Sunday, October 28, 2018

Anti-Semite Takes Aim at Jews; Other Jews Take Aim at Israel

Unbelievable the reactions.

An anti-Semite shoots and kills Jews and, in addition to blaming President Trump (here and here and here), some Jews seek, by intimating or a direct accusation, to blame Israel and its Prime Minister.

Here's one list up at EOZ. It includes posts, tweets, etc. by

Julia Joffe

Rabbi Mivasair

Aaron David Miller

Franklin Foer

Rabbi Jill Jacobs

Rebecca Vilkomerson

Here's another:

David Simon, and my response.

A New York group will mourn and then - resist (anti-Semitism or Trump?) And Linda Sarsour will be there.

Ronald Linden declares cowardly, unprincipled political leaders are cozying up to the anti-Semites.

Joseph Dana.

Chemi Shalev bemoans Netanyahu's "hypocrisy".

And Tel Aviv University's Ishai Rosen-Zvi writes (in Hebrew so far):

שר החינוך יוצא לנחם את משפחות הרוגי הטבח בבית הכנסת אך שייך לעולם ערכים הפוך משלהם. היד רועדת כשכותבים זאת, אך במובנים רבים עולמו קרוב יותר לזה של הרוצח מזה של הנרצחים


The Minister of Education is off to console the families of those killed in the synagogue but belongs to a counter-world of their values and while the hand shakes while writing this, [nevertheless] in many ways, his world is close to that of the murderer than that of the murdered.


The caricaturist released from the Jerusalem Report

Jonathan Weissman.

ADL's Jonathan Greenblatt is left-side blinded.

Bend the Arc. Caroline Glick's tweet. (Members of BTA's board include Alexander Soros, the son of Jewish billionaire George Soros, a frequent target of the alt-Right as well as Peter Beinart, a prominent left-wing columnist.)

Baroness Jenny Tonge backtracked.


Finally, some sense, from a non-Jew:

This rush to blame Trump for a massacre of Jews is not only profoundly cynical, where the militarisation of anti-Semitism is pounced upon to the cheap, low end of scoring points against a politician people don’t like.It also has the effect of whitewashing the true horror of anti-Semitism in the 21st-century West. It is in itself a form of apologism for the new anti-Semitism to the extent that it dehistoricises and depoliticises it by presenting it as little more than a function of the new right-wing populism.It presents violent anti-Semitism as yet another thing unleashed, or at least intensified, by Trump and by the political turn of the past two years. And this dangerously distracts public attention – purposefully, I suspect – from the fact that anti-Semitism has been growing and becoming increasingly militarised for more than a decade now, among the left as well as the right and within Muslim communities, too.Post-Pittsburgh, it is hard to escape the conclusion that many observers are more interested in shaming and weakening Trump than they are in truly getting to grips with the new anti-Semitism. After all, where was their rage, their concern about rhetoric, their existential handwringing over hateful ideas and hateful language, back when anti-Semitism was deepening and militarising pre-2016, pre-Trump, most notably in Europe?


Abe Foxman cleans up after ADL and Co.

Then backtracks.

IfNotNow goes bonkers

עודFrom tonight’s vigil organized by Toronto. We mourn Pittsburgh, and Louisville, and Gaza. And fight like hell for the living
And here is an associate professor of philosophy at Northeastern:

One striking feature about critiques of Zionism is that Zionists are the very first to treat the Zionist project as central to Jewish identity.  The more sophisticated ones - like below - treat it as a contingent requirement on the existence of a safe Jewish community.Matthew Smith added,


Yes, the fact that Jewish communities have been thriving in Europe and the Middle East, since the Enlightenment with nary a blood libel, pogrom, expulsion, and certainly not a Holocaust, in sight, shows how little the Jews have needed a nation-state. Idiot. …

But often the “evidence” for the existence of a nation of Jews is biblical.  The irony, of course, is that in this era, the Jews had a political unit ‘all their own’ and yet were constantly at war, and eventually were overwhelmed, first by the Babylonians and then by the Romans.

The biblical evidence, such as it is, stands as a warning against the territorial centralization of Jews under a single political order.

And fighting for such a goal often ends in mass death. 

