Thursday, January 16, 2020

An Academic, Betar and the Jews of Shanghai

I asked Steven Hochstadt if in his new book on Jewish life in Shanghai he edited there is mention of Betar and/or the Revisionists.

He replied

I'm not sure if you saw that I replied in the comment space to my article, but here it is again. The new book, A Century of Jewish Life in Shanghai, is a collection of articles about all the Jewish communities in Shanghai. I'm afraid there is nothing about Betar, although I know that a number of younger Jews in Shanghai joined that group before they went to Israel.

Within five minutes of a Google search, I sent him this:

The Jews of China: v. 1: Historical and Comparative Perspectives by Jonathan Goldstein and Benjamin I. Schwartz from p. 75 - picture and summary  - passing mentions
My China: Jewish Life in the Orient, 1900-1950 By Yaʼacov Liberman  p.  122  - picture - picture
and that's a 5 minute Google search.
Did you search the Jabotinsky Institute archives?

And there's more.

Much more.

A book (!) on Betar in China.



I think this is amazing:

Danny Rosing
Betar in Sydney, Australia, was started by Betarim from Shanghai and Tientsin who came there from China in the 1950's, after the communist takeover of China. Betar apparently was the only Zionist youth movement in China.

I joined Betar in Sydney in 1953 after meeting some of these Betarim from China at the University of Sydney. 

Since leaving Palestine at the age of 10 I knew I would return one day but I was not a Zionist, most of my friends were not Jewish and I did not feel I had much in common with the Jewish community; but then one day, at the university, I overheard this group of strange students who were discussing what was going on in Israel and they knew more about my country than I did, So I asked them how they knew so much about Israel and they told me they had lately come from China where they grew up in Betar and, if I wanted to hear more, I should come to the Betar meeting on Sunday, which I did, out of curiosity.

The girls were beautiful, there was a heated discussion about whether Yasha Heifetz should have played Wagner in Israel and then we played soccer.

What else could an 18 year old Israeli want?

So I kept coming to the Betar meetings, when 70% of the members were ex Shanghai and Tientsin Betarim

Sunday, January 12, 2020

"Palestine" "Occupied" in a Good Sense

The term "occupation" is applied to Israel's administration of Judea and Samaria (and previously Gaza) to denigrate and to malign. It is used pejoratively.

Actually, "belligerent occupation" is a simple technical term in international law meaning territory obtained as a result of armed conflict. It is not that the occupation is inherently belligerent but rather that it came about through hostilities. In the case of 1967, Israel's war was one of self-defense and it had been a legitimate response in the face of Egyptian aggressive acts and intentions as well as those of the Palestine Liberation Organization, founded in 1964, which had begun terror incursions of Israel from January 1965.

Reviewing historical material on the San Remo Conference, the centenary of which is in three months time, I came across this document in which America's Ambassador to Italy reports on his participation at the conference and read the underlined words:

The session was "occupied with [the awarding to Great Britain a] mandate for Palestine" for the purposes of reconstituting the Jewish national home.

So, occupation isn't always a negative.


Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Monty Python and the Jewish Swastika Star Symbol

Looking for the famous Judean Suicide Squad scene from Monty Python's "Life of Brian", I came upon a claip of deleted scenes, of which I knew not.

And what do I see?

The squad is a Nazi/Teutonic groupos of racists (demanding doing away with all "the scum of non-Jewish people", seeking to Hail the Leader, "The Leader who will save Israel by ridding it of the scum of non-Jewish people, making it pure! No foreigners; no riff-raff; no gypsies" here at 9:15).  

When the commander finds out they faked their suicide he calls them "non-Semitic racially impure".

And on their helmets?

See for yourselves:

Researching, I found another source.


Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Yes, Muslims Occupied Palestine

Just as I have been insisting.





Eliezer Tauber's Treatment of Deir Yassin

My own post on Eliezer Tauber's book on Deir Yassin is here.

I quote from Yoav Gelber's review

"...Tauber deserves every kudo for his meticulous work, which is exemplary for this genre of historiography. He left no stone unturned and used all the available sources, written and oral, Arab, Jewish (Haganah, IZl, LHI, and political), British, and Red Cross. This resolution of microhistoriographic analysis requires a massive use of oral testimonies, extracting the valuable material from the rubbish and a careful scrutiny of the findings. His expertise in Arabic and on Palestinian society equipped him with vital tools for conducting such a study.

In examining the oral testimonies about the battle in Deir Yassin, Tauber has shown how the stories of witnesses on both sides, Arab villagers and IZL and LHI combatants, are close to each other. Of course, each witness speaks from his individual and national perspectives, but it is clear that they all speak of the same battle and that their stories are supplemental rather than contradictory. At the same time, the narratives that were circulated by both sides’ higher echelons immediately after the fighting was over are propagandist and conflicting.

