Monday, October 31, 2016

Tacitus Wasn't Tacit About Judaea

The Roman historian Tacitus wrote about the Jews.  In 109 CE.

About Jerusalem.

About the Jewish Temple, that existed.

About Judaea.

He was not Jewish.  He wasn't "Biblical".

He was an external source of testimony to the truth of what went on in a phantom geographical unit supposedly known as "Palestine" which actually was the Jewish national home.


A.D. 70 
Early in this year Titus Caesar, who had been selected by his father to complete the subjugation of Judaea, and who had gained distinction as a soldier while both were still subjects, began to rise in power and reputation...He found in Judaea three legions, the 5th, the 10th, and the 15th, all old troops of Vespasian's. To these he added the 12th from Syria, and some men belonging to the 18th and 3rd, whom he had withdrawn from Alexandria. This force was accompanied by twenty cohorts of allied troops and eight squadrons of cavalry, by the two kings Agrippa and Sohemus, by the auxiliary forces of king Antiochus, by a strong contingent of Arabs, who hated the Jews with the usual hatred of neighbours [note: "neighbors'. not residents of the same country -YM], and, lastly, by many persons brought from the capital and from Italy by private hopes of securing the yet unengaged affections of the Prince. With this force Titus entered the enemy's territory, preserving strict order on his march, reconnoitring every spot, and always ready to give battle. At last he encamped near Jerusalem


A great part of Judaea consists of scattered villages. They have also towns. Jersualem is the capital. There stood a temple of immense wealth. First came the city with its fortifications, then the royal palace, then, within the innermost defences, the temple itself. Only the Jew might approach the gates; all but priests were forbidden to pass the threshold. While the East was under the sway of the Assyrians, the Medes, and the Persians, Jews were the most contemptible of the subject tribes. When the Macedonians became supreme, King Antiochus strove to destroy the national superstition, and to introduce Greek civilization [note: the origin of Chanukah-YM], but was prevented by his war with the Parthians from at all improving this vilest of nations; for at this time the revolt of Arsaces had taken place. The Macedonian power was now weak, while the Parthian had not yet reached its full strength, and, as the Romans were still far off, the Jews chose kings for themselves.


Under Tiberius all was quiet. But when the Jews were ordered by Caligula to set up his statue in the temple, they preferred the alternative of war...Yet the endurance of the Jews lasted till Gessius Florus was procurator. In his time the war broke out. Cestius Gallus, legate of Syria, who attempted to crush it, had to fight several battles, generally with ill-success. Cestius dying, either in the course of nature, or from vexation, Vespasian was sent by Nero, and by help of his good fortune, his high reputation, and his excellent subordinates, succeeded within the space of two summers in occupying [note: a foreign force "occupies" the Jewish homeland which is Judaea which is Judea and Samaria today-YM]with his victorious army the whole of the level country and all the cities, except Jerusalem...Our indignation was heightened by the circumstance that the Jews alone had not submitted. At the same time it was held to be more expedient, in reference to the possible results and contingencies of the new reign, that Titus should remain with the army. 

Accordingly he pitched his camp, as I have related, before the walls of Jerusalem, and displayed his legions in order of battle. 

The Jews formed their line close under their walls, whence, if successful, they might venture to advance, and where, if repulsed, they had a refuge at hand. The cavalry with some light infantry was sent to attack them, and fought without any decisive result. 


The temple resembled a citadel, and had its own walls, which were more laboriously constructed than the others. Even the colonnades with which it was surrounded formed an admirable outwork. It contained an inexhaustible spring; there were subterranean excavations in the hill, and tanks and cisterns for holding rain water. The founders of the state had foreseen that frequent wars would result from the singularity of its customs, and so had made every provision against the most protracted siege...All the most obstinate rebels had escaped into the place, and perpetual seditions were the consequence. There were three generals, and as many armies. Simon held the outer and larger circuit of walls. John, also called Bargioras, occupied the middle city. Eleazar had fortified the temple. John and Simon were strong in numbers and equipment, Eleazar in position. There were continual skirmishes, surprises, and incendiary fires, and a vast quantity of corn was burnt. Before long John sent some emissaries, who, under pretence of sacrificing, slaughtered Eleazar and his partisans, and gained possession of the temple. The city was thus divided between two factions, till, as the Romans approached, war with the foreigner brought about a reconciliation. 

As  Rivkah Fishman-Duker has written:

For ancient Greek and Roman pagan authors, Jerusalem definitely was a Jewish city. This article draws on references to Jerusalem from nearly twenty different sources, dating from the third century BCE to the third century CE, which are included in the late Professor Menahem Stern’s comprehensive anthology, Greek and Latin Authors on Jews and Judaism. An examination of these texts indicates the unanimous agreement that Jerusalem was Jewish by virtue of the fact that its inhabitants were Jews, it was founded by Jews and the Temple, located in Jerusalem, was the center of the Jewish religion. In these sources, Jerusalem appears in several contexts: foundation narratives, descriptions of and links to the Temple, historical events, usually relating to invasions and captures of the city, physical descriptions, and the derogatory use of the term “Solyma” by Roman writers after its destruction by Titus in 70 CE.  It is noteworthy that despite the negative views of Jews and Judaism expressed by authors such as Manetho, Apion, Tacitus and Juvenal, the Jewish identity of Jerusalem is always clear and never a subject of dispute. These ancient texts, therefore, disprove recent attempts by Muslims and others to deny the historic connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem and the location of the Temple in Jerusalem through fabrications and lies.  

It truly is quite clear.  Genuine actual history has Jerusalem as the capital city of the Jews in their homeland called Judaea and within which stood a Temple surrounded by a wall and no mosque.

Arabs were their neighbors in another country. And the Romans were a foreign occupier who occupied Jewish land.

Jews do not occupy Judaea.

Jews are not occupiers of their own homeland.



EG adds this

The English language translation I referenced does not translate the key phrase that is important here. That phrase is:

Hierosolyma genti caput

This is rendered: 

Jerusalem [is] the capital of the people

This is clearly the Jewish people according to the context. But your translator merely has "Jerusalem is the capital." The words "of the people" are missing.


