Tag: Theodor Herzl

ON 100TH ANNIVERSARY, BALFOUR DECLARATION & RUSSIAN REVOLUTION CONTINUE TO SHAPE MODERN HISTORY

Honouring Lord Balfour, Who Made Israel Possible: Barbara Kay, National Post, Oct. 24, 2017 — This coming November 2nd marks the centenary of the Balfour Declaration…

The Enemy of My Enemy: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 24, 2017— The dramatic swing to the Right in the recent Austrian elections is likely to have widespread repercussions throughout Europe.

Why Did Russian Jews Support the Bolshevik Revolution?: Michael Stanislawski, Tablet, Oct. 24, 2017 — When the Bolsheviks seized power in Petrograd on Oct. 25, 1917, the vast majority of Russia’s Jews opposed that takeover.

Lenin’s Deadly Revolution: Martin Amis, New York Times, Oct. 16, 2017— It was not a good idea that somehow went wrong or withered away. It was a very bad idea from the outset, and one forced into life — or the life of the undead — with barely imaginable self-righteousness, pedantry, dynamism, and horror.

 

On Topic Links

 

Why Do American Jews Idealize Soviet Communism?: Ruth R. Wisse, Tablet, Oct. 22, 2017

The First Totalitarian: Josef Joffe, New York Times, Oct. 19, 2017

Balfour’s Greatest of Gifts: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 27, 2017

The Balfour Declaration Was More than the Promise of One Nation: Martin Kramer, Mosaic, June 28, 2017

 

HONOURING LORD BALFOUR, WHO MADE ISRAEL POSSIBLE

Barbara Kay

National Post, Oct. 24, 2017

 

This coming November 2nd marks the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, which with its portentous words, “His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people…” may be the most consequential foreign-policy statement in modern history. Theodore Herzl, founder of the Zionist movement, famously said, “If you will it, it is no dream.” But without Lord James Arthur Balfour’s sympathy with Zionism, there would have been no Declaration, and more important, no British Mandate over the region of Palestine (there was then no country called Palestine). For it was the Mandate that gave the Declaration international standing, a status that cannot be legally abrogated.

 

In 1902, the British government, in which Lord Balfour served, had offered Zionist Jews land in East Africa (later Uganda) to found a national home as a response to murderous pogroms in Russia and eastern Europe. The offer was rejected, fully rousing Balfour’s curiosity about the Jewish question. I say “fully,” because Balfour had been happily immersed from childhood in Judaism’s sacred texts — the Bible, the psalms and the prophets.

 

And so, in 1906, with time on his hands after his government’s defeat, Balfour met with Israel’s future first president Chaim Weizmann, a Russian immigrant (via studies in Paris), who at the time was teaching chemistry at a Manchester university in Balfour’s constituency. This meeting was well documented in Weizmann’s memoirs. In a frequently-quoted exchange, Weizmann asked, justifying Zionists’ refusal of Uganda: “‘Mr. Balfour, supposing I were to offer you Paris instead of London, would you take it?’ He sat up, looked at me and answered: ‘But, Dr. Weizmann, we have London.’ ‘That is true,’ I said. ‘But we had Jerusalem when London was a marsh.’ He leaned back and continued to stare at me … I did not see him again till 1916.”

 

Weizmann’s insistence on the Jews’ legitimate moral claim for re-settlement in their ancient homeland was the right argument for Balfour. Balfour’s niece and biographer, Blanche Dugdale, wrote: “(Balfour) understood from that time forward that the Jewish form of patriotism would never be satisfied with anything less than Palestine. The more he thought about Zionism, the more his respect for it grew.” (When Balfour and Weizmann met again during the First World War, it was as though they had spoken days, not a decade, before. Balfour said to Weizmann, “You know, I was thinking of that conversation of ours and I believe that when the guns stop firing, you may get your Jerusalem.”)

 

Weizmann was Balfour’s first non-establishment and bullishly Zionist Jewish friend. Balfour frequently socialized with the Jewish elites of his generation, like the Rothschilds. But almost to a man, they were assimilated Reform Jews and virulently anti-Zionist. Indeed, when official negotiations with the Zionists began in 1917, high-status English Jews were incensed. The Jewish Board of Deputies, the equivalent of our Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, looked down on the Zionists from Eastern Europe as impoverished, insular and deluded. But, as Herzl noted, they at least were Jews who fully embraced their Jewish identity and “were not tortured by the idea of assimilation.”

 

One can see a contemporary parallel here in the division, especially on campus, between pro and anti-Israel Jews. Today, the battle lines are not drawn between rich vs. poor Jews, or smoothly integrated vs. unrefined immigrant Jews, and the stakes are not cultural acceptance or security. We are all accepted, we are all as secure as Jews have ever been. Today, the battle lines are ideological: progressive, anti-Zionist Jews vs. classically liberal, Israel-supportive Jews.

