Thursday, July 18, 2019

Who Suggested Partition?

In November 1933, Chaim Weizmann, the head of the Zionist Organization, raised the possibility of partition in Palestine in a meeting with Vito Catastini, the head of the mandates section of the League of Nations secretariat.29 

Catastini's apparent support of the idea perturbed members of the Colonial Office who felt that the subject lay beyond the League's purview. Weizmann seemed to think otherwise, discussing his idea for a territorial division with the head of the Permanent Mandates Commission, Marquis Theodoli, and with Italian head of state, Benito Mussolini, who was beginning to style himself as a protector of the Jews and came out strongly in favour of partition.30

29 This was certainly not the first time that a Zionist leader had suggested partition as a possible solution. The roots of partition in Zionist thought could arguably be traced back to the notion of transferring Arabs out of part or all of Palestine. See for an early example, Theodor Herzl, The complete dûmes of Theodor Herzl, trans. Harry Zohn (New York, NY, i960), 1, p. 88; or for one during the British mandate, TNA, GO 733/231/1. See also Tom Segev, One Palestine, complete: Jews and Arabs under the British mandate, trans, Haim Watzman (New York, NY, 2001), pp. 403-8.

30 Minute, O. G. R. Williams, 4 Dec. 1933; letter from Sir Eric Drummond, British ambassador in Rome, 13 Dec. 1933: TNA, GO 733/248/20. 

Footnote 30 is inexplicable as the idea of "partition" is keeping everyone, more or less, in place but simply dividing the territory.


Southern Syria, aka "Palestine"

I have blogged several times (here and here;) that, historically, a specific Palestinianism, that is, an Arab nationalism based on a country called Palestine and one distinct from other forms of Arab nationalisms, was quite late in developing.

Palestine was a region of Syria. It never was an independent country or state and its borders altered over centuries as did its internal administrative boundaries.

The idea to rejoin Palestine to Syria was a staple of their propaganda.

Into the mid-1920s, the League of Nations Permanent Mandates Commission was receiving such requests. This line continued years later.

Here are some abstracts from a PhD dissertation relating to the subject:

...In December 1918, Hitti and George Khairalla established the New Syria National League. The group lobbied for the establishment of a Greater Syria under American protection, reaching from the Sinai to the Euphrates.229 These groups intensified their activities in light of the upcoming peace conference in Paris. Shatara and Hitti reached out to John Huston Finley, the chief of the Red Cross Commission in Palestine, asking Finley not to detach Palestine from Greater Syria.230 During the conference, Hitti’s New Syria National League also sent a telegram to Wilson, Lloyd George and Clemenceau advocating an American protectorate over Syria. 231 Abraham Mitrie Ribhany, the author of ‘America save the Near East’ (cited above) and a member of both the Palestine Antizionism Society and the New Syria National League, attended the Paris conference. His presence allowed for direct lobbying with the American representatives in Paris and the members of the King-Crane commission. On March 15, he sent a petition on behalf of the New Syria National League to the Americans, which was also read by commission chief Henry C. King. The petition made the case for an American mandate over a Greater Syria.

... On April 21, 1922 Fuad Shatara and the New York attorney Selim Totah testified alongside anti-Zionist Jews in front of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs with regard to the Lodge-Fish resolution.236 In 1921, the Palestinian National League, the successor organization of the Palestine Antizionism Society, also published the book ‘The Case against Zionism’, a collection of anti-Zionist
articles by Jewish and Arab-American thinkers. The book ended with a call for “Palestine not be separated from her neighboring sister states.”237 The case of the Arab-Americans was still  overwhelmingly pan-Syrian and not in favor of an independent Arab Palestinian state. This focus would only change much later.

