Sunday, April 21, 2019

AP's Old News

In this report, we read:

For the past 25 years, the international community has supported the establishment of a Palestinian state on the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip — lands captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war — as the best way to ensure peace in the region.

The logic is clear. With the number of Arabs living on lands controlled by Israel roughly equal to Jews, and the Arab population growing faster, two-state proponents say a partition of the land is the only way to guarantee Israel’s future as a democracy with a strong Jewish majority. The alternative, they say, is either a binational state in which a democratic Israel loses its Jewish character or an apartheid-like entity in which Jews have more rights than Arabs.

It also appeared in the NY Times. 

Let's clear this up, with facts.

The international community supported the establishment of an "Arab State" in the West Bank Judea and Samaria, note: not specifically "Palestine", in 1947 with the UN partition recommendation. The Arabs refused that, just as they refused the 1937 Peel Commission suggestion of partition and just as the first partition, when historic Palestine was truncated and its eastern regions were separated from the League of Nations original mandate plan and awarded to a recent arrival from Saudi Arabia. Moreover, Jewish settlements rights were disallowed in those areas while Arabs could continue to live in and come to the Jewish section of Palestine.

Furthermore, given the record of all lands yielded up or surrendered by Israel of the territories it gained in 1967 have been used as bases for hostile terror attacks, especially Gaza from which Israel supposedly "disengaged". To provide the Arabs with more such bases is quite the opposite of peace.

There is no logic in a two-state solution.

The so-called "demographic threat" is not as portrayed. The figures are actually in favor of the Jewish population.  But really. I detailed sources here. And you can search this blog going back over decade (using "demography", "demographic threat").

As for "democracy", if Arabs, or for that matter any non-Jewish minority, seek to de-Judaize the Jewish state, well, there are safeguards for that, or there will be. Otherwise, if all Jews need to exit the proposed state of "Palestine", why not all the Arabs exist Israel? Not that I am suggesting that but just pointing to the illogical thinking of some people who only care about Arabs.

The Jewish character need not be "lost" without a strong Jewish majority.  And, by the way, what is a "strong Jewish majority"? Is it 80%? 75%? 70%? 60%? What, indeed, is the cut-off? Or, what is Jewish? Do we have to regard all those who claim to be Jews as Jews? And what about the non-Jewish non-Arabs, the foreign migrant worker community? Are they a factor?

Of course, all this avoids the central issue: is the Arab conflict with Israel and Zionism one of territory or is it existential? That is, will the Arabs honestly and genuinely accept a Jewish state in any territory they consider Islamic? Do they recognize Jewish national identity?

Will Jews accept a state without Jerusalem in its entirety?

AP reporting still stuck in the past.


Corbyn's Shrew Misses the Passover Essence

In a clip I've seen, Tania Shew 'explains' Passover to Jeremy Corbyn.

Of course, what has been totally skipped over is that for the Jews to be able "never to oppress a stranger", they have to be in their own homeland. They have to be "home" where others are "strangers". If we're not in Eretz-Yisrael, that command is useless as everywhere else, we, too, are "strangers".

We're not truly "home" in the Disapora.


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Hunchback of Notre Dame Joke

Watching the blaze at the Notre Dame Cathedral provides me an opportunity to relate a joke.

As we all know, in Victor Hugo's novel, Quasimodo, the hunchback and bell ringer of Notre Dame Cathedral, 

fails to save Esmeralda and she is hanged. After Frollo is pushed by Quasimodo off off Notre Dame'roof, Quasimodo goes to the cemetery, hugs Esmeralda's body, and dies of starvation with her.* By the way, there was a hunchback at Notre Dame in real life but that was in the 1820s and he was a stonecarver, Mons. Trajan, "Le Bossu".

And the joke begins:

Notre Dame is left without a bellringer. A priest is ordered to search for one and places an advertisement in the local daily.

A day later, a candidate shows up but he lacks arms. The priest rejects him as unqualified but the man begs to be given an opportunity to prove his ability.

They ascend the bell tower and, using his head, the man displays remarkable physical abilities but the priest still feels he is not up to the job. Then, in an attempt to show how really loud he can ring it, he makes a mad dash from one end of the platform towards the bell, jumps at it, misses his object and falls out and down to his death.

The priest dashes down the steps and begins to apply the last rites. One man in the crowd that has gathered askes him, "Do you know this man?"

The priest answers in the negative and adds, "But his face rings a bell."

Still without a bellringer, the priest places yet another advert and the next day, the same man shows up. It turns out the deceased bellringer has a brother.

Shocked, the priest rejects him but when the man says that his brother had interviewed for the job to save the family from starvation, the priest relents and allows him to display his talents.

