Monday, January 07, 2019

Library of Congress Errs (UPDATED)

If you read the second half of my previous blog post, you will know that I drew attention to the probability that Rashida Tlaib is definitely not the first "Palestinian" to be elected to Congress.

The first was a Jew, John H. Krebs.

Krebs moved to the Mandate of Palestine in 1933, was educated there and even served in the Hagana before emigrating to the United States to go to university.

In order to enter the United States, he would have had need of a passport.  Since he was born in Germany, and being a Jew, his nationality would have been terminated (and had he remained there, he would have been exterminated).

Logic seems to indicate that he was issued a Palestinian passport.

or, perhaps, a Laissez-passer document.

To be sure, I wrote to the Library of Congress.

The reply, however, was strange:

John Hans Krebs was born in Berlin, Germany, although he did live in Israel from 1933 to 1946 before moving to the United States. Krebs served in the House of Representatives from 1975 to 1979. 

It appears that John Sununu was the first Palestinian-American to serve in Congress. John Sununu is of Lebanese-Palestinian ancestry and was first elected to the House in 1997 and the Senate in 2003. h

Also, Rep. Justin Amash has a Palestinian father. Amash was elected to the House in 2011. 

I responded:

Thank you.

To pursue the issue further, Krebs did NOT live in "Israel" between 1933-1946.The territory at that time was a League of Nations Mandate, assigned to Great Britain for the purpose of reconstituting the historic Jewish national home. Israel came into existence in 1948. Palestine, incidentally, never became an independent geo-political entity.

Like Krebs, Sununu was born outside of Palestine proper, in Havana, Cuba. His father's family had already come to the United States from the Middle East at the turn of the twentieth century. His father, John, was born in Boston. Sununu's mother, Victoria Dada, was born in El Salvador. So there is no direct first or second generation connection with Palestine. In fact, he never, unlike Krebs, ever lived in the area.

As for Amash, he is indeed the son of a Palestinian Christian father whose family immigrated to the United States in 1956 from Bethlehem, I think. Congressman Amash, too, was not born in the territory of Palestine but in Grand Rapids and never lived in the Palestine Mandate which ended in 1948. Between 1948-1967, the former Mandate territory of Palestine outside of the boundaries of Israel, was under the occupation/annexation of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. As I do not know when Attalah Amash was born, if it was post 1948, it was not in Palestine but Jordan.

And I added

I think you are mixing up "ancestry" with actual diplomatic nationality. If that is your standard, though, dozens of Jews who have served in the House of Representatives and the Senate are, in a sense, "Palestinians" as that is where all Jews originated before being dispersed due to the conquest and occupation of Judea.


Thanks to a Twitter ally, I can now display proof of Krebs' Palestinian nationality:



I have received their second reply:
Hello Yisrael Medad
We apologize if we misunderstood your original question. We thought you were attempting to find the first member of Congress with Palestinian ancestry. Since John Krebs wasn't born in the Palestine Mandate and/or present day Israel, we did not understand what you meant by the first "Palestinian" to serve in Congress.

You are correct that Krebs did not live in Israel since Israel did not come into existence until 1948. We inadvertently took the reference to Kreb living Israel from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, which mistakenly states that he "moved to Israel in 1933..." ...

That being said, John Krebs does appear to be the first member of Congress to have been raised in the Palestine Mandate and/or the land that is present-day Israel. We looked through the book "The Jews of Capitol Hill: A Compendium of Jewish Congressional Members" by Kurt F. Stone and did not find any other examples.

Please read this from Abu Yehuda, who I credited in my previous post on this, with inside photos of the passport of Krebs.

And someone edited at Wikipedia (for how long I do not know)



Joe in Australia said...

Well spotted!

Michael Cohen said...

Good one Old Man!! Kudos and Mabruk!!

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