Tag: Jews in Arab Lands


Beware the Law of Unintended Consequences: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, Dec. 1, 2016: The mix of politics and culture is far too complex to be predictable.

Jews Can be Anti-Semites Too!: Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, Arutz Sheva, Nov. 28, 2016 — In a worldwide anti-Semitism competition for Jews, Gilad Atzmon would probably represent Great Britain.

In Honor of Jewish Refugees from Arab Lands: Letter from a Forgotten Jew: David Harris, Huffington Post, Nov. 29, 2016— I am a forgotten Jew.

50 Years Ago, ‘Mud Angels’ Came to Flooded Florence to Save Centuries of Jewish History: Rossella Tercatin, Times of Israel, Nov. 30, 2016 — On the morning of Friday, November 4, 1966, 18-year-old Andrea Belgrado was fast asleep in his family’s home across the street from the Great Synagogue of Florence.



On Topic Links


A View from Iraq & Syria (Prof. Frederick Krantz & Lt. Col. Sargis Sangari Discuss the Issues Facing Middle East Christians): The Hagmann Report, Dec. 1, 2016

Obama Administration Turns Palestinian-American Terrorist Into Victim: Stephen Flatlow, Algemeiner, Dec. 1, 2016

Ryerson Students Stage Walkout Over Holocaust Education Motion : Jodie Shupac, CJN, Dec. 1, 2016

The Mutating Virus: Understanding Antisemitism: Rabbi Sacks, rabbisacks.org, Sept. 27, 2016




Victor Davis Hanson

                   National Review, Dec. 1, 2016


The mix of politics and culture is far too complex to be predictable. Even the best-laid political plans can lead to unintended consequences, both good and bad — what we sometimes call irony, nemesis, or karma. Take the election of 2008, which ushered Barack Obama and the Democrats into absolute control of the presidency, House, and Senate, also generating popular goodwill over Obama’s landmark candidacy.


Instead of ensuring a heralded generation of Democratic rule, Obama alienated both friends and foes almost immediately. He rammed through the unworkable Affordable Care Act without a single Republican vote. He prevaricated about Obamacare’s costs and savings. Huge budget deficits followed. Racial polarization ensued. Apologies abroad on behalf of America proved a national turnoff.


By the final pushback of 2016, the Obama administration had proven to be a rare gift to the Republican party. The GOP now controls the presidency, Congress, governorships, and state legislatures to a degree not seen since the 1920s. “Hope and change” ebullition in 2008 brought the Republicans salvation — and the Democrats countless disasters. The Republican establishment hated Donald Trump. So did the conservative media. His unorthodox positions on trade, immigration, and entitlements alienated many. His vulgarity turned off even more. Pundits warned that he had brought civil war and ruin to the Republican party.


But instead of ruin, Trump delivered to the Republicans their most astounding political edge in nearly a century. The candidate who was most despised by the party unified it in a way no other nominee could have. Obama proved Israel’s best friend — even though that was never his intention. By simultaneously alienating Israel and the Sunni moderates in Jordan and Egypt, and by warming up to the Muslim Brotherhood, appeasing Iran, and issuing empty red lines to the Assad regime in Syria, Obama infuriated but also united the entire so-called moderate Middle East.


The result was that Arab nations suddenly no longer saw Israel as an existential threat. Instead, it was seen as similarly shunned by the U.S. — and as the only military power capable of standing up to the soon-to-be-nuclear theocracy in Iran that hates Sunni Arabs and Israelis alike. Today, Israel is in the historic position of being courted by its former enemies, as foreign fuel importers line up to buy its huge, newly discovered deposits of natural gas. As the Arab Spring and the Islamic State destroyed neighboring nations, Israel’s democracy and free market appeared as an even stronger beacon in the storm. Almost every major initiative that Obama pushed has largely failed. Obamacare is a mess. He nearly doubled the national debt in eight years. Economic growth is at its slowest in decades. The reset with Russia, the Asian pivot, abruptly leaving Iraq, discounting the Islamic State, red lines in Syria, the Iran deal — all proved foreign-policy disasters.


Yet Obama has been quiet about one of the greatest economic revolutions in American history, one that has kept the U.S. economy afloat: a radical transformation from crippling energy dependency to veritable fossil-fuel independence. The United States has become the world’s greatest combined producer of coal, natural gas, and oil. It is poised to be an energy exporter to much of the world. The revolution in fracking and horizontal drilling has brought in much-needed federal revenue, increased jobs, weakened Russia and our OPEC rivals, and given trillions of dollars in fuel savings to American consumers. Yet Obama opposed the energy revolution at every step. He radically curtailed the leasing of federal lands for new drilling, stopped the Keystone XL pipeline, and subsidized inefficient and often crony-capitalist wind and solar projects. Nonetheless, Obama’s eventual failure to stop new drilling ended up his one success.


Hillary Clinton, in her presidential bid, did everything by the playbook — and therefore her campaign went catastrophically wrong. Her campaign raised more than $1 billion. She ran far more ads than did Trump. She won over the sycophantic press. She got all the celebrity endorsements. She united the Democratic party. Logically, Clinton should have won. The media worked hand in glove with her campaign. Her ground game and voter registration drives made Trump’s look pathetic. More Trump Administration ‘Clever Fox’ Mattis Keith Ellison’s Bad Week General Mattis Is a Great Man — and a Good One Yet all that money, press, and orthodoxy only confirmed suspicions that Clinton was a slick but wooden candidate. She became so scripted that even her Twitter feed was composed by a committee.


The more she followed her boring narrative, the more she made the amateur Trump seem authentic and energized in comparison. Doing everything right ended up for Hillary as doing everything wrong — and ensured the greatest upset in American political history. The ancient Greeks taught us that arrogance brings payback, that nothing is sure in a fickle universe, that none of us can be judged successful and happy until we die, and that moderation and humility alone protect us from own darker sides. In 2016, what could never have happened usually did.                  



Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld

Arutz Sheva, Nov. 28, 2016


In a worldwide anti-Semitism competition for Jews, Gilad Atzmon would probably represent Great Britain. The slurs published by this musician, an Israeli who says he has torn up his passport, are so major that even the Palestinian Electronic Intifada site has dissociated itself from his anti-Semitism. The analysis of his statements can thus serve as a paradigm for similar assessments of fallacious smears by Jewish anti-Semites.


