Tag: Nakba


Anti-Semitism in Europe: Jerusalem Post, Jan. 5, 2016 — This week France will mark the first anniversary of a double terrorist attack that targeted the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and the Hyper Cacher, a kosher grocery store.

France: A Country, and Party, Shaken to its Core: Konrad Yakabuski, Globe & Mail, Dec. 31, 2015 — The French President’s traditional New Year’s Eve address to the country will be anything but festive this year.

The Real Danger: Dr. Ephraim Herrera, Israel Hayom, Jan. 5, 2016— British Prime Minister David Cameron recently wrote that "aspects of the Muslim Brotherhood's ideology and activities … run counter to British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, equality and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs."

Why the Jews Left their Arab Lands: David Bensoussan, Asia Times, Dec. 11, 2013 — There has been a Jewish presence in Arab-Muslim countries since well before Islam was introduced and it dates back to before the 6th century before the current era.


On Topic Links


European Anti-Semitism Likely to Grow in 2016: Sam Sokol, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 5, 2016

Should Israel Prefer French Socialists or the National Front?: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Arutz Sheva, Dec. 22, 2015

Year After Attack, France’s Jews Learn to Live Under Armed Guard: Benoît Fauchet, Times of Israel, Jan. 5, 2015

Paris’s Eerily Familiar 1930s Immigrant Problem: Daniel Pipes, National Post, Jan. 3, 2016



Jerusalem Post, Jan. 5, 2016


This week France will mark the first anniversary of a double terrorist attack that targeted the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and the Hyper Cacher, a kosher grocery store. Yet, while the two attacks took place within just two days and while the fanatics who carried out the respective massacres shared the same nihilistic Islamist ideology, responses in France and around the world to the two attacks have been strikingly different.


The assassination of editors, writers and artists of the satirical magazine awakened French pride in their robust freedom of speech – which includes the right to lampoon the sacred. However, precious little attention was paid to the dangers of Jew hatred fueling the wholesale murder of random shoppers whose only crime was being identified with Judaism.


In a special edition of the magazine marking the anniversary, editor-in-chief Gerard Biard made this point, noting that the murder of Jews simply because they are Jews has not been given the public attention it deserves. “We are so used to Jews being killed because they are Jewish,” Biard wrote, according to an AP report. “This is an error, and not just on a human level. Because it’s the executioner who decides who is Jewish.” Biard went on to say that the Paris terrorist attack of nearly two months ago on November 13 that left 130 dead was proof that “the executioner…had decided we were all Jewish.”


History has shown that, in times of crisis, Jews are often the first victims of discrimination or censure – or in extreme situations murderous violence. They are the canary in the coal mine that is uniquely susceptible to societal changes for the worse. But Jews are rarely the only victims. As a friend of Holocaust survivor and historian Victor Klemperer put it to him at a very dark time, the Jews have been both condemned and privileged to be “seismic people” – hyper sensitive to the vicissitudes of the human condition. This is the Jewish people’s lot, it can be no other way.


Numerous, often contradictory, justifications have been given over the ages. Religious Jews are hated for rejecting Christianity or adopting practices like kosher slaughter and circumcision. Secular Jews are accused, meanwhile, of being godless communists or purveyors of dangerous ideas. When Jews lacked a homeland they were ridiculed for their rootless cosmopolitanism. Now that they have a land of their own, Jews are said to be fascists and occupiers and warmongers. Whatever the stated reason, the existence of strong anti-Semitic sentiments in a particular country reveals more about that country than it does about the Jews against whom anti-Semitic violence is directed. Inevitably, this anti-Semitism metastasizes to other forms of violence, as has been the case in France.


France and other countries throughout Europe are facing major challenges. The Euro crisis has sparked another bout of skepticism about the entire European Union project, which has led to the rise of right-wing parties in a number of northern European countries, including France. Further buoying this right-wing surge are the waves of refugees from Syria, Libya and other Muslim countries pouring into Europe who are seen by many Europeans as a threat to their socioeconomic stability and culture.


While it is true that the vast majority of anti-Semitic attacks are associated with Europe’s Muslim population, it is difficult to imagine far-right political parties, some of which with neo-Nazi or fascist roots, seriously and aggressively combating Muslim Jew-hatred.


Unfortunately, as The Jerusalem Post’s Jewish world correspondent Sam Sokol pointed out in an analysis this week, European nations currently lack systematic methods of collecting data on anti-Semitism. The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) noted in 2013 that this state of affairs was contributing to “gross underreporting of the nature and characteristics of anti-Semitic incidents that occur.”


Europeans have a moral obligation to take violent anti-Semitism seriously. An important first step should be to develop systematic methods for measuring the phenomenon. There is no better time for this than now, as millions commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher attacks.





FRANCE: A COUNTRY, AND PARTY, SHAKEN TO ITS CORE                                                                 

Konrad Yakabuski                                                                                                                 

Globe & Mail, Dec. 31, 2015


The French President’s traditional New Year’s Eve address to the country will be anything but festive this year. It has been an annus horribilis in France. Two terrorist attacks that rocked the republic in 2015 continue to shake the country to its core. Nothing is as it was.


That includes the government of President François Hollande. A Socialist whose party has traditionally stood for republican values of equality, Mr. Hollande has turned into a national security hawk preaching safety over civil rights. Hanging heavily over his televised remarks from the Élysée Palace will be the constitutional reform package he tabled two days before Christmas that would allow the state to strip French citizenship from native-born dual nationals convicted of terrorism. It has pre-empted any chance of a holiday reprieve from acrid political debate.


It is a debate somewhat familiar to Canadians, who will recall controversial changes to the law made by former prime minister Stephen Harper’s government that empowered the immigration minister to revoke the Canadian passport of dual citizens convicted of terrorism. In September, the Tories moved to invoke the new power against a member of the so-called Toronto 18, who plotted terrorist attacks in 2006, prompting then-Liberal leader Justin Trudeau to stake his ground: “You devalue the citizenship of every Canadian in this place and in this country when you break down and make it conditional for anybody.” Now, Prime Minister Trudeau has vowed to repeal the provision.


French Prime Minister Manuel Valls mustn’t have received the memo. In posting on Facebook on Monday to defend his Socialist government’s plan, Mr. Valls cited Canada as one of the democratic countries “close to France” that can revoke the citizenship of dual nationals convicted of terrorism, provided such persons are not left stateless in contravention of international law.


The debate about revoking the citizenship of convicted terrorists has heated up almost everywhere in the West with most countries – including Australia just this month – taking a hard line against dual nationals who have travelled to Syria or Iraq to join the Islamic State and who would attack their home country in the name of radical Islam. But the debate has a particular resonance in France, where, until recently, Mr. Hollande and Mr. Valls stood steadfastly on the other side.


For the French left, the idea of stripping any French citizen of his or her passport is a violation of republican principles and reminiscent of the worst abuses of the Vichy regime that ruled parts of the country during the Nazi occupation. The Vichy government revoked the French citizenship of, among others, Algerian Jews and members of the resistance, including Charles de Gaulle.


Until now, the law has provided for the revocation of the French citizenship of immigrants who have been naturalized for less than 15 years who commit crimes contravening the “fundamental interests of the nation.” But the provision has strict limits and has not been invoked in years. When former centre-right president Nicolas Sarkozy tried to toughen the law in 2010, Mr. Hollande balked.


