Thursday, April 18, 2024

On Jabotinsky's Views on Arabs

From here, Shlomo Avineri:

"In connection with the central position of national existence in Jabotinsky’s theoretical concept, his approach to the position of Zionism in the Arab question is especially interesting. And we repeat, we are not interested in tactical positions, but in the question of principle, and here Jabotinsky inevitably faces a very difficult problem.

On the one hand, one might believe that a person like Jabotinsky, who saw in nationalism, in national characteristics, in the national desire to separate from others and in national pride, the focus of state and historical development, would be attentive to the aspirations of Arab-Palestinian nationalism. One who did not shy away from Ukrainian nationalism with its anti-Semitic manifestations, as we saw above, who was intellectually interested in Serbs, Croats and Albanians with their national rights, who believed that Estonian choirs testify to the strength of the national feeling seething in the Estonian people , - from such a person one could expect that, having come to analyze the Middle Eastern reality, he would try to find a place for Arab nationalism - in Palestine and in neighboring countries - in the overall picture of his worldview.

But that did not happen. Anyone who wants to find in Jabotinsky an attempt to resolve this issue will be disappointed. The fundamental decision here was not easy for any of the Zionist thinkers, but perhaps it could have been expected from such a thinker as Jabotinsky, in whose philosophy nationalism, as a universal phenomenon, occupied such a central place. However, Arab nationalism is discussed infrequently and in passing in his writings, and anyone who detects a considerable amount of disdain for the Arabs in this limited material would be right.

True, Jabotinsky, with his moral conviction, stood for the fact that in the future Jewish state, where the Arabs would be a minority, they would receive full civil rights as individuals. But a continuous thread runs through all of Jabotinsky’s literary and political activities: he does not seem to notice the Arabs as a serious political, social or cultural factor.

Once again, this seems to be driven not by tactical considerations or an attempt to evade a question that may be difficult to answer, but by something deeper: at the heart of this position is Jabotinsky's concept of the superiority of European culture; therefore, he views Zionism as an expression of this cultural power of Europe. In his writings, he resolutely rejects the idealization of the East or the Arab world, and in the article “Fashion for Arabesques” (1927) he argues with those participants in the Zionist movement who strive to see in the return to Zion also a return of the Jewish people to their origins - to the East. The Jewish people, Jabotinsky argues, are a European people, their culture took root in Europe, European culture itself is based on elements to which the people of Israel contributed from the best of their heritage, and there, in the West, and not in the East, the place of Israel as a people . According to Jabotinsky, this also applies to the Sephardi community: “Our origins from Asia, of course, are not proof. All of Central Europe is filled with races that also came from Asia - and much later than us.

All Ashkenazi Jews and perhaps half of the Sephardic Jews have lived in Europe for almost two thousand years. Enough time to take root spiritually.

Even more important is the other side of the issue: we not only lived in Europe for many centuries, we not only learned from Europe: we, the Jews, are one of those peoples who created European culture, and one of the most important among them...

The spiritual atmosphere in Europe is ours, we have the same right to it as the Germans, English, Italians and French: the “copyright” right. And in Eretz Israel this creativity of ours will continue... Nordau said it well: we are going to Palestine to push the moral limits of Europe to the Euphrates River" [5] .

In the same year (1927), Jabotinsky wrote a long article entitled “Merchants of the Spirit,” in which he tries to prove that the Arab medieval culture was, in essence, not Arab, and not even Muslim, and that most of the famous names in the field of thought in the Arab world of the Middle Ages belongs to the Syrians, Jews, Persians, etc. - and not to the Arabs themselves. It is clear that the main question here is not the historical correctness of such a definition, which itself is historical and conditioned by time; It is interesting that the same thinker who, when discussing Ukrainian nationalism, carefully emphasizes the element of difference between Ukrainians and Great Russians, does the opposite when discussing Arab culture [6] .

The same question finds artistic expression in the story “Zhidenok”, which appeared in a collection in Russian published by Zhabotinsky in 1930.

Jabotinsky himself is aware that the story can be called “obviously chauvinistic.” The main story is a detailed story about a Jewish teenager in one of the settlements of Eretz Israel, proving how much better he knows Arab culture and the geography of the Middle East than all the students of the village Arab school, which is known as “an amazing school: six classes, geographical maps and teacher from students of Cairo Al-Azgar University.” The story may be trivial, but the lesson that Jabotinsky wants to draw from it is clear, especially since the Jewish teenager in the story sums up the goals of this education in a very simple form: “The students must learn two branches of knowledge: to speak Hebrew and to beat face."