The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism is an appropriate tool to analyze the publications of this serial defamer of Israel and the Jews. The definition needed the agreement of its 31 member countries — among them Great Britain. The IHRA definition says that it is anti-Semitic to accuse “the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.” The definition includes that it is anti-Semitic to “draw comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.” Atzmon derides the Holocaust and its survivors in an article titled “After all, I am a proper Zionist Jew…I am a Holocaust Survivor,” where he writes, “Yes, I am a survivor, for I have managed to survive all of the scary accounts of the Holocaust.” He adds: “I am also totally against Holocaust denial. I clearly resent those who deny the genocides taking place in the name of the Holocaust. Palestine is one example…”


Atzmon often also sets his sights on so-called Jewish “progressives.” These include the Jewish anti-Zionist left. He attacks, for instance, the American Max Blumenthal, who has repeatedly made comparisons between Israel and Nazis.  In an article titled “Goyim Must Obey,” Atzmon accuses the Jewish anti-Zionists of telling “Goyim and even Palestinians what they may or may not do and who they may or may not listen to” just like the world-controlling chosen people in the first place.  He adds “maybe telling Goyim of all ages and ranks what they "must" do is just part of being chosen – (I’m not chosen anymore so I can’t say)” he adds. This ensures that no one can mistake Atzmon’s anti-Semitism for “legitimate criticism of Israel under the assertion that “anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism.”


Atzmon’s views are classic anti-Semitism in line with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, whose veracity he defends. Atzmon even attacks Jews who completely disavow Judaism and Zionism. One is Shlomo Sand – an Israeli historian and self-described ex-Jew who wrote The Invention of the Jewish People. Another is Avigail Abarbanel – a former Israeli who is now a pro-Palestinian activist and writer for the anti-Israel site Mondoweiss, and a psychotherapist in Australia. According to Atzmon they are still infected with “kosher binary thinking” and continued attachment to Jewish tribalism, as well as an obsession with the Holocaust.


He also claims that Abarbanel refuses to be introspective enough to “look in the mirror and identify what is it about them (Jews) that evokes so much animosity in so many different times and in so many different places…something Bernard Lazare, an early Zionist did…” Lazare, who died more than hundred years ago, made many self-hating comments in his analysis of anti-Semitism.  The IHRA definition says that “making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions, is an example of anti-Semitism.”


Some of Atzmon’s remarks fall in this category of the IHRA definition when he asks: “Why are the Jews, a people who are obsessed with their own past, so afraid of other people, say ‘White’ people, being nostalgic for their own past?” He answers his own question with “The progressive Jew grasps that the working class are nostalgic for a pre-Jerusalem Dominated society; a time when American politics weren’t controlled by the likes of Saban, Soros, Goldman Sachs and other global capitalists who are isolated from production, manufacturing and farming.” Jewish conspiracy and Jewish power are a staple of Atzmon’s mendacious smears. He writes: “Jewish power is the power to silence criticism of Jewish power… and explicates further, “For people who live in the USA, Britain and France, Jewish Power is the medium through which our politics is taking place.”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]





LETTER FROM A FORGOTTEN JEW                                                                    

David Harris                                                                           

Huffington Post, Nov. 29, 2016


I am a forgotten Jew. My roots are nearly 2,600 years old, my ancestors made landmark contributions to world civilization, and my presence was felt from North Africa to the Fertile Crescent — but I barely exist today. You see, I am a Jew from the Arab world. No, that’s not entirely accurate. I’ve fallen into a semantic trap. I predated the Arab conquest in just about every country in which I lived. When Arab invaders conquered North Africa, for example, I had already been present there for more than six centuries.


Today, you cannot find a trace of me in most of this vast region. Try seeking me out in Iraq. Remember the Babylonian exile from ancient Judea, following the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE? Remember the vibrant Jewish community that emerged there and produced the Babylonian Talmud? Do you know that in the ninth century, under Muslim rule, we Jews in Iraq were forced to wear a distinctive yellow patch on our clothing — a precursor of the infamous Nazi yellow badge — and faced other discriminatory measures? Or that in the eleventh and fourteenth centuries, we faced onerous taxes, the destruction of several synagogues, and severe repression?


And I wonder if you have ever heard of the Farhud, the breakdown of law and order, in Baghdad in June 1941. As an AJC specialist, George Gruen, reported: “In a spasm of uncontrolled violence, between 170 and 180 Jews were killed, more than 900 were wounded, and 14,500 Jews sustained material losses through the looting or destruction of their stores and homes. Although the government eventually restored order… Jews were squeezed out of government employment, limited in schools, and subjected to imprisonment, heavy fines, or sequestration of their property on the flimsiest of charges of being connected to either or both of the two banned movements. Indeed, Communism and Zionism were frequently equated in the statutes. In Iraq the mere receipt of a letter from a Jew in Palestine [pre-1948] was sufficient to bring about arrest and loss of property.”


At our peak, we were 135,000 Jews in 1948, and we were a vitally important factor in virtually every aspect of Iraqi society. To illustrate our role, here is what the Encyclopedia Judaica wrote about Iraqi Jewry: “During the 20th century, Jewish intellectuals, authors, and poets made an important contribution to the Arabic language and literature by writing books and numerous essays.” By 1950 other Iraqi Jews and I were faced with the revocation of citizenship, seizure of assets, and, most ominously, public hangings. A year earlier, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Sa’id had told the British ambassador in Amman of a plan to expel the entire Jewish community and place us at Jordan’s doorstep. The ambassador later recounted the episode in a memoir entitled From the Wings: Amman Memoirs, 1947-1951.


Miraculously, in 1951 about 100,000 of us got out, thanks to the extraordinary help of Israel, but with little more than the clothes on our backs. The Israelis dubbed the rescue Operation Ezra and Nehemiah. Those of us who stayed lived in perpetual fear — fear of violence and more public hangings, as occurred on January 27, 1969, when nine Jews were hanged in the center of Baghdad on trumped-up charges, while hundreds of thousands of Iraqis wildly cheered the executions. The rest of us got out one way or another, including friends of mine who found safety in Iran when it was ruled by the Shah.


Now there are no Jews left to speak of, nor are there monuments, museums, or other reminders of our presence on Iraqi soil for twenty-six centuries. Do the textbooks used in Iraqi schools today refer to our one-time presence, to our positive contribution to the evolution of Iraqi society and culture? Not a chance. 2,600 years are erased, wiped out, as if they never happened. Can you put yourself in my shoes and feel the excruciating pain of loss and invisibility?…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]





FLORENCE TO SAVE CENTURIES OF JEWISH HISTORY                                                  

Rossella Tercatin                                                                                                                        

Times of Israel, Nov. 30, 2016


On the morning of Friday, November 4, 1966, 18-year-old Andrea Belgrado was fast asleep in his family’s home across the street from the Great Synagogue of Florence. It was the Italian national holiday marking the World War I armistice, and like most teenagers, Belgrado was taking advantage of the occasion to sleep in.


