Wednesday, July 01, 2020

I Intend to Decolonize

Decolonization is the process of deconstructing colonial ideologies of the superiority and privilege of Western thought and approaches....decolonization involves dismantling structures that perpetuate the status quo and addressing unbalanced power dynamics...decolonization involves valuing and revitalizing Indigenous knowledge and approaches and weeding out settler biases or assumptions that have impacted Indigenous ways of being.

Decolonization is defined as restoring the Indigenous world view; the culture and  traditional ways; and replaces Western interpretations of history with Indigenous perspectives of history.

In practice, that could take this form:

Campaigners have asked Uganda’s parliament to order the removal of monuments to British colonialists and to rename streets commemorating imperial military forces.

Or this one:

in the United States, the Museum of Man, in San Diego, recently hired a Navajo educator as its “director of decolonization” and announced that it would no longer display human remains without tribal consent. 

At the  American Museum of Natural History, demonstrators have trooped through the museum on an Anti–Columbus Day Tour. They chant, drum, dance, and unfurl banners: rename the day. respect the ancestors. decolonize! reclaim! imagine!.

Of course there is a connection to the issue of "Palestine":

Whether seeking a two-state solution, a confederation, or a single “Jewish” state over the entire Land of Israel, a “conflict resolution” approach does not address the wider need for decolonization. A settler colonial perspective restores the original and underlying problem of settlement that began in the late 19th century — one which asserts its claim to the entire country of Palestine. This is not to say that the occupied Palestinian territories are not occupied under international law, but that occupation is a sub-issue that must be addressed in the context of a wider process of decolonization, including the right of Palestinian refugees to return.

The authors take their analysis one step further, writing there:

Settlers come with the intent of not just living in another territory but taking it over — to thoroughly replace the existing society and to supersede it in a normalized settler state. Through myths of entitlement invented to legitimize their seizure of the land, the settlers strive to become the natives — that is, they assert their indigeneity — while rendering the real indigenous people invisible. 

But hold out hope for the eventual:

integration of the settler population into a society of equals.

Even though he is knwlingly devious, admitting to his real goals:

the majority of Israeli Jews will never be active partners in a struggle for the decolonization of Palestine. As settler colonials they have no motivation to decolonize, which they view as a form of national suicide. The best we can aim for strategically is to “soften” them through an inclusive plan of decolonization

Jeff Halper expands here (pardon the pun). 

Now, here is Israel's Permanent Representative of Israel to the United NationsYeuda Blum at the United Nations December 21, 1978:

(a) In 1917 there was no such thing as a separate "Palestinian people". The Arab nationalist movement had barely begun, and particularist national movements in the Arab provinces of the former Ottoman Empire were virtually unknown. The dominant view among local Arabs at the end of the First World War was that the Arabs living in Palestine were part of the Syrian people and the greater Arab nation. Indeed, in 1919 and 1920, Arabs in Palestine objected to the Palestine Mandate, inter alia, on the grounds that they should not be separated from their brethren outside the area of the Mandate.

On 2 July 1919, the General Syrian Congress adopted 10 resolutions, of which the eighth stated:

"We ask that there should be no separation of the Southern part of Syria, known as Palestine, nor of the littoral western zone which includes Lebanon, from the Syrian cr ltry. We desire that the unity of the country should be guaranteed against partition under whatever circumstances." (King Crane Commission Report in Foreign Relations of the United States: Paris Peace Conferenc 1919, vol. 12, p. 781)On 31 May 1956, Ahmed Shukairy, then a Saudi Arabia delegate to the United Nations and later head of the so-called PLO, told the Security Council:"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria." (S/PV.724, para. 44)In March of 1974, President Assad of Syria stated:"Palestine is a basic part of Southern Syria." (The New York Times, 9 March 1974)Last year, Zuhair Muhsin, head of the PLO's so-called Military Operations Department, told the Dutch daily newspaper Trouw:"There are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese ... We are one people. Only for political reasons do we carefully underline our Palestinian identity. For it is of national interest for the Arabs to encourage the existence of the Palestinians against Zionism. Yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity is there only for tactical reasons. The establishment of a Palestinian state is a new expedient to continue the fight against Zionism and for Arab unity." (James Dorsey, quoting Zuhair Muhsin in Trouw, 31 March 1977)Likewise, as recently as 17 November 1978, Yassir Arafat said at a rally held at Beirut by the Lebanese Ba'ath Party that "al-Assad said that Palestine is the southern part of Syria. I told him that Palestine is southern Syria and Syria is northern Palestine". (Voice of Palestine, 18 November 1978)(b) The reason why the Arabs in Palestine thought in these terms is that a political entity called Palestine had never existed. The term "Palestine" (Falastin in Arabic) was used throughout the centuries for a geographical area of uncertain limits, and not for a "defined territory". Under the Ottomans the area went through a bewildering series of administrative redivisions, and for the most part was governed from Damascus.