Friday, October 28, 2016

A Nice Turn of Phrase Award

My "Nice Turn of Phrase Award" goes to Peter Baker, Bureau Chief of the New York Times, for this:

A settlement between Fatah and Hamas could further muddy the prospects of a peace process with Israel 

Or should that be the "Best Usage of Semantic Irony in Reporting Award"?

I informed him of his win.

J Street's Ben-Ami Echoes Trump's Friedman

Are you upset at what Trump advisor David Friedman said?

Donald Trump's adviser on Israel said on Wednesday that Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank were not illegal and he believed the candidate agreed with him...Asked whether Trump viewed the as part of Israel, as many far-right Israelis do, Friedman did not answer directly.
"I don't think he believes that the settlements are illegal," Friedman said.

But here's Jeremy Ben-Ami, super-dove leftist progressive, saying:

The United States is the only country that does not label what Israel does in the West Bank as illegal,” Ben-Ami added. 

Of course, he thinks he knows international law better than anyone, so he continued and said:

“The U.S. should join the rest of the world, the United Nations and declare [occupation and settlement construction] illegal.”

Note: President Obama only uses "illegitimate", never "illegal". 


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Haram A-Sharif Is Not All One Mosque

As even this article in the Jerusalem Quarterly magazine indicates:

Al-Haram al-Sharif was central to the lives of the Old City’s inhabitants and other Jerusalemites. But, as the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina, the al-Aqsa Mosque also attracted Muslim pilgrims from throughout the Arab and Muslim world. The Haram compound, with the al-Aqsa Mosque, was a focal point for all Muslims to come visit; as part of the hajj (the annual pilgrimage to Mecca by Muslims), pilgrims would pass through Jerusalem.

Quite simply, the Haram is a courtyard and in in it, among other buildings and monuments and groves is ... a mosque.

When The Palmah Assassinated a British Policeman

(I'm mentioned in this)

Otherwise it was right-wing militias that killed Brits they considered responsible for excessive violence.

Ofer Aderet Oct 25, 2016

One October evening in 1946, British police officer William Henry Bruce sat in a café on Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda Street. Near 11 P.M., when the 34-year-old finished chatting with his colleagues, he rose and headed back for the police station. A band of Jewish young people jumped out from an alley and fired a raft of shots into him.

“The wounded officer lay in the street bleeding for some time, because according to an instruction from high up, no Magen David Adom ambulance was dispatched,” the Hebrew newspaper Hamashkif reported. Bruce died near midnight at the Mount Scopus military hospital.

“A British inspector was murdered last night on Jaffa Road while walking alone in civilian dress at Zion Square,” Haaretz reported the following day.

Why was Bruce murdered and by whom? Initially the media maintained that Bruce wasn’t the target and was shot by mistake. “It appears that the officer William Bruce’s killers did not intend to harm him, but rather an undercover police officer who was with Bruce until a few minutes before his murder,” Haaretz wrote.

Still, the initial reports were mistaken, as were the reports that the Etzel and Lehi right-wing undergrounds – the obvious suspects in such incidents – were behind the assassination.

Seventy years have gone by, and it turns out that Bruce was indeed the target. Also, in a glaring exception, the killers were from the Palmach, the elite strike force that was formed in 1941 and initially cooperated with the British. The reason for the murder is also known: revenge for Bruce torturing Palmach prisoners in a British jail several months before.

The 2010 project Toldot Yisrael (History of Israel), which filmed hundreds of testimonies from the 1948 War of Independence generation, interviewed the commander of the assassination, Aharon Spector. On the 70th anniversary of the event, the people at the project have kindly allowed details of the interview to be published in Haaretz.

In the interview, Spector, who was 23 at the time, said he did not regret his participation and would do it again. “I followed him in order to punish him,” he told the interviewer Modi Snir and cameraman Peleg Levy. “I waited for him. He could tell he was in our gun sight.”

Spector voiced concerns that “one of Bruce’s relatives could catch me in London,” but he still described the action in detail.

Broken fingers

The assassination was preceded by a “verdict” of a special Palmach court convened to convict Bruce to death for his responsibility for the torture of Palmach fighters. They had been arrested a few months earlier by the British in Biriya in the north, where illegal arms were also seized. During their interrogation, the Palmach members were told they had to be fingerprinted, and when they refused, the British broke their fingers.

A few months later, the time for revenge against Bruce, the officer responsible for this violence, had come.

The original plan was to assassinate Bruce in Safed, where he served. “The plan was simple: I go for a walk in the street with a few friends, take him out and get away,” Spector recounted.

But Bruce managed to avoid his assassins and was transferred to Jerusalem. The long arm of the Haganah’s intelligence service found him there, and Spector went after him.

“I recruited the Jerusalem squad, six guys. I received weapons from the Jerusalem commander, from a cache that was hidden in the Ticho House,” one of the first homes built outside the Old City in the 1860s.

To verify that they had locked on to the right target, the squad members closely followed Bruce. “The last thing I needed was to screw the wrong Brit,” Spector said. “It would have been my disgrace. I showed them a photograph so they’d recognize him.”

After two or three days of searching, Spector found Bruce. The signal would be that Spector would take off his hat as soon as he was sure about the target. “I recognized him and started to walk behind him. I took off my hat and continued to walk,” he recounted.

Members of the squad, which included one woman, overtook Spector and ran toward Bruce. “Each put two bullets into him, then they ran away and hid their weapons,” Spector said. “The main thing is that the operation succeeded.”

Decades later, Spector had no pangs of conscience. “I would do it today,” he said. “He beat prisoners, and he should have known it was forbidden to strike Jews. It wasn’t legitimate. We didn’t kill him for no reason.”

Historical irony

Spector revealed that the man behind the operation was none other than Yigal Allon, the Palmach commander who later became an Israeli foreign minister and education minister (and a prime minister for 19 days).

“It was an instruction from headquarters,” Spector said. “Yigal kept it for me. Yigal had a talent for such things.

Levy from the History of Israel documentation crew notes how unusual the case was. “According to Spector’s testimony, the order came from Yigal Allon, the symbol of the handsome sabra and the purity of arms,” Levy said, referring to native Israelis and the Israeli army's ethics code.