Bar Kokhba lost, yo.

And so if we appeal to the Bible and Roman history as grounds for accepting the anachronistic interpretation of ancient Jews as a modern nation, then we ought also to be alive to the dangers of territorial agglomeration of a people.

Giving in to modernity’s interpretation of Jewishness is dangerous. Part of Judaism’s power is that it is a robustly adaptable spiritual and communal practice. Resisting an imposition of identity, refusing to calcify the hermeneutics of the religion... this is a strength.

The rush to a highly militarized modernist colonial nation-state was sensible in the face of the Holocaust, but at 70 yrs remove we should have the confidence to ask if it is the best route to safety. I think that it’s not the best route and that it comes at great spiritual cost.


A Fifth Minaret? Again?

ElderofZiyon pointed me here where we read

Jordan has asked Israel to allow it to build a fifth minaret on the Temple Mount, on the eastern wall of the Mount, facing the Mount of Olives. The Jordanian request is not new, and as far as it is known, at least at this stage, Israel does not intend to allow it. 

Indeed, that request is not new.

I found a 14-year old reference to a request then.  And more details here (in Hebrew) and also here:

A Jordanian group intends to complete plans for building a fifth minaret on the Temple Mount by the end of the year and begin construction in 2005, said Raef Nijem, deputy chairman of the Committee to Renovate the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, over the weekend.

The committee is an official Jordanian body operating on the Temple Mount with the approval of the Hashemite kingdom as well as Israeli authorities. It mostly deals with renovating the southern wall of the Temple Mount after that section was found to bulge in several spots.

"As per the decision of King Abdullah, the minaret will be built, and it will be the fifth one, representing the five basic pillars of Islam," Nijem said Friday. The fifth minaret is slated for the southeast corner of the Temple Mount.

(And the Hebrew via Google Translate):

A Jordanian delegation headed by engineer Raif Nijam, who was formerly responsible for the holy sites, visited Israel recently and presented a plan to build a fifth mosque tower on the Temple Mount.

Today there are four minarets on the mountain, used by the muezzins (near the Al-Aqsa Mosque, near the Chain Gate, in the northwestern corner of the mountain and in its northeast corner). Apparently, the Jordanians want to build the new minaret in the southeastern corner of the mountain, thereby upgrading their status on the mountain against the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Islamic Movement. In recent years, Israel has tended to strengthen its ties with the Jordanians in relation to the Temple Mount, in order to build an Arab-Muslim powerhouse that will compete with the Palestinians for control of the Temple Mount.

In the past, the Jordanian status on the mountain was much stronger, but it weakened during the intifada. In recent times he has been strengthening again. Arab diplomatic sources told Israel Radio that Israel did not reject the Jordanian request out of hand. Israeli sources confirmed the contacts with the Jordanian delegation, but stressed that nothing had been agreed upon.

The "Hay Vikayam" Movement for the Judaization of the Temple Mount appealed yesterday to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz and Jerusalem District Commander Ilan Franco. The movement claimed that the contacts between the Jordanians and the police were illegal, since the police are not authorized to accept or discuss building plans, especially since this is the most sensitive and sacred site for Jews, the Temple Mount. Other activists in the Jewish Temple Mount movements have made it clear that the fifth tower on the mountain will be built "on their bodies."

Israeli officials did not rule out the possibility that talks on the construction of a fifth minaret on the Temple Mount would be part of a deal that would give Muslims compensation for renewing Jewish visits to the Temple Mount 15 months ago, after locking the gates of the mountain for non-Muslims for three years.

The first announcement about Jordanian plans to build a minaret was delivered last Saturday by Sheikh Muhammad Halial, the Jordanian minister of consecration. Halial said King Abdullah had assigned his office to build a fifth minaret. At the end of last week, the Jordanian delegation headed by Engineer Nijam came to Israel. Nijam is number two in the Al-Aqsa Commission, a Jordanian body that deals with the maintenance of the mountain complex. Recently, the body was active in treating the bulge at the southern wall, and in dealing with a similar bulge in the eastern wall of the Temple Mount. The Jordanian delegation also met in Israel with Niso Shaham, the outgoing commander of the Old City Police.