(c) It is also false to claim that Arabs in Palestine in 1917 were "a people rooted for centuries" in that country. A good part of the Arab population was made up of recently settled Bebouin from east of the River Jordan. Egyptians who came to Palestine in the nineteenth century in the wake of Ibrahim Pasha were also a significant element. Others could trace their not very distant roots to Morocco, and still others were recent arrivals from the Balkans, the Hauran and even Czarist Russia (Circassians) who came in the latter half of the nineteenth century. It is interesting to note in this connexion that Circassian is still spoken in some "Arab'' villages in the north of Israel.

Moreover, far from being "deeply rooted", sizable numbers of Arabs were leaving Palestine by the end of the nineteenth century, in common with others from the region, and the problem of emigration was discussed by the "First Arab Congress", held in Paris in 1913.

If anything, it is the Arabs who have colonized "Palestine". It is they you should be the objects of a decolonization process.


Sunday, June 28, 2020

Other Minor Details

Minor Detail is Adania Shibli's new novel.  It anchors itself in a 1949 rape and murder of a young Bedouin in 1949.

The book, as reviewed, is

a highly sophisticated narrative that pitilessly explores the limits of empathy and the desire to right (or write) historical wrongs by giving voice to the voiceless.

It is based on an actual case as reported in Haaretz in 2003. The soldiers involved were tried and punished, inadequately I add. The main culprit received 15 years. 

There was no excuse for what happened.

I would, however, hope that other rape incidents would be served by a literary treatment as there were in the past. That is, of Jewish women raped by Arabs. Other minor details.

Like Salia Zohar. Like Jewish women in Jerusalem 1920 (p. 277). Like women in Hebron in 1929 although Hillel Cohen attempted to deny that. Like Ori Ansbacher.


Saturday, June 27, 2020

Semantic Subversion

Just one paragraph from this book by Shira Robinson, Citizen Strangers:

Shira Robinson

is Associate Professor of History and International Affairs at The George Washington University. And she is well-connected to anti-Zionist groups. She was born in Israel, or "Palestine" as she prefers, and is the granddaughter of Batsheva Naimer, wife of Gus Naimer of Newark. More relevant, she was an associate at Human Rights Watch/Middle East during the 1990s. At about the same time, she was employed at Yedioth Ahronot.

To return to the extract above.

The new post-modern, post-fact narrative approach simply redefines any term so as to fit it to the predisposed political/ideological outlook.

Race, apartheid, whatever. Takes its original exact meaning and stretch it a bit so that your enemy is incuded, no matter how much you need fabricate.

By the way, conversion of Moslem Arabs to Judaism is not at all impossible. It happens. This female singing star. This Kuwaiti. This man.  Her "blood-based" charge is nonsensical. And a malignment.

Oh, and Israel is not a settler-colonial project.


Friday, June 26, 2020

When are Territories "Disputed"?

When are territories "disputed"?

When they are not administered by Israel.


French President Emmanuel Macron says France will cooperate with Madagascar to find a solution for the Glorioso Islands, a tiny, uninhabited archipelago in the Indian Ocean which is disputed by the two countries....A joint commission on the issue will hold its first meeting next month.
Macron visited the Glorioso Islands Wednesday — a first for a French president. Located between the French overseas island of Mayotte and Madagascar, the islands used to be part of the French colonies.

Mayotte, moreover, is an overseas department and region of France, an integral part of France.

The five overseas departments and regions of France are:

French Guiana in South America;
Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Caribbean;

Mayotte and Réunion in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of East Africa.

All those are a very, very long way from France.