 

But there is one unifying theme to be found between the divided Jewish communities of 1917 and 2017. In both cases, one can see the same conceptual bright line between the two camps regarding the idea of a homeland for Jews. One thinks along social justice lines; the other along existential lines. And the two points of view cannot co-exist in harmony.

 

The social-justice school sees the Jews as one people amongst many, but one singled out for persecution and in need of a safe space, wherever that might be. In 1902, such Jews found no problem with Uganda as a solution to pogroms. Today’s social-justice Jews understand Israel’s rise to statehood as a response to the Holocaust (a view endorsed and articulated by former President Obama). They consider it was right and proper at that time for the world to recognize Jewish suffering with a safe space. Israel happened to be the obvious choice.

 

The problem with the sanctuary vision is that the national Jewish home is looked at as a gift rather than a right. What is given by others can be taken away by others. Israel’s moral legitimacy is contingent on its passing what is sometimes referred to as the Holocaust test: you Jews suffered violence, you may therefore not show violence to others, even in your own defence. The question of legitimacy is always on the progressive mind. Increasingly, Israel is perceived of as having failed that test…

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

 

Contents

THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY

                                       Isi Leibler

Jerusalem Post, Oct. 24, 2017

 

The dramatic swing to the Right in the recent Austrian elections is likely to have widespread repercussions throughout Europe. It will also oblige Israel to reconsider its current approach to far Right groups. While many readers may strongly disagree with my views, I feel that the time has come to face reality.

 

Israel is stronger today than at any time since it was founded, but the fact remains that despite a currently friendly US administration, most of the world continues to discriminate against and apply double standards to Israel. No other nation is confronted by fanatical cultures that extol evil and death and repeatedly and publicly bay for the destruction of their neighbor – to the indifference of most of the “civilized” world, which merely watches and at best remains silent.

 

In this environment, it is time for us to overcome inhibitions and intensify efforts to actively seek out alliances, with nondemocratic states or even those whose viewpoints on various issues we strongly oppose. Some would condemn such an approach as hypocritical and amoral realpolitik. Yet almost all Israelis are encouraged that our leaders have forged a positive relationship with an authoritarian Russia ruled by Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent who currently displays philo-Semitic sympathies.

 

In general, Israelis are optimistic – and with good reason – about our relationship with Egypt headed by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Yet antisemitism still dominates much of the state-controlled media as Egyptian society has been conditioned over the years to hate Israel and the Jews. This may change in time but the reason for the current rapprochement is primarily that we face common enemies.

 

The covert and somewhat schizophrenic new relationship with Saudi Arabia is even more bizarre. Fanatical Saudi Wahhabism is the fountainhead of Islamic terrorism and continues to promote it throughout the world. Its hatred of Israel and the Jews knows no bounds and is an integral component of the current Saudi educational curriculum, and its mullahs are notorious for calling on the faithful to murder Jews, “the descendants of apes and pigs.” Yet the emerging Iranian threat to impose regional hegemony induced the Saudi leaders to covertly cooperate with Israel. Israel has likewise been cultivating relations with India and China as well as other Asian, African and Latin American states, many of which are not even remotely democratic.

 

By and large, despite some of the problematic attitudes shared by these new allies, the clear majority of Israelis – across the political spectrum – consider these developments positive. However, the one region in which we seem to have made scant progress is Europe. The EU has in fact been pouring huge sums of money into NGOs that have actively undermined the Israeli government and shamelessly apply bias and double standards in all their dealings with Israel. For example, at a recent seminar in the European Parliament, a political group uniting leftists invited as one of its keynote speakers Leila Khaled, the notorious Palestinian terrorist who hijacked two civilian aircraft.

 

Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, some of the Baltic states and now the Czech Republic are pro-Israel and distance themselves from the EU policies. Yet these are mainly right-wing nationalist governments bitterly opposed to the flood of Muslim immigrants that Germany and the EU seek to impose upon them. Accusations have been leveled that they are supported by neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers and, in some cases, that is probably true. Likewise, in Western Europe we are now also confronted with a host of right-wing populist opposition groups that are emerging in protest to the immigration. These populists are likely to grow stronger, gain influence and may alter the entire political spectrum in Europe.

 

Needless to say, no responsible Jew could contemplate any association or alliance with neo-Nazis or Holocaust deniers. But the fact that a percentage of such undesirable scum support a particular party should not disqualify that party any more so than it does the US Republican Party, which is supported by some fringe racists, or the Democratic Party, which is the political home of some vicious anti-Israel and antisemitic elements. Israel cannot simply distance itself from all of these right-wing groups and must review and weigh each case individually. It is clear that if leaders of governments include apologists for Nazis or outright Holocaust deniers, we can have no truck with them. However, the reality is that despite extremists and even antisemites supporting the emerging right-wing parties, many of these groups are overall less hostile to us than leftist governments that support the Islamists and are also becoming increasingly overtly antisemitic.