A few days ago Issam Awad, the architect of the Temple Mount on behalf of the Waqf, who is responsible for the preservation of the site, said that he had initiated the conversion of buildings on the Temple Mount to mosques, although they had not previously been used for mosques. Awad referred mainly to the initiative in 1996, in which the underground halls of the Solomon's Stables were transformed into a huge mosque. Awad told the press that he initiated the operation in response to Israeli plans to dig under Solomon's Stables.

In the Jerusalem Post back in October 2006, there were several Readers' Letters:

 Sir, - Re "Jordanian official: Israel unopposed to construction of 5th Temple Mount minaret" (October 12): Perhaps the Israeli authorities need a lesson in Jewish history - back to 1948, when the Jordanians wouldn't permit even one Jew to live in Jerusalem's Old City between then and 1967. Nor could any Jew pray at the Western Wall. After the Six Day War the Mount was proclaimed to be "once again in Jewish hands," until Moshe Dayan decided to reward the Arabs for destroying our synagogues and Jewish property in the Old City and gave the keys of the Temple Mount to the Arab Wakf. Thanks to Dr. Gabi Barkai for his common sense in stating that he is against any change in the status quo on the Temple Mount. Is there really need or reason for a 5th minaret there? LILA BRODSKY Jerusalem                                                                              Sir, - This encroachment will be perceived as an unpardonable outrage. Dr. Raief Najim of Jordan asserts that Israel's authorities have not voiced any objection to the proposed construction of a minaret on this prime Jewish holy site. He must not be aware of the public outcry it would elicit. If it is true that someone in our government has given a nod of approval, it will constitute a blatant example of legally permitted desecration.                                  AARON SWIRSKI, Architect Netanya              Sir, - There is no better expression of Israel's sovereignty and magnanimity than the reported decision to allow Jordan to build another minaret on the Temple Mount. It is, of course, for the government of Israel to decide who goes up to the Mount, and when. Much of the world forgets that when Muslims hold Friday Ramadan prayers on the Temple Mount, they do so with the protection and indulgence of the Israeli authorities. Your country is to be congratulated on its continued religious tolerance. IDA PRESS New York


And how important to Jordan is the Temple Mount?

King Abdullah also put on the top of all priorities safeguarding Jerusalem’s holy sites and historic Arab, Muslim and Christian identity. He added that: “To me personally and to all Jordanians, the Hashemite Custodianship of Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian holy sites is a binding duty”. 

Saturday, October 27, 2018

What's in the Naming of a Name

The new jointly collaborated on hasbarist effort of T'ruah and Breaking the Silence has a section called

The Ideology of Naming: What We Call A Place Matters

which reads

Because our thoughts can’t exist independent of language, the words we use to label places and activities shape how we see them. “West Bank,” perhaps the most neutral of the terms in use, simply refers geographically to the west bank of the Jordan River. The biblical name “Judea and Samaria,” which highlights the belief that God gave this land to the Jews, became an official Israeli government term in 1968, though it came into popular usage only under the 1977 Likud government. Today the settler movement and most official Israeli government publications prefer this term.
My reaction:

a) "West Bank" is not at all the most neutral. It is a term created in April 1950 to disguise a violation of the UN's recommended idea of creating an "Arab State" out of the Palestine Mandate. Jordan illegally entered that territory, conquered it, occupied it and then annexed it on April 24.

b) "Judea and Samaria" are not only names found in the Bible, but in the New Testament and throughout history to describe the Jewish People's historic heartland.

In fact, they're in that 1947 partition recommendation I referenced in (a) above, in the section laying out the borders: Part II Boundaries.

So, T'ruah is either lying, fudging, or they really know little of what they write.

Or all three.

They are using language to bamboozle.

Don't be.


Friday, October 26, 2018

Kochavi and Gidi - Who 'Developed'?

