Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Latest Non-Published Letter to the Editor at NYTimes

Witnessing the actions led by pro-Palestine student groups on college campuses as well as listening to and reading their slogans, one cannot but be confused and confounded as to how a supposedly "anti-occupation" movement insists upon occupying property that does not belong to them nor have they permission to reside in them. That is, until one realizes that rules of logic do not necessarily apply to the issue of "Palestine" .

Yisrael Medad

Shiloh, Israel


Friday, April 26, 2024

Does "Civitavecchia" Sound Familiar?

A new post reviews the Italian Fascist's regime's involvement in the training of Israel's future sailors.

The Betar Naval Academy was 

Jewish naval training school established in CivitavecchiaItaly in 1934 by the Revisionist Zionist movement under the direction of Ze'ev Jabotinsky, with the agreement of Benito Mussolini.The titular head of the Academy was the Italian maritime scientist Nicola Fusco but Betar leader Jeremiah Halpern ran the School and was its driving force. The Academy trained Jewish cadets from all over Europe, Palestine and South Africa and produced some of the future commanders of the Israeli Navy.

A topic that is not well studied by academics is the Israeli Navy creation with help from Fascist Italy in the 1930s. Many of us don't know that Mussolini had links with the Jewish of Italy, when he started his political movement that was later called "Fascism"(please read in Italian the interesting essay).

Maurizio Rava was governor of Italian Somalia and was born in a Jewish family in Milan. He enthusiastically joined the "National Fascist Party" ('Partito Fascista' in Italian language) during World War I: in 1919 he was a cofounder of the "Fascio" of Roma. In the 1920s Rava was vice-Governor of Italian Libya and a general in the fascist militia. From 1 July 1931 to 6 March 1935 Rava was the "Governor" of Italian Somalia. But in the late 1930s he faced problems within the party because of Nazi Germany's influences against Italian Jews.  However he was always respected by the fascists (read here). After being nominated "senator", he died in 1941 because of wounds received in Italian Libya, when was a general of brigade fighting the British. In the last years of his life he was very close to Italo Balbo (the second in charge in fascist Italy after Mussolini) and promoted some links with the Israeli Navy.

Links to Jabotinsky Revisionism

Indeed Rava was linked to Jabotinsky (the main leader of the "Zionist Revisionism") who promoted the "Betar" (youth organization of the Revisionism) and who did the 1931 Betar Conference where was decided to promote the so called "maritime idea" of the 'Rodegal association' (read in Italian). In this conference the captain Irmiyahu Helpern was allowed to create a jewish  "group for maritime self-defense", that was to be prepared in the Italian navy school of Civitavecchia (located near Rome). 

Maurizio Bendes, responsible for the Betar in Italy, started to contact the Italian authorities for the authorization to open a section school for Jews in the Civitavecchia military compound.

The Jewish Italian Revisionists obtained the official approval from the Italian admiral Thaon de Revel in January 1935. The same Mussolini agreed with this request since early 1934 and welcomed the contacts with the Jewish organizations (previously he had met 3 times with the Jewish leader Chaim Weizmann). Mussolini never met Jabotinski (who has been a student at the Sapienza University of Rome law school and always showed sympathies for the Italian Fascism before it suffered the influence of Hitler). Jabotinski ordered to the young Jewish members of the "Betar" the use of "brown shirts"  similar to the "black shirts" of Mussolini, and was nicknamed the "Revisionism Duce" (LEONE CARPI, Come e dove rinacque la Marina d'Israele, la scuola marittima del Bethar a Civitavecchia - Nemi, Roma 1965)

In 1933 the Italian Foreign ministry (Mussolini was also Foreign Minister) began circulating internal policy documents arguing that a strong Jewish state would be in Italy's best interests, against British control of Palestine and the Middle East .

Although Jabotinsky had still not been able to arrange a meeting with Mussolini it became clear that the Italian government did view the Revisionists as potential ideological partners at the end of 1933. It was this change that facilitated the creation of the Betar Naval Academy in the Italian port city of Civitavecchia.

