The problem of defining Zionism keeps turning up like a bad penny. It is not an empty semantic argument. It is symptomatic of a deep malaise.
It is plain that when different people answer the question, What is Zionism? they are often giving definitions that reflect either carelessness, or ignorance or willful distortion of the meaning of Zionism to suit their own political program.
According to the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria, there are now over 260,000 tax-paying Jewish residents in the region....Jews continue to arrive from all parts of Israel, as well as from abroad, seeking homes in places such as Shiloh, Bet El, and Hebron, and many of those who have grown up there continue stay on after they marry, in whatever housing is available, raising large families and building for the future in those disputed areas....
Yes, Zionism is alive and well in the Biblical heartland of Israel, both idealistically and demographically.
Something is indeed alive in the "Biblical Heartland of Israel," but it is not necessarily Zionism. It is one interpretation of Zionism, which would not necessarily meet with the approval of the founders of Zionism. The attempt to make a shotgun marriage of Zionism with the occupation will end in tragedy for Zionism, as the occupation must end, and when the occupation ends, that sort of Zionism will end, and all the avid "Zionists" who support the occupation will go about their business in America, just as they did before the 1967 Six Day War , before most orthodox Jews "discovered" Israel as an actual place to live in.
On the hand, Doni Remba at Ameinu, attempts a shotgun marriage between Zionism and his version of progressive values. According to him:
"Zionism is the belief that Israel has a right to exist as a democratic Jewish state--nothing more, nothing less."
Nothing more? That is a fine definition of Zionism, which everyone from Mahmud Abbas to Mr. Feiglin can support. Of course, Abbas will have a different definition of "democratic" than Feiglin, and they will also differ in their idea of what is a "Jewish state." Feiglin will contend that Israel is not a "Jewish State" unless and until we all assume the 613 commandments of Judaism, not omitting one jot or tittle. Abbas will contend that Israel is not democratic unless we abolish the law of return. Even professors Walt and Mearsheimer content that they strongly support the right of Israel to exist. That right is anchored in international law. Of course, Zionism supports the right of Israel to exist, but so do many non-Zionists and even a few anti-Zionists.
When the Zionist movement was founded, it demanded a national home for the Jewish people, guaranteed in international law. It did not ask for a state. There was no Israel and no Jewish State. Could one then say, that since Herzl and others who attended the first Zionist congress did not assert the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish democratic state, they were not Zionist?
We may also ask, why is the Jewish people different from all other peoples? The Chinese, Saudi Arabians and Sudanese have their own states, that are not particularly democratic, but nobody claims they have no right to exist because they are not democratic. Democracy is part of a value system adopted by the Zionist movement and the Jewish people (save a few exceptions), but the existence of Israel cannot be made conditional on its being democratic, according to the definition of the UN or the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, or some Jews in America.
We also must contend with the dynamite hidden in the phrase "Jewish state," which is open to hi-jacking by those who insist that Israel must be a Jewish theocracy. For that reason, Avrum Burg, who has said some outrageous things, pointed out, correctly, in this case, that we should strive for a "state of the Jewish people" rather than a "Jewish state."
What does a real definition of Zionism add, that is missing from Doni Remba's definition. Remba himself supplies the answer: "It is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people." A national liberation movement believes in much more than the right of a state to exist. Zionism succeeded in large part because it transformed the Jewish people. "Life is with people." Without the Jewish people to live in Israel and to support Israel, the "right of Israel to exist" would be a meaningless legalism. One of the Zionists cited by Remba, Echad Ha'am, was a leader in the cultural revolution wrought by Zionism, which brought about the rebirth of the Hebrew language as a spoken tongue, and increased the consciousness of secular Jews that they are a part of a Hebrew nation and culture. And of course, one of the key "ingredients" in Zionism is aliya. Without aliya (immigration) there would be no Jews here. Support for the existence of Israel, democratic or otherwise, without support for Aliya and Hebrew culture, is a sterile sort of Zionism, because Israel obviously cannot exist as the state of the Jewish people without having Jews in it. We cannot say that "Zionism is the belief that Israel has a right to exist as a democratic Jewish state--nothing more..."
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Israel, or rather the Zionist Yishuv in Palestine, and Zionism, were built by secular Jews. Chaim Weizmann, Ze'ev Jabotinsky, David Ben Gurion, Theodor Herzl and the other major leaders of Zionism were secular Jews. Now however, the need for secular Aliya is in doubt, and has to be defended as if it is a strange concept. We have traveled a long road downhill.
THE JERUSALEM POST Jul. 31, 2007
Recently in Jerusalem, a dinner conversation with friends from the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies turned into an impassioned discussion about secular aliya.
While enjoying our vegetarian Shabbat dinner, Deborah, 21, modern Orthodox from Wisconsin, scoffed at the fact that her friend had just made aliya from Miami to Tel Aviv. This friend is completely secular and "despises" religion. "He's enthralled by secular modernity and the Western way of life," she said.
So why, she wondered, bother leaving the comforts of America, where opportunities are limitless and terrorism - for the most part - is an ocean away to come to Tel Aviv? And, anyway, why come to the Holy Land only to live in the "decadence" of Tel Aviv?
Deborah's impetuous argument stirred a heated debate, and warranted a particular response from me, a secular Jew, which I now relay:
FIRST, IT'S important to note that although I don't agree with Deborah, statistics do. In 2005, as the second intifada began to wane, Israel welcomed a record number of olim from North America. Nefesh B'Nefesh brought over 3,000 immigrants. Seventy percent of the arrivals identified themselves as Orthodox, 15% as Conservative, 10% said they were Reform, but a mere five percent were secular or unaffiliated.
These numbers are understandable. To the observant Jew of whatever stream, Israel is the most precious place on earth. Israelis are perceived as special people; the Western Wall isn't just a wall, and fast food is not just fast food - it's kosher. But what impetus do secular Jews have to make aliya?
Start with the fact that the founders and most influential thinkers of modern Zionism were all secular. Theodor Herzl, Max Nordau, and Ze'ev Jabotinsky were as cosmopolitan and secular as Deborah's secular friend.
If they were so acculturated, why the desire to create a Jewish state? Answer: anti-Semitism.
Alarmed by the Dreyfus Affair and the universality of anti-Semitism, the founding Zionists all agreed that the Jewish soul needed to be liberated and made safe. In Herzl's words: "It is true that we aspire to our ancient land. But what we want in that ancient land is a new blossoming of the Jewish spirit."
Herzl was cognizant that Jews were second-class citizens; and whether they were in imminent physical peril in the Pale of Settlement or constrained by more genteel discrimination in Western Europe, Jews needed a place where they could determine their own culture and live their lives in fulfillment.
And in Jabotinsky's words: "What we see around us among Jews is merely the outcome of arbitrary action perpetrated by others. Only after removing the dust accumulated through 2,000 years of exile, of galut, will the true, authentic Hebrew character reveal its glorious head."
In order to be redeemed, Jabotinsky argued, the Jew would first need to be liberated from the dangers of European Jew-hatred.
These Zionists' premonitions proved only too accurate. Half a century after Herzl's death almost all of European Jewry had vanished.
But today, for the most part, the Jew living in America or Europe is under no physical threat. Yarmulke-wearing Jews can live comfortably throughout the Western world while enjoying the perks of a first-world lifestyle.
TODAY, IT is the secular Jew living in America who is in cultural peril. And assimilation is the imminent threat to his or her Judaic existence.
In Israel, if a youth rebels against his or her traditional upbringing, wanting to pursue a more secular life-style, he or she can escape to Tel Aviv. There they might not keep Shabbat or kosher anymore. But they'll be present when the siren goes off on Holocaust Remembrance Day. They will speak Hebrew. They will still take off work for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur - even if it's to take a three-day cruise to Turkey.
And chances are they'll marry another Jew.
In Israel, being Jewish is organic; in America it is not.
In America, a cosmopolitan Jew who is completely secular and not culturally connected to a Jewish community has no connection to our people. So in New York City, Los Angeles or London, such a Jew would have little reason to have a Shabbat dinner or take off work for Rosh Hashana.
Falling in in love with a non-Jew is a very real possibility. And, over the generations, those Jews' lineage would likely come to an end. Thus, the secular Jew, no longer attached by faith, also risks detachment from tradition and peoplehood by living in America.
BEING JEWISH in America requires a special effort. Although most of the Jews making aliya from America today are affiliated with some branch of Judaism, it is secular Jews who need Israel the most. Only Israel can save them from long-term cultural decline. Only in Israel can they redefine what it means to be a Jew.
In response to Deborah and those who don't understand why a secular Jew would leave Miami for Tel Aviv, the answer is quite straightforward: to remain Jewish. In Israel, regardless of ethnicity, whether Orthodox or secular, right-wing or left-wing, gay or straight, each Jew constitutes - as described by Shimon Peres in his inaugural speech as president - one of the "fine threads of fabric that weave us together as a nation."
The writer was raised in Rio de Janeiro and recently graduated from Boston University. He is a media fellow at the Israel Project in Jerusalem this summer.
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The headline: "Hamas shows proof of PA corruption." It is not clear why the corruption of the Fatah should still be making news, but it is. They stole millions of dollars, but the gift of two paintings worth $66,000 (how was that evaluated?) is still, absurdly, a subject for surprise.
What Fatah was under Arafat however, matters less than what Fatah will be and can be. And for Israel, neither of those matter as much as what Hamas is and will be.
Hamas is not corrupt. They do not spend the money on paintings. They will only spend the money on suicide bombs and Qassam rockets, and virgins for the Shahids. If "efficiency" is to be valued for its own worth, then we have to say that the Hamas are much more efficient than the Fateh, but the Waffen SS were even more efficient, though they stole paintings too.
Hamas shows proof of PA corruption
Khaled Abu Toameh, THE JERUSALEM POST Aug. 1, 2007
Two paintings worth $66,000 were presented as a gift to a woman in Paris by the PA, which also paid millions of dollars to cover the personal expenses of senior Fatah officials and their families, according to documents released by Hamas on Tuesday.