 

In France, Marine Le Pen’s National Front achieved 34% of the vote in the recent presidential runoff; in Italy, the Northern League has 19 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 12 in the Senate; Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom became the second largest party in the Dutch Parliament; and Alternative for Germany created an upheaval by emerging as the third largest party following the September federal election. The latest shock was in Austria where the hardright Freedom Party became the third largest party and will become a coalition partner to the winning conservative Austrian People’s Party. All these parties, except for the Dutch, at one time had fascist elements actively supporting them.

 

Although there are problematic components in the German and Austrian parties, by and large most continue to purge antisemites from their ranks, certainly more so than the British Labor Party under Jeremy Corbyn. Significantly, Heinz-Christian Strache, head of the Austrian Freedom Party, has been an enthusiastic supporter of Israel, as have most populist parties. There are of course boundaries and sometimes this is a gray area but the Holocaust is too deeply ingrained in our psyche to even contemplate an alliance with pro-Nazi politicians…

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

 

 

Contents

WHY DID RUSSIAN JEWS SUPPORT

THE BOLSHEVIK REVOLUTION?                                                

Michael Stanislawski

Tablet, Oct. 24, 2017

 

When the Bolsheviks seized power in Petrograd on Oct. 25, 1917, the vast majority of Russia’s Jews opposed that takeover. Five years later, when the USSR was created at the end of a treacherously bloody civil war, the situation was reversed—not, as the Hebrew cliché has it, out of the love of Mordecai, but out of hatred of Haman.

 

It is difficult to paint a precise picture of the political views of Russian Jews at the time of the Revolution for the simple reason that we have relatively little precise information on the subject: From 1905 to 1917 the Jews voted in elections for the four parliaments (called Dumas) that were created in response to the 1905 Revolution. None of these elections were based on universal suffrage, first and foremost because women could not vote, and so we have no firm data whatsoever on the views of half of the Jewish population. Moreover, the franchise was more and more restricted as the years went by, and so the number of Jews voting for and being elected to the Duma went down, rather than up, during the 12 years of the parliaments’ existence. Twice in 1917, the Jews voted again, this time with female suffrage, but we still lack data on a very significant chunk of the Jewish population.

 

From the voting data we do have it is possible to conclude several crucial points: First, the Bolsheviks had very little support among the Jewish population, possibly the lowest amount of any of the multiple parties vying for support “on the Jewish street.” And this was despite the fact that many of the Bolsheviks’ most important leaders were Jews—though Jews who viewed their Jewishness as an incidental artifact of their birth, with no meaning for them either religiously (as they were atheists) or nationally (as they regarded themselves as internationalists). Most famously, when Leon Trotsky was asked what his nationality was, he replied “socialist.” More Jews, though hardly a great number, supported the Mensheviks, the less radically Marxist half of the Russian Social Democratic Party, headed by a Jew, Julius Martov, who opposed Lenin’s stance on violent revolution but shared the Bolsheviks’ anti-nationalist stance.  Far more Jews, though still a relatively small percentage of the population, supported the Bund—the Jewish socialist party whose stance on socialism was all but identical to the Mensheviks, but slowly adopted an idiosyncratic form of Jewish nationalism based on national cultural autonomy for the Jews of the Empire and dedication to Yiddish as the national language of the Jewish people. Thus, in toto, the Jewish population broadly rejected socialism in any guise, Jewish or not, as the solution to the problems of the Jews in Russia.

 

Far more Jews, though still a minority, supported the liberal party known as the Kadets (the acronym for the Constitutional Democrats), who were dedicated to liberal constitutionalism, universal suffrage, and equal rights for the minorities of the Empire. In its early years, the party included several prominent Jewish intellectuals and lawyers in its leadership ranks, a matter which attracted a great deal of support from the Jewish population as a whole. But in the years before the Revolution the Kadets became more and more conservative, often siding with the Octobrists, a right-wing party that supported the monarchy, and therefore lost a good deal of its appeal among Jews. A small specifically Jewish liberal party—the Folkspartei—shared the Kadets’ liberalism, to which they added support for national cultural autonomy similar to that of the Bund. They appealed to a very small sliver of the Jewish community—basically academics and other intellectuals.

 

Far more complicated to assess is the degree of support for Zionism at that time in the Russian Jewish community. To be sure, when Theodor Herzl founded the Zionist movement in Basel, Switzerland, in 1897, the majority of his followers were from the Russian Empire, and the movement as a whole gained a large amount of support in Russia in the subsequent two decades. But what exactly it meant to belong to a Zionist party is far from clear: Many Jews bought the symbolic shekel which gained them a membership card, but that did not mean much in terms of their actual worldviews. And almost from the start, Russian Zionism split into a number of opposing factions: the “political Zionists,” who supported Herzl and his goal of creating a Jewish homeland in Palestine; “cultural” or “spiritual” Zionists, led by Ahad Ha’am, who opposed mass Jewish migration to Palestine and the immediate creation of a state in favor of a cultural revolution among the Jews based on a radically secular new Hebraic culture; various socialist Zionist parties which attempted to synthesize conflicting views of social-democracy and Marxism with Zionism…

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

                                                                       

Contents

LENIN’S DEADLY REVOLUTION

Martin Amis

New York Times, Oct. 16, 2017

 

It was not a good idea that somehow went wrong or withered away. It was a very bad idea from the outset, and one forced into life — or the life of the undead — with barely imaginable self-righteousness, pedantry, dynamism, and horror. The chief demerit of the Marxist program was its point-by-point defiance of human nature. Bolshevik leaders subliminally grasped the contradiction almost at once; and their rankly Procrustean answer was to leave the program untouched and change human nature. In practical terms this is what “totalitarianism” really means: On their citizens such regimes make “a total claim.”

