We are elated to announce the publication of our book titled Zionism: An Indigenous Struggle: Aboriginal Americans and the Jewish State. The book was published by RVP Press under the auspices of the Montreal-based Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR) and took about five years for co-editor Nathan Elberg and me to complete. Way longer than either of us anticipated. But we’re thrilled with the results and believe it was well worth the effort.
The book is an anthology of original articles – academic and personal – that focus on Native Americans and their relationship to Zionism and the Jewish state. What Native Americans think of Israel is especially relevant today considering efforts to hijack the Native American struggle for rights and recognition into the framework of Palestinian suffering. Native American writers such as Dr. David A. Yeagley and Metis native rights advocate Ryan Bellerose adamantly reject these efforts, as well as the casting of Native Americans into the role of perpetual victim. Professor Jay Corwin, whose mother was Tlingit and father Jewish, brilliantly espouses on the Christian origins behind what he calls a “pathological” and “condescending” perspective that perceives the “Good White Man” charging to the rescue of “little brown people,” whether successfully or unsuccessfully. These psychological narratives, he contends, are but recycled self-serving Lord Jim fantasies that are reinventions of the Jesus story “in which the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jesus is killed by the people he has tried to save.”
On a more hopeful note, Uqittuk Mark, an Inuit who lives in Nunavut and who I had the privilege of interviewing, expresses his admiration for Israel and the Jewish people. Barely surviving the horrors of the Holocaust, Jews reclaimed their ancestral homeland and resuscitated their ancient language. As such, he believes, Jews have much to teach Native Americans as regards political and cultural empowerment.
The struggle for indigenous rights applies equally to Jews, especially today when their ancestral right to the Land of Israel is under attack by post-modernists and anti-nationalists who ironically have no issue with Palestinian nationalism. What, indeed, constitutes Jewish indigenous rights? Scholars such as Allen J. Hertz, Prof Sally Zerker, and Ambassador Alan Baker examine this subject from a historical/legal perspective.
Some of the most moving articles are by contributors of mixed heritage – Jewish and Native American – who expound on the challenges inherent in integrating both identities. Mara Cohen, whose ancestors stem from the Oglala Lakota People and the Levant elucidates on what it means to be an Oglala Sioux Jewish woman. Scott Benlevi (Walking Knife), the only Shawnee Jew living in Israel, proudly proclaims his love of the Land and its Creator, a consciousness he inherited from both his Native American and Jewish ancestors. For Benlevi, a religious Jew, these worlds are not disparate but complementary. “Many Native traditions mirror traditional Jewish beliefs,” he explains.
Expanding further on the Native American/Jewish/Israel relationship, Concordia University’s Prof. Ira Robinson explicates the David Ahenakew antisemitism affair that played itself out in a Canadian courtroom in 2005, and the lessons learned as regards bettering Native American-Jewish relations. Scholars Howard I. Schwartz and Jose Faur dig deeper into aboriginal history to uncover hidden Jewish connections.
As you can see, this anthology represents a broad mix of perspectives and insights into what it means – and what it doesn’t mean – to be indigenous to the land, especially in light of the darker forces out to hijack one’s identity and struggles for political purposes.
This book will be available for purchase on Amazon.ca … Stay Tuned!
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.
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.]
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.]
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.]
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!
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.
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.
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.]
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.]
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.
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!
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.
Celebrating Yom Haatzmaut in a World of Turmoil: Isi Leibler, Algemeiner, Apr. 30, 2017 — Israel Independence Day symbolizes the empowerment of all Jews in the wake of the most successful renaissance of a nation after two thousand years of exile.
Israel’s Birthday, Abbas and Balfour: Ruthie Blum, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 30, 2017 — While Israel gears up to celebrate its 69th birthday, the Palestinian Authority is as busy as ever bemoaning the existence of the Jewish state.
The Fight for Zion: Asaf Romirowsky, BESA, Apr. 4, 2017 — For American Jews, Zionism has become a source of debate, controversy, embarrassment, and guilt as they try to come to terms with the activities of the Jewish state and its elected officials.
Israel Independence Day symbolizes the empowerment of all Jews in the wake of the most successful renaissance of a nation after two thousand years of exile. It highlights the dramatic contrast between our status today and that of our powerless kinsmen facing doom on the eve of the Holocaust. It is not a celebration exclusively for Israelis but for Jews throughout the world. But as we celebrate, we should be under no illusions. Our remarkable status is due to our independent power and the fact that we do not rely on the goodwill of others for our survival.
The world has not changed or learnt from the tragic consequences of appeasement in the 1930’s which led to Nazi aggression and the Holocaust. Today we witness again a state of global turmoil, confronted by an evil Islamist menace which threatens to undermine the Judeo-Christian moral structures of our civilization.
Europe is in a state of near anarchy. The decision by Chancellor Merkel to open Europe to “refugees,” most of whom are anti-democratic and fiercely antisemitic, has created massive demographic and social upheaval. Conventional political parties are disintegrating and populist and radical right wing parties are on the upsurge, with governments obliged to restrict civil liberties to strengthen security.
In the US, the liberal left has still not come to terms with the fact that the populist Donald Trump was elected as their president. But he has astounded them by showing that despite his America First policy, he was not reticent in employing force to bring vicious war criminals like Assad to heel and sending a clear message to the North Koreans and Iranians that the days of Obama groveling were over.
What is the status of Jews in this insane world? Jews who remain in the diaspora have forfeited the privilege of being part of the greatest miracle of the last 2000 years: the ultimate realization of the most sacred Jewish prayers, faith and hope during endless years of exile and persecution. And today, the high cost of remaining in the diaspora is becoming all too clear. Antisemitism is at an all-time high with Jews in most European countries treated like pariahs, facing constant terror threats and in many cases requiring security forces to guard them at their synagogues and their children in their schools.
In the United States madness prevails with far left “liberal” Jews spearheading “Jewish religious” campaigns against Trump. Even mainstream groups like the ADL and sectors of the Reform movement sought to accuse Trump and his administration of either supporting or harboring antisemites. The problem with many of these Jews is that they are utterly ignorant of their Jewish heritage and view Israel through the far-left prism in which regarding it as a colonialist implant is a critical component of their DNA.
But despite this dismal picture of Diaspora Jewry, most Jews are reassured that with the existence of an empowered Jewish state always ready and willing to accept them, they will never face the horror that their ancestors experienced in Europe in the 1930’s when no country would grant them haven. But at the end of the day, it is inevitable that it will be a struggle for Jews outside of Israel to retain their identity, whether because of antisemitism or assimilation, and as their commitment to Israel diminishes, so too will their connection to the Jewish people and Judaism. Yom Haatzmaut should be more than a holiday and barbecues. We should focus on the spiritual aspects and seek to convey to younger generations that the rebirth of their nation – which so many seem to take for granted – is truly miraculous.
We need only remind ourselves of the incredible devastation that took place 75 years ago following 2000 years of wretched dispersion, persecution, expulsion and murder and climaxing with the Holocaust. We should view this in the light of our resurrected nation which has grown from 600,000 Jews in 1948 to over 6 million Jews today. We should remind ourselves that our vibrant nation state revived the sacred tongue of our ancestors and molded broken refugees and survivors from all corners of the globe into a thriving national culture. Despite being one of the smallest states in the world, Israel has created one of the most powerful global military forces which has defeated superior forces seeking its destruction and today deters its enemies.
Israel is an economic miracle with one of the most successful economies in the world, creating more startups in the technological and medical arena per capita than any other country. Over recent years, Israel has discovered vast gas fields which will make it an exporter rather than an importer of energy. And it has produced the most efficient desalinization program in the world which enabled it to overcome the water shortage and provide assistance to other nations.
Never in their wildest dreams could those who survived the Holocaust ever have imagined the miraculous success of the recreated nation state based primarily on refugees from Eastern European pogroms, Nazism or Arab persecution. It was a wise decision, reflecting compassion and insight, to directly precede Yom Haatzmaut with Yom Hazikaron, a day to commemorate those who sacrificed their lives in defense of our homeland. Above all, as we celebrate we should pledge to ensure that as a nation we must continue strengthening ourselves militarily, economically and socially. The reason for our extraordinary success in nation-building flows from our inner strength and determination.
Israel today has been blessed with an American leader who is deeply sensitive to Jews and has displayed unprecedented support for Israel. We should seek to continue improving our relationship with the Trump administration and cooperate with his efforts to renew peace negotiations. We can hopefully progress toward reaching an accommodation on the settlements, annexing the Golan and have Washington formally recognize Jerusalem as our capital by relocating its embassy.
Where appropriate, we should continue building both covert and open alliances even with countries traditionally hostile towards us who share the common threat facing the region from the Iranian terror state. Despite living in a region where barbarism is rampant and facing threats from religious fanatics pledged to our destruction, Israel has never been as strong and secure as it is today. We have every reason to count our blessings, rejoice and give thanks to the Almighty. Chag Sameach.
While Israel gears up to celebrate its 69th birthday, the Palestinian Authority is as busy as ever bemoaning the existence of the Jewish state. PA President Mahmoud Abbas does not admit to this, however, particularly when speaking to members of the administration in Washington. The last thing he wants at this moment is to have his invitation to the White House rescinded. He also hopes to continue to manipulate the US State Department into playing the shuttle diplomacy game as a means of keeping himself relevant and blaming Israel for any lack of progress on the peace front.
But even his upcoming meeting with US President Donald Trump, scheduled for May 3, did not deter the aging rejectionist from reiterating his threat to sue Britain for the Balfour Declaration, the November 2, 1917, letter sent by British foreign secretary Arthur Balfour to Jewish community leader Walter Rothschild, stating, “His Majesty’s government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.” This week, the PA received written confirmation from the British government that no apology for the “historic” Balfour Declaration would be issued. “We are proud of our role in creating the State of Israel,” it declared. “The task now is to encourage moves towards peace.”
The Palestinian campaign to criminalize the Balfour Declaration was launched last summer, with Abbas announcing plans to engage in an international campaign against the United Kingdom. At the end of June, PA Foreign Minister Riyad Maliki attended the Arab League summit in Mauritania – in place of Abbas, whose brother had just died in Qatar – and conveyed his bereaved boss’s message to the Muslim-Arab honchos gathered in Nouakchott: the PA intended to file a lawsuit against Britain for the Balfour Declaration and wanted to enlist the support and assistance of their brethren in this endeavor. A few months later, in September, Abbas demanded an apology for the document in his address to the UN General Assembly, as the UK and Israel began preparations to mark its centennial in 2017.
In a piece in The Washington Post in October, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called the Balfour Declaration the “symbolic beginning of the denial of our rights.” He failed to mention that it is actually the leaders in the West Bank and Gaza who have ever denied the Arabs of the PA their rights. Well before the Six Day War, when the term “Palestinian people” was coined, Arabs rejected the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine – the original “two-state solution.” They have been refusing to reach any peaceful arrangement with Israel since then.
The end result is on display for all to see. Israel has spent nearly seven decades building a booming democratic country, while the Arabs of Palestine have frittered away the time by engaging in acts of destruction. Yes, as the Jewish state marks 69 years since its establishment, 50 years since the reunification of Jerusalem and 100 years since the Balfour Declaration, the PA is threatening to take Britain to court. Let Trump be reminded of this before hosting Abbas in the Oval Office and listening to his lies. The rest of us should take a break from discussions of war and peace to toast Balfour – and Israel’s success in a region otherwise characterized by failure.
For American Jews, Zionism has become a source of debate, controversy, embarrassment, and guilt as they try to come to terms with the activities of the Jewish state and its elected officials. Consequently, many seek to detach themselves from what used to embody the core of Jewish identity. A case in point is Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), a pro-BDS Jewish group that uses its “Jewishness” to validate its cause.
While JVP’s desire to persuade the Israeli government to change its policies is legitimate, the growing strength of the BDS movement at large makes the demise of the two-state solution ever more likely. JVP’s executive director, Rebecca Vilkomerson, is notorious for her hard leftist views, as illustrated in her Washington Post op-ed entitled “I’m Jewish, and I want people to boycott Israel.” So strong is JVP’s antipathy to Israel that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has called it “the largest and most influential Jewish anti-Zionist group” in the US. Yet the true essence of Zionism lies in its ability to encapsulate both religious and secular Jewish identities. The current challenge is to identify the component of renewal. The Zionist enterprise did not end with the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Each generation must redefine Zionism as it is relevant to them.
Theodor Herzl famously wrote in his diary, “Were I to sum up the  Basel Congress in a word – which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly – it would be this: ‘At Basel, I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today, I would be answered by universal laughter. If not in five years, certainly in fifty, everyone will know it.’” The difference between Herzl’s generation and post-1948 generations was a first-hand understanding of what the absence of a Jewish state means for Jewish survival. The state represents the difference between autonomy and servility, indeed between life and death. But today’s millennial generation has no memory of a time when Israel did not exist or was ever on the “right side of history.”
Given the wedge that has been pushed between Zionism and Judaism, one might even suggest that were Herzl to raise the question of a Jewish homeland today, he might not receive support. The irony is that what initially led Zionist leaders to bond over the idea of a homeland was the growing threat of antisemitism. Today, even as antisemitism is on the rise around the world, anti-Zionism is often viewed as legitimate criticism.
Abba Eban dispelled this notion eloquently, stating, “There is no difference whatever between antisemitism and the denial of Israel’s statehood. Classical antisemitism denies the equal right of Jews as citizens within society. Anti-Zionism denies the equal rights of the Jewish people its lawful sovereignty within the community of nations. The common principle in the two cases is discrimination.”
But with the popularity of the BDS movement’s crusade against Israel, some American Jews on the left have placed other Jews beyond the pale, as people who cannot be debated due to their abominable views. Moreover, an insidious double standard applies: Jewish organizations like Hillel must include anti-Israel voices or be deemed intolerant or racist. Jewish intellectuals must engage in dialogue with BDS representatives or other Palestinian advocates who demand the ethnic cleansing of Israel, lest they be called cowards and be subjected to insults. And now, leading American Jewish intellectuals have adopted the rhetoric and methods of BDS, to be applied to Jews only. Perhaps the next move will be to follow the Palestinian lead and charge Israelis in international courts.
Individuals like Peter Beinart, in his book The Crisis of Zionism, purport to offer so-called “tough love,” an approach that is supposedly required to curb the alleged expansion of the “occupation.” Driven by guilt, Beinart has embraced the left’s move to distance itself from Israel and the Zionist enterprise at large. For Beinart, the answer is a “Zionist” boycott of Israeli settlements and products. Beinart, like many post-Zionists and revisionists, only opposes the “occupation,” which leads him to place all the onus for the lingering Palestinian-Israeli problem on Israel. In this distorted narrative, Israel is largely to blame for the collapse of the Oslo/Camp David process of the 1990s-2000s and for the subsequent failures to revive the peace process. But the centrality of the “settlements” is an empty issue. It deflects from the core problem that truly obstructs a negotiated settlement: the Palestinians’ century-long rejection of a sovereign Jewish state.
There is little debate that there will be a redistribution of land in the event that a peace agreement is achieved. Most of the bargaining will be about whether these exchanges will take the shape of a total phased Israeli withdrawal, or an exchange of land annexing the more populous Israeli towns to Israel for other land in the Jordan Valley or Negev Desert. But this must be left to the parties to decide, not imposed by outside powers or guilt-ridden American Jews.