Back then, Mr. Hollande co-signed a letter in the left-leaning Libération newspaper calling Mr. Sarkozy’s proposal an “infringement of the constituting principles” of the republic, including the “decent and equal treatment of all.” One his co-signatories was Stéphane Charbonnier, the irreverent Charlie Hebdo cartoonist killed by French-born radicalized Muslims last January.


If the tables have turned it is because Mr. Hollande, the most unpopular president in the history of the Fifth Republic, is scrambling to respond to a sharp rightward shift in public opinion. Surveys show more than 80 per cent of French voters support the hard-line approach, amid reports that 1,000 French citizens have gone to join the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, while an estimated 250 have returned home.


Mr. Hollande’s proposal to strip dual nationals convicted of terrorism of their citizenship goes further than anything considered before in that it would apply to those born in France, not just naturalized citizens, and would be included in the French constitution, shielding it from legal challenges. But if public opinion seems largely on side, the move threatens to tear his Socialist Party apart. In the past week, many party officials and Socialist politicians have denounced Mr. Hollande and Mr. Valls as traitors.


Mr. Hollande’s moves have delighted one politician, however. National Front Leader Marine Le Pen tweeted that his reforms are “the first effect of the 6.8 million votes” her anti-immigration party won in this month’s regional elections.





Dr. Ephraim Herrera

Israel Hayom, Jan. 5, 2016


British Prime Minister David Cameron recently wrote that "aspects of the Muslim Brotherhood's ideology and activities … run counter to British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, equality and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs." He described the movement as fertile ground for growing violence and, based on research he commissioned, determined that membership in the Muslim Brotherhood should be considered a possible indicator of extremism.


Among the assertions raised by Cameron, his staunch opposition to Muslim Brotherhood members who support Palestinian sister group Hamas sticks out. This is a very important point that stands to benefit Israel: A Western leader views support for the Muslim Brotherhood's violence against Israel as evidence of the group's extremism.


The research upon which Cameron based his statements mentions the goal of some of the movement's members to turn Britain into an Islamic state. But it does not manage to prove that this is an official goal of the group as a whole. Really? As early as 2007, Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi declared: "The conquest of Rome — the conquest of Italy, and Europe — means that Islam will return to Europe once again. Must this conquest necessarily be though war? No. There is such a thing as peaceful conquest [through proselytizing]."


In an interview with a Norwegian journalist in 2011, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt until 2010, Mohammed Mahdi Akef, said, "The Muslim Brotherhood's dream is to form a total Islamic state." Pressed for more details on this goal, he responded, "We Muslims are currently scattered all over. There is still a long way to go before we are able to take control in Europe."


Ahmed Jaballah, head of the Union of Islamic Organizations of France, which has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and is also recognized by local authorities, has said that the union "is a two-stage rocket. The first stage is democratic; the second will put an Islamic society into orbit."


The hidden danger for Europe is less the terrorist attacks, which do not significantly alter the foundations of a society, and more this Muslim Brotherhood plan — which, for now, does not include violence or explicit threats. This plan for the occupation of Europe will succeed via the fertility rate among Muslim women, which is much higher than that of European women; through record-breaking immigration; and through calls to join Islam.


In addition to this, there is the orthodox Islamic education of the young generation, which is more religious than previous ones and is, for the most part, unwilling to accept the values of its host societies. There is also the issue of Islamic law creeping into society's daily life: Popular French fast-food chain Quick has recently decided to serve only halal meat at all its locations.


In both Israel and Europe, the only way to stop the vision of Islamic political takeover of the world from coming to be is to address the root of the problem and to outlaw Muslim education that preaches Islamic conquest — not just that which preaches Islamic violence.




David Bensoussan

Asia Times, Dec. 11, 2013


There has been a Jewish presence in Arab-Muslim countries since well before Islam was introduced and it dates back to before the 6th century before the current era. These communities have disappeared or are in the process of disappearing in the majority of Arab-Muslim countries. In fact, 865,000 Jews found themselves excluded in the very countries they were born in and felt that they had to leave.


Non-Muslim minorities in Muslim countries have the status of dhimmi, which means "tolerated" or "protected". This flows from the assertion that Jewish and Christian scripture was distorted by their unworthy depositories. It is legislated under the Pact of Umar which was amended several times with the addition of other discriminatory measures.


A dhimmi is in an inferior position within Muslim society: they have special taxes, wear recognizable clothing, are the subject of humiliating measures, and do not have legal status when they are involved in a legal matter involving Muslims. Shi'ite Islam considers Jews to be a source of impurity. While the conditions of Jews have differed between countries, some features overlap for Jews in Morocco, and in the Ottoman and Persian Empires.


In the 19th century, several travellers, consuls and educators, sent out by the Alliance Israelite Universelle, sent back alarming reports on the situation of Jews, including the following: daily humiliation, objects of scorn, submissive to the point of atrophy, constant insecurity, abductions, densely populated Jewish quarters, dramatic impoverishment and seriously unsanitary living conditions. They described nightmarish fanaticism on the one hand and resignation on the other. 


The difficult circumstances of Jews, who made up 0.5% to 3% of the population, depending on the country, was also raised by Muslim chroniclers. Jews automatically became the scapegoats whenever there was political instability, a military defeat or difficult economic conditions, as well as drought. Massacres and plundering happened on a regular basis.


Generally speaking, the rulers were benevolent to a certain degree – of course there were exceptions – and their decisions were not always applied accordingly. For example, the decree agreed to in 1864 by the Moroccan ruler and the philanthropist, Moses Montefiore, on the cessation of mistreatment of Jews, never actually changed anything.


Jews were accused of ritual murder in Damascus in 1840 and in Cairo in 1902. In the Ottoman Empire, there were reforms that ended the mandatory wearing of distinctive clothing and the special tax on non-Muslims, but once again, in the more remote areas of the Empire, this was never enforced.


Being on the fringes of the 19th century expansion of Europe, many Jews sought consular protection, and the parameters were set down at international conferences in Tangier, Madrid, Lausanne, and so on. Algerian Jews obtained the right to French nationality in 1870, Tunisian Jews obtained it at their request in 1923 and Moroccan Jews maintained their status of dhimmi when Morocco became a protectorate. 


A large number of Jews acquired Egyptian nationality but this was quietly withdrawn in 1940 which left about a quarter of Jews without a nationality. In Yemen, Sharia law was applied in 1948 and Jewish orphans were taken in order to be converted to Islam, a practice that had been in use since 1922.


It should be pointed out that improved legal status for Jews did not always translate into improved lives, because mentalities do not evolve as quickly as one might hope. Overall, the Westernization of Jews in countries where the majority is Muslim preceded that of Muslims by more than one generation because of, among other reasons, the reach of the school network of the Alliance Israelite Universelle.


Under the colonial regime, Jews were finally able to live outside the Jewish quarter, the mellah or hara, and they no longer had to wear distinctive clothing. Many Muslims saw this as changing the Jewish status that they felt had been carved in stone by Islamic law. The tradition of prosecuting Jews during difficult domestic times, as well as the resentment against colonial power and the emancipation of Jews, were all key factors in triggering anti-Jewish actions, as happened in Fez in 1912, in Cairo in 1945, and so on.