The scene from the previous day repeats itself and to the priest's horror, he, too, in an attempt to show his ability, misses the bell and falls to his death.

Again rishing down to apply the last rites, the priest is asked by another onlooker, "Father, do you know this man?"

The priest looks up and answers, "No, but he's a dead ringer for his brother."

-    -    -    -

Oh, and if you think this is not the time for a joke, consider this rendering of the burning of the Talmud in Paris

The smoke of the burning Talmud, however, rose in 1242 against a Gothic in full possession of its grand manner: the western façade of Notre-Dame of Paris. This tremendous sculpted wall—the most famous of postcard images—dates from 1200 to 1250, the classic instant of triumph. Flanking the central door stand two Queens, rivals across the centuries. The radiant figure on the left is the Church Victorious, crowned and imperial, and holding a chalice which is nothing less than the Holy Grail. The Queen on the right is posed in defeat, her staff broken in several places, her eyes covered by a coiling serpent, her signs of royalty removed or shattered. A reversed Tablet of the Law, falling from her hand, shows that she is the Synagogue. The statues at Paris are modern, the work of the 19th-century restorer. But at Strasbourg are two Queens in all their original beauty. The Church is magnificent. The Synagogue is amazing. We may stand before them for many hours, trying to decide which is the more lovely; and the decision will be purely a subjective matter of taste, as it should be; but as we look at the bandaged eyes of the captive Queen, and study the exquisite proportions of her broken staff, we shall not fail to realize the utter grace and majesty of her defeat.

As for Quasimodo’s mysterious disappearance, all that we have been able to ascertain on the subject is this:  About a year and a half or two years after the concluding events of this story, when search was being made in the pit of Montfaucon for the body of Olivier le Daim, who had been hanged two days before, and to whom Charles VIII granted the favour of being interred at Saint-Laurent in better company, there were found among these hideous carcases two skeletons, the one clasped in the arms of the other. One of these skeletons, which was that of a woman, had still about it some tattered remnants of a garment that had once been white, and about its neck was a string of beads together with a small silken bag ornamented with green glass, but open and empty. These objects had been of so little value that the executioner, doubtless, had scorned to take them. The other skeleton, which held this one in so close a clasp, was that of a man. It was observed that the spine was crooked, the skull compressed between the shoulder-blades, and that one leg was shorter than the other. There was no rupture of the vertebræ at the nape of the neck, from which it was evident that the man had not been hanged. He must, therefore, have come of himself and died there.   8
When they attempted to detach this skeleton from the one it was embracing, it fell to dust.

I heard this some 40 years ago and in a search found this.

BTW, the latest set of bells installed on its 850th anniversary


Friday, April 12, 2019

Beresheet Crashes - British Get Their Revenge

The British finally got their revenge for those Mandate troubles we caused them:

"The UK contribution to the Beresheet mission is a LEROS 2b rocket engine, developed and built at Nammo Westcott in Buckinghamshire. Originally designed for manoeuvring satellites into their final orbits and for deep space missions, the LEROS will power the lander during its transfer to the lunar surface, ensure a safe landing, and will also hop the lander to its second location"

(this was a humorous satirical observation, in case someone is taking this seriously)



Engineers believe a technical glitch — likely in the component that measures the spacecraft’s altitude in relation to the surface — triggered a chain reaction of events that caused the main engine of the spacecraft to stop. Without the main engine running as a braking mechanism, it was impossible to slow Beresheet’s speed from 1,700 kilometers per hour (1,000 mph) to 0 just above the moon’s surface. Engineers were able to restart the engine, but by this time the spacecraft was too close to the surface to slow down sufficiently.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

TransJordan, 1933

Item A:

Item B:

Full text:

A strong fight for the right of Jews to settle in Transjordania was put up at the last session of the League of Nation’s Mandates Commission, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned today, although minutes of the session will not officially appear before September. The fight was conducted mainly by the Dutch representative, D. Van Rees, vice-chairman of the Mandates Commission, who demanded an explanation of the British Government’s opposition to Jewish settlement of Transjordania.

Van Rees emphasized that the mandate does not exclude Jewish immigration in the Transjordan area, and he indicated that the population of Transjordania is in favor of Jewish settlement there. Van Rees pointed out that Transjordania is double the size of Palestine, but has only 300,000 inhabitants at present, while Palestine has 1,000,000.


“Besides, why prohibit sale of land there to Jews when the Emir Abdullah of Transjordania desires it?” he asked.

He also pointed out that many Jews living in Palestine at present are not Palestinians, but are still subjects or citizens of countries belonging to the League of Nations. Considering the principle of equality for the citizens or subjects of all countries which are members of the League, it would be impossible to prevent these persons from settling in Transjordania, Van Rees stated.