“This is the only case we’ve heard of where the Palmach did such a thing,” he said. “They marked a guy and rubbed him out. They probably had reached the breaking point, so they let themselves do it, once in history.”

During that period the struggle between the Jews and the British peaked. A few months earlier, Etzel activists had blown up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, where the British Mandate’s headquarters was based. Around 90 people were killed, British, Arabs and Jews.

In those days, there were several dozen assassination attempts against the British, but only this one by the Palmach.

Yisrael Medad from the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem researched the affair for a lecture series he gives on the purity of arms. It was so unusual that Palmach headquarters made sure to clarify that it wasn’t “personal terror,” as such operations were called in those days.

“This incident is very strange,” he said of the Palmach’s announcement after the killing. “They should have explained [bad translation. should be "they were forced to to explain] that they weren’t like the terrorists of the Etzel and Lehi but were forced to behave exactly like them to prevent the British treating their prisoners like they did those of the Etzel and Lehi.”

He even finds some historical irony in the event. Spector’s brother Zvi was the commander of the 23 Yordei Hasira fighters who left in 1941 on a sabotage mission in Lebanon. They never returned.

A British officer joined the mission, testimony to the Palmach’s cooperation with the British during that period. Zvi Spector’s son, the pilot Brig. Gen. Iftach Spector, was a signatory of the 2003 “pilots’ letter” signed by Israeli airmen who refused to take part in military operations at the height of the second intifada.

Bruce’s assassination is now a footnote of Israeli history; there isn’t even a picture of him on the internet. The database of fallen British imperial soldiers shows that he’s buried in the Protestant British cemetery in Jerusalem. He was survived by his parents, who lived in London.

And don't forget the castration incident.


No Wonder We Have a UNESCO Problem

Again, the Temple Mount is not to be.  

Only the Haram A-Sharif.

I finally figured it out.

With UNESCO, we're literally not at all on the 'map':-

There is no non-Arab state in the Middle East, or the Middle East doesn't exist.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

It's called 'identity theft'

The Arab win at UNESCO, cleverly phrasing the decision to avoid any real mention of a Jewish historic connection to Jerusalem and specifically the Temple Mount, must be understood not only as a simple matter of terminology but in the historic tension the Arabs-who-refer-to-themselves-as-Palestinians view their contest over this land with the people who actually deserve it more than them.

Those who closely follow the propaganda content of the PLO through to the Palestinian Authority over the past five decades are aware that a subtext of the conflict is what I call an identity theft.  Jerusalem is not Jerusalem and the Temple Mount is not the Temple Mount and the Temples never existed.

One highlight in the past was the decision of the International Commission established after the 1929 riots.  That resulted in Jews not being permitted benches or screens or amps or, infamously, the right to blow the shofar at the Western Wall during the High Holidays.

On October 2,1947, the United Kingdom submitted a document of an historical review of the Mandate to the United Nations and you can find this there:

...The centre of Moslem worship in Palestine, and one of the most sacred places of Islam, is a large rectangular area in the old city of Jerusalem known as the Haram-el-Sherif. The lower part of a section of the exterior wall bounding this area on the west is believed to be also the last surviving fragment of Herod’s Temple, built on the site of the Temple of Solomon. As such, this wall, generally known as a the Wailing Wall, is a holy place to Jews, who have a long-established right of access to it for devotional purposes. the exercise of this right was strictly defined by custom, and the introduction of a screen to divide men from women during prayers on the Day of Atonement, in 1928, was at once denounced by the Moslems as an innovation. The removal of the screen by the policy gave rise in turn to complaints by Jewish authorities.

In a memorandum presented to the Administration a few days after this incident, the Supreme Moslem council declared their believe “that the Jews’ aim is to take possession of the Mosque of Al-Aqsa gradually, on the pretence that it is the Temple, by starting with the Western Wall of this place”. The National Council (Va’ad Leumi) of the Palestine Jewish community published an open letter to the Moslem community, emphatically denying any intention of encroaching on the rights of Moslems over their Holy Places. Nevertheless a “Society for the Protection of the Moslem Holy Places” was formed, and discussion of the Wailing Wall was the starting point for a revival of nationalist agitation in the Arab community.

In April 1968, Jordan's submission to the United Nations also referred to this period and detailed that International Commission's findings:


1. Access to the Wall.The Jews shall have access to the Western (Wailing) Wall (hereinafter called "The Wall "), for purposes of prayer and devotion at all times.
2. Appurtenances of Worship.(a) The Jews may bring daily to the pavement before the Wall a stand containing ritual lamps, and may place on the stand a zinc case with glass doors in which such lamps are lighted. They may bring also a portable wash-basin and a water container on a stand. None of the objects above mentioned shall be affixed to the Wall or to any wall of the adjoining wakf buildings.
(b) From sunset on Friday evening to Sunset on Saturday, and from sunset on the eve of any Jewish holy-day recognized by Government, to sunset of that holy day the Jews may place at the Northern end of the Wall a stand containing prayer books, and at the Southern end of the Wall a table on which to stand a cabinet or ark containing Scrolls of the Law and another table on which the Scrolls are laid for reading. The tables and cabinet or ark and the stand shall be removed at the end of the Sabbath or Holy-day as the case may be.
(c) On the two holy days of the New Year Festival and on the Day of Atonement each Jewish worshipper may bring a prayer mat which may be placed on the pavement before the Wall but so as not to obstruct the right of passage along the pavement.
(d) The dimensions of each of the objects specified in this instruction shall not exceed those set out in the Schedule thereto.
(e) Save as provided in this instruction no appurtenances of worship shall be brought to the Wall, and no carpet or matting shall be placed on the pavement before the Wall.
3. Prohibition of Benches, Screens, etc. No benches, chairs or stools shall be brought to or placed on the pavement before the Wailing Wall. No screen or curtain shall be placed on the Wall or on the pavement, for the purpose of separating men and women or for any other purpose...
5. The Jews shall not be permitted to blow the ram's horn (Shofar) near the Wall nor cause any other disturbance to the Moslems that is avoidable; the Moslems on the other hand shall not be permitted to carry out the Zikr ceremony close to the Pavement during the progress of the Jewish devotions or to cause annoyance to the Jews in any other way.

