Sunday, June 30, 2019

Ezra Schwartz and His Talmud

Ezra Schwartz tweeted to me and Einat Wilf:

it is tragic that Israel would remove Arab national rights, even while retaining individual rights.

And added:

As the talmud says:“Is it possible that there is anything at all which is permitted to a Jew, yet nonetheless is prohibited to a non-Jew?”TB Chulin 33a

And then further made it clear writing:

The point is, I believe it was wrong for non-Jews to refuse Jewish national rights, and I believe it is wrong for the Jews to refuse national rights to its non-Jewish minority.

Schwartz made Aliyah from Toronto in 2017, defines himself as Bnei Akiva Liberal and is studying towards his M.A. in Political Science at Hebrew University. In an article published in October 2017, he notes that we Jews are not permited "to ignore existing non-Jewish communities and act as if their land was our own."

He added

During the long centuries of exile, Jews desired an end to being treated as second-class citizens. Now that we have a country for ourselves, can we possibly treat the Palestinians in the same way? In the words of the Talmud: “Is it possible that there is anything permitted to a Jew, yet nonetheless prohibited to a non-Jew?”

Of course that is nonsense.  Jews never demanded national rights but equality as citizens.  Do Jews of, say, Brooklyn, have a right to declare the borough Zion, even if they would - as they were - a near majority of the population?

That Talmudic quote above appears here as well.  Is there a connection to the matter under discussion?

What is discussed there in Chulin?

What is discussed there is a situation when an animal is incorrectly slaughtered, so:

R. Aha b. Jacob said: One may conclude from the ruling of R. Simeon b. Lakish that an Israelite may be invited to partake of the intestines, but not a gentile. Why is this? — Because to an Israelite everything depends upon the slaughtering; therefore, since here the animal has been properly slaughtered he may partake of the intestines. To the gentile, however, everything depends upon the death of the animal4 [and not upon the slaughtering], for even stabbing would be sufficient; therefore the intestines [of an animal slaughtered by an Israelite] would be regarded as a limb [cut off] from a living animal.

Rav Papa raises a doubt:

‘As I was Sitting before R. Aha b. Jacob I thought of putting the question to him: Is there anything which is permitted to an Israelite and forbidden to a gentile? But I did not ask him this, for I said to myself: "He has himself suggested the reason for it"’.

In other words, first of all, we're talking pears and apples.  One matter is do Arabs in Israel deserve national rights in addition to personal political and civic rights and other liberties within a framework of equal citizenship. The other is whether a non-Jew may be denied eating a wrongly slaughtered beast simply because it is prohibited to a Jew, if my understanding of the discussion is correct.

Secondly, the "principle" Ezra quotes is rejected by Rav Papa as there is a rational reason for it. And see here.

Does not Ezra perceive that he not only has falsified a source but that the dictum he wishes to apply to a totally different concern is itself not applied by a Talmudic sage?


Friday, June 28, 2019

Another Unpublished Letter-to-the-Editor

Sent to the New York Review of Books:

Rashid Khalidi quotes Lord Balfour, writing in 1919 to the anti-Zionist Lord Curzon, as an example and proof that "the not warrant being consulted about their national future" ('The Neocolonial Arrogance of the Kushner Plan', June 12). Further, Khalidi points out, in contrast, that Balfour was of the opinion that "Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.”

Khalidi is being a bit anachronistic. In 1919, there were no "Palestinians" per se. And if they were, they were not solely Arabs but all persons who lived in the area, of all religion and ethnicity. Formally, Palestinian nationality came about through the 1925 Palestinian Citizenship Order in Council of the British Mandate, a requirement of Article 7 of the 1922 League of Nations decision to reconstitute the Jewish people's national home through their "historical connection" to the country. In 1919, the Arabs residing in the territory referred to themselves as "Southern Syrians" and throughout the 1920s, petitioned the Mandate Commission in Geneva to have the country reunited with Syria.

Ironically, if it were not for the Jews and Zionism, there would be no "Palestine" in a geo-political sense, nor a specific Arab "Palestinian people".

To clarifty my last point: the first time "Palestine" was provided borders was under the Mandate. Previously, the Ottoman Empire had divided it up multiple ways multiple times. Districts altered and reshaped. 