Mr Shukla said India faced a greater threat of a “two-front war” on its border than at any time in the recent past thanks to deepening economic and diplomatic ties between China and Pakistan, both of which accused India of changing the status of disputed Kashmir by bringing Ladakh under central government control last year. Islamabad and Beijing could use the two-front strategy “as a retaliatory measure to up the cost of any escalation by India, or if India activates Tibet”, for instance by declaring it a disputed territory, he said.


At least five dead in separate gun battles as number of rebels killed in disputed territory this year surpasses 100.
At least five people, including a six-year-old boy caught in the crossfire, have been killed in Indian-administered Kashmir.


Japan changes administrative status of disputed islandsJapan recently approved a bill to change the administrative status of a group of islands which have been claimed by both China and Japan, and has remained a point of disagreement for both the countries.Japan’s Okinawa city council approved the bill on Monday. The Ishigaki City Council will change the administrative status of the island group known as Senkakus in Japan, and as Diaoyus in China.


As Islamic State (ISIS) militants continue to launch attacks on Iraqi civilians and security forces, officials have been shuttling between Baghdad and Erbil to discuss a possible joint security mechanism to secure disputed territories of Iraq and prevent further instability. 
Iraqi Defense Minister Juma Inad arrived in Erbil on Thursday to discuss increased coordination between Iraqi forces and Kurdish Peshmerga forces to fill the security vacuum in the disputed areas. Inad stressed the importance of “close coordination” between Iraqi forces and Peshmerga forces against ISIS in the disputed areas

Have I made my point?

In 1922, the international community in a legal act made by the countries which had liberated the regions conquered and occupied by the Ottoman Empire along with four dozen others, decided to recognize the Jewish historical connection to the Land of Israel and to recnstitute therein the Jewish National Home.  Part of tht territory, lying east of the Jordan River was separated and Jewish settlemnt activity was prohibited, although th actual language was simply "postponed".

Thus, all the area west of the Jordan River was to become the future Jewish state.

Due to Arab terror throughut the years of the Mandate, a first partition west of the Jordan River was made in 1937, rejected by the Arabs. In 1947, the United Nations recommended a second plan of partition, also rejected by the Arabs.

The area was subsequently illegally annexed by the Kingdom of Jordan, an act not recognized by any country except Great Britain.

No State of Palestine ever existed and in 1967, due to Arab aggression, following 19 years of further Arab terror previously practiced during the Mandate years of 1920-1948, Israel came to repossess that area.

It should be properly referred to as "disputed territory" even if you do not agree with me that it is liberated Jewish land, the regions of Judea and Samaria.


Thursday, June 25, 2020

Is Yael Stein Wrong?

Here is Yael Stein in Haaretz:

Israel suspended land registration in the West Bank, declared some 1 million dunams (more than 247,000 acres) as “state land” and allocated them nearly in their entirety to the settlements...That declaration was based on a skewed interpretation of the law and carried out in violation of the basic tenets of due process. Moreover, even if this were in fact public land, it was meant for the Palestinians, not the settlers, who were not supposed to be there: The entire settlement enterprise is prohibited and constitutes a war crime – a point that Hayut ignored...the subordination of the lives of the Palestinians to the needs of the settlers.

Ms. Stein 

Photo: Tony Cross

is the director of research at B’Tselem.

Article 6 of the League of Nations Mandate decision reads:

The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.

That decision's preamble reads:

...the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish peopler...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;

In addition, Article 11 reads:

The Administration of Palestine shall take all necessary measures to safeguard the interests of the community in connection with the development of the country, and...shall have full power to provide for public ownership or control of any of the natural resources of the country ...It shall introduce a land system appropriate to the needs of the country, having regard, among other things, to the desirability of promoting the close settlement and intensive cultivation of the land.

Now, I ask you, is Stein correct in her assertion?

Or is she wrong?


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Yet Another Not-Published Letter

After reading Yossi Klein Halevi's op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, "Annexation Would Be a Mistake—and a Tragedy"I sent this 'Letter-to-the-Editor' in.

I cannot seem to find it published.