... In summer 1936, the Palestinian National League was replaced by its successor the Arab National League (ANL) in New York.335 The bulk of politically active Arab-Americans were of Syrian origin. Most of them had been followers of a pan-Syrian ideology, as seen above, before their eventual conversion to Arab or even Palestinian nationalism. The establishment of the Arab National League signified such a shift towards Arab nationalism. However, the language of pan-Syrian ideology was still present in the ANL’s publications. A manifesto published in 1937, which lays out the founding principles of the organization, for instance calls for “complete independence of the Syrian nation as a united, coherent political unit within the natural geographic borders of Natural Syria.”336 The term ‘Natural Syria’ not only includes the territory of the modern state of Syria, but also those of Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine.337 The same manifesto declared “effective resistance to Zionism, the biggest threat to Syrian Unity”, as imperative.338

...The leading spokesman for the Arab Cause in the 1950s, however, was Fayez Sayegh...who was born in 1922 in Syria, was the scion of a prominent Protestant family, which had settled in Palestine during the British mandate period. He was a graduate of AUB and Georgetown.1036 Fayez and his older brother Yusif had been active in leading positions in the Palestine branch of Antoun Saadeh’s Syrian Socialist National Party (PPS) during the 1940s, with Fayez chairing the Culture and Propaganda Committee. The party sought to spread Saadeh’s pan-Syrian ideology. By the 1940s, Pan-Syrianism  had by now lost the popularity it had enjoyed in Palestine twenty years before and the party apparently met little success, as recounted by Yusif: “There was not a great deal of readiness to accept the ideas of the PPS because it emphasized the Syrianness of Palestine; that Palestine was Southern Syria. The Palestinians always call themselves ‘Arabs’, and they thought of the Palestine problem as an Arab problem rather than a Syrian problem.”1037

226 Knee, The Concept of Zionist Dissent in the American Mind, 1917-1941, 201–2.
227 “Untitled,” New York Times, November 9, 1917; cited in Davidson, “Debating
Palestine,” 230; see also Knee, “The King-Crane Commission of 1919,” 204.
228 Davidson, “Debating Palestine,” 231.
229 The Formation of Modern Iraq and Syria (Routledge, 2013), 147.
230 Knee, The Concept of Zionist Dissent in the American Mind, 1917-1941, 205.
237 Davidson, “Debating Palestine,” 232.
335 Bawardi, The Making of Arab Americans, 187–89; Davidson, “Debating Palestine,”
336 Arab National League of America, “Declaration of the Arab (National) League”
1937; cited in Bawardi, The Making of Arab Americans, 190–91.
337 Daniel Pipes, Greater Syria: The History of an Ambition (Oxford University Press,
1990), 142.
338 Arab National League of America, “Declaration of the Arab (National) League”;
cited in Bawardi, The Making of Arab Americans, 190–91.
1035 “The Executives’ Club of Chicago Urges You to Hear Dr. Fayez Sayegh Counselor, Arab States Delegations, ‘Arab Nationalism and the West’” September 18, 1959, FSAC Mid001 Bx 239 Fd 4,
1036 Mattar, Encyclopedia of the Palestinians, 359.

Palestine is Southern Syria.

Only the Jews conceived of it as a separate entity in recognizable borders.


Arab-American Anti-Zionism Before Tlaib and Omar

The undermining of Zionism in America by Arabs and Muslims is not new.

As researched here, by Daniel Rickenbachert, there were early attempts and one of them was in January of 1930, when the Mufti-led Supreme Muslim Council (SMC) and the Arab Executive, sent two delegations to the US and to Britain to promote the Arab cause, this just after the murderous 1929 Riots.

As appears there, the delegation to the US consisted of the Syrian pan-Islamic activist Shakib Arslan, his brother Adel Arslan, Issa Bandak and three other members. In the US, the delegation met with the State Department, arguing that only the abolition of the Balfour Declaration could lead to a reconciliation between Jews and Arabs. The delegation also appealed to the Arab-Americans to “emulate the American Jews” by giving donations to the SMC. However, the undertaking was reportedly a financial disaster. This may explain why there were no further Arab delegations from Palestine during the next seven years.  

But the first one to speak out against Zionism was an American-Lebanese, Amin Rihani who arrived in the US in 1898.  That was in September 1917, two months before the Balfour Declaration, when he published an anti-Zionism piece. In his article

he listed anti-Zionist arguments as it being primarily a religious movement and that Arabs would not tolerate Jewish domination. He added that, echoing arguments from Reform Jews, Zionism would expose Jews to the accusation of dual allegiance.