...At that stage of the war, occupying an Arab village was something new, still without precedent. Under the circumstances of the inter-communal civil war overshadowed by waning British sovereignty, it was also impossible to hold people in captivity and POWs should have been either released or killed. This axiomatic assumption forecasted the flight of the non-combatant population at the beginning of the raid. In the case of Deir Yassin, the axiom proved mistaken for various reasons analyzed by Tauber.

Seven IZL and LHI fighters were killed in Deir Yassin. There are various figures of wounded, fluctuating between 10 and 40. Tauber tends to establish the number as a little above 30. There are several estimates and nominal lists of Arab fatal casualties. Arab informers for the SHAI (Jewish intelligence) reported from the beginning on 100 to 110 killed. The conquerors boasted that they killed 240 Arabs and the foreign press as well as the Haganah adopted this figure for polemical or political reasons of their own. This figure was generally accepted, though Arab propagandists inflated the number up to 400. In the 1990s, the anthropologist Sharif Kan’ane published the findings of his research that put the number back at 107, based mainly on Arab lists and survivors’ testimonies. After reviewing all the existing lists and comparing them, Tauber compiled his own list that includes 101 names and is probably the closest to the real number.

Although the onslaught on Deir Yassin was not a glorious operation by any standard, a wide gap separates what happened in the village and the rumors that spread at the time and have persisted to the present. It was a bloody battle fought in the midst of the civilian population, but in 1948 there were bloodier encounters such as the fall of the Etzion Block and the conquest of Lydda. In Deir Yassin there was no pre-planned, deliberate massacre as the prevalent Arab narrative, backed by Israeli radicals, naïve or ignorant, has claimed ever since. Tauber skillfully disproves the massacre myth and refutes the allegations of atrocities such as rapes or executions.

The myth was created during the war of propaganda that followed the occupation of the village. The IZL and LHI inflated and glorified their accomplishment. The Haganah preferred the version of the SHAI’s Dissidents Section over the far more accurate version of its Arab Section, and the Jewish Agency panicked because of the possible diplomatic consequences and hurried to condemn the perpetrators and apologize to King Abdullah of Transjordan and to the world in general. The British were apologetic and apparently had some compunctions about their indifference, but they stuck to the plan of evacuation and refused to get involved in combat.

Hitherto, the bulk of the Arab population had looked on the fighting from the sidelines. The local Arab leadership in Jerusalem strove to excite the Palestinians, and bolster up their motivation to fight. This was the main purpose of the propaganda campaign that Hussein Khalidi, the only member of the Higher Arab Executive present in the country, and his associates launched in the following days. They achieved the opposite outcome: instead of inspiring the Arabs’ stamina and will to fight, the inflated numbers of casualties and faked atrocity rumors shocked and intimidated the non-combatant population and considerably encouraged the mass flight.

Nonetheless, I think that Tauber overstates the part of Deir Yassin in causing the Arab mass flight. Before Deir Yassin, about 100,000 Arabs left their homes, huts, or tents and wandered to the neighboring countries or to purely Arab regions in the depth of the country. The Palestinians have tried to minimize the scope of this early wave of refugees and claim that only members of the elites fled, but the flight was more varied and its scope was bigger. The early refugees did not consist exclusively of the elites and included additional categories, such as residents of frontier or mixed neighborhoods in the cities, Bedouins who camped in Jewish areas, or first generation immigrants from the countryside who lost their jobs in the towns and returned to their villages. Deir Yassin and the following propaganda campaign did not cause the mass flight and at most stimulated an already existing process. Indeed, they strongly affected the villages around Jerusalem and the Arab quarters outside the city’s walls, but their impact diminished in more distant villages and was marginal in the Arab and mixed towns from where the majority of the refugees fled.

Tauber is wrong in connecting the Arab armies’ invasion to Deir Yassin. Truly, the news shocked the Arab masses abroad but hardly affected the debates of the Arab League’s Council that convened in Cairo two days later. Hitherto they objected to invasion and relied on the Arab League (or Liberation) Army to defeat the Jews after the end of the mandate. The collapse of the ALA in Mishmar HaEmek and the defeat of the Palestinian militias and ALA detachments in the towns left them no alternative but invasion. The purpose was to save what was left of Arab Palestine rather than “throwing the Jews into the Mediterranean,” but Deir Yassin had little, if any, part in the decision.

One of the explanations of Deir Yassin survivors for the onslaught on their village was the participation of several villagers in the Arab attack on the nearby village of Qastel the day before. This is a lame excuse and probably no one on the Jewish side knew about their participation...


Sunday, December 22, 2019

Rogel Alpher's Sardonic Wit

In what passes for sardonic sarcastic left-wing humor, Rogel Alpher, accusing Israel's right-wing of wanting to end the peace we have with Jordan, writes, inter alia:

Jordan is also bothering [???]* the right on the Temple Mount. Another flood of articles in the right-wing media concerns the desire and right of Jews to change the status quo on the Temple Mount. The most minimal demand is to allow Jews free access to pray there. The maximalist demand is the demolition of the al-Aqsa Mosque and the rebuilding of the Temple. The Jordanian Waqf is in the way – they are also too proud and arrogant. This is another reason to remove the person who is giving the Waqf his backing, King Abdullah, and to revoke the peace treaty that recognizes the special status and role of Jordan on the Temple Mount.

