ownership. Similar disputes occurred in 1912 and 1914.

These events show that Muslim attempts to restrict Jewish access to the site had been occurring long before the Balfour Declaration...

...For Storrs, the governor of Jerusalem, the Western Wall courtyard would remain a perennial source of anxiety...The most pressing issue involved, of all things, wooden benches. Elderly and infirm Jews who came to the Wall often brought these benches to sit on during long hours of prayer. Muslims alleged that the benches established a precedent for unlawful Jewish rights in the alley. Storrs combed through Ottoman records to determine what rights the Jews actually had been granted. Muslim authorities provided him with several rulings against bringing benches to the Wall. However, it was known that Muslims often entered into practical arrangements allowing Jews to bring these items anyway. Storrs eventually decided that the benches were illegal and that Jews only had a right of way at the Wall. They had the right to visit, but no more than anyone else.

Storrs tried to persuade the Muslims to allow the benches on humanitarian grounds but they refused...

...On September 28, 1925, Jews brought benches to the Wall for the observance of Yom Kippur. Muslims immediately complained to the government, and Storrs ordered police to remove the benches...He...tried to convince the waqf to build stone benches in the courtyard to obviate the need for the Jews to bring portable ones.

It reached the League of Nations Mandates Commission in the summer of 1926. A  solution came from a William Rappard, a Swiss member of the League of Nations Mandates Commission: a milking stool.

What do they look like?

Notice that it has but one leg.

On October 2, 1925, the Histadruth's Davar newspaper demanded the Wall be handed over to Jewish supervision and control:

An article by A.Z. Rabinovitz, also in Davar on October 7, pointed out the perceived legal inconsistencies under the Mandate:

According to the law it is permitted to bring defecating donkeys* near the Wall in front of Jews who pray there. But it is forbidden to bring stools…what a sacred law!

In May 1929, High Commissioner John Chancellor suggested another idea: the selling of special licenses to Jews that would allow them to bring benches to the Wall. That way, Chancellor suggested naively, everyone would win. The Mufti, it need not be emphasized, was not interested in the idea.

On August 23, 1929, the murderous Mufti-instigated riots broke out.

* A reference to an incident during Pesach 1922, when the Wall and pavement were covered in animal dung:


Most Irrational Usage of the Term 'Normalisation'

I spotted this headline:

I think that is a most irrational usage of the term 'normalisation'.

The most normal thing would be for Jews, and, by the way, Christians, to benefit from the normal right of religious freedom of worship, and be able to pray at the Temple Mount. To read from the Bible there.

No Moslem structure need fear demolition or damage. 

No Moslem need fear his/her own freedom of worship will be restricted.

It is normal that persons who have religious sites can worship at them respectfully.

In fact, that is what Moslems want, and campaign for, at Cordoba.

And in Turkey, a church that, in a compromise, had been declared a 'museum', has now been turned into a mosque.

Those actions are not normal.

But, perhaps then, Islam and Islamists are abnormal?


Monday, November 16, 2020

And Yet Another Non-Published Letter to the New York Times

 Sent on November 12:

Robert Malley and Phillip H. Gordon suggest that President Trump’s "proposed peace plan was...drafted without input from the Palestinians" and so, it was "dead on arrival" ("Trump Still Has 70 Days to Wreak Havoc Around the World", Nov. 11). Unfortunately, we are left to wonder why there was no input.

Was it because Palestinian Authority communications systems failed? Perhaps the Trump Administration made demands they considered outrageous, such as to halt funding the acts of terrorists and stop anti-Israel incitement in the schools? Maybe President Mahmoud Abbas refused to make any compromises or even to return to the negotiating table? Could it be that the PA is fearful of Hamas? Does Malley and Gordon actually know why?