But his dreams came to an abrupt end when his father — Fernando Belgrado, the chief rabbi of Florence — woke him up and rushed him to the synagogue. Rumors were flying that the Arno River had flooded its banks and its waters had started to cover the city. “In the beginning, nothing seemed out of the ordinary, but suddenly the manhole in front of the synagogue burst open and started to spew liters and liters of water. At that point we understood that the situation was serious,” Andrea Belgrado recalls in a phone conversation with The Times of Israel.


Together with a couple of other people, Belgrado and his father began to remove some of the Torah scrolls from the ark and carry them to the women’s section upstairs. “However the water level continued rising, coming from the main entrance as well as from the back of the synagogue. When it reached our thighs, my father stopped us, reminding us that the Jewish tradition values nothing greater than human life. Therefore, we left to get out of harm’s way,” Belgrado says. It was the beginning of the flood that marked Florence’s worst natural catastrophe in modern times, turning the city into what the Italian national press agency described as “a boundless lake immersed in darkness.”


In some neighborhoods, the water reached up to five meters (16 feet) high — and almost two meters (six feet) in the synagogue — covering houses and stores. The flood water savaged monuments and artistic sites renowned the world over, such as the Uffizi Gallery, Ponte Vecchio and the Basilica di Santa Croce, dragging along with it cars, bicycles and all kind of debris. Over 30 people lost their lives, thousands their homes, tens of thousands were left without electricity, gas, running water. And a million books were devastated, including 15,000 Jewish books and manuscripts located in the Jewish community library and archives, along with 90 Torah scrolls that were kept in the several holy arks in the synagogue building.


To mark the 50th anniversary of the Arno Flood, some of these books, together with Judaica objects, are featured in the exhibit “And the Waters Subsided” (named for the verse in Genesis 8:1 describing the aftermath of the biblical Noah’s flood). The exhibit was launched at the end of October at the National Library of Florence, and will run until January 27, 2017. “I remember walking from my house to the synagogue on Shabbat morning. I can still feel the silence of that day, the deep silence, and the dark, with everything covered in black mud,” recalls Umberto Di Gioacchino, who was 25 years old and worked as the secretary of the local Jewish school at the time of the flood.


During the night between Friday and Saturday, the waters had in fact receded, leaving behind a thick layer of mud mixed with sewage and diesel oil leaked from damaged boilers and heating systems. By this time, the citizens of Florence had started to react, helped by thousands of young people who flocked to Tuscany from all over Italy and the world to assist the population in need and save the unique artistic heritage of the area. They were the so called “mud angels,” as journalist Giovanni Grazzini described them in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.


Among them were also many Jews who wanted to help the Jewish community of Florence recover and preserve the treasure trove of books, scrolls and artifacts accumulated over the centuries through donations and bequests. “I went to Florence with a group of friends from the Jewish Youth Center in Milan. We had graduated high school a few months before, and we felt it was important to give our contribution. The moment we got there, they gave us blotting paper to insert between the pages of the books. There were thousands of them, all taken out on the tables in the attempt to have them dry. It was a deeply saddening view,” recalls Cecilia Nizza from Milan.


The sight of the devastation wrought in the synagogue would soon bring about even more tragic consequences. A contingent of young men from the Jewish community of Rome had also come to Florence. Among them was Luciano Camerino, a Holocaust survivor — one of just 16 who made it back alive after the infamous October 16, 1943 Nazi raid on the Rome ghetto. When he saw the shocking situation in the synagogue, Camerino suffered a heart attack and died that night in the hospital at the age of 40.


As the volunteers worked hard to clean the synagogue of the pervading mud, the dozens of parchment Torah scrolls were unrolled and spread out to dry. They were later transported to the Great Synagogue in Rome to be hung out in a cleaner, less-humid environment. Almost all of the scrolls were eventually deemed too severely damaged to be saved, and in September 1987 they were buried in the Jewish cemetery of Rifredi in Florence, according to the Jewish tradition for damaged holy texts. Only three of the Torahs were kept and restored — albeit not for ritual use — and are now part of the exhibition…                                                       

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]        



CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!


On Topic Links


A View from Iraq & Syria (Prof. Frederick Krantz & Lt. Col. Sargis Sangari discuss the issues facing Middle East Christians): The Hagmann Report, Dec. 1, 2016—Prof. Frederick Krantz (CIJR) & Lt. Col. Sargis Sangari (Near East Center For Strategic Management) discuss the issues facing Middle East Christians on The Hagmann Report radio program.

Obama Administration Turns Palestinian-American Terrorist Into Victim: Stephen Flatlow, Algemeiner, Dec. 1, 2016—After years of silence, the Obama administration has finally spoken out about an American citizen who was killed in Israel. There’s just one catch: The focus of the administration’s sudden concern is not for an American who was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist. Its focus is a Palestinian-American terrorist who tried to murder Israelis.

Ryerson Students Stage Walkout Over Holocaust Education Motion : Jodie Shupac, CJN, Dec. 1, 2016—Jewish groups allege that naked anti-Semitism was behind what they say was a walkout at a Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) meeting staged by Muslim and pro-Palestinian students that stymied a motion to commemorate Holocaust Education Week.

The Mutating Virus: Understanding Antisemitism: Rabbi Sacks, rabbisacks.org, Sept. 27, 2016—Transcript of a speech by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks at “The Future of the Jewish Communities in Europe” Conference at The European Parliament on 27th September 2016 in Brussels.






We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication.


Remembering a Giant of Jewish Scholarship: Prof. Frederick Krantz, CIJR, June 10, 2015— As the old adage has it, deaths come in threes, something sadly borne out recently in the world of Jewish historical scholarship and Israel-related political advocacy.

Could World War II Have Ended Sooner Than It Did?: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, June 11, 2015 — Seventy-one years ago, the British, Canadians, and Americans landed on the Normandy beaches to open a second ground front against Nazi Germany.

When a Piece of Paper Meant Life or Death: Rafael Medoff, Algemeiner, June 4, 2015 — “It is a fantastic commentary on the inhumanity of our times,” journalist Dorothy Thompson wrote at the height of the 1930s European Jewish refugee crisis, “that for thousands and thousands of people a piece of paper with a stamp on it is the difference between life and death.”

Why Don’t Our Children Learn About the ‘Farhud’?: Edy Cohen, Jerusalem Post, June 1, 2015 — The outbreak of mob violence against Baghdad Jewry known as the Farhud, or “violent dispossession,” broke out on June 1, 1941.