 

The following is from “the secret archive,” published as “The Unknown Lenin” (1996), and the entry is dated March 1922: “It is precisely now and only now, when in the starving regions people are eating human flesh, and hundreds if not thousands of corpses are littering the roads, that we can (and therefore must) …” At this point the unversed reader might pause to wonder how the sentence will go forward. Something like “pursue all avenues of amelioration and relief,” perhaps?

 

But no. This is Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, the leader of “a party of a new type,” who continues: “… carry out the confiscation of church valuables with the most savage and merciless energy. … Precisely at this moment we must give battle to [the clergy] in the most decisive and merciless manner and crush its resistance with such brutality that it will not forget it for decades to come. … The greater the number of representatives of the reactionary clergy and reactionary bourgeoisie we succeed in executing for this reason, the better.” Church records show that 1,962 monks, 2,691 priests and 3,447 nuns were killed in that year alone. Religion, you see, was part of human nature, so the Bolsheviks were obliged to suppress it in all its forms (including Islam and Buddhism).

 

“The Unknown Lenin: From the Secret Archive” was edited by Richard Pipes, and Pipes was responsible for what is probably the most comprehensive account of the period, namely the trilogy “Russia Under the Old Regime,” “The Russian Revolution” and “Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime, 1919-1924.” The two best single-volume studies known to me share the virtues of erudition and brio; and they very nearly share a title — “The Soviet Tragedy,” by Martin Malia, and “A People’s Tragedy,” by Orlando Figes. It was indeed a “tragedy” in the colloquial sense (“an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress”), but not at all in the literary sense, with its implicit pattern of crisis/hubris/nemesis. What is eloquent, in this case, is the word’s derivation: from the Greek tragoidia, “apparently from tragos ‘goat’ + oide ‘song.’” Song of the goat, the bleat as dirge — reminding us also that Russia was a rural society, and therefore the least eligible of the European powers for a “dictatorship of the proletariat”: There was a vast peasantry, but the proletariat was minuscule. The revolution came from above (a coup underscored by machine guns); the tragedy was experienced from below. “A People’s Tragedy,” then, is decidedly the more resonant.

 

Nowadays, of course, the “unknown” Lenin is unknown no longer — though as late as 1989 Mikhail Gorbachev was rereading the complete works of “Ilyich” (55 volumes in Russian) in search of some last-hour remedy, even as the U.S.S.R. was melting away all around him. Lenin bequeathed a fully functioning police state to Joseph Stalin ; thus the experiment, in its fulminant form, lasted from 1917 to 1953, by which time there were many millions of supernumerary deaths (and if Stalin hadn’t died in March of the latter year there would have been a second Jewish Holocaust by Christmastime). The verdict of history has at last been returned. But the jury — i.e., informed opinion in the First World — stayed out until the late 1970s. What took it so long?…

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

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Why Do American Jews Idealize Soviet Communism?: Ruth R. Wisse, Tablet, Oct. 22, 2017—[In] this country there was a time when virtually all intellectual vitality was derived in one way or another from the Communist Party.

The First Totalitarian: Josef Joffe, New York Times, Oct. 19, 2017—Can first-rate history read like a thriller?

Balfour’s Greatest of Gifts: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 27, 2017—This week Israel’s judo team was harassed and discriminated against by UAE officials when they tried to board a flight from Tel Aviv to Istanbul, en route to Abu Dhabi to participate in the Judo Grand Slam competition.

The Balfour Declaration Was More than the Promise of One Nation: Martin Kramer, Mosaic, June 28, 2017—In 1930, the British Colonial Office published a “white paper” that Zionists saw as a retreat from the Balfour Declaration.

 

 

 

 

EUROPEAN ANTISEMITISM, ESPECIALLY MUSLIM, RISES, BUT DECLINES IN US; FAR RIGHT REPRESENT “NEGLIGIBLE MINORITY”

Europe Begins to Appreciate the Reality of Islamic Terrorism: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 28, 2017— Until recently, most European governments avoided confronting the reality and true nature of Islamic terrorism.

Anti-Semitism in Europe: New Official Report: Bruce Bawer, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 25, 2017— To some of us, it is hardly a secret that anti-Semitic violence is on the rise in Europe, or that the chief perpetrators are Muslims.