In order to avoid antagonizing the Muslim majority and even the anti-Semitic European colonists, the colonial authorities often turned a blind eye to the abuse of Jews, for example in Baghdad in 1941. No doubt Jews were considering leaving their country if they could not achieve equal rights. During the Second World War, a pro-Nazi regime came to power in Iraq and the sweeping pogrom, the Farhoud, was carried out in 1941. The Mufti in Jerusalem was the self-appointed voice of Nazi propaganda and he encouraged Bosnia Muslims to join the Waffen SS. As well, Jews in Libya were sent to death camps in Europe and a number in Jews in Tunisia were made to do forced labor.


After the war, there was growing insecurity in eastern Jewish communities. There had been a pogrom in Libya in 1945, anti-British and anti-Semitic riots within the same year in Egypt, in Syria, Yemen and Aden in 1947, and Jews were excluded from the Syrian and Lebanese administrations in 1947. The political committee of the Arab League, made up of seven countries, proposed in 1947, well before Israel's independence, that the assets of Jews be frozen.


Israel's independence and their surprise victory over invading Arab armies was a miracle in the eyes of Jews. Pressure was put on Jews who were told to prove their loyalty by opposing the Jewish state and the Arab press was full of invective against Israel and Jews. People left in a panic for Israel from several countries despite threats to destroy the newly formed state.  


There were multiple anti-Jewish measures: non-renewal of professional licenses in Iraq, a prohibition on leaving Iraq in 1948 and Yemen in 1949, the withdrawal of Egyptian nationality from Jews, who then became stateless in the 1950s, and the withdrawal of the right to vote for Jews in Libya in 1951.


Add to that the pogroms in Djerada, in Morocco in 1948, in Damascus and Aleppo in 1948, in Benghazi and Tripoli in 1948, in Bahrain in 1949, in Egypt in 1952, and in Libya and Tunisia in 1967. There were arrests and expulsions in Egypt in 1956, economic strangulation by spoliation in Iraq in 1951, in Syria in 1949, in Libya in 1970, or by exclusion in Syria and Lebanon in 1947, in Libya in 1958, in Iran in 2000, or by allowing Egyptian business only in Egypt in 1961.


Jewish heritage was destroyed in Oran in 1961 and in Libya in 1969 and 1978, there was police abuse and abductions of young girls with forced conversions in Morocco from 1961 to 1962, Jews were kidnapped in Lebanon in 1967, there were public hangings in Baghdad in 1969, anti-Semitic cliches were used in the Arab press, and campaigns were used to increase anti-Jewish sentiment and incite hatred, using Zionism as an excuse. After the Six-Day War, this rhetoric increased considerably…

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


N.B.: Sunday, Jan. 10, 12:30pm, CIJR presents a special screening of the film The Silent Exodus at Concordia University in Montreal. The film recounts the history of the Jews expelled from the Arab world after 1946. Prof. David Bensoussan, a CIJR Academic Fellow, will give a talk at the screening.


CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!



On Topic


European Anti-Semitism Likely to Grow in 2016: Sam Sokol, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 5, 2016—There are very few sure bets in life and even fewer guarantees. But we can always count on the ever reliable triumvirate of death, taxes and anti-Semitism.

Should Israel Prefer French Socialists or the National Front?: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Arutz Sheva, Dec. 22, 2015—The recent regional elections in France have once again confirmed that the right wing Front National (FN) has become a major force in the country’s politics.

Year After Attack, France’s Jews Learn to Live Under Armed Guard: Benoît Fauchet, Times of Israel, Jan. 5, 2015—Ever since a jihadist attack on a kosher store left four people dead a year ago, France’s Jews have grown used to soldiers patrolling their neighborhoods and schools.

Paris’s Eerily Familiar 1930s Immigrant Problem: Daniel Pipes, National Post, Jan. 3, 2016 —The world’s most prolific author, the Belgian writer Georges Simenon, published a mock memoir in 1951, Les Mémoires de Maigret (English: Maigret’s Memoirs), which featured the ostensible recollections of his fictional character, Inspector Maigret. The sixth chapter, titled in the English translation “One Staircase after Another!” (and brought to my attention by C. Paul Barreira) describes the pro-fascist uprising in Paris on February 6, 1934. It reminds one eerily of today’s North African immigration and Islamist alienation.
















Jerusalem Post, May 15, 2011


‘Nakba Day” has expanded into “Nakba weekend,” and judging from the potential diplomatic and military fallout in the wake of the turmoil in the north, now threatens to occupy our attention for days to come.

But while the developments in Majdal Shams and Maroun a-Ras set this year’s “Nakba” apart from previous years, the preferred way to commemorate the supposed “catastrophe” visited on the Palestinian people from the creation of the State of Israel has remained the same: violence, incitement and provocation.

Early Sunday, a 22-year-old man from Kafr Kasim chose to commemorate the failed attempt 63 years ago to violently snuff out the emerging Jewish state at birth with more death and destruction.… He climbed into the cabin of his semi-trailer and embarked on a collision spree along a two-kilometer strip of highway in Tel Aviv, using his huge vehicle as a deadly weapon. When his truck was finally forced to a stop when it collided with a bus, the driver nevertheless continued his rampage, clubbing a young woman.

By the time he had been subdued, the truck driver, who was only moderately wounded by an incensed crowd, had left behind him one dead and at least 17 injured, one of them critically.

In the north, meanwhile, Bashar Assad, in a cynical attempt to distract the Arab world’s attention from the atrocities and human rights abuses he is perpetrating against his citizens—including hundreds shot down in the streets during demonstrations, and thousands who have disappeared—orchestrated an intentional provocation in the most unlikely of places.

Hundreds of Syrians, many of them living in refugee camps as Palestinians (because Assad refuses to integrate them into Syrian society), were bused in coordination with Syria’s military forces to the border with Israel on the Golan Heights. From there, they descended en masse on the quiet town of Majdal Shams, a Druse village whose citizens are generally loyal to Israel and who reject commemoration of Israel’s establishment as a “Nakba.”

In the ensuing anarchy that included rock-throwing and violent confrontations, IDF soldiers opened fire in an attempt to prevent the Syrians from overrunning the border. Unfortunately, at least one Syrian was killed and more were wounded.

IDF soldiers seemed to have reacted reasonably judging from the circumstances. The border in the north stretches well over 200 kilometers. The army could never hope to position the requisite amount of soldiers needed to confront hundreds of infiltrators. The 30 to 40 soldiers who were in Majdal Shams reacted as appropriately as they could. And they were responding to a new phenomenon apparently inspired by the sorts of “Arab Spring” demonstrations that have taken place in Egypt and Tunisia.

On the Lebanese border in the town of Maroun a-Ras, as hundreds of additional Palestinians moved toward the border, three to five Palestinians were shot dead. In the south, on the border with Hamas-ruled Gaza, similar attempts were made to infiltrate Israel. Inside Israel, riots broke out around Jerusalem from Kalandiya to Silwan, A-Tur and Isawiyia, though these disturbances were “usual” for annual “Nakba” demonstrations.