Yossi Klein Halevi, writing in his "Annexation Would Be a Mistake—and a Tragedy" (June 15), posits that "With every Palestinian rejection, the map of a potential Palestine has gotten smaller. Time is not on their side."  He adds: "Mr. Trump, they are effectively saying, is a useful idiot whose plan will serve settler interests now, and then fail to deliver on a Palestinian state later".

As regards the element of time, ever since 1922 when the Jewish National Home lost all areas of historic Palestine east of the Jordan River, and the 1937 and 1947 Partition Schemes which were to deny Jews more than 60% of the remaining territory west of the river, on through the 1968 Allon Plan, the 1977 Begin Autonomy Plan, the 2000 Camp David II Plan and the 2008 Olmert Plan, among others, how much time would Klein Halevi presume that Israel wait and waste for security and arrangements that will assure as much of a peaceful reality for Israel and its citizens as possible?

Moreover, if anyone will fail to deliver on a Palestinian state, it will be the Arabs-called-Palestinians who will not fulfill the very logical, rational and moral conditions for doing so that the Peace-to-Prosperity Plan sets out. As President Trump detailed in his January 28 remarks, "we are asking the Palestinians to meet the challenges of peaceful co-existence. This includes adopting basic laws enshrining human rights; protecting against financial and political corruption; stopping the malign activities of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other enemies of peace; ending the incitement of hatred against Israel — so important; and permanently halting the financial compensation to terrorists." 

Trump is certainly being useful here, but is far from being an idiot. I will avoid judging Klein Halevy on this matter.


Monday, June 22, 2020

The "It" Land

Four hundred years after it was invaded and occupied by the Ottoman Turks;

And six hundred years after it was invaded and subjugated by a force led by the Kurdish Iraqi Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub;

And eight hundred years after it was invaded by the First Crusaders from Europe;

And thirteen hundred years after the hordes of Muslims came out of the Arabian Peninsula to invade and occupy it

And sixteen hundred years after its Christian Byzantine and Persian Sansarian rule came to an end;

And eighteen hundred years after the Roman Empire quashed a second armed rebellion by its residents seeking liberation and named it Palestine;

It, the Land of Israel (Eretz-Yisrael), the Holy Land, the Province of Judaea, the homeland of the Jews for over three-thousand years, where the Jewish People's prophets, priests and princes practiced the first monotheisitic religions, developed the Hebrew Language and culture, after being liberated during World War One by the Principal Allied Powers, was declared by the Supreme Council of the Paris Peace Conference's High Contracting Parties to have its administration entrusted to a Mandatory which would be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on the 2nd November, 1917, by the British Government, and adopted by the other Allied Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people. 

The Land was first partitioned in 1922 when the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine as ultimately determined were excluded from the Mandate and applying the rights of Jewish immigration and close settlement were postponed and  withheld.

In 1937 another partitioned was made but two years later, was discarded and the whole idea of a Jewish National Home was scrapped.

In 1947, the UN recommended partition and the Jews agreed. Arabs declared war and fr the next 19 years after losing, carried on a terror campaign to eliminate the Jewish state.

Despite many other offers of partition, withdrawal and such including an autonomy plan, a disengagement, the Oslo Accords, a construction moratorium and much more, the Arab side is still declining to negotiate and refusing to pursue peace.

The "it" land is the Jewish people's legacy and it will remain under Jewish control.


Sunday, June 14, 2020

Checking A Footnote

I read this in an academic article, one not sympathetic to Israel, by Professor Emerita at Boston University Irene Gendzier based on her book, Dying to Forget Oil, Power, Palestine, and the Foundations of U.S. Policy in the Middle East:

Michael Assaf, adviser to Ben-Gurion, had an acute sense of its long-term implications for Israeli-U.S. relations, and more generally for those of Israel and the West. What he wrote in an editorial in the Israeli daily Ha'aretz in 1951 was to prove prophetic. Assaf reviewed the precarious situation of Arab regimes in the face of nationalist movements, both secular and religious, concluding that the states in question were weak militarily. In this context, he considered the impact of Israel's strengthening, which he described as "a rather convenient way for the Western Powers to keep a balance of political forces in the Middle East. According to this supposition Israel has been assigned the role of a kind of watchdog." In that capacity, if the "Western powers will at some time prefer, for one reason or another, to shut their eyes, Israel can be relied upon to punish properly one or several of its neighboring states whose lack of manners towards the West has gone beyond permissible limits."47

Footnote 47 reads:

 47 "The Harlot from the Cities Overseas and We — Thoughts on the Eve of [Jewish] New Year 5712," Op-ed article, Ha'aretz, September 30, 1951, cited in Moshe Machover, "Israelis and Palestinians: Conflict and Resolution," Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust Annual Lecture, November 30, 2006, pp. 13-14.