Relating the military history of the new IDF Chief-in-Command Aviv Kochavi, this was included here:

While on the battlefield, Kochavi developed the use of a 5 kg hammer to break down walls and cross through homes in the terror-infested refugee camps in order to prevent his soldiers from being shot by snipers. This ingenious tactic, as well as other urban warfare methods he developed, were later copied by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan

I wish to point out that in April 1948 Jaffa came under attack of the Irgun after months of sniping against Tel Aviv south-west neighborhoods which caused over thousands to flee. commanded by Gidi Paglin, the Irgun force, after earlier failures to advance through Jaffa, adopted his suggestion to move through the building rather than on the streets.  

Holes were blown in the walls and the fighters proceeded from house to house down the streets on the inside.  Later, when British forces confronted the Irgun with tanks and armored cars, they blew up house fronts to bring them down on those vehicles.


Thursday, October 25, 2018

A Jewish Polity

Who wrote:


Looking toward a land and a polity, our dispersed people in all the ends of the earth may share the dignity of a national life which has a voice among the peoples of the East and the West


There is store of wisdom among us to found a new Jewish polity, grand, simple, just, like the old--a republic where there is equality of protection, an equality which shone like a star on the forehead of our ancient community, and gave it more than the brightness of Western freedom amid the despotisms of the East. Then our race shall have an organic centre, a heart and brain to watch and guide and execute; the outraged Jew shall have a defense in the court of nations, as the outraged Englishmen of America. And the world will gain as Israel gains.


Let our wise and wealthy show themselves heroes. They have the memories of the East and West, and they have the full vision of a better...So will a new Judaea, poised between East and West--a covenant of reconciliation.

George Elliot in Daniel Deronda, 1876.

As if the British and the League of Nations didn't know what they were doing.


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Jordan, Part of Palestine

Let's quickly review basic geo-political history.

Is the country "Jordan" or, the "Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan" part of Palestine which, in my opinion, means that any resolution of the so-called "Palestinian Arab problem" need include in its geographical elements the participation of that country?

Two sources suggest yes.


An area in the extreme north of Palestine, previously included in the territory of Syria, was transferred to Palestine, as from the 1st April 1924, in accordance with the terms of the Palestine-Syria Boundary Convention of 1920. This area contains twenty villages with a population of nearly 9,000. It includes Tel-el-Ivadi, the ancient Dan, and its inclusion has restored to Palestine her biblical boundaries “from Dan even unto Beersheba.”


Although Trans-Jordan is under an administration separate from that of Palestine, this Report would be incomplete without a summary, however brief, of events in that territory. It forms part of the same Mandatory Area; its Government is under the general superintendence of the High Commissioner for Palestine; it demands, indeed, no small share of his attention...

...When the war ended, Trans־Jordan found itself within the administrative area which had been entrusted to His Highness the Amir Faisal, the third son of King Hussein of the Hejaz; his capital was at Damascus. In July 1920, the Amir came into conflict with the French authorities, who exercise the Mandate for Syria, land left the country. At that moment Trans-Jordan was left politically derelict. The frontier between the two Mandatory zones, as agreed between Great Britain and France, cut it off from Syria, but no authority had been exercised from Palestine. The establishment of a direct British administration was not possible, since Trans-Jordan was part of the extensive area, with regard to which a premise had been given by the British Government in 1915, in the course of negotiations with the Hejaz, that Arab independence would be favoured there. Nor would His Majesty's Government have been prepared, in any case to send armed forces to maintain an administration. These conditions having arisen soon after my arrival in Palestine, I proceeded to Trans-Jordan in August 1920. I held a meeting with the leading inhabitants, and, as no centralised government was at that time possible, I took steps to establish local Councils in the three districts into which the country is divided by its natural features. These Councils assumed the administration, of affairs, with the .assistance of a small number of British officers, who were sent from Palestine for the purpose. A few months later, His Highness the Amir Abdulla, the second son of King Hussein, arrived in Trans־Jordan from the Hejaz. He had with him a small force, and he expressed hostile intention with regard to the French authorities in Syria, The Colonial Secretary, Mr. Churchill, was at that time in Palestine. A conference with the Amir was held at Jerusalem, and an agreement made, under which the Mandatory Power recognised him, for a period, as administrator of Trans-Jordan with the condition that any action hostile to Syria must be abandoned. In 1922, the Amir visited London; the arrangement was confirmed

Jordan is part of historic Palestine.