Anti-Zionist American Jews have found Israeli counterparts even in the Knesset. This was on display at the AIPAC Policy Conference in late March, at which Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg, whose trip to the conference had been paid by AIPAC, decided to join a protest outside the conference. At the protest, organized by the Jewish anti-establishment group IfNotNow, demonstrators held up signs reading “Reject AIPAC” and “Reject Occupation.” Zandberg justified her decision to participate by saying, “there is no greater deed of patriotism than opposing the occupation.”
Stronger Zionist anchors are needed within the Jewish community to overcome the guilt over Israel’s existence rather than its actions. Collective historical memory is absent from today’s discourse on Zionism, especially in America. While there are Zionists on the left and right who still appreciate Jewish history and believe in Jewish destiny, Zionist renewal outside Zion is needed. There is a serious need to teach and appreciate both Herzl’s Zionism and “Start-Up Zionism” if the dream is to be kept alive.
As our bus crossed the Gaza border back into Israel at Rafiach after spending eight days in Egypt, on an Academic Study Mission of American Professors for Peace in the Middle East, I was filled with a sense of relief and joy knowing we had returned to Israel and deeply moved at the sight of "green" Israel and the realization that we were "home again" and secure. I was happy at seeing young Israeli men and women soldiers at the border and those who climbed aboard our bus to welcome us. Part of their routine was, of course, checking under our bus and under our seats and in the overhead, to be sure there were no bombs or explosives on board that might endanger us or anyone else. It was the Eve of Purim, 1985.
Young, friendly, tense, citizen soldiers.
In home spun costumes whose originality
tells us much more than uniforms and
Absence of militarism and alone
They peek in and under, check our bus
Knowing too well the cost of smuggled danger,
and the daily price they pay
For fresh food and water, freedom,
self-government and civil society.
And we applaud the flowers
anemone, goldenrod and narcissus fields full,
Allan Levine is Professor Emeritus – Psychology, Los Angeles Valley College and
contributor to the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Happy Yom Ha’atzmaut!
The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel: Jewish Virtual Library—On the day the British Mandate over Palestine expired – Friday, May 14, 1948 – the Jewish People's Council gathered at the Tel Aviv Museum to declare the establishment of the State of Israel. There is no record of who attended the meeting, but 350 invitations were sent out instructing the recipients to keep the information secret.
UNESCO’s Anti-Israel Resolution Gets Least Votes Ever: UNWatch, May 2, 2017—“Israel lost the vote today, but it did score a small moral victory: despite reported fears that Germany’s negotiations with the Palestinians would erode support, Israel in the end won more votes than ever before, including from major democracies like the U.S., Britain, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.
Moments in History: What Led up to the Declaration of Israel: Hillel Fendel, Arutz Sheva, May 1, 2017—As Israel's Independence Day arrives – its 69th edition is celebrated on Tuesday, May 2 – let's face it: Not everyone knows exactly what happened when. Ask a given millennial how Israel arose, and as likely as not, the answer will be, "Uh, we were in exile for 2,000 years and then the British left and we had a State."
Finally, something good comes out of Chicago! A richly-deserved tribute to Hillel's remarkable human-rights work in Geneva–the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, where Hillel was a student Intern and editor of our Dateline: Middle East student magazine (now in its 28th consecutive year!), is delighted, as are all of us at Liberal Arts College, Concordia University, who were privileged to teach him. A great day all around, for Chicago, Montreal, Israel, the Jewish People, and above all for Hillel himself.
In honor of the visit by the executive director of UN Watch, the Chicago City Council adopted a resolution declaring today, September 15, 2016, to be Hillel Neuer Day, in recognition of his “contributions to promote peace, justice and human rights around the world.” Before an audience of 1,300 delegates, including diplomats and elected officials, Neuer delivered the keynote address today at the annual meeting of the Chicago Jewish Federation.
The city council resolution reads in part: Whereas, UN Watch is a non-governmental organization based in Geneva, Switzerland that monitors the United Nations, fights bias against the State of Israel and promotes human rights; and whereas, In his role as one of the world’s foremost human rights advocates, Hillel Neuer has drawn global attention to both atrocities and injustice;
Be it resolved, That we, the Mayor and the members of the Chicago City Council, assembled this fourteenth day of September, 2016, do hereby welcome Hillel Neuer to the City of Chicago and do hereby recognize his contributions to promote peace, justice and human rights around the world; and be it further resolved, That Thursday, September 15, 2016, shall be officially recognized as Hillel Neuer Day throughout the City of Chicago.
Shame on the ADL: Isi Leibler, Candidly Speaking, Sept. 15, 2016 — Irrespective of one’s personal opinion of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s videotaped remarks on Palestinian “ethnic cleansing” of Jews from any future Palestinian state, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt’s scornful public condemnation is simply beyond the pale.
Does the Times Want Middle East Peace?: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Aug. 30, 2016 — Something very odd has been happening in the Middle East and, as Sunday’s editorial in the New York Times illustrates, it has a lot of liberals seriously depressed.
Why the Oslo Process Doomed Peace: Efraim Karsh, Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2016 — Twenty-three years after its euphoric launch on the White House lawn, the Oslo "peace process" between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) stands out as one of the worst calamities to have afflicted the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Irrespective of one’s personal opinion of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s videotaped remarks on Palestinian “ethnic cleansing” of Jews from any future Palestinian state, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt’s scornful public condemnation is simply beyond the pale. On numerous occasions over the past few months, I have expressed incredulity and anger at the statements of Greenblatt for determinedly tilting the ADL policy away from its primary mandate of combating anti-Semitism and steering it toward partisan social action issues.
The latest example of this was his kumbaya remarks to a J Street audience when he effectively endorsed moral equivalence between Israelis and Palestinians, complained of our failure to recognize the legitimacy of the Palestinian narrative, questioned Israel’s democratic structure, engaged in partisan electoral politics and condemned the Republican platform as “anti-Zionist for omitting a two-state structure, and insisted that groups supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which he admittedly condemns, are “animated by a desire for justice.”
Greenblatt also continues to align the ADL with the Black Lives Matter movement, despite that the movement has accused Israel of ethnic cleansing and genocide and called on black institutions to support BDS. He refuses to disassociate from them and continues to promote Black Lives Matter in the ADL’s educational and family discussion guides in schools and elsewhere. He considers that this organization, despite its anti-Semitism, is promoting “critical civil rights issues that merit attention” and that only “a small minority of the leaders” are responsible for the anti-Semitic campaigns.
Greenblatt, formerly employed in the Obama administration, does not seem to appreciate that his current organization — which has a charity budget in excess of $50 million — has a primary role to resist the growing tide of anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism that is sweeping the United States, especially on college campuses. Instead, in what is utterly unprecedented from a purportedly mainstream American Jewish organization, he has publicly excoriated the position adopted by the democratically elected head of the Israeli government. Netanyahu’s video was, as expected, criticized within Israel by the traditional left wing, but endorsed by the vast majority of Israelis.
Netanyahu simply stated facts. The Palestinians have made it eminently clear again and again that a Palestinian state would be Judenrein. One only has to review the ethnic-cleansing policy adopted by the Jordanians in 1948 when Jews were expelled from east Jerusalem and the Etzion Bloc. Despite the slick PR of Palestinian spokesmen denying that this is the case to naïve Western audiences, there is no question in the mind of anyone who understands the situation that Jews would not be tolerated in any Palestinian hegemony — and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has publicly said it repeatedly.
The Palestinian Authority officially supports this approach and I can only express regret that, presumably out of sensitivities to liberal Americans who refuse to confront this reality, it took so long for Netanyahu to shine the spotlight on this despicable abomination. After all, this highlights the outrageous fact that the Palestinians seek to delegitimize a Jewish presence throughout the biblical homeland. Other than some Muslim countries, there is no place in the world today where Jews are prohibited from living.
Netanyahu is paving the way for Israel’s response to a predictable United Nations assault on its policies later in the year. The reference to Israel’s Arab citizens makes the valid point that, despite the inevitable upheavals during the 1948 war when the nascent Jewish state was invaded by the combined armies of multiple Arab states, at no stage has Israel engaged in systematic ethnic cleansing of its Arab inhabitants. Not surprisingly, the U.S. State Department responded that “using this type of terminology is inappropriate and unhelpful” and reiterated that settlement construction was an obstacle to peace. In so doing, they failed to address the legitimate question raised by Netanyahu as to whether they accept that a Palestinian state should be Judenrein.
American Jews can agree or disagree with Netanyahu. But for the head of the ADL, a major Jewish organization, to condemn Netanyahu in the journal Foreign Policy, and accuse him of choosing “to raise an inappropriate straw man regarding Palestinian policy toward Israeli settlements” was unprecedented and totally unacceptable. He stated further that “like the term ‘genocide,’ the term ‘ethnic cleansing’ should be restricted to actually describing the atrocity it suggests — rather than distorted to suit political ends.” Despite all the evidence to the contrary, he emphatically repudiated Netanyahu’s charge that the Palestinians seek ethnic cleansing.
Under such circumstances, one would have expected that every major Jewish organization would dissociate itself from Greenblatt’s statement, noting that it is not the role of an organization whose primary objective is combating anti-Semitism to engage in public condemnations of views expressed by the democratically elected leader of Israel. But aside from the Zionist Organization of America, a curtain of silence has again enveloped the major Jewish organizations.
It would seem that in the post Abe Foxman era, the ADL board has knowingly empowered an individual whose outlook is not only liberal but effectively represents an echo chamber of left-wing Democratic politics. In fact, despite Greenblatt’s protestations of love for Israel and reiteration that the U.S.-Israel nexus is strong, especially after finalization of the defense agreement, the ADL’s approach to Israel is similar to that of J Street, having no hesitation in telling Israelis that it knows better than they do what is good for them.
This is a worrisome situation. American Jews should inform the ADL board that by enabling their CEO to make such partisan statements, they are causing enormous harm to Israel during this critical period when retaining U.S. public opinion is of crucial importance. If the ADL fails to act, American Jews should question whether they should continue supporting what was until recently a venerable mainstream Jewish organization, which has now been hijacked by a CEO whose outlook has more in common with J Street and less with combating anti-Semitism and supporting the embattled Jewish state.
Something very odd has been happening in the Middle East and, as Sunday’s editorial in the New York Times illustrates, it has a lot of liberals seriously depressed. What’s bothering them? It turns out their collective noses are out of joint about progress toward Middle East peace and the fact that the Palestinian campaign that seeks to avoid direct talks and isolate Israel is failing. If that wasn’t bad enough, a series of diplomatic breakthroughs are happening on the watch of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the man that the Times and the so-called “peace camp” has been busy slandering as an opponent of peace.
After several decades of unremitting hostility, some of the fiercest opponents of Israel are starting to view the Jewish state very differently. Covert ties with Saudi Arabia are now becoming more open. Egypt, whose cold peace with Israel remained frozen in open hostility since Anwar Sadat’s assassination, has a government that is no longer shy about treating Israel as an ally if not a friend. Jerusalem’s relations with much of the Third World, especially African nations, are also warming up.
Those who care about thawing tensions between Jews and Arabs should be applauding all of this. That’s especially true of those voices that spend so much time deploring Israel’s isolation and the idea that it is an armed camp that is locked in perpetual combat with the entire Muslim and Arab world. But the Times and others on the left are lukewarm about these positive developments for their own reasons.
The first is that Israel and its Arab neighbors have been drawn together in large part through their mutual antipathy for Obama administration policies, and most specifically about the Iran nuclear deal. The Times has been one of the principal cheerleaders of the pact, which its advocates incorrectly claim has ended the nuclear threat to Israel and the Arab states. But those nations that are targeted most directly by Iran—Israel and Saudi Arabia—understand that U.S. appeasement of Iran advances the latter’s drive for regional hegemony as well as merely postponing the moment when it will achieve nuclear capability. The coming together of other Middle East nations in reaction to this travesty is evidence that those most at risk consider Obama’s false promises and his desire for a general U.S. retreat from the region a clear and present danger to the region.
Just as important is the Palestinian dismay about the willingness of many in the Arab world to embrace Israel as an ally. The irony is that both the Saudis and Egyptians hope to use their new ties with Israel to jump-start peace talks and Israel has signaled its willingness to try again. But that is exactly the opposite of what the Palestinian Authority wants. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas is appalled about the idea of being pushed into negotiations with Israel again because it will force him to either refuse peace offers (as he did in 2008) or to blow up the talks (as he did in 2014) to avoid being cornered again. The PA prefers to stick to its strategy of refusing negotiations while asking the United Nations to recognize their independence without first requiring them to make peace with Israel. New talks with Israel mean that strategy, which allows the PA to keep refusing to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn, would be thwarted.
Ever since 1967, any hope of Arab reconciliation with Israel has been frustrated by Palestinian rejectionism. But that is a luxury that Cairo and Riyadh can no longer afford because of the nuclear deal and the rise of Islamist terror groups such as Hamas in Gaza, Iran’s Hezbollah auxiliaries in Lebanon as well as ISIS. Egypt rightly sees Hamas and ISIS as direct threats that must be faced. Moreover, Israel’s fears that a withdrawal from the West Bank would lead to a Hamas takeover there are viewed with more understanding in Cairo than they are at the Times.
Contrary to the Times assertion that neither Israel nor the Palestinians want peace, the Arab states understand that it is the latter that is unwilling to negotiate, let alone end the conflict for all time. As the Times notes, better relations between Israel and the Arab nations do not preclude a peace deal with the Palestinians. But those nations can’t wait for a sea change in Palestinian political culture that might permit them to finally say “yes” to peace to occur before they can cooperate with the Israelis to provide for their mutual security.
The outrage here is that when faced with a development that represents genuine progress toward ending the conflict, the Obama administration, its media cheerleaders and the rest of the left are nonplussed. They’re not only still stuck in an outdated concept about the centrality of the Palestinian problem but would prefer to see Netanyahu’s outreach fail rather than concede that they were wrong.
Twenty-three years after its euphoric launch on the White House lawn, the Oslo "peace process" between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) stands out as one of the worst calamities to have afflicted the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For Israel, it has been the starkest strategic blunder in its history, establishing an ineradicable terror entity on its doorstep, deepening its internal cleavages, destabilizing its political system, and weakening its international standing. For the West Bank and Gaza Palestinians, it has brought subjugation to the corrupt and repressive PLO and Hamas regimes, which reversed the hesitant advent of civil society in these territories, shattered their socioeconomic wellbeing, and made the prospects of peace and reconciliation with Israel ever more remote. This in turn means that, even if the territories were to be internationally recognized as a fully-fledged Palestinian state (with or without a formal peace treaty with Israel), this will be a failed entity in the worst tradition of Arab dictatorships at permanent war with both Israel and its own subjects.
"We make peace with enemies," Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin reassured a concerned citizen shortly after the September 13, 1993 conclusion of the Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements (DOP, or Oslo I). "I would like to remind you that the [March 1979] peace treaty with Egypt had many opponents, and this peace has held for 15 years now." True enough. But peace can only be made with enemies who have been either comprehensively routed (e.g., post-World War II Germany and Japan) or disillusioned with the use of violence—not with those who remain wedded to conflict and war. And while Egyptian president Anwar Sadat was a "reformed enemy" eager to extricate his country from its futile conflict with Israel, Yasser Arafat and the PLO leadership viewed the Oslo process not as a springboard to peace but as a "Trojan Horse" (in the words of prominent PLO official Faisal Husseini) designed to promote the organization's strategic goal of "Palestine from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea"—that is, a Palestine in place of Israel.