This is what Yasser Arafat used to base his demands on even with President Clinton but Israel made fun of him and now they have to take UNESCO seriously.

But there is one more important point to emphasize.

The Balfour Declaration of 1917 now being bitterly fought by Mahmoud Abbas and which an English-based web site has been active these past few years while, again, official Israel does almost nothing, reads:

the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people

and that was strengthened in the League of Nations Mandate 1922 decision:

Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country

This is what Abbas is seeking to undermine and even erase: the Jewish people's nationhood and its history with this land.

It is not only that our Jewish feet defile and desecrate the Haram area. but that we have nothing to seek there for whatever we claim was there, according to the tenets of Palestinianism, never existed.

What our counter claim must be is that it is there history that has its problems and we should start with Saeb Erekat's silliness and right on along the line.  We need not be wary as they are going all out to deny and to steal.

This need not be tolerated as if patronizing their need for a counter-history for their "history" seeks to erase ours not less than their terror seeks to eradicate Jews,

Their identity theft is one that not only replaces their role in history with ours but eliminates what we have done in this world.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

UNESCO Redoes Matthew 2:1

There's a new UNESCO decision on the agenda:-

  1. Decision : 40 COM 7A.14 
  2. Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Palestine) (C 1433)
  3. ...10. Decides to retain Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Palestine) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Take That Third Wall Find, UNESCO

Historical accuracy and truth triumphs.

From the official press release:

Impressive and fascinating evidence of the battlefield and the breaching of the Third Wall that surrounded Jerusalem at the end of the Second Temple period was uncovered last winter in the Russian Compound in the city center. The finds were discovered in an archaeological excavation the Israel Antiquities Authority conducted in the location where the new campus of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design is slated to be constructed.  

During the course of the excavation archaeologists discovered the remains of a tower jutting from the city wall. Opposite the tower’s western facade were scores of ballista and sling stones that the Romans had fired from catapults towards the Jewish guards defending the wall, who were stationed at the top of the tower. 

The excavation site in the Russian Compound. One can see the sling stones on the floor, which are tangible evidence of the battle that was waged here 2,000 years ago.

Photographic credit: Yoli Shwartz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

According to Dr. Rina Avner and Kfir Arbib, excavation directors on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “This is a fascinating testimony of the intensive bombardment by the Roman army, led by Titus, on their way to conquering the city and destroying the Second Temple. The bombardment was intended to attack the sentries guarding the wall and provide cover for the Roman forces so they could approach the wall with battering rams and thereby breach the city’s defenses”. 

...This quarter was named Beit Zeita. The building of the Third Wall was begun by Agrippa I [...and] resumed some two decades later by the defenders of Jerusalem, as part of fortifying the city and the Jewish rebels’ preparations for the Great Revolt against Rome.
...It seems that the new discovery in the Russian Compound is proof of the wall’s existence in this area. 

 A spearhead from the battle against Titus’ army.

Photographic credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

The excavation findings will be presented in a conference entitled "New Studies in the archaeology of Jerusalem and its Region” conference ", to be held on Thursday, October 27, 2016, at the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Leigh Goes Low

Jeremy Leigh, M.A.,(or PhD already) is Coordinator of the Richard J. Scheuer Israel Seminar at the HUC-JIR/Jerusalem.

His opinion piece, "At UNESCO, Jews Have No Standing, but Historical Revisionism Does", was published in Haaretz this past week. In short, he would want us to be convinced that that UNESCO vote ignoring the intrinsic and essential value of the Jews' and Judaism's and Israel's connections with Jerusalem, the Western Wall and the Temple Mount

is a gift for Israeli belligerents who can say yet again: There is no one to talk to. No partner. It fuels an immoral alliance of interests between Arab and Jewish rejectionists

To his credit, he notes that

The last lie hatched up by hostile revisionists and deniers...[resulted in]...[s]cores of Jews being knifed, shot or mown down by terrorists in cars...the words of this resolution have the potential to kill.

Nevertheless, it seems he cannot clearly and simply distinguish for his readers between those "Israeli belligerents" and those "Jewish rejectionists" and those "[Arab? Muslim? Palestinian?] terrorists".

That's one moral fault.

Another is his dumbing down the differences between Islam and Judaism vis a vis the Temple Mount, describing a supposed Jewish reaction so:

One can already hear the cries of the rabble rousers on the Israeli/Jewish side demanding to see evidence that Mohammed actually ascended to heaven from the rock on the Haram el Sharif, 

Must they all be "rabble rousers"? Maybe some are scholars? Academics? Intellectuals? Persons who could point to the irrationality of this situation not only by Muhammed's Flight which, in the Quran, is not linked to Jerusalem (but to locations in Saudi Arabia), but by the fact that the Jewish Temples are mentioned explicitly in the Quran, as is Solomon.  Or that the Waqf in its 1924 Guidebook and in other editions admits the Temples existence.  Or that the first Arabic name for Jerusalem was Bayt Al-Maqdas, yes, Beit HaMikdash, or...the Place of the Temple.

To be ever bending-over-backwards, he also dumbs down the Jewish connection immediately after that section, writing

'Belief' rather than 'proof' could - should - also have currency in UNESCO terms. But of course, that would have to work for the benefit of Jewish tradition regarding the Temple Mount, as well.

In other words, Islam and Judaism are the same as regards belief, rather than proof, in a tradition as if Jewish history equals Islamic history regarding Jerusalem is how I read that text even as he adds that the UNESCO decision text is

a contention that nullifies Jewish history and culture

He concludes by positing that

the UNESCO vote will remain as a true test of moral backbone, for Jewish liberals as much as for Western states, as well as the entire Muslim world.