On Topic Links


A Passionate Defender of the Jewish People: Manfred Gerstenfeld, CIJR, May 22, 2015

Giuliani vs. Lew and Caroline Glick vs. Everyone Else: A Quick Look at the Jpost Conference: Jerusalem Post, June 9, 2015

Spain Passes Law of Return for Sephardic Jews: Times of Israel, June 11, 2015

The Miraculous Story of the Jews of Zakynthos: Leora Goldberg, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 13, 2009




REMEMBERING A GIANT OF JEWISH SCHOLARSHIP                                                                           

Prof. Frederick Krantz                                                                                                  

CIJR, June 10, 2015


As the old adage has it, deaths come in threes, something sadly borne out recently in the world of Jewish historical scholarship and Israel-related political advocacy. First came the passing of the remarkable Israel scholar Barry Rubin, then of the superb Churchill biographer, Holocaust authority, and historian of Israel Martin Gilbert, and now, suddenly, of our time's greatest student of the nature and history of antisemitism, Robert Wistrich.


I was away at sea recently and initially unaware that Robert, author of the recent, magisterial The Lethal Obsession: Antisemitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad (2010), had suddenly been taken from us at the today relatively young age of 70.  He was in Rome, where he was about to address the Italian Senate on the growing dangers of an Israel-centered and Islamist-influenced global antisemitism.


Head of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism, he was descended from a Polish-Jewish family, born in Kazakhstan in 1945, raised in London and educated at Cambridge and the University of London, where he took his doctorate.


He worked initially at the Institute for Contemporary History and the Wiener Library, with Walter Laqueur, and received tenure at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1982. A scholarly polymath, Robert published a large number of books and articles on a vast range of subjects, from modern Austrian- and German-Jewish history and politics, Leon Trotsky, and Theodor Herzl, to socialism and the Jews, and key studies on the Nazis and Nazism.


His work on antisemitism blossomed into the path-breaking The Longest Hatred (1994), which  tracked antisemitism from its beginnings in pre-Christian Greek and Roman times through early and medieval Christianity, and down into the early modern and modern periods and of course, the Holocaust, with final chapters on the post-1945 and contemporary periods, and the impact of Israel. He was also instrumental in transforming the book into a powerful nine-hour British-American television documentary of the same name, which was shown first on the BBC and then across Europe, including Germany, and North America (PBS), extending the impact of his work to an audience of millions.


Robert also played a key role on the International Catholic-Jewish Historical Commission, set up from 1999-2001 by the Vatican to examine documents pertaining to the problem of Pope Pius XII’s relation to the Holocaust, generally and in Italy. And he supported withdrawing from the project when complete access to the existing documentation was not provided by the Church.


I knew Robert Wistrich for over a quarter of a century, and was honored by his presence at a number of CIJR conferences, not least the major International Conference on the New Global Antisemitism I organized here in Montreal, held jointly with Federation-CJA in 2004. There Robert─with Natan Sharansky and in the company of superb students of Jewish history and antisemitism like Alvin Rosenfeld, Ruth Wisse, and Bat Ye'or, among others─delivered an incisive portrait of contemporary Israel-centered antisemitism and its new Arab-world Islamic component. His remarks─in the guise of a Keynote address─were also a powerful and eloquent call to arms, to devote all our energies to opposing the new antisemitism.


Robert was one of the giants in this crucial area of study, whose remarkable oeuvre justifies placing him in the pantheon of the truly great scholars, from Jules Isaac, Marcel Simon, and Leon Poliakov, to Jacob Katz, Haim Ben-Sasson, and Louis Feldman. He understood that his was a field, and a historical reality, which was still, unfortunately, very much alive, one paradoxically re-energized by the very Zionist success of a miraculously reborn democratic Jewish Israel. And he saw his intellectual and scholarly work, including the strenuous series of talks and lectures he delivered to major  events and audiences around the world, as a key part of the unending effort not only to keep alive the memory of antisemitism's victims, but also to rally all people of good will to defeat a resurgent movement seeking first to delegitimize, and then to destroy, the sovereign Jewish state.


 Robert concluded his remarks at the 2004 International Conference in Montreal by citing how traditional themes of antisemitism and Judeophobia today are feeding into an Islamist-inspired apocalyptic contemporary antisemitism, which asserts─ reflecting the revival of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion─ that aggressive and bloodthirsty Jews, now reinforced by the state of Israel, "are at the root of so many of the crises of the world, such that sixty per cent of Europeans say Israel is a great danger to world peace". And, given that "it is unlikely that this situation will improve a great deal on its own", fighting it will "depend on the ability of the Jewish people to mobilize all of its resources, and that includes obviously all of its cultural and intellectual and moral, as well as its political and financial, resources" in order to counter-act the new antisemitic offensive.


Citing the Biblical story of Purim, Robert concluded by noting that, "based on our tradition and our heritage, it is possible even in the most adverse circumstances for the Jews to triumph over their enemies, by determined action, by political action, and by the conviction that they have no other choice. Purim is a reminder to us of what we are obligated to do, and of what we are able to do. We can turn the tide". May his memory, and his example, be a blessing to us all.





COULD WORLD WAR II HAVE ENDED SOONER THAN IT DID?                                                                       

Victor Davis Hanson    

National Review, June 11, 2015


Seventy-one years ago, the British, Canadians, and Americans landed on the Normandy beaches to open a second ground front against Nazi Germany. Operation Overlord — the Allied invasion of Western Europe — proved the largest amphibious operation in military history, dwarfing even Xerxes’s Persian invasion of Greece in 480 B.C. Brilliant planning, overwhelming naval support, air superiority, and high morale ensured the successful landing of 160,000 troops on the first day — at a cost of about 4,000 dead.


Three weeks after the June 6 landings, nearly a million Allied soldiers were ashore, heading eastward through France. Hitler’s once-formidable Third Reich seemed on the verge of collapse. On the Eastern Front, the German army was imploding under the weight of 5 million advancing infantrymen of Russia’s Red Army. At the same time, Allied four-engine bombers, with superb long-range fighter escorts, at last were beginning to destroy German transportation and fuel infrastructure.


Yet Hitler held off for another eleven bloody months. Why? What followed the D-Day landings was as confused as the initial assault was superbly carried out. Planners had underestimated the impassable terrain of the French boscage — dense thickets planted along huge earthen berms — just miles beyond the American-sector beaches. It would take most of June and early July for the stalled Americans to cut through the nearly impassable, well-defended hedgerows. The stalled Allied armies had given time for the arrival of crack German Panzer reinforcements to bottle up the invaders. Finally, the Allies broke out with the help of massive carpet-bombing of German positions some six weeks after D-Day.


Unfortunately, the command structure of the Allied invasion force was topsy-turvy. The swashbuckling U.S. general George S. Patton — in the doghouse for the slapping of ill GIs a year earlier during the Sicily campaign — came to Normandy late. His superb Third Army was relegated to a supporting role and assigned the longest route into Germany. In contrast, the professional (but slow and methodical) General Bernard Montgomery won the pivotal position in the north to break through to the Ruhr on the shortest path into the Third Reich.