Jabotinsky gives this assessment not only to the Arabs, but also to Islam in general. In the article “Islam” (1924), Jabotinsky points out a number of cases in which a handful of European soldiers managed to defeat vastly superior Arab or Muslim forces. The Italian victory over the Senu Sith in 1911 in Tripoli, the victory of the French expeditionary force over Faisal in Damascus in 1920 - all this serves as decisive proof for Jabotinsky of the significant superiority of the West.

“I am not writing this to humiliate or ridicule the Arabs; I have no doubt about their military valor... In our time, war is a scientific and financial matter; backward peoples cannot do it.”

This backwardness is not only a matter of time, according to Jabotinsky, as far as the Muslim world is concerned. “Its real power in the future will be even less than before,” he says, objecting in particular to those who believed that Britain was forced to reckon with the Arab and Muslim factor in its Middle East policy. The Muslim world does not represent—and will not represent—a political force, as Jabotinsky says in the same article: “220 million people or even more profess Islam; but “Islam” as an integral factor in international relations does not exist... in the same way it is possible now, as it was possible a hundred years ago, to bring a conflict with any Muslim people to any end, without risking any complications of a pan-Islamic nature... As a political fist … Islam does not exist.”

If this concept defines Jabotinsky's position in assessing Arab nationalism, then it is clear that his conclusions regarding the demands of the “Palestinian” Arabs are unambiguous. Testifying before the British Royal Commission on Palestine (Peel Commission) in 1937, Jabotinsky demands the establishment of a Jewish state throughout the land of Israel in accordance with the basic principles of the revisionist movement and continues: “We unanimously affirm that the economic situation of the Arabs in the country is in the period of Jewish settlement, and thanks to Jewish settlement, is the envy of neighboring Arab countries to such an extent that Arabs from these countries show a clear tendency to migrate to Palestine. And I have already shown you that, in our opinion, there is no need to oust the Arabs. On the contrary, we mean that Palestine on both sides of the Jordan will accommodate both the Arabs and their descendants and many millions of Jews. I do not deny that in the course of this process the Arabs will inevitably become a minority in Palestine. However, I deny that this will cause them suffering. This is not a misery for any race or nation if it already has so many nation-states and many more nation-states will be added to them in the future. One part, one branch of this race, and by no means the most significant, will join the state belonging to others in order to live in it... This is a completely normal thing, and there is no “suffering” in it.”

Note that Jabotinsky does not argue that, compared with the Jewish claims to Eretz Israel, the Arab claims are less valid or that, compared with the possibility of the Jews remaining in the minority, the situation in which part of the Arab nation will be a minority in the Jewish state will be a lesser disaster and will entail less hardship.

For him, turning the Arabs in Palestine into a minority will not cause them any trouble at all. Personal rights, of course, will be granted to them - but on a national level they have no claims. Here the right is not opposed to the right and 13* 387 claims - claims, as Weizmann and his like-minded people saw it. From Jabotinsky’s point of view, everything that was once said about Jews in the Diaspora can also be said about Arabs in Palestine: the Arabs of this country as individuals have everything, but as a collective nothing."


Sunday, February 25, 2024

Did the "Zionists" Yield on the Negev in 1947?

From a February 1947 State Department memorandum:

"...In present discussions, Negeb has been divided into two parts. Northern or cultivable part carries already a substantial Arab population, and British hope to develop it further in Arab interest (see 2 above). Jews have themselves stated that uninhabited southern part of Negeb is useless to them. Consequently, Negeb will be left in Arab area."

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Lesson on 'How to think like Said Arikat'

There is nothing like an extensive example of Said Arikat's questioning at the State Department to exhibit how PPPPs (pro-Palestine propaganda proponents) think and how they insert wrong assumptions, untruths and misrepresentations into their questioning. Mehdi Hasan, of course, is another.

Here is from
the State Department Press Briefing of January 30, 2024 (the boldface I have added):-

MR MILLER: Go ahead, Said.

QUESTION: Thank you. Actually, on both points. But on this particular one, I mean, Israel occupies the whole West Bank. They are under their control. They don’t need to disguise themselves as medics and go into a hospital and kill people, which you called non-civilians. They are actually civilians, but that’s beside the point. So —

MR MILLER: I – so that is very much – but hold on.

QUESTION: Just allow me. Allow me just to follow up.

MR MILLER: No, Said, but before you call someone a civilian that Israel has said is a member of Hamas, I need to put on the record that that is very much a question that’s in dispute.

QUESTION: There are civilian members of Hamas; it’s a political organization. I mean, you may disagree with their politics, but that does not make them militants, right? Or —

MR MILLER: I would very much —


MR MILLER: I would very much disagree with that, Said.