Arafat admitted as much five days before signing the accords when he told an Israeli journalist, "In the future, Israel and Palestine will be one united state in which Israelis and Palestinians will live together"—that is, Israel would cease to exist. And even as he shook Rabin's hand on the White House lawn, the PLO chairman was assuring the Palestinians in a pre-recorded, Arabic-language message that the agreement was merely an implementation of the organization's "phased strategy" of June 1974. This stipulated that the Palestinians would seize whatever territory Israel surrendered to them, then use it as a springboard for further territorial gains until achieving the "complete liberation of Palestine."
The next eleven years until Arafat's death on November 11, 2004, offered a recapitulation, over and over again, of the same story. In addressing Israeli or Western audiences, the PLO chairman (and his erstwhile henchmen) would laud the "peace" signed with "my partner Yitzhak Rabin." To his Palestinian constituents, he depicted the accords as transient arrangements required by the needs of the moment. He made constant allusion to the "phased strategy" and the Treaty of Hudaibiya—signed by Muhammad with the people of Mecca in 628, only to be disavowed a couple of years later when the situation shifted in the prophet's favor—and insisted on the "right of return," the standard Palestinian/Arab euphemism for Israel's destruction through demographic subversion. As he told a skeptical associate shortly before moving to Gaza in July 1994 to take control of the newly established Palestinian Authority (PA):
I know that you are opposed to the Oslo accords, but you must always remember what I'm going to tell you. The day will come when you will see thousands of Jews fleeing Palestine. I will not live to see this, but you will definitely see it in your lifetime. The Oslo accords will help bring this about.
This perfidy was sustained by Arafat's successor, Mahmoud Abbas, who has had no qualms about reiterating the vilest anti-Semitic calumnies: In his June 2016 address to the European Parliament, Abbas accused Israeli rabbis of urging the poisoning of Palestinian water. In his doctoral dissertation, written at a Soviet university and subsequently published in book form, he argued that fewer than a million Jews had been killed in the Holocaust, and that the Zionist movement colluded in their slaughter. He has vowed time and again never to accept the idea of Jewish statehood, most recently in March 2014, when he rallied the Arab League behind his "absolute and decisive rejection to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state," and in September 2015, when he derided Israel in his U.N. address as "a historic injustice … inflicted upon a people … that had lived peacefully in their land."
An unreconstructed Holocaust denier, PA president Mahmoud Abbas has voiced incessant anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incitement. In his June 2016 address to the European Parliament, Abbas accused Israeli rabbis of urging the poisoning of Palestinian water. He has pledged to prevent the Jews from "defiling al-Aqsa with their filthy feet" and has vowed time and again never to accept the idea of Jewish statehood.
Back home in the PA, Abbas was even more forthright, pledging to prevent the Jews from "defiling al-Aqsa with their filthy feet" and stating that "every drop of blood that has been spilled in Jerusalem is holy blood as long as it was for Allah." When this incitement culminated in a sustained wave of violence that killed scores of Israelis in a string of stabbings, car rammings into civilians, and shooting attacks, Abbas applauded the bloodshed as a "peaceful, popular uprising. … We have been under occupation for 67 or 68 years [i.e., since Israel's establishment]," he told his subjects in March 2016. "Others would have sunk into despair and frustration. However, we are determined to reach our goal because our people stand behind us." In other words, more than two decades after the onset of the Oslo process, Israel's "peace partner" would not even accept the Jewish state's right to exist, considering its creation an "illegal occupation of Palestinian lands."…
[To Read the Full Article, with Footnotes, Click the Following Link—Ed.]
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!
Shimon Peres and the Mirage of Peace: Pini Dunner, Algemeiner, Sept. 16, 2016 —The news earlier this week that Shimon Peres had suffered a devastating stroke was greeted with shock and sadness across the political spectrum. His onetime rival, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, tweeted: “Shimon, we love you and the whole country is wishing you a speedy recovery.”
Journalist Jeffrey Goldberg Stirs Storm After Tweeting he Might Stop Reading Haaretz: JTA, Aug. 2, 2016 —U.S. journalist Jeffrey Goldberg stirred up a media dust storm in Israel after he tweeted that he might give up reading Haaretz. “I think I’m getting ready to leave Ha’aretz behind, actually,” Goldberg tweeted, including a link to an article in the left-leaning Israeli daily written by two American-Jewish historians who discuss why they have “left Zionism behind.”
Hillary’s Media is Torching its Standards to Cover the Election: Michael Goodwin, New York Post, Sept. 11, 2016 —There is nothing more to learn about Hillary Clinton’s home-brew server, deleted e-mails, chronic cough or anything else that makes her look bad, according to The Washington Post. And The New York Times, stung by Clinton’s woeful performance at last week’s presidential forum, believes the debates are going to be a total disaster unless moderators get much, much tougher with Donald Trump.
Cyberspace, the Final Frontier: Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, BESA, Aug. 30, 2016 — Sometimes dramatic advances are made in important fields far from the public eye, overshadowed by senseless media uproars over insignificant things.
Israel Proves the Desalination Era Is Here: Rowan Jacobsen, Scientific American, July 29, 2016 — Ten miles south of Tel Aviv, I stand on a catwalk over two concrete reservoirs the size of football fields and watch water pour into them from a massive pipe emerging from the sand.
Zionism Jilted as Israelis Flock to Far Lands in Tech Push: Shoshanna Solomon, Times of Israel, Sept. 13, 2016 — As Israeli engineers, academics and high tech workers leave their homes to conquer foreign markets, one cannot but help wonder what the founder of the Zionist movement Theodor Herzl would have to say on the matter.
The future of Israel's satellite industry has recently been called into question. On Thursday, Israel's space industry was shocked after a rocket carrying the Spacecom Satellite Communications Ltd's Amos-6 satellite, considered to be the most-advanced Israeli communications satellite in history, exploded on the launchpad at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The blast decimated the $200 million Israeli-built device, which was made by Israel Aerospace industries (IAI) and the Israel Space Agency.
The Israel Space Agency said an explosion occurred during the fueling of the missile launcher, leading to the satellite’s total loss, which will have a “substantial affect on the agency.” Worries about the future of Israel's satellite program were nothing new, however. There had already been fears that Israel would scrap its satellite program after the government said it would thin out funding to the program. In addition, the State had already said it would not continue funding development of an "Amos 7" satellite. This alone would have caused Israel to lose its competitive edge in the field of satellite technology.
Even though Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis said his office will continue to support Israel's communication satellite program, he did not specify how much funding would continue. Many worry it will not be enough. Currently, the program gets $300 million worth of government funding. Even in April, senior IAI officials had fears that they would have to let go of some of its most qualified employees, responsible for the satellite's development, manufacturing, assembly and hoped-for launch into outer space.
Although the IAI invests large sums of its own money into satellite development, the government had plans to thin out its contribution, which would have lead to the firing of between 200 to 250 people, most of them experts in their field. Of further concern is that there is no long-term government plan for the satellite industry, despite Israel's 30-year dominance in the field. Thursday's explosion will delay any new satellite launches by at least two-and-a-half years, causing a major setback to Israel's space program. In addition, the IAI would have to shut down its pressure detection department, which employs some of the best satellite engineers in the world.
In contrast, Israeli satellites used for security purposes do not have funding problems. For communications satellites, however, there is no real policy in place. Currently, Spacecom purchases its parts outside of Israel because they are cheaper and are produced in larger amounts. While the United States produces between five to eight satellites a year, Israel produces one every three to four years. Israel cannot expect to maintain its competitive edge at this pace. If it wants any chance in the industry, the government must also reach into its pocket and give the program more funding.
Sometimes dramatic advances are made in important fields far from the public eye, overshadowed by senseless media uproars over insignificant things. One of these leaps was made a month ago when Israel's cybersecurity legislation entered a new phase. After prolonged discussions, the Knesset voted in favor of a temporary provision laying the groundwork for Israel's civilian cyber defenses. In 2012, following the recommendations of a committee headed by Maj. Gen. (res.) Isaac Ben-Israel, the National Cyber Bureau (NCB) was established at the Prime Minister's Office. The NCB has come a long way since then, and its framework of principles allows Israel to better protect its civilian cyber infrastructures.
This was a case in which the quality of the human capital involved in the government's efforts would have significant impact on the fate of the initiative. A high bar was set for those involved with the NCB. They would have to be top-notch individuals, ready and willing to dedicate their time, energy and skills to a project whose objectives are sometimes ambiguous. Israel has had several breakthroughs in civilian cyber defense knowhow and organization. People now come here from all over the world to study the field so they can construct similar infrastructures and systems in their own countries.
The captains of the NCB held firm that the pursuit of cyber excellence should be multi-pronged. This meant bolstering the academic aspect of the field, encouraging private sector investment, and building the mechanisms necessary to protect current cyber infrastructure while constantly developing it further. The object was for Israel to capitalize on its achievements in the field by bolstering cybersecurity ties worldwide and boosting both its economy and its defensive capabilities.
The southern city of Beersheba, the "capital of the south" and home to Ben-Gurion University, was selected as the focus of government efforts in cyber defense. The decision to turn Beersheba into a hub of cyber excellence coincided with the decision to relocate the military's Communications Branch and Intelligence units to the Negev.
The nationally important greater Beersheba area can no longer be considered the "periphery," and global giants have recognized this. Encouraged by significant tax breaks, they are setting up research and development centers there, either moving them from other locations in Israel or establishing new ones. If this continues, Beersheba will soon be a household name within the international cyber community – an Israeli Silicon Valley, if you will.
Israel's young cyber industry is a remarkable success story. A few years ago, 200 Israeli startup companies were known in the field, and over 100 additional companies were anonymous. Today there are too many budding cyber startups to count. The more top-notch researchers our academies produce, the more their success will encourage others to follow their dreams, resulting in more capital being earmarked for cyber initiatives. The scope of ideas in this field is endless, and the world is thirsty for them. In this respect, the biggest challenge Israel faces is building a truly robust cyber industry, rather than serving solely as an incubator for ideas that are to be sold off early in their development. The rush to run towards an “exit” is somewhat ingrained in Israeli culture – a culture that is also responsible for the wealth of ideas.
One of the most important aspects of Israel's cyber endeavor is the outlining of measures to protect the country's critical civilian infrastructure. These efforts have been quietly pursued by the Shin Bet security agency for years, but rapid changes in this sphere now require more comprehensive efforts. In a democracy, it is best to divide responsibility for the protection of critical infrastructure between intelligence services and other organizations, devoid of intelligence interests, that are tasked with the technical aspects of the issue. It was therefore decided that another state body, one removed from the Israeli intelligence community and with a technological outlook on the issue, would assume the mantle…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Ten miles south of Tel Aviv, I stand on a catwalk over two concrete reservoirs the size of football fields and watch water pour into them from a massive pipe emerging from the sand. The pipe is so large I could walk through it standing upright, were it not full of Mediterranean seawater pumped from an intake a mile offshore. “Now, that’s a pump!” Edo Bar-Zeev shouts to me over the din of the motors, grinning with undisguised awe at the scene before us. The reservoirs beneath us contain several feet of sand through which the seawater filters before making its way to a vast metal hangar, where it is transformed into enough drinking water to supply 1.5 million people.
We are standing above the new Sorek desalination plant, the largest reverse-osmosis desal facility in the world, and we are staring at Israel’s salvation. Just a few years ago, in the depths of its worst drought in at least 900 years, Israel was running out of water. Now it has a surplus. That remarkable turnaround was accomplished through national campaigns to conserve and reuse Israel’s meager water resources, but the biggest impact came from a new wave of desalination plants.
Bar-Zeev, who recently joined Israel’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research after completing his postdoc work at Yale University, is an expert on biofouling, which has always been an Achilles’ heel of desalination and one of the reasons it has been considered a last resort. Desal works by pushing saltwater into membranes containing microscopic pores. The water gets through, while the larger salt molecules are left behind. But microorganisms in seawater quickly colonize the membranes and block the pores, and controlling them requires periodic costly and chemical-intensive cleaning. But Bar-Zeev and colleagues developed a chemical-free system using porous lava stone to capture the microorganisms before they reach the membranes. It’s just one of many breakthroughs in membrane technology that have made desalination much more efficient. Israel now gets 55 percent of its domestic water from desalination, and that has helped to turn one of the world’s driest countries into the unlikeliest of water giants.
Driven by necessity, Israel is learning to squeeze more out of a drop of water than any country on Earth, and much of that learning is happening at the Zuckerberg Institute, where researchers have pioneered new techniques in drip irrigation, water treatment and desalination. They have developed resilient well systems for African villages and biological digesters than can halve the water usage of most homes. The institute’s original mission was to improve life in Israel’s bone-dry Negev Desert, but the lessons look increasingly applicable to the entire Fertile Crescent. “The Middle East is drying up,” says Osnat Gillor, a professor at the Zuckerberg Institute who studies the use of recycled wastewater on crops. “The only country that isn’t suffering acute water stress is Israel.”
That water stress has been a major factor in the turmoil tearing apart the Middle East, but Bar-Zeev believes that Israel’s solutions can help its parched neighbors, too — and in the process, bring together old enemies in common cause. Bar-Zeev acknowledges that water will likely be a source of conflict in the Middle East in the future. “But I believe water can be a bridge, through joint ventures,” he says. “And one of those ventures is desalination.”
In 2008, Israel teetered on the edge of catastrophe. A decade-long drought had scorched the Fertile Crescent, and Israel’s largest source of freshwater, the Sea of Galilee, had dropped to within inches of the “black line” at which irreversible salt infiltration would flood the lake and ruin it forever. Water restrictions were imposed, and many farmers lost a year’s crops. Their counterparts in Syria fared much worse. As the drought intensified and the water table plunged, Syria’s farmers chased it, drilling wells 100, 200, then 500 meters (300, 700, then 1,600 feet) down in a literal race to the bottom. Eventually, the wells ran dry and Syria’s farmland collapsed in an epic dust storm. More than a million farmers joined massive shantytowns on the outskirts of Aleppo, Homs, Damascus and other cities in a futile attempt to find work and purpose.
And that, according to the authors of “Climate Change in the Fertile Crescent and Implications of the Recent Syrian Drought,” a 2015 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was the tinder that burned Syria to the ground. “The rapidly growing urban peripheries of Syria,” they wrote, “marked by illegal settlements, overcrowding, poor infrastructure, unemployment, and crime, were neglected by the Assad government and became the heart of the developing unrest.” Similar stories are playing out across the Middle East, where drought and agricultural collapse have produced a lost generation with no prospects and simmering resentments. Iran, Iraq and Jordan all face water catastrophes. Water is driving the entire region to desperate acts.
Except Israel. Amazingly, Israel has more water than it needs. The turnaround started in 2007, when low-flow toilets and showerheads were installed nationwide and the national water authority built innovative water treatment systems that recapture 86 percent of the water that goes down the drain and use it for irrigation — vastly more than the second-most-efficient country in the world, Spain, which recycles 19 percent. But even with those measures, Israel still needed about 1.9 billion cubic meters (2.5 billion cubic yards) of freshwater per year and was getting just 1.4 billion cubic meters (1.8 billion cubic yards) from natural sources. That 500-million-cubic-meter (650-million-cubic-yard) shortfall was why the Sea of Galilee was draining like an unplugged tub and why the country was about to lose its farms.