The documents, which were seized by Hamas at various PA institutions in the Gaza Strip in mid-June, were presented to the Palestinian public by top Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar during a press conference in Gaza City.
The 30 documents that were released Tuesday are related to the period when Yasser Arafat was chairman of the PA, between 1994 and 2004.
Fatah officials in Ramallah reacted with fury to the revelations, accusing Hamas of seeking to mislead the Palestinians through lies and forgery. But Palestinian journalist who examined the documents said they all appeared to be authentic and that there was no reason to doubt their credibility.
One of the documents showed that Arafat had approved the payment of some $30,000 to cover university tuition fees in London for the daughters of his media adviser. Another one revealed that Arafat had approved an annual payment of $9,000 to cover the university tuition of the son of another senior official who was studying in Germany.
The documents also showed that the PA had invested international funds in various economic projects, especially in Lebanon. In one case, a senior Fatah official living in Lebanon was given hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase houses and luxurious vehicles. He also received $40,000 to pay for his son's wedding and another $130,000 as compensation for damages caused to his daughter's car.
Zahar also presented documents that showed that the Fatah-controlled PA security forces had been involved in commercial activities and in tax-collection, in violation of PA laws.
He said some of the activities were carried out when current PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad served as finance minister under Arafat.
Fahmi Za'areer, a Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, called on Hamas to inform the Palestinians about the fate of millions of dollars that the Islamist movement received from Iran and Qatar over the past two years.
Meanwhile, Ihab al-Ghissin, a top official at the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in the Gaza Strip, announced that his movement was planning to establish a new intelligence service in the coming weeks.
"The new force will be called the Internal Security Apparatus and it will replace the Preventive Security Force that has been dismantled in the Gaza Strip," he said.
He said members of the former Fatah-controlled security forces in the Gaza Strip would be permitted to join the new service.
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Dare we hope?
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent and Haaretz Service
The Saudi newspaper Al-Watan reported on Saturday that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will meet on Sunday, according to Palestinian sources.
The meeting is set to take place in the West Bank city of Jericho, said the report, and will tackle the framework for a future Palestinian state.
The report said that the two have already begun discussing such a framework. The claim echoes a report earlier this week in the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat, which said that the two leaders had agreed to open a secret channel to discuss final status issues, which include such sticking points as refugees, Jerusalem, and final borders.
Al-Watan also reported on Saturday that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who visited the region this past week, told sources in Ramallah that a Middle East peace conference announced last month by President George W. Bush will take place in the United States in November.
Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam reported Saturday that Rice, during her visit, asked Abbas and Olmert to intensify secret discussions between them and to hold senior-level meetings - meaning, presumably, between the two of them, and not between their associates.
Results of intensified talks, according to Al-Ayyam, are to be presented at the conference. The report said that once an agreement is struck between Olmert and Abbas, the latter will call for early elections for both the presidency and the Palestinian Legislative Council.
Using an agreement as a rallying cry for new elections is meant to increase the chances of Abbas' Fatah movement to beat rival Hamas in a vote. Hamas swept that last PA elections in 2006, but was dismissed by Abbas from the government after it took over the Gaza Strip in bloody fighting in June.
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Not everyone is quite as joyful of course.
In the longer view, the faster the price of oil rises, the faster it will encourage development of a practical alternative.
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Israel must enlist international help provide a humanitarian solution for Sudanese refugees, and to pressure Egypt not to murder them. The US, which gives Egypt $2 Billion a year in aid, must have a say as well. The Sudanese were probably shot with American bullets.
'Egyptians killed 4 Sudanese on border'
JPost.com Staff, THE JERUSALEM POST
Aug. 2, 2007
Egyptian soldiers killed four Sudanese refugees near the Egypt-Israel border overnight Wednesday in full view of IDF troops, a shaken-sounding IDF soldier said in an interview with Channel 10, Thursday evening.
According to the soldier, female IDF troops operating night vision devices identified several refugees approaching the border in an attempt to infiltrate Israel and alerted other soldiers who arrived after a few minutes in an army jeep.
However, Egyptian troops who also discovered the refugees, fired upon them, immediately killing two and wounding a third. A fourth refugee ran towards the fence and an IDF soldier stretched out his hands, trying to help him cross.
At that point, the soldier recalled, two Egyptian soldiers arrived and started pulling at the refugee's legs.
"It was literally like we were playing 'tug of war' with this man," the soldier said. The soldier eventually loosened his grip on the man, fearing the Egyptians would shoot him.
"They were aiming loaded weapons straight at us, I was afraid they were going to shoot us," he said.
The Egyptians then carried the man several meters away from the border fence, and proceeded to beat him and another wounded refugee to death with stones and clubs.
"What happened there yesterday was a lynch. These are not men, they're animals. They killed him without even using firearms," the soldier said. "We just heard screams of pain and the sounds of beatings. Then the screams stopped."
The entire event was caught on IDF tapes, but the soldier said that his commanders, who were not at the site, would not dare watch them.
The entire incident took place on the Egyptian side of the border, IDF sources told Israel Radio later Thursday evening.
A Channel 10 commentator said the channel preferred not to show the tape, so as not to cause a diplomatic row with Egypt.
Egyptian authorities said that they would investigate the incident.
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... a review of history shows a more profound structural failing, which has accompanied the Palestinian movement over the years: the inability to establish institutions that are based on a national consensus and that are able to serve as the foundation for a state.
The failure began back in the time of the British Mandate...
This weakness was clearly evident in the years 1936-1939, which in the Palestinian narrative are called "the Great Revolt" against British rule. A united command for the revolt was never created, and the situation degenerated into an Arab civil war in which armed militias killed each other's members: the mufti's followers and the Husseinis against the militias identified with the Nashashibi clan. In this struggle more Arabs were killed by Arabs than were killed by the British or the Jews.
The Arab community, however, did not succeed in establishing a parallel institutional system. The Arab Higher Committee was no more than an assembly of notables, who were appointed on a regional and clan basis without elections, and it represented only itself. The committee never established education or welfare systems, and a party-based political system never developed.
A similar picture also emerged after the United Nations partition resolution. The Palestinians ... never established a consolidated political and military leadership, and the lack of such a leadership is responsible for some of their weaknesses in 1947-48. The Arab Higher Committee did not have at its command effective administrative and institutional structures, and many of its members fled the country when the violence started. The fighting was left to regional and local leaders.
What we are now seeing in the Gaza Strip - the inability of the two Palestinian factions to work together within an agreed-upon framework - is nothing but a repeat of this historic failure of the Palestinians. The current Palestinian excuse is that it is difficult to establish coherent political institutions in conditions of territorial fragmentation, refugees and Israeli occupation. All this is true, but irrelevant. Every national movement emerges in difficult conditions, which usually have to do with being under foreign rule. It is hard to imagine more difficult conditions than those that faced the Jewish Yishuv in Palestine in the 1930s and '40s, with the rise of the Nazis, abandonment on the part of Britain, the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust. But this is the test of a national movement: whether it is able to transform a crisis into a historical moment of opportunity.
Does that history suggest something?
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According to Jerusalem post, the Winograd Committee has denied a request by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to see all the evidence upon which it based its critical assessment of his performance during the first few days of the Second Lebanon War. The committee said the information came from documents taken from the Prime Minister's Office!
If Israel was the United States, could Olmert plead the fifth amendment? Not really of course, since pour Nixon had to hand over the tapes. It is not considered "testimony" and therefore the provision that a defendant is not required to testify against himself (or herself) doesn't apply.
Much of the information also was included in the classified copy of the interim report that the panel presented to Olmert, the Post claimed.
Actually, most of the evidence could be had by anyone who watched television or listened to the radio.
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It is perhaps the best way to fight the boycotts.
Israeli and Palestinian transport unions have forged a groundbreaking cooperation agreement at a special meeting held under the auspices of the ITF.
Around 20 Israeli and Palestinian transport union representatives met together in Limassol, Cyprus on 31 July 1 August as guests of the ITF's Cypriot affiliate the Federation of Transport, Petroleum and Agricultural Workers. There they discussed common issues such as collective bargaining, delayed payment of wages, loss of union membership and the increasing outsourcing of work to contractors. They agreed to establish a joint liaison committee to provide a mechanism for dealing with practical problems faced by transport workers in the region and for building trust between Israeli and Palestinian transport unions.
In particular the committee aims to deal with the difficult and sensitive issue of the problems faced by Palestinian transport workers at military checkpoints. This is a major concern for Palestinian drivers who complain of too many checkpoints and unnecessary delays. The Israeli Histadrut transport union says it is committed to trying to help where it can play a positive role. The committee intends to set up a process for dealing with incidents on a case by case basis and the Palestinian union will set up a telephone "hot line" for drivers. Relevant cases will be handled in coordination with the Israeli union. It was agreed that the Israeli union would request the Israeli security services to participate in the committee's work when issues such as checkpoints and barriers are under discussion.
This agreement was set out in a joint declaration signed by Avi Edri Chairman of the Histadrut Transportation Workers' Union; Naser Yunes, President of the Palestinian General Federation of Transport Workers Unions and David Cockroft, ITF General Secretary.
According to ITF President Randall Howard who chaired the meeting: "The participants were remarkable for their commitment to getting a job done which they believe will not only bring real benefits for transport workers, but in a small way set a direction for building wider trust and cooperation. People did not agree about everything, there were some raw and difficult moments, but they agreed to respect each other and try to work together. This joint declaration is, in my view, a remarkable achievement and a dramatic leap forward in defending and advancing the interests of Palestinian and Israeli transport workers."
During the meeting Naser Yunes welcomed the declaration. He said: "The priority was to deal with transport workers' problems. We have to show our members that such initiatives can work. I believe that by working together we can really bring real and practical improvements for trade union members."
Avi Edri added: "We are very serious about this cooperation. I believe we can make a real difference working together."
Both union leaders called on the ITF to maintain its role in supporting this initiative. Meanwhile David Cockroft committed himself to visiting both unions during the next 12 months. The declaration commits both unions to regular meetings of the joint liaison committee.