Antisemitism in US Superseded by 400-Year-Old Civic Foundations: Yoram Ettinger, Algemeiner, Aug. 30, 2017 — Contrary to European antisemitism, the recent episodes of antisemitism in the US — such as hundreds of white supremacists bearing torches and giving the Nazi salute — represent a negligible American minority, religiously, socially, ethnically and politically.

The Basel Congress’ Unexpected Result, 120 Years Later: Judea Pearl, Jewish Chronicle, Aug 30, 2017— One hundred and twenty years ago, on Sept. 3, 1897, a Viennese journalist named Theodor Herzl wrote in his diary: “In Basel I founded the Jewish state.”

 

On Topic Links

 

Anti-Semitism is an Integral Part of European Culture: Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, Arutz Sheva, Aug. 6, 2017

Merkel's Historic Folly: Daniel Pipes, Achse des Guten, Aug. 22, 2017

Sarah Halimi: Beaten, Tortured and Killed — Yet France Turned a Blind Eye: Michel Gurfinkiel, Jewish Chronicle, Aug. 24, 2017

Undone Dunkirk: John Podhoretz, Weekly Standard, Aug 07, 2017

 

 

 

EUROPE BEGINS TO APPRECIATE THE REALITY OF ISLAMIC TERRORISM

Isi Leibler

Jerusalem Post, Aug. 28, 2017

 

Until recently, most European governments avoided confronting the reality and true nature of Islamic terrorism. The usual government response after each terrorist incident was to appease Muslim constituents by playing down the fact that it was inspired by Islamic fanatics and repeatedly chanting the mantra that “Islam is a religion of peace.”

 

Although all religions include both peaceful and aggressive components, an attempt to portray the dominant features of Islam today as peaceful is simply denial. While most Muslims living outside Islamic-controlled nations are lawful citizens, a significant proportion endorse the terrorist cause and only a handful pay lip service to condemn and distance themselves from the radicals. Genuinely moderate Muslims require great courage as they are not merely treated as pariahs but frequently face violent reprisals from their own kinsmen.

 

For many years, Muslims in Europe have resided in self-imposed ghettos where, in many cases, they have become a law unto themselves and police are fearful to intervene. Prior to the current mass migration, all efforts to integrate them had failed. Indeed, a good proportion of indigenous Muslim terrorists were second-generation offspring radicalized by local imams, many of whom, far from being impoverished, were educated and had decent jobs.

 

The problem escalated when Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, in what many considered was a symbolic atonement displaying Germany’s remorse for the Holocaust, provided a haven and virtually unlimited entry to millions of Syrian and North African refugees. This backfired because the clear majority were more radical, anti-democratic and antisemitic than the existing Muslim communities. In addition, those who were rejected asylum were, in the vast majority of cases, never deported, which encouraged Islamists and economic migrants to come in ever-increasing numbers. Many with terrorist records operated freely. For example, Abdelbaki Essati, the imam who orchestrated the Barcelona and surrounding area attacks, had previously been convicted of terrorism and drug dealing. Yet an order for his expulsion was overturned by a judge in 2015 and he freely pursued his terrorist objectives.

 

Not only are massive numbers of Muslims pouring into Europe, but their birth rates are considerably higher than those of the host population and threaten to alter the demography of Europe. Now with Islamic State virtually defeated on the ground, the situation is likely to deteriorate further. The organization can be expected to intensify efforts to send large numbers of its murderous disciples, initially as sleeper cells, to await orders to perpetrate acts of terrorism in Western cities.

 

Aside from suffering terrorist incidents, many Western Europeans have been shocked at the extent to which their quality of life has been undermined by these refugees. Violent crime, rape and theft abound, especially in Germany, France, the Benelux countries and the UK. Yet, every effort has been made to understate the fact that this crime wave emanates overwhelmingly from the “refugees” and pressure has been exerted to prevent public discussion of the issue. Anyone criticizing practices in Islamic states, whether the oppression of women, execution of homosexuals, stoning of adulterers, honor killings, child marriages or female genital mutilation will immediately be accused of Islamophobia. The same applies to those condemning the behavior of local Muslims. The far Left, which claims to champion human rights but which has paradoxically allied itself with the Islamists, refuses to acknowledge and condemn their barbaric practices.

 

Muslims in Europe now represent a formidable force and have become politically influential in many key electorates, pressuring their representatives to promote their interests and frequently promoting Sharia law. Needless to say, the intensified epidemic of terrorism has finally obliged Europeans and the West overall to confront the fact that they are now on the front lines facing barbaric Islamic militancy. Until now, they criticized Israel for defending itself and fawned over terrorist leaders Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, even giving the former standing ovations at the United Nations.

