Monday, January 31, 2005

Finding It Everywhere

You can find anti-Israel material everywhere.

For example in a book review in The Times Literary Review. So, I wrote a letter.

Here it is:-

In his review of ADVENTURES IN EGYPT AND NUBIA, on the travels of William John Bankes ("Take walk, make no book"), Mick Imlah writes that Bankes traveled also "in Syria, including modern Jordan and Palestine". This description is misleading.

Palestine always included both modern Israel and Jordan.

All maps of the area portray Palestine as stretching east and west of the Jordan River. Indeed, the original geography of the League of Nations Mandate, granted to Great Britian in 1922, spanned from the Mediterranean Sea to the Iraqi Desert. Jordan was administered, until 1946, as part of the Palestine Mandate.

To avoid mentioning Israel, if done consciously, is to completely miss the compass.

Friday, January 28, 2005

We All Wish We Could Be So Sure

From the NYTimes on the ceremonies at Auschwitz yesterday:

Of all Thursday's speakers, the most impassioned was Merka Shevach, an elderly woman from Bialystok, Poland, who now lives in Israel.
She took the microphone to give an unscheduled, impromptu speech as dusk fell.

"I was here naked as a young girl, I was 16," Ms. Shevach shouted to the crowd. "They brought my family here and burnt them, they stole my name and gave me a number."

She pulled back her sleeve to show the tattoo: 15755.

"Now," she said, "I have a country, I have an army, I have a president, I have a flag and this will never happen again."

Thursday, January 27, 2005

IDPs, Getting Used to a New Term

I will expand on this soon but you might as well get used to a new legal term for the residents of Jewish communities in Gaza and Northern Samaria who are scheduled to be expelled from their homes and to have their farms, hothouses, schools, cemeteries and other social institutions either destroyed or physically removed from thm.

It's IDPs which means Internal Displaced Persons.

Yes, there actually is a category like that and even the United Nations utilizes it. Here's how it is described by the Brookings Institute which adminsiters an IDP project:

Over the past decade, tens of millions of people have been forced from their homes by armed conflict, internal strife, and systematic violations of human rights but remain within the borders of their own countries.

The Project on Internal Displacement was created to promote a more effective national, regional and international response to this global problem and to support the work of the Representative to the UN Secretary-General in carrying out the responsibilities of his mandate. The Project is co-directed by Walter K×”lin, the newly appointed Representative of the UN Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, and Roberta Cohen, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.



I found a Baruch Kimmerling piece in The Nation and, after dealing with him in the Jerusalem Post, I figured I'd continue the whacking.

Baruch Kimmerling's review, "Israel's Culture of Martyrdom", contains several errors which need correction, I wrote.

In discussing the Kastner affair, he claims that Malkiel Greenwald, Shmuel Tamir and Binyamin Halevi were all members of the Lehi underground. In fact, only Tamir was an anti-British resistance fighter and he belonged to the Irgun. Media professor Elihu Katz's term "medurat hashevet" he puts as "tribal campfire". Kimmerling mistranslates here. The word "shevet" does mean "tribe" but it refers to the basic unit of a youth movement, especially the Scouts. There is nothing sinister in the phrase.

And despite his downplaying of the Arab Mufti's role during the Holocaust and his sympathies for Nazi ideology, not only to he launch a Muslim unit in the Balkans to fight alongside German troops but he had two of his lieutenants parachute into mandated Palestine to poison water sources in 1944 and during the 1936-39 revolt, the Mufti extensively exploited Nazi symbols and anti-Semitic frameworks.

Arik Sharon Should Pay Attention

Leon Trotsky’s slogan in 1918 at Brest-Litovsk, when he made a unilateral agreement with Germany to pull Russia out of the war, was

‘Neither victory nor defeat.’.

What would Sharon's disengagement proposal become known as?

And Why Not?

Back on 7 January, a BBC story I read reported that: "Israel has annexed East Jerusalem and sees it as its exclusive domain...The area is often called Arab East Jerusalem because the majority of its inhabitants are Palestinian."

Given this premise, I ask would, then, would the BBC refer to the Gush Katif area, which is a larger area than East Jerusalem, built on lands that were uninhabited for centuries, as "Israeli" or maybe even "Jewish" because the majority of its inhabitants are Jewish Israelis? And why not?

