Monday, July 27, 2020

Hagia Sophia Really Doesn't Interest the NYTimes

Following an editorial published by the New York Times, I sent the newspaper the following letter:

Your editorial, "The Hagia Sophia Is Converted Again" (July 23, 2020), informs that Turkey's President R.T. Erdogan indicated that when not being used for Moslem prayer, the Hagia Sophia, built to surpass Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem as you note, would remain open to the public. This is a welcome sign that Islam can tolerate shared space for holy sites of two different religions.

I hope that this spirit will move the Moslem Waqf authorities in Jerusalem, supported incidentally by Erdogan, to find a compromise whereby Jews can be present within the Haram A-Sharif, originally the Temple Mount, without discrimination or prohibition so they can express respect for our holy site.

It was not published.

Was I being outlandish?

In 2006, Spanish Muslims wrote to then Pope Benedict XVI and ask for hs permission to hold Islamic prayer in Córdoba Cathedral.

In part, it read:

"We invite you to create a new example, to send a message of hope to the world...[it would create a] unique ecumenical space...Do not fear. Together we can show the violent, the intolerant, the anti-Semites, the Islamophobes and also those who believe that only Islam has a right to remain in the world, that prayer is the strongest weapon imaginable..."

Whether or not one assumes that letter was an honest expression of shared place conflict resolution, nevertheless, Moslems should no be allowed to make an unequal claim in Jerusalem, denying Jews a change in the status quo and freed access and the right to worship, while they claim they be afforded those same rights in  Cordoba.




Friday, July 24, 2020

Jabotinsky - a la Beinart

A shortened version of this article appears


In his recent infamous Jewish Currents essay, Peter Beinart, seeking to minimize the element of the demand for a Jewish state amongst Zionist lumanaries, includes this snippet as reflecting the thinking of Ze’ev Jabotinsky as regards the requirement for Jewish statehood:

As Jabotinsky explained in 1909, “The full pathos of our ideal was never focused on sovereignty, but rather on the idea of a territory, a compact Jewish society in one continuous space . . . not a Jewish state but a Jewish collective life.” 

The original Russian text
with thanks to Ira of the Jabotinsky Institute

That excerpt, which he - or rather one of the three research assistants he employed – found in an article by Dmitry Shumsky, would be fairly surprising for those familiar with the Jabotinsky who demanded a Jewish State. Beinart uses it to buttress his agreement with Shumsky that “the demand for a Jewish state did not define Zionism until the 1940s”.(Shumsky, who promotes a historic revisionism focused on "nonstatist Zionism", is problematic and as Alan Arkush notes: "evidence presented by Shumsky the historian seems to be tailored to substantiating the thinking of Shumsky the polemicist"). He could have also referred to a 1918 booklet entitled ‘The Jewish Nation’ in which Jabotinsky proposed a formulation of an administrative government in Palestine, writing,

“our friends as well as enemies…think that we claim an independent Jewish State – which of course, we do not, and most emphatically not … . A “Jewish state” is so premature”.

But, as is obvious, from the wording, Jabotinsky did not reject a Jewish state in principle but rather was expressing his judgment that the time and conditions were not ripe for a declaration of independence. He could have been echoing how David Lloyd George explained the British thinking behind the Balfour Declaration to the Peel Commission in 1937:

when the time arrived for according representative institutions to Palestine, if the Jews had meanwhile responded to the opportunity afforded them by the idea of a National Home and had become a definite majority of the inhabitants, then Palestine would thus become a Jewish Commonwealth.’ 

Statehood surely and always defined Zionism while less-than-statehood defined their pragmatic practical politics to attain that goal.

Without specifically referencing the 1942 decision taken at the Biltmore Hotel Conference, Beinart is suggesting that it was only the Holocaust that tipped the scales, forcing Zionists to pursue statehood rather than other paradigms as here:

The belief that Jews in the land of Israel risk genocide without a Jewish state is central to what it means to be a Zionist today.”