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Iran is the place where they hang homosexuals, arrest, rape and murder pretty women for the crime of being pretty, arrest visiting Americans for the crime of being Americans, and close newspapers they do not like. The rulers of such regimes always have a wonderful sense of irony. Josef Stalin, who ran a comparable regime, was renowned for his pithy humor, expressed in such sayings as "One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic," and "in elections, it doesn't matter who votes, it matters who counts the votes." While murdering many millions of its own people and stifling dissent, the Soviet government was always careful to denounce civil rights abuses in the United States.
The Mullahs of Iran and its irrepressible President Ahmadinajad would no doubt agree with the aphorisms of Marshall Stalin. Iran has followed faithfully in the footsteps of the Soviets, denouncing imaginary Israeli human rights violations and denying any wrong doing in Iran: Iran denounces Israel's 'horrific' human rights record.
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While USA is selling Saudi Arabia a sophisticated $20 Billion arms package, congress is busy passing legislation that would deny the F-22 Raptor Stealth fighter to Israel and Japan. Oh AIPAC, Oh mighty Israel lobby, where is your vaunted power? Where is the Zionist Occupied Government myth when we really need it to be true? Here is the story:
WASHINGTON ... The House Appropriations Committee has passed legislation that would ban the export of the F-22 to any foreign government. Officials said this would stymie plans by Israel and Japan to obtain the advanced fighter over the next three years.
"It would be a blow to any U.S. ally that has been negotiating with us for the F-22," an official said.
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by: Leslie Bunder
The BBC has said that anti-Semitic postings and links to Jewish hate sites on its message boards do not breach its own guidelines and even though they may cause offence, harm and distress, they will be allowed to stay.
SomethingJewish contacted BBC director general Mark Thompson and director of Future Media & Technology Ashley Highfield asking why the corporation has allowed its message boards to be used for attacks on Jews and forcing the Jewish community to be constantly on the defensive to respond to hate fuelled postings and mis-quotes of the Torah.
In an email from BBC Information, which claims that Thompson "has authorised us to reply on his behalf" the BBC is sticking to its position that anti-Semitic postings, such as those recently posted, but were eventually removed after pressure are suitable for the BBC to show.
In a response to SomethingJewish regarding a series of postings on the 5 Live Message boards earlier this month by "Iron Naz" in which statements such as "Why are Jews allowed to attack non-jews, and if a non-jew fights back, he must be killed?" and "please comment on these two quotes from Jewish religious texts: A pregnant non-Jew is no better than a pregnant animal." Coschen hamischpat 405 And another "The souls of non-Jews come from impure sprits and are called pigs." Jalkut Rubeni gadol 12b. now is this what Britians jews think of non-jews? (sic)" were allowed to stay up, the BBC said:
"The moderators read all posts on the Five Live news board and remove those that are seen to break the House Rules of the site. They do not fact check the content posted by the public when they read contributions to the board, nor do they remove or edit postings containing factual inaccuracies regardless of the subject matter, even when alerted to them, as being factually incorrect - either partially or completely - is not against the House Rules."
The BBC's own House Rules state: "We reserve the right to fail messages which are considered likely to disrupt, provoke, attack or offend others" and "are racist, sexist, homophobic, sexually explicit, abusive or otherwise objectionable."
Mark Gardiner from the Community Security Trust has said of the BBC's approach to dealing with hate and racism on its own message boards: "The BBC obviously no longer recognizes anti-Semitism even when it slaps it in the face. It is bad enough that it is up to readers to police what the BBC publish on their own Web sites, but it is far sadder that this public body should actively refuse to remove the filth."
In the email from BBC Information, it further added: "If people see a posting on a message board that they think may contain factual inaccuracies then we suggest that they post to the board to correct the other person's mistake, or misapprehension. Subsequent to this post being made, many people did indeed post to the board to explain why the posting was incorrect. This is more beneficial to the debate, as the initial poster, along with all of the other readers and posters to the message board, will be able to read the correction or alternative viewpoint and gain a greater understanding of the issues."
Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Jeremy Newmark told SomethingJewish: "One would expect the BBC to treat anti-Semitism in the same way as any other form of racism with a zero tolerance approach. This is a worrying development coming so soon after a parliamentary inquiry warned of the spread of antisemitism on the internet."
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Isi Leibler is very right in his assessment below. The proliferation of the ultraorthodox educational establishment is a disaster for Israel. However, the repercussions must be explained and understood. Haredi schools omit not only Zionist and Jewish values, but all modern and practical subjects, so that their students are unequipped for practical occupations. Add to that the fact that Haredim usually do not serve in the army, and that the proportion of Haredim is growing rapidly, and you have a recipe for disaster from every point of view.
The looming haredi disaster
By Isi Leibler August 1, 2007
There is now a long-overdue recognition: the erosion of Jewish identity in the curriculum of the dominant secular school system is having disastrous repercussions. In their frenetic zeal to promote universalism, secular educators have diluted Jewish heritage to a minimum. Even the Bible, which once occupied a central place in secular Zionist education, has largely disappeared. Combined with growing hedonism and consumerism this has begun to undermine the faith of some youngsters in the sacred values of the nation.
This phenomenon manifests itself in the increasing brain drain of young Israelis emigrating to greener pastures. It is also reflected by a number of popular entertainers who shamelessly boast of having evaded the draft.
In spite of our minister of education who is besotted with post-modernism, many Israeli leaders are now conscious of the urgent need to restore Jewish and Zionist values in the school system.
But regrettably this problem among the secular is now being dwarfed by a more immediate crisis arising from the demographically exploding haredi sector, whose political leverage peaked simultaneously with a failed government willing to virtually sacrifice anything to retain power.
This was evidenced in the passage of recent legislation obligating municipalities to provide equal funding to haredi schools, including those affiliated with movements even more extreme than Shas and Aguda, who brazenly exclude obligatory secular core curriculum subjects.
Nobody seems unduly concerned that the state is effectively financing the molding of citizens destined for a life of impoverishment and total dependence on welfare.
Paradoxically, the children of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Western countries are obliged and do take part in secular core curriculum studies prescribed by their governments.
The statistics relating to this problem signal an even more alarming phenomenon. Currently the high haredi birth rates (considered a boon for Israel) have created a situation in which children from haredi families today comprise 22% of all first Israeli first-graders. This is virtually double the proportion which prevailed 10 to 15 years ago. No society in which almost a quarter of its members are destined to become parasitical burdens and impoverish the majority can indefinitely sustain itself.
Never in the history of the Jewish people has such a bizarre situation prevailed. In the past, exceptionally gifted Torah scholars were funded by philanthropists to lead a life of learning. But even in the shtetl, where poverty was endemic, religious Jews accepted earning a livelihood as a prerequisite to their well-being and dignity.
There is an equally frightening parallel to this. In 1948, in what was subsequently proven to be one of his greatest blunders, David Ben-Gurion agreed with Rabbi Avraham Yeshaye Karelitz - known as the Chazon Ish - to exempt all yeshiva students from conscription.
At the time only 400 were involved. This year that number - which obviously includes many who could never be considered serious students - has mushroomed to well in excess of 50,000 and will continue to rise.
The Tal Law was introduced with the laudable objective of reducing haredi draft evasion and encouraging participation in the work force. It failed abysmally. Over a four-year period only about 500 yeshiva students were drafted and minimal numbers opted for legal employment.
Yet the government once again buried its head in the sand and without weighing the consequences, extended the law for another five years.
But the worst has yet to come. Currently haredim account for 11 percent of draft exemptions. However, unless the system changes, when today's haredi first-graders turn 18, they will comprise nearly a quarter of the entire draft.
Should that happen, aside from the additional physical burden on those drafted, the psychological implications for the nation will be devastating. Instead of representing a badge of honor, military service will be regarded as applicable only to hapless freiers or "lower-class people."
What is now a marginal but growing phenomenon among secular elites, celebrity draft-dodging, could become infectious and lead to widespread efforts to evade the draft. That would surely be disastrous for the Zionist vision.
Who is responsible, and what can be done?
Setting aside a miserable political system which encourages politicians to prostitute themselves in order to retain office, the principal responsibility rests with haredi rabbis and heads of yeshivot. Many of them have yet to reconcile themselves with the obligations of living in a Jewish state.
There are no genuine halachic grounds to justify draft evasion. Far from promoting pacifism, Judaism is in fact explicit concerning the obligation to support a righteous war. Maimonides proclaims that even a groom at his wedding banquet is obliged to participate in defense of the nation.
But the primary reason that haredi rabbis so vehemently oppose the draft is a fear of exposing their followers to the outside world. They even have the gall to proclaim that the role of haredim is to "pray for the nation" - a none too subtle attempt to rationalize why non-observant Israelis and religious Zionists (who also pray) should fight and die for them. Their attitude is reminiscent of the ultra-Orthodox European rabbis before the Shoah who urged their followers not to leave Europe. Their attitude today could ultimately bring about an historical disaster of equal magnitude.
The negative attitude toward earning a livelihood is equally bizarre. Our sages from the time of the Mishna consistently upheld the virtues of labor and maintaining a family livelihood.
There is of course a substantial minority of haredim who do earn livelihoods and a number who also serve in the IDF. Some of them initiated efforts to create training centers and colleges for training haredim for employment in the computer and electronics industry. Regrettably, few rabbis encouraged their followers to take advantage of such opportunities.
Moderate religious Zionists, who in the past served as bridges to secular Israelis, should assume a leading role in this matter. Their children all serve in the IDF, are highly motivated and renowned for exemplary conduct and contribute - far out of proportion to their numbers - in combat units and as officers.
In leading the campaign, they can demonstrate that far from conflicting with Halacha, army service and contribution to the defense of the nation is a mitzva. They can relate to the haredi Nahal unit, which has performed admirably and provide reassurances that the IDF will ensure that religious observance is respected.
They will avoid the haredi-bashing of bigoted anti-religious parties, like the now-defunct Shinui, and be constructive, even highlighting the positive aspects of haredi life which secular Israelis could emulate.