But he could not avoid the basic truth:

Also in 1917, a Ramallah-born New York surgeon, Fuad Isa Shatara, Nazereth-born, eventually a suicide victim, and N.A. Katibah founded the Palestine Antizionism Society. 

Both of them into the late 1920s and beyond, published in their journal, The Syrian World

and see below.

And they were among the organizers of an anti-Zionist rally on November 8, 1918 in Brooklyn. The rally passed a resolution, describing the Arabs at risk of being  dominated by “a race rendered more powerful and wealthy through contact with the western civilization thus applying might against right” and protesting the “artificial importation of Zionists flooding the country against its natural capacities and thus forcing an emigration of the rightful inhabitants.”

Shatara of the Palestine Antizionism Society wrote two letters to Secretary of State Robert Lansing in November 1918 and February 1919, arguing that Zionism was in contravention to Wilson’s Fourteen Points.In December 1918, Phillip Hitti (a Maronite Lebanese) and George Khairalla established the New Syria National League. The group lobbied for the establishment of a Greater Syria under American protection, reaching from the Sinai to the Euphrates. These groups intensified their activities in light of the upcoming peace conference in Paris. Shatara and Hitti reached out to John Huston Finley, the chief of the Red Cross Commission in Palestine, asking Finley not to detach Palestine from Greater Syria.


And they all failed.


Monday, July 15, 2019

Who Attacked Fajja Village?

In a recent book, the responsibility for a deterioration in relations that eventually led to the outbreak of Arab-Jewish fighting that led to the War of Independence was placed on the Lechi. The author suggests a series of events in the late summer/early fall of 1947.

But what happened on the night of May 20, 1947 in the Arab village of Fajja (seems also spelled Fejja?

Fajja was located in east Petach Tikva, approximately in the area of the neighborhoods of Kiryat Eliezer Peri and Kiryat Alon today, west a David Remez Street at Kikar Hasas, near the Amal Aleph school:

Zochrot lists this:

a Palmach unit infiltrated the village on the pretext of apprehending thieves who had murdered two people in Petach Tiqwa. According to the History of the Haganah, shooting broke out when the unit approached the coffehouse were the thieves were allegedly hiding and two villagers were killed; “explosives experts stormed the coffehouse  under heavy covering fire, planted an explosive charege and ignited it.” The “Book of the Palmach” reports that the explosion was unnecessarily delayed and although the coffehosue was destroyed, no one was harmed.

The Palestine Post of May 22 includes this report: 

The Jewish fatality, Shlomo Miller, a Palmach member, was born in Givat HaShlosha. 

The description of the attack at an official memorial site reads:

In the spring of 1947, attacks and murders by armed Arab bands increased in the area of the Sharon moshavot...On May 18, 1947, armed Arabs, identified as gang members, were identified as concentrating near the camp of the Swarqi Arabs (Fajja village)...where police dogs had previously identified as a base for operations of the gangs. The Hagana decided to send out a unit in order to catch them. A gunfight ensued. Shlomo raced forward and was wounded in the head. Taken to Beilinson Hospital, he died on his wounds on 1 Sivan, May 20.

The Petach Tikva archives blog notes there began a series of Arab attacks that spring which wounded children and adults. Tzemach Halperin was murdered on the 19th. He was married with two children and lived at the Geula neighborhood of Sha'ariya and was attempting to defend his house from Arabs seeking to break in. Aaron Shvili from the Hasidof Qurter also was killed in an earlier incident and footprints led directly to Fajja. The cafe meeting place was attacked with guns and explosives and three Arabs were killed according to the testimony of Reuven Saperstein who took part in the reprisal raid. The Palmach site indicates that as the Arabs fled, Miller fired two warning shots in the air and then was struck by a bullet fired by an Arab.

A follow-up report:

On the background of the Nakba/Israel Archives matter, I found this interesting.


Monday, July 08, 2019

Who Is Being Disingenuous?

Many tout the Two-State Solution (drum-roll in the background) as the sole possibility to resolve the Arabs' conflict with Zionism, Jews and Israel.