But if he is truly looking for a challenge and a test of moral backbone, being employed at a Reform Jewish educational institution, why not ask himself (and his staff and students) that if he can support the demand of gender equality of religious expression at the Western Wall, why hasn't he come out on behalf of Jewish spiritual expression to be permitted at the Temple Mount?  Does he not know that Muslims are demanding prayer rights at the Cordoba Cathedral in Spain while they deny Jewish rights here in Jerusalem?  That isn't fair. That doesn't form the basis of coexistence and compromise that are the requirements for peace.

One doesn't have to be a fanatic or extremist or even a belligerent soul to seek equality.  And if Leigh portrays Jews who seek freedom of religion at the Temple Mount as of such a negative mold, then that is quite a low blow.


Amos Schocken and I at Tel Shiloh

Recently, at my invitation, I was host, together with others, to Amos Schocken, owner and publisher of Ha'Aretz, and led a tour accompanied by archaelogist Reut Ben-Aryeh of Tel Shiloh.

Mr. Schocken spent almost two hours with us and was very attentive and interested in the site's history and the finds.  No politics were discussed.

Photo credits: Tamar Talmudi-Asraf

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Turn Your Writing into a Weapon for Zionist Justice

(with apologies to PencilWings Advertising Agency)


Short Lesson in Arabic

This term appears in Arab propaganda regarding the Temple Mount:

"الهيكل المزعوم" 

I received the following information from an Arabic language scholar, PhD and all.

That term, "al-heikhal ha'mazoum", means "the alleged/supposed Temple".

That's what they use when discussing whether Jews possess any historical or religious rights to the area.  The Temples never really existed.

The use of mazoum is done to suggest something isn't as claimed and the user intends to convey that he doesn't agree that the claim is true.

I guess, if I wanted, I could use that term to describe what is claimed to be a "Palestinian people"?


Monday, October 17, 2016

What Do Pals.Think

  • 75% of respondents supported a call from President Mahmoud Abbas on Britain to acknowledge the historical, legal, political, material, and moral responsibilities relating to the consequences of Belfour Declaration including offering an apology to the Palestinian people for the catastrophes and injustice committed against them.
  •  45.7% of respondents supported the rise of a peaceful, unarmed intifada in the Palestinian Territories; 48.7% rejected that 
  • 38% of respondents supported the rise of an armed intifada in the Palestinian Territories; 55.7% rejected that  
  • 46.1% of respondents supported the creation of a confederation with Jordan on the basis of two independent states with strong institutional relations.
  • 33.4% of respondents believed that there is a possibility for the creation of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders while 61.5% said that there is no such possibility.
  • 36.3% of respondents supported the creation of a Palestinian state on the entire area of the 1967 borders as a final solution for the Palestinian cause while 59.4% said that there is no such possibility. 
  • 22% of respondents supported the creation of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with some land exchange as a final solution for the Palestinian cause while 72.9% rejected. 
  • 18% of respondents supported the creation of a binational state for Arabs and Jews on historic Palestine as a final solution for the Palestinian cause while 78.6% rejected.   
Some thinking.



Sunday, October 16, 2016

Israel Is Sort of Nazi Germany With 'Atrocities'

How to insert in a parallel fashion Tel Aviv and the 'Occupied Territories' into a comparison with Nazi Germany and the Holocaust you ask?


The German War

Carla Wartenberg writes that what she and her countrymen knew of the treatment of Jews by the Nazis ‘did not lie beyond the bounds of ordinary human experience’, thus making the wholesale murder of Jews ‘beyond the imagining of most ordinary Germans’ (Letters, 22 September). Is it to validate this picture of supposed normalcy that she relates that on 3 January 1943 ‘two polite, nondescript German officials came for [her] Jewish grandmother’? If so, the effect, chilling and macabre, is hardly what she intended. Although the language she uses could just as well be describing two courteous gallants arriving to escort a young woman to a dance, in fact it records the moment an old woman in poor health was forced to leave her home to be deported to a concentration camp. This antiseptic portrayal of Nazi officers going about their everyday tasks inadvertently shows how the actuality of the Final Solution could be distanced, made palatable, or normalised by ‘ordinary’ Germans intent on not seeing or understanding what was happening around them.
My argument here is that too often we have recourse to an impoverished conception of knowledge when we attempt to answer the question of what the Germans knew about the mass murder of Jews. On the strength of this conception, Wartenberg can present an entirely plausible case for her countrymen ‘not knowing’ or, rather, for their ‘knowing’ about certain things (Kristallnacht, for example) but ‘not knowing’ about others (i.e. the death camps). But barbarism doesn’t suddenly spring up out of nowhere; it gradually (or not so gradually) intensifies in stages, often alongside what is taken to be civilised behaviour. There is of course a difference between the events of Kristallnacht and the atrocities of Auschwitz, but they share a kinship in the context of the unceasing dissemination of anti-Semitic propaganda by the Nazis. The Final Solution may not have been an inevitable outcome of this racist ideology but it should certainly have been conceivable to any German who cared enough to worry about the fate of the Jewish neighbours he saw disappearing on a daily basis. For the ‘ordinary’ Germans invoked by Wartenberg, however, it is difficult to imagine what evidence could have convinced them of the Final Solution, short of Hitler himself knocking on their door to announce the fact.
Such wilful (sic) blindness is not unique to wartime Germany. Current instances include Americans’ unwillingness to confront the growing civilian death toll caused by US drone attacks in conveniently distant lands, or Tel Aviv residents’ shielding themselves from knowledge of atrocities taking place in the Occupied Territories.
Carole Fabricant
Santa Monica, California

I thought that Ms. Fabricant was perhaps fabricated but there actually may be such a woman. And she may be a university lecturer, or not.

I have sent in a letter and if published, you'll read it.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Blatman's Splat

Daniel Blatman, in his response to Benny Morris' attack on his earlier piece, among other charges and claims writes:

"In other words, hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians who belong to the side that began the fighting have to be expelled." 

There is a sleight-of-hand there.

a) were there truly hundreds of thousands?

b) were they all innocent?

c) when did that fighting actually begin and what was the importance of that?