This year’s “Nakba” provides additional bitter evidence that, far from preparing its people for peace with Israel, the Palestinian leadership continues to encourage the most extremist, intransigent positions. Palestinians have been encouraged to focus solely on their own suffering and victimization rather than coming to grips with their own tragic historical mistakes. These include rejecting the 1947 UN partition plan and launching an unsuccessful war against the nascent Jewish state, continuing to reject peace proposals including those put forward in 2000 by prime minister Ehud Barak and in 2008 by prime minister Ehud Olmert, and voting a Hamas majority into their parliament in 2006.

Just this weekend [Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud] Abbas, supposedly representing the more moderate Palestinian leadership, vowed that the PA would never neglect the “right of return.”

Since Abbas knows that full implementation of this “right” would put an end to the Jewish majority in Israel, he was implicitly calling for an end to Israel as a Jewish state. In parallel, a high-ranking official in Fatah declared this weekend that his organization’s political program is identical with Hamas’s. As for Hamas’s program, its Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh marked “Nakba Day” by predicting “the collapse of the Zionist project in Palestine.”

How much longer will Palestinians allow themselves to be captives to extremism and intransigence, and pawns to rogue states such as Syria? The only path to their independence lies through reconciliation with the State of Israel. That was the message of the international community in 1947. For how many more years are they going to reject it?


Michael S. Bernstam
National Post, Janusary 7, 2011


…The narrow confines of the 139 square miles of the Gaza district feature eight separate Palestinian refugee camps.… These refugee camps were established in 1949 and have been financed ever since by the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Far from seeking to help residents build a new and better life either in Gaza or elsewhere, UNRWA is paying millions of refugees to perpetuate their refugee status, generation after generation, as they await their forcible return to the land inside the State of Israel.

Though pundits and foreign-policy experts focus on the question of settlements or the current temperature of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, UNRWA’s institutionalization of refugee-cum-military camps is…the principal obstacle to peace in the Middle East. The chances of achieving peace and security in the Middle East will continue to be remote as long as UNRWA is, in effect, underwriting a self-destructive Palestinian cycle of violence, internecine bloodshed and a perpetual war against Israel.

For 60 years, UNRWA has been paying four generations of Palestinians to remain refugees, reproduce refugees and live in refugee camps. It is UNRWA that put them in refugee cages and watched the number of inhabitants grow. The Palestinian refugee population in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza has exploded from 726,000 in 1950 to 4.8 million in 2010. About 95% receive some form of UNRWA care. The unprecedented nature of this guardianship is rooted in the unusual nature of this institution. UNRWA is a supranational welfare state that pays its residents not to build their own nation-state; for, were they to do so, they would forfeit their refugee status and its entitlements of cash, housing, health care, education, credit and other largesse.…

All refugees except the Palestinians fall under the jurisdiction and care of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Only actual refugees qualify for aid under the UNHCR and only on a short-term basis.… The UNHCR’s mandate is to resettle and integrate all refugees in their historical homelands, or in new host countries. But Palestinians were provided with a different sort of relief.

The UNRWA charter specified that the Palestinians who lived in British Mandate Palestine during the years 1946-48 and who subsequently fled in 1948-49 qualified for refugee status—together with all their descendants. This open-ended definition of refugees applies for generations to come. It bestows housing, utilities, health care, education, cash allowances, public works and social services for multiple generations from cradle to grave. In practice, this means multigenerational refugee camps and ghettoes in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza. Close to one-third of today’s refugees, about 1.4 million, live in 59 refugee camps. There is no longer any room in UNRWA’s mandate and agenda for resettlement and integration.

UNRWA’s mandate created, in effect, a multigenerational dependency of an entire people.… Only the triumphant return of the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren to the ancestral land will mark the final deliverance in this ideology. Until then, the permanent refugee welfare state means permanent war, as it is fueled by a particular “right of return” claim—the argument that Palestinians should be given title to the land they occupied before Israel’s independence.

To see its pernicious demographic and physical meaning, consider what this claim is not, and then what it is.

First, it is not the right of return of actual refugees (as opposed to descendants) that was created by international conventions since 1948 to prevent deportations and to mitigate the conditions of concurrent refugees who fled the ravages of war. Nor is it the right of return of historical ethnic diasporas to their own nation-states. Nor is it the establishment of new nation-states where there were none. Rather, the claim of the Palestinian right of return is intended for one historical ethnic diaspora of the descendants of perennial refugees to repopulate another people’s existing nation-state, Israel.… This is…a reconquest after a lost war, a claim of the right of retake.…

A change in the Palestinian incentive structure is necessary for both peace and statehood. Palestinian sovereignty will only be achieved by liberation from UNRWA and, like peace, cannot be truly achieved without this liberation.… One possible first step is to merge [the UNRWA] with the UNHCR. Such a measure could allow UNRWA to be abolished immediately. If the new, merged agency adopted UNHCR’s program of short-term emergency relief, it would signal the beginning of the end of the world body’s support for continuance of the Palestinians’ agony. Alternatively, UNRWA could be held in place and phased out gradually.

The process is not important. What is important is the change in mission. The new mandate should be resettlement, integration and naturalization. The task is, in short, to transform 4.8 million people from dependent refugees into productive citizens.…

In Jordan, more than 1.8 million of the nearly two million registered refugees are already naturalized citizens of that country. Another 170,000 have permanent residency rights. Both citizens and permanent residents are integrated into the labour market and are isolated from other Jordanians primarily by the stigma of refugeeism. These Jordanian-Palestinians prefer to send their children to Jordanian schools that teach English and computer science rather than to UNRWA schools that teach historical mythology and use maps without Israel.

In Syria, since 1957, Palestinian residents have had the same rights as citizens in employment, commerce and social services. They lack formal citizenship and full property rights because the Syrian government, in a concordat with UNRWA, committed itself to “preserve their original nationality,” that is, to keep them trapped in their permanent refugee status and the ensuing claim on retaking Israel. Without UNRWA, this obstacle to integration would weaken even if the Syrian hostility toward Israel remains intact.

Lebanon is the most difficult case. Of 414,000 registered refugees, only 70,000 are citizens. Others do not enjoy employment rights, cannot own land and do not qualify for public education, health care and welfare. However, the transfer of the array of social and financial services and facilities from UNRWA to the Lebanese authorities would contribute to integration and help create jobs.…

The end of UNRWA would automatically nullify the pernicious issue of the right of return-cum-retake. It is unsolvable in the presence of UNRWA, because it implies the repopulation of Israel with millions of perennial paramilitary refugees. But once UNRWA is discarded, the refugee status expires instantaneously or after a transition period, and the right of return becomes a non-issue due to immediate and actually pressing needs.…

Instead of perpetuating the dead end that the international welfare state for the Palestinians represents, ending UNRWA’s horrific six-decade reign would instantly create the conditions for an honest, meaningful and viable peace process to begin in the Middle East.

(Michael S. Bernstam is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.)