I looked it up.

It is not on pages 13-14. 

An article with that title is found on page 2.

It is written, however, not by Assaf but  by Gershom Schocken, the owner and publisher of Haaretz at the time. Since the 30th was the eve of Rosh Hashana but a Sunday, I checked the previous Friday and the following (Friday being the weekend edition) but not Assaf.

And yes, the passage appears so:

 משום כך חיזוק מסוים של
ישראל הוא דרך נוחה למדי בשביל
מעצמות המערב כדי לשמור על איזון
כוחות פוליטי במזרח התיכון. לפי סב-
רה זו נועד לישראל תפקיד של מעין
כלב-שמירח. אין לחשוש שהיא תפעיל
מדיניות תוקפנית כלפי מדינות ערב,
אם דבר זה יעמוד בניגוד ברור לרצונן
של אמריקה ובריסניה, אך אם מעצמות
המערב יעדיפו פעם, מטעם זה או אחר,
לעצום עין' אפשר יהיה לסמוך על כך,
שישראל תהיה מסוגלת להעניש ?ראוי
אחת או כמה מהמדינות השכנות שלה,

אה גבולות המותר. שחוסר הנימוס שלהן לגבי 


Tuesday, June 09, 2020

The Tool That Is Twitter

In my Media Comment columns at the Jerusalem Post, wrttten conjointly with Eli Pollak, we have highlighted an aspect of Twitter that we see as harmful to objective and fair journalism which is the way it leads journalists to become personal and then strident and nasty in their conversation which spills over back into their reporting.

In this June 8 NYTimes article, there is revealed another aspect, one in which the reporter feels obliged, because of the mass feedback that Twitter generates in an intoxicating fashion, to respond to what his/her audience wants to hear:

The central vein for reporters, producers, activists and a vast national audience was Twitter, which had already begun subtly shifting the power dynamic innews. It steered coverage. When John Eligon of The Times published a largely sympathetic profile of Mr. Brown that described him as “no angel,” it setoff outrage on Twitter as a symbol of a style of journalism that seemed too ready to explain away police violence. “They had a point” about the phrase, Mr. Eligon recalled last week. Twitter “did make it feel like you’re more accountable to a broader audience and a more diverse audience.”The platform also gave the younger reporters “freedom to establish their own stilts in ways we didn’t have without someone handing us the keys,” said Trymaine Lee, then 35 and reporting for MSNBC. Before you’re at the whim of the newsroom,’’ said Mr. Lee. Buton Twitter, the young journalists received “positive reinforcement,they’re getting thousands and thousands of people saying, ‘Yes, we do like that.’”

To borrow radical progressive political terminology, this is media weaponizing in support not of social or economic or political change and improvement but in support of revolution while jettisoning any normative ethical professionalism.


Monday, June 08, 2020

The Palestinian Authority and the US Peace To Prosperity Plan

President Donald Trump announced his so-called Deal of the Century on January 28 this year.

It is quite beneficial for the Arab side. Since then, what has been done or said by the Palestinian Authority?

The next day they had people take to the streets as part of a "day of rage"Saeb Erekat said the Trump administration had simply "copied and pasted" the steps that Mr Netanyahu wanted to see implemented. "It's about annexation, it's about apartheid.

Mahmoud Abbas declared "We say a thousand times, no, no, no. We rejected this deal from the start and our stance was correct."

Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas said he is ending "all agreements" with Israel and the United States 

The Palestinian Authority prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said it would be “buried very soon.”

At the UN in early February, Abbas announced,  "we will not accept this plan; we will confront its application on the ground.”

In May, Abbas notified all that “The Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO] and the state of Palestine are absolved, as of today, of all the agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments and of all the commitments based on these understandings and agreements, including the security ones.” Note: he did that last July and two years earlier.

Terror attacks continueThat the PA is creating an atmosphere of terror and war for the Palestinian street is documented.