Hopefully they will also gain the support of the hitherto silent haredim who are fully aware of the catastrophe that will inevitably impact on them and the entire nation unless these trends are reversed.
Views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of israelinsider.
Continued (Permanent Link)
A quote from the Saudis:
"I said before that we are interested in a peace conference that deals with the substantive matters of peace, the issues of real substance and not form or insubstantive issues," the Saudi foreign minister said.
Ah - but what is the real substance of peace?
Saudi Arabia has said it could attend a Middle East peace conference proposed by the US president which would bring it to the same table as Israel.
But Prince Saud al-Faisal, Saudi's foreign minister, said his country would only consider attending the meeting if it tackled "substantive matters of peace".
Saudi Arabia was the main proponent of an Arab peace proposal made at an Arab summit earlier this year which offers Israel full diplomatic ties with 22 Arab countries in return for withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967.
Israel and its US ally have said Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia who do not have ties to Israel should involve themselves in talks with the Jewish state as a goodwill gesture.
"We welcome this initiative," Prince Saud said at a news conference with US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Olmert's office responded by saying that Israel hopes "many Arab countries will attend this international meeting, including Saudi Arabia".
Jacky Rowland, Al Jazeera's correspondant in Jerusalem, said: "This is potentially a huge diplomatic breakthrough for the Arab peace process.
"For Israel, in particular, it's a big step - something, at last for Olmert, that his goverment has achieved."
A meeting between Israeli and Saudi representatives would be a major diplomatic breakthrough.
Though Israel and Saudi Arabia are both US allies, representatives of the countries have never officially met and Saudi Arabia has never recognised Israel.
Arab foreign ministers welcomed the US idea of a Middle East peace conference, though Syria objected saying it could betray the Palestinian cause.
They said the conference must include all parties concerned, must aim to revive negotiations between Israel and all its neighbours and must be based on previous peace talks.
Those conditions could thwart US or Israeli attempts to keep Syria out, or Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.
"I said before that we are interested in a peace conference that deals with the substantive matters of peace, the issues of real substance and not form or insubstantive issues," the Saudi foreign minister said.
"If that does so, it becomes of great interest for Saudi Arabia and should we then get an invitation from the Secretary [Rice] to attend that conference we will look very closely and very hard at attending the conference."
Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas' political bureau, said: "If they expect peace to come through conferences that exclude Hamas, they are wrong.
"The attempt to push Hamas out of the picture and make a peace between Abbas and Israel will fail," he said.
"There is no choice for the Palestinians except to continue with the resistance, and all this talk about a peace conference is, in short, futile," he said.
Saudi Arabi said the potential upcoming
conference must listen to all sides [AFP]
The Saudi-promoted Arab peace plan calls for Israel to withdraw from land captured in 1967, including Arab East Jerusalem, the creation of a Palestinian state and a "just solution" for Palestinian refugees.
Saudi Arabia has said publicly it will not offer Israel "normalisation" of ties before a final peace deal.
Breaking Saudi barriers to contact would be a major diplomatic coup for Israel, because of the prestige Saudi Arabia wields as home to Islam's holiest shrines.
But Riyadh will be wary of opposition from clerics and Islamist activists.
Al-Qaeda fighters launched a campaign to topple the US-allied monarchy in 2003 and Riyadh fears that Saudis fighting in Iraq could return to wreak havoc.
Mission to Iraq
Prince al-Faisal said his country, under pressure from Washington to back the Iraqi government, would open an embassy in Baghdad for the first time since the 2003 invasion that brought down Saddam Hussein, eventually bringing Iranian-allied Shia Muslims to power.
"To support the government of Iraq ... we decided to send a delegation to see how to establish our embassy in Baghdad.
"The delegation will comprise diplomats from the foreign ministry, but I will not disclose when they will head to Iraq."
Rice welcomed the announcement. "This is something that we have encouraged ... It is an important step," she said.
Prince al-Faisal said: "The kingdom is keen to continue supporting regional and international efforts to achieve security and stability in Iraq ... But the success of these efforts hinges on achieving social justice and national unity among Iraqis of all ethnic and religious groups," he said.
"This places big and historic responsibilities on the Iraqi government to achieve these goals away from external interference."
Continued (Permanent Link)
Ngo Monitor reports that the EU parliament will host an anti-Israel "peace" conference. This is under the auspices of the notorious Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. We know it is not a peace conference, because the conference will pick up where the Durban conference ("Zionism is Racism) left off. The method and function of this committee and the UN anti-Israel apparatus are discussed here: The_Question_of_Palestine
Please sign our petition for Fair Play for Israel at the UN Today
European Parliament to Host UN NGO "Peace" Conference Promoting anti-Israel Campaign
The United Nations has scheduled an "International Conference of Civil Society in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace", to be held in the European Parliament in Brussels, August 30-31. This misleading not withstanding, this annual conference is held under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and the International Coordinating Network for Palestine - frameworks that promote the conflict through NGOs involved in implementing the Durban agenda of demonization. This year, for the first time, the exercise is gaining the legitimacy of sponsorship by the European Parliament, further highlighting the role that the Europe Union plays in supporting the radical NGO campaign. While the speakers list is secret until the conference, highlighting the violation of transparency in the UN and EU, past speakers have included Jeff Halper (from the EU-funded ICAHD and allied with Sabeel) and officials from other radical NGOs. Topics such as "The situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and civil society response", "Action by civil society organizations working in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem", workshops on "Fortieth anniversary of occupation: building on action taken by civil society...", and "Strengthening campaigns to end occupation, including grassroots campaigns against the wall, rallying around Bil'in" (note that Bil'in is the site of violent attacks organized by NGOs in order to provoke Israeli responses). The program and further information can be found at http://unispal.un.org/unispal.nsf and through representatives of the European Union and Parliament.
Continued (Permanent Link)
Last update - 10:45 31/07/2007
By Haaretz Service
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas are engaged in secret talks on final status issues, Israel Radio quoted the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayyat as reporting Tuesday.
According to the report, the two leaders agreed to open a secret channel to discuss the issues, which include such sticking points as refugees, Jerusalem, and final borders, during their meeting roughly two weeks ago.
The report stated that the talks have yet to produce a breakthrough.
Olmert confirmed last week that he intends to engage in negotiations with Abbas on the formation of a Palestinian state.
Olmert was responding to a Haaretz report, according to which he offered to hold negotiations toward an "Agreement of Principles" for the establishment of a Palestinian state comprised of the Gaza Strip and most of the West Bank.
Olmert's proposal to Abbas is based on his view that it is important to first discuss issues that are relatively easy for the two sides to agree upon. The prime minister also believes that such an accord will enjoy the overwhelming support of the Israeli public and the Knesset.
Abbas, however, told Meretz Chairman Yossi Beilin during their meeting in Ramallah last week that an agreement of principles would not be satisfactory. He said the Palestinian Authority is prepared to achieve a final status settlement with Israel by next fall, when an international Mideast peace conference is scheduled to take place.
Continued (Permanent Link)
The article states:
11% received exemptions this year on grounds of being ultra-Orthodox, an increase of 1% over last year.
As it is Jerusalem Post, we can assume that they mean that last year there were 10% ultra-Orthodox exemptions, and this year there were 11%. That is an increase of about 10%, not 1%.
For our mathematicians: assume that the number of ultraorthodox increases at the rate of 10% of current ultra-orthodox draft dodgers each year. In what year will all draftees be exempt because they are all ultra-orthodox, unfit or abroad? Now assume that there is a non-induction induction effect. By that I mean that for each ten ultra-orthodox draft dodgers, there will be 3 or 4 non-ultra-orthodox who decide they aren't going to be suckers: if the ultra-orthodox don't go to the army, why should they serve? Can you imagine the absurdity of the fact that Druze youth volunteer to serve in the army of the Jewish state, while ultra-orthodox Jews do not? Can someone explain how and why this is justified? Can you explain why a kibbutznik who belongs to peace now should be guarding settlements, while an ultra-orthodox Shas or United Torah Judaism voter who insists that Israel must never give up a millimeter of the occupation is busy making believe he is studying the Talmud?
There is a solution however. "Medically unfit" includes those who died before age 18 - we can start drafting the dead as well as the quick.
For the rest of us, an easy question: If it costs NIS 40,000 (currently - soon to be increased) to pay university tuition for one future Israeli engineer, how much does it cost to pay tuition for 100 ultraorthodox draft dodgers? Answer NIS 0. Yeshiva tuition is paid for.
The Israeli government can hardly complain, since they promulgated the Tal law. It is impossible that the majority of Israelis support this unfair, suicidal law, and yet periodically it is renewed, the monstrous offspring of incestuous coalitions.
Barak: Draft dodging a security threat
Yaakov Katz, THE JERUSALEM POST Jul. 30, 2007
Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned Monday that the growing number of youth who dodge the IDF draft will eventually harm national security and turn the IDF from a "people's army" into an "army of half the people."
"When a soldier who goes out to the battlefield feels like a sucker, this harms national security," Barak said during a conference at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security in memory of Ha'aretz military commentator Ze'ev Schiff who passed away last month.
Barak said that Israel needed to return to the days when military service was something to be proud of and draft dodgers carried the mark of Cain. Barak added that Israel's true heroes were those who served in the IDF.
Burning Issues: The Tal Law and IDF non-enlistment
"A society under an existential threat will only know how to survive if it respects those who defend it," he said.
Ahead of the August draft, the IDF reported damning statistics showing a sharp rise in the number of teenagers dodging military service. The total reaches 25 percent of youth born in 1989 and scheduled to enlist in the IDF this summer.
Of the 25%, some 11% received exemptions this year on grounds of being ultra-Orthodox, an increase of 1% over last year. Seven percent did not enlist for medical reasons, including physical and mental conditions. Four percent did not enlist because of criminal records, and 3% live abroad.
Barak further blasted university lecturers and employers who do not accommodate students or workers who are called up for reserve duty.
"I wonder what Schiff would have said about the delegitimization that military service has been granted by elements in Israeli society starting with university lecturers who don't find solutions for students who miss exams due to reserve duty," Barak said.