Friday, October 19, 2018

On The Merging of the Consulate with the Embassy

Many are writing on the various aspects, political and diplomatic, of the merging of the US Jerusalem Consulate with the Embassy, now located after 70 years in Jerusalem, too. There will be no downgrade of the American representation in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. 


Following the merger of @usembassyjlm and @USCGJerusalem, a new Palestinian Affairs Unit will continue to conduct a full range of reporting, outreach, and programming in the West Bank and Gaza as well as with Palestinians in Jerusalem.

I have been on the activities of the Consulate for, well, decades.

To highlight my specific concerns as to possible ramifications of this move, consider this Facebook post by the Consulate:

Are you a Gaza-based student in 9th or 10th grade? Are you looking for an amazing adventure in America?...Apply for the Kennedy-Lugar YES study abroad program via the link below. The deadline is November 1

This is an admirable and positive program. But is it restricted? I mean, can Jewish residents in Judea and Samaria apply?

So, I went to the web site of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Program (YES) and I read that it 

is seeking Palestinian secondary school students to participate in a study-in-the-USA initiative for high school students during the 2019-2020 school year.

Does "Palestinian" exclude Jews?

If that is a geographical term, technically Jews in the 150 Jewish communities are 'Palestinian', in a physical sense.

But I continued to read:

Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Program (YES) scholarships, funded by the US Department of State, give secondary school students in many Arab and Islamic countries an opportunity to study at American high schools and live with American host families for one academic year.  Students will be enrolled in a full academic year, involving ten months of high school study in the US, attending classes, labs and extracurricular programs with their American classmates. 

So, is that program racial-based? That one need be "Arab"?

Is it religious-based?  That one need be Islamic?

I sought out further eligibility requirements and found this

to participate in the YES, students:
Be enrolled in 9th or 10th grade at a secondary school at the time of application;
Must be born between February 1, 2001 and August 1,  2004;
Meet a minimum English proficiency requirement, which will be measured by a test;...
Must not be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or have been born in the United States;
Be a resident of the West Bank, Gaza, or East Jerusalem

So, if a Jewish school pupil is resident of the "West Bank", which is actually Judea and Samaria (check out the UN's 1947 Partition Scheme borders and other documents which use those exact terms), can he/she apply?

Based on my experience, the answer is no.

This is a sort of American apartheid policy. No Jews allowed.  Even if we live less than a kilometer one from the other or drive on the same roads. American taxpayer dollars at work indicating to the Palestinian Authority that Jews don't belong in the territory of their historic Jewish homeland.  And that, perhaps, the peace they seek, the one in which, like in Sinai and in Gaza, no Jews remain behind, is obtainable.

In that, there seems to be a wrong-directional merging, one with the prejudicial Palestinian Authority's anti-Jewish national identity ideology.



Back in 1951, these principles were fixed:

 E. The Arab States and Israel
3. Economic Aid.
(b)  The programs should be administered on a regional basis and the principle of impartiality must be followed.


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Women Gain Entry Rights at The Temple (And Need A Temple Be Destroyed?)


This is not about the Temple Mount, or the egalitarian Western Wall pray area in Jerusalem.

But it is riveting.

A two-year old ruling is coming to a clash in India.  We learn that

NEW DELHI — Thousands of devotees joined street marches in southern India on Monday as tensions mounted over a recent Supreme Court verdict revoking a ban on women entering a famous Hindu temple.

The Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala — considered one of the holiest for Hindus — in Kerala state has traditionally barred all women of menstruating age, between 10 and 50.

But India’s top court revoked the ban on women entering the temple in September...Those protesting against the court’s decision on Monday, including hundreds of women, warned they would step up their protests before the temple reopens on Wednesday, when it will have to allow all women entry as per the court order.

...“We will meet each villager in Kerala and chalk out a massive agitation plan to protect the temple, its centuries-old traditions and sentiments of Lord Ayyappa devotees,” Kerala BJP president P.S Sreedharan Pillai told NDTV.

Millions of devotees visit the temple every year to seek the blessings of Ayyappa, the presiding deity who is believed to be celibate. According to the temple website, pilgrims have to observe celibacy for 41 days before entering the shrine. 