Meanwhile, U.S. general Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of the Allied Forces, and his subordinates, generals Omar Bradley and Courtney Hodges, were reconciled to a slow, incremental slog through France along a broad front. Patton, however, would have none of it. By early August, the Third Army was unleashed and off to the races — in a series of brilliant armored outflanking movements that encircled and bypassed stunned German divisions. Taking great risks, the mercurial Patton outsourced the protection of his flanks to the U.S. Air Force. Patton plowed ahead, seeking to stun, bewilder, and collapse German resistance.


It almost worked. The Third Army “rolled” with Patton right through France to near the largely unguarded German border. An exuberant American media dreamed that the war in the West might be over by autumn 1944. Hundreds of thousands of trapped Germans either surrendered or were killed by Allied pincers. British and American fighters blanketed the skies above nearly 2 million Allied soldiers, most of them motorized and protected by thousands of tanks and artillery pieces.

But then the wondrous American August came abruptly to an end. Allied planners had never found a way to recapture intact the key French ports on the Atlantic Coast from besieged German defenders. The farther Patton and other Allied armies advanced from the beaches, almost 400 miles away, the longer their supply lines grew — and the easier it became for the enemy to support its own retreating forces. Shorter late-summer days, inclement weather, mounting casualties, supply shortages, and the need to help liberate occupied France all slowed down the once-rapid American advance.


The farther Patton and other Allied armies advanced from the beaches, the longer their supply lines grew — and the easier it became for the enemy to support its own retreating forces. In an unwise move, Eisenhower in early September had diverted gasoline and ammunition from the American sector to Montgomery’s theater. Montgomery, in a risky gambit, planned to leapfrog across the Rhine from Holland into the German Ruhr Valley, hoping to paralyze Germany’s industrial heartland and end the war outright. The result, however, was the disastrous Operation Market Garden, or “A Bridge Too Far, catastrophe.


Meanwhile, Patton’s advance sputtered by early September and ran out of gas. The Third Army, like other American forces, prepared for a mostly static war near the German border for the next six months. The American nightmares of fighting in the Hürtgen Forest and the Battle of the Bulge lay ahead, as the war eventually turned into a World War I-style bloodbath until March 1945. The stalled Allies would lose more casualties from autumn 1944 to the end of the war than they had in the rapid advance from Normandy to the German border. But for a brief moment in August 1944, everything seemed possible, as the American military had never experienced a breakthrough quite like George Patton’s roll through German-occupied France 71 years ago this summer.





WHEN A PIECE OF PAPER MEANT LIFE OR DEATH                                                                             

Rafael Medoff                         

Algemeiner, June 4, 2015


“It is a fantastic commentary on the inhumanity of our times,” journalist Dorothy Thompson wrote at the height of the 1930s European Jewish refugee crisis, “that for thousands and thousands of people a piece of paper with a stamp on it is the difference between life and death.” Seventy-five years ago this month, president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s newly appointed assistant secretary of state sent his colleagues a memo outlining a strategy to “postpone and postpone and postpone” the granting of that “piece of paper” to refugees. Breckinridge Long’s chilling memo, more than any other single document, has come to symbolize the abandonment of the Jews during the Holocaust.


Long, a personal friend of Roosevelt’s and a major donor to his first presidential campaign, was rewarded with the post of U.S. ambassador to Italy. Long’s dispatches to Washington from Rome in the early and mid 1930s praised the Mussolini regime for its “well-paved” streets, “dapper” black-shirted stormtroopers, and “punctual trains.” Eleanor Roosevelt once remarked to the president about Long, “Franklin, you know he’s a fascist”—to which an angry FDR replied, “I’ve told you, Eleanor, you must not say that.”


In early 1940, Roosevelt promoted Long to the position of assistant secretary of state, putting him in charge of 23 of the State Department’s 42 divisions, including the visa section. Long joined a department that was well-schooled in suppressing immigration. From 1933-38—the first five years the Nazis were in power—the Roosevelt administration had gone out of its way to restrict Jewish immigration from Germany to levels far lower than what the law allowed. By adding extra requirements and layers of bureaucracy, the German quota of 25,957 was only 5 percent filled in 1933, and 14 percent filled in 1934. The only year that Roosevelt permitted the German quota to be filled was 1938-39, and only then because of tremendous international pressure, following the German annexation of Austria and the Kristallnacht pogrom.


By the time Long assumed his post at the State Department in early 1940, the old practice of actively suppressing immigration below the quota had returned. In addition to the administration’s general hostility toward immigration—especially Jewish immigration—there was now the added fear of Nazi spies reaching the U.S.


The quick collapse of France in the spring of 1940 triggered a wave of alarm in the U.S. about German “fifth columnists” undermining the U.S. from within. The press was filled with wild stories about Hitler planning to send “slave spies” to America. Attorney General Robert Jackson complained to the cabinet about “the hysteria that is sweeping the country against aliens and fifth columnists.” But FDR himself was fanning the flames. In a series of remarks in May and June, he publicly warned about what he called “the treacherous use of the ‘fifth column’ by persons supposed to be peaceful visitors [but] actually a part of an enemy unit of occupation.” The notion that German spies would reach America disguised as refugees was baseless. There was only one instance in which a Nazi successfully posed as a Jewish refugee in order to reach the Western hemisphere—and he was captured in Cuba and executed.


On June 26, 1940, assistant secretary Long composed a memo explaining to his colleagues how to keep out the Jews. “We can delay and effectively stop for a temporary period of indefinite length the number of immigrants into the United States,” he wrote. “We could do this by simply advising our consuls to put every obstacle in the way and to require additional evidence and to resort to various administrative devices which would postpone and postpone and postpone the granting of the visas.” Long’s plan was to use the “postpone and postpone” method as a temporary measure, until a way could be devised to make it permanent. And that’s exactly what happened.


Three days after Long’s memo, the State Department ordered U.S. consuls abroad to reject applications from anyone about whom they had “any doubt whatsoever.” The new instruction specifically noted that this policy would result in “a drastic reduction in the number of quota and non-quota immigration visas issued.” It worked as intended. In the year to follow, immigration from Germany and Austria was kept to just 47 percent of the quota, and the following year it was held to under 18 percent.


Then, in June 1941, the Roosevelt administration adopted a harsh new policy, known as the Close Relatives Edict. It barred the entry of anyone who had close relatives in German-occupied territory, on the grounds that the Nazis might hold those relatives hostage in order to force the immigrant to become a spy for Hitler. No such cases were ever discovered, but in the meantime, countless Jews with relatives in Europe were automatically declared ineligible for immigration to America. Another “piece of paper” helped trap millions of Jews in Hitler’s Europe.