Nicola Fusco, the nominal head of the Academy, was administrative secretary of the local Fascist Party and the relationship between the cadets and the fascist establishment was close.

Brief History of the Academy

In October 1934, the first 28 Jewish official students arrived in Civitavecchia to be trained in the Maritime School; in the next three years there will be almost 200 graduates. On the uniforms they carried an anchor, the Menorah (the seven-branched candlestick) and the lictorian bundle, and in some official ceremonies they hailed in Roman style, as recalled by the then group leader Avram Blass, later become admiral of the Israeli Navy.

In 1936 the Second Course began, inaugurated by the Chief Rabbi of Rome. Meanwhile, a 60-meter motor sailboat was also purchased, the 'Quattro Venti', renamed "Sarah I", which in the summer of that same year sailed towards Palestine, where it was welcomed with great celebrations by the Jewish community. It is the first merchant of the modern history of Israel.

First commander of the "Sara I" was a professor of the school, Tiberio Paone. The second course was inaugurated on March 29, 1936, in the presence of the Chief Rabbi of Rome. The members increase considerably, going up to 52, with the Poles who were the largest group. The second educational cruise is limited to the Italian ports and the French airports of Nice and Marseille.

In February 1937, Commander Fusco was invited to London to meet with the leaders of the Zionist movement, including Jabotinsky, and some businessmen. There was a discussion about the creation of a Jewish fishing port to exploit the sea in front of the coasts of Palestine.

The third course opened in February 1937 with about seventy students. In the lessons were introduced fishing concepts. In order for the students to receive practical fishing lessons, a trawler, renamed "Neca", was purchased at a judicial auction in Porto Santo Stefano. It was then joined by a smaller one, the "Lea". The cruise of summer 1937 had Palestine as a destination, where at the arrival of "Sarah I" grand celebrations were unleashed in honor of the students of the school. The Palestine Post reported that visitors from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the settlements visited the ship to greet the "Jewish seagoing pioneers".

But in 1938 the school had to close after the fourth course was held. The sad reason: Mussolini government has now changed its political acceptance towards Judaism, under the terrible influence of Adolf Hitler and his Nazism. But the courses were very successful and the Revisionists also contacted in December 1935 and in April 1937 the Italian consulate in Haifa to see if they could send some youths to train with the Italian air Force (The Jews in Fascist Italy; p.262 ) 

Future commanders of Israeli  Navy and the start of "Sayetet 13"

However the Academy trained nearly 200 Jewish cadets from all over Europe, Palestine and South Africa and produced some of the future commanders of the Israeli Navy.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

A Conversation on X with a Professor

Basically starts here, with him responding to me reaction so:

Re: "That is the least disruptive way of occupying space on a campus”

Actually, it's one of the worst as it takes over external space where more students need to pass by and hear the epithets. More students see it.

You're a professor?


9:08  19 באפר׳ 2024


Angus Johnston @studentactivism

"Protests should be restricted to places where nobody will see them" is a fascinating take.


Yisrael Medad


I did not write that.

Infering is fraught with danger.

I argyed that the professor's defense of the pro-Pal Columbia U. lawn-in was illogical.

And given the violent nature of those demos, an invitation to do injury in the name of "non-violent protest".


Angus Johnston


You said that a form of protest which “takes over external space where more students need to pass by and hear” is bad. My gloss on that is a straightforward paraphrase, no inference required.


Yisrael Medad



Jewish alumni from Columbia University warning that violence against Jewish students may be imminent.

“At present, new, unauthorized protests are disrupting classes and creating an irrefutably unsafe environment for Jewish students,”


Angus Johnston


Speech is either 1A protected or it isn’t. If it is, let the protest continue. If it isn’t, take action against specific speakers. Mass arrests of everyone in an occupation isn’t that.

My claim is not that Columbia violated the law. But also, Columbia doesn’t have an unrestricted right to suppress student speech-—not while it receives federal funding.


Yisrael Medad


Federal or private funding should not act as an impediment or facilitator of student speech.