There is no other alternative.

In response to one such article, I sent the author this:

I think allowing the Arabs of the Palestinian National Authority a quarter-of-a-century to prove they are capable and willing to both negotiate seriously and build-up state institutions while proving their desire for peace is enough and is quite a contemporary reality.

To which the author replied:

No people has ever been put through these hoops before, certainly not Israeli Jews before independence. None of them would have passed the test. The colonial mentality that developed in Israel following the triumph of the 1967 war and the inception of occupation that gave rise to such tests is by far the greater problem. But I understand that it's difficult to see that from the inside. I have always tried to work to the principle that if one's argument coincides with one's desires (or perceived interests), be suspicious of the argument. I recommend it as a useful guide to whether an argument is disingenuous or not.Over and I suggest out.

Since the author signed out of the attempted dialogue, I'll respond here:

First, the Jews actually were subjected to "hoops".   Annually.

The British Mandatory regime was required to submit reports on the progress the Jews were making as regards constructing their future state in all aspects: immigration, settlement, finances, etc.  Here's one from 1939 submitted to the Permanent Mandates Commission. Here's the prepared questionnaire. And some of its questions:

What measures have been taken to place the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the national home for the Jewish people?

What measures have been taken to place the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the development of self-governing institutions?

What measures have been taken to place the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will safeguard the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion?

What are the effects of these measures?
What measures have been taken to encourage local autonomy?

When and in what manner has the Jewish agency been officially recognised?

What is the nature and extent of the co-operation of this agency with the Administration of Palestine in economic, social and other matters?
In what manner has this agency taken part in the development of the country (statistics of the results obtained)?

There's a new book devoted to the Commission with dozens of pages on Palestine.

And actually, they passed the test as proven by the UNSCOP report of 1947 and the recommendation to establish an independent Jewish state in 1947.  Yes, the Arab state was also recommended but as we all know, they failed the most simplets of tests: accepting that recommendation. 

As for "colonial mentality", that is actually the contining of the original resettlement of the Land of Israel. The League of Nations charged the Mandatory to guarantee "close settlement" for Jews in, at least, all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

And as regards the throwaway "disingenuous" dig, I return it. There are those who claim to be neutral observers, disengaged, looking from the outside but they are in their own ideological/political constructs which bear little connection either to historical truth or the actual course of events, whether a century ago or today.

Or is it just ignorance by one pretending scholarship and intelligence - that is lacking?


A Jew Dies and His Crazy Killer

My friend NT alerted me to some background to this story:

Police said they are still looking for the driver in a hit-and-run that killed a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor in Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles County Police Department said in a news release Thursday that the collision occurred around 5:35 a.m. on June 17 in Valley Village, a suburb of Los Angeles.
Graphic security video shows a light-colored pickup with a camper shell striking a pedestrian at a crosswalk on Magnolia Boulevard at Wilkinson Avenue.
The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner identified the victim as 91-year old Gennady Bolotsky.

The suspect has been arrested:

 A 68-year-old woman was charged on July 2 for allegedly killing a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor Gennady Bolotsky in Valley Village on June 17 in a hit-and-run...
The woman being charged for killing Bolotsky, identified as Joyce Bernann McKinney, was reportedly arrested on June 21 in a separate incident of alleged battery and public nuisance. 

Bolotsky escaped Nazi-occupied Ukraine in 1941; he immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. 

The background of the suspect from my friend:

a weirdo former contest winner from Montana
who had gone to England and became obsessed with an English fellow who just so happened to be a Morman.  She kidnapped him and kept him chained in bed in a cottage for quite some time, until he escaped and later on she was arrested and eventually jumped bail in England and returned to the US, was not extradited.  An amazing story that made the headlines and gossip papers years back when it happened.  Too bad she wasn't extradited.   Now  she is back in the news   as two weeks ago she killed a 92 year old Holocaust survivor who was out walking his dog in LA.  Amazing story, now with a most unhappy end.  There is an entry in the Wikipedia about the 'manacled Morman'  but for whatever reason most of the LA papers have not really picked up on the suspect being the star of the manacled Morman story in England.  The second link does connect her to her past.  What a sad and bizarre story.  