And on Tuesday

India deployed hundreds of police Tuesday in southern Kerala state where protesters have threatened to stop women from entering a Hindu temple, despite a court ruling they can pray there. India's Supreme Court in September overturned a prohibition on women of menstruating age, between 10 and 50, from entering a temple for the deity Ayyappa.
Activists have said the long-standing ban reflected an old but still prevalent belief that menstruating women were impure.
Rajasthan BJP today condemned Congress lawmaker Shashi Tharoor's remarks that no good Hindu would want the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, by destroying somebody else's place of worship and asked the opposition party to clarify its stand on the issue....

...Mr Tharoor, who is Congress legislator from Thiruvananthapuram, made the controversial comments at an event in Chennai on Sunday.
"As a Hindu, obviously, I am conscious that a vast majority of my fellow Hindus believe that that (Ayodhya) was the specific birthplace of Ram," Mr Tharoor had said.
"For this reason, most good Hindus would want to see a Ram temple at the site where Ram was supposed to be (have been) born. But I also believe that no good Hindu would have wanted that a temple be built by demolishing somebody else's place (of worship)," he had said.
However, he later claimed that his remarks were distorted out of malice. 
"I condemn the malicious distortion of my words by some media in the service of political masters. I said: most Hindus would want a temple at what they believe to be Ram's birthplace. But no good Hindu would want it to be built by destroying another's place of worship," he tweeted.

Does UNESCO need to get involved



Crowds of agitated protesters in Kerala attacked female devotees, many of whom turned back as a result. Several people including an old woman were injured as crowds threw stones at vehicles and attacked police officers.The Sabarimala temple has historically been closed to women of "menstruating age".Hinduism regards menstruating women as unclean and bars them from participating in religious rituals.


Suspected Hindu radicals attacked a spiritual retreat founded by a preacher who backed letting women enter a renowned Indian temple, police said. The incident heightened tensions in southern India where police have rounded up more than 2,000 people suspected of taking part in protests to stop women from worshipping at the Sabrimala shrine.


What's With the Waqf?

Being reported there's a crisis between the Jordanian Endowments [Waqf] and the Jerusalem Endowments [Waqf] Department ... and threats of separation?

the Jordanian Awqaf sent a delegation to occupied Jerusalem to cancel the contracts of all employees and the work of new contracts...the staff rejected the wording of the new contracts being unfair to them, while the Waqf as represented by its director in Jerusalem, Azzam al-Khatib, said anyone who refuses to sign will be dismissed

Seems the employees view their role as on of "protecting Al-Aqsa Mosque and confronting the settlers".

In addition to duration of their work contracts and other items, there is a demand regarding a  deduction for Jordanian health insurance, which they do not benefit by forcing Jerusalemites to the Israeli health insurance, and turn it into an optional item for those who wanted them.

The Jerusalem Waqf responded saying,

"We consider ourselves the people of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which has always sponsored Islamic institutions and trusteeship in the city of Jerusalem and caring staff and workers in the endowments of Jerusalem in various means of support and improve the functional and living conditions for them, which the most recent of which was the issuance of a Royal Decree to improve the salaries of employees and to grant a financial reward of one month's salary for each year of service. "

A meeting was held in the office of the Director General of the Jerusalem Waqf on October 15th in the presence of the Assistant Director General of the Jerusalem Endowments, the Finance Manager and the Director of Human Resources.

So, is the tension financial, religious or political?



Monday, October 15, 2018

The Jewish Legion Fallen Centennial Memorial on Mt. Scopus

The story.

From my camera:



Michael Moskow of Drexel Hill, PA sent me these cuttings:


How Evil Was The Hebron Massacre?

On August 23, 1929, a Friday, and on the Shabbat, August 24, Arabs from Hebron and surrounding villages attacked the centuries-old Jewish community in the city.  Veteran and recent Jewish residents were slaughtered.

There was murder and rape.

And there was mutilation.

Not for the squeamish.


"Settler Racism"

This is a photograph taken yesterday, Sunday, October 13, 2018.

The event is the awarding of a certificate of merit and appreciation by Avi Roeh, Council Chairman, to sports enthusiasts, residents of communities in the Binyamin Region, who competed and won international and national championships in various categories.