The first time a "Palestinian Nationality" was declared and a passport crated was under the Mandate.

And the Mandate was created for the Jews to reconstitute their historic national home in Palestine.

From a concept, interchangeable with "The Holy Land", Palestine, due to the Jewish/Zionist efforts, became a recognizable reality.


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Territoriality of the Balfour Declaration

It is a staple of Arab propaganda that the Balfour Declaration promised the Jews a "national home" in Palestine, not that all of Palestine should become a Jewish state.

They quote this portion:

"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,

and claim that if the Zionist version is correct, it should have read something like:

"His Majesty's Government agree that Palestine should become the national home for the Jewish people, viewing its establishment with favour".

But what they ignore is that at the time of its issuance, Palestine, "historic Palestine" extended into Lebanon in the north and Transjordan to the east.

In 1919, the Zionists presented a map of their territorial claims to the Versailles Peace Conference

The British also presented a proposal that included parts of Syria and Transjordan. As I once wrote:

Zionism has been yielding territory since 1919

After removing Transjordan from Jewish settlement rights in 1922 and earlier, awarding part of northern Palestine to the French Mandate over Syria, we still have all of Western historic Palestine as the Jewish national home. By right.


Thank You (Really), New York Times

The New York Times illustrates, inadvertently, Israel security needs for the retention of Judea and Samaria.

In a story in the New York Times on the rape case and the suspect being a resident of Deir Qaddis, this photograph was included

And this is its caption:

The view from Mahmoud Qattousa’s house in Deir Qaddis, with Tel Aviv in the background.Samar Hazboun for The New York Times 

Let's do that again, with an arrow pointing to Tel Aviv in the background:

Buildings easily seen and identified.  Layed out as if on the palm of your hand.

And where is Deir Qaddis on a map?

Thank you New York Times for providing an illustration, a stark one, of Israel's security needs.

An independent Arab state of Palestine poses a unique and real security threat.

It's as clear as a photograph in the New York Times.


Monday, June 24, 2019

Countering An Arab Propaganda Claim

It is difficult at times to counter Arab falsification of history.  Other times, a bit of research will solve the difficulty.

For example, here, where it is claimed:

The Deir Yassin massacre followed in 1948. A join contingent, containing the Tsel, Irgun, and Haganah, assaulted the 600-person village near Jerusalem. A cistern alone was found to contain 150 mutilating bodies and the full death toll remains unknown. Irgun leader Menachem Begin falsified the Red Cross’s reports, ironically labelling it the fabrication by anti-Semites. [3]

We'll ignore the misspelling of Etzel. Or whether actually 150 bodies, mutilated (all?), were found (Bir Zeit University claims maybe 110 were killed*). Well, I went to the source quoted.

There, on page 297, I found this:

How could he falsify the reports of the Red Cross? Did the writer mean he misrepresented them? Or that he quoted from them what they did not contain?

So I went to Begin's memoir as Commander of the Irgun, The Revolt, and on page 164 I found this footnote:

and as I presumed, Begin insisted not that the battle did not took place but that there was no "massacre". The charge of a "massacre" is a lie. That claim is correct as Eliezer Tauber's new Hebrew-language book details (see here). He also used "Jew-haters", not "anti-Semites" if we are to be exact in quoting someone.

And he certainly did not "falsify" the Red Cross reports. In fact, "Red Cross reports" are not mentioned at all by Begin.

Were those reports false? That is another issue.

They claimed that there was "great savagery"; that "Woman and children were stripped, lined up, photographed, and then slaughtered by automatic firing"; that "survivors have told of even more incredible bestialities"; and that those "who were taken prisoner were treated with degrading brutality".

Those claims are false.