 But there is some coverage.


Linda Sarsour and Her "Jesus Was Palestinian" Routine

Have you been following Linda Sarsour's "Jesus was a Palestinian" comedy routine?

See here and here for these examples:

Jesus was Palestinian of Nazareth and is described in the Quran as being brown copper skinned with wooly hair.

Palestinian is a nationality not a religion. Your point is not negated. Jews lived with Palestinians in peaceful co-existence before there was a state of Israel.
Why so upset by the truth. Jesus was born in Bethlehem aka بيت لحم in Arabic. Bethlehem is in Palestine. It’s currently militarily occupied by Israel and home to a predominately beautiful Palestinian Christian community. Yes, the birthplace of Jesus is under military occupation.


Bethlehem is in PALESTINE. The erasure is repulsive.

Well, GraphicZionism responds:


Sunday, June 30, 2019

Ezra Schwartz and His Talmud

Ezra Schwartz tweeted to me and Einat Wilf:

it is tragic that Israel would remove Arab national rights, even while retaining individual rights.

And added:

As the talmud says:“Is it possible that there is anything at all which is permitted to a Jew, yet nonetheless is prohibited to a non-Jew?”TB Chulin 33a

And then further made it clear writing:

The point is, I believe it was wrong for non-Jews to refuse Jewish national rights, and I believe it is wrong for the Jews to refuse national rights to its non-Jewish minority.

Schwartz made Aliyah from Toronto in 2017, defines himself as Bnei Akiva Liberal and is studying towards his M.A. in Political Science at Hebrew University. In an article published in October 2017, he notes that we Jews are not permited "to ignore existing non-Jewish communities and act as if their land was our own."

He added

During the long centuries of exile, Jews desired an end to being treated as second-class citizens. Now that we have a country for ourselves, can we possibly treat the Palestinians in the same way? In the words of the Talmud: “Is it possible that there is anything permitted to a Jew, yet nonetheless prohibited to a non-Jew?”

Of course that is nonsense.  Jews never demanded national rights but equality as citizens.  Do Jews of, say, Brooklyn, have a right to declare the borough Zion, even if they would - as they were - a near majority of the population?

That Talmudic quote above appears here as well.  Is there a connection to the matter under discussion?

What is discussed there in Chulin?

What is discussed there is a situation when an animal is incorrectly slaughtered, so:

R. Aha b. Jacob said: One may conclude from the ruling of R. Simeon b. Lakish that an Israelite may be invited to partake of the intestines, but not a gentile. Why is this? — Because to an Israelite everything depends upon the slaughtering; therefore, since here the animal has been properly slaughtered he may partake of the intestines. To the gentile, however, everything depends upon the death of the animal4 [and not upon the slaughtering], for even stabbing would be sufficient; therefore the intestines [of an animal slaughtered by an Israelite] would be regarded as a limb [cut off] from a living animal.

Rav Papa raises a doubt:

‘As I was Sitting before R. Aha b. Jacob I thought of putting the question to him: Is there anything which is permitted to an Israelite and forbidden to a gentile? But I did not ask him this, for I said to myself: "He has himself suggested the reason for it"’.

In other words, first of all, we're talking pears and apples.  One matter is do Arabs in Israel deserve national rights in addition to personal political and civic rights and other liberties within a framework of equal citizenship. The other is whether a non-Jew may be denied eating a wrongly slaughtered beast simply because it is prohibited to a Jew, if my understanding of the discussion is correct.

Secondly, the "principle" Ezra quotes is rejected by Rav Papa as there is a rational reason for it. And see here.

Does not Ezra perceive that he not only has falsified a source but that the dictum he wishes to apply to a totally different concern is itself not applied by a Talmudic sage?


Friday, June 28, 2019

Another Unpublished Letter-to-the-Editor

Sent to the New York Review of Books:

Rashid Khalidi quotes Lord Balfour, writing in 1919 to the anti-Zionist Lord Curzon, as an example and proof that "the not warrant being consulted about their national future" ('The Neocolonial Arrogance of the Kushner Plan', June 12). Further, Khalidi points out, in contrast, that Balfour was of the opinion that "Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.”