QUESTION: That is —

MR MILLER: They’re a terrorist organization as have been —

QUESTION: Right, but that —

MR MILLER: — have been designated by the United States of America.

QUESTION: Right, but that’s an accusation of the occupier, a military occupier. They are making the accusation. I want to ask you: Is that a conduct befitting a state or a group of gangsters to go in and kill people, assassinate them as they sat in their beds?


QUESTION: Is that the conduct of a state? Will the United States ever do something like this under similar circumstances?

MR MILLER: So, Said, I am going to first of all note for the record, because it is important to note for the record, that Hamas is a brutal terrorist organization that carried out the brutal murder of 1,200 people on October 7th and —

QUESTION: We’re talking about the Bank, the West Bank. We’re talking about the West Bank, not Gaza.

MR MILLER: — and there are members of Hamas – and there are members of Hamas in the West Bank. And in addition to carrying out the brutal murder —


MR MILLER: — of 1,200 people on October 7th, has hid behind civilians in Gaza and been responsible for the death of many, many Palestinian civilians who they use as human shields. So before we talk about the people who died in this operation, I think it’s important to talk about who Hamas is, and it is not just – it is not a political organization, Hamas. It is – or Said. It is a terrorist organization that has carried out terrorist acts to kill civilians and has said it wants to continue to carry out those terrorist acts over and over again, and that context is important because Israel has the right to carry out antiterrorism operations to bring members of Hamas to justice. But as I said, we want them to be carried out in full —

QUESTION: I am asking you —

MR MILLER: Said, let me finish – in full compliance with international humanitarian law.

QUESTION: I’m asking you: Is this a conduct befitting a state that controls every single person in that whole territory?

MR MILLER: We think it is appropriate that they have the ability to bring members of Hamas to justice.

QUESTION: Fair enough, fair enough. That’s your answer.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Peace Requires Reeducation

Imagine this being proposed after hostilities with Hamas in Gaza, and then extended to the areas of Judea and Samaria to include Fatah:

On September 15, 2045, which is exactly one month after the announcement of the defeat in the war, the Palestinian government through the minister of education issued the ‘Education Policy Guidelines for the Development of New Palestine,’ which contain 11 work guidelines:

1. Education aims to broaden insights and knowledge, improve the ability to think scientifically, foster a spirit of peace-loving, and improve people's morality. 

2. Erasing all subjects related to the military; all teaching and research must be focused on peaceful purposes. 

3. Revised the textbooks so that the contents are in accordance with the new education policy. 

4. The Ministry of Education organized a re-education program for teachers, to understand the new education policy. 

5. Giving special learning opportunities for students who had been deployed to the battlefield or to the factory, which forced them to drop out of school. 

6. Scientific education aimed to train the ability to think scientifically and not just to pursue temporary interests. 

7. To foster high morality and broad-minded people, it was necessary to increase education outside of school for adults and workers, through public facilities such as public libraries and museums, as well as utilizing media such as painting exhibitions, theater shows, publishing popular science books, etc. 

8. Facilitating the formation of local youth groups, as a forum for communication and fostering social solidarity. 

9. Sought interfaith cooperation to foster friendship and world peace. 

10. Facilitating sports competition events to improve physical and spiritual health, as well as fostering the spirit of fair play and friendship among the nation's children and between the people of Palestine and other citizens. 

11. Restructuring the ministry of education to form the directorate of sports and directorate of scientific education.

A great dream, yes. Wild? Improbable?

Well, that text actually exists. But it was dated in the year 1945. And instead of Palestine and Palestinian, it read Japan and Japanese.

Think about that.

Source:  Journal of Strategic and Global Studies | Volume 2, Number 2, July 2019


Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Non-Published Letter to the London Review of Books

Sent on November 20th:

Manal A. Jamal, writing in her blog post, "On Non-Violent Resistance" (LRB, 17 Nov 2023), asserts that "from the beginning, non-violent resistance has been central to the Palestinians’ struggle for freedom.". Unlike clinging to the truth in Orwell's "1984", Professor Jamal would rather we go mad, adopt the process of continuous alteration and cling to the untruth. She purports a fantasy as history.

In 1851, after having purchased property in Jerusalem's Old City so as to rebuild the Hurva Synagogue , which Arab creditors burned down in 1721, Rabbi Avraham Tzoref was axed by an Arab and died three months afterwards on September 16. In August 1890, Yisrael Rozeman was shot and killed while on guard duty in Gedera. Another over two dozen Jews were killed by Arabs on the background of their "resistance" to Jewish settlement all prior to the Balfour Declaration.