Enter desalination. The Ashkelon plant, in 2005, provided 127 million cubic meters (166 million cubic yards) of water. Hadera, in 2009, put out another 140 million cubic meters (183 million cubic yards). And now Sorek, 150 million cubic meters (196 million cubic yards). All told, desal plants can provide some 600 million cubic meters (785 million cubic yards) of water a year, and more are on the way. The Sea of Galilee is fuller. Israel’s farms are thriving. And the country faces a previously unfathomable question: What to do with its extra water?…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
As Israeli engineers, academics and high tech workers leave their homes to conquer foreign markets, one cannot but help wonder what the founder of the Zionist movement Theodor Herzl would have to say on the matter. Ironically in the Israeli town of Herzliya, named after Herzl, some 140 of Israel’s brightest attended a gathering on Tuesday evening to find out how to navigate their transition to Silicon Valley in the smoothest possible way. Most of them will soon join as many as 50,000 other Israelis that are said populate the strip between San Francisco and San Jose working in high tech jobs there.
The gathering was of people, mainly in their 30s, who were both hopeful and fearful of their future ahead. It also highlighted how far Israel, the Start-Up Nation has moved from the days in which those who left the country were looked down upon as betrayers of the Zionist dream. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin once dubbed those leaving Israel, “Nefolet shel nemoshot“, loosely translated as the “falling of the weak” and the term has seared the minds of Israelis. Today however, academics and high-tech workers who leave for foreign shores are seen as pioneers of Israeli technology who set sail to flaunt Israel’s talent, create ties and push their careers forward. They are viewed as the lucky ones.
And if and when they come back, they are viewed as bringing their knowledge and acquired experiences to the benefit of the nation. They leave with their heads held high. “This is definitely not a falling of the weak,” said Oded Solomon, 35 (no relation to this reporter) who attended the meeting. “This is the falling of the stronger ones. People who can leave are perceived as those who have an advantage over others. This is the falling of the successful ones.” Solomon and his wife Lihi, 35, will be leaving for Silicon Valley, possibly Sunnyvale, in December because of his job with Nokia. They don’t have a home yet, but hope to find one close to where other Israelis are located. They have a four-year old child and a baby on the way. They are leaving indefinitely. It is a “one-way ticket”, said Solomon. “Our parents are sad but they support us. My father talks about Zionism and how important it is to come back. He worries we won’t.”
According to figures provided by Ogen, a relocation company that organized the gathering, there are about 50,000 Israelis who live in the Silicon Valley area, based on figures provided by the Israeli consulates. “They generally come for two or three years but then stay for five years or more,” said 39-year old Aya Shmueli Levkovitz, the organizer of the conference and the founder of Ogen. “Most of them come back to Israel, even if it is after 12 years, and generally before their children go to middle school or high school because that is when they change schools anyway.”
Levkovitz also moved to Sunnyvale, California 10 years ago following the high-tech job of her husband. Spotting a need, she set up her company together with another Israeli partner in 2012. Since then, Ogen has helped steer a “few hundreds of families” through the quagmire of getting visas,finding a home and the best supermarket for those who have relocated, said Levkovitz. “There is a significant change in attitude of Israel’s government,” said Dr. Nurit Eyal, director of a government program set up three years ago to lure academics and high tech professionals back to Israel. “If once people who left the country were viewed as rotten fruit that should be shunned, today the attitude is that relocation is part of the Israeli academic and hi-tech ecosystem and when they want to come home we are here to help them,” Eyal said.
Eyal believes Ogen’s figure about Israelis living in Silicon Valley is too high. According to the program’s data based on the Central Bureau of Statistics, there are about 27,856 Israeli academics living abroad – for a period of three or more years, compared with 24,503 in 2012 – 75 percent of them in the US. The statistics bureau figures also show that over the last three years there has been an average net outflow (more people leaving than coming back) of academics (in all sectors of academia) of around 1,000 people a year. “From our experience most come back” at one point or another, Eyal said. But not enough long-term data is available on the matter, she said.
Even so, the phenomenon of leaving Israelis cannot be avoided, said Eyal. “Israel has opened up and has become global, the know-how is global and we are part of this trend. Today we don’t talk about brain drain but about brain cycling. Many people relocate, perhaps even more than once,” she said. “People have an alternative to live and work elsewhere in the era of globalization. Companies are competing for workers worldwide and the Israeli government recognizes this. That is why we try to make it as easy as possible to return,” Eyal added.
The Israel National Brain Gain program that Eyal heads can match returning Israelis to a network of 350 companies in Israel and it also assists them with bureaucratic and other issues that may deter their return. Initial findings of a recent survey conducted by the program among 800 people who are living abroad or returned via the program found that most of the program’s academics living abroad left Israel for career reasons. And those who return, do so because they view Israel as their country and because their family is here, Eyal said.
Dar, 32, and Adi, 31, are married and prefer not to disclose their family name as they are still not sure if they will be relocating. Both are bio-medical engineers and are still checking out the work options available abroad. Both have jobs in Israel and said their motivation is to advance their careers and climb the economic ladder. “Economically the value you get for the work you do is higher abroad than in Israel,” said Dar. His brother also left, and came back to Israel after 10 years abroad. “My mother raises the issue of Zionism and she says there is no place like Israel. But we are a different generation. We have done our bit for the country by going to the Army and now we want to get ahead economically. In Israel it is almost impossible to get ahead, to exist.”
The high cost of living and the deterioration of public services and education in Israel drove citizens to the streets in protests in the summer of 2011, spurring the government to take steps to lower prices for its citizens. “The exit of highly skilled Israelis to work and live abroad – with some of them staying abroad is unavoidable if Israel wants to be part of the global world and global economy. It would be disastrous if Israel tried to be a closed economy,” said Omer Moav, professor of economics at the University of Warwick and the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. “However the government must take this brain drain problem into account in terms of policy. We need to allow Israelis to have a reasonable life here, especially for those who have higher education and who have the ability to push our economy forward. The returns-to-skills shouldn’t be taxed so heavily.”
“The Zionist dream is to have people here and a successful state,” Moav said. “A dictatorship that just locks people in is not an attractive option nor a reasonable scenario. But another way is to create a country that is great to live in. Unfortunately that is not the case in terms of housing, cost of living, bureaucracy, or security for that matter. When the Zionist dream, with its strong socialist roots, meets the global economy, a change in policy is required to maintain the skilled Israelis in Israel.”
Israel’s Greatest Victory?: Seth Siegel, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 8, 2016 —There isn’t a high school student in Israel who doesn’t know about the War of Independence, the Six Day War and the audacious raid at Entebbe among other Israeli triumphs on land, sea and air. Far less known to most – yet with potentially greater impact and reach – is Israel’s triumph over nature and its current water abundance in a time of growing global scarcity.
Israel Launches New Ofek-11 Spy Satellite (Video): Breaking Israel News, Sept. 14, 2016—Israel launched its Ofek-11 observation satellite from the Palmachim army base on Tuesday in a breathtaking display of aerodynamic splendor. Watch it make its way into space!
Israeli Invention Helps Paralysed Woman Finish Race: Josh Jackman, the JC, Sept. 12, 2016—A woman who is paralysed from the chest down has completed the Great North Run wearing an Israeli exoskeleton. Claire Lomas, who has also finished the London Marathon, took five days to walk the half marathon in the ReWalk suit, created by Israeli entrepreneur Amit Goffer after he was paralysed in a car crash.
No More Illusions: Come Home: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 3, 2016 — Objectively analyzing recent events can only lead to the dismal conclusion that the status of Diaspora Jewry, bad as it is, is only likely to deteriorate.
Embedded in the DNA of the Jewish People there is a special gene; call it "Zachor" — remembrance. From the time Moses first showed up at Pharaoh’s palace, to the moment the few living Jewish skeletons crawled out of the gates of Auschwitz on the day of their liberation by Soviet soldiers on January 27, 1945, we have always taught our kids and reminded ourselves and anyone else who would listen, that memory holds the key to redemption. Could there possibly be a worse sin than willfully forgetting?
This January 27th we learn that there are sins far worse. Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, who, as he has done each year on this day, will preside of the international organization remembrance of 6 million dead Jews. Yet he chose the eve of this hallowed anniversary to bestow a moral and political blank check to Palestinian terrorists who this week alone buried knives into mother of 8, a pregnant woman and a beautiful young woman buying groceries for her grandparents.
According to Ban, the current Intifada by knife, gun, and vehicle “is a reaction to the fear, disparity and lack of trust the Palestinians are experiencing.” He went on to explain that "Palestinian frustration is growing under the weight of a half century of occupation and the paralysis of the peace process," he said, blaming "the occupation" for causing "hatred and extremism." "As oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism."
Powerful words and imagery: fear, lack of trust, frustration, and humiliation. What a tragedy that Mr. Ban lacked the courage to use this Holocaust Remembrance Day as a teachable moment for Palestinians and other “frustrated” and “humiliated” young Arabs and Muslims. He should have told them, “instead of embracing the culture of death of ISIS, Al Qaeda and Al Shabab, why not read Eli Wiesel’s 'Night,' or Victor Frankel’s 'Man's Search for Meaning'?
Back in 1945, the Jewish survivors of the Nazi genocide had seen their world and families destroyed, their lives reduced to a number tattooed on their arms, most malnourished and at death’s door, with little reason to hope. If there ever was a group of people with the moral right to turn to terrorism, it was those Jewish survivors of the Holocaust Kingdom. But they didn’t: They chose life.
Instead of using the heroic and tenacious trek of Holocaust survivors, to find hope amongst the ashes of their loved ones, Mr. Ban instead defaulted to political expediency that doesn’t help a single Palestinians but does succeed in further embedding a dangerous double standard when the victims of terrorism are Jews-especially Israelis. Whatever his motivation, the effect of his words was to tell Palestinians and by extension anyone with a gripe against Israel, that he understood the pain of today’s murderers of Jews.
The Secretary General isn’t alone in failing to internalize basic and applicable lessons of the Holocaust. Across Europe, the continent’s elite will pause for a moment of silence of the victims of the Nazis and then will return to their deafening silence about anti-Semitism in their own countries; where virtually every Jew is a potential target for a hate or Islamist terrorist, where synagogue needs armed guards to protect its Jewish parishioners, where anti-Semitic hate crimes go unpunished in democracies like Sweden; where not a single European leader has publicly demanded that part of the litmus test for Middle Eastern migrants’ acceptance in to European society is offloading their hatred for Jews that sadly is embedded in their native lands. Yes, Wednesday, on International Holocaust Memorial Day, we can see that there is something much worse than forgetfulness: Shedding crocodile tears for dead Jews while doing nothing to defend live Jews.
The slow-motion crisis of the European Union finally seems to be coming to a head. "Europe could lose its historical footing and the project could die quickly," French Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned in a speech at this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "Things could fall apart within months," which, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble added, "would be a tragedy."
The catalyst for these fears is Britain's upcoming referendum on its EU membership, due by the end of 2017. I am writing this column having just left Congress Hall in Davos after British Prime Minister David Cameron's own speech on "Britain in the World." At least, that was what the speech was supposed to be about; in fact, it might have been better titled "Britain in the European Union (and What I Don't Like About It)." There are, to be sure, bits of Europe that Cameron does like, particularly its potential to create a single market for goods and services, but there is much more of which he disapproves. The core issue, he insisted, is that "if Europe is about ever-deepening political union, with ever-deepening political institutions, then it's not the organization for us."
Pressed on this point in the Q&A session, Cameron accepted that "you [can] never forget that this is a group of countries that used to fight each other and kill each other, and have actually now come together in a common endeavor"; but that coming together, he suggested, was the result less of the movement toward political union than of "some values that we in Britain are very proud of, in terms of committing to democracy and freedom and rights and all the rest of it."
Much ink has been spilled over whether David Cameron's speeches about the European Union represent his own views, those of his party, or a subtle attempt to manage the British nation's political mood. Yet whatever the prime minister's motives, seeing the 70-year process of European integration as part of a much longer history of state formation casts an interesting new light on the arguments Cameron offered at Davos.
When I was a teenager growing up in 1970s Britain, no topic seemed quite as dull as the European Community (as it was called until it rebranded itself as the European Union in 1993). Nothing could get me to turn the TV off quite as quickly as yet another announcement from the bureaucrats in Brussels about what I was allowed to eat or drink and what size container it could come in. But I — and the millions of others who shared my lack of interest in all things European — was very wrong to react this way.
For 5,000 years, since the first states were created in what is now southern Iraq, governments have been using violence to create political unity and then using politics (and, when necessary, more violence) to create economic and cultural unity everywhere that their power reached. From 3000 B.C. through the late 1940s, it is hard to find a single example of a state formed in any other way. Since the late 1940s, though, Western Europeans have been turning history's most successful formula on its head.
The European Union has arguably been the most extraordinary experiment in the history of political institutions, but the reason its accomplishments seemed so boring was that dullness was the bloc's whole point. In committee meeting after committee meeting, unsung bureaucratic heroes spun a web of rules and regulations that bound the Continent's formerly sovereign states into an economic and cultural unit and then began using economics and culture to create a political unit. "The final goal," Helmut Schlesinger, the head of the German Bundesbank, explained in 1994, "is a political one … to reach any type of political unification in Europe, a federation of states, an association of states or even a stronger form of union." In this agenda, "the economic union is [merely] an important vehicle to reach this target."
For the first time in history, huge numbers of people — 500 million so far — have come together to form a bigger society without anyone using force to make them to do so. The consequences have been extraordinary: Between 1914 and 1945, Europeans killed more than 60 million people in two world wars, but by 2015 the European Union had become the safest place on Earth. Its citizens murdered each other less often than any other people on earth, its governments had abolished the death penalty, and it had renounced war within its borders (and almost renounced it outside them, too).
In 2003, opinion pollsters found that only 12 percent of French and German people thought that war was ever justified, as opposed to 55 percent of Americans. "On major strategic and international questions today," U.S. strategist Robert Kagan concluded that same year, "Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus." The contrast with the lands beyond the European Union's eastern border, where Russian leaders have not hesitated to assassinate their critics and use force against weaker neighbors, could hardly be starker. Small wonder that the Nobel Committee decided in 2012 to award its Peace Prize to the European Union as a whole…
[To Read the Full Briefing Click the Following Link—Ed.]
One wonders why America, a nation of immigrants, can be suddenly so receptive to Donald Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric. The best answer, so far, is that immigration does not seem to work any more the way it did, at least for certain groups of immigrants.
A similar situation has arisen in Europe. In 2009, the American journalist Christopher Caldwell famously characterized the changes that a massive non-European, non-Judeo-Christian, immigration was forcing over Europe as a “revolution.” We may now be on the brink of a counter-revolution, and that can be as violent and far-reaching as revolution itself. Last year’s massacres in Paris (the attacks on satirical cartoonists and a kosher supermarket’s customers in January 2015, then the November 13 killing spree) were a tipping point : the French – and by extension, most Europeans — realized that unchecked immigration could lead to civil war.
Then there was the Christmas crisis in Corsica, a French island in the Mediterranean. On December 24, a fire was activated at an immigrant-populated neighborhood in Ajaccio, the capital of Southern Corsica. As soon as the firemen arrived, they were attacked by local youths, Muslims of North African descent. Such ambushes have been part of French life for years. This time, however, the ethnic Corsicans retaliated; for four days, they rampaged through the Muslim neighborhoods, shouting Arabi Fora! (Get the Arabs out, in Corsican). One of Ajaccio’s five mosques was vandalized.