Khalidi is being a bit anachronistic. In 1919, there were no "Palestinians" per se. And if they were, they were not solely Arabs but all persons who lived in the area, of all religion and ethnicity. Formally, Palestinian nationality came about through the 1925 Palestinian Citizenship Order in Council of the British Mandate, a requirement of Article 7 of the 1922 League of Nations decision to reconstitute the Jewish people's national home through their "historical connection" to the country. In 1919, the Arabs residing in the territory referred to themselves as "Southern Syrians" and throughout the 1920s, petitioned the Mandate Commission in Geneva to have the country reunited with Syria.

Ironically, if it were not for the Jews and Zionism, there would be no "Palestine" in a geo-political sense, nor a specific Arab "Palestinian people".

To clarifty my last point: the first time "Palestine" was provided borders was under the Mandate. Previously, the Ottoman Empire had divided it up multiple ways multiple times. Districts altered and reshaped. 

The first time a "Palestinian Nationality" was declared and a passport crated was under the Mandate.

And the Mandate was created for the Jews to reconstitute their historic national home in Palestine.

From a concept, interchangeable with "The Holy Land", Palestine, due to the Jewish/Zionist efforts, became a recognizable reality.


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Territoriality of the Balfour Declaration

It is a staple of Arab propaganda that the Balfour Declaration promised the Jews a "national home" in Palestine, not that all of Palestine should become a Jewish state.

They quote this portion:

"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,

and claim that if the Zionist version is correct, it should have read something like:

"His Majesty's Government agree that Palestine should become the national home for the Jewish people, viewing its establishment with favour".

But what they ignore is that at the time of its issuance, Palestine, "historic Palestine" extended into Lebanon in the north and Transjordan to the east.

In 1919, the Zionists presented a map of their territorial claims to the Versailles Peace Conference

The British also presented a proposal that included parts of Syria and Transjordan. As I once wrote:

Zionism has been yielding territory since 1919

After removing Transjordan from Jewish settlement rights in 1922 and earlier, awarding part of northern Palestine to the French Mandate over Syria, we still have all of Western historic Palestine as the Jewish national home. By right.


Thank You (Really), New York Times

The New York Times illustrates, inadvertently, Israel security needs for the retention of Judea and Samaria.

In a story in the New York Times on the rape case and the suspect being a resident of Deir Qaddis, this photograph was included

And this is its caption:

The view from Mahmoud Qattousa’s house in Deir Qaddis, with Tel Aviv in the background.Samar Hazboun for The New York Times 

Let's do that again, with an arrow pointing to Tel Aviv in the background:

Buildings easily seen and identified.  Layed out as if on the palm of your hand.

And where is Deir Qaddis on a map?

Thank you New York Times for providing an illustration, a stark one, of Israel's security needs.

An independent Arab state of Palestine poses a unique and real security threat.

It's as clear as a photograph in the New York Times.


Monday, June 24, 2019

Countering An Arab Propaganda Claim

It is difficult at times to counter Arab falsification of history.  Other times, a bit of research will solve the difficulty.

For example, here, where it is claimed:

The Deir Yassin massacre followed in 1948. A join contingent, containing the Tsel, Irgun, and Haganah, assaulted the 600-person village near Jerusalem. A cistern alone was found to contain 150 mutilating bodies and the full death toll remains unknown. Irgun leader Menachem Begin falsified the Red Cross’s reports, ironically labelling it the fabrication by anti-Semites. [3]

We'll ignore the misspelling of Etzel. Or whether actually 150 bodies, mutilated (all?), were found (Bir Zeit University claims maybe 110 were killed*). Well, I went to the source quoted.

There, on page 297, I found this:

How could he falsify the reports of the Red Cross? Did the writer mean he misrepresented them? Or that he quoted from them what they did not contain?