What do I mean in asking those questions?


a) of course there were, but how many? and how many left at what periods during the fighting? if they left during the first two months or so, when the Arabs definitely weren't doing bad at all in the fighting, can we count them as being ethnically cleansed?

b) what is "innocent"? how many had participated in the 1936-39 slaughter of Jews? in the 1929 riots?  how many provided material support to those terrorists? and how many were assisting them during 1947-1948 in various ways?

c) did the fighting begin on November 30th? or earlier, before the Partition proposal? did some fighting happen before which was a continuation of the riots and pogroms intended to ethnically cleanse Jews?


Hillel Cohen’s Research Zeros

I have reviewed "Year Zero of the Arab–Israeli Conflict 1929"  by Hillel Cohen and it appears here: Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, Volume 10, 2016.

It was trimmed down due to the space considerations and revised but here is my original full review text pre-edited:

Cohen’s Research Zeros

2015, 288 PPS.

In Hillel Cohen’s English-language volume of reoriented Zionist history, the crucial problem with the book is where he places the starting point in the Arab-Israel conflict. He insists that the “zero” belongs in 1929, the year of the murderous riots when 133 Jews, at least, were killed by Arabs. By example, if one looks at the index, the year 1920 is missing. The violence somehow begins in 1921, ignoring Arab anti-Jewish/Zionist violence from the 1880s and the murder of a Jew, Avraham Shlomo Zalman Tzoref for buying property in Jerusalem in 1851.

During the Pesach week in early April that year, the Muslim religious festival of Nebi Mussa, at which thousands of Muslims had gathered, was exploited by the future Mufti, Haj Amin El-Husseini, and resulted in a murderous rampage through Jerusalem’s Old City alleyways as well as the near-by neighborhood, when Jews were killed and injured.  This was accomplished with the compliance, if not outright encouragement, of high British officials. To gloss over this event which, to my thinking, is the true start of the "conflict" as one of political violence which eventually burst out during the 1929 riots, not even assigning it to backdrop status, is an unfortunate reflection on his scholarship and any smidgen of academic objectivity.

If for Cohen, that year cannot at all have been the beginning of the clash between competing national heritages and cultures, is a position that leads a more knowledgeable reader to a sorry conclusion: that his entire presentation is purposefully skewed. His chronology, or his version of a chronology, is his tool of distortion.

For example, in his first two pages of an introduction, he justifies his selection of 1929 yet inexplicitly does not address why not any other date.  His “Chronological Overview of Events”, p. xix, ends at May 1931. He could have noted – and I think he should have - that in December 1931, Haj Amin El-Husseini, incidentally one of the main inciters of the 1920 riots, convened the World Islamic Congress. That body called on Muslim states to boycott any trade with the Jewish community in Palestine and more importantly, it resolved that "Zionism is ipso facto an aggression detrimental to Muslim well-being…[and is] ousting Moslems from the control of Muslim land and Muslim Holy Places". This event was attended by 130 delegates from 22 countries. Politically, this was the true turning-point in casting the conflict from a nationalist competition to one of a clash of theologies as well as a pan-Middle East concern.

Framing the conflict is very important for Cohen for, as he writes, “if the framework were to change and Jews and Arabs were both to recognize the other side’s right to live in equality, freedom and security, as well as its equal right to sovereignty, regardless the past, then it would become possible to look at history in a new way.”  While that is an unobjectionable viewpoint, Cohen should also be thinking that a new way is not necessarily the correct one.  “Old” is not always wrong.

Cohen has also posited that two main points of his 1929 case study are that a main goal in commemoration is not to memorize the victims but to claim a status of victim and, more importantly, to portray the rival as an aggressor and victimizer. A main mechanism of that is to exclude those who were killed by one's party by referring to the 'big picture' where each party sees itself as the one under attack and that even massacres or lynches can be defined 'self-defense'”.

Excluding elements of that eruption of crazed violence by Arabs, mostly against a Jewish population that was, in part, not identified as “Zionist”, was mainly defenseless men, women and children and was done by stealth by Cohen is his major fault.
To illustrate this, on page 77, he recalls the Jewish Agency’s dead of its Political Department Haim Arlozoroff’s November 1931 attempt to forestall the upcoming Muslim Congress which did turn into a blatant campaign of incitement as well as a vehicle of the distribution of a false narrative of events in Jerusalem but disconnects it from the event.  However, Cohen prefers that we know nothing of that Conference, if it was a part of the riots of the previous two years and how it affected the events of the future.

As one book reviewer (Allan Arkush) has it, “Cohen’s analysis of the situation in 1929 goes very much against the grain of the usual Zionist narrative and even the non-partisan historical research concerning this period.”  In itself, that is not a crime.  What does serve as a basis for a charge of guilt, in my opinion, is the way he presents facts, avoids facts, hides facts and alters facts.  Arkush notes, “there is no hint that the Zionist movement in the late 1920s was a sinking or even a foundering ship. There is no mention of anything that might have induced the Arabs of Palestine to doubt that the Jews would have the power to take control of their land. And there is less discussion of the mufti and his “year-long campaign” than there ought to be”.

He also points out that

“Cohen clearly wishes to undermine the Jews’ longstanding conviction that they were the victims in 1929. Rejecting the common attribution of the anti-Jewish riots of that year to the Palestinian Arabs’ shocking penchant for violence, he attempts to provide an unbiased view of the situation that produced them…the Palestinians…were manifesting their understandable frustration with the Zionists’ attempt to usurp their homeland…”.

Arkush also draws our attention to Cohen’s words in the Afterword:

[T]he [persecuted] Jews had a right to take refuge in the Land of Israel…”.  It was Benny Morris who called Cohen out of this as “nebulous post-Zionism”. Cohen seems not to be able to accept the foundations – the cultural, religious, legal, historical and ethnic foundations – that justify the right of Jews, as they did do over the centuries, to return to their homeland, the right to build and plant in it and to assume all the trappings of a state, including the right to defend the Jewish people from terror and aggression, as well as colonial oppression by the Mandate Power which reneged on its obligations as fixed by the League of Nations.