The British representative, Mark Aicheson Young, former secretary of the Palestine Administration, replied to Van Rees by stating that the British Government is not prepared at present to permit Jews to settle in the Transjordan territory. There is a general feeling in that country that settlement at present is impracticable for reasons of security, he contended.


The British representative stated that though it is true that Transjordania is much bigger than Palestine it does not contain as much cultivable land, consisting largely of desert areas. The cultivable parts of Transjordania are as densely populated as the larger part of Palestine, Mr. Young declared.

Lord Lugard, British member of the Mandates Commission, asked Mr. Young to define his Government’s attitude toward Arabs from Palestine settling in Transjordania with the assistance of Jews in Palestine. Mr. Young replied that the British Government would not object to this so long as the number of Arabs immigrating falls within the absorbtive capacity of Transjordania. He claimed that the Transjordan area does not contain large unoccupied tracts of land suitable to support a big wave of immigration.


On 4 June 1917 the French foreign ministry issued the Cambon Letter, a statement that it approved a text presented to it by Zionists that "circumstances permitting, and the independence of the Holy Places being safeguarded... it would be a deed of justice and of reparation to assist, by the protection of the Allied Powers, in the renaissance of the Jewish nationality in the land from which the people of Israel were exiled so many centuries ago." It went on: "The French government cannot but feel sympathy for your cause, the triumph of which is bound up that of the Allies."

Britain was given a mandate for Palestine, with the aim of fulfilling the Balfour Declaration. But Winston Churchill was also negotiating with Arab leaders about their demands for land, and so he had the details redrafted: Britain was no longer obliged to foster a Jewish state east of the Jordan River. At the same time, Britain also surrendered land in the north of Palestine, handing it to France, which had been given a mandate for Lebanon.

The upshot was that in 1921 the land east of the Jordan River – forming 75 percent of Palestine – was hived off as Transjordan. It was meant to be temporary, to provide a haven for Abdullah, one of the Arabian princes at war with each other.

Weizmann protested, writing to Churchill to note that "the fields of Gilead, Moab and Edom, with the rivers Arnon and Jabbok are historically and geographically and economically linked to Palestine, and it is upon these fields, now that the rich plains of the north have been taken from Palestine and given to France, that the success of the Jewish National Home must largely rest..."


Saturday, March 23, 2019

What is a 'Historical Connection'?

Great Britain's Ambassador to Jordan, Edward Oakden, was told two years ago by Jordan's Lower House Speaker, Atif Tarawneh, that Jordan attaches great importance to the Palestinian cause and believes that the Hashemite custodianship is the legitimate guardianship of Jerusalem's holy shrines. And he added:

"Jordan's custodianship is firm and historically entrenched and any attempt to circumvent that is bound to inflame the sensibilities of Arabs and Muslims around the world"

On that background, consider the statement of Jordan's King Abdullah II who is vowing to keep protecting Islamic and Christian holy sites in Occupied Jerusalem. He called it

a “red line” for his country

and admitted during a visit to the Zarqa governorate last week 

that he’s under pressure to alter his country’s historic role as custodian of the Jerusalem holy sites but that he wouldn’t. Abdullah says: “I will never change my position toward Jerusalem in my life.”

This is a consistent line. Last April. the King was quoted

Stressing that the Hashemite custodianship of Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem is “a historical duty and responsibility that we are proud to carry”, King Abdullah said: “We will persevere in upholding this responsibility, in coordination with our brothers at the Palestinian National Authority and with your support.”

What "history" is he talking about?

The most compact statement is this, from the 2013 Jordan-PLO Agreement on the Jerusalem Holy Sites:

Recalling the role of King Al-Sharif Hussein Bin Ali in protecting, and taking care of the Holy Sites in Jerusalem and in the restoration of the Holy Sites since 1924; recalling the uninterrupted continuity of this role by His Majesty King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, who is a descendant of Al-Sharif Hussein Bin Ali; recalling that the Bay’ah (oath of allegiance) according to which Al-Sharif Hussein Bin Ali held the custodianship of the Jerusalem Holy Sites, which Custodianship was affirmed to Al-Sharif Hussein Bin Ali by the people of Jerusalem and Palestine on March 11, 1924; and recalling that the Custodianship of the Holy Sites of Jerusalem has devolved to His Majesty King Abdullah II Bin al-Hussein;

An expanded research booklet is here. That "custodianship" was based on some eight months that Ali claimed to be Caliph but was tossed out:

Two days after the Turkish Caliphate was abolished by the Turkish Grand National Assembly on 3 March 1924, Hussein declared himself Caliph at his son Abdullah's winter camp in Shunah, Transjordan.[10] The claim to the title had a mixed reception, and Hussein was soon ousted and driven out of Arabia by the Saudis, a rival clan that had no interest in the Caliphate.