WHY DON’T OUR CHILDREN LEARN ABOUT THE ‘FARHUD’?                                                                     

Edy Cohen

Jerusalem Post, June 1, 2015


The outbreak of mob violence against Baghdad Jewry known as the Farhud, or “violent dispossession,” broke out on June 1, 1941. During the two days of violence, rioters killed 180 Jews, wounded 600 others and raped an undetermined number of women. They also looted some 1,500 stores and homes. The Farhud was the beginning of what became a broad Nazi-Arab alliance in the Holocaust. The Farhud was both Nazi-inspired and encouraged by a prominent Arab leader, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who escaped from the British in Palestine and arrived in Iraq in October 1939.


While everyone is familiar with the Palestinian Nakba, few in Israel are aware of the tragic history of the Farhud or the fate of the Jews from Arab countries who were chased from their homes, leaving all their property and possessions behind. This, even though these Jews and their descendants constitute over 55 percent of Jewish Israeli citizens today.


Approximately 900,000 Jews left their homes in Arab countries between the years 1948-1970. Some of them came to Israel while others immigrated to other countries. Many were forced to leave behind property of great value – property that was sometimes seized by the governments of the countries they fled.


Unfortunately nothing is taught by the Education Ministry about the pogroms suffered by the Jews in Arab countries, or of their rich and unique culture. Pupils are not exposed to the Farhud riots. They are not taught about the riots in Egypt and Libya in which hundreds of marauding Muslims desecrated, burned and destroyed synagogues in November 1945. Hundreds of Jews were killed just because they were Jews.


The tragedy of these Jews has been downplayed and almost unheard of for many years. No one talks about the suffering of these refugees who were ousted from these Arab countries. No one speaks of the tremendous amount of Jewish property and wealth that was left behind. No one mentions the hundreds of synagogues or holy places, the numerous cemeteries or the communal property that was confiscated by the Arab governments, mainly by the Iraqi and Egyptian governments.


There is a need to create a national committee to investigate the following subjects: the value of the property the Jews left behind; a documented list of personal and communal property of Jews in each country; the integration of the rich culture and legends of these Jews in the programs of the Education Ministry; the creation of a Jewish Cultural Center for Jews from the Arab countries; preservation of synagogues that remain in Arab hands; keeping watch over the holy places and shrines of the righteous and rabbis in these countries; and the restoration and prevention of the destruction of cemeteries in these countries.


The question remains: why has Israel not demanded compensation for the Jewish properties left behind or stolen in Arab countries? Israel did little to break the silence about the dire circumstances of the Jewish exodus from Arab countries. Last year State Comptroller Joseph Shapira issued a scathing report on the state’s failure to take action toward the restoration of property that was lost when hundreds of thousands of Jews living in Iran and the Arab states came to Israel in the years after Independence in 1948.


In his report Shapira wrote: “Israel is dealing with the issue lackadaisically, not paying it sufficient attention. It has not set any policy or budget, nor has it allocated resources toward researching and documenting the assets or collecting information about the rights of the Jews who came from those countries.” Shapira described the situation as “bleak,” a “fiasco” that could be “a perpetual tragedy.”


I urge the Knesset and the Israeli government to create a National Restoration Committee for Jews from Arab countries whose property was stolen. I also urge Education Minister Naftali Bennett to introduce more elements of Mizrahi Jewish culture into the education system. Our children must learn the culture of their grandfathers.


CIJR Wishes All Our Friends and Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!





On Topic


A Passionate Defender of the Jewish People: Manfred Gerstenfeld, CIJR, May 22, 2015 —Professor Robert Wistrich was the leading historian of anti-Semitism, and published important books in other fields of history as well.

Giuliani vs. Lew and Caroline Glick vs. Everyone Else: A Quick Look at the Jpost Conference: Jerusalem Post, June 9, 2015

Spain Passes Law of Return for Sephardic Jews: Times of Israel, June 11, 2015—Spain’s lower house gave final approval to a law offering citizenship to descendants of Sephardic Jews Thursday.

The Miraculous Story of the Jews of Zakynthos: Leora Goldberg, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 13, 2009—I needed a break at the end of a long and exhausting semester. My family was off to the southern end of the Balkan Peninsula, to an unknown island in Greece.





The resurgence of Hebrew literature in America and the Jewish refugees from Arab lands.


Denouncing Tehran as the biggest threat to global security, Canada has closed its embassy in Iran and will expel all remaining Iranian diplomats in Canada within five days Foreign Minister John Baird, cited Iran's nuclear program, its hostility towards Israel and Iranian military assistance to the government of President Bashar Assad Syria…
"Canada views the government of Iran as the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today," said Baird, accusing Iran of showing blatant disregard for the safety of foreign diplomats.  "Under the circumstances, Canada can no longer maintain a diplomatic presence in Iran … Diplomatic relations between Canada and Iran have been suspended," he said.

In response, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed Canada's decision to expel the Iranian ambassador from Ottawa and to close the Canadian embassy in Tehran,  "I congratulate Canada's PM [Stephen] Harper for showing leadership and making a bold move that sends a clear message to Iran and the world. The determination shown by Canada is of great importance in order for the Iranians to understand that they cannot go on with their race toward nuclear arms. This practical step must set an example of international morality and responsibility to the international community,"

Cynthia Ozick
The New Republic,  June 7, 2012
On December 17, 2007, on the storied stage of the Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y in New York, the Hebrew language—its essence, its structure, its metaphysic— entered American discourse in so urgent a manner as to renew, if not to inflame, an ancient argument. The occasion was a public conversation between Marilynne Robinson and Robert Alter: a not uncommon match of novelist with literary scholar. In this instance, though, the scholar is an English Department anomaly: not only a master of the Anglo-American corpus, but a profoundly engaged Hebraist and Bible translator and expositor, whose newly published volume of Englished psalms is the evening’s subject.

The novelist, too, is exceptional among her contemporaries—a writer of religious inclination, open to history and wit, yet not dogged by piety, if piety implies an unthinking mechanics of belief. Robinson may rightly be termed a Protestant novelist, in a way we might hesitate to characterize even the consciously Protestant Updike. Certainly it is impossible to conceive of any other American writer of fiction who could be drawn, as Robinson has been drawn, to an illuminating reconsideration of Calvinism.
Protestant and Jew, writer and translator: such a juxtaposition is already an argument. The expectation of one may not be the expectation of the other. The novelist’s intuition for the sacred differs from the translator’s interrogation of the sacred. And beyond this disparity stands the inveterate perplexity, for English speakers, of the seventeenth century biblical sonorities of the King James Version (KJV): can they, should they, be cast out as superannuated? The question is not so much whether the KJV can be surpassed as whether it can be escaped.