I think things are quite clear.

So does Jared Kushner keep pushing? Was Jason Greenblatt smart to get out?


Wednesday, June 03, 2020

The Key is Reducinig The Four-Year Period

How to prevent the establishment of a second Arab state (well, third if we include Gaza) even though Israel has indicated acceptance of the Peace for Propserity Plan?


Reduce it.

What four years?

Here is President Trump on January 28:

Perhaps most importantly, my vision gives the Palestinians the time needed to rise up and meet the challenges of statehood.  I sent a letter today to President Abbas.  I explained to him that the territory allocated for his new state will remain open and undeveloped for a period of four years.  During this time, Palestinians can use all appropriate deliberation to study the deal, negotiate with Israel, achieve the criteria for statehood, and become a truly independent and wonderful state.

President Abbas, I want you to know that if you choose the path to peace, America and many other countries will — we will be there.  We will be there to help you in so many different ways. 

How to reduce those four years?

Here are the preconditions Trump set out:

To ensure a successful Palestinian state, we are asking the Palestinians to meet the challenges of peaceful co-existence.  (Applause.)  This includes adopting basic laws enshrining human rights; protecting against financial and political corruption; stopping the malign activities of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other enemies of peace; ending the incitement of hatred against Israel — so important; and permanently halting the financial compensation to terrorists. 

No basic laws? Time reduced from the four years.

Continued financial corruption? No halt in pay-for-slay compensation for imprisoned terrorists? Time taken off those four years.

Terror continues?

Incitement continues? 

No negotiations (as at present)? Time reduced.


I was sent by LBD back to the full text of the plan itself so, as in Section 22,

If the PLO and the Palestinian Authority shall not refrain from any attempt to join any international organization without the consent of the State of Israel; or act, and not dismiss all pending actions, against the State of Israel, the United States and any of their

citizens before the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice, and all other tribunals, more time can come off.

Those four years will become a few months or even weeks. In fact, over four months have already passed and the map has not yet been converted from a conceptual one.

This time Mr. Trump needs to hear: no four years!


Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Antifa in Mandate Palestine

“Antifa” was a group founded by the International Communist League in Mandate Palestine in 1934 to promote radical socialist ideas as well as to oppose Revisionist Zionism. Its members were extreme moderates (pro-Havlaga restraint policy during Arab riots 1936-39) who sought compromise with nationalist Arabs and eventually went on to volunteer in the Spanish Civil War.

Some images

 See here

An article in the pro-Irgun Polish-language monthly Jerozolima Wyzwolona, June 30, 1939 

A notice in the Palestine Post August 23, 1937

From the JTA, February 10, 1937

A delegation including a Jew and an Arab-Morris Efrom and Najib Yusuf – have arrived in New York as representatives of the Antifa Committee of Palestine for a tour of the United States sponsored by the American Antifa Committee, which includes Roger Baldwin, Prof. Morris R. Cohen, the Rev. John Haynes Holmes and Ernst Toller.

And six days later:

Could this be that Morris Erem? Seems he was first in Borochivian Workers List then in Poelei Tzion Smol.

A Hebrew-language report on Najib Yussef on the trip in the Revisionist HaYarden.


Sunday, May 31, 2020

Being a Torah-Licensed Scoundrel

In Volume 53, Issue 1 of European Judaism, Jeremy Schonfield published Kaddish for Gaza
Some Liturgical Ground ClearingSchonfield views the recital by young Jews of the Mourners’ Kaddish for Palestinians shot while trying to break through the border as being a misunderstanding about the different ways Kaddish is used in Traditional and Progressive contexts. Mourners’ Kaddish is, of course, for deceased relatives and he questions whether the reciting was appropriate as none of the Gaza victims were Jewish and whose intentions were uncertain.

But he has an alternative recital: an act of text study could have been used to highlight moral ambiguity, followed by Kaddish de-Rabbanan, the traditional coda to a study session. This would have avoided offence to Muslims and to Jews, and have ensured that the act of reciting Kaddish refers in this case not to the dead but to the moral problems raised by their killing. The article relates to a 2018 event and 

questions the appropriateness of reciting Mourners’ Kaddish for the Gaza victims, none of whom were Jewish and whose intentions were uncertain. Instead, an act of text study could have been used to highlight moral ambiguity, followed by Kaddish de-Rabbanan, the traditional coda to a study session. This would have avoided offence to Muslims and to Jews, and have ensured that the act of reciting Kaddish refers in this case not to the dead but to the moral problems raised by their killing.