Sloppy Solidarity

Raymond Deane from Ireland is at solidarity with Palestine. He argued this week (25 January), in a letter to the editor of the Irish Times, against a previous pro-Israel writer, Kevin Myers, who denied a right of return to be accorded Arabs who consider themselves refugees.

He impugns Israel by claiming these refugees are the result of 'ethnic cleansing'. He attempts, too, to justify their right of return by referring to the right Jews claim, to return "after almost 2,000 years, to a country that happens to be inhabited by another people".

Given the restraints of a letter, I was concise.

The foremost international body at the time, the League of Nations, recognized in 1922 the historic right of the Jews to reconstitute their homeland. It is not insignificant that the word "Arab" in reference to the non-Jewish communties to be protected therein is missing, for indeed, it was intended that the Arabs fulfill their nationalist aspirations outside the borders of the Palestine Mandate. And they did, in Jordan.

In 1949, the original United Nations resolution is couched in terms of "Palestine refugees", not "Palestinian". Deane, of course, should know that Jews also became refugees, expelled from their homes in Judea and Samaria, what he would call the West Bank, part of then Palestine. Should not the Jewish communities reestablished after 1967 be considered as conforming to this "right" that Deane demands must be applied solely to Arabs?

As for the 'ethnic cleanising' calumny he bandies about, as any historian can testify, it was the Arabs who initiated this horrific policy by destroying Jewish homes, neighborhoods and villages, such as, for example, Tel Hai in 1920, Hebron, Nablus and Gaza in 1929, Atarot, Neveh Yaakov and Bet Arava in 1948. Arab aggression in 1948 in the attempt to eradicate the nascent state, total ethnic cleansing, failed and this is the reason there are refugees today.

As they did not properly use the right of good neighborliness and the respect of international decisions at the time, why should anyone recognize a "right of return" today?

A Rose By Another Name

Sometimes I think that the British simply can't forget/forgive their Mandate experiences and their periodicals are always open to radical, anti-Zionist ideas.

The London Review of Books is one such base of debasement. Recently, in their issues of 4 November, 16 December 2004 and 6 January 2005, there has been a remarkable exchange of opinions in articles and letters. So, I decided to join in.

And this is what I wrote:-

The discepting antagonists - Jacqueline Rose, Avril Mailer, Avi Shlaim and Asher de Bentolila Tlalim - regarding terrorism in mandate Palestine and the attitudes and actions of members of the Revisionist Betar youth movement have raised not only issues of historical accuracy (for example, Shlaim errs; Aryeh Yitzhaki died in a premature blast while preparing letter-bombs) but moral standards and political expediency, then and today. The argument needs refocusing.

Shlaim befuddles us by claiming that the Arab Revolt of 1936-38 was but "a desperate response" to Zionism supported by Britain. The Arab riots in Jerusalem in 1920, in Jaffa and Jerusalem in 1921, the country-wide attacks which killed 133 in August 1929 and their riots in October 1933 were also "desperate" or, may we assume that Jews returning to their homeland are but to expect that they are legitimate targets for Arab violence?

In the Shlomo Ben-Yosef incident, the immediate trigger to his act was the slaughter of five Jews, one child, three women and the driver, travelling in a taxi between Haifa and Safad on March 28, 1938. One of the females was 17 year-old Alegra Mutzari who was to be married a few days later. She was raped. On April 16 that year, four men were shot by a marauding band of Arabs near Hanita. One of them was a close persoanl friend of the Betar members at Rosh Pinna.

To get beyond the details, however, one must recall that the Jews were divided about the preferred solution to the conflict. Arab opponents of Zionism always had the advantage of working with binationalists, concessionists, anti-Zionists (ultra-orthodox and secular) and other stripes of "peace" activists. That advantage, which continues today, conjoined with the non-sympathy, and even an undercurrent animosity, of too many Gentiles to Jewish nationalism has been manipulated by Arabs.

Far from being "desperate", Arab leaders, from the Mufti El-Husseini to Yasser Arafat, have been confident that their total rejection of Zionism and their violence will be understood and tolerated. They rarely used diplomacy and always resorted to violence, exclusively targeting civilians. Ethnic cleansing was another weapon with Arabs razing Jewish communities such as Tel Hai (1920), Hebron and Beer Tuvia (1929), Atarot, Bet HaArava and the Gush Etzion Bloc (1948) among others. Active support, including mobilzing Muslims for the Nazi Wafffen SS, on behalf of Germany during World War II was ignored by "enlightened" Europe.