Then, there was the New Year’s crisis in Germany and other Northern European countries. On December 31, one to two thousand male Muslim immigrants and refugees swarmed the Banhofvorplatz in Cologne, a piazza located between the railway Central Station and the city’s iconic medieval cathedral. As it turned out during later in the evening and the night, they intended to “have fun”: to hunt, harass, or molest the “immodest” and presumably “easy” German women and girls who celebrated New Year’s Eve at the restaurants and bars nearby, or to steal their money. 766 complaints were lodged. Similar incidents took place in other German cities, like Hamburg, Frankfurt and Stuttgart, as well as in Stockholm and Kalmar in Sweden, and Helsinki in Finland.
Here again, the local population reacted forcefully. Support for asylum seekers from the Middle East plummeted – 37 percent of Germans said that their view of them has “worsened,” and 62 percent said that there are “too many of them.” The Far Right demonstrated against immigration in many cities, but liberal-minded citizens were no less categorical. Le Monde, the French liberal newspaper, on January 20 quoted Cologne victims as saying, “Since 1945, we Germans have been scared to be charged with racism. Well, the blackmail is over by now.”
Indeed, postwar Europe, and Germany in particular, had been built upon the rejection of Hitler’s mad regime and everything it stood for. Nationalism, militarism, authoritarianism, and racism were out. Multinationalism, pacifism, hyperdemocracy, and multiculturalism were in. This simple, almost Manichean, logic is collapsing now – under the pressure of hard facts. Or rather the Europeans now understand that it was flawed in many ways from the very beginning, especially when it came to multiculturalism, the alleged antidote to racism.
What Europeans had in mind when they rejected racism in 1945 was essentially antisemitism. Today, the “correct” antiracist attitude would be to welcome non-European immigrants en masse and to allow them to keep their culture and their way of life, even it that would contradict basic European values. Hence last summer’s “migrants frenzy,” when the EU leadership in Brussels and major EU countries, including Angela Merkel’s Germany, decided to take in several millions of Middle East refugees overnight. European public opinion is now awaking to a very different view. And the political class realizes that it must adjust – or be swept away.
The Schengen regime – which allows free travel from one country to the other in most of the EU area – is being quietly suspended; every government in Europe is bringing back borders controls. The French socialist president François Hollande is now intent to strip disloyal immigrants and dual citizens of their French citizenship (a move that precipitated the resignation, on January 27, of his super-left-wing justice minister, Christiane Taubira). He is also hiring new personnel for the police and the army and even considering raising a citizens’ militia. Merkel now says that immigrants or refugees who do not abide by the law will be deported. Even Sweden, currently ruled by one of Europe’s most left-wing cabinets, has been tightening its very liberal laws on immigration and asylum. Most Europeans agree with such steps. And wait for even more drastic measures.
Objectively analyzing recent events can only lead to the dismal conclusion that the status of Diaspora Jewry, bad as it is, is only likely to deteriorate. The horrific escalation of the global anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli tsunami extends to areas that are not even inhabited by Jews. The United Nations Human Rights Council and other human rights organizations, hijacked by Muslim and far-left elements, have been transformed into anti-Israeli hate-fest arenas, employing blood libels against the Jewish state as a surrogate for the Jewish people in a similar manner to anti-Semites throughout the ages. The global community demonizes the only democratic state in the Middle East while downplaying the sea of barbarism that pervades the region.
The epicenter of global anti-Semitism is the Arab world, where hatred of Jews has become endemic among both Sunni and Shi’ite religious extremists. The Palestinians are the most fiercely anti-Jewish Arab sector. After being brainwashed and incited by Yasser Arafat, Palestinian Authority President Abbas and the Hamas mullahs, their hatred of Jews has evolved into a murderous religious frenzy.
Muslim migrants who settled into enclaves in Europe have imported their hatred and formed unholy alliances with traditional anti-Semites and political leftists – including organizations purportedly promoting human rights – to foment an environment of Jew-hatred reminiscent of the 1930s, immediately prior to the rise of Nazism. The ongoing influx of millions of Muslim refugees will massively reinforce the existing Muslim anti-Semitic elements and permanently alter the demographics of Europe. Unlikely to be reversed, it will enable Islam to become an immensely powerful political force in many West European countries.
The implications for European Jews are horrendous, as the combination of the prevailing virulently anti-Israeli public opinion and extremist Islamic political agitation will, in all likelihood, lead to even more extreme policies toward Israel. Despite lip service to the contrary, anti-Semitism will continue to thrive.
Moreover, there is the constant danger of terrorist acts against Jews by jihadists who entered the country posing as refugees or by second-generation Muslims incubated by extremist European jihadi mullahs. Jews in Europe have been murdered and attacked in the streets and armed guards or military forces are required to protect schools and synagogues. University students face concerted anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli hostility, both casual and violent. Jews are warned not to draw attention to themselves and avoid being publicly identified as such.
To top it off, most European governments, even those like the French that have experienced jihadist terrorism, still direct their foreign policy to placate their Arab minorities by haranguing and applying their double standards against Israel. They refuse to recognize that the murder of Israeli civilians is a direct consequence of Palestinian incitement of religious frenzy and continuously condemn Israel for defending itself. They now seek to pressure Israel to create a Palestinian state despite the fact that such a criminal entity would represent an existential threat and merely prepare the ground for a takeover by the Islamic State group.
The absence of any sense of moral compass is highlighted by the despicable groveling of European countries toward the Iranian terrorist regime. The continent that was drenched with the blood of six million Jews during the Holocaust is currently hosting the leaders of a state that repeatedly calls for the elimination of Israel from the map and obscenely engages in Holocaust denial, even stooping to the grisly depths of state-sanctioned cartoon competitions lampooning the Final Solution…
But Jew-hatred is not restricted to Europe. Jews in South Africa face an equally grim situation and anti-Semitic forces in Latin America, encouraged by Muslim migrants and Iranian influence, have also increased dramatically over the past decade. The situation in the United States, Canada and even Australia, while not comparable to Europe, has also taken a massive downturn since US President Barack Obama assumed office. By its constant undermining and pressuring of the Israeli government, the Obama administration has effectively given a green light to the Europeans and others to intensify pressure against Israel.
Fortunately, two factors have inhibited Obama from going much further. The shameful silence of the Jewish leadership cannot detract from the fact that committed Jews at the grass-roots level are still an influential force and remain loyal to Israel. More importantly, American public opinion is overwhelmingly pro-Israel and the powerful and growing movement of evangelical Christians in America (and throughout the world) has now emerged as Israel’s most fervent supporter and ally.
But there are concerns. Bipartisanship, which prevailed over the past few decades, has frayed considerably with the leftward lurch of the Democratic Party, accelerated under the Obama administration. More worrying is the hardening of liberal policy against Israel; the toleration and support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement in academia; and above all, the intensity of frenzied anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic activity on campus. BDS in the United States (as in other parts of the world) is intimidating Jewish students, many of whom resist confrontations to avoid social stigma.
Since Justin Trudeau displaced Stephen Harper as prime minister, Canada has rapidly followed the Obama approach to Israel. Canadian Jews were appalled when Trudeau’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day message, like that of many European countries, omitted any mention of Jews.
The Diaspora Jewish situation can therefore be summed up as disastrous in Europe and South Africa and worrisome in North America and Australia. But thanks to the existence of Israel, today most Jews are able to determine their own fate. Now is the time for Diaspora Jews to honestly review their situation and plan for the future. Yes, Israel is currently undergoing a difficult period. Yes, there are threats. But we should bear in mind that the Israel Defense Forces has never been as powerful and is capable, if necessary, of defeating all our adversaries simultaneously.
Above all, here in Israel there is a Jewish army, a Jewish police force and a Jewish community – which is significantly different from a non-Jewish military presence grudgingly provided to protect Jews in the Diaspora. As a former Diaspora Jew, I urge you to review the situation objectively. If you are a European and want your children to be proud Jews, you should seriously weigh leaving now…
[To Read the Full Briefing Click the Following Link—Ed.]
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!
The Broader Framework of Trudeau’s Holocaust Distortion: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Algemeiner, Feb. 3, 2016—The absence of any mention of Jews in Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day has drawn much criticism. The omission of Jews in any commemorative statement on the Holocaust and its victims, even if unintended, serves as a typical example of a much wider phenomenon — the de-Judaization of the Holocaust.
The Hidden Agenda Behind the UN Chief’s Israel-Bashing: Benny Avni, New York Post, Feb. 3, 2016—United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon seems intent on using his last year in office to significantly increase UN pressure on Israel. Last week, he told the Security Council that “human nature” can explain the recent wave of Palestinian attacks on Israeli citizens. He raised the ire of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who accused Ban of giving a “tailwind” to terrorism.
Italy's Courage: Jack Rosen, Huffington Post, Feb. 3, 2016—At a time when European nations are turning their backs on Israel, Italy has held steadfast in support of both the Jewish State and its own Jewish citizens. Polls consistently show Italians with the lowest percentage of anti-Semitic views compared to other Europeans, even as anti-Semitism is making a resurgence throughout the continent.
What the Führer Means for Germans Today: The Economist, Dec. 19, 2015—In Germany, as in the rest of Europe, copyright expires seven decades after the author’s year of death. That applies even when the author is Adolf Hitler and the work is “Mein Kampf”. Since 1945, the state of Bavaria has owned the book’s German-language rights and has refused to allow its republication. German libraries stock old copies, and they can be bought and sold. But from January 1st no permission will be needed to reprint it.
We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to: Rob Coles, Publications Chairman,Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7–
[The following is adapted from Ambassador Prosor’s speech to the UN General Assembly on Nov. 24—Ed.]
I stand before the world as a proud representative of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. I stand tall before you knowing that truth and morality are on my side. And yet I stand here knowing that today in this Assembly, truth will be turned on its head and morality cast aside. The world’s unrelenting focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an injustice to tens of millions of victims of tyranny and terrorism in the Middle East. As we speak, Yazidis, Bahai, Kurds, Christians, and Muslims are being executed and expelled by radical extremists at a rate of 1,000 people per month. How many resolutions did you pass last week to address this crisis? And how many special sessions did you call for? The answer is zero. What does this say about international concern for human life? Not much, but it speaks volumes about the hypocrisy of the international community.
Of the 300 million Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, less than half a percent are truly free – and they are all citizens of Israel. Israeli Arabs are some of the most educated Arabs in the world. They are our leading physicians and surgeons, they are elected to our parliament, and they serve as judges on our Supreme Court. Millions of men and women in the Middle East would welcome these opportunities and freedoms. Nonetheless, nation after nation will stand at this podium today and criticize Israel – the small island of democracy in a region plagued by tyranny and oppression.
Our conflict has never been about the establishment of a Palestinian state. It has always been about the existence of the Jewish state. Sixty-seven years ago this week, the United Nations voted to partition the land into a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Jews said yes. The Arabs said no. But they didn’t just say no. Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon launched a war of annihilation against our newborn state. According to the United Nations, about 700,000 Palestinians were displaced in the war initiated by the Arabs themselves. At the same time, some 850,000 Jews were forced to flee from Arab countries. Why is it that 67 years later, the displacement of the Jews has been completely forgotten by this institution while the displacement of the Palestinians is the subject of an annual debate? The difference is that Israel did its utmost to integrate the Jewish refugees into society. The Arabs did just the opposite.
The worst oppression of the Palestinian people takes place in Arab nations. In most of the Arab world, Palestinians are denied citizenship and are aggressively discriminated against. They are barred from owning land and prevented from entering certain professions. And yet none of these crimes are mentioned in the resolutions before you. When it comes to matters of security, Israel learned the hard way that it cannot rely on others – certainly not Europe. In 1973, on the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, the surrounding Arab nations launched an attack against Israel. In the hours before the war began, Golda Meir, our prime minister then, made the difficult decision not to launch a preemptive strike. The Israeli government understood that if we launched a preemptive strike, we would lose the support of the international community. As the Arab armies advanced on every front, the situation in Israel grew dire. Our casualty count was growing and we were running dangerously low on weapons and ammunition. In this, our hour of need, President Nixon and Secretary of State Kissinger agreed to send Galaxy planes loaded with tanks and ammunition to resupply our troops. The only problem was that the planes needed to refuel en route to Israel.
Our very existence was threatened and yet Europe was not even willing to let the planes refuel. The U.S. stepped in once again and negotiated that the planes be allowed to refuel in the Azores. The government and people of Israel will never forget that when our very existence was at stake, only one country came to our aid – the United States of America. Israel is tired of hollow promises from European leaders. You failed us in the 1940s. You failed us in 1973. And you are failing us again today. Every European parliament that voted to prematurely and unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state is giving the Palestinians exactly what they want – statehood without peace. By handing them a state on a silver platter, you are rewarding unilateral actions and taking away any incentive for the Palestinians to negotiate or compromise or renounce violence. You are sending the message that the Palestinian Authority can sit in a government with terrorists and incite violence against Israel without paying any price.
Israel learned the hard way that listening to the international community can bring about devastating consequences. In 2005, we unilaterally dismantled every settlement and removed every citizen from the Gaza Strip. Did this bring us any closer to peace? Not at all. It paved the way for Iran to send its terrorist proxies to establish a terror stronghold on our doorstep. I can assure you we won’t make the same mistake again. When it comes to our security, we cannot and will not rely on others – Israel must be able to defend itself by itself. Israel is the land of our forefathers – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is the land where Moses led the Jewish people, where David built his palace, where Solomon built the Jewish Temple, and where Isaiah saw a vision of eternal peace. For thousands of years Jews have lived continuously in the land of Israel. We endured through the rise and fall of the Assyrian, Babylonian, Greek, and Roman empires. And we endured thousands of years of persecution, expulsions, and crusades. The bond between the Jewish people and the Jewish land is unbreakable. Nothing can change one simple truth – Israel is our home and Jerusalem is our eternal capital. At the same time, we recognize that Jerusalem has special meaning for other faiths. Under Israeli sovereignty, all people, regardless of religion and nationality, can visit the city’s holy sites. And we intend to keep it this way. The only ones trying to change the status quo on the Temple Mount are Palestinian leaders…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Oxford, England, 5 am – I’m trying to get two hours sleep tonight prior to my flight back to America, but cannot. I am supercharged from tonight’s debate at the Oxford Union on Israel versus Hamas. It was easily the most hard-fought debate on Israel I have ever participated in. It was ferocious, exhilarating, vicious, electrifying, and disturbing. When I first called my close friend Dennis Prager, the celebrated American radio host, to join me at the Oxford Union for their premier Middle East debate of the season, Dennis was at first reluctant to come. He has to broadcast his national show every day. I told him it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to defend Israel at the world’s most prestigious debating society. Europe was turning against Israel. Oxford was the world’s most famous University, educating future world leaders. The scars to Israel’s reputation from the war in Gaza was still fresh. Now was the time. He agreed to come.