Jacqueline Shields
Jewish Virtual Library, May 16, 2011


Although much is heard about the plight of the Palestinian refugees, little is said about the Jews who fled from Arab states. In 1945, there were more than 870,000 Jews living in the various Arab states. Many of their communities dated back 2,500 years. Throughout 1947 and 1948 these Jews were persecuted. Their property and belongings were confiscated. There were anti-Jewish riots in Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Iraq.… Approximately 600,000 Jews sought refuge in the State of Israel. They arrived destitute, but they were absorbed into the society and became an integral part of the state.…

Little is heard about the Jewish refugees because they did not remain refugees for long. Of the 820,000 Jewish refugees, 586,000 were resettled in Israel at great expense, and without any offer of compensation from the Arab governments who confiscated their possessions. During the 1947 UN debates, Arab leaders threatened the Jews living in their countries with expulsion and violence if partition were to occur. Egypt’s delegate told the General Assembly: “The lives of one million Jews in Muslim countries would be jeopardized by partition.” Following the 1947 United Nations vote to partition Palestine, Arab violence against Jews erupted throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

On January 18, 1948, the president of the World Jewish Congress, Dr. Stephen Wise, appealed to U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall: “Between 800,000 and a million Jews in the Middle East and North Africa, exclusive of Palestine, are in ‘the greatest danger of destruction’ at the hands of Muslims being incited to holy war over the Partition of Palestine.… Acts of violence already perpetrated, together with those contemplated, being clearly aimed at the total destruction of the Jews, constitute genocide, which under the resolutions of the General Assembly is a crime against humanity.”

The United States, however, did not take action to investigate these pleadings.

On May 16, 1948, a New York Times headline read “Jews in Grave Danger in all Muslim Lands: Nine Hundred Thousand in Africa and Asia face wrath of their foes.” The story reported of a law drafted by the Arab League Political Committee “which was intended to govern the legal status of Jewish residents of Arab League countries. Their bank accounts would be frozen and used to finance resistance to ‘Zionist ambitions in Palestine.’ Jews believed to be active Zionists would be interned and their assets confiscated.…”

Roughly half of Israel’s [current] Jew[ish population compromises descendants of] Jewish refugees from Arab countries.… Israel has consequently maintained that any agreement to compensate the Palestinian refugees must also include Arab compensation for Jewish refugees.

The Treatment of Jews in Arab Countries Prior to Expulsion


Jews had lived in Syria since biblical times.… In 1943, the Jewish community of Syria had 30,000 members. In 1945, in an attempt to thwart efforts to establish a Jewish homeland, the government restricted immigration to Israel, and Jewish property was burned and looted. The government then froze Jewish bank accounts and confiscated their property.…

Following Syrian independence from France in 1946…attacks against Jews and their property increased, culminating in the pogroms of 1947, which left all shops and synagogues in Aleppo in ruins. Thousands of Jews fled the country, approximately 10,000 to the United States, and another 5,000 to Israel, and their homes and property were taken over by the local Muslims.

For the next decades, those Syrian Jews that remained were, in effect, hostages of a hostile regime.… Jews were stripped of their citizenship, and experienced employment discrimination.… The community lived under siege, constantly under surveillance of the secret police.

The last Jews to leave Syria departed with the chief rabbi in October 1994. Prior to 1947, there were…three distinct communities: the Kurdish-speaking Jews of Kamishli, the Jews of Aleppo with roots in Spain, and the original eastern Jews of Damascus, called Must’arab. Today, only a tiny remnant of these communities remains.


…In 1945, with the rise of Egyptian nationalism and the cultivation of anti-Western and anti-Jewish sentiment, riots erupted; 10 Jews were killed, 350 injured, and a synagogue, a Jewish hospital, and an old-age home were burned down. On July 29, 1947, an amendment was introduced to the Egyptian Companies Law which made it mandatory for at least 75% of the administrative employees of a company to be Egyptian nationals and 90% of employees in general. This decree resulted in the loss of livelihood for many Jews.

The establishment of the State of Israel led to further anti-Jewish sentiments. Between June and November 1948, bombs set off in the Jewish Quarter killed more than 70 Jews and wounded nearly 200. 2,000 Jews were arrested and many had their property confiscated. Rioting over the next few months resulted in many more Jewish deaths.

In 1956, the Egyptian government used the Sinai Campaign as a pretext for expelling almost 25,000 Egyptian Jews and confiscating their property. Approximately 1,000 more Jews were sent to prisons and detention camps. On November 23, 1956, a proclamation signed by the Minister of Religious Affairs, and read aloud in mosques throughout Egypt, declared that “all Jews are Zionists and enemies of the state,” and promised that they would be soon expelled.

Thousands of Jews were ordered to leave the country. They were allowed to take only one suitcase and a small sum of cash, and forced to sign declarations “donating” their property to the Egyptian government. Foreign observers reported that members of Jewish families were taken hostage, apparently to insure that those forced to leave did not speak out against the Egyptian government.

By 1957 the Jewish population had fallen to 15,000 [from a high of 63,500 in 1937]. In 1967, after the Six-Day War, there was a renewed wave of persecution, and the community dropped to 2,500. By the 1970s, after the remaining Jews were given permission to leave the country, the community dwindled to a few families. Today, nearly all the Jews in Egypt are elderly, and the community is on the verge of extinction.


…After the establishment of Israel in 1948, Zionism became a capital crime. In 1950, the Iraqi parliament finally legalized emigration to Israel, provided Iraqi Jews forfeited their citizenship. Between May 1950 and August 1951, the Jewish Agency and the Israeli government succeeded in airlifting approximately 110,000 Jews to Israel in Operations Ezra and Nehemiah. At the same time, 20,000 Jews were smuggled out of Iraq through Iran. A year later the property of Jews who emigrated from Iraq was frozen, and economic restrictions were placed on Jews who remained in the country. In 1952, Iraq’s government barred Jews from emigrating, and publicly hanged two Jews after falsely charging them with hurling a bomb at the Baghdad office of the U.S. Information Agency. A community that had reached a peak of 150,000 in 1947, dwindled to a mere 6,000 after 1951.

Persecutions continued, especially after the Six Day War in 1967, when the remaining 3,000 Jews were arrested and dismissed from their jobs. Those who were arrested, some were hanged in the public square of Baghdad, others died of torture.


…In June 1948, bloody riots in Oujda and Djerada killed 44 Jews and wounded scores more. That same year, an unofficial economic boycott was instigated against Moroccan Jews. In 1956, Morocco declared its independence, and by 1959 Zionist activities became illegal. In 1963, more than 100,000 Moroccan Jews were forced out from their homes and moved to Israel. During this year, more than 30,000 Jews [also] left for France and the Americas.… [Before the founding of Israel in 1948, there were about 250,000 Jews living in Morocco; today, fewer than 7,000 remain].


The first historical existence of Jews in Yemen is from the third century CE. In 1922, the government of Yemen reintroduced an ancient Islamic law that decreed that Jewish orphans under age 12 were to be converted to Islam. In 1947, after the partition vote, Muslim rioters, joined by the local police force, engaged in a bloody pogrom in Aden that killed 82 Jews and destroyed hundreds of Jewish homes.… Early in 1948, looting occurred after six Jews were falsely accused of murdering two Arab girls. 50,000 Jews were forced out of Yemen in 1948. By 1959 over 3,000 Jews from Aden arrived in Israel, many more fled to the US and England. Today, there are no Jews in Aden. There are an estimated 350 Jews in Yemen today.…


The first documented evidence of Jews living in what is Tunisia dates back to 200 CE.… In 1948, the Tunisian Jewish community had numbered 105,000, with 65,000 living in Tunis alone. Jews suffered greatly in 1956, when the country achieved independence. The rabbinical tribunal was abolished in 1957, and a year later, Jewish community councils were dissolved. In addition, the Jewish quarter of Tunis was destroyed by the government. Anti-Jewish rioting followed the outbreak of the Six-Day War, and Muslims burned down the Great Synagogue of Tunis. These events increased the steady stream of emigration to Israel. Today, an estimated 2,000 Jews remain in Tunisia.