I would suggest, if anything, what galvanized a policy change, not a fundamental political alteration, was the reneging of the British government in its 1939 White Paper and its volte face from the idea of a Jewish state, or homeland, or commonwealth.

He depends on Jabotinsky further on to support his outlook that not only was the Holocaust the catalyst to demand a state but that Arab violence was not comparable to Nazi Holocaust activity and quotes from Jabotinsky’s 1923 Iron Wall article:

prominent pre-state Zionists themselves depicted Palestinian resistance not as genocidal but as understandable. ‘Every native population in the world resists colonists as long as it has the slightest hope of being able to rid itself of the danger of being colonized,’ wrote the hawkish Jabotinsky in 1923. ‘That is what the Arabs in Palestine are doing’.

Addressing a convention of the New Zionist Organization in Prague two years ago, Jabotinsky declared that the whole of Palestine, on both sides of the Jordan, had to become an independent Jewish State which would then decide its future connection with Britain.

These are two examples of what I have previously noted is Beinart’s hallmark: arguing with Beinart is frustrating because almost every source to which he refers is corrupted, is incomplete, lacks background and, in addition, he has a sophistic method of argumentation. As Daniel Gordis has observed, Beinart displays “an astonishing array of sleights of hand and misrepresentations” and his ‘piece [is] so intellectually dishonest—and manipulative.” (And CAMERA deals with Beinart corrupting more recent history.)

To return to the quotation from 1909, Jabotinsky’s article from which those words are extracted appeared in seven parts from mid-January to mid-March 1909. In order to grasp the context, one need recall that after several years of struggle, the Young Turks succeeded on July 24, 1908 in forcing Abdul Hamid to restore the constitution. They were nationalists and for all intents and purpose, their rule was nigh martial. Any attempt to propagandize in Turkey for an independent Jewish state would have been the end of Zionism in Turkey in those existing circumstances. 

Jabotinsky had been in Constantinople since 1908. He had been commissioned by a St. Petersburg newspaper to cover the revolution in Turkey and the Berlin Executive office of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) had appointed him its agent there. He became editor-in-chief of a new pro-Young-Turkish daily newspaper La Jeune Turc and other pro-Zionist periodicals including a weekly, L’Aurore, the Ladino El Judeo and a Hebrew weekly, Ha-Mevasser.

As noted by Tudor Parfitt, Yulia Egorova and Jacob Landau [in their studies] there, “Regarding Palestine, [Ha-Mevasser] argued that Zionist settlement to Palestine was economically favourable for the development of the Ottoman empire…[and] rebutted claims circulated by other contemporary press outlets (such as Alemdar), which stated that Zionism was anti-Turkish.

Quite simply, and even more obviously, Jabotinsky realized he needed a more pragmatic approach to the ruling clique to advance Jewish settlement in Palestine. The Young Turk leadership was becoming more sympathetic to Zionism as long as it was still in its practical phase (see p. 75 here). Yet, Jabotinsky came to the conclusion that Palestine could
not become a Jewish state as long as the Ottoman Empire existed and the attitude of the regime was anti-minority. Anyone reading the original Russian would grasp that Jabotinsky, throughout those seven sections, was deliberately avoiding any phrasing of Zionist aims that could prove disastrous for Zionism while yielding on as little as possible for the future development of the growing Zionist presence in then Palestine both demographically and agriculturally.

There is a second backdrop element which was the publication of a book by Jacobus Kann on his impressions of his 1907 visit to Ereẓ Israel. He had sent it to Young Turk parliamentarians and it included a demand for a Jewish autonomous home rule in Eretz Israel. This aroused strong criticism from Jabotinsky who at the time headed of the Zionist press in Istanbul who claimed it had damaged the cause of Zionism in the Ottoman capital. As described:

Jabotinsky had orders from [WZO President David] Wolffsohn to push a very soft line to the new masters of Turkey: Zionism did not mean a Jewish state, only free immigration to Palestine and cultural autonomy. But suddenly, without warning to either Wolffsohn or the Constantinople office, Jacobus Kann, a banker who administered the finances of the Dutch royal family and a member of the Actions Committee, published a travelogue, in German, of his recent trip to Palestine. In it, he reiterated the traditional Herzlian line that Turkey should set up an autonomous Zionist state there.