Labels: IDF, Israel, Jews, Zionism
Continued (Permanent Link)
I am reluctant to write this article. On the one hand, I know that rightist extremists are going to exploit the sad facts for their own ends. On the other hand, the anti-"Zionists" will quote what I write here (out of context as usual) as proof of "Jewish Zionist Islamophobia."
However, the cup runneth over with bile. I am tired of being inundated with the flood of intellectual effluvia that spews forth from the sewers of official Arab world publications. These concoctions often have what can be politely described as "authentic Middle Eastern flavor." Middle Eastern food is famously redolent of savory flavors and exquisite odors: mint and sesame, hel and kusbarah, garlic and onion, the smoke of open fires, and occasionally, though less discussed in polite company, camel and donkey excrement and similar odors. If you are lucky, you have a wonderful culinary experience from your Middle Eastern repast. If you are not so lucky, you may be hospitalized. The kind of cooking you are apt to find in Middle Eastern media is likely to make you very ill indeed.
The flavor and aroma of Middle Eastern journalism, too often tends in the direction of the camel dung, bad sanitation, rotten eggs and spoiled meat of racism and xenophobia, rather than the kusbarah and hel and fresh ground Turkish coffee of original and imaginative thought.
The American and other governments take care that the public who cannot read Arabic generally do not see and taste some of the more extravagant "cuisine" prepared in the kitchens of Middle East media: Jews capturing Christian children to make matzoth from their blood, a TV series about the workings of the Elders of Zion and their Protocols, sermons about Jewish sons of dogs and Christian sons of pigs, promises to fly the flag of Islam over London, and bring about a world without America.
For reasons related to oil greed and the stupidity of diplomacy, the United States subsidizes several Middle East regimes very heavily. The US government, and the US Middle East academic establishment, would be sorely distressed if Americans were too aware of the sort of regimes and societies that their tax dollars subsidize.
As a result of its peace treaty with Israel, Egypt enjoys an annual aid grant of about $2 billion. Despite horrendous poverty, most of this money is spent on buying armaments in the United States. Egypt is not a very democratic society. You can be put in jail for hinting that elections are fraudulent, or for criticizing the government too strongly. The press is tightly controlled as well. Nothing is published that the government would not want to be published.
Arab countries have, in addition to their Arab language media, a small English language press that is in large part for external consumption. Journals like Arab News, Al Ahram and Jordan Times put "respectable" faces on the regimes of their countries. They allow a bit more criticism of the government, and somewhat less racism and vitriolic American diatribes. Additionally, there are journals like As-Sharq Alawsat run from London, that reflect more Westernized points of view.
However, even in the English language journals, we can sample a great deal of the Middle Eastern journalistic cuisine. We can find manufactured events, such as the bombing of Baghdad with nuclear weapons, and Israel injecting Palestinian children with AIDS, and opinions based on those tales of the 1001 Arabian Nights.
Egypt's Al Ahram is essentially a government - controlled newspaper. The editor serves at the will of the government. According to the terms of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, Egyptian media and government are supposedly enjoined from incitement against Israel.
Here is a taste of the authentic Middle East that appeared recently in Al Ahram English weekly. It is by no means atypical of the fare they serve up each week. You can find this treat, at ahram.org.eg/2007/855/op2.htm. Behold, a work of Islamic art! A veritable souvenir of the desert! A tome worthy of the tomb of a Pharaoh and of the utterances of the Islamic sages!
The introduction reads:
How long will Jewish psychosis be tolerated, even vaunted, and its brutal consequences ignored, asks Issa Khalaf*
It gets better from there. If you like anti-"Zionism" as expressed in Mein Kampf, you will love Issa Khalaf. This is what psychiatric expert Khalaf has to say about Israel and the Jewish question:
The Zionist programme to overtake the land and empty it of its indigenous people is so relentless and uncompromising, so openly implemented, so strikingly lacking in decency and humanity, that I'm trumped for categories to explain it. No question, history is replete with examples of inhumanity, of fantastical, violent ideological projects imposed by the state or by one group over another, of ruthless dislocation and expulsions....
I'm inclined to think that the worst is brought out in the American imperial impulse by Zionist organisations... Apparently, nothing short of complete surrender will satiate Jewish Israelis and the organised American Jewish community, who've managed to make US Middle East policy an extension of themselves and render synonymous in the American mind and institutions US and Israeli needs and interests -- and even then the Palestinians or Arabs will not appease them...
The Holocaust, always replayed and pushed on Western publics, is corrupted and appropriated by narrow ethnic imperatives. A persecuted people persecuted no more seem to have lost their senses, so fossilised are they in their Shoah, the culminating event of Jewish history. Compassion, remorse, guilt for the Palestinians eludes them...
How long is one to extend sympathy to Jewish psychosis in the face of this obvious self-righteous folly?...There is perhaps nothing more noxious than Jewish assumption of morality in the context of obscene inhumanity towards victimised Palestinians. No, I don't believe Zionist Jews who unqualifiedly support Israel can speak with authority on this issue, despite the illusion of a superior Jewish morality.
But these may not be the only categories to comprehending Zionism's unmitigated inhumanity to Palestinians and other Arabs... The mangled psychological, theological, cultural facets of the encounter between European colonials and indigenous peoples are known.
There is also that Jewish political tribalism, one whose roots extend deep into the past, whose fundamentalist holy men justify the taking of Arab life, the killing of Arab children, in juxtaposition to the superior sanctity of Jewish life and Jewish children....
As I've previously argued in this newspaper, in the face of such power and influence -- and as truly tenuous, illusory and counterproductive this power may ultimately be -- rationality is all but lost.
Dr Khalaf must've extended his sympathy to Jewish psychosis for a long time, we are sure. Of course, Dr. Khalaf never heard that Palestinian Arabs are treated for free in Israeli hospitals, or that Israeli soldiers who harm innocent Palestinian Arabs face military courts. He does not know that there is an Israeli peace movement, stabbed in the back and the heart each day by Islamist terrorists and racist hate mongers like Dr. Khalaf. When was the last time a Fateh or Hamas "soldier" was tried for harming innocent Jewish civilians?
Dr Khalaf, having expressed his opinion of the Jewish people in a manner reminiscent of Hinkel in "The Great Dictator," next turns to the gentle Arabs of Palestine:
The Palestinians are strikingly unburdened by the pathologies of their oppressors, not least of all because they do not reciprocate their occupier's widespread racism...unlike their tormentors, they've not lost their humanity and essential decency, their acceptance of their enemy's humanity, their cultural generosity of spirit and life, their respect for the sacredness of all life, their sanity. I can't imagine that Palestinian soldiers would cruelly and coolly remain unmoved -- devoid of an abiding sense of rescue -- by a Jewish mother dying in her house as her children watched in fear and horror.[a reference to an imaginary "Jewish-Zionist" "atrocity" of the type regularly offered up by the Arab press.]
Ah, the angelic Palestinians! Consider the statement "The Palestinians are strikingly unburdened by the pathologies of their oppressors." Is it not a culinary delight of intellectual travesty? Khalaf has a poor imagination. He can't imagine Palestinian Arabs blowing up dozens of people in discotheques. He cannot imagine the Hamas Mickey Mouse and the Hamas Bee that teach children to blow themselves up for Palestine. He cannot imagine the 16 year old sent across a checkpoint with a suicide bomb. He cannot even imagine the Hamas literally butchering a Fateh man and sending the "steaks" to his family, or throwing people from rooftops after shooting them in the knees. Khalaf cannot imagine the Palestinians who killed 14 year old Kobi Mandel by breaking his head with rocks. Palestinians, like Dr. Khalaf, are all angelic. Khalaf cannot hear the Imams calling "Kill the Jews wherever you find them" either. Not all Palestinians are like that, but many of them are. In a recent poll, over 70% of Palestinian Arabs living in the Palestinian territories supported suicide bombings in "some cases" to "defend Islam" - the highest percentage of any Muslim nation. Palestinians living in Jordan don't support suicide bombing so fervently. They were not born that way. They were educated to it by people like Dr. Khalaf. Genocide of the Jews is the official policy of the Hamas, who are in charge of Gaza these days.
Dr. Khalaf's culinary masterpieces are not the product of Middle Eastern culture alone. Khalaf has a PhD in political science and Middle East studies from Oxford University.
Khalaf is not alone at Al Ahram, this week or any week. In his three part series, Hassan Nafaa serves up his version of Zionism to his readers: "Zionist strategy for dividing the Arab East." The plat du jour is described as follows:
In his third article on Zionist thought, Hassan Nafaa* reveals how Israel has always wanted the East and northern Arab states to collapse.
You can read the rest at ahram.org.eg/2007/855/op1.htm.
We should not confine ourselves to Al Ahram. Saudi Arabia is about to be the recipient of a shower of sophisticated American weaponry. Satellite guided bombs that may one day be returned to Israel and other gadgets are included. Saudi Arabia has benefited from an estimated $10 billion annual U.S. expenditure on deployment of the Seventh fleet for many many years. In return, the oil rich country is happy to export terrorism to Iraq and Islamism to anywhere in the Middle East. Americans get a good deal. The Saudi government publishes a show piece English language newspaper available on the Web, Arab News. Here are some samples of Saudi journalistic cooking, even more legendary than the Egyptian dishes. A headline reads: "Protocols of the Elders of Neocons" by Hussein Shobokshi. In this classic, now a tiny bit dated, Shobokshi wrote:
In this weekly telephone report Paul Wolfowitz expressed his anxiety to Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister about the situation in the Middle East. "How are you doing?" asked Wolfowitz. "OK,OK," answered Sharon, "but you must go to Syria." Wolfowitz pondered, "this will be tougher to get the president's okay on." Sharon could not help but scream, "He does not know Damascus from
Des Moines, Iowa. Move it Paul. You can always tell him that this man of peace thinks it's kosher," concluded Sharon with a hysterical laugh.