The Jewish community of Libya traces its origin back some 2,500 years to around the third century BCE. At the time of the Italian occupation in 1911, there were approximately 21,000 Jews in the country, the majority in Tripoli.… During the British occupation [following WWII], there were a series of pogroms. A savage pogrom occurred in Tripoli on November 5, 1945, where more than 140 Jews were massacred and almost every synagogue in the city was looted. In June 1948, rioters murdered another 12 Jews and destroyed 280 Jewish homes. When the British legalized emigration in 1949, more than 30,000 Jews fled Libya.

Thousands of Jews fled the country to Israel after Libya was granted independence and membership in the Arab League in 1951.… After the Six-Day War, the Jewish population, only 7,000, was again subjected to pogroms in which 18 people were killed, and many more injured, sparking a near-total exodus that left fewer than 100 Jews in Libya.… By 1974, there were no more than 20 Jews, and it is believed that the Jewish presence has passed out of existence.


…On the eve of the civil war that gripped the country in the late 1950s, there were some 130,000 Jews in Algeria, approximately 30,000 of whom lived in the capital. Nearly all Algerian Jews fled the country shortly after it gained independence from France in 1962. After being granted independence in 1962, the Algerian government harassed the Jewish community and deprived Jews of their principle economic rights.…





The Canadian Institute for Jewish Research cordially invites you to its

23rd Anniversary Gala

Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Congregation Shaar Hashomayim
450 Avenue Kensington, Westmount, Quebec, Canada


Former Israeli Defense Minister and Ambassador to the U.S.


Also Featuring


Prof. Barry Rubin
Outstanding internationally-renowned Middle East analyst


Tax receipts will be issued for the maximum allowable amount


For additional information. or to register for the 23rd Anniversary Gala,
please call Yvonne at 514-486-5544 or contact us by e-mail at yvonne@isranet.org


Frederick Krantz


Lenore and I recently had the privilege of spending a month in Jerusalem, into and across the Pessah holiday. As always, being in the Jewish state allays the anxieties which living in the Diaspora engenders—concerns about Hamas and Hezbollah terrorism, Mahmoud Abbas’ threatened “unilateral declaration of independence”, Iran’s progress towards a nuclear weapon, whether the Arab rebellions will result in even more radical, anti-Israel regimes , about the unending European and North American delegitimation campaigns, and so on.

It’s not that one’s concerns over these very real issues suddenly or entirely disappear. Rather, directly experiencing the strength and dynamism of Israel’s democratic Jewish society, unique in a Middle East wracked by dictatorship, underdevelopment, and Islamic extremism, conveys a conviction that Jerusalem can and will endure.

Precisely the normality of everyday life, of the traffic and building cranes and the throbbing hum of street life, and yes, even the tensions and give-and-take of democratic politics, demonstrate that modern Israel, as it celebrates its sixty-third birthday, has the economic, political, and cultural strength, and the robust civic resilience, not only to deal with its violent and hostile neighborhood, but also to lead the Jewish people in the centrally-important struggle against anti-Semitic delegitimation.

The period from Pessah through Yom Hashoah, Yom HaZikaron, and Yom Ha’atzmaut, is a period for serious personal and national reflection. The survival of the Jewish people, across its millennial history, amidst the persecution and the wars of extermination against it, is indeed a miracle. And surely its return to independence in its own Land, even as Hitler and his European henchmen, and then the Arab nations in their turn after 1945, sought to destroy it, can only be read as something miraculous.

Israel’s destiny, some would say mission, among the nations is inscribed in our Tanakh, with its promise of return to our own Land, a return foreseen by our Prophets, from Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel, to Theodor Herzl, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, and David Ben-Gurion.

Biblical Israel, charged with the joyous burden of witnessing to God’s redemptive plan by sanctifying daily life through doing the commanded mitzvoth, has shaped modern democratic Israel, charging it to be a Zionist beacon of modern civilization, transforming its barren post-Exilic hills and plains and deserts into a modern Land of milk and honey.

Today’s Israelis, backed by a Diasporic world which has steadfastly stood by them, constitute a generation blessed by the sacrifices of the pioneers who came before them, and by the over 23,000 keddoshim who have fallen in the wars and terrorism since the beginnings of Return in the nineteenth century. Who, in 1948, when the just-proclaimed State fought for its very life against invading Arab armies, a scant three years after the nightmare of the Shoah, could have foreseen a Jewish society rivalling America and Western Europe in its economic and technological dynamism and standard of living?

Who, peering into the ashen smoke of the death-camps, could have foreseen Israel’s military strength, expressed in an Israel Defense Force which has not only defeated successive Arab invasions and terror campaigns but is, today, man-for-man perhaps the world’s most effective military force?

Above all, and even as they fought off the various Amaleks who came to destroy them and, poor as they were, nevertheless welcomed waves of refugees from an unstable and hostile world, modern Israelis, religious and secular, have forged a consciously Jewish society. In it, three millennia of our history and culture are expressed in modern political and social institutions, law, and education, informing the daily life some seven million people, today the demographic and spiritual center of the Jewish people.

It is natural, and understandable, that, concerned by the very real problems Israel continues to face, we sometimes forget the solid strength and great achievements expressed daily in myriad ways in Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv, Ashdod, and Haifa, on the kibbutzim and moshavim and in the hesder yeshivoth , up and down and across this cherished Land.

It is also natural that, caught up in the vigorous back-and-forth of Israel’s vigorous and sometimes intensely partisan political life, in the Knesset and municipally, we sometimes forget the substantial unity of Israel’s citizenry on the great issues facing the country.

But walking the quiet streets of Jerusalem on the Shabbat before Pessah, or watchinglife grind to an immediate halt in Tel Aviv as theYom Hashoah shofar-siren calls all to remembrance, in a country where being Jewish in its different expressions is simply assumed, a given, one is again reminded of the miracle of every-day life in the reborn Jewish state.

Yom Ha’atzmaut, just passed, is illuminated by, and teaches, that Jewish sacrifice, of our past and recent, and future history, has not been and will not be in vain. We are today, in our variety, what we have always been, an am segula, a People chosen to demonstrate, to our enemies and our friends and above all to ourselves, what being human, being created in God’s image, is, at its best, capable of, and in so doing to give courage, in a world so often fallen, to give courage to ourselves and to all people of good will, today, and to our posterity in the generations to come.

Am Yisrael Chai—the Jewish people lives!

(Professor Krantz is Director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research,
and teaches at Liberal Arts College, Concordia University.)