This affair provides greater insight into Jabotinsky’s thinking contained in the article quoted and it becomes quite clear, as Evyatar Freizel found, that he was agreeable that

For tactical reasons, official Zionism was cautious in explaining its ultimate aims, especially when addressing public opinion. Terms other than ‘state’ were used in diverse political documents and official Zionist utterances: Heimstatte, nationale Heimstatte, Jewish national home, commonwealth, Jewish commonwealth. However, the accepted view is that the ultimate aim of the mainstream Zionist movement was to recreate a Jewish state in Palestine. It remained open how best to reach that goal. A widely accepted position supported an evolutionary path, ‘practical Zionism’, meaning a gradual process of economic, social and institutional development

It had to be clear to everyone that the first and ultimate goal of Zionism was the establishment of a Jewish majority in Palestine. It was yet to be decided what form of autonomy the state should possess. Like Herzl before him, Jabotinsky did not insist on immediate national and political independence…The only legitimate terms to be used were either Jewish majority or an administrative and political self-government. Jabotinsky claimed that the term “national home” was nothing else than an invention of a hostile Mandatory administration…Jabotinsky had a vision with a positive cultural content as well. As the above-mentioned ideas suggest, his vision, unlike the one of Herzl, does not stand in opposition to Ahad Ha’am and his concepts, but in opposition to his self-appointed interpreters, mostly associated with the Brith Shalom group.

Shmuel Katz in Volume One of “Lone Wolf”, p. 100, describing the affair, quotes Jabotinsky from his Autobiography as ruefully admitting that it was ironic that he, of all people, took the position to downplay the demand for statehood but given the time and place. He wrote that despite his “lov[ing] State Zionism…I love logic more”. Was Jabotinsky “guilty” as charged by Beinart? Not really, especially if one does not review and weigh the circumstances of that time and place when the article was written and not subject the article to a close reading of the actual text as opposed to relying on and interpreter such as Shumsky who, as I have shown, mistranslates Jabotinsky.

Later, in 1934, Jabotinsky's definition of Revisionist Zionist was a program that:

"The aim of Zionism is a Jewish state. The territory – both sides of the Jordan. The system – mass colonisation. The solution of the financial problem – a national loan. These four principles cannot be realised without international sanction."

Even then he was still aware of the tension between political goals and practical achievement.

One need not to be sympathetic to Jabotinsky to realize that Beinart was being imbalanced and plainly unfair in how he treated that quotation. Beinart has done this before in his Crisis of Zionism book seeking not to argue with him but rather to mischaracterize him and even demonize him. He didn't like that Jews carried a moral message (p. 100).  He held to a "racist" view (p. 101).  Nationalism, which he "revered", "bred" in him. (p. 103).

On page 101, Beinart, who describes Jabotinsky a page earlier as “brutal” and as one who of the Jews did not like “their belief that they carried a moral message”, quotes a 1910 article of Jabotinsky so:

“Only in the Bible is it written: “You should not wrong a stranger nor should you oppress him; for strangers you were in the land of Egypt”. Contemporary morality has no place for such childish humanism”.

In the first place, the second sentence in that article, “Homo homini lupos”, should more properly be

In our contemporary code of morality there is no room for this type of slobbering love and childish humanism of fellow man it would seem”.