But to the point: haranguing and threatening students is not free speech. It is a normative element that precedes physical violence, especially using hateful terms & expletives.


Angus Johnston


Using “hateful terms and expletives” is, in most cases, protected speech. And AGAIN, one person using hateful terms isn’t reason to arrest another.


Yisrael Medad



But for a university administration it probably indicates lack of civility, intention to threaten, act in a violent way and generally use the campus property for possible nefarious illegal deeds and so well within their right to order the punks off the lawn.


Thursday, April 18, 2024

On Jabotinsky's Views on Arabs

From here, Shlomo Avineri:

"In connection with the central position of national existence in Jabotinsky’s theoretical concept, his approach to the position of Zionism in the Arab question is especially interesting. And we repeat, we are not interested in tactical positions, but in the question of principle, and here Jabotinsky inevitably faces a very difficult problem.

On the one hand, one might believe that a person like Jabotinsky, who saw in nationalism, in national characteristics, in the national desire to separate from others and in national pride, the focus of state and historical development, would be attentive to the aspirations of Arab-Palestinian nationalism. One who did not shy away from Ukrainian nationalism with its anti-Semitic manifestations, as we saw above, who was intellectually interested in Serbs, Croats and Albanians with their national rights, who believed that Estonian choirs testify to the strength of the national feeling seething in the Estonian people , - from such a person one could expect that, having come to analyze the Middle Eastern reality, he would try to find a place for Arab nationalism - in Palestine and in neighboring countries - in the overall picture of his worldview.

But that did not happen. Anyone who wants to find in Jabotinsky an attempt to resolve this issue will be disappointed. The fundamental decision here was not easy for any of the Zionist thinkers, but perhaps it could have been expected from such a thinker as Jabotinsky, in whose philosophy nationalism, as a universal phenomenon, occupied such a central place. However, Arab nationalism is discussed infrequently and in passing in his writings, and anyone who detects a considerable amount of disdain for the Arabs in this limited material would be right.

True, Jabotinsky, with his moral conviction, stood for the fact that in the future Jewish state, where the Arabs would be a minority, they would receive full civil rights as individuals. But a continuous thread runs through all of Jabotinsky’s literary and political activities: he does not seem to notice the Arabs as a serious political, social or cultural factor.

Once again, this seems to be driven not by tactical considerations or an attempt to evade a question that may be difficult to answer, but by something deeper: at the heart of this position is Jabotinsky's concept of the superiority of European culture; therefore, he views Zionism as an expression of this cultural power of Europe. In his writings, he resolutely rejects the idealization of the East or the Arab world, and in the article “Fashion for Arabesques” (1927) he argues with those participants in the Zionist movement who strive to see in the return to Zion also a return of the Jewish people to their origins - to the East. The Jewish people, Jabotinsky argues, are a European people, their culture took root in Europe, European culture itself is based on elements to which the people of Israel contributed from the best of their heritage, and there, in the West, and not in the East, the place of Israel as a people . According to Jabotinsky, this also applies to the Sephardi community: “Our origins from Asia, of course, are not proof. All of Central Europe is filled with races that also came from Asia - and much later than us.

All Ashkenazi Jews and perhaps half of the Sephardic Jews have lived in Europe for almost two thousand years. Enough time to take root spiritually.

Even more important is the other side of the issue: we not only lived in Europe for many centuries, we not only learned from Europe: we, the Jews, are one of those peoples who created European culture, and one of the most important among them...

The spiritual atmosphere in Europe is ours, we have the same right to it as the Germans, English, Italians and French: the “copyright” right. And in Eretz Israel this creativity of ours will continue... Nordau said it well: we are going to Palestine to push the moral limits of Europe to the Euphrates River" [5] .

In the same year (1927), Jabotinsky wrote a long article entitled “Merchants of the Spirit,” in which he tries to prove that the Arab medieval culture was, in essence, not Arab, and not even Muslim, and that most of the famous names in the field of thought in the Arab world of the Middle Ages belongs to the Syrians, Jews, Persians, etc. - and not to the Arabs themselves. It is clear that the main question here is not the historical correctness of such a definition, which itself is historical and conditioned by time; It is interesting that the same thinker who, when discussing Ukrainian nationalism, carefully emphasizes the element of difference between Ukrainians and Great Russians, does the opposite when discussing Arab culture [6] .