David Breakstone
Jerusalem Post, May 13, 2011


Back in 2004, the Knesset graciously passed a law allowing me to indulge my passion once a year without having to make any excuses. It legislated that 10 of Iyar—the birthday of the father of our country, which happens to fall five days after we celebrate its independence—would henceforth be known as Herzl Day, and stipulated that it be celebrated by recounting his vision and deeds.…

As our calendar tells me that we are still shedding the shackles of Egyptian bondage while making our way to Mount Sinai, I thought it appropriate to relate to Herzl’s own Jewish journey during a lifetime that lasted merely four years longer than our wandering in the wilderness. It begins with an attachment to the Jewish people essentially divorced from rites and ritual, and culminates in a passionate affirmation of Jewish tradition. Fascinating in itself, this exploration of Herzl’s evolving relationship to his Jewishness might also serve as a catalyst for considering our own—as well as prompting some reflection on our dreams regarding the Jewish state that his brought into being.

To begin with, fairness demands acknowledgment that misconceptions about Herzl’s attitude toward Judaism are not entirely groundless. They originate in his early response to anti-Semitism. Initially he was not terribly bothered by the phenomenon, held his brethren accountable for the animosity they attracted, and even went so far as to assert that there was something positive about it. “We Jews have maintained ourselves…as a foreign body among the nations,” he wrote. “In the ghetto we have taken on a number of anti-social characteristics. Our character has been damaged by oppression and must be repaired through another sort of pressure.…”

Anti-Semitism, he believed, would serve that purpose. “It is the education of a group by the surrounding populations and will perhaps in the end lead to its absorption”—which, shockingly, is what he fleetingly considered to be the best solution to the Jewish problem, as recorded in his diary in 1895: “About two years ago…I wished to arrange for an audience with the pope…and say to him: I will lead a great movement for the free and honorable conversion of Jews to Christianity.”

Such references account for the accusations hurled against Herzl that he was concerned with safeguarding Jewish bodies but not the Jewish soul. Add to this that in Der Judenstaat he wrote of the need to “keep our rabbis within the confines of their synagogues” and suggested the Jewish state might be established in Argentina (followed a few years later by his proposal of Uganda), and it is not difficult to understand why his detractors accuse him of lacking Jewish sensibilities.

But any dismissal of Herzl as an ardent defender of the Jewish faith with a deep affinity for the Land of Israel does him a terrible injustice, drawing conclusions based on isolated snapshots of his life taken out of context, and ignoring his own testimony of metamorphosis.

“Deep in his soul he began to feel the need of being a Jew,” he writes about himself in the short story “The Menorah.” “His Jewish origins…had long since ceased to trouble him…he began to love his Judaism with an intense fervor.”

But even “in the old days,” Herzl bore his Jewish identity with pride. As a student, he was expelled from his fraternity after accusing it of being anti-Semitic. When he had yet to establish himself as a writer, he refused an offer to be published if he would agree to adopt a less Jewish pen name. And he blamed his failure to gain the pope’s support for the Zionist cause in part on his refusal to kiss the papal ring.

While it may have been the “push” of anti-Semitism that first propelled Herzl from a trajectory of engagement with gentile society to an obsession with creating a Jewish one, the “pull” of Judaism quickly became his source of inspiration. In his address to the First Zionist Congress, he declared that “Zionism is a return to the Jewish fold even before it is a return to the Jewish land,” and he later asserted that our aspirations must include not only the settling of Jewish soil, but also “a new blossoming of the Jewish spirit.…”

As to the depth of his connection to the Land of Israel, those who would deny it disregard the words Herzl puts into the mouth of his alter ego in Altneuland upon seeing Jerusalem for the first time: “Recollections of Seder services of long-forgotten years stirred in him. One of the few Hebrew phrases he still knew rang in his ears: Next year in Jerusalem!… And here before him the walls of Jerusalem towered in the fairy moonlight. His eyes overflowed.…”

Those who have yet to be convinced that Herzl believed religion must play a vital role in the Jewish state of which he dreamed need only turn to the last page of Altneuland. Here visitors to this new society inquire of its founders what made its establishment possible. Each answers in accordance with his own perspective: the unity of the Jewish people, new systems of transportation, the forces of nature, self-confidence. “But the venerable Rabbi Shmuel got happily to his feet and proclaimed: ‘God.’”

These are the closing words of the novel. They attest eloquently to the zenith of Herzl’s Jewish journey while raising questions about our own. What answer does each of us have as to what has made the miracle of 63 years of Jewish statehood possible? And if the price it has exacted is to be justified, of what must we keep dreaming?

(Mr. Breakstone is vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization,
and founding director of its Herzl Center on Mount Herzl, Jerusalem.)


Sarah Honig
Jerusalem Post, May 13, 2011


“Losing an illusion makes you wiser than finding a truth.”—Ludwig Börne (1786-1837)

One of the wittier and more brilliant satirists ever to have come out of Germany, Börne identified with characteristic precision that indispensable preliminary step in Everyman’s quest for solutions to whatever plagues us. “If you seek wisdom,” he advised, “seek the destruction of the illusions you hold as true more than you seek new truths.”

This is counsel that should be heeded here and now by our inveterate hawkers of megadelusion—Israel’s very own proponents of the two-state solution. Unflaggingly they peddle tattered, intrinsically disorienting delirium. Incredibly they never seem to tire of pulling the wool over their own and our eyes. They present themselves as possessors of singular insight, as harbingers of a greater truth and as wise beyond our plebeian grasp.

They won’t let go of the grand delusion that underlies their self-professed wisdom and purported truth. Their two-state delusion was certainly sweet—simplistically and seductively so. It claimed that all conflicts can be amicably and fairly settled by just dividing up whatever is contested. It touted idealistic goodwill and seemed compellingly rational. But it was from the start delusionary.

By all empirical yardsticks, that delusion has finally and undeniably crumbled into grimy dust. The illusion of a reasonable accommodation with genocidal foes—which without fail anyhow failed the test of coolheaded analysis—ignobly disintegrated when Ramallah’s Fatah and Gaza’s Hamas banded back together, at least pro forma, for the sake of expediency. Whatever their motives and whatever the long-range plans of the old-new partners, their joint venture should persuade even the most diehard of our peaceniks that the time has come to finally wise up and lose the illusion.

The prevalent illusion thus far was that we face two dissimilar Palestinian entities—negotiation-espousing Ramallah and Gaza, whose unaltered goal is Israel’s annihilation. Now that the pair has retied the knot, their deception has been exposed. That should mean that the illusion has been shattered irrefutably once and for all.

In reality the only distinction between the two always was tactical. Ramallah excels at propaganda warfare, while Gaza fires rockets. Ramallah is funded by the Quartet, while Gaza is underpinned by Damascus and Tehran. Both wish to obliterate Israel, but Ramallah is more cunning and Gaza more candidly confrontational.

Neither Ramallah nor Gaza was ever a reliable or viable peace partner. Only our indomitable wishful thinking and obsessive illusion kept conjuring up interlocutors on whom we could unload slices of homeland, directly atop the soft underbelly of our densest population centers.

Gaza’s Hamas thumbs its nose at us and glorifies the IslamoNazism of infamous Second World War-criminal Haj Amin al-Husseini, who from his Berlin residence avidly abetted Hitler’s Final Solution, recruited Muslims to the SS and actively foiled the rescue even of several thousand Jewish children.