 

It may now be dawning on them that as Europeans, they too must fight to retain the civilization they nurtured and that Israel is justified in its self-defense. Indeed, the wave of terrorism currently pervading Europe is an extension of the Palestinian terrorism against Israel, understated by most Europeans and referred to as “resistance.” They are now beginning to recognize that the threat from militant Islamic fundamentalism is a far greater danger to their way of life and even their survival than other sources of tension such as Russia, whose territorial ambitions cannot compare to Islamic extremism seeking global domination and threatening to undermine humanity…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]   

 

 

Contents

ANTI-SEMITISM IN EUROPE: NEW OFFICIAL REPORT

Bruce Bawer

Gatestone Institute, Aug. 25, 2017

 

To some of us, it is hardly a secret that anti-Semitic violence is on the rise in Europe, or that the chief perpetrators are Muslims. But many politicians and news media have been so indefatigable in their efforts to obscure this uncomfortable fact that one is always grateful for official — or, at least, semi-official — confirmation of what everyone already knows.

 

It is a pleasure, then, to report that a new study, Antisemitic Violence in Europe, 2005-2015 — written by Johannes Due Enstad of the Oslo-based Center for Studies of the Holocaust and the University of Oslo, and jointly published by both institutions — is refreshingly, even startlingly, honest about its subject. Enstad notes that while anti-Semitic violence has declined in the U.S. since 1994, it has been on the rise worldwide. That, of course, includes Europe — most of it, anyway.

 

Examining statistics from France, Britain, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Russia, Enstad points out that one of these seven countries "clearly stands out with a very low number" of anti-Semitic incidents despite its "relatively large Jewish population"; the country in question, he adds, "is also the only case in which there is little to indicate that Jews avoid displaying their identity in public." In addition, it is the only one of the six countries in which the majority of perpetrators of anti-Semitic violence are not Muslims. Which country is Enstad referring to? Russia.

 

That Russia is relatively free of anti-Semitic violence may sound surprising to anyone familiar with the words Cossack and refusenik, but it actually makes sense. Would-be Jew-bashers in Russia know that if they're arrested for committing acts of violence, the consequences won't be pretty. In western Europe, by contrast, the courts are lenient, the terms of confinement short, and the prisons extremely comfortable. And while Muslims know that they are a protected class in Western Europe, able to commit all kinds of transgressions with near-impunity, that is far from being the case in Putin's Russia.

 

If Muslims do not dominate the anti-Semitic crime statistics in Russia, who does? The answer: right-wing extremists. Although politicians and the media in Western Europe like to talk as if Jews (and others) in their countries are principally endangered by the far-right, Russia is, in fact, the only one of the seven countries in Enstad's study in which that group does play a significant role in anti-Semitic acts.

 

What about the other countries? Denmark has few Jews, and Norway even fewer, so these two countries play a relatively minor role in Enstad's study. That leaves Germany, Britain, France, and Sweden. Nearly 10% of French Jews say they have been physically attacked for being Jewish during the past five years; in Germany and Sweden the figure is about 7.5%, in Britain nearly 5%. Asked how often they "avoid visiting Jewish events or sites" for fear of danger, 7.9% of Jews in Sweden say they do so frequently, followed by their coreligionists in France, Germany, and Britain (where the number is only 1.2%). Asked if they "avoid wearing, carrying or displaying things" in public that would identify them as Jews, 60% of Swedish Jews say they do so "all the time" or "frequently," with, again, France, Germany, and Britain following in that order. Almost 50% of French Jews have considered emigrating because they feel imperiled in their own country; for Germany the figure is 25%, and for Sweden and Britain it is just under 20%.

 

Enstad weighs official statistics from all of the countries under examination, but finds that while those from most of the countries essentially jibe with the results of independent studies, those published by both Germany and Sweden are fishy, in some cases betraying an apparent effort by officials to massage the numbers to avoid certain uncomfortable facts. While an independent survey, for example, concludes that right-wing extremists make up a small minority of perpetrators of anti-Semitic violence in Germany, German police statistics blame most such violence on just right-wingers. Enstad, in his polite way, suggests that this discrepancy is the result of "a categorisation problem." Could it be possible, Enstad wonders, that "German police considers antisemitism a right-wing type of ideology and thus categorises most anti-Semitic attacks as right-wing, regardless of the perpetrator's ethnic or religious background?" Another problem is that German officials categorize some incidents — including the fire-bombing of a synagogue — as anti-Israeli, not anti-Semitic…

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

 

 

Contents

ANTISEMITISM IN US SUPERSEDED BY 400-YEAR-OLD CIVIC FOUNDATIONS                                               

Yoram Ettinger                       

Algemeiner, Aug. 30, 2017

 

Contrary to European antisemitism, the recent episodes of antisemitism in the US — such as hundreds of white supremacists bearing torches and giving the Nazi salute — represent a negligible American minority, religiously, socially, ethnically and politically. These episodes defy the civic, moral and religious foundations of America, as well as the US political, media and civic discourse, which has demonstrated high esteem for Judaism from the era of the early Pilgrims through the Founding Fathers until today.