From that very platform where Robinson and Alter sit amiably contending, a procession of the great modernists of the twentieth century (among them Eliot and Auden and Marianne Moore and Dylan Thomas) once sent out their indelible voices—voices inexorably reflecting the pulsings and locutions that are the KJV’s venerable legacy to poets. And not only to poets: everyone for whom English is a mother tongue is indebted to the idiom and cadences of the KJV. For Americans, they are the Bible, and the Bible, even now, remains a commanding thread in the American language.
It is that thread, or call it a bright ribbon of feeling, that animates Robinson as she confronts Alter’s rendering of Psalm 30, marveling at its “sacred quality of being,” and at the Psalmist’s “I, this amazing universal human singular who integrates experience and interprets it profoundly.” Any translation, she concludes, “is always another testimony.” Here the novelist invokes exaltation in phrases that are themselves exalting, as if dazzled by a vast inner light washing out both the visual and the tactile: hence “testimony,” an ecstatic internal urge. But Alter responds with an illustration that hints at dissent.

The KJV, he points out, has “I will extol thee, O Lord; for thou hast lifted me up,” while for “lifted me up” Alter chooses, instead, “drew me up.” The Hebrew word dolah, he explains, refers to drawing water from a well; the image is of a bottomless crevasse in the earth, fearfully identified in a later verse as “the Pit.” Rather than turning inward, the translator uncovers sacral presence in the concrete meaning of the Hebrew, so that the metaphor of the well instantly seizes on weight and depth and muscle. Which approach is truer, which more authentic?
This, then, is the marrow—the unacknowledged pit—of the argument. And it becomes explicit only moments afterward, in Robinson’s beautiful recitation of Alter’s translation of Psalm 8, followed by Alter’s reading of the Hebrew original. The contrast in sound is so arresting that Robinson is asked to comment on it. She hesitates: it is clear that to American ears the Hebrew guttural is as uncongenial as it is unfamiliar. Diffidently, courteously, she concedes, “I have no Hebrew.” “Well, I have,” says Alter.
And there it is, the awful cut exposed: the baleful question of birthright. The translator asserts his possession of the language of the Psalms: is this equal to a claim that he alone is their rightful heir? Perhaps yes; but also perhaps not. The novelist, meanwhile, has embraced and passionately internalized those selfsame verses, though in their English dress—then is she too not a genuine heir to their intimacies and majesties? Never mind that Alter, wryly qualifying, goes on to address the issue of vocal disparity: “And if anyone thinks that he is reproducing the sound of Hebrew in English, he is seriously deluded.” A translator’s gesture of humility—the two musical systems cannot be made to meet; it cannot be done. But this comes as an aside and a distraction. What continues to hang in the air is Alter’s emphatic declaration of ownership.
Hebrew in America has a bemusing past. The Puritans, out of scriptural piety, once dreamed of establishing Hebrew as the national language. Harvard and Yale in their early years required the study of Hebrew together with Latin and Greek; Yale even now retains its Hebrew motto. Divinity school Hebrew may be diminished, but it endures. And though the Hebrew Bible is embedded in the Old Testament, its native tongue is silenced. “We have no Hebrew,” admits biblically faithful America.

Then can Hebrew, however unheard, be said to be an integral American birthright? Was Alter, on that uneasy evening in New York, enacting a kind of triumphalism, or was he, instead, urging a deeper affinity? Deeper, because the well of Hebrew yields more than the transports of what we have come to call the “spiritual.” Send down a bucket, and up comes a manifold history—the history of a particular people, but also the history of the language itself. An old, old tongue, the enduring vehicle of study and scholarship, public liturgy and private prayer, geographically displaced and dispersed but never abandoned, never fallen into irretrievable disuse, continually renewed, and at the last restored to the utilitarian and the commonplace.

Hebrew as a contemporary language, especially for poetry, is no longer the language of the Bible; but neither is it not the language of the Bible. And despite translation’s heroic bridging, despite its every effort to narrow the idiomatic divide by disclosing the true names of things (the word itself, not merely the halo of the word), we may never see an America steeped in Hebrew melodies.
Yet once, for a little time, we did.

THERE WAS A PERIOD, in the first half of the twentieth century, when America—the land, its literature, its varied inhabitants and their histories—was sung in the Hebrew alphabet. Long epic poems on American Indians, the California Gold Rush, the predicament and religious expression of blacks in the American South, the farms and villages and churchgoers of New England, the landscape of Maine—these were the Whitmanesque explorations and celebrations of a rapturous cenacle of Hebrew poets who flourished from before World War I until the aftermath of World War II. But both “cenacle” and “flourished” must be severely qualified.

Strewn as they were among a handful of cities—New York, Cleveland, Boston, Baltimore, Chicago—they rarely met as an established group; and if they flourished, it was in driven pursuit of an elitist art sequestered in nearly hermetic obscurity. They were more a fever and a flowering than a movement: they issued neither pronouncements nor provocations. They had no unified credo. What they had was Hebrew—Hebrew for its own sake, Hebrew as a burning bush in the brain. Apart from those socio-historic narratives on purely American themes, they also wrote in a lyrical vein, or a metaphysical, or a romantic.

Though modernism was accelerating all around them, and had taken root through European influences in the burgeoning Hebrew poetry of Palestine/ Israel, the American Hebraists almost uniformly turned away from the staccato innovations of the modernists. They were, with one or two exceptions, classicists who repudiated make-it-new manifestos as a type of reductive barbarism. Rather than pare the language down, or compress it through imagism and other prosodic maneuvers, they sought to plumb its inexhaustible deeps. And when their hour of conflagration ebbed, it was not only because their readers were destined to be few. Hebrew had returned to its natural home in a Hebrew-speaking sovereign polity: a fulfillment that for the American Hebraists was, unwaveringly, the guiding nerve of their linguistic conviction.

Who, then, were these possessed and unheralded aristocrats, these priestly celebrants unencumbered by a congregation, these monarchs in want of a kingdom? Were they no more than a Diaspora chimera? In a revelatory work of scholarly grandeur that is in itself a hymn to Hebrew, Alan Mintz has revivified both the period and the poets. The capacious volume he calls Sanctuary in the Wilderness is history, biography, translation, criticism, and more—a “more” that is, after all, an evocation of regret. The regret is pervasive and tragic. Think not of some mute inglorious Milton, but of a living and achieving Milton set down in a society unable to decipher so much as a-b-c, and unaware of either the poet’s presence or his significance. Yet Mintz never condescends; with honorable diffidence, he repeatedly refers to this majestic study as merely introductory, an opening for others to come. (Top)

[This article has been shortened  in the interests of space.
For the full article please see the On Topic links below.]