No one wants to revoke the peace treaty. We all would like it to be honored, by all sides, equally.

As Rogel knows (or he may not), Article 9 in the treaty reads - and I highlight the really important themes Rogel should be supporting as a left-wing, liberal humanist:
Each party will provide freedom of access to places of religious and historical significance.In this regard, in accordance with the Washington Declaration, Israel respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem. When negotiations on the permanent status will take place, Israel will give high priority to the Jordanian historic role in these shrines.The Parties will act together to promote interfaith relations among the three monotheistic religions, with the aim of working towards religious understanding, moral commitment, freedom of religious worship, and tolerance and peace.

I think those are worthwhile values to campaign for and if Abdullah II can't fulfill that aspect of the treaty, he should be held accountable. 

Rogel knows that PM Netanyahu is firmly behind the status quo. Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan likewise supports it although he does allow acts that the courts have permitted in principle but previous ministers have been nervous to allow. He also knows that the numbers of maximalists actually pushing that demolition/rebuilding agenda is small although the dream of a future scenario like that is undoubtedly held by the majority of Jews.

In other words, Alpher is not being funny but using scare tactics and rumor mongering.


* The Hebrew term used is מפריעה which in this instance means 'interferes with' or 'disturbs'.


That Bansky Work of Art?

My observation:


Saturday, December 21, 2019

Hanukah Geography

During the period when the Land of Israel was ruled by the Seleucid dynasty of the Syrian-Greek Empire, Antiochus IV came to be the emperor in 174 BCE. He was known as called Epiphanes. He sought to unify his subjects by forcing upoon them a common religion and culture. For the Jews of Judea this meant a suppression of Jewish law. He also interfered in matters of the Holy Temple worship.

Eventually, a revolt broke out, sparked by the actions a priestly family, the Hasmoneans, in Modiin led at first by Mattityahu and then his sons. They became known as the Maccabees and were quite successful in their tactics of guerrilla warfare. The Syrian-Greek occupiers were defeated.  Returning to liberated Jerusalem and led by Judah, they entered the Temple courtyards, removed the idols placed there by the Syrians, built a new altar and dedicated it on the twenty-fifth of the month of Kislev, in the year 139 BCE.

Seeking oil to light the Menorah, they found only a small cruse of pure olive oil bearing the seal of the High Priest Yochanan. It was sufficient to create light for only one day. By a miracle of God, it continued to burn for eight days.

This is, in concise form, the Hanukah story.

But where did the story take place? Where were the battles? Where was the Temple?

What is the geography of Hanukah?

Here is a map of the major sites of the Hanukah story:

Here is another:

Here is a map of the entire period of the Hasmonean reign which continued until 63 BCE or so when the territory controlled expanded across the Jordan River as it was previously from Biblical times:

In other words, if we apply contemporary terms, the main site of the miracle we celebrate by lighting candles for eight days, Temple. is now in... "occupied East Jerusalem".

The major battles the Maccabees waged were:

Battle of Wadi Haramia (167 BCE)
Battle of Beth Horon (166 BCE)
Battle of Emmaus (166 BCE)
Battle of Beth Zur (164 BCE)
Battle of Beth Zechariah (162 BCE)
Battle of Adasa (161 BCE)

Battle of Elasa (160 BCE)

All in what is mistakenly called the "West Bank".

Of course, this would mean that we would might think that we are celebrating a holiday of occupation.

But that would be wrong. In fact, it is the language and rhetoric of "occupation" used today that is what is wrong and incorrect.

What we need is a linguistic revolt, especially among Jews.

Jewish control/administration over Judea and Samaria and all of Jerusalem is not wrong, not immoral but a return to the true geography of the Jewish national home, Judaism and Jewish history.


Friday, December 20, 2019

To What State Does that Artifact Belong?

I read that the U.S. – Jordan Cultural Property Agreement was signed on December 16, 2019.  It aims to "restrict the import of Jordanian artifacts to the United States of America, which includes coins, manuscripts, stones, minerals, ceramics, glass, mosaic plates and ancient bones, seashells and human, animal and plant remains, whose history ranges from about 1.5 million years BC to about 1750 AD".  It also stresses the "need to return Jordanian artifacts that was confiscated in the United States of America to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan".  In addition, there is the goal of "increasing awareness of the Jordanian civilizational and cultural heritage".

Far be it from me to interfere with archaeological preservation but I am wondering about a problem.

Up until 1922, the territory of that kingdom by the desert was part, and so it was known, of Palestine. 

If there is an artifact in the US from, say, 1100 BCE, does it belong to Jordan, a future Palestine or, perhaps, Israel, the state that ruled the area at that time? Please recall, it was named Palestine by the Romans only in 135 CE.

This is confounding me.

Did Assistant US Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Mrs. Marie Royce who signed the document or her superiors give a thought about that?