Of course, Sharon never encouraged the US to attack Iraq or Syria. How ironic it would be if the Saudi Arabian regime is eventually toppled by Syrian and Iranian subversion! Here is another gem from one Tanya Hsu, who is based in Riyadh:
We have suffered such that we have the right to make the rest of the world pay (even though organized Zionism officially declared war on Germany in 1933, long before Hitler's Final Solution). Because we are victims...
We know that Zionism is an atheist Marxist creation using Judaism as its weapon; that we were founded upon terrorism and our leaders became Israel's prime ministers and Nobel Peace Prize winners; that less than 10 percent of Jews worldwide supported the Zionist cause for decades until World War II. We know that the crimes committed by Hitler equally affected Communists, gypsies, the handicapped, and political prisoners. That does not matter -- we are special. The rest of the world will not touch us because they are terrified of the label "anti-Semite".
The anti-Zionists can always find something wrong with Zionism. Either it is atheistic and Marxist as above, or else it is the cult of messianic religious fanatics. Read it all here - arabnews.com/?page=7§ion=0&article=75752&d=4&m=8&y=2006. Isn't this regime just the right recipient for advanced US weaponry? Hsu, apparently a Muslim, is considered an "expert" on the Jewish problem in Saudi Arabia, and in some US academic circles, where she is an honored participant in academic fora. The aroma and flavor of Middle Eastern cuisine is infectious, especially when it is backed by huge grants to Middle East studies departments.
Do not think for even one second that these authors and these journals and these writings represent all of Arab thought and writing in general, or that I am suggesting that all Arabs or Muslims are racist psychopathic liars. However, there is a lot of this and much worse in Arab world media, especially where the regime controls the media. What you see in the media is the result of directed policy. The "good guys" are intimidated and ignored, and the ones we see in the media are elevated to the role of "educators." They have the role once fulfilled by "agitprops" in Soviet society: to make sure that everyone understands the party line and does not deviate from it.
Some authors are rarely seen in the pages of Al Ahram or Arab news. You won't find Amar Abdulhammid, a Syrian expatriate, there, but you will find him at his various blogspots and Web sites, like Amarji and Tharwa writing about democracy and decency and peace. Amar Abdul Hammid's writings are banned in Syria of course. Tarek Heggy is sometimes published in the Egyptian press, but more often then not you can find his essays in English here, and his Arabic writing here: http://www.tarek-heggy.com/. You can find more and different commentary at Web sites like Middle East Transparent. There are also some decent and wonderful people writing in As Sharq al-Awsat, which is published from London and doesn't have to put up with creatures like Tanya Hsu.
Most of these writers are not too sympathetic to Israel, and are certainly not "Zionists." They have a point of view that may be unpleasant for some of us to hear, but for the most part they are not racists, and they do not invent Western and Jewish demons and whine about the angelic Palestinians, and do not beat out the monotonous anti-"Zionist" war tattoo found in some of the government media.
A friend who lives in a certain country to the northeast of Israel wrote that the Middle East could be a wonderful place if we could combine Jewish know-how and Western society with Arab resources, but alas, he laments it will never happen. You won't see his writing in Syrian official media any time soon. But the point is, there are many people like my friend out there, in the vast territories of the Arab world. It could happen, if it was made clear to Arab regimes that they have to give at least equal time in their media and in their societies to voices of reason and reform.
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"The Jews" have caused the Darfur genocide according to the Sudanese defense minister. A sure revelation. We get all these IDF special forces people who are Ethiopian Jews, and send them down there to rape and murder people.
In an interview with a Saudi newspaper, the defense minister of Sudan was asked, "Are the Jews behind the Darfur conflict?"
His answer: Jews behind Darfur conflict.
Sudan's defense minister, Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein, has accused "24 Jewish organizations" of "fueling the conflict in Darfur" last week in an interview with a Saudi newspaper.
Hussein was interviewed during an official state-visit to the Saudi kingdom last week. A journalist from Saudi Arabia's Okaz newspaper asked Hussein: "Some people are talking about the penetration of Jewish organizations in Darfur and that there is no conflict there?"
"The Darfur issue is being fuelled by 24 Jewish organizations, who are making the largest amount of noise over the issue, and using the Holocaust in their campaigning," the Sudanese defense minister replied.
"Are these Jewish groups supporting (the rebels) financially?," the interviewer from Okaz asked Hussein.
"Yes, they provide political and material support through their control over the media and across American and British circles," Hussein said, adding that Jewish groups were using "all means to fuel these conflicts."
Continued (Permanent Link)
Benjamin Pogrund makes good sense in this article about the so-called "one-state solution" for Israel and Palestine. However, it seems to me that the idea of a "one state solution" is fraudulent, and that discussing it seriously gives it a dignity it does not deserve. It is well meaning, but missing the point to write:
Shain puts his finger on it. South African espousal of a single state is due to faulty information and misunderstanding...
There is no misunderstanding. Denial of the right of self-determination to the Jewish people is racism. The South African people decided to solve their problem in their way. That is fine for them, as long as it is accepted by the South African people. But deciding that Jews must give up their right of self determination when they do not want to do so is racism, because every people that wants it should have that right. Beyond that, the one state solution was always, from the time it was first proposed by the Nazi Grand Mufti Hajj Amin Al Husseini, a thin mask for a genocidal program. There is no one state solution, because the Arabs of Palestine will would not be willing to accord equal rights to the Jews. They could not do so if they wanted to. The Arab peoples have over twenty states in which to give expression to their national heritage, language and culture. Under the "one state solution," the Jewish people would have no state at all. That is not equality.
Surely there is something fraudulent when on the one hand, the Arabs of Palestine insist that they cannot live in Jordan or Egypt because they are a different people from the Jordanians or Egyptians, and yet on the other hand, they insist they want to make a one state solution with Jews, a people of a different national culture and language. What will be the official national language of this state? What will be the immigration policy? Will Islam be the basis of law, as it is in the Palestinian Authority?
Nonetheless, it is worth considering Benjamin Pogrund's article below, if you are willing to grant the fiction that those who propose a one state solution are in earnest.
Palestine-Israel Journal, Volume 14 No. 2, 2007: Future Options
South Africa Is Not a Model for Us
Benjamin Pogrund is the founder and director of Yakar's Center for Social Concern in Jerusalem and was deputy editor of the former Rand Daily Mail in Johannesburg. He is co-editor of Shared Histories: A Palestinian-Israeli Dialogue and is a member of the Palestine-Israel Journal's Editorial Board.
It's fashionable these days in South Africa to offer the country as an exemplar for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: "We created a unitary state and so must you," they say. The argument is that blacks were oppressed under apartheid, and Palestinians are oppressed by Israel, so the same solution applies to both situations.
An Israeli visitor stands to be challenged as to why the Jews want their own state instead of joining in a single state with the Palestinians. Palestinian suffering is identified with what was suffered under apartheid. The general outlook of uncritical support for the Palestinians and unbridled hostility towards Israel is articulated by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and its allies, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the South African Communist Party. They no doubt reflect much popular feeling in denouncing Israel as the "apartheid regime," and they are increasingly urging stern action boycotts, disinvestment and breaking off diplomatic relations. Yet despite the vehemence of their attacks, these organizations do not explicitly call for a one-state solution.
The 40th anniversary of the Six Day War in June was marked by demonstrations against Israel as well as heated exchanges of views in articles and letters in newspapers. Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils played a leading part in this: He has become a frequent critic of Israel. He is an old-style Communist who stuck with the party despite the revelations of Stalinist horrors, the Hungarian and East German uprisings and the final collapse of the system. In recent years he has said that he has rediscovered his identity as a Jew; however, the South African Jewish community wants nothing to do with him. In one letter to the editor, he referred to the "bloody establishment of the Zionist state" and said there was "no historical or moral basis for the Zionist claim to an ethnic Jewish state on all the land of the former mandate territory" (Business Day, June 13, 2007). If this seems to imply a denial of the right of Israel to exist, he shied away from it by concluding with a call for national self-determination for the Palestinians "and acceptance of two independent, sovereign states alongside each other."
Kasrils often bases his condemnation of Israel on alleged historical events, as he did in writing about the Six Day War, which he said was Israel's fault. But the noted Israeli historian Benny Morris scoffed at him, saying in a letter that Kasrils "uses history to advance a political agenda. The problem is that his history is skewered, factual errors piled on top of ideologically motivated distortions. The outcome is lamentable" (Cape Times, June 18, 2007).
The outright public rejection of two states comes from Muslim organizations and individuals. It also regularly appears in the press through a veteran journalist, Allister Sparks. He writes about the "fantasy" of the two-state solution, and in a recent column, asked Jews: "
if I, as a white South African can live in a secular, nonracial state with a black majority and feel perfectly secure in my own identity, can you not do the same in Israel?" (Cape Times, June 13, 2007). The answer to that, of course, is that he does not understand Jewish history and has no insight into the psyche of Israeli Jews. It led to Milton Shain, professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Cape Town, writing that Sparks' views "can be written off as provocative journalese or simple myopia
he is blind to the differences between the two cases" (Cape Times, June 19, 2007).
Shain puts his finger on it. South African espousal of a single state is due to faulty information and misunderstanding, whether from simple lack of knowledge and/or built-in prejudice against the mere existence of a Jewish state. In addition to Kasrils and Sparks there is plentiful evidence of this, such as the Communist Party which, while excoriating the Israeli occupation, is evidently unaware that Jordan occupied the West Bank until June 1967. It also claims that Israel "was the biggest friend and collaborator with the apartheid regime" (South African Communist Party General Secretary Blade Nzimande, Umsebenzi Online, June 6, 2007). A friend, regrettably yes, as is well-known, but bigger than Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq, which all supplied oil in defiance of international boycotts? And what of the United Kingdom, France, the United States and virtually every country in the world that traded with apartheid South Africa? Or there is this fevered writing in Islamic Focus magazine: "The day that Nelson Mandela was released [in February 1990] was probably one of the last times that Palestinians enjoyed the simple pleasure of a sweet treat called baklava. They sang and rejoiced in the narrow, dusty streets
" (Shabnam Mohamed, "There's something different about this Nakba," Islamic Focus, Pretoria, Issue 8, June 2007, p. 3).