But more importantly, that section is not referring to Jews. Jabotinsky is writing, foremost, about the situation in the United States after the race riots that year and of simply a “hate of one race against another, a devious hate, wide-open for all our eyes, arbitrary, without reason and without cause” which he denounces. It is “a sickness” just like the Kishniev pogrom and anti-Kurdish attacks. He then notes that the same German who sought freedom just a few years later is now persecuting Poles seeking the same goal and observes “Would the same German patriot of 1860 who shed tears when listening to village school pupils singing songs of a united Germany also have taken a strap to the Polish youngsters who refused to study religion in German?” It is here that his “only in the Bible…childish humanism” words follow. No Jews.

In fact, Jabotinsky adds: “the Poles see the Jews – and they do not hide this – as material to be exploited to strengthen their rule in the country” to illustrate how this process goes on and on as those who gain strength from a struggle then seek to stifle other struggles of weaker people, and the Jews are the weakest as he describes there.

That “childish humanism” was written in a rhetorical deprecatory, disdainful fashion. 

A corruption of the original content and intent. Indeed, on p. 104, in opposition to he trying to paint Jabotisnky as not wanting a Jewish state, Beinart writes that the Revisionists, the party Jabotinsky established in 1925, as being "feverently opposed any restraints on the Jewish pursuit of statehood".

On page 102, he returns to this, writing, “whereas Jews mocked the idea that Jews have a special responsibility to the stranger as ‘childish humanism’”. A second time he prevaricates. Indeed, anyone who has read Jabotinsky’s “Arab Angle – Undramatized”, in his Jewish War Front, knows how Beinart has perverted Jabotinsky.

A short excerpt, starting at p. 188, will suffice:

1. Civic Equality

1.1. Providing nothing be done to hinder any foreign Jew from repatriating, and, by doing so, automatically becoming a Palestinian citizen, the principle of equal rights for all citizens of any race, creed, language or class shall be enacted without limitation throughout all sectors of the country’s public life.
1.2. In every Cabinet where the Prime Minister is a Jew the vicepremiership shall be offered to an Arab, and vice versa.
1.3. Proportional sharing by Jews and Arabs both in the charges and in the benefits of the State...
2. Languages
2.1. The Hebrew and the Arabic languages shall enjoy equal rights and equal legal validity...
3. Cultural Autonomy
3.1. The Jewish and the Arab ethno-communities shall be recognized as autonomous public bodies of equal status before the law ...
3.2. Each ethno-community shall elect its National Diet with right to issue ordinance and levy taxes within the limits of its autonomy...

On page 103, Beinart terms Abba Ahimeir and Avraham Stern, who rejected Jabotinsky and who Jabotinsky had to rein in, at times unsuccessfully, as his “disciples”, as if he is directly responsible for their thinking. On the next page, he asserts Jabotinsky sought that the Arabs be “militarily and psychologically crushed”, a misleading use of language. On page 36, he quotes Stephen Wise in 1935 denouncing Jabotinsky’s Zionist Revisionist camps as “a species of fascism”, a charge untrue which, however, political rivals found it convenient to bandy about. But for Beinart, Wise is a divinity and why need he research that calumny?

In fact, in support of his new idea to denude the Jewish state concept, he could have attempted to misinterpret Jabotinsky. As Yitzhak Conforti has highlighted in his 2011 article,

In a draft of a constitution which he proposed at the end of the First World War in 1918, he spoke of complete national equality between Jews and Arabs: ‘Both Jews and Arabs would enjoy from the start a complete autonomy equal to that of an independent nation.’”

However, Jabotinsky

“insisted that Palestine be recognized in a peace conference as the national home of the Jewish people and that emigration to Palestine be allowed for Jews from all over the world, with no limitations.” 

A crucial difference.

Can we trust Beinart to present us unvarnished Zionist history? In his "Crisis of Zionism", he wrote this on p. 51:

"There are to be sure, left-wing activists and Islamist militants who oppose Israel's existence as a Jewish state. But they are marginal compared to the much broader and more influential swath of people who seek to 'delegitimize' not Israel, but its occupation".

Eight years later, Beinart has become part of that swath, no longer believing in a Jewish state.


Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Are Palestinians Philistines?

Here is a Philistine artifact found in the Land of Israel:

No Arabic you'll notice.

Here is an inscription from Tel Arad left by the people known as the Jews in the Hebrew language from the same period

So, no. Arabs are not descended from the Philistines but Jews are descended from those who spoke and wrote in Hebrew. Indigenous.


Fake News

I saw this

but not trusting headlines, I read further:

According to the Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Bethlehem (CAWSB), the High Planning Committee of the Israeli Civil Administration approved the construction of 164 housing units in Neve Daniel settlement in southern Bethlehem.

Let's get that on a map:

All clear now?

Not "in" at all.


Palestine or Syria?

I stumbled across this 1928 publication of a Missionary society that was founded in 1854 as the Turkish Missions Aid Society and later it was named the Bible Lands Missions Aid Society and is now called Embrace the Middle East.

It contains a map of the Middle East.


No "Palestine".  Just Syria.

Yes, it reads "Bible Lands" but countries do have modern names, like Bulgaria.

It is 1928.

Why no "Palestine"?

(H/t=YL for drawing my attention to the archive resarch site)


Monday, July 06, 2020

From Revenant to Demonym

Ever since I began promoting the term "revenant" to replace "settler" back in 2004, and see Tilley's letter here, there were those who could not make the switch.

Revenant means one that returns especially after a long absence, from revenir in the French.

Walter Scott employed it in Ivanhoe published in 1819

We Jews have returned to our historic homeland after an ethnic cleansing operation organized by Arabs under the leadership of the Mufti during the Mandate years of 1920-1948, carried out through a campaign of muderous terror, and then for another 19 years under the illegal occupation of the Hashemite Kingsom of Jordan which illegally occupied and annexed the area.

Well, I have a new one:


A demonym is a term for people who live in a particular place, a nationality word. It 
defines a person geographically.  As in:

"we are resident demonym Jews of Judea and Samaria"

And no, it is not pronounced with a dee but a deh.


Wednesday, July 01, 2020

I Intend to Decolonize

Decolonization is the process of deconstructing colonial ideologies of the superiority and privilege of Western thought and approaches....decolonization involves dismantling structures that perpetuate the status quo and addressing unbalanced power dynamics...decolonization involves valuing and revitalizing Indigenous knowledge and approaches and weeding out settler biases or assumptions that have impacted Indigenous ways of being.

Decolonization is defined as restoring the Indigenous world view; the culture and  traditional ways; and replaces Western interpretations of history with Indigenous perspectives of history.

In practice, that could take this form:

Campaigners have asked Uganda’s parliament to order the removal of monuments to British colonialists and to rename streets commemorating imperial military forces.

Or this one:

in the United States, the Museum of Man, in San Diego, recently hired a Navajo educator as its “director of decolonization” and announced that it would no longer display human remains without tribal consent. 

At the  American Museum of Natural History, demonstrators have trooped through the museum on an Anti–Columbus Day Tour. They chant, drum, dance, and unfurl banners: rename the day. respect the ancestors. decolonize! reclaim! imagine!.

Of course there is a connection to the issue of "Palestine":

Whether seeking a two-state solution, a confederation, or a single “Jewish” state over the entire Land of Israel, a “conflict resolution” approach does not address the wider need for decolonization. A settler colonial perspective restores the original and underlying problem of settlement that began in the late 19th century — one which asserts its claim to the entire country of Palestine. This is not to say that the occupied Palestinian territories are not occupied under international law, but that occupation is a sub-issue that must be addressed in the context of a wider process of decolonization, including the right of Palestinian refugees to return.

The authors take their analysis one step further, writing there:

Settlers come with the intent of not just living in another territory but taking it over — to thoroughly replace the existing society and to supersede it in a normalized settler state. Through myths of entitlement invented to legitimize their seizure of the land, the settlers strive to become the natives — that is, they assert their indigeneity — while rendering the real indigenous people invisible. 