Indeed, Cohen’s book succeeds in shattering any comfortable national narrative to which one might cling. But that result was achieved by unscrupulous methods. In a February 2013 article in Haaretz based on his book, he asserts that the Arabs main “failing” in 1929 was that the result of the rioting was the unifying of all the disparate factions within the Jewish community under the banner of Zionism, a situation that doomed the Arabs. I know he is not expressing callous regard for the deaths of dozens of Jews, many done in horrible ways, but to think that he considers Zionism so shallow an ideology that it was only Arab rape and slaughter that could have coalesced all the different Jews to support Jewish statehood is shocking in its lack of faith as well as lack of recognition of the inchoate power of Jewish longing for a return to Zion.
But one must deal with the ‘minor’ errors he displays in order to grasp just how his thesis is a major failure even if seemingly petty and pedantic.

On p. xxi, in his casualty count, he fudges figures in his effort to portray Jews negatively. He writes “about twenty of the Arabs killed [out of 116] were not involved in attacks on Jews. They were killed in lynching and revenge attacks carried out by Jews, or by indiscriminate British gunfire”.  But how many Arabs does he claim were actually murdered by Jews?  And how many killed by Jews in a criminal situation?

His assertion on p. 19, that “Zionism [viewed] those fighting it as an inflamed and ignorant mob”, is unsupported and his too sweeping a prejudice as to be worthy of an academic.

On p. 24 he terms the boycott of the 1923-24 British initiative of legislative assembly by Arabs as a “success” with a negative impact.  But had the Arabs adopted that offer, Zionism would have been doomed. 

Lechi’s January 1942 Yael Street anti-police operation, described on p. 32, is in error. Yehoshua Cohen, who was to set off the final charge that would kill Geoffrey Morton decided not to do so not due to “cold feet” but because too many bystanders had collected and he decided not to cause the deaths of innocent persons. That, of course, contradicts the heartless and remorseless portrayal of the Stern Group that he may prefer.
The many pages he devotes to the Hinkis incident is a case of disproportionality of the one versus many dozens of Arabs.  No balance.

On p. 44, Cohen has it that Balfour “disregarded the national rights of the Arabs” as opposed to religious and individual rights.  But that was the whole point.  All the rest of the Middle East was to be Arab with one Jewish state and that national homeland’s “historic connection” with the Jews superseded that of the Arab occupiers who conquered it in 638CE.  Arab rights, when legitimate, were indeed recognized but not when not legitimate.  Cohen is playing an anachronistic game here.

The correct spelling of the name, p. 47, is Chelouche.

That (p. 57) Zionism is a product of Palestinian nationalism, shaped by it again is outlandish in that Zionism came first.

On p.61, despite Cohen’s Arabic mastery, I would have written “uttermost” instead of farthest, remote. And the claim, p 62, that the Quran and the Torah are equal in not mentioning Jerusalem is a trick.  The Jewish Bible has hundreds of mentions.

On p. 71, there’s a typo: founded. And as I already noted above, the “one night in 1927” on p. 72, was the evening of August 31 as a simple web check will reveal.

The account on pgs. 73 – 88 of the socialist Davar Cohen would have us believe but that of the Revisionist Doar Hayom is suspect. Odd academic decision that.

The picture on p. 81 is not dated nor is that lack explained.

On p. 87 why is there no mention of the ultra-Orthodox community vis a vis rumors. Are they not part of the narrative?  Cohen posits on p. 87 that “each side claimed that the British favored the other”. Well, did they? Is there no analysis of the British role in the riots and the events leading up to them?

Questioning, on p. 87, a difference in barbarism is of course relevant, especially the scale, the incitement, the belief in rumors.

His terming, on p. 92, of a more well-grounded possibility is but a personal unsupported judgment call.  Indeed, is it a reasonable case (p. 93) that the Mufti’s anti-Semitism develop only in mid-30s?  Or should he not have provided a basis for this?  Rana Barakat’s dissertation is perhaps persuasive to Cohen, but given the Mufti’s 1920 activity, and as I mentioned above, a chapter non-existent in his book, this is an outrageous claim for Cohen to push. 

To claim, on p. 95, that the riots in Jerusalem were not “a series, each one caused by a previous one” is unproven.  They needn’t have been coordinated to be a series.  But for sure the rest in other locations were as emissaries of the Mufti were either sent to or contacted by telephone.

He avoids, on p.101 to note the 1944 British Labour Party transfer resolution, to move Arabs out of the Palestine Mandate area to Iraq. Was that too extreme for such a moderate institution to adopt? Or was in uncomfortably indicative that Arabs didn’t deserve full sympathy, even from socialists?

Cohen’s “Jewish underground plot” on p. 111 is really an “underground” or one person who was, perhaps, eliminated by the underground for the reason that the idea was dangerous and wrong?  Does he present real proof or relates a story?

A mix-up and a misidentification on p. 119.  Not the Shaw Commission. No. An International Commission of Inquiry for the Wailing Wall.

If, on p. 122, there were “rumors”, who spread them?

Do we really have to accept that we have no way, p. 124, of determining all the details of the Hebron massacre?  All the accounts are equally untruthful? And yet Cohen seems to be able to accept some, but not others.

He also can be lazy in his research. On p. 124, he notes a bomb having been set off near the house of a sheikh involved in inciting against Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall but writes "On one of the nights of 1927...".  It took me less than an hour to find out that that incident occurred on the night of August 31/September 1 and I have a scanned newspaper clipping.  Oh, and it was a Hagana operation. 

Regarding the legacy of Deir Yassin, p. 127, he skips the attempted murder of the neighboring Jews in the 1914 attack which resulted in a death sentence passed on one of the Arab ringleaders.

On p. 155 he does not identify Rabbi Ben-Hamo as a Kach follower.

He seems to attempt to push for sympathy for the Hebron rioters when, on p. 161, he notes that indeed, there were murderers who chose not to kill small children.  But others did. And see on p. 174 the tale of the Maklef children which contradicts his attempt to soften Arab terror.

Almost sarcastically, he puts it to us, on p. 178, that both Jews and Arabs proclaim they hold the high moral ground but avoids the responsibility for making a considered judgment himself.