Irwin Cotler
Jerusalem Post, Sept. 6, 2012
This November will mark the 65th anniversary of the UN Partition Resolution of November 29, 1947. It is sometimes forgotten – and often not even known – that this was the first-ever blueprint for an Israeli-Palestinian “two states for two peoples” solution. Regrettably, while Jewish leaders accepted the resolution, Arab and Palestinian leaders did not, and by their own acknowledgment, declared war on the nascent Jewish state while also targeting the Jewish nationals living in their respective countries.
Indeed, had the UN Partition Resolution been accepted, there would have been no 1948 Arab- Israeli war, no refugees, and none of the pain and suffering of these past 65 years. The annual November 29 UN-organized International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People might well have been a day commemorating a Middle East peace, and the establishment of both the State of Israel and the State of Palestine.
Yet the revisionist Middle East narrative – prejudicial to authentic reconciliation and peace between peoples as well as between states – continues to hold that there was only one victim population, Palestinian refugees, and that Israel was responsible for the Palestinian nakba (catastrophe) of 1948.
The result is that the pain and plight of 850,000 Jews uprooted and displaced from Arab countries – the forgotten exodus – has been both expunged and eclipsed from both the Middle East peace and justice narratives these past 65 years.
Indeed, the upcoming United Nations commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People – celebrated on the anniversary of the Partition Resolution – will likely ignore, yet again, the plight of Jewish refugees, thereby indulging and encouraging this Middle East revisionism.
Moreover, this revisionist narrative has not only eclipsed – and erased – the forgotten exodus from memory and remembrance, but it also denies that it was a forced exodus, and one that resulted from both double rejectionism and double aggression. This is the real nakba – the real double catastrophe.
Simply put, the Arab countries not only rejected a proposed Palestinian state and went to war to extinguish the nascent Jewish state, but also targeted the Jewish nationals living in their respective countries, thereby creating two refugee populations – the Palestinian refugee population resulting from the Arab war against Israel, and the Jewish refugees resulting from the Arab war against its own Jewish nationals.
Indeed, evidence contained in the report entitled “Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries: The Case for Rights And Redress” documents in detail the pattern of state-sanctioned repression and persecution in Arab countries – including Nuremberg-like laws – that targeted its Jewish populations, resulting in denationalization, forced expulsions, illegal sequestration of property, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and murder – namely, anti-Jewish pogroms.
And while the internal Jewish narrative has often referred to pogroms as European attacks on their Jewish nationals, it has often ignored Arab-Muslim attacks on their Jewish nationals. Moreover, as the report also documents, these massive human rights violations were not only the result of state-sanctioned patterns of oppression in each of the Arab countries, but they were reflective of a collusive blueprint, as embodied in the Draft Law of the Political Committee of the League of Arab States in 1947.
This is a story whose voices are only now being heard by many for the first time. It is a story whose painful testimony has been shared too often only among the victims themselves. It is a truth that must now be affirmed, acknowledged, and acted upon in the interests of justice and history.
Regrettably, the United Nations also bears express and continuing responsibility for this distorted Middle East and peace narrative.
Since 1948, there have been more than 150 UN resolutions that have specifically dealt with the Palestinian refugee plight. Yet, not one of these resolutions makes any reference to, nor is there any expression of concern for, the plight of the 850,000 Jews displaced from Arab countries. Nor have any of the Arab countries involved – or the Palestinian leadership involved – expressed any acknowledgment, let alone regret, for this pain and suffering, or for their respective responsibility for the pain and suffering.
How do we rectify this historical – and ongoing – injustice? What are the rights and remedies available under international human rights and humanitarian law? And what are the corresponding duties and obligations incumbent upon the United Nations, Arab countries, and members of the international community?…
It must be appreciated that while justice has long been delayed, it must no longer be denied. The time has come to rectify this historical injustice, and to restore the plight and truth of this forgotten – and forced – exodus of Jews from Arab countries to the Middle East narrative from which they have been expunged and eclipsed these 65 years.
…Remedies for victim refugee groups – including rights of remembrance, truth, justice and redress, as mandated under human rights and humanitarian law – must now be invoked for Jews displaced from Arab countries.
…In the manner of duties and responsibilities, each of the Arab countries – and the League of Arab States – must acknowledge their role and responsibility in their double aggression of launching an aggressive war against Israel and the perpetration of human rights violations against their respective Jewish nationals. The culture of impunity must end.
…The Arab League Peace Plan of 2002 should incorporate the question of Jewish refugees from Arab countries as part of its narrative for an Israeli- Arab peace, just as the Israeli narrative now incorporates the issue of Palestinian refugees in its vision of an Israeli-Arab peace.
…On the international level, the UN General Assembly – in the interests of justice and equity – should include reference to Jewish refugees as well as Palestinian refugees in its annual resolutions; the UN Human Rights Council should address, as it has yet to do, the issue of Jewish as well as Palestinian refugees; UN agencies dealing with compensatory efforts for Palestinian refugees should also address Jewish refugees from Arab countries.
…The annual November 29 commemoration by the United Nations of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People should be transformed into an International Day of Solidarity for a Two-State – Two-Peoples Solution, as the initial 1947 Partition Resolution intended, including solidarity with all refugees created by the Israeli-Arab conflict.
…Jurisdiction over Palestinian refugees should be transferred from UNRWA to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. There was no justification then – and still less today – for the establishment of a separate body to deal only with Palestinian refugees, particularly when that body has been itself compromised by its incitement to hatred and violence, as well as its revisionist teaching of the Middle East peace and justice narrative.
…Any bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations – which one hopes will presage a just and lasting peace – must include Jewish refugees as well as Palestinian refugees in an inclusive joinder of discussion.
…During any and all discussions on the Middle East by the Quartet and others, any explicit reference to Palestinian refugees should be paralleled by a reference to Jewish refugees from Arab countries.
Some governments have made welcome progress on this question, such as the US Congress in recently adopting legislation recognizing the plight of Jewish refugees and requiring that the issue be raised in any and all talks on Middle East peace. I have a motion before the Canadian Parliament in this regard which I hope will soon be adopted. Legislatures around the world should hold hearings on the issue to ensure public awareness and action, to allow for victims’ testimony, and to right the historical record – an effort in which I trust that Canada will be engaged this fall.
In sum, the exclusion and denial of rights and redress to Jewish refugees from Arab countries continues to prejudice authentic negotiations between the parties and a just and lasting peace between them. Let there be no mistake about it – as I have said before and will continue to affirm: Where there is no remembrance, there is no truth; where there is no truth, there will be no justice; where there is no justice, there will be no reconciliation; and where there is no reconciliation, there will be no peace – which we all seek.(Top)