Yisrael Medad

Shiloh, Israel


Sunday, November 01, 2020

A 1922 Castration

 I came across this news item from March 28, 1923 about the religious Hebrew poet, Yosef Tzvi Rimon (short bio)

Intrigued, I sought out information. His Hebrew Wikipedia entry includes this

בשנת ה'תרפ"ג (11 באוקטובר 1922) נפצע קשה על גדות הירקון בידי פורעים ערבים. רימון הגלה עצמו מביתו למשך כ-15 שנים ועשה בעיקר בצפת ובגליל. גלותו הייתה קשורה לכך שהפורעים פגעו באזור חלציו וסירסו אותו. לפי ההלכה, פגיעה כזו יכולה להפוך אותו לפצוע דכא וכרות שופכה האסור לבוא בקהל. החל משנת ה'תרצ"ו (1936) התגורר עם משפחתו בתל אביב. יש אומרים ש"ההגנה" נקמה את פציעתו המבישה, ופגעה קשות באלה שפצעוהו.

On October 11, 1922, he was severely wounded on the banks of the Yarkon by Arab rioters. Rimon exiled himself from his home for about 15 years and did so mainly in Safed and the Galilee. His self-imposed exile was connected to the fact that the rioters had castrated him. The Halacha would indicate such an urethral wound could cause him to be considered as one who is forbidden to come in public - "maimed in his privy parts" [Deuteronomy 23:2]. From 1936 he lived with his family in Tel Aviv. Hagana" avenged his shameful injury, severely injuring those who injured him.

Researching further, I managed to find an earlier news item in Haaretz of October 16, 1922:

which informs that Rimon left for Petah Tikva from Jaffa to sell Simchat Torah flags in that moshava during Succot. He returned by foot early on the Wednesday morning, the fourth day of the holiday, and the first wagon leaving Petah Tikva for Tel Aviv came upon him, naked and writhing in pain in the Yarkon River. They extricated him and transferred him to the Jaffa Hospital.

The attackers came from thal-Jammasin encampmentAnd I also succeeded in locating the item upon which the JTA report was based:

More details in Hebrew here which claims that an Arab from Abu Kabir was castrated and murdered in revenge.



I persevered and found in Doar Hayom of October 18th an item on the reaction of the Vaad Leumi:

Yitzhak Ben-Zvi and Yaakov Tehon met with the High Commissioner and amongst the agenda items was the attack on and the mutilation of Tzvi Rimon as well as an incident involving Frumkin from Degania who was sentenced to six months imprisonment.


Friday, October 30, 2020

Recalling the Cemetery Swearing-In Ceremony Staged by Avishai Raviv

The website of Israel's Media Watch from when I was Director is down but seems at least this post about that infamous swearing-in ceremony staged by agent provocateur Avishai Raviv can still be found.

The following text appeared in IINS News Service, November 1997 / Cheshvan 5758. As a public service, we bring to your attention its content.

"Declassified Shamgar Report (*) on Avishai Raviv"
November 13, 1997 - 13 Cheshvan 5757
Special Report -092sr

The following is a translation of the recently declassified portion of the Shamgar Commission's report (*) into the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.

Chapter four (page 28) of the released material deals with Avishai Raviv. ********************************************************** 

Chapter IV - Avishai Raviv was connected to the security services (General Security Service (GSS/Shin-Bet)) since December 1987. Not only were criminal charges not filed against him, he was informed that criminal charges were pushed off. The response of his superiors was that his results outweighed damages from his actions, which for the most part were not active participation in lawbreaking but failure to report such illegal activities. GSS officials had no doubt that he would repeat his [illegal] actions.

Raviv was also involved in the 1990 campaign to erase road signs leading to Arab areas. He was involved with the establishment of the Zionist Fascist Youth organization and a key player in the establishment of the militant "Eyal" organization. The "Eyal" organization, in actuality, was only able to exist because Raviv and Israel's television stations publicized it.

1. In 1991, a racist letter sent to the Druze head of the Student Society of Tel-Aviv University was publicized by Israel TV.
2. Raviv assaulted Hadash (left-wing) MK Tamar Gozansky.
3. He incited a juvenile to attack Faisal Husseini. In connection with this attack, a false report was filed with Raviv's superiors.

[Not from the Shamgar Report] - Note: On September 21, 1995, Israel's government-run Channel One Television aired the swearing-in ceremony of Eyal members, who were seen holding a Bible and a handgun. This infamous TV footage created a national stir and increased the ongoing campaign to besmirch Israel's nationalistic (right-wing) camp.Staged Eyal ceremonyStaged Eyal swearing-in ceremony by GSS agent provocateur Avishai Raviv. Pictures published in newspaper Makor Rishon 31.10.97 (Many Thanks)..