Dennis, like me, is a veteran of debates on Israel. But I informed him that nothing could prepare him for the ferocity of the attacks on Israel that we were likely to endure. Indeed, as the debate began before a capacity audience, Dennis seemed stunned at what was being said. Israel is an apartheid regime. Israel is slaughtering the Palestinians and is guilty of genocide. Israel is doing to the Palestinians exactly what the Nazis did to the Jews. What the Jews experienced in the Holocaust is exactly what the Palestinians are enduring at Israel’s hand. Israel in its six-decade history has had one goal: the theft of Palestinian land and the eradication of the Palestinian people. America is like ISIS. ISIS beheads only a few prisoners, but America annihilates innocents in Pakistan each and every day with drone strikes. There is no real difference. Israel is guilty of war crimes. Israel’s security fence is an apartheid wall that is built mostly through the gardens and property of innocent Palestinians. Hamas does some bad things. But it’s all Israel’s fault. Hamas is a bonafide resistance movement to Israel’s occupation. Terrorism directed at Israelis is an organic response to Israeli colonial rule
Many of the arguments came from world-renowned Israeli academic Avi Shlaim, with whom I always had a warm relationship in the eleven years I served as Rabbi to the students at Oxford. The other arguments came from a highly intelligent female Oxford doctoral candidate, with whom I interacted warmly at the pre-debate dinner, and from a Berkeley-Oxford female Professor who was likewise pleasant. The rest of the attacks came from Oxford students in the floor debate segment of the program. I had heard all these things before. But never from some of the most highly educated people in Europe. And never with such ferocity and vehemence. Dennis and I fought back with every fiber of our being. Hamas is a genocidal organization that proudly touts its charter calling on the annihilation of Jews utterly unconnected to any conflict. It seeks the murder of all Jews, including those sitting in the Oxford Union chamber. It aids and abets honor killings of Palestinian women, shoots gay Palestinians in the head on false chargers of collaboration, machine-guns all Palestinian protesters who dare to defy its rule, violently punishes any form of criticism, engages in daily forms of deadly incitement against Jews, celebrates when Westerners, including in Britain, are blown up by bombs, ended any vestige of democratic rule once it was elected, and builds its military installations under hospitals and nurseries so that the infirm and the vulnerable can serve as human shields to its cowardly terrorists. Israel has tried since its creation to make peace with Arab states and has endangered its security with repeated territorial concessions that were met with nothing but terror attacks. Arabs in Israel live with greater freedoms and human rights than any Muslim country on earth. There is no excuse for terror. Jews even under the horrors of Hitler didn’t turn to blowing up German children. The justifications for terrorism that were being offered were an affront and an abomination to Islam which, just like Judaism, abides by the commandment not to murder.
The debate was electrifying and deeply felt on all sides. Rather than being dispirited, the small but defiant pro-Israel lobby that sat behind Dennis and me threw a barrage of ‘points of information’ at the Israeli-attacking academics. The full video of the debate will be available on the Oxford Union website in a few days. When the debate was over the President of the Union invited all to drinks. I sat with my opponents. I discussed their trips to Israel. The wounds of the debate were raw but the Union tradition is one of courtesy and mutual respect, whatever the disagreements. And rather than feel at all dispirited, I was energized and alive. I knew from the moment I accepted the debate invitation a few months back that we would lose the vote. Indeed, hearing the jeers against Israel from the vast majority of those in attendance was painful. But we would fight with all our might. We would enter the lion’s den for Israel. We would defiantly tell the truth of the noble and majestic democracy that is the Jewish State of Israel. We would strike a blow for the Jewish state in an extraordinarily hostile environment. (Interestingly enough, Naomi Wolf was there, having just given a lecture attacking Israel for human rights abuses three hours before our debate. All this was curious, given that Naomi had withdrawn from our planned debate on Israel in New York with the excuse that she was going to speak at Oxford. She never mentioned that we would be there on the exact same day).
And we made tremendous progress. As soon as the debate was over a group of students asked me for an immediate meeting, that night, to start up the Oxford L’Chaim Society once again to defend the honor of Israel. The student who offered to be President was not Jewish. He told me that as of March of this year he was an active member of Pal Soc (the Palestinian Society) at Oxford. He endorsed and fought for boycotts of Israel. But then he heard me speak at the Union in the debate in Iran. It changed him, he said. He left Pal Soc and joined the tiny but courageous pro-Israel lobby. Sure enough, at the debate the Israel side lost the vote. But we gained our adversaries’ respect. And to be fair to the Union, we were not jeered, interrupted, or heckled. Amid the ferocious battle for Israel and the hundreds of students poised against us, we made our case with passion and each side respected the other’s right to speak. That’s why I love the Oxford Union, and why I did countless joint events with the Union when I was Rabbi in Oxford.
I believe with all my heart that Israel can and will win arguments in the marketplace of ideas. If not today, then tomorrow. It ultimately will happen. The truth will prove victorious. We dare not shun debates. We must welcome and engage them. Conclusions: First, Israel is under siege on European campuses. It has determined and active adversaries who are clobbering the more timid Jewish opposition. Second, if we stepped up our game on campus we can begin to reverse the tide of defamation and fraudulence to which the Jewish state is being constantly subjected.
At the end of last year, the American Studies Association earned more press attention than it has in its entire history by voting to boycott Israeli academic institutions. The effect of the boycott has been devastating—not to Israel, where apparently its sole effect has been to interfere with the dissertation work of one Arab graduate student, but to the ASA itself. Immediately after the vote, hundreds of college presidents and faculty leaders blasted the organization, with several schools withdrawing their membership. This fall, the ASA embarrassed itself by threatening to bar representatives of Israeli universities from its annual convention, only to reverse the decision under the threat of discrimination lawsuits. Its leadership managed to make things even worse by banning Jewish media organizations from the conference, under a press policy one commentator derided as being “as complicated, arbitrary and daunting as getting a press pass for the North Korean Politburo meeting, except that the ASA professes to be a progressive organization devoted to the exchange and dissemination of ideas.”
It would be hard, then, to account the ASA boycott as any kind of victory for the BDS movement. If anything, the contrast between the ASA’s self-righteous blundering and the actual course of events in Israel and Palestine, over the last horrible year, makes the boycott seem not just pointless but obscenely trivial. But the appearance of an important new book, The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel, edited by Cary Nelson and Gabriel Noah Brahm, makes the argument that the academic boycott movement is more significant than its actual achievements suggest. For on every page of this thick anthology, full of essays by American and Israeli academics, you can sense the distress that the BDS campaign has succeeded in provoking in its real target—which is not Israel at all, but Jewish liberals. The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel is 550 pages long, and it contains, in addition to essays, a dossier of official documents on the ASA and other boycott resolutions, as well as a short history of Israel. It is intelligent and wide-ranging, from David Caplan’s essay on the representation of Jews in current American literature to Shira Wolosky’s memoir of what it is actually like to teach Arab and Jewish students in an Israeli university. But its core arguments can be summarized in a few paragraphs, since they are obvious and, it seems to me, overwhelming.
First, the boycott of Israeli universities is a violation of academic freedom, since it restricts the ability of scholars to teach and collaborate with colleagues, simply on the basis of national origin. Second, it is counterproductive, since it targets exactly the sector of Israeli society where pro-Palestinian and pro-peace opinion is most flourishing, and where Jews and Arabs are most likely to meet as peers. And third, it is hypocritical, because it singles out Israel for opprobrium while saying nothing about countries whose violations of academic freedom and international law are much worse. Indeed, if they were truly brave, and consistent, the members of the ASA would boycott the United States—which is responsible for far more violence against Arabs and Muslims than Israel—by refusing to teach in any university that receives government funding. These points are made with force and concision by the essays in the book’s first section, “Opposing Boycotts as a Matter of Principle,” by writers including Martha Nussbaum, Cary Nelson, and Russell Berman. Drawing on one of her own areas of research, Nussbaum points out that in 2002 the government of the Indian state of Gujarat organized what she calls a “pogrom” and a “genocide” against Muslim citizens; yet no calls for a boycott of Gujarati or Indian universities were heard. “I am not sure there is anything to be said in favor of a boycott of Israeli scholars and institutions that could not be said, and possibly with stronger justification, for similar actions toward the United States and especially India,” she writes.
Meanwhile, Berman reminds us that academic freedom is a hard-won privilege, easily trampled by politics, which scholars have an obligation to defend by “resisting the imposition of any political criteria on scholarship, whether the directives are from state legislatures or from professional scholarly organizations.” And in his contribution, Nelson shows that such trampling is already taking place in BDS circles, as when Steven Salaita—who himself made news this year, when his appointment to the University of Illinois was revoked over his virulently anti-Israel comments on Twitter—calls for a boycott not just of Israel, but of “individuals who consciously participate in advocacy for the Israeli state.” “The new BDS McCarthyism,” Nelson writes, “is organized around an implicit question: ‘Are you now or have you ever been a Zionist?’ ”
The weaknesses of the boycott campaign are, in fact, so glaring that it has had little success in imposing its agenda on universities. Notably, the Modern Language Association, a much bigger and more influential group than the American Studies Association, declined to pursue an anti-Israel resolution this summer. Samuel and Carol Edelman offer some statistics in their contribution to the book: “In the 2013-14 academic year, 15 divestment resolutions were introduced in universities in the U.S. Of these, only two passed.” Where such resolutions are adopted, it is usually by student governments with no power to affect university policy; of the six campuses where BDS resolutions passed in 2012-13, “not one … boycotted, divested, or sanctioned Israel.”…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
The man who was to become a hero to the British and to the Israelis was neither British nor Jewish. Like many servants of the crown in the days of Empire he was an Irishman born in County Longford in 1867 to a Protestant father and Catholic mother. Ireland was then part of the United Kingdom and military service was a popular option for many young Irishmen – partly from a want of other opportunities and partly from a sense of adventure. In Patterson's case we can assume it was the sense of adventure. By 1898 he'd been commissioned to oversee the construction of a railway bridge over a ravine at Tsavo, in Kenya, but found work was being held up by two man-eating lions who were terrorising the huge camps housing the Indian and African labourers.
It's hard to be sure, but the two lions between them may have killed more than 100 people in all. Patterson wasn't an expert on lions, although he'd shot tigers on military service in India, but to protect his workers and get his bridge finished he resolved to kill the predators. Man-eating behaviour isn't common among lions – it's possible that the two killers at Tsavo had got the taste for human flesh from the careless disposal of human remains over the years. Over a three-week period Patterson killed both the predators. His workers, who'd been growing fractious, presented him with an inscribed drinking cup to salute his extraordinary nerve. It remained one of his most treasured possessions. Patterson told the whole story in his best-selling book, The Man-Eaters of Tsavo…
There was nothing honorary about Lt Col Patterson's military rank. He served with distinction in a British cavalry regiment during the Boer War in South Africa, winning the Distinguished Service Order, and when he was recalled to the colours during World War One he was almost 50 years old. It was during the Middle East campaign that he found himself in command of the Zion Mule Corps, a group of Jewish volunteers eager to serve the international cause and to advance their own cause of creating a Jewish state at the same time. Patterson became a passionate supporter of Zionism and the ranks of the detachment he commanded included influential heroes of the cause, including Ze'ev Jabotinsky and Joseph Trumpeldor.
Patterson took his Jewish volunteers to war around the dangerous beaches of Gallipoli in what history remembers as a doomed British effort to attack the German Empire through the territory of its ally, the Turkish Empire. It's often said that Patterson thus became the first commander to lead Jewish forces on to the field of battle for two millennia making him an important figure in the history of Zionism. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told me that his older brother, Yonathan, was named in honour of John Henry Patterson, who had come to know their father when he lived in New York campaigning for the Zionist cause in the mid-1940s.
The family still has an engraved goblet given to Yonathan by Patterson to celebrate his birth. Yonathan went on to become an Israeli national hero who died leading the extraordinary raid on Entebbe in Uganda in 1976 in which commandos from Israel's special forces rescued hostages who were being held at an airport by members of the German Baader-Meinhof gang and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Prime Minister Netanyahu told us he regarded Patterson as godfather to the Israeli Army as well as the godfather to his brother and says it's right that Israel should honour him…
CIJR Wishes all our Friends and Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!
Six Ways to Fight BDS Lies on Campus: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 11, 2014 —I know that the Hillel Houses on campus will promote Israel. I know they love Israel. I know that they educate students positively about Israel.
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How is one’s indigenous connection to a land expressed? For many Jews, it is by reclaiming their ancestral land after centuries of exile. Despite the political turmoil greeting Jews there and which remains a constant struggle, the land welcomed these early pioneers back with open arms. Its very soil responded to their touch and care: Its deserts bloomed and continues even today to produce and develop providing not only for the needs of its residents, but for a world that is increasingly partaking in its technological development and growth. As well, Israelis created a democracy that is open and free, and yet decidedly Jewish. However, Israel’s need to integrate an ancient culture with the ever-evolving needs of a modern society remains a constant challenge. Within this multicultural society, issues of identity persist not only in the political sphere but the religious and cultural ones, as well. Despite these challenges, Israelis retain a strong sense of identity borne of a deep-rooted religious culture and value system realized to its fullest on the fertile soils of their ancestral homeland.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about many Aboriginal Americans. Scattered across North America in their ancestral lands, many struggle to rediscover their “real selves” within societies—Aboriginal and nonaboriginal—whose way of life remains far removed from their ancient ways. In a 1984 paper he delivered at the 4th Inuit Studies Conference in Montreal, co-editor Nathan Elberg quoted the poignant words of a young Inuk (Eskimo) that well-articulated his people’s struggles, which continue to this day.
“That Inuit culture had certain values that it inevitably was going to lose. We are in the process of losing it completely. We seem to be heading in a direction where everything is being computerized, where everything [is moving towards] the space age. So, if we want to survive, we had better be a part of that system. It’s so sad, but that’s the way it is. Even the oldest Inuk today, even though not entirely Inuk, I call him Inuk, even though other people call him Inuk, even though he claims that he is Inuk, that does not give him the right to call me “qalluna” [white man]. He’s right in some respects, but I can counterattack him by saying that he has lost his culture also because his father was greater than him. It’s like saying the past was the best, and the future is the worst.”
For Elberg, this collection of essays synthesizes two distinct political and social cultures that are deeply meaningful to him: Zionism, which is rooted in his Jewish upbringing, and that of Aboriginal Americans, many of whom he came to know and appreciate personally. As an anthropologist, he not only studied aboriginal culture but experienced it, as well: In the 1970s and 1980s, he lived amongst the Cree Indians in the Quebec North’s James Bay region; the Eskimos in the Quebec North’s Hudson Bay region; and among the Inuit of Labrador. He maintains friendships with several of them.
One of his most extended stays was during the frigid winter of 1981. While doing fieldwork in the James Bay region for a research project, he resided with Bobby, one of his Cree friends and his extended family—they were 17 to a “mijwap” (tipi)—about 500 miles from the nearest road. They lived in the forest and were dependent on hunting and fishing for their sustenance. Elberg didn’t have any expectations as to what it would be like living there. “It was just a matter of experiencing it. It was a different way of life; it was a different way of looking at life. It was more a matter of direct experience of the world, rather than experiencing the world as mediated by a philosophy.”
Several years before—in November 1975—the governments of Canada and Quebec and representatives of the Cree signed the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement that financially compensated them for the governments’ hydroelectric development on Cree lands, and gave them limited rights and protection. Because the land was to be flooded to accommodate a newly-built dam, Bobby’s family decided to trap all the fur-bearing animals possible reasoning that since the animals were going to die anyway, it was best to harvest their meat for food and pelts for sale. The Cree, Elberg explains, didn’t see this as a business opportunity; rather, as an extension of their way of life, since hunting animals is part of the Crees’ everyday experience. This experience starts early: The baby girl residing in their tipi nonchalantly played with her toy—a dead rabbit.
Much of Elberg’s time was spent helping set trap lines and checking on them. He had no problem doing this; he expected as much knowing that the Cree were dependent on these animals for their survival. He volunteered to butcher a dead beaver and felt honored when given its forelegs as a thank-you.
Life was hard. With the temperature hovering at below 40 degrees Celsius, he often accompanied Bobby to check the fish, as well as the animal lines. Bobby’s capacity to withstand the cold astonished him. In the frigid air, Bobby stuck his bare hands under water, pulling out a bit of the net at a time, removing the fish one by one, and then putting the net back into the water.
“Aren’t your hands frozen,” Elberg inquired after an hour of continuous work.