In 1987, the Research and Documentation Center of Bir Zeit University, a prominent Arab university in the territory now controlled by the Palestinian Authority, published a comprehensive study of the history of Deir Yassin, as part of its "Destroyed Palestinian Villages Documentation Project." The Center's findings concerning Deir Yassin were published, in Arabic only, as the fourth booklet in its "Destroyed Arab Villages Series." The purpose of the project, according to its directors, is "to gather information from persons who lived in these villages and were directly familiar with them, and then to compare these reports and publish them in order to preserve for future generations the special identity and particular characteristics of each village."88 The Bir Zeit study's description of the 1948 battle of Deir Yassin began with the hyperbole typical of many accounts of the event, calling it "a massacre the likes of which history has rarely known."89 But unlike the authors of any other previous study of Deir Yassin, the Bir Zeit researchers tracked down the surviving Arab eyewitness to the attack and personally interviewed each of them. "For the most part, we have gathered the information in this monograph during the months of February-May 1985 from Deir Yassin natives living in the Ramallah region, who were extremely cooperative," the Bir Zeit authors explained, listing by name twelve former Deir Yassin residents whom they had interviewed concerning the battle. The study continued: "The [historical] sources which discuss the Deir Yassin massacre unanimously agree that number of victims ranges between 250-254; however, when we examined the names which appear in the various sources, we became absolutely convinced that the number of those killed does not exceed 120, and that the groups which carried out the massacre exaggerated the numbers in order to frighten Palestinian residents into leaving their villages and cities without resistance."90 The authors concluded: "Below is a list of the names and ages of those killed at Deir Yassin in the massacre which took place on April 9, 1948, which was compiled by us on the basis of the testimony of Deir Yassin natives. We have invested great effort in checking it and in making certain of each name on it, such that we can say, with no hesitation, that it is the most accurate list of its type until today." A list of 107 people killed and twelve wounded followed.91 


Sunday, June 23, 2019

On Guilt

The case of a seven-year old girl, suspected of being raped, is causing me pain.

It has developed in such a way as to challenge all as to their ability and willingness to be fair, to accept any and all possibilities and most of all, not to prejudge.

Would they accept all they have said concerning the suspect if he was a Jew, not an Arab?

Have they not in the past, as in cases of firebombings, rockthrowings and torching, cried out against the police, the media and others the same way as is happening now?

Consider the case:

Is it not possible that someone else could have raped her?

On the face of the claims of the victim and her family, how logical is the guilt of the suspect?

Could he have raped her her?  Certainly. There was just recently the Ori Ansbacher case and during the Mandate period multiple cases. There's a new book out on sexual offenses during that time. The Stahl-Zohar case stands out as reported on June 7, 1932:

Could something else have occured?  For sure.

Whatever develops and whatever the court's decision, I would hope that all keep an open mind.


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Fake News in Jewish Halacha

Jewish legal/ritual law is codified in the Halacha. Its roots are in the Written Law and the Oral Law. Can such a system provide up-to-date regulation for matters and concerns that did not exist 3000 years ago?

For example, the issue of "fake news".

The Shulchan Arukh (composed in the 16th century) at OH 222 stipulates that 

על שמועות שהן טובות לו לבדו מברך שהחיינו ואם הן טובות לו ולאחרים מברך הטוב והמטיב

when one hears good news that applies to himself alone, the blessing is the 'Shecheyanu' and if the news applies to others, the blessing is 'HaTov v'HaMeitiv".

And the Mishnah Brura (published in the 19th century) of the Chofetz Chaim adds:

 ודוקא כששמע מפי אדם נאמן וזה האדם ראה בעצמו אבל אם שמע שמועה [בין שמועה טובה שצריך לברך עליה הטוב והמטיב או שהחיינו בין שמועה רעה שצריך לברך עליה דיין האמת] ואין המגיד נאמן או שהמגיד לא ראה בעצמו לא יברך 

but only in the instance that he hears from a reliable person which is a person who saw it himself but if it is hearsay [either good or bad news which would affect the type of blessing to be said] and the person is unreliable or if the person relaying the news did not see it himself, he should not pronounce a blessing.

There it is. Don't go with "fake news".

And if you are told news, don't believe it until you can resource it reliably.


Monday, June 10, 2019

When Bevin Was Way Out of Order

On April 28, 1948, Labour MK Frederick Cocks asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Ernest Bevin 

whether, under the agreements to supply given quantities of arms to the Arab States, His Majesty's Government have guaranteed to deliver these arms by certain fixed dates; and whether, in view of the publicly announced intention of these States, or some of them, to invade Palestine after 15th May, he will suspend for a period further deliveries of such arms.