It is, then, in this light, or better, shades of darkness, that Rose's twisted thinking is to be considered as well as Shlaim's abject apologia.

All Black

Ian Black wrote on 24 Jan 2005 in the UK Guardian that the horror of Auschwitz is "a grim, incontrovertible reminder of why so many angry Arabs and Muslims feel that Israel is the price Palestinians are still paying for European racism". If anything, though, that "anger" should be seen, on the backdrop of Auschwitz, as an irrational hatred and a perversion of history.

The link between Jews and the geography of their homeland, once called Judea, Samaria and Gaza, but becoming Palestine as a result of the Roman conquest in 135 CE, predated not only the Holocaust but many other centuries of persection in Spain, Europe and Asia. Jews do not merit a state because of what brought about Auschwitz and its sister camps. That state was declared worthy of reconstitution and on that basis, Great Britain was awarded the Mandate to establish that state.

If there is any reminding needed, it is that the Arabs of the Palestine Mandate in no small numbers, and led by their spiritual head, the Mifti Haj Amin, supported the Nazi ideology and policies even to the extent of enlisting in Germany's service and having Muslims mobilized into Wehrmacht units while the Mufti broadcast from Berlin.

Arab suicide bombers are the mutant extensions of the evil force that stoked the crematoria fires of Auschwitz.

Saturday, January 15, 2005


“I believe that in matters intrinsically linked to the rights of man and citizen that cannot be negated, a free man is permitted, and at times, even obligated, to disobey formalistic instructions, if the essence of those matters impairs those rights, on the condition that he is prepared to take the consequences for his act”.

The above statement could have been spoken by Mahatma Gandhi, Bertrand Russell or Martin Luther King, all heroes of enlightened societies everywhere. The words represent the core belief of all non-violent protesters over the decades to come to terms with their consciences even, and especially, at the risk of punishment. I could have found the statement be in any collection of ‘quotable quotes’ but I didn’t. And although spoken by an Israeli, none of the various left-wing refusal groups over the years such as Yesh Gvul and The Courage to Refuse have adopted these words.

Indeed, it would be very surprising for the five high school pupils who recently underwent a military trial, or the pilots who refused to bomb targets they thought irrelevant to Israel’s defense or the soldiers in the Sayeret Matkal who last autumn expressed their unwillingness to serve across the Green Line to discover that it was Menachem Begin who said these words in the Knesset on June 18, 1955.

Genuine refusal, as Begin makes clear, takes into consideration the very real probability that the government of the day will apply all legal and judicial instruments to force the conscientious objector to retreat. No one has promised those who refuse a flower-covered path. While in most cases, that comes much later, ostracism, financial punishment and negation of freedom, including jail, are the usual lot of those who select to oppose government policy

The question, then, is can refusal be justified?

Some claim that civil disobedience campaigns such as that promoted by the Zo Artzeinu group in 1995 was illegitimate because it can be used only in oppressive, non-democratic regimes but has no place in Israel. Israel allows a large margin of protest activity.

This aspect can be now argued with since many, including several outstanding figures of the liberal camp in this country, would say that several fine lines dividing democracy from an oppressive regime have been broken. Despite the fact that the High Court of Justice declined to adjudicate the petition of the ministers fired by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the clamping down on free expression by dismissing ministers even before they voted to assure his cabinet majority, a move that would have be nullified if it had occurred in the directorate of any government or private company, academics such as Professor Mordechai Kremnitzer are extremely uncomfortable with that decision.

Sharon has reneged on his commitment to abide by the internal Likud referendum and ignored his party’s central committee decisions as well as exploiting near-dictatorial moves to fire his opponents. All this provides potential refusers with a moral basis that is very necessary in taking such a step.

Another aspect of a refusal campaign is that of basic human rights. The residents of Gush Katif and Northern Samaria are not terrorists nor criminals. In fact, their contribution to the economy of the state and its defense is immeasurable. They are living in areas the League of Nations decided would be the reconstituted Jewish homeland. Can they be turned out of their homes and factories and educational and social institutions? Is the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, specifically Article 17 regarding property and Article 18 relating to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, to be violated? Are the Gaza residents to be victims of discrimination, treated worse than Arab citizens of the state?