“The water is warmer than the air, so it’s not a problem,” he answered.
The community, which consisted of about 700–800 people, was welcoming. It was also self-contained maintaining minimal contact with the outside world. There was only one radiotelephone; those who wanted to use it needed to go through an operator who connected them to another operator in Alma, Quebec who, in turn, connected them to a telephone line. Only one person could talk at a time, and anyone on the radio network could listen in on the conversation. Newspapers and radios were rare, and there were no televisions. Adding to the difficulties, the children attended the infamous residential schools run by missionaries out to expunge native culture.
Problems with alcoholism abounded. While there, Elberg befriended Walter, a pleasant, easy-going fifteen-year-old. Years later, while inebriated, Walter ran over two of his children while backing out of his driveway. Elberg doesn’t know how much of this heavy drinking still goes on; many communities have since become dry zones and no longer allow alcohol into their communities.
The Inuit and Cree saw themselves then—and many still do so today—as living between two worlds: The assimilationist world of the missionaries—many Indians and Inuit became Christians—and the ways of their parents and ancestors, which appeared less relevant as modernity took hold. This dichotomy led to generational conflicts, as well as to a crisis of identity. In his 1984 paper, Elberg notes the following:
“Younger Inuit are criticized by their elders for not being knowledgeable hunters, not knowing how to build a snow house, or not speaking the language properly. These youths listen to the words of the people they revere and feel ashamed, humiliated, inferior. They are told they are not real. This issue of “real Inuit” was raised by young Inuit (under forty) when I conducted fieldwork in a northern Quebec community in 1980–81. These people were astonished that I wanted to speak to them to conduct cultural research. Many told me, “It’s usually the older people who get spoken to, who get asked the questions.” They were hesitant, saying they were not used to talking about their way of life. One person, even though he was constantly sought by older people as a hunting companion because of his skills when I interviewed him about hunting, said that he “came a bit too late,” because many of the skilled hunters had passed away. He was surprised that I talked to him, rather than a “real hunter, about that subject.””
Moreover, the younger people, regardless of their chronological age, see themselves as five-years-old in Inuit time, as that was the age when they began attending the white man’s schools and stopped learning Aboriginal ways.
Westerners, Elberg maintains, generally misunderstand Aboriginals, viewing them as culturally homogenous when nothing can be further from the truth. The West Coast Indians, for example, created sophisticated, advanced social organizations, while the Northern Quebec Cree maintained simpler social structures. “Pre-contact [with the white man] Native Americans were very much on the move. There was much warfare between them; these simple ideas that we like to project of a noble savage aren’t true,” he says.
Indians and the Eskimos constantly warred against each other. In the early days of the fur trade in the James Bay area, the Cree captured Eskimos as slaves. Mentalities have since changed. In one Hudson’s Bay community, the Cree and Inuit lived apart from one another despite physically living side by side: today, they co-exist, and even pray together in a new, beautifully designed church.
Westerners also tend to patronize Aboriginals, believing that they are incapable of speaking for themselves, according to Elberg. However, there are many effective spokespeople, activists, lawyers, hunters, businesspeople, professionals and government ministers among them. Furthermore, we often place native people into slots of our own making. We see them either as victims and objects of our pity, as entertainment, or as spiritual masters who can teach us about mother earth and the environment, instead of just letting them be who they are.
These expectations infected way too many of them who ended up fulfilling the roles written for them. The Inuit, he says, are highly intelligent—you need to be very smart to survive those conditions— and yet tragically, far too few are given the opportunity to apply their innate intelligence in meaningful ways. Far too many Aboriginals, in general, live on transfer payments and make-work jobs created by the Federal government. There is, as well, rampant corruption, as heads of some communities often direct Federal monies and jobs to themselves and their families. “I hope they don’t go down the path of perpetual victimhood. I hope they go the way of working with their abilities and strengths. With the James Bay Agreement, the Cree are now on that path; I hope they continue that way,” Elberg states.
— Machla Abramovitz co-editor Israzine
Machla Abramovitz is a Fellow with the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research and is currently its Publications Editor. She has an M.A, in English Literature from Concordia University and an MLS from McGill University. She’s a freelance journalist and author— fiction and nonfiction—who writes for multiple international magazines. Her interests span a variety of subjects including Torah, politics, psychology, physics, and psychology. She’s written on all of these subjects.
In 1968, Palestinian terrorists hijacked an El-Al plane, and got away with it. They used the tactic repeatedly after that, with varying degrees of success. The most infamous incident was the forcing of Air France plane to Entebbe, Uganda, and Israel’s successful rescue of the hostages.
More such rescue operations are required these days, but not of aircraft. The Palestinians and their Islamist allies have taken to hijacking peoples and causes. For example, in nineteen seventy five Betty Friedan, a feminist trailblazer, led the American delegation to an International Woman’s Year World Conference. She was stunned by the conference’s anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. A 1980 Women’s Conference in Copenhagen had a huge portrait of Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, a man at the forefront of the oppression of women, decorating the conference chamber.
Although Israel is the only place in the Middle East where homosexuals are legally protected from persecution, Toronto’s annual gay pride parade has frequently featured the participation of “Queers Against Israeli Apartheid.” That homosexuals would promote a movement that brutally oppresses them points to the effectiveness of Palestinian hijacking techniques.
The collection of articles in this publication examine the relation between Native American and Jewish issues, focusing on the perceived attempt to hijack the Native American struggle for rights and recognition into the framework of Palestinian suffering. Native Americans are viewed as the quintessential victims, having suffered genocide, theft of lands and consequent marginalization. This fits into the casting of the Palestinians as victims of colonialism and oppression.
The hijacking doesn’t just take place through protest marches and conferences. A Wisconsin Ojibwa Indian told me of her fear of the inroads Muslims have made in the local native communities, marrying Indian women and then using their new status to gain influence in native affairs and policies. An expert in Southwest Indian art claims that Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian Arabs have been buying native art businesses in Arizona and New Mexico, then selling “Navajo” art made in the Philippines. When I asked him to write about this for our publication he refused, not even wanting his name mentioned. “People have been killed,” he explained.
The left has long revered the oppression of native peoples, and tried to make the most of it. Pretend Indians such as Ward Churchill and Elizabeth Warren used ostensible native identity to advance their careers. Steven Salaita, a minor academic who has written peans glorifying Palestinian suffering was supposed to join the American Indian studies program at the University of Illinois; his overt anti-Semitism got in the way.
Also getting in the way is that many Native Americans aren’t interested in perpetually playing the victim. It doesn’t fit their traditions or values. And while they may have been downtrodden in the past, they don’t want that to define their future. They want to make their own lives.
The Navajo, for example want to improve the efficiency of their agriculture. We provide a link below on how the Navajo nation is working with Israel to improve its expertise on efficient irrigation in an arid climate.
Other Native Americans are businessmen, professionals. Many, both men and women, have served in the military, and cannot accept the reflexive anti-Americanism of the Palestinian agenda. Many are devout Christians, and cannot accept the Muslim agenda. But more than that, they are themselves. Native Americans are not anybody else’s stooge or weapon. The attention from the left may be enjoyable for a time, but ultimately it is another form of cooption, another form of exploitation. The Palestinians may claim that they are “indigenous,” but as our contributors deftly show, there is no moral or historical equivalency with Native Americans.
Most popular opinion agrees that mankind has a common place of origin, whether in the Garden of Eden in some unknown location between the Tigris and Euphrates, or somewhere in Africa. If you go back far enough, everybody on earth has common indigenous roots.
It’s when we start going only part way back that things get more complicated. Populations have never been stable. The Bible (cf. eg. 2Kings 17) tells us how the Assyrians displaced whole nations, replacing them with populations from elsewhere. If we prefer non-Biblical sources, speakers of the Turkic language group (Ottoman Empire) can be found far from their Turkish homeland, in China and Siberia, where they are now indigenous peoples.
Examples can be found in North America as well, such as the disappearance of the Tunnit (Dorset) peoples of the north, displaced by Inuit and Indians. The Cheyenne were pushed out of the Great Lakes area, in turn coming into conflict with other Native Americans and of course the U.S. Army. The Inuit battled the Ojibwa, Cree and Athabaskan Indians for territory. Warfare and population transfer happened both before and after the onset European colonization. Are Native Americans indigenous to the specific places they now inhabit? A bigger question is “does this matter?”
If we adopt a synchronic criterion of indigenous status, that is, a definition at a specific point of time, then everyone and no one is indigenous. Whether we shout “1967,” “1948,” “1867” (Canada’s independence from Britain), “1763” or “1492,” we run into problems when indigenous status reflects a particular slice of time. This simplistic approach may be useful for sloganeering, but our contributors take a more sophisticated approach.
Ryan Bellerose and David Yeagley, each coming from opposing sides of the political spectrum, observe how Native American rights are an attractive issue used to legitimate other causes. Many movements have tried to appropriate or incorporate oppression of Native Americans into their own causes. As Margaret Atwood pointed out in Survival, her guide to Canadian literature, the Indians have become the quintessential victims, doomed to forever remain so. Jay Corwin uses a literary approach to negate the victim/ perpetrator narrative as it constrains both Native Americans and Jews, relegating them to a mythological realm. As characters in such a realm, both Jews and Native Americans are condemned, unable to act to bring about their freedom. Perhaps the real sin of Israel in the eyes of the world’s media is its refusal to abide by the rules of fantasy. According to this paradigm, Israel has no right to return fire when it’s attacked. Fantasy characters don’t carry real guns. Bellerose, Yeagley and Corwin argue that refusing to be a victim doesn’t make one into an oppressor. The attempted appropriation of Native American issues is form of exploitation.
In his “conversation with an Indian friend,” Bellerose lays out the misconceptions that facilitate lumping Israel and the Jews with the oppressors of Native Americans. Once that grouping is made, it’s easier to build Native solidarity with other people who claim to be victims of the same oppressors.
Robinson discusses the ultimate expression of those misconceptions in his account of the Ahenakew affair. David Ahenakew was an important Native American leader, earning the Order of Canada for his achievements on their behalf. He was also a rabid anti-Semite, schooled in hatred in both Germany and Gaza. He was ultimately stripped of the Order of Canada, and his racism denounced by other native leaders.
Ambassador Baker, in his article The Indigenous Rights of the Jewish People, explains the significance of a people being indigenous, in terms of history, politics and law. He uses this to examine concepts of legality and illegality of the presence of Jews in various parts of Israel, rejecting nomenclature that delegitimizes that presence.
Mara Cohen has indigenous status in two worlds: as Lakota Indian and a Jew. Describing the potential of dual status as a source of conflict, she explains how it rather provides the ability to see reality through a number of perspectives, and to move with ease between cultures.
Uqittuk Mark’s connection to Israel is Biblical, rather than political. A devout Christian, he went on an organized Israel pilgrimage to see the land of the Bible. His attachment to the land transcends the politics, while his experience as an Inuk (Eskimo) gives him a clearer perspective to understand the struggles over it.
Finally, while Palestinians and their supporters work hard to appropriate Native American identity and victimhood, Howard Schwartz explains why the early European colonists were convinced that the native people they found in North America actually were Jews: descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes. Schwartz explains the ideology which led the colonists to interpret native culture as primitive Judaism, and then ultimately reject that interpretation when its implications became clear.
Nathan Elberg spent a winter trapping with Cree Indians in northern Quebec. He writes in the Charivari section how his hosts helped him understand a two-thousand year old Rabbinic teaching.
Guest editor Nathan Elberg is Chairman of the International Board of Directors of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research. He is a commercial real estate broker who has hunted and trapped with Eskimos and Indians, negotiated multimillion-dollar transactions, traveled the Trans-Canada Highway with hobos, and lived in a tipi at -40C. He’s given expert testimony to the CRTC (Canadian version of FCC), and brought a group of Eskimos to address a provincial parliament.
He has an MA in Anthropology, and is doing a PhD in Religion. He’s studied primitive warfare, cannibalism, shamanism, Kabbalah, Talmud, primitive art, and communications among other things. His web blog can be found at www.quantumcannibals.com
In considering the convergence of Jewish and Native American experiences, I may be uniquely suited to this task because my mother was Tlingit of the eagle moiety and the kaayaash keiditaan clan, and my father was Jewish. His father was from Brzesko and his mother from Sniatyn in Galitzia. I am acquainted with both cultures but was born and brought up in Lingít áani, Tlingit territory in Alaska, with my maternal family, and that is my home. I have deep feelings for Jews and for Israel, as relatives and as part of my ancestry. I am also an academic, specialized in Spanish and Latin American literature, and it is from a literary sense that I view these convergences of culture and experience.
The first commonalities that come to mind naturally are mass deportations, genocide, harassment and victimization of all types. Native Americans have for some time been projected as exotic philosophical victims of their own timeless reality. According to a student of mine at University of Cape Town, Native Americans perceive time differently from Europeans. His professor of Anthropology had stated as much, quoting from some particular expert on the subject. I mentioned that the Mayan calendar is more accurate than any other, which contradicted his professor’s idiotic visions of a people living in a time zone that doesn’t exist. I mentioned that my mother and my grandmother didn’t have that peculiar perception of time, to which he answered that that they must have been westernised. It took me a few minutes to understand how he could have been so lacking in scepticism and reason that he could look at someone with obvious Native American features but deny him his personal experience. It was because he was misled by the romantic fantasies of a third-rate thinker with the title “professor.” It is on this point that contemporary Jewish and Native American experiences converge wherein professors, journalists and politicians present a condescending pseudo-anthropological vision of both groups without questioning their presumed unspoken right to pontificate about every aspect of both peoples’ existence, including where they should and should not live. I believe the real nature of this pathological desire to issue decrees stems from a simple religious narrative, the Christian depiction of Jesus, and the subsequent roles assigned by Europeans to themselves and others in our contemporary political reality.
Native Americans are seen by liberals as the perpetual victim, the sob story of the Americas, the gentle red-skinned people who met Columbus and the Mayflower Pilgrims, whose hospitality was recompensed with treachery and violence, the long dead heroes of Thanksgiving. And then there is the grand Hollywood narrative of the Great Plains, replete with Italians in cheap wigs and bad makeup that evolved into the equally dreadful “Dances with Wolves,” that self-serving fantasy of “the Good White Man” who has come to save the people. Transfer the characters to another place and time, and we have “Lawrence of Arabia,” the British equivalent. Both are recycled Lord Jim fantasies wherein a god-like European finds himself revered by little brown people. And both are reinventions of the Jesus story, European style, in which the blonde haired, blue eyed Jesus is killed by the people he has tried to save.
Martyrdom is evident in the story of Jesus, and it has crept into fiction, where it is a sin that condemns a novel or short story to second rate status. It also constitutes a kind of generic formula in the media. There are probably many reasons for that. I suspect that the main one is that media moguls and journalists understand that to make money their task is to manipulate the naïve, not to record history as it occurs. It is an infantile polarization of Good and Evil, a reductionist, condescending narrative technique that serves as a basis for mass media reports. One may only be a hero, a victim or a villain in the comic book realm. In popular media, victims and perpetrators are presented, and the journalist and activists assume the role of Superman. And the media is well aware of it. It feeds on the public’s longing for a dark, simplistic narrative strategy, inducing in the audience the cheap middle class thrill of righteous indignation.