The Yishuv, under attack effectively since November 30, with both irregular troops and some units of the Transjordan Arab Legion already participating in the fighting, needed such protection from aggression. British support for that aggression was invidious.

Bevin answered the second part of the question so:

"it is impossible to forecast the outcome of the United Nations discussions on Palestine and the future of the country is so uncertain that it is impossible to take decisions now as to the action which may be required in respect of the period after 15th May."

Cocks persisted:

will the right hon. Gentleman suspend delivery of these arms or allow the Jews to have arms with which to defend themselves?

Bevin replied

From all my information about Palestine at present, it seems to me that the Jews are the better armed of the two, but I cannot draw a distinction, and I have no intention of interfering until I get the decision of the United Nations. From that I refuse to move"

Cocks snapped back

"The right hon. Gentleman will let people be murdered before he arrests the murderer."

Then Bevin got nasty:

No. I appealed to both the Jews and the Arabs in London and warned them that we would leave Palestine. We must remember that the British sergeants were not hanged from the tree by Arabs"

That, of course, has nothing to do with the matter at hand. Just a swipe. Plenty of British troops and police were assassinated by Arabs during the Mandate period.

Then another Labour MP, Samuel Segal, asked

In view of the reports that British arms may be used, will the right hon. Gentleman say whether His Majesty's Government intend to give any advice to King Abdullah to restrain him from taking any warlike action?

Bevin answered

I do not think I should assume any such thing until King Abdullah indicates that he proposes to do it. Why should I assume that he is going to do these things? I have had no indication of it. [An HON. MEMBER: "He said he was going to."] At the same time, I have had experience of other people taking this action.

Lord (to be) Barnett Janner then popped up

May I ask my right hon. Friend to treat this in the serious manner in which it deserves to be treated? Will he please say definitely to this House whether he has any information at all about the meeting which was supposed to have taken place, or did take place, at Amman, what was the result of the deliberations, and will he take steps to prevent the use of arms supplied by us to kill people in Palestine?

Bevin then got really nasty

I have no information about that meeting. I say to the Jews and Arabs—the Arabs are not in this House—I say to the Jews and Arabs: the way for both of you to settle this is to stop fighting.

Which led John Lewis, another Labour MP, to ask

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker; am I in Order in asking the Foreign Secretary what he meant by the reference to the fact that the Arabs are not in this House?

And the Speaker quashed that

That is not a point of Order.


On May 5, 1948, Edelman asked Bevin

"what military action the Arab Legion has undertaken in Palestine without the consent of His Majesty's Government.

Bevin answered


Kibbutz Gesher was attacked by the Arab Legion, being shelled, during the first phase of the battle for the site between April 27-29 (here in Hebrew; here in English) and according to Sela

the Legion had heavily shelled Kibbutz Gesher, near Naharayim, in the presence of Crown Prince Talal [in April], 
And on May 4th, attacked Kfar Etzion. And again on May 12.


Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Ukraine Seminar Tour - Part Three II

Part Three I here.


The Duma Building (Jabotinsky ran twice for elections but due to the voting circumstances, resigned to prevent the elections of anti-Jewish candidates)

Holocaust Memorial at the deportation site at the former railway station:

A special session, consisting of three lectures, including one of mine, were held at the Museum for Literary Art, in the room where Jabotinsky lectured 115 years ago:


Yehiel and Herzi Makov

The Vine Room mentioned in "The Five" (short summary; Jacqueline Rose's essay; artile by Marat Grinberg):

During the day, before and after,

The Catacombs:

We stopped at places mentioned in "The Five" to read passages:

I'm ascending the Potemkin Steps via rail

Note the BDS scribble on the left:

Site of editorial offices of Jabotinsky's second newspaper employment, the Odesskiy Listok, (Odessa Leflet), owned by V. Navrotsky.

Jabotinsky's home in the first decade of the 20th century, Yevraskaya Street, 1:

A close-up:

P.S.  We didn't get to here:

Yehiel Fishzon, snapped by Yossi Suede

Off to the (small & crowded) airport and after a 2:45 hour flight, home.