 

The Colonial Origin of the American Constitution, by University of Houston Prof. Donald Lutz, highlights “the continuity from the [November 11, 1620] Mayflower Compact to the American state and national constitutions of the late eighteenth century, [which] clearly evolves from basic symbols in the Judeo-Christian tradition… Protestants writing [constitutional] documents viewed their work as equivalent to the Jewish biblical covenants… between God and his chosen people… The political compact eventually evolved into what we now recognize as the American form of constitutionalism.” For example, the 1641 Massachusetts Body of Liberties — the first modern day compilation of civil and religious liberties — which inspired the 1791 US Bill of Rights, “drew heavily on the Pilgrim Code of Law proposed by John Cotton in 1636, which was based on Mosaic principles.”

 

In fact, this week’s Torah portion (“Shoftim,” Deuteronomy 16:18 — 21:9) inspired a cardinal distinction of the US constitution: a government of laws, not of men. Moreover, the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy inspired the 1629 Salem Covenant, the 1637 Providence Agreement, 1650 Connecticut Code of Laws, the 1680 New Hampshire General Laws and Liberties, the 1701 Pennsylvania Charter of Liberties and additional codes of civil liberties compiled by the early Pilgrims, setting the Founding Fathers on the constitutional course.

 

In 2017, conservative Republican Vice President Mike Pence revealed that his faith is largely guided by the Jeremiah 29:11 verse, which hangs above his mantle: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” In 2014, liberal Democratic President Barack Obama quoted Exodus 22:21 (“You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt”), in order to justify his decision to act unilaterally in deferring deportation of up to five million illegal immigrants.

 

In 2017, there are eight statues and carvings of Moses and the Ten Commandments in the US Supreme Court, in addition to similar monuments in the chamber of the House of Representatives, the National Archives and additional government offices throughout the country. The Library of Congress features Micah 6:8 in its main reading room: “What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God.”

 

The Story of Hebrew, by Dartmouth University Prof. Lewis Glinert, indicates that the first book written and printed (in 1640) in the British North America, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was Bay Psalm Book, a translation of the book of Psalms, documenting the prominent stature of the Old Testament and Hebrew among the early Pilgrims. “Familiarity with Hebrew was quite common among the intelligentsia and the better-trained of the clergy… Harvard’s first two presidents were Hebrew scholars, as were the first president of King’s College (later Columbia) and Ezra Stiles, the first president of Yale… a world-renowned intellectual, the leading American-Hebraist of the era and a prominent supporter of the American Revolution… The study of Hebrew marched hand-in-hand with the enlightenment principles of the American founding… [President Stiles] learned much about Hebrew from his friend, Rabbi Hayyim Carigal from [the original] Hebron.”

 

While there is only one Hebron in the Land of Israel — King David’s first capital — there are 18 Hebrons in the US, representing the thousands of locations across America bearing Biblical names.  This reflects the state of mind of the early Pilgrims and the Founding Fathers, who considered themselves to be “the modern-day Chosen People” and viewed the New World as “the modern-day Promised Land.” They established the 400-year-old foundation (since 1620) for the special affinity of the American people for the Jewish state, and America’s high esteem for the Old Testament, which dwarf the significance of supremacists and any other form of anti-Israel or antisemitic sentiments.

                                                                                   

Contents

THE BASEL CONGRESS’ UNEXPECTED RESULT, 120 YEARS LATER                                                

Judea Pearl

Jewish Chronicle, Aug 30, 2017

 

One hundred and twenty years ago, on Sept. 3, 1897, a Viennese journalist named Theodor Herzl wrote in his diary: “In Basel I founded the Jewish state.” He then added a curious note: “If I were to say this out loud today, everybody would laugh at me. In five years, perhaps, but certainly in fifty, everybody will agree.” This was two days after he returned from Basel, Switzerland, where, against all odds, he managed to put together the First Zionist Congress — the event that symbolizes the Jewish claim to self-determination.

 

Herzl had good reasons to feel elated about Basel: 208 delegates from 17 countries, the elite of European press, all dressed in solemn tuxedos, packed Basel’s casino to discuss his proposed solution to the “Jewish Problem.” For three days, delegates listened to fiery speeches, debated and finally came up with as clear a definition of Zionism as one can possibly articulate: “Zionism seeks to establish for the Jewish people a publically recognized, legally secured homeland in Palestine.”

 

Sure enough, upon returning to his office at the Neue Freie Presse newspaper in Vienna, Herzl’s co-workers greeted him with obvious mockery, as the “future head of state.” But that was the least of the problems Herzl had to face; skepticism, sarcasm and opposition loomed all over the world. The Vatican issued a letter protesting the “projected occupation of the Holy Places by the Jews.” (Sound familiar?) The Ottoman authorities had their suspicions aroused and began to restrict the manner in which Jews were acquiring land in Palestine, especially near Jerusalem.

 

But the worst opposition came from fellow Jews. Orthodox rabbis condemned Herzl’s attempt to hasten God’s plan of redemption, while Reform rabbis saw it as interference with their vision of becoming a moral light unto the nations by mingling among those nations. Baron Edmond de Rothschild, the French philanthropist who supported Jewish agricultural communities in Palestine since the 1880s, was adamantly against efforts to obtain international legitimization of Jewish national claims. He feared (justifiably) that such efforts would lead to tougher Ottoman restrictions, and that Jews like him would be subject to charges of dual loyalty.