Among the youngsters are members of the Gordon Family of Shiloh.

I think you can take note that the faces indicate a total lack of "racism" that excludes persons of different countries, physiological characteristics, skin color, etc.

There is no "settler racism".

There is Israeli pride.


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Again, Is "Palestine" Really Part of Syria?

As Zachary J. Foster details in his 2011 Georgetown University MA thesis, "Arab Historiography in Mandatory Palestine, 1920--1948", many Arab historians

considered Palestine a constitutive part of Syria. Bahri, for instance, writes that Haifa is among the “mother cities of Syria broadly and Palestine specifically.” In his brief biography of Abid Baha’ Abbas, the founder of the Bahai faith, Bahri also lists all of the countries or regions with Bahai populations: Iran, Japan, China, India, Egypt, Syria (Suriyya), Europe and America. Insofar as there were many Bahai in “Palestine,” it only makes sense that Palestine was assumed as part of Syria in Bahri’s laundry list, or else it would have been an embarrassing oversight to neglect Palestine. Barghouthi and Totah add that Palestine “remained part of Syria, and a natural border did not separate it (Palestine) from it(Syria), and was not distant from it racially or historically, and therefore historians have not singled it [Palestine] out with a distinct name but rather they have related to it [i.e. naming, in terms of] the peoples and tribes living in it.”

If you are worried that his sources are not solid, a footnote there reads:

On the proposals for a Syria (including Palestine) -- Egypt union before the war, see Ayyad, Arab Nationalism,59; Lunts, “Shorishayha ve-Mekorotayha,” 34; Gooch and Temperley, British Documents, 824-5; During the war:Tamari, Am al-Jarad, 75-6; Blyth, “The Future of Palestine,” 85; And after the war: Mir’at al-Sharq, 23 December 1926. The proposals for a Palestine-Syria unification all come after the war and extend well into the late 1920s: see the resolution of the First Palestinian National Congress; responses in Palestine to the King-Crane Commission; petitions of the Muslim-Christian Associations; Resolution of the First Syrian National Congress in 1919, petitions produced by Nablusite notables, all of which opted for unity with Syria in the 1918-1920 period. On these proposals, See Porath, The Emergence, 81-2; Muslih,The Origins 131-154; Qasmiyya, “Suriyya wa al-Qadiyya al-Filastiniyya”; For more pro-Syrian unity rhetoric in the post 1920 period, see resolutions of the fifth Palestinian National Congress in 1922, cited in Kimmerling, “Process of Formation,” 80, n.62; Mir’at al-Sharq, 24 May 1925, 4 November 1926; Mansur, Tarikh Nasira, 120; Zionist report on the Third Palestinian National Conference, CZA,L4/768; Zionist report on Palestinian Activities in America. New York, 28 March 1922, CZA A185/56; ZionistReport on the Arab Movement, 1928, CZA, L9/349; For unity with the Hijaz, see Filastin, 10 September 1921; 14 March 1924; 19 June 1925

Quite simply, Foster considers the writing of a unique "Palestine history" to be

the projection of contemporary prerogatives on to the past.

Foster continues his review of the geography and history books written and published at the time and adds

in 1938 George Antonius uses the word Syria to describe the entire Bilad al-Sham region throughout his book. “Of the countries surrounding Egypt, Syria was the most important from a military point of view.” That is to say, it was still perfectly natural for him to write Syria to refer to places like Bir Sab’ and Ghazza. al-Nimr adds in 1938 that Nablus is located in the heart of Southern Syria (qalb Suriyya al-Janubiyya).

He continues

the tendency to consider Palestine a part of Syria that was suggested in Bahri, al-Barghouthi and Totah, Antonious and Canaan is consistent with the geographical studies of the period written by Arabs residing in both Palestine and Syria. In the first place, let us recall that discussions of Palestine are included in the classic histories of Syria written by Yusuf Dibbs and Jurji Yanni in late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The first Jughrafiyat Filastin was published in 1921 and seems to have been destined for the Mandatory education system. The authors, Totah and Khuri, write that there is no natural border between Syria and Palestine...For Sabri Sharif Abd al-Hadi’s Jughrafiyat Suriyya wa Filastin al-Tabi‘iyya, publishedin 1923—six years after the British arrived in Jerusalem—there is no neat border between Syria and Palestine. In some cases, the plains and mountains of Palestine and Syria bleed into one another.