The staged swearing with a Bible and a gun, in Mount Herzl cemetery !! (Thanks to Makor Rishon from 5.12.1997)

Staged Eyal ceremony by Avishai RavivPictures published in newspaper Makor Rishon 31.10.97 (Many Thanks).

Following the airing of the Eyal swearing-in ceremony, "Israel's Media Watch" sent a letter to Tzvi Lidar, the spokesman for Channel One Television. Media Watch asked if the TV Authority was certain the ceremony aired on TV was indeed, factual. The first response to the Media Watch letter stated that the question was unworthy of a response. Media Watch followed up with another letter, to which Lidar responded insisting the film footage was authentic, factual and worthy of being aired on national television. [end of note]

…[Shamgar Report Page continued- page 28] …Channel One Television aired the swearing in ceremony, which was obviously staged. Anyone who was present to see it had to have known it was a staged affair.

A7The following text appeared in Arutz 7 News Service, Friday, November 14, 1997 / Cheshvan 14, 5758. As a public service, we bring to your attention its content.

"Israel's Media Watch" has demanded that Israel Television director Yair Stern clarify whether he actually investigated its complaints regarding the staged swearing-in ceremony of Eyal members.

Israel Television broadcast the ceremony in a major item several weeks before the assassination. Media Watch then wrote to Israel Television spokesman Tzvi Lidar, asking him whether the authenticity of the event had been checked in advance, "because the broadcast gives the impression of being staged."

Lidar responded, "I don't know what your impression is based on." Media Watch wrote again, "Please answer whether the authenticity was investigated." This time, Lidar answered, "Yes, it was checked, and found to be factual and worthy of being broadcast."

As mentioned, Media Watch is waiting to hear whether the "check" was actually carried out. Media Watch later filed a complaint with the police against the television for broadcasting a staged event as authentic.

The State Attorney's Office has not yet decided whether to begin a criminal investigation, despite repeated inquiries into the matter by Media Watch.

The organization believes that the complaint will now be taken more seriously, in light of the Shamgar Commission (*) findings released yesterday. The findings state, "Raviv continued his connections with the media in order to present Eyal as an existing body, and he received the help of the television in that it broadcast the swearing-in ceremony; [this] was nothing more than a fake, which anyone who was there most certainly noticed." 

(*) The Shamgar Commission has investigated the assassination of former prime-minister of Israel Mr. Yitshak Rabin (za"l). Nowadays, (November 13, 1997 - 13 Cheshvan 5757) a declassified secret part of the commision report about Secret Service agent provocateur Avishai Raviv has been published. 
Israel's Media Watch is a non-partisan advocacy group concerned with the ethical and professional standards of the media in Israel.

...On November 2, Attorney-General Elyakim Rubinstein prohibited publication of a summary of a meeting in the office of his predecessor Michael Ben-Yair. The summary, he claimed, would "endanger public security." Eleven days later, long after the document had been placed on the Internet, the Israeli Supreme Court removed its own gag order, issued at Rubinstein's request, and sharply reprimanded the Attorney-General for attempting to suppress a document that had no connection to public security.

A brief examination of Rubinstein's actions and the way the Israeli press covered the issue provides a good case study of the many of the themes we have been developing.

The document in question dealt with a complaint filed by Israel's Media Watch demanding that the Attorney-General bring criminal proceedings against Eitan Oren, the reporter who filmed the staged swearing-in ceremony of the Eyal organization (see p.8 above). According to the summary, the Attorney-General saw no alternative to prosecuting Oren. He is quoted as saying:

The episode shocked television viewers and caused enormous damage, a virtual public storm. I just don't see how we can avoid beginning [criminal] proceedings. . . . I don't see a problem with the evidence. I don't see any problems in terms of his criminal intent. It is impossible to close the case without public exposure.

Everyone else in the room – State Attorney Edna Arbel, senior prosecutors, and representatives of the GSS – expressed concern that Oren would call Avishai Raviv to the stand, and that the latter would reveal everything connected to his actions as an agent provocateur on behalf of the GSS.