What do really moral people think? Well, here is one opinion: “If I would be obligated to destroy a house in the territories, where women, children and the elderly live, due to the fact that one of its members engaged in terror against Israel, I would refuse. He who was brought up on the ethics of our Prophets must refuse to destroy homes.”

These words were spoken by former MK and Minister Shulamit Aloni, an outstanding human rights activist, as recorded by the Hadashot news daily on February 25, 1990. One could assume that she would be the first to assert that what cannot be done to an Arab should not be visited on a Jew.

Refusing orders is an ancient Jewish custom. The first instance of what we now term civil disobedience seems to be in the Bible, Exodus 1:17: “And the midwives did not do what they were commanded because they feared God”. The Talmud, Sotah 11B, adds that their non-cooperation was based on their caution that what they were asked was an immoral crime. Their refusal was later on rewarded.

The current Attorney-General, Menny Mazuz, who already has expressed empathy for those who refuse orders, should reflect on his predecessor’s outlook. Michael Ben-Yair, Attorney-General 1993-96, wrote in Haaretz, on March 3, 2002, “their refusal [of those opposing Israel’s administration of Yesha – YM] to serve is an act of conscience that is justified and recognized in every democratic regime. History's verdict will be that their refusal was the act that restored our moral backbone”.

Can one, then, refuse not to refuse?

The NYT Gets Sinister

The editorial in today's New York Times, "A Double Blow to Peace" (Jan 15), terms the cutting off of contacts with Palestine Authority officials by Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon "a precipitous Israeli overreaction."

Furthermore, Sharon, it claims, is an "unwitting ally" of the terrorism and murder of civilians of "Gaza militants". That description itself is preposterous and sinister.

Sharon, during the period of the elections, indecently restricted Israeli defense measures. The Kassam rockets continued to fall, the shootings from ambushes went on as did attempts to infiltrate Israel through and under fences. Israelis were unprotected and died as Sharon seeks to promote a dangerous policy of disengagement.

There is a limit to what any Israeli politician can ignore.

Mahmud Abbas has the capabilities to end the terror. He does not need Sharon's help or cooperation, for it is his own choice if there is to be peace. If anyone is an ally of the Hamas and Jihad in Gaza, it would appear
to be Abbas, unless he does something to change that.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Two Banks; But One Palestine

The New York Times of January 13 carried a story dealing with the refugees in Jordan who did not participate in the Palestine Authority balloting. I found something wrong and wrote this letter:-

Your correspondent, Hassan M. Fattah, notes that "no Palestinian outside the occupied territories was allowed to vote" in the balloting for Palestine Authority Chairman last week ("Jordan's Guests, Deeply Palestinian and Deeply Skeptical," Jan. 13).

It should be recalled that Arabs residing in the Hashemite Kingdom who consider themselves refugees, and still pine for the former homes west of the Jordan River, are, nevertheless, still located in Palestine.

The bureaucratic decision of Winston Churchill in 1921, formalized two years later, to establish Emir Abdullah as ruler of Trans-Jordan, does not alter the geographic fact that Arab refugees there today may have left their homes in 1948 but not their country.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Hermeneutics and Politics

Probably the first instance of civil disobedience and refusal of a direct orderis Exodus 1:17 -“And the midwives did not do what they were commanded because they feared God”.

The Talmud, Sotah 11B, adds that their non-cooperation was based on their caution that what they were asked was an immoral crime. Their refusal was later on rewarded. This is fairly straightforward.

In fact, they even went beyond the decree to kill the Hebrew babies and did a very good deed in supplying food for the babies and caring for them more than just allowing them to live. And, indeed, Pharaoh first asks them, in the next verse "why have you done this?", instead of what should have been, in the chronological order of events, his question: "why did you not put them to death"?

My hermeneutic reasoning?

Their act caused even Pharaoh to realize his edict was wrong and should have been refused. But to move on from there to feeding and clothing them was something even beyond the grasp of a Pharaoh.

In this campaign for Gush Katif we have not only to stall and stem and halt the evil decree of destruction but we need to go even further on behalf of settling our homeland so that this extra effort will convince our opponents that their original idea of disengagement was wrong.

We need to be two steps ahead which is hard. But it's possible.