Differences Outweigh Similarities
For a more informed and informative look at the issue, one can turn to an authoritative source: a book published in 2005 by two Canadians, Heribert Adam and Kogila Moodley, who are specialists on South Africa. In Seeking Mandela: Peacemaking Between Israelis and Palestinians* they conclude that the South Africa = Israel and Palestine assertion does not offer a realistic way forward. To explain this, they examine six "crucial realms":
- Economy: Blacks and whites in South Africa were economically interdependent. The growth of politicized trade unions enabled blacks to attack apartheid through industrial action such as strikes and consumer boycotts. In contrast, Palestinians do not have this power because Israel barely depends on Palestinian labor. Two economies exist more or less side by side. Moreover, Israel uses closure as collective punishment, whereas South Africa's whites were too dependent on black labor to be able to do this.
- Religion: Christianity in South Africa was a "common bond to assail and de-legitimize" apartheid. In contrast, Judaism and Islam compete for sovereignty. This divide has, of course, grown sharper and wider through the rise of Hamas and its Islamist policies. On the Jewish side, religiously motivated settlers and ultra-Orthodox believers cannot be as easily marginalized as were extremists among white Afrikaners.
- Third-party intervention: Both the main players in South Africa, the ANC and the Afrikaner Nationalist Party, avoided third-party intervention in their negotiations. In contrast, an Israeli-Palestinian agreement "depends heavily" on U.S. policy that strongly supports Israel. "Sanctions (divestment and trade boycotts) are generally overrated in triggering South African change," they say. "Only loan refusals and, to a lesser extent, moral ostracism, impacted significantly on the apartheid government. Such action against Israel by the West is inconceivable at present." Israelis also have the benefit of a supportive diaspora, whereas Afrikaners faced a near-unanimously hostile world.
- Political culture: "Much more personal interaction in a vertical-status hierarchy shaped South African race relations, compared with the more horizontal social distance between Jews and Palestinians
Moral erosion of the apartheid stance among the ruling elite in South Africa contrasts with moral myopia in Israel
Both sides in the Middle East display a collective sense of victimhood." South Africa was "a pariah state that lacked the legitimacy of Israel outside the Arab and Muslim world."
- Violence: Suicide was never used as a weapon, and martyrdom was never celebrated during the South African anti-apartheid struggle. In contrast, the tactics of the second intifada have been "counter-productive," and "[t]he attacks on civilians unify Israeli public opinion on security and also destroy the social fabric of Palestinian society."
To which can be added that, when the ANC decided in 1961 to switch to armed resistance, it adopted a policy that there would be no killing of white civilians. The decision was partly to do with the belief in Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence, and was partly strategic: The ANC accepted that if it targeted white civilians it would confirm their fears of being swept into the sea by the black majority and this would harden their resolve to hold on to power. The ANC's approach was proved correct: Only a few attacks on whites took place over the decades, and this was a significant factor in persuading whites that it was safe to end apartheid.
- Leadership: Negotiations in South Africa were facilitated by the existence of cohesive and credible leaders. They could obtain popular mandates and sell a controversial compromise to their peoples. In contrast, the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships are fragmented.
It can indeed be said that South Africa was blessed by leaders who fought for freedom without sowing hatred and instead preached unity between black and white such as Chief Albert Luthuli, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1960, and Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, who was imprisoned, detained and banished for the last 18 years of his life. And ultimately there was Nelson Mandela, who led the way to the "miracle" of the new South Africa, and the Afrikaner leader F.W. de Klerk, who had the boldness and courage to recognize that white rule could not be sustained. Israel and Palestine lack such leaders, hence the wistful title chosen by Adam and Moodley for their book.
Their analysis leads the authors to say that "on most counts, the differences between apartheid South Africa and Israel outweigh the similarities that could facilitate transferable conditions for a negotiated compromise. Above all, opponents in South Africa finally realized that neither side could defeat the other completely without destroying the country. This perception of stalemate as a precondition for negotiating in good faith is missing in the Middle East. Peacemaking resulted in an inclusive democracy in South Africa, while territorial separation of the adversaries in two states is widely hailed as the solution in Israel and Palestine:
Such a different trajectory suggests itself because South Africa, arguably, constitutes merely a multiethnic society with many cross-cutting bonds between the legislated artificial racial groups. In Israel/Palestine, on the other hand, a truly divided society exists. The two Semitic people may look alike and even enjoy the same food. They are, however, divided by religion, language, and above all, by history and the mythologies that the 'burden of history' imprints on the self-concept and collective identity of the two groups. Jews and Palestinians constitute groups competing for meaning, security, and scarce resources in a small space. (p.167)
But they go on to warn that the two-state solution is undermined by the spread of permanent Jewish settlements and security barriers on the West Bank, so that "the logic of Zionist expansionism may ultimately destroy the very idea of an exclusive Jewish state." In the context of European and North American ethnically mixed, multicultural democracies, post-Zionists view an exclusive ethnic state as an anachronism. "However, in the Middle Eastern reality of communal hostilities and national identities, the Zionist vision is deeply rooted and more difficult to dislodge than racist supremacist illusions in South Africa. Could the Israeli public ever abandon its Zionist identity and embrace an inclusive civic nationalism of all its inhabitants?" they ask.
Adam and Moodley add another cautionary note:
A redefinition of Israel from an ethnic state with a guaranteed Jewish majority to a pluralist, multicultural democracy requires a reciprocal Arab revision of an anti-Zionist identity that frequently flows into anti-Semitic stereotyping of the worst kind. Israel's moral legitimacy has yet to be accepted by its neighbors. As long as crude anti-Semitic stereotypes, such as the Czarist forgeries of the 'Protocol of the Elders of Zion' or even Holocaust denial is peddled among Islamists, the South African solution of an inclusive, tolerant common state remains a utopian vision indeed. (p.177)
While outlining similarities and even asserting that in some respects conditions are worse for the Palestinians than apartheid was for blacks, Adam and Moodley argue that similar anti-apartheid strategies may falter in the Israeli case.
Despite the differences, South Africa does offer valuable lessons in the efforts to resolve the Israel and Palestine conflict. To quote their suggestions:
- An end to violence is the outcome of negotiations but should not be a precondition for their start.
- Only a relatively unified, not a fragmented, adversary guarantees adherence to controversial compromises and prevents populist outbidding.
- Transparency and bottom-up involvement through voter education must parallel top-down leadership deals.
- Leaders who are imposed from outside are tainted and acquire legitimacy only through their own constituencies.
- Each side has to understand the problem of its partner with his or her constituency and should empower the antagonists to deal with it.
On the other hand, as they repeatedly stress, "the simplistic assumption that the South African model readily lends itself to export may actually retard necessary new solutions by clinging to visions or processes of negotiation that may not work in another context."
A Tempting but Unrealistic Model
When all is said and done, it is tempting to go along with the notion of a single state. The South African "miracle" is a powerful image. Imagine Jews and Arabs living together on a tiny piece of land, a shared society of equals with one government; it would end their long and bitter conflict and fulfill the ideal of a united world in which people live together in amity and peace.
However, "one size fits all" does not always apply in our imperfect world: It did not work in India-Pakistan in 1948, or in the later breakaway by Bangladesh from Pakistan. It did not work in the Soviet Union, whose different peoples chose to go their separate ways after the collapse of Communism. It did not work in the former Yugoslavia, with tragic results. It is not working in Sri Lanka, or Sudan, or Ethiopia, or Morocco or sundry other places with variable levels of discontent, division, strife and suffering among people who want to be apart from one another.
Nor is a single state possible, given the history and emotions of where we are. Both the blessings and the cruelty of historical experience have shaped Israelis and Palestinians. The mistrust and rejection which separate them are far more intense than what divided white and black in South Africa. And at the root of it all, Israeli Jews will not forgo their Jewish state. On no account will they submerge themselves in a single state in which demography will lose them their majority and control. To them it would be national suicide, and it's not going to happen.
True, the spread of settlements on the West Bank brings into question the viability of a Palestinian state and could point to the inevitability of a single state. But if that were ever to come about, it would be at the cost of democracy and Jewish values, because it would be a state in which Palestinians would be oppressed semi- or non-citizens. Palestinians would never accept that, and we would all be doomed to perpetual war. The point of no return towards this has not yet been reached and, one hopes, never will be. Meanwhile, broad Israeli-Palestinian agreement remains for a two-state solution. Israel and Palestine will not be going along the South African road.
* Heribert Adam and Kogila Moodley, Seeking Mandela: Peacemaking Between Israelis and Palestinians. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2005.
Continued (Permanent Link)
Israeli officials have made specific requests aimed at eliminating concerns that satellite-guided bombs sold to the Saudis could be used against its territory, administration officials said.
Their major concern is ... the possibility that a rogue pilot armed with one of the bombs could attack on his own or that the Saudi government could one day be overthrown and the weapons could fall into the hands of a more radical regime, U.S. officials explained.
It is a good deal. They sell the satellite guided bombs to Saudi Arabia. In a year or two, Saudi Arabia is taken over by Wahhabi fanatics and then Israel will get the bombs delivered directly to Tel Aviv. There is no guarantee against that.
Washington must be extremely satisfied that as a byproduct of this deal, they can promise Israel increased military aid, which will further increase Israel's dependence on the United States, and vulnerability to attacks by anti-Zionists. The latter never tire of pointing out that Israel is the largest US aid recipient.
The Saudi package is going to be woth about $20 billion to the US. The increased aid to Israel (not the total sum of US aid) will total only $7.5 billion over the next 10 years. The price of the Saudi arms package, and future packages, will no doubt help offset the cost of aid to Israel, and the whole deal will stimulate the US arms industry.
Of course, if those satellite guided bombs fall into the wrong hands, it could be very bad for U.S. interests as well as Israel, but nobody seems to be worried about that problem. The Saudi Army has mostly been used to fight Israel in the past. It is unlikely that they would ever fight another Islamic or Arab state.