That booklet first debunks Jewish history. Rather badly and so stupidly. On page 59, we read:

The present-day Israeli narrative seeks to justify the ethnic domination of Jews in the Holy Land by making the claim that the earlier 400-year connection of Jews to Jerusalem (and the later 100-year connection) gives Israel sovereignty over it. However, Jerusalem was founded by the Arab tribe of the Jebusites 2000 years before the arrival and brief rule of the Hebrews. In fact, many different nations and peoples have lived and ruled in Jerusalem, but for more than 1200 years of the last 1400 years since 638 CE, Jerusalem has been a predominately Arab and Islamic city. Moreover, in the 5000 years since Arabs founded the city, they have maintained a constant presence there (as Muslims or pre-Islam) and have ruled it for at least 3200 of the 5000 years of recorded history, compared with only about 500 years of Hebrew and Jewish rule.


Then, on pages 56-57, the Jordanian "historical connection" is explained:

...the Jordanian Hashemites took on the role of the guardians and custodians of the Muslim Holy Sites in Jerusalem. In 1918, British Commander Hogarth was instructed to deliver a guarantee to Sharif Hussein bin Ali — Emir of Mecca and father of the founding King of Jordan Abdullah I — that Muslim Holy Sites shall be considered a Muslim concern alone and shall not be subjected directly or indirectly to any non-Muslim authority. Since 1922, the Hashemites have undertaken three major restoration projects of the Holy Sites in Jerusalem and since 1948 Jordan has continuously maintained the Awqaf Administration in the Old City. The First Hashemite restoration of the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque took place during the period of 1922–1924, under the auspices of Sharif Hussein and in cooperation with the Supreme Muslim Council. This exceptional historic role continued during the periods of the “British Mandate”, the period of Jordanian rule over East Jerusalem (1948–1967) and even after the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem (1967–present). Sharif Hussein bin Ali donated 24,000 golden lira to the first renovations of Al-Aqsa Mosque and requested to be buried there before his passing.  

History of less than a century.

Jordan was not officially a country, a sovereign and recognized country, until 1946, by the way.

There you have it.


Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Other Spies and Agents of Zionism

Alerted by this piece, I learned there's a new book out: ‘Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel’.

It treats the interesting chapter of Jews from Arab lands who enlisted in the Palmach's Shachar Unit. The unit was

the successor to the former Arab Platoon, sent, after the UN Partition Plan of November 29th, 1947, a number of teams behind enemy lines. Their goal: to gather intelligence in real time as to the future intention of the Arab neighbors.The unit was active inside Arab nations, as well as within Arab-controlled sectors within Israel.
One of the four spies Friedman deals with has described his childhood experience, when he was 12, that led him on his path

One day, in 1936, while I was working during the summer holiday in the Montefiore neighborhood, I saw three Arabs passing through a nearby field and a Jew walking in the opposite direction. They proceeded to stab him to death and as I watched the entire incident, I screamed my head off," Yakuba recounted about an incident that had a profound effect on him as a child.
I have blogged previously about one of his early operations, before the period which Friedman deals with, summarized here:

In 1943, Yakuba took part in the first operation in which the Arab Squad participated, which came to be known as "The Surgical Operation". It was a reprisal operation the objective of which was to castrate an Arab youth who had raped a Jewish girl. "The rape was shocking and the punishment also sounds shocking today. We were briefed by a physician in Afula, but encountered difficulties trying to anaesthetize the subject and the business became really nasty. Luckily, the 'operation' was successful and eventually the fellow even managed to recover," recounted Yakuba at the time. During the operation, he was assigned to guard the subject's family, while two of his comrades in arms, Yohai Bin-Nun (who subsequently became the commander of the IDF Navy) and Amos Horev (who later became the President of the Technion) "handled" the subject. Later on, Yakuba was involved in tracking, kidnapping and eliminating a sheik from Safed who had been accused of raping a mother and her daughter in Rosh-Pina.
But my point is that there were others, members of the Irgun and the Lechi, who also assumed he identities of Arabs to spy and even engage in offensive operations.

There even was an Arab from Tzfat who eventually converted to Judaism and fell in the line of duty. He was Baruch Mizrachi.

The Lechi hero, Elisha ("Shmuel") Ivzov (Hebrew resource) was killed in March 1948 on his way driving a truck bomb to the headquarters of the Arab Liberation Army led by Fawzi al-Qawuqji.

Their stories, and thos of others, deserve a good literary treatement.