So I went to Begin's memoir as Commander of the Irgun, The Revolt, and on page 164 I found this footnote:

and as I presumed, Begin insisted not that the battle did not took place but that there was no "massacre". The charge of a "massacre" is a lie. That claim is correct as Eliezer Tauber's new Hebrew-language book details (see here). He also used "Jew-haters", not "anti-Semites" if we are to be exact in quoting someone.

And he certainly did not "falsify" the Red Cross reports. In fact, "Red Cross reports" are not mentioned at all by Begin.

Were those reports false? That is another issue.

They claimed that there was "great savagery"; that "Woman and children were stripped, lined up, photographed, and then slaughtered by automatic firing"; that "survivors have told of even more incredible bestialities"; and that those "who were taken prisoner were treated with degrading brutality".

Those claims are false.



In 1987, the Research and Documentation Center of Bir Zeit University, a prominent Arab university in the territory now controlled by the Palestinian Authority, published a comprehensive study of the history of Deir Yassin, as part of its "Destroyed Palestinian Villages Documentation Project." The Center's findings concerning Deir Yassin were published, in Arabic only, as the fourth booklet in its "Destroyed Arab Villages Series." The purpose of the project, according to its directors, is "to gather information from persons who lived in these villages and were directly familiar with them, and then to compare these reports and publish them in order to preserve for future generations the special identity and particular characteristics of each village."88 The Bir Zeit study's description of the 1948 battle of Deir Yassin began with the hyperbole typical of many accounts of the event, calling it "a massacre the likes of which history has rarely known."89 But unlike the authors of any other previous study of Deir Yassin, the Bir Zeit researchers tracked down the surviving Arab eyewitness to the attack and personally interviewed each of them. "For the most part, we have gathered the information in this monograph during the months of February-May 1985 from Deir Yassin natives living in the Ramallah region, who were extremely cooperative," the Bir Zeit authors explained, listing by name twelve former Deir Yassin residents whom they had interviewed concerning the battle. The study continued: "The [historical] sources which discuss the Deir Yassin massacre unanimously agree that number of victims ranges between 250-254; however, when we examined the names which appear in the various sources, we became absolutely convinced that the number of those killed does not exceed 120, and that the groups which carried out the massacre exaggerated the numbers in order to frighten Palestinian residents into leaving their villages and cities without resistance."90 The authors concluded: "Below is a list of the names and ages of those killed at Deir Yassin in the massacre which took place on April 9, 1948, which was compiled by us on the basis of the testimony of Deir Yassin natives. We have invested great effort in checking it and in making certain of each name on it, such that we can say, with no hesitation, that it is the most accurate list of its type until today." A list of 107 people killed and twelve wounded followed.91 


Sunday, June 23, 2019

On Guilt

The case of a seven-year old girl, suspected of being raped, is causing me pain.

It has developed in such a way as to challenge all as to their ability and willingness to be fair, to accept any and all possibilities and most of all, not to prejudge.

Would they accept all they have said concerning the suspect if he was a Jew, not an Arab?

Have they not in the past, as in cases of firebombings, rockthrowings and torching, cried out against the police, the media and others the same way as is happening now?

Consider the case:

Is it not possible that someone else could have raped her?

On the face of the claims of the victim and her family, how logical is the guilt of the suspect?

Could he have raped her her?  Certainly. There was just recently the Ori Ansbacher case and during the Mandate period multiple cases. There's a new book out on sexual offenses during that time. The Stahl-Zohar case stands out as reported on June 7, 1932:

Could something else have occured?  For sure.

Whatever develops and whatever the court's decision, I would hope that all keep an open mind.


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Fake News in Jewish Halacha

Jewish legal/ritual law is codified in the Halacha. Its roots are in the Written Law and the Oral Law. Can such a system provide up-to-date regulation for matters and concerns that did not exist 3000 years ago?

For example, the issue of "fake news".

The Shulchan Arukh (composed in the 16th century) at OH 222 stipulates that 

על שמועות שהן טובות לו לבדו מברך שהחיינו ואם הן טובות לו ולאחרים מברך הטוב והמטיב

when one hears good news that applies to himself alone, the blessing is the 'Shecheyanu' and if the news applies to others, the blessing is 'HaTov v'HaMeitiv".