If Al-Qaeda takes over Saudi Arabia, Americans may get to take delivery of the bombs.
Continued (Permanent Link)
Time was/time is is a personal way of telling the Story of Zionism. It reminds us of what it is really all about. Enjoy. How many times, and in how many places, did this same story unfold?
Time was/time is
Eighty-four or maybe 85 years ago, in a darkened house in a suburb of Manchester when everybody else was sleeping, my grandfather,Itzik Samuel, checked my room, saw that I was awake - which I always was - wrapped me in a blanket and carried me downstairs to the cold, dark stone-floored kitchen. He lit the gas mantle with a match. It made a little plop, then soared into a light and some warmth. I blew out the match. He then made coffee, giving me the skin of the milk which had coagulated on the top.
This was my great treat in the morning. Then we sat for an hour or so, very quiet so as not to waken anybody, as he told me stories in Yiddish about his life in Romania, from where he had left with great gratitude in his heart a God he didn't believe in.
In the small village where he had grown up, officers from a nearby regiment would strut round, pushing everyone into the road, dressed up to the nines with gold epaulettes and sky-blue uniforms, picking their way daintily through the mud and garbage in the streets. There were no sidewalks and anyone in their way was rudely shoved into the road. Those identified as Jews, with side locks, hats and bowed shoulders were a favorite target for beatings, pushing, robbing and other humiliations.
He also told me about the river that froze over in the winter so they could skate over to a neighboring town. But in the winter the snow came up to the windows and wolves roamed the area.
He told me with enthusiasm and conviction about "Towdor Herzl" whose book he had read, Altneuland (The Old New Land, 1902, in which the father of Zionism pictured the future Jewish state as a socialist utopia), and was fired in his imagination of what could be. "When you are a big girl," he would say to me, "we will go together, you and me, hand in hand, to this wonderful new country where oranges grow and dates are for the picking, and Jews walk straight and no more Romanian officers."
Together we sang, in Yiddish, a song which translates as "Almonds and raisins." "Those grow there also," he said, "and raisins, you know, are made from grapes." ["Rozhinkehs mit mandeln" - A.I.]
I stored this vital information in my brain, where it remains to this day - although other, perhaps more pertinent matters have left it. At the merest hint, or the mention of agriculture, I can quote this knowledge without hesitation. At that time I had never seen any grapes and oranges were rare, but almonds we got every year in a blue-and-white box straight from this fabulous land.
At the age of 12, grandfather had been apprenticed to a cobbler and worked contributing to keeping the family of parents and siblings in an almost completely Jewish neighborhood. Some bureaucratic order, not unknown even in better armies, grabbed him out of his workshop and pushed him into the army where common soldiers - even if they were not Jewish - had a very hard time.
But grandfather had an advantage. He was literate, a wonder among his unit. His fellow soldiers got him to write letters home for them...
Astonishingly for a Jew, he rose to be a sergeant and we have a picture of him, circa 1890, in his cocked hat, breeches, white coat and side arms - a resplendent figure.
By then he was married and had two sons, Sam and Mendel. He was determined that their lives would somehow be better. If the dream of 'Towdor' Herzl became real he would take them there. But Romania was not a place to stay.
... It took 10 years of writing letters, waiting for answers, contacts, bribery and savings until finally they were ready to leave. Sam and Mendel, already apprenticed to tailors, would be able to work, and contact with old friends brought him to Manchester where there was a Romanian Synagogue.
The dream had not materialized. England was not the Promised Land but to Grandfather it was a revelation, an escape, a refuge: the Holy Land would have to wait.
It was a shame he could not know that one of his sons became a student of Dr. Chaim Weizmann who was to become the first President of the newly-founded State of Israel, his biographer and friend who later moved to Palestine.
The First World War - the Great War, the one to end all wars - was followed by the Second World War; and after five years of universal suffering that too came to an end. The camps were opened and desperate, hungry, ill-treated survivors emerged. The Jewish Agency was well-prepared, and on the spot organized transport in trucks, carts, people carriers, buses - anything that moved - and got these refugees down to the ports, fed them, clothed them, reassured them, talked to them and told them they were on their way to Palestine.
The British government, still exercising its mandate, decreed an entry of 75,000 Jews over a period of five years. But there were a million starving, dispossessed, desperate people refused entry to most European countries. So they came anyway. The young men and women who took them promised a new life in Palestine, which many had never heard of before. They came in unsafe and leaky boats. Those intercepted by the British were interned. Many came at night. Somehow they evaded the many patrol boats, were lifted from their boats by willing hands, scrambled ashore, taken out and hidden. A leaky boat, half-sunk in the water, was all the British would find.
They questioned the inhabitants. "Where are they?" shouted one sergeant, red-faced and frustrated. "No speakee Inglis," replied the interviewee, an Oxford don with a doctorate in semantics.
For once, the conscience of part of the world was aroused. The UN voted in favor, Israel became a state and the blue-and-white flag hung from the King David Hotel. The next day the Arabs attacked in force, furious at being deprived of this strip of desert, sparsely populated and mostly uncultivated.
With homemade weapons, First World War rifles supplied by Czechoslovakia, stones in slings and uncertain ammunition, the Israelis defended themselves.
A cease-fire was called. The first attempt at annihilation had failed. The truce lasted one month, during which the Arabs regrouped, congratulating themselves upon their actions and promising themselves and all who would listen about the annihilation of this upstart nation. The Israelis made their own preparations, making soldiers out of the most unlikely material. Pacifists, socialists, walking invalids, elderly gentlemen - and ladies - waited for the onslaught.
It came with amplified fury. The battle lasted 10 long days. The Arabs, convinced of their victory, brought up more men, more supplies. We civilians with small children held our breath and waited for news. When it came it seemed incredible. The hordes of enemy had left, leaving behind weapons, shoes and anything that could be discarded, in a hasty retreat. The onslaught had failed.
The Israelis spat on their hands and went to work. They built roads, schools, art galleries, orchestras, scientific institutes and greenhouses, bringing in at the same time all Jews who needed refuge.
There were other attacks: the borders were dangerous, buses were attacked, schools were besieged, from their superior positions the Jordanians shot down on passing Jews below them, and people were killed. Kibbutzim guarded their premises and watched their baby houses.
We had a presence at the UN. We were a nation, and we behaved as such. Always on guard, the work went on, schools and universities stayed open, experiments were pursued, and scientists from all over the world worked in the Weizmann Institute giving freely of their expertise.
The attacks continued.
At the UN, the implacable hatred of the Arab nations could not be alleviated. There was a feeling of uneasiness, a menace in the air as the year 1966 came to an end. There seemed to be in the Arab world a feeling of confidence, knowledge, satisfaction at their improved military skills. In Israel children were escorted to school and back. Parents took turns sitting at the gates of kindergartens. Only short journeys away from the house were permitted. No longer were there groups of youngsters making bonfires on the beach, singing, making jokes. There was a silence over all gatherings. Something was coming that was inevitable and frightening. And it came.
Once more a union of Arab states sought to destroy what they felt was an outrage on their land. They struck. For three days there was silence. My own son was then in the army and there was no word from him. But the fighting, we knew, would be fierce. Four days, five days, six days. And on the sixth day there was news. Despite their enormous superiority of equipment and training, the enemy had failed.
Incredulous, we heard that Jerusalem was whole and reunited, west and east. We hurried there to see for ourselves. The front of the Wall - the ancient wall which we had heard of and never seen - was crowded with soldiers, many looking as though they had just left school, tired, dirty and quiet. There was no jubilation. They were not grinning in victory, not patting each other's backs in admiration. They were in awe. This was the wall their grandparents had sometimes spoken of.
The sun was shining; I put my hand on the warm stones and thought of my grandfather. In my head was the echo of a song, the words as plain as if I could hear them - "Almonds and raisins will be your future."
And so it is.
And so it should be. Building Israel must be the ongoing occupation of the Jewish people, for the work is not done, and it never will be. As long as there is a Jewish people, there must never be a "post-Zionist" period. Hitler wanted to make "post-Zionism" a reality.
And what about you? "Next year in Jerusalem" may be too late, after all.
Continued (Permanent Link)
British Medical Journal went out of its way to dump on Israel, and got dumped on in return.
Deborah Cohen, BMJ's features editor, who commissioned and edited the debate, told Haaretz in an e-mail interview that the journal is on record condemning any academic boycott of Israel. However, in view of recent boycott proposals by several professional unions in Britain, BMJ felt it appropriate to discuss a matter relevant to many of its readers, Cohen said.
"The BMJ is reflecting a debate that is currently occurring on academic campuses within the U.K. Both sides of the debate have their views represented and there is an opportunity for readers to respond electronically," she added.
If some unions had proposed to drown cats, would that also be a worthy topic of editorials in a medical journal? "We are on record as being against drowning cats, but as these proposals have been made by so many people, we thought there should be a debate."
It is hard to explain quite how upsetting I have found this exercise. I am profoundly upset that the academic journal of my trade union (the BMA) has waded into these murky and complex political waters.
This week there has been news of a meeting between the Arab League and Israel to try to move towards a lasting peace settlement. It has to be a particular form of post-colonialist arrogance to suppose that the key players in the Middle East need the BMJ to discuss a boycott so they understand how very important a settlement is. Like the dead on both sides aren't enough.
Tom Hickey made one very strange point. He defends calling for a boycott of Israel and not any other country "whose policies are barbaric" because "education and scholarship are held in high regard" in Israel and among Jews. Is he suggesting that other countries like China and Iran don't value education? Why is the BMJ giving voice to these sweeping generalisations about people? And why is it conducting what must be the least scientific poll in the history of polls? And that's saying something.
Boycott should be anathema to the medical profession, which, after all, depends on keeping channels of communication open to understand and solve problems. It belongs with book burning and show trials. Blunt instruments which help no one.
But as in so many other cases, once the bottle is unstoppered, the genie comes out, and he doesn't go back in so easily. There will be a lot more of such Boycott Israel initiatives, "debates" and what-have-you.
Continued (Permanent Link)
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