Much of the discussion concerned what grounds could be given for closing the file: "lack of public interest" or "lack of evidence." The Jerusalem District Attorney argued that the latter ground would be easier to defend if the closure of the file reached the Supreme Court. The meeting ended with Attorney-General Ben-Yair washing his hands of the matter and leaving it up to the State Attorney.

The reason that the Israeli Right was so intent on revealing the document is clear. Since the Rabin assassination, the Right has continuously claimed that the GSS orchestrated a systematic campaign to delegitimize the opposition to Oslo by planting agent provocateurs in their midst to create the impression that the entire Right is composed of violent extremists. It was, for instance, GSS agent Avishai Raviv who held up the famous photomontage of Rabin in an SS uniform at an anti-Oslo rally, and who was Yigal Amir's closest confidant in the months leading up to the Rabin assassination. For the Right, then, the document seemed to show that the State Attorney's office was intent on avoiding public discussion of Raviv's activities and their implications.

Many leading lights in the legal system had their own reasons for not wanting the document released. According to one GSS official present, Dorit Beinisch, former State Attorney and today a justice on the Supreme Court, gave approval for Raviv to engage in activities which would incriminate someone else who would then be arrested.

Even Attorney-General Rubinstein had his reasons for not wanting the document public, though he was not present at the meeting in question. For three and a half years, the State Attorney's office pushed off inquiries from Israel's Media Watch as to why no complaint had been filed against Oren with the response that the matter was under investigation. The document showed that response to be a lie: The decision not to prosecute on the grounds of "lack of evidence"' was made already nearly four years ago, for reasons having nothing to do with a lack of evidence.

Anyone old enough to remember the Pentagon Papers might have expected the Israeli media to raise a hue and a cry for release of the suppressed document. Far from it. If anything, the media followed the lead of Amnon Avramovits, who attempted to pooh-pooh the document as revealing nothing new. Though the document was easily available on Internet and had surely been read by the vast majority of print and broadcast journalists, few showed any curiosity as to why the Attorney-General was so determined to prevent its publications or what made it so important.

The media completely failed to accurately report the reason for the meeting described in the banned document: the complaint of Israel's Media Watch to the Attorney-General over the role of IBA reporter Eitan Oren in the staged Eyal induction ceremony. A conspiracy of silence seemed to surround the activities of one of the brotherhood. No one asked why a reporter who played an integral role in the staged Eyal induction ceremony is still on the air.

Even after the Supreme Court allowed publication of the summary of the meeting, the media confined itself to score-keeping of winners and losers in the affair. The underlying issue of the government's use of agent provocateurs as a means of delegitimizing opposition groups, however, still remained largely undiscussed.

The media showed a studied indifference to a document containing information sure to raise uncomfortable issues. When Israel's Media Watch called a press conference prior to release of the meeting minutes, not one national paper or TV station sent a reporter, despite the presence at the press conference of Likud's rising star MK Dr. Yuval Steinitz and one of Israel's best known attorneys and the bombshell nature of the issue.

Steinitz was plainly stunned by the total boycott, and commented that the press conference reminded him of one called by Jewish refuseniks for the Soviet press under the Communists...


Thursday, October 29, 2020

And A Letter That Did Get Published

 In the Jerusalem Post Magazine:


I would not object to calling too many of Yair Netanyahu’s tweets brusque, blunt, brash, even boorish and bullying. Nevertheless, Gil Hoffman’s profile of the prime minister’s son is missing something (“Yair Netanyahu: The rise of the son,” October 23). And that something is a bit of context.

He does manage to quote one of his multiple anonymous sources – in fact none of his sources are named – noting that there are “attacks” on his family. Those attacks have been death threats, promises of physical harm, crude and menacing sexualized revilements, sneering insults and foul-mouthed abuse both virtually on social media as well physically outside his house.

While that missing element does not mitigate unnecessary behavior on the son’s part, it would have provided a fuller background to the profile.