Schonfield is a professor at Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies and Lecturer in Liturgy at Leo Baeck College, London and scion to an orthodox rabbinical family. He, then, would know what is is to be a scoundrel with a Torah license (or with the permission of).

He factually describes the action of the Gazan Arabs as a “march over the border to Israel”.
In other words, an invasion, akin to an act of war. And he undoubtedly is aware that those protests were distected by Hamas, with Hamas cordinators in the field, with weapons such as IEDs, other explosives, firebombs, rocks and then incendiary kites and balloons later employed. This was not in the least a non-violent demonstration.  The participants were urged to rip out the hearts of the Israelis they encounter once over the border.  The peacefulness, so-called, was admitted to be a deception. Even though this was the third time this act of Kaddish recital for dead terrorists was enacted, and even if we can find some way to excuse the young Jews, to ignore the character and purpose of the march protests two years later is truly astounding.

Moreover, even when he acknowledges that Hamas admits

that fifty of the sixty-two dead had been members of their organisation...[and] Islamic Jihad claimed three others. 

he adds

These numbers are not necessarily accurate, since the need to emphasise that Hamas is in control of Gaza would encourage the percentage to be increased,

Noting that in any case, there seemed to have been 10 innocent civilians, or rather, non-combatants, he sarcastically adds

unless one thinks that living in Gaza and therefore perhaps voting for Hamas is a capital crime

While it may not necessarily be a capital crime, it could (should?) be a crime to support a terrorist organization that almost exclusively targets Jewish civilians. That there has been no true popular revolt or any serious street protests against the Hamas rule in Gaza since 2006, surely the population at large is not wholly innocent even if only ethically.

Putting words into someone elses mouth is another trick. Schonfield writes

why shoot to kill, the media asked

But not all the victims, that day, or on other Fridays, were shot to death on purpose. A fair percentage, the majority I would think, were victims of stray bullets or got in the way or richochets. If there was a purpose involved, it was to prevent damage to the fence that would allow murderous hordes to stream through to nearby kibbutzim or to neutralize those using lethal weapons themselves.

He is sloppy when writing

invaded Gaza in 2014 to destroy tunnels that could have been located from inside Israel

But the tunnels were only discovered to exist after those hostilities began and the Hamas terrorists emerged. And as further evidence of his military expertise, he suggests in the future:

wider belts of barbed wire

which means that Israel has to withdraw further into its own terriotry as to extend the fence area into Gaza he would, I presume, term extending the occupation. 

He mentions

the Israeli army’s morality

yet applying immorality to Hamas is mssing. 

Further on, he refers a Midrash in connection to God supposedly prohibiting the angels to rejoice over the drowning Egyptians recorded in Sanhedrin 39B:

R. Samuel b. Nahman said in R. Jonathan's name: What is meant by, And one approached not the other all night? In that hour the ministering angels wished to utter the song [of praise] before the Holy One, blessed be He, but He rebuked them, saying: My handiwork [the Egyptians] is drowning in the sea; would ye utter song before me!

I cannot but assume that he ignored an alternate well-known reading, that God intended that only He as their creator could rejoice but ot them.  They had no right as they were not involved in any form of responsibility for the Egyptians but, he, Hod, surely could because he was meting out true justice. The right to sing exists but belongs only to the proper authority.

At that section he brings three examples of Biblical models dealing with the punishment of sinners - Avraham and Sodom, the drowning Egyptians and the Purim story with the killing of the Persians in large numbers. Why not mention the Seven Nations (Mishneh Torah, Sefer Shoftim, Melachim Umilchamot 5:4)?  Why not mention the very reasonable two-stage approach in the next chapter at 6:1? Has not Israel over and over attempted to negotiate with Hamas?