And the Mishnah Brura (published in the 19th century) of the Chofetz Chaim adds:

 ודוקא כששמע מפי אדם נאמן וזה האדם ראה בעצמו אבל אם שמע שמועה [בין שמועה טובה שצריך לברך עליה הטוב והמטיב או שהחיינו בין שמועה רעה שצריך לברך עליה דיין האמת] ואין המגיד נאמן או שהמגיד לא ראה בעצמו לא יברך 

but only in the instance that he hears from a reliable person which is a person who saw it himself but if it is hearsay [either good or bad news which would affect the type of blessing to be said] and the person is unreliable or if the person relaying the news did not see it himself, he should not pronounce a blessing.

There it is. Don't go with "fake news".

And if you are told news, don't believe it until you can resource it reliably.


Monday, June 10, 2019

When Bevin Was Way Out of Order

On April 28, 1948, Labour MK Frederick Cocks asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Ernest Bevin 

whether, under the agreements to supply given quantities of arms to the Arab States, His Majesty's Government have guaranteed to deliver these arms by certain fixed dates; and whether, in view of the publicly announced intention of these States, or some of them, to invade Palestine after 15th May, he will suspend for a period further deliveries of such arms.

The Yishuv, under attack effectively since November 30, with both irregular troops and some units of the Transjordan Arab Legion already participating in the fighting, needed such protection from aggression. British support for that aggression was invidious.

Bevin answered the second part of the question so:

"it is impossible to forecast the outcome of the United Nations discussions on Palestine and the future of the country is so uncertain that it is impossible to take decisions now as to the action which may be required in respect of the period after 15th May."

Cocks persisted:

will the right hon. Gentleman suspend delivery of these arms or allow the Jews to have arms with which to defend themselves?

Bevin replied

From all my information about Palestine at present, it seems to me that the Jews are the better armed of the two, but I cannot draw a distinction, and I have no intention of interfering until I get the decision of the United Nations. From that I refuse to move"

Cocks snapped back

"The right hon. Gentleman will let people be murdered before he arrests the murderer."

Then Bevin got nasty:

No. I appealed to both the Jews and the Arabs in London and warned them that we would leave Palestine. We must remember that the British sergeants were not hanged from the tree by Arabs"

That, of course, has nothing to do with the matter at hand. Just a swipe. Plenty of British troops and police were assassinated by Arabs during the Mandate period.

Then another Labour MP, Samuel Segal, asked

In view of the reports that British arms may be used, will the right hon. Gentleman say whether His Majesty's Government intend to give any advice to King Abdullah to restrain him from taking any warlike action?

Bevin answered

I do not think I should assume any such thing until King Abdullah indicates that he proposes to do it. Why should I assume that he is going to do these things? I have had no indication of it. [An HON. MEMBER: "He said he was going to."] At the same time, I have had experience of other people taking this action.

Lord (to be) Barnett Janner then popped up

May I ask my right hon. Friend to treat this in the serious manner in which it deserves to be treated? Will he please say definitely to this House whether he has any information at all about the meeting which was supposed to have taken place, or did take place, at Amman, what was the result of the deliberations, and will he take steps to prevent the use of arms supplied by us to kill people in Palestine?

Bevin then got really nasty

I have no information about that meeting. I say to the Jews and Arabs—the Arabs are not in this House—I say to the Jews and Arabs: the way for both of you to settle this is to stop fighting.

Which led John Lewis, another Labour MP, to ask

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker; am I in Order in asking the Foreign Secretary what he meant by the reference to the fact that the Arabs are not in this House?

And the Speaker quashed that

That is not a point of Order.


On May 5, 1948, Edelman asked Bevin

"what military action the Arab Legion has undertaken in Palestine without the consent of His Majesty's Government.

Bevin answered


Kibbutz Gesher was attacked by the Arab Legion, being shelled, during the first phase of the battle for the site between April 27-29 (here in Hebrew; here in English) and according to Sela

the Legion had heavily shelled Kibbutz Gesher, near Naharayim, in the presence of Crown Prince Talal [in April], 
And on May 4th, attacked Kfar Etzion. And again on May 12.