Conversely, in his Moscow Friendship University PhD treatise, Fatah figurehead Mahmoud Abbas attempted to dwarf the Holocaust’s proportions drastically, while simultaneously accusing Zionists of colluding in Holocaust perpetration—i.e., it didn’t happen, but Israel is guilty. This history-warping dissertation is compulsory study material in his fiefdom’s schools.

Abbas’s Fatahland is nothing but a more outwardly decorous version of Hamastan. All the rest is desperate illusion.…

Most members of the dysfunctional family of nations indeed advocate the two-state solution, but we alone are delusional. All the others are stimulated by cynical vested interests, which impair our self-preservation prospects. In other words, other states don’t push us into the two-state abyss for our own good. Quite the contrary. Nevertheless, too many of our headliners and opinion-molders voluntarily embrace that detrimental external pressure. They avidly engage in scare-mongering. If we don’t succumb to what’s dictated from abroad, they hector, we’ll be left alone, ostracized, vulnerable and on the verge of extinction.

But are these demoralizers weakening our resolve for altruistic ends? Or, perhaps, are they identifying with foreigners whom they regard as sources of clout and influence? Are they obsequiously out to win coveted international credentials of enlightenment, that would differentiate them from all those bothersome insular, intransigent and politically incorrect Israelis?

A cooperatively toadying disposition could secure Israel’s peaceniks the acceptance they crave, allow them to bask in the limelight of those who really scorn Israel, win accolades in places Israelis should naturally shun, and earn approval from the most disapproving sorts.

The illusion is that serving the purposes of powers whose greedy, shortsighted interests negate one’s own interests will help promote personal or factional aggrandizement. This isn’t a recently evolved illusion. It has been with us for at least two millennia, perhaps the manifestation of a persistent, pesky mutation in the Jewish genome that keeps popping up exasperatingly in all manner of circumstances, no matter how superficially different.

Somehow Jews appear to crave acceptance, to seek to bask in the limelight of those who really revile them, to win accolades in places they should naturally shun, to yearn for approval from the most inimically disapproving sorts. Ingratiating ourselves with our enemies—and friends-of-enemies—seems preprogrammed into too many of us.

The Jews of Germany, who historically comprised one of the most successful of Diaspora communities, were mind-bogglingly susceptible to the aberration. The list of famous Germans who were born Jewish yet strove not to stay Jewish is unbelievably long. For those cursed with Jewish parentage, talent and brains were never enough to make it in intensely Judeophobic surroundings.

Too many Jews with both talent and brains deluded themselves that Christian credentials would secure them the acceptance they craved, allow them to bask in the limelight of those who really reviled them, win accolades in places they should naturally have shunned, and earn approval from the most disapproving sorts.

Razor-sharp Börne was disturbingly typical. He was born in Frankfurt as Leib Baruch, and that critically was a colossal fly in his ointment. He couldn’t even keep a bureaucratic public-sector job because of his Jewishness. His illusion was to ditch said Jewishness by becoming a Lutheran convert with a suitably Teutonic name. Gallingly, though, even that failed to erase the original sin of Baruch’s extraction. Eventually he ended up in Paris banding with other frustrated Jews to fix up the world.

Börne-Baruch’s illusion of ingratiating himself didn’t pan out. He didn’t succeed in currying the favor of non-Jews. To them Börne remained who he was born. Perhaps it was this life experience that led him to conclude that the prelude to any progress is losing one’s illusions.

Illusions won’t lead any of us anywhere—not to peace with Ramallah or with Gaza, and certainly not with both. Before we rummage around for yet more appeasement-expediting supplementary sacrifices, we must rid ourselves of specious illusion. First things first.


Jerusalem Post, May 12, 2011


For Arab Israelis and Palestinians, the creation of Israel was a “nakba,” a catastrophe. On Friday, Arab towns across the nation will kick off three days of Nakba commemorations with marches, conferences and rallies.

Though these ceremonies take place every year, this year is different in a significant and positive way. The absurd practice by which organizations and municipalities were allowed to use state funds to pay for Nakba events has been stopped. Legislation approved by the Knesset in March, known as the “Nakba law,” empowers the state to fine those who finance their commemoration ceremonies with public money.

The Nakba law will not, and was not intended to, prevent Arab Israelis or anyone else from commemorating Israel’s Independence Day in any way they wish to, as long as they do so peacefully. Rather, the legislation has put an end to the folly in which Israel underwrites activities that undermine the very foundations of Zionism by falsely presenting it as an imperialist movement that engaged during the War of Independence in ethnic cleansing and the intentional, wholesale transfer of the Arab population outside the borders of Israel.

However, while it is Arab Israelis’ and Palestinians’ right to commemorate the Nakba in a way that not only incriminates Israelis for crimes they never committed but also places all the blame for failure on the Zionist movement, it is self-defeating and a major obstacle to peace for them to do so.

If Palestinians were to look clearly and objectively at their behavior around the time of Israel’s founding, they would realize that today they are repeating many of the same mistakes.

“Jihadism”—or the hatred of the infidel and a desire to kill him—to a great degree underlay the Palestinian assault on Zionism through the 1920s-1940s period. The leader of the Palestinian national movement during these years, Haj Amin al-Husseini, was a rabidly anti-Semitic Muslim cleric with close ties to the Nazis.

Similarly, today, many Palestinians have chosen to embrace the most extreme form of Islamist leadership. In the West Bank-Gaza elections of 2006, Hamas trounced the ostensibly secular Fatah. And the national unity deal signed on May 7 in Cairo, which enjoys broad Palestinian support, has brought Hamas—a rabidly anti-Semitic Islamist terrorist organization that has launched dozens of suicide bombings and thousands of mortar shells and rockets against the Israeli civilian population—back to the heart of the Palestinian leadership in all its rejectionist, reactionary glory.

It was this sort of religious extremism and intransigence that exacerbated the plight of the Palestinians back in 1948. In the first weeks of the War of Independence, for instance, Jaffa mayor Yousef Heikal tried to reach a non-belligerency agreement with neighboring Jewish Tel Aviv, to allow the citrus crop to be harvested and exported. But Husseini vetoed this and called for “jihad against the Jews.” As a result, many of Jaffa’s Arabs were expelled during the ensuing war.…

In the 1948 War of Independence, after [Arab countries] had rejected the UN partition plan that would have given them a state, Palestinians launched a bloody offensive to prevent the emergence of a Jewish state. If they had won the war, the result would have been a massive slaughter of Jews just a few years after six million Jews had been massacred in the Holocaust.

The violent, unsympathetic and ungenerous Arab population of Palestine repeatedly attempted to destroy any hopes that the Jewish people would return to their homeland after nearly two millennia of exile and after suffering the worst genocide ever known to mankind.

Thankfully, they failed.

The world’s only Jewish state is now surrounded by 21 Arab nations and has shown a willingness to help establish a 22rd state, for Palestinians.

Yet in large part due to their distorted view of history—the Nakba being just one example—Palestinians continue to focus on their victimization and suffering while ignoring personal responsibility for their predicament. One of the crucial psychological barriers to peace today is Arab Israelis’ and Palestinians’ stubborn insistence on ignoring their own role in creating the refugee problem and in the failure to obtain Palestinian political autonomy.

Instead of devoting so much energy to emphasizing their victimization, Arab Israelis and Palestinians would do well to learn from their mistakes. At present, they seem bent on repeating them.