And here it is:


Saturday, October 24, 2020

Sex and The Bible - Book Review Extract

From a review of David Leeming's "Sex in the World of Myth" by Krešimir Vuković

The chapter on Israel and Canaan presents the multifaceted ancient history of the area in a very interesting way stressing that sexuality plays a great role in many stories which found their way into the canon of the Bible. But again several myths are treated superficially. The author writes that “Satan, in the garden of Eden” tempted Adam and Eve (p. 50). This is now widely accepted in Christian retellings but is in fact a later interpretation (in the New Testament) that finds no basis in the original Hebrew. Satan rarely makes a direct appearance in the Old Testament books (the Book of Job is an exception), and the first potential hint of his involvement in Eden is in the Book of Wisdom 2.24 (composed in Hellenistic Alexandria, probably as late as the 1st century BC). Originally, the snake is only a snake (which could be interpreted in a number of different ways) in the same way that the fruit of the tree that Eve picked was not an apple until the similarity between mălum (evil) with mālum (apple) in the Latin version gave rise to this idea.

The infamous story of angels visiting Lot just before the demise of Sodom and Gomorrah gave rise to the old term ‘sodomy’. The author erroneously supports it on p. 59, giving the impression that the story is actually about sex between men. The Hebrew tradition and commentaries make it clear that the theme of the story is in fact hospitality, and the sin of Sodom is one of arrogance and pride. A gang of Sodomites ask to have their way with Lot’s two heavenly guests (referred to as ‘men’), but Lot refuses and offers his daughters instead. The angels then intervene and blind all the attackers. 

The point of the story is not that Lot is concerned about maintaining heteronormativity but that guests are considered sacred. The fact that homosexual relations were banned in ancient Israel (famously in Leviticus) is true but irrelevant in this context. Lot would rather give up his own daughters than break the sacred law of hospitality, which the Sodomites do not respect. Their threat of gang rape indicates an act of aggression and arrogance that is irrespective of the angels’ gender. The Jewish tradition discussed hospitality as the main issue of the story for centuries. The first negative reference to same-sex attraction in the story of Sodom appears in Philo of Alexandria (1st century AD), and it will take another several centuries for this interpretation to become the prevailing one with the Christian authors of late antiquity.


A Letter to the NY Review of Books Not Published

Sent August 22:

Commenting on Israel's presumed 'vulnerability' regarding the legality or illegality of civilian Jewish residency communities ("settlements") in the "West Bank", a new geopolitical term created in 1950, territory the United Nations termed Judea and Samaria in its 1947 Partition Plan, David Luban, Georgetown Professor in Law, writes in "America the Unaccountable" that "[t]ransferring your own people into occupied territory violates the Geneva Conventions". He pursues this by adding that "Israel has devised an arcane legal theory that it never occupied the West Bank, but it is fair to say that nobody outside Israel and the US takes that position seriously" [NYR Aug 20].

The international legal experts who do not agree with that thinking, among them Stephen M. Schwebel, Eugene Rostow, Abraham Bell and Eugene Kontorovich and many others, point out that the actual language in the 1949 Geneva Convention is "forcible transfers", that "Palestine" never existed, nor does it at present exist, as a "state", that indeed Israel is a "belligerent occupier", quite a proper legal status and that the non-arcane legal  doctrine of Uti Possidetis Juris applies -  in which the territorial sovereignty of emerging states covers their pre-independence administrative boundaries - as does United Nations Article 80 as well.  Moreover, the IJC's 2004 advisory opinion does not hold "that the [Israel–Palestine] boundary is 'subject to such rectification as might be agreed upon by the parties'" as Luban writes. Quite to the contrary, a "Demarcation Line" was to be subject to rectification (see para. 71), a line that the 1949 Armistice Agreement specifically stated in Article IV, 9 that "Lines...of this Agreement are agreed upon by the Parties without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto".

As someone who lives in such a community, I think that Luban could have noted that the Arabs of Mandate Palestine refused the offer of a state in 1947, consistently rejected diplomacy (the Khartoum 3 Noes), that they had been engaged in an anti-Jewish terror campaign since 1920 which has never stopped until this day and that they ethnically cleansed all Jews from this area intended to be reconstituted as the Jewish "national home" due to the Jews' "historic connection" to it, as the League of Nations decided in 1922. Some of those families had been living in that territory for centuries. Luban could, even in passing, had referred to the 1967 war when Israel, threatened with aggression, came into administrative possession of Judea and Samaria (and until 2005, Gaza as well) as a defensive war. Had he done so he would have provided a better, indeed, a more philosophical framework to judge the matter.