The same question finds artistic expression in the story “Zhidenok”, which appeared in a collection in Russian published by Zhabotinsky in 1930.

Jabotinsky himself is aware that the story can be called “obviously chauvinistic.” The main story is a detailed story about a Jewish teenager in one of the settlements of Eretz Israel, proving how much better he knows Arab culture and the geography of the Middle East than all the students of the village Arab school, which is known as “an amazing school: six classes, geographical maps and teacher from students of Cairo Al-Azgar University.” The story may be trivial, but the lesson that Jabotinsky wants to draw from it is clear, especially since the Jewish teenager in the story sums up the goals of this education in a very simple form: “The students must learn two branches of knowledge: to speak Hebrew and to beat face."

Jabotinsky gives this assessment not only to the Arabs, but also to Islam in general. In the article “Islam” (1924), Jabotinsky points out a number of cases in which a handful of European soldiers managed to defeat vastly superior Arab or Muslim forces. The Italian victory over the Senu Sith in 1911 in Tripoli, the victory of the French expeditionary force over Faisal in Damascus in 1920 - all this serves as decisive proof for Jabotinsky of the significant superiority of the West.

“I am not writing this to humiliate or ridicule the Arabs; I have no doubt about their military valor... In our time, war is a scientific and financial matter; backward peoples cannot do it.”

This backwardness is not only a matter of time, according to Jabotinsky, as far as the Muslim world is concerned. “Its real power in the future will be even less than before,” he says, objecting in particular to those who believed that Britain was forced to reckon with the Arab and Muslim factor in its Middle East policy. The Muslim world does not represent—and will not represent—a political force, as Jabotinsky says in the same article: “220 million people or even more profess Islam; but “Islam” as an integral factor in international relations does not exist... in the same way it is possible now, as it was possible a hundred years ago, to bring a conflict with any Muslim people to any end, without risking any complications of a pan-Islamic nature... As a political fist … Islam does not exist.”

If this concept defines Jabotinsky's position in assessing Arab nationalism, then it is clear that his conclusions regarding the demands of the “Palestinian” Arabs are unambiguous. Testifying before the British Royal Commission on Palestine (Peel Commission) in 1937, Jabotinsky demands the establishment of a Jewish state throughout the land of Israel in accordance with the basic principles of the revisionist movement and continues: “We unanimously affirm that the economic situation of the Arabs in the country is in the period of Jewish settlement, and thanks to Jewish settlement, is the envy of neighboring Arab countries to such an extent that Arabs from these countries show a clear tendency to migrate to Palestine. And I have already shown you that, in our opinion, there is no need to oust the Arabs. On the contrary, we mean that Palestine on both sides of the Jordan will accommodate both the Arabs and their descendants and many millions of Jews. I do not deny that in the course of this process the Arabs will inevitably become a minority in Palestine. However, I deny that this will cause them suffering. This is not a misery for any race or nation if it already has so many nation-states and many more nation-states will be added to them in the future. One part, one branch of this race, and by no means the most significant, will join the state belonging to others in order to live in it... This is a completely normal thing, and there is no “suffering” in it.”

Note that Jabotinsky does not argue that, compared with the Jewish claims to Eretz Israel, the Arab claims are less valid or that, compared with the possibility of the Jews remaining in the minority, the situation in which part of the Arab nation will be a minority in the Jewish state will be a lesser disaster and will entail less hardship.

For him, turning the Arabs in Palestine into a minority will not cause them any trouble at all. Personal rights, of course, will be granted to them - but on a national level they have no claims. Here the right is not opposed to the right and 13* 387 claims - claims, as Weizmann and his like-minded people saw it. From Jabotinsky’s point of view, everything that was once said about Jews in the Diaspora can also be said about Arabs in Palestine: the Arabs of this country as individuals have everything, but as a collective nothing."