On p. 187, Cohen does not answer the question of why would Meah Shearim Jews, nominally non-Zionist and pacifist, kill al-Dajjani prior to outbreak Arab riots? If not they then who? Could his timeline been off despite his documentation?  He also does not ask, on p. 193, why would rumours like those spread about what was happening on the Temple Mount and nearby be so believed?  Was it a British failing? A Jewish one? A Muslim one?

On p. 210, Cohen misses, in “their own wolf”, misses the reference to Jabotinsky who Ben-Gurion termed “Hitler”. Jabotinsky’s name, Ze’ev, translates as ‘wolf’.

Do Arabs, p. 215, really not have a religio-nationalist view?

On p. 218, discussing the visit of the Admor of Chabad to Hebron just prior to the outbreak of the riots, Cohen writes that “the Admor seems”?  “Seems”? Why not reference his diary which had been published in book form and has also been uploaded at Chabad web sites as well as being the subject of a Haaretz profile in 2004?

And on that same page, he “knows”, or rather, according to Cohen “we” all know that “there was a range of thinking in the “Palestinian community”.  But do we know?  And was that range similar to the differences of opinions and thinking in the Jewish community?  Or were there but a very few, who were very much not at all influential and there is no, as suggested, a mirror-image existing between the two societies?

On p. 221, he hides Abdel Shafi’s later identification with PLO terrorism.

On p. 222, he opposes Jabotinsky’s analysis as “unconvincing” and that there is “no evidence” regarding Arab stockpiling of weapons, organizing armed units and purchasing arms.  A careful researcher would have added “that we know of” to that statement but more importantly, did they need to do that? They had no weapons left over from the Great War?  Where did their weapons and organization come from in 1920 and 1921 and in various murderous deeds up until 1929?

On an academic level, his book lacks a full review of the sources.  For example, this article, "The "Western Wall" Riots of 1929: Religious Boundaries and Communal Violence" by Alex Winder in the Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. XLII, No. 1 (Autumn 2012), provides additional background and information.  While sympathetic to the Arab cause, it also affords an insight into the element of the integration, or not, of the Oriental Jews within the Arab majority, a theme highly prominent in his book. It does not fully support Cohen's narrative and even undermines it.

His book, I found, on one level, is very detailed and tells the story is an absorbing fashion. At a seminar I attended where he spoke, indeed, Hillel informed the attendees that he purposefully wrote it for the younger generation, those who do not know the history.  And yet there are no maps, too few pictures, no replication of newspaper headlines and such which would hold attention and provide further insight.

There are also minor matters. On p. 190 he mentions a desecration of a mosque, the Awkashi mosque (it's located behind Jerusalem’s Yeshayahu St.), but no picture of the desecration although one would think that there would be one and of course, there is more than one.  It indeed happened but too what extent?  Today, it would be no more than a 'price-tag' incident, serious but not equal to hacking off people's limbs.  By the way, incidents of intra-communal violence were not unknown in the British empire. In 1931, there were the Kanpur riots in India which resulted in the deaths of over 400 people and left a city devastated. In six days, from March 24th to March 30th 1931, eighteen mosques were burnt, forty-two temples plundered and over 250 houses damaged and thus, it would appear that incendiary situations were not unique to the Arab-Zionist struggle.

Indeed, the parallel mutual distrust trust between Hindu and Muslim communities to what was happing in Mandate Palestine had evolved into riots all across India in the 1920s. In 1923, India experienced eleven riots, in 1924, eighteen, in 1925, sixteen riots and in 1926 there were thirty five riots. In the twelve months from May 1926 to April 1926, 40 more riots occurred across various cities. In 1927, as of August, some 300 had been killed and 2500 injured.

An earlier riot of 1923 was caused when the members of Hindu Mahasabha took out a procession and passed in front of a mosque, playing loud music. The Muslim community objected, starting a skirmish between the two parties. Is there not an echo of the Western Wall controversy there? Is it relevant to his deconstructionist revision of Zionist history?  Does Cohen care?

In dealing with the attack on the Georgian Quarter opposite the Damascus Gate, again, no map, he attempts to suggest that Jews first attacked Arabs there rather than Arabs who poured out of the Damascus Gate, incited by Muslim preachers at the Temple Mount, who began to sweep up the street heading for Meah Shearim.  He also tries to re-time events that also there attacks on Arabs preceded attacks on Jews.  It's as if he's a conspiracy theorist.

Cohen’s book, while informative and highlighting elements of the 1929 riots that were either played down or ignored in previous studies, really does not contribute any new groundbreaking research finds.

What he does do he present a post-modern reinterpretation, seeking almost beyond the bounds of scholarship, to engender sympathy for the Arab cause, a hallmark of contemporary post-Zionism.


I have now read a Hebrew-language article by Dr. Moshe Ehrenwald, formerly a researcher at Yad Tabenkin. It appears in Issue 203 of Ha-Ummah, Fall 2016, p. 95.

In it, Ehrenwald points to a good number of instances when in the wake of the 1929 riots, Jews were arrested and incarcerated, some for months, on false charges, based on Arab testimonies, and many had to go through a court process before being released.  All of the material except for one case is not included in Cohen's book.  Details are brought about Arab attacks on Mekor Baruch, Mekor Chaim, Sanhedria and other neighborhoods.

In one instance, on the basis of testimony by Arabs that a Jew named Slominsky was charged with shooting at the car of the French consul and only after 18 days did the police bother asking the diplomat about the case and learned that no one had shot at his car.  In another case, a Jewish lawyer was arrested due to Arab witnesses who claimed he had distributed poisoned figs to Arabs which resulted in two Arabs dying. He managed to prove he was no where in the vicinity of the "crime" at the time.  He includes two additional instances that occurred in Tzfat.

Another interesting element is the testimony of Yisrael Buchweitz of Mekor Baruch who claimed that a day before the riots broke out, he was warned by a Bet Tzafafa resident that his neighbors will be coming to slaughter the Jews and that was repeated by Haim Schwartzbier and by Shlomo Ziserman who was informed at 12:30 by an Arab acquaintance to clear out his cows as there was an attack coming.

There are also additional details about the D'jani killing in Meah Shearim and the timing.

The book is in Cohen's bibliography those instances of judicial misbehavior above are not included.