 

Ahad Ha’am, the most influential Jewish intellectual of the time, wrote about his time in Basel that he felt  “like a mourner at a wedding feast.” His motto was, “Israel will not be redeemed by diplomats, but by prophets.” He could not forgive Herzl for luring the world jury with false hopes of a diplomatic solution. But the cleavage between Herzl and Ahad Ha’am was much deeper. Ahad Ha’am claimed it is futile and possibly harmful to argue the Jewish case in diplomatic courts when the Jewish people are spiritually unprepared for the task. What must be done first, he wrote, is “to liberate our people from its inner slavery, from the meekness of the spirit that assimilation has brought upon us.”

 

Herzl, on the other hand, understood that the very act of bringing the Jewish question to the international arena, regardless of its outcome, would change the cultural ills of the Jewish masses and rally them to the cause. In retrospect, he was right. There were several forerunners of Jewish self-determination (for example, Moses Hess, Yehuda Alkalai, Leon Pinsker, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda and Ahad Ha’am himself), but their writings were directed inward,  toward the intellectual cliques in the Jewish shtetl; their overall impact was therefore meager. Bringing the Jewish claim to an international court created the cultural transformation that Ahad Ha’am yearned for — the shtetl Jew began to take his own problem seriously and the Zionist program became one of his viable options.

 

History books make a special point of noting that Herzl’s predictions were miraculously accurate. Israel was declared a state on May 14, 1948, 50 years and eight months after Herzl wrote: “In Basel I founded the Jewish state.” However, I believe Herzl in effect founded the Jewish state much earlier. True, Herzl’s specific plan to persuade the Ottoman sultan to allocate land for a Jewish state was sheer lunacy and led to painful disappointments. But transforming Jewish statehood into an item on the international political agenda was a monumental achievement — it maintains this position today.

 

Moreover, the idea that Jews are reclaiming sovereignty by right, not for favor, completely changed the way Jews began to view their standing in the cosmos. It transformed the Jew from an object of history to a shaper of history. This new self-image was the engine that propelled history toward a Jewish statehood already in the early 1900s. The 40,000 Jews who made up the Second Aliyah (1904-1914) were different in spirit and determination from the 35,000 Jews who came earlier with the First Aliyah (1882-1903). At their core, they knew they were building a model sovereign nation and that Zionism is the most just and noble endeavor in human history. They established kibbutzim, formed self-defense organizations, founded the town of Tel Aviv and turned Hebrew into a practical spoken language. This spirit of hope, purpose and immediacy emanated from the Basel Congress, not from the utopian “in time to come” Zionism of Ahad Ha’am.

 

The diplomatic efforts that led to the Balfour Declaration and the subsequent ideological immigration of the Third Aliyah (1919-1923) all were direct products of the Zionist movement and made statehood practically inevitable. The miracle of Israel was planted indeed in 1897…

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

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

 

Contents

On Topic Links

 

Anti-Semitism is an Integral Part of European Culture: Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, Arutz Sheva, Aug. 6, 2017—The recent visit of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to Budapest – the first visit of an Israeli Prime Minister since the fall of communism – received much international publicity.

Merkel's Historic Folly: Daniel Pipes, Achse des Guten, Aug. 22, 2017—I expect that when the evolution of European civilization is studied in the future, August 2015 will be seen as a key moment. The decision to allow unlimited immigration into Germany has had profound implications for Europe by raising this issue in a more acute way than ever before, creating divisions both among native Europeans who are for and against large-scale immigration and between native and new Europeans.

Sarah Halimi: Beaten, Tortured and Killed — Yet France Turned a Blind Eye: Michel Gurfinkiel, Jewish Chronicle, Aug. 24, 2017 —Almost five months ago, on April 4, a 65-year-old Orthodox Jewish woman called Lucette Attal-Halimi and known by her Hebrew name, Sarah Halimi — a retired doctor and the head of a kindergarten — was attacked in the middle of the night at her home on Vaucouleurs Street, in Paris’ 11th arrondissement, apparently tortured to death and finally thrown out of a third-floor window.

Undone Dunkirk: John Podhoretz, Weekly Standard, Aug 07, 2017—There are few events in the history of war comparable to the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from the French beach at Dunkirk in the late spring of 1940.

 

 

 

AM YISRAEL CHAI!

 

 

 

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

DISTINGUISHED KEYNOTE SPEAKER

MOSHE ARENS
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
.

 

REFLECTIONS ON YOM HA’ATZMAUT 5771/2011
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.)

 

THE JOURNEY FROM MT. SINAI TO MT. HERZL
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.)

 

THE BÖRNE IDENTIFICATION
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.

 

REPEATING THE NAKBA MISTAKE
Editorial
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.