During the three decades of British Mandate rule, Arabs violently and murderously rioted against Jews in April 1920, May and November 1921, August 1929 and then April 1936 until May 1939 killing almost 900 Jews in additionn to pillaging, burning homes and agricultural produce as well as raping. More instances of individual murders occurred in between those outbursts. Many instances of mutilation are recorded. Arabs seeking an alternative route of opposition to Zionism were eliminated in dozens of internal assassinations on the orders of the Mufti Amin Al-Husseini.

Mubarak Awad aside, who I met and discussed his politics, there has been no significant non-violent campaign of resistance by any influential Arab personality or organization, official or civil society based in over a century and a half.

Yisrael Medad

Friday, January 12, 2024

Did Israel 'Emerge' in 'Ancient Palestine'?

In a review of Emanuel Pfoh's "The Emergence of Israel in Ancient Palestine: Historical and Anthropological Perspectives" by Jeremy Hutton you can find this theory gaining a grip on the academic discourse - and soon to be mass discourse: increasingly vocal contingent has challenged the critical theory (/theories) of historiography employed by traditional historical-critical approaches to the biblical text...Emanuel Pfoh steps into the gap and offers his own terms for peace with this book...itself is a methodologically and theoretically grounded study of how one might begin to write about “the emergence of Israel in ancient Palestine.”

...The author marshals critical historiographic theory, state formation theory, and other anthropological models in an attempt to deal “specifically with Israel’s origins and the question of statehood in Palestine”.  Throughout this introduction Pfoh positions himself as a proponent of “alternative historical explanations of what happened in Iron Age I Palestine in regard to ‘Israel’ ” (emphasis added). This effort comes as nothing surprising in the field of “biblical historiography” (construed loosely as the total combined subsets of biblical scholars, historians, archaeologists, Egyptologists, and Assyriologists who concern themselves with the reconstruction of the history of an ethnic group in the Southern Levant known as “Israel”)...he seeks “to assess the changing historical nature of the entity called ‘Israel’ as a product of contemporary history-writing” through both a review of the various proposals for understanding Israel’s emergence in Palestine (conquest, pastoral infiltration, etc.) and a sharpening of the “minimalist” critique of traditional biblical historiography....of Israel, Pfoh attempts to justify the critical historians’ foundational premise that “we cannot speak of Israel in history without firm evidence, and we cannot base our image of historical Israel on the biblical Israel that dwells in the Old Testament”...

...we have little or no access into the Bible’s meaningfulness within the original social context of its production. Because the historical narratives’ “intention is not historical,” “one cannot deem [them] historiographic” either...

...Pfoh attempts to deconstruct the putative relationship between the various “Israels” known from the ancient epigraphic texts. Pfoh dismisses as skewed any archaeological interpretations of the data that may be linked to the biblical text (e.g., A. Faust’s connection—hardly new with Faust—between
“the absence of pig bones in the Iron I highlands” and Israelite identity; 165; cf. 166–67).  Instead, Pfoh argues that the name “Israel”—if that is in fact what the Mernepta Stela says—“had survived afterwards in the territory and was adopted—from the ninth century on—by people living in the highlands” (172). Moreover, because “[e]thnic consciousness is… "retrospective” and “historiography … defines and creates ethnicity,” we have no access to the identity of early Judaism’s namesake Israel. There follows an outline of what we can know (from epigraphic remnants) or reconstruct (on the basis of archaeology and social-scientific theory) about the genesis and organization of the earliest known polity in the Iron Age II southern Levant: the Bīt-Humriya. This history, however, is not accessible through the biblical text, since “it is during the later periods of however, is not accessible through the biblical text, since “it is during the later periods of ancient Palestine’s history, the Persian and the Graeco-Roman, that we find the proper context in which biblical Israel was created”.

In his “Concluding Reflections” (188–94), Pfoh wraps up a number of independent lines of argumentation that have been touched upon through the course of the study. In a few pages, Pfoh defends himself (and implicitly his congeners) from charges of anti-Semitism and nihilism. But the more salient threads of this short summary are tied together around the theme of epistemology: comparison of the historical reconstruction and the biblical text proceed “only at the final stage of research, but such an endeavour must never aim to achieve a harmonization or an historical corroboration of ancient mythic images,” since doing so “simply misses the point of the original intention [of the biblical text] because of the mixing of logical categories”. “Mythic traditions are rationally unfalsifiable, they just cannot be tested, not because they may not be confirmed by historical or archaeological data—which they are sometimes!—but because they are
created by a different mentality, by another episteme, which never should be confused or blended with our own”...