By the way, on this book, Foster observes

It is worth noting that Rashid Khalidi misinterprets this book, claiming that its importance lies in“the fact that all over Palestine, students were already learning that Palestine was a separate entity, a unit whose geography requires separate treatment [from Syria].” Khalidi, Palestinian Identity, 174. As we indicated above,however, this book suggests much the opposite: that there was great confusion over what was Palestine and what was Syria, and that Palestine was a region within Syria. We must be careful to go to the primary sources before accepting Khalidi’s interpretation of the evidence..

Foster pursues the subject further and as it is important, here is another longish excerpt from his academic study:

Palestine was inextricably tied to a larger territorial unit, Syria. In some cases it was a constitutive part of it and in other cases Palestine did not include Haifa, Acre, Tiberias, Tzfat, Nazareth, the Bisan valley and other areas. When we consider that,in the late Ottoman period, “Palestine” had no administrative status and “Palestinians” called themselves “Syrians,” this is not so surprising. The attempt by the British and French to transform much older conceptions of space and self, usually by resort to force of arms, did not happen overnight. I would suggest that the attempt to trace the “earliest manifestations” of the national or proto-national identity, as Khalidi, Gerber and Fishman have done, has inadvertently reified the naturalness and inevitableness of the development of nation-state borders, geographies and loyalties in the region, things that were simply not indigenous to the region and were brought to the region by the colonial use of force.Another implication of this section is that the various pro-Syrian unity positions taken by theArabs of Palestine from 1918-1920 were probably not as “fleeting” and “ephemeral” as everyone seems to believe. The decision of the First Palestinian National Congress to call Palestine“Southern Syria” in hopes of uniting with Faysal’s government in Syria, may itself have been an innovation, but in name rather than substance. The idea that Palestine was a part of Syria continues to be perfectly acceptable to Palestine’s Arabs in the 1920s and even as late as the 1930s and 1940s. We have examined city-loyalties, Arab and Islamic loyalties and the role of the regional epicenters.

As Foster concludes this chapter in his study

Today scholars want to know when a Palestinian identity first emerged, but they seem much less interested in determining what people themselves in the 1920s and 1930s actually cared about.

And then makes sure we are clear about the facts and how Arab historians today interpret them
while Khalidi is right to point to the existence of an incipient Palestine loyalty in the 1914-1923 period, he grossly over exaggerates both its importance for the people who felt it and its prevalence in the general population. The historical works would seem to support what Salim Tamari has described as a kind of “cultural nihilism” – the idea that Palestine was not particularly important or distinct apart from its Bilad al-Sham context, at least in the 1920s and also in the early 1930s...not a single book was written on the history of Palestine out of sheer passion and love for Palestine until the 1930s. As we stated previously, this is in complete contrast to the city histories – all of which seem to have been written out of the authors devotion and love for the home town. Continuing along to the 1930s, regional, Arab and Palestine histories remain roughly equal in number until 1936, at which point the conflict among the British, Zionists and Palestinians reached a breaking point with the outbreak of the General Strike in Palestine in the Spring of 1936, the first phase in a 3-year long revolt, today known as the “Great Arab Revolt.” Only then did interest in Palestine soar and come to dominate historical writing, alongside with Arab histories.

My take from this is that my outlook remains unchanged from when I first began blogging on this aspect: for Arabs, Palestine was a region, not a country. It was not a separate geopolitical entity except as part of Syria. Local patriotism was a result of the clash with Zionism which had a 3000-year history of a concrete conceptualization of what the Jewish homeland's borders were and which the Arabs did not possess.

This is part of what I term "Palestinianism" which is the fabrication, caused by competitiveness with the challenge Zionism confronts the local Arabs, of a history, an identity and a geography.

And from The Invention of PalestineZachary J. Foster, A DISSERTATION


P.S.  Some previous posts:




and an important one here.



Foster thought I "politicized" his research.