At the bottom of page 134, I would suggest he mixes up the din rodef with a matter of a burglar writing

Killing a burglar may thus be murder under certain circumstances in Jewish, as it is in British, law

But Rashi at the source, Exodus 22:1  indicates that a thief sneaking in to a house may be killed: The Torah teaches, ‘If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first’.”:

This is not murder for he (the intruder) is as if dead already. From this the Torah teaches us that if one comes to kill you, you should rise prior to kill him. And in this case (our verse) he (the intruder) has come with intent to kill you,

Even if Schonfield disagrees, he need deal with this general rule. Indeed, can a civil law be applied to a war situation, as is at the Gaza border? 

He also adds that minimum force must be used but that is if only possible, which in this case, it is not. There are crowds, en masse, trying to get at the fence, to damage it, or undercover of the civilians launch all sorts of weapons and attempt to get across. The soldiers plead through loudspeakers, drop leaflets, contact Hamas leadership and, by the way, the weekly protests have been going on for a long time. Anybody approaching is surely aware of the danger. But no, Schonfield is captive of his on ideology, writing, in clear dissonance of the truth, that

There is also doubt about the murderous intent of women and children who may have been told by their leaders that the way ahead was clear and that the soldiers would not harm them.

Of course, soldiers should do all possible to avoid unnecessary bloodshed. But this attack on IDF morality, employing misreadings of Biblical and Rabbinical texts is niot helpful in the least, especially as it was published to justify even a Kadissh D’Rabbanan for these terrorists.

If he had included one call to Hamas to cease this action, I could have found at least one point in his favor.

Engaging Greene

I read through this op-ed at Haaretz,  Why the Netanyahus Are Embracing 'Christian Europe'. What irks the author, Toby Greene, is that radical right circles in Europe which were mostly anti-Semitic and anti-Israel, now “embrace Israel as a model ethno-national state, and Europe’s frontline against radical Islam” and the European radical right is a source of great temptation for the Netanyahus, senior and junior.

I presume the op-ed stemmed from an academic article he recently published, Judeo-Christian civilizationism: challenging common European foreign policy in the IsraeliPalestinian arena. His finding points to “the growing influence of civilizationist discourse on European attitudes towards the Israeli-Palestinian arena”.

To my understanding, Greene is not pleased that Israels Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has succeeded in creating a supporting, even an applauding, European base quite favorable to Israel to replace/offset the EU which for 40 years has been extremely anti-Israel. He is fearful that these new pro-Israel countries are nationalist, very anti-Islam and, ultimatley, present a danger to Israel. Netanyahu, he believes,  “plays happily with the politics of cultural and civilizational identity”. He doubts that “this politics serves Israel’s strategic interests. That view is one that is legitimate to be argued, even it is wrong or misrepresented or formulated in incnediary terminology.

But Greene then enters the internal Israel debate and I picked out one sentence and I tweeted out the following on May 13

@toby_greene_ wants Israel to maintain “a commitment to liberal democracy...[without] foreclosing the option of negotiated peace with the Palestinians”. Imagine how much better it would be if the .@nadplo would be 10% even the liberal democacry Israel is.

and it continued, back and forth:

He replies:

Israel will not look much like a liberal democracy with 3 million Palestinians within its permanent borders without citizenship rights.

and I answer and ask:

a) why not? Arabs cannot be Israelis? (or do we have to ban subversive Arab parties?)b) but will “Palestine” ever be a liberal democracy? let us not forget my point.c) do you think Jews could live, safely, in a Palestine? Maybe as citizens?P.S. and I won’t argue the numbers

He responds:

If you made West Bank Palestinians into Israeli citizens, Israel would be a binational state. I think the better option is to preserves Israel's Liberal Democratic AND Jewish character (with an Arab minority) in the context of a 2 state solution.

And I added:

Another angle:Today between east Haifa and west Tiberias, the Gallilee has a solid Arab majority.Do we yield that territory up to assure there is no binationalism?

His answer is:

The existing minority since 1948 does not compromise Israel's ability to be Jewish and democratic. Offering citizenship to 3m WB Palestinians would. You still haven't said if that's what you really want. I don't see how anyone seriously thinks that's a recipe for success.

And my comeback:

Which would permit the PLO to do what Hamas has been doing since 2005 but from the heights of Judea & Samaria with Gedera-to-Hadera layed out before them? There really is no such thing as `territory-for-peace`.

Somehow, I am amazed that people considered to be smart and intelligent reveal themselves, well, not to be.