But hold out hope for the eventual:

integration of the settler population into a society of equals.

Even though he is knwlingly devious, admitting to his real goals:

the majority of Israeli Jews will never be active partners in a struggle for the decolonization of Palestine. As settler colonials they have no motivation to decolonize, which they view as a form of national suicide. The best we can aim for strategically is to “soften” them through an inclusive plan of decolonization

Jeff Halper expands here (pardon the pun). 

Now, here is Israel's Permanent Representative of Israel to the United NationsYeuda Blum at the United Nations December 21, 1978:

(a) In 1917 there was no such thing as a separate "Palestinian people". The Arab nationalist movement had barely begun, and particularist national movements in the Arab provinces of the former Ottoman Empire were virtually unknown. The dominant view among local Arabs at the end of the First World War was that the Arabs living in Palestine were part of the Syrian people and the greater Arab nation. Indeed, in 1919 and 1920, Arabs in Palestine objected to the Palestine Mandate, inter alia, on the grounds that they should not be separated from their brethren outside the area of the Mandate.

On 2 July 1919, the General Syrian Congress adopted 10 resolutions, of which the eighth stated:

"We ask that there should be no separation of the Southern part of Syria, known as Palestine, nor of the littoral western zone which includes Lebanon, from the Syrian cr ltry. We desire that the unity of the country should be guaranteed against partition under whatever circumstances." (King Crane Commission Report in Foreign Relations of the United States: Paris Peace Conferenc 1919, vol. 12, p. 781)On 31 May 1956, Ahmed Shukairy, then a Saudi Arabia delegate to the United Nations and later head of the so-called PLO, told the Security Council:"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria." (S/PV.724, para. 44)In March of 1974, President Assad of Syria stated:"Palestine is a basic part of Southern Syria." (The New York Times, 9 March 1974)Last year, Zuhair Muhsin, head of the PLO's so-called Military Operations Department, told the Dutch daily newspaper Trouw:"There are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese ... We are one people. Only for political reasons do we carefully underline our Palestinian identity. For it is of national interest for the Arabs to encourage the existence of the Palestinians against Zionism. Yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity is there only for tactical reasons. The establishment of a Palestinian state is a new expedient to continue the fight against Zionism and for Arab unity." (James Dorsey, quoting Zuhair Muhsin in Trouw, 31 March 1977)Likewise, as recently as 17 November 1978, Yassir Arafat said at a rally held at Beirut by the Lebanese Ba'ath Party that "al-Assad said that Palestine is the southern part of Syria. I told him that Palestine is southern Syria and Syria is northern Palestine". (Voice of Palestine, 18 November 1978)(b) The reason why the Arabs in Palestine thought in these terms is that a political entity called Palestine had never existed. The term "Palestine" (Falastin in Arabic) was used throughout the centuries for a geographical area of uncertain limits, and not for a "defined territory". Under the Ottomans the area went through a bewildering series of administrative redivisions, and for the most part was governed from Damascus.

(c) It is also false to claim that Arabs in Palestine in 1917 were "a people rooted for centuries" in that country. A good part of the Arab population was made up of recently settled Bebouin from east of the River Jordan. Egyptians who came to Palestine in the nineteenth century in the wake of Ibrahim Pasha were also a significant element. Others could trace their not very distant roots to Morocco, and still others were recent arrivals from the Balkans, the Hauran and even Czarist Russia (Circassians) who came in the latter half of the nineteenth century. It is interesting to note in this connexion that Circassian is still spoken in some "Arab'' villages in the north of Israel.

Moreover, far from being "deeply rooted", sizable numbers of Arabs were leaving Palestine by the end of the nineteenth century, in common with others from the region, and the problem of emigration was discussed by the "First Arab Congress", held in Paris in 1913.

If anything, it is the Arabs who have colonized "Palestine". It is they you should be the objects of a decolonization process.