In today’s narrative, Native Americans are placed on the margins, perhaps beyond victimhood. Native Americans are not allowed an equal voice, and never equal footing. I recall a conference in Spain on the indigenous mythology in Latin American fiction, my precise field of expertise. A professor and keynote speaker, a European, had in the course of his presentation presented an analysis of an aboriginal work of literature, most of which hinged on the meaning of a Quechua word. After he finished speaking, a Peruvian professor challenged his interpretation, explaining that the Quechua word, upon which it was based, had more than one meaning. Another Peruvian concurred and the two began discussing the point in Quechua, their native language. The keynote lecturer turned red and in an angry hostile tone rejected their correction, stating that he had worked with “those people” for over ten years, of course taking ownership of the word and the people. He had probably not counted on the presence of native Quechua speakers in the audience, for how could such humble people be educated, let alone equal to other literary scholars such as himself? I was disappointed to find at such a conference that not one of the keynote speakers was indigenous. What I witnessed was likely a direct result of the European narrative, possibly because that speaker had been induced into this version of literary reality as a child through Karl May’s eponymous fantasy novels of a romanticized Navaho named Winnetou.
I am certain that the man who offered the correction was aware of my unique background. Just after this exchange and without his having asked, I brought him a bottle of water from a vending machine. That isn’t something a European would very likely do. (For aboriginals, doing so is a sign of respect for someone who is older as well as an acknowledgement of his linguistic expertise and his rank as a distinguished professor and authority on his language (Quechua). Simply nodding is not enough whereas bringing someone a drink in this context is a sign of servitude.) This was also a subtle nod to him that I also acknowledged his victory over an under-prepared opponent.
That anecdote is also illustrative of the victim/perpetrator narrative. Because, while the victim is pitied, he may never be equal, and for him to ask for or demand equality means the end of victimhood. The speaker’s refusal to acknowledge the correction was not just an indication of his arrogance (after all, how could he be wrong, as he had studied and therefore owned those people) but a reminder to us aboriginals that we are only to be pitied. In a sense, this is a repetition of the story of the crucifixion, the religious subtext to all contemporary European political thought. In other words it is simply not possible for ethnic Europeans to remove themselves from their depiction of Jesus. Victims are not allowed to play any other role, because then it spoils the entire fantasy, and moreover, he is not entitled to be Jewish: to skirt that minor problem he is relegated like Native Americans to the mythological realm of a non-existent time zone, ascending to Heaven and returning, and presented as one who is closer to God than others and therefore no longer human. The image of the crucified Christ, a misunderstood philosophical being who lived in his own timelessness, is identical to the insulting mythologized cliché of Chief Joseph, who said “I will fight no more forever.” The false ascription of a lyrical philosopher comes through people too thick to understand that the man was only saying “I will not fight any longer” in a language he hadn’t mastered.
Of course in this narrative and in European passion plays evil is incarnate in the Jews. It is the basis of much small-minded European racism. Europe could not have Jews in it, and now, since the establishment of the State of Israel, it cannot allow Jews the sense of equality that all people who live independently in their own land must have. It sometimes seems as if the entire planet has been given carte blanche by Europeans to express its opinions about Israel. The subtext to those who live in the Diaspora is, “We will only like you and let you into our social circles, you bad Jews, if you condemn Israel.” This, though, is reminiscent of the hollow promises of the Spanish Inquisition: you will only be equal if you accept our religion and condemn your people. It is an empty promise, of course, but foolish people still fall for that promise, which is very close the Euro-American history of broken treaties with Native Americans. After the Spanish Inquisition and over three hundred broken treaties one would expect us all to wake up and reject the tainted promises of European racists.
The condescending treatment of Jews, forged in Europe, was passed from European Socialists and the All-Embracing emancipated promises of Soviet Socialism to academics and journalists all over the world. In place of Christianity there is a false, comic-book version of humanism that is broadcast via the mass media that seeks to convert its readers and viewers into the Cult of Righteous Indignation.
A good academic might rather question why others are trying to press a particular agenda and then consult histories. My impression is that today’s journalists have no concept of world history, nor do left-leaning University professors. Instead of reading canonical works they, like Soviet socialists, have created new versions of history, and cite from the babbling brook of postmodern-speak in, like the works of professors who oddly have no formal training in history. Citing them, the academic left adorn themselves with the socialist Rosary in the face of the vampire Zionist: “How can you say we are anti-Semitic when the people we are quoting are Jews?” Similarly, the Crow were used by Europeans who knew they would gladly help defeat their enemy, the Sioux. These tacticians understand that Jews also have their philosophical divisions and employ the likes of Noam Chomsky and Judith Butler to cite as righteous Jews. And their new faith of Righteous Indignation allows them a platform to unleash ethnic hatred, as long as it masquerades as criticism of Israel. I have noticed that the word “Zionist” is used by cult members as a curse and an insult.
In North America, anti-Israel demonstrations are all the more absurd. To hear people scream things such as, “Get off their land!” makes me wonder how these people could not be aware of whose land “they” are on. Has post-modern education erased pre-contact American history? A prime example of this sort of blind hypocrisy can be found in the drama of Rachel Corrie, the American anti-Israel activist who fell under an IDF bulldozer on March 16, 2003. Rachel Corrie lived in Olympia, Washington and attended Evergreen College. Her professors had obviously encouraged her misconceptions and half-cooked visions of Righteous Indignation and social justice, revolving around a notion of occupation and stolen land. Some of them have publicly claimed she was murdered by Israel. In other words the Jesus narrative is their way of understanding the zoned-out girl whose friends had time to snap photographs of her falling under a heap of earth as a bulldozer ploughed over her, but didn’t have time to pull her to safety. Without the crucifixion there is no passion play, no climax to the narrative, and no means of blaming Jews for the murder of a Holy Martyr. The best analogy I have read compares Corrie with Mary McGregor, the dim-witted school girl in Muriel Sparks’ novel The Prime of Miss Jean Brody, who is brainwashed by her teacher and dies volunteering in the Spanish Civil War, for the wrong side.
I see Rachel Corrie, her professors and allies as hypocrites of the greatest magnitude, as Olympia, Washington was ceded by treaties backed by false promises and lies. In short, the Coastal Salish were defrauded of their land in the 1850s. On that land sits the Corrie family and Evergreen State College where Rachel Corrie was a student. As far as I am aware, no one has yet made this point. While screaming about how Israel mistreats Gazans, Corrie’s mere presence on requisitioned (stolen) Coastal Salish land invalidates any claims to martyrdom that her family, political cohort or Arab Nationalists may proclaim.
I often suspect that such people understand fully that they are guilty of land theft, or at the very least know they are benefiting from bartering in stolen property. To attenuate their guilt they divert their attention and the attention of others to a mythological version of Gaza. It is much easier to live in a comic book fantasy than to reconcile oneself to the most difficult questions of justice in the present. For me, the Rachel Corrie story represents the convergence of the Native American and Jewish narratives in our times. It is the point at which European myth-making has reached its climax and implodes under the weight of its own stupidity. It is a story of media generated heroes, villains, and victims, which to any thinking person should recognize as hollow and transparently stale as a Hallmark card.
Much of academia is perverted by left-leaning social activism whose proponents have been busy rewriting history or reinterpreting it according to a Soviet-style party line. It calls to mind the anger I felt when reading Tzvetan Todorov’s Conquest of America, which alludes to European cultural superiority during the fall of Tenochtitlán by conveniently ignoring the fact that Tenochtitlán (now Mexico City) was not conquered, as is claimed, but was abandoned by its population who fled a horrific plague, probably smallpox, that ran rampant and killed people in droves. It was likely carried by one of Cortes’ co-conspirators. It was an accident of nature and not a victory of superior technology or martial tactics that allowed history to unfold as it has, and to claim otherwise is simply a lie.
The Leftist Academic narrative which serves as the intellectual force behind BDS is trapped in an infantile phase of development. Leftist academics pretend to reject Christianity while stuck in its mythological mind set, and its need for Jewish villains only reassures us that they are Christians without God, who maintain their form while rejecting the spiritual content and replacing it with a false humanism (though maintaining an overtly Calvinist brand of sanctimonious grandstanding). Replace “Jesus” with “Palestine” and voila, the new religion! I would suggest that the real centre of academic leftism is its propensity for dispensing pity to the victims it creates, for without those victims there can be no object for their pity and no feeling of superiority issues as a by-product of acts of Righteous Indignation, like the bad aftertaste of an artificial sweetener.
I would contend that Native Americans and Jews have been victimized in the same terms by Europeans who are unable to extract themselves from the perversion of their desire to be good human beings. This desire has been manipulated by the media, by the socialist inheritors of Soviet anti-Israel propaganda and by Arab nationalists, who along with the Soviets invented a false analogy to Native Americans, based on a desire to dominate Jews rather than coexist. In these terms our peoples are inextricably bound until we are able to abate the mythologies that fuel the false Righteous Indignation that impedes us all from progress in the modern world.
Born in Wrangell, Alaska, Jay Corwin has a doctorate in Spanish and Latin American literature from the Florida State University and is author of many pieces of criticism of Latin-American fiction. He is currently head of the Spanish programme at the University of Cape Town.
In 1974, Dennis Banks, a leader of the new American Indian Movement (AIM) travelled to Vienna to meet with the World Council of Churches. While there, he also met with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, identified as a terrorist group, but having nothing to do with American Indians. Why would there be any meeting between AIM and the PLO?
The American Indian Movement, with a violent and anti-American image, had already established ties and associations with Angela Davis and the Communist Party, the Socialist Workers Party (Minneapolis), the American Labor Party, Cesar Chavez, the Puerto Rican Solidarity Committee, Fidel Castro, Hollywood entertainers, and a host of other new Communist organizations popping up all over the United States. The PLO was considered another anti-American Communist effort, and AIM was trying to identify with the general Communist racial agitation movement that was sweeping the “oppressed” peoples of the Third World. Most of these groups welcomed AIM, for no people like the American Indians could shout its protest as loud against America. AIM quickly became a favorite of the anti-American movements. (See: Alan Stang, “Red Indians,” in American Opinion, September, 1975.)
When I entered the field of American Indian politics in 2001, and learned the history of AIM, I was appalled. That the American Indian should be used as the mascot of the political low-life of the world was to me intolerable. I had nothing but positive intuitions about the Indian role in American society. Indians are an integral part of the land, like the rivers and mountains – more than the Europeans will ever be. The American national image can never be complete or sound without the American Indian being a fundamental part of it. This idea must be put forth positively and not in a confrontational way. Some Americans have a profound respect for Indians. The “Communist” (Socialist, Leftist, Liberal, and Progressive) use of aboriginals, though, seems to have obscured these natural psychological affinities. In demonstrating the Indian’s natural affection for the land, the Indian can be seen as the bedrock of patriotism to the land.
I denounced the protracted and paid belly-aching on the part of AIM, and condemned its influence as detrimental to Indian youth. Such a negative outlook as was being professionally pushed by Communist-funded (– now we call “liberal” or “Democrat”) anti-American, anti-constitutionalists was impossible and dangerous. To my mind, nothing poisoned youth more that this nasty disposition of “I’ve been wronged,” and “You owe me.” It crushed every natural aspiration of youth. It stifled the intuitive ambitions of young people, particularly young men.
Then, as early as 2002, I began hearing of attempts to actually equate the “plight” of the so-called “Palestinians” with that of the American Indian. I found this bizarre. I could not perceive the association. Implied by this, of course, was that Israel was somehow the equivalent of the European invaders of the American continent. So it seemed the Indians were cast against the Jews. This was preposterous, in my opinion.
However, what really struck me was the absolute ignorance of who the so-called “Palestinians” really were, which allowed for the berserk claims that there was a natural connection between American Indians and “Palestinians.” By this time, of course, most people knew nothing of the origins of the American Indian Movement, and its anti-American roots, nor of the earliest attempts of associating it with “Palestinians.” My work was cut out for me. I had to expose, at least to my audience that consists of conservatives and patriots of all ethnicities and nationalities, the world over who the “Palestinians” were, and why they should not be associated with American Indians.
The people who are today referred to as “Palestinians” are Jordanian, Syrian, and more recently, a mix of other Arab nationals, and some military mercenaries from various Middle Eastern countries like Iran and groups like Al-Qaeda. “Palestinian” does not refer to a race, language, a culture, a land, or a nation. It is a political fantasy. There is no Palestine, and there are no Palestinians.
The word “Palestine” comes from an ancient Hebrew word, פלשת (pelesheth), which has a root meaning “rolling,” and means migratory. In Biblical literature, it is first used in Exodus 15:14, identifying the land and inhabitants who would greatly fear the approach of the children of Israel as Israel came up from Egypt. It was a general term for a general area and people. However, in other ancient, non-Hebrew records, the land (or people) is not referred to as such, but separate tribal inhabitants are named, or the names of their ‘kings,’ such as Kummuhu, Urik, Sibitti-be’l, Enil, Panammu, etc. Tiglath-Pileser III (744-727) left such an inscription. (See, The Ancient Near East, ed. James B. Pritchard, 1973, p.193.) Apparently, the eastern coast of the Mediterranean was an evolving identity, being highly coveted real estate, yet, until inhabited by Israel, never saw an established nation over any significant period of time.
In the Torah, the same land is also called Cana’an. Cana’an was, however, just another tribe inhabiting the area. There were Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Cana’anites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites (Deuteronomy 7:1). The list varies slightly elsewhere in the Torah (e.g., Exodus 33:2), but Cana’an is a consistent reference. The land of Cana’an was the land of promise. It was promised to Abraham (Genesis 17:8).
“Palestine” has also been occasionally associated with the word Pi-liš-te, or Philistine. The ancient Hebrew word is פלשתי (pelishtee), which is very similar to pelesheth (Palestine). This people, believed to be Egyptian in origin, did inhabit and dominate the coasts, certainly around the eleventh and tenth centuries BCE. Obviously, they were not part of the original migrants at the time of the Exodus.
None of these ancient peoples who inhabited Palestine prior to the Jews, were Arab, nor were they part of any other nation. They were very loosely confederate “fertility cults” with no political focus. When the children of Israel came upon the land, these tribes for the first time experienced a circumstantial unity, which comprised fear of a common enemy.
At the time of the destruction of the 2nd Temple (70 CE), there was, contrary to popular Christian belief, no major or significant dispersion of Jewish people. A small number of Christian Jews left the country for Peraea (a Transjordan province). The Jews in general did not leave the country. A new Jewish educational system was immediately established by the famous Rabbi Johannan ben Zakkai. As a people, Israel retained its identity. The Roman armies of Titus destroyed only Jerusalem and the national government. The people and the culture remained. (See, Michael Grant, The Jews in the Roman World (1973), p. 206, f.)
Without a national government, without a Temple, the coming centuries saw a certain lack of national Jewish focus in the land of Cana’an (Palestine). By the time of WWII (1945), the migration of European and Russian Jews to Palestine struck the uninformed world as a radical move. Arab peoples had inhabited Palestine for some time, people from Jordan, southern Syria, and even some Egyptians. It was all a leftover Muslim effect from the medieval era (7th century AD). The Arab Muslims made a profound claim not only on Palestine, but on the very site of the 2nd Temple. This, of course, is the historically established Muslim procedure—to take over, to claim someone else’s land, to coerce the inhabitants, and to deny other national identities. There is no intent to respect, not to honor, but only to destroy that which is not Islamic.
The modern history of Palestine, as a British land management project (which included the etching out artificial borders of Arab countries all over the Middle East) is found in a fabulous volume by Joan Peters, called From Time Immemorial (1984). As in no other work, Peters documents all. The Arab Muslim “refugees” in Palestine, “victims” of the Jewish invasion, were mostly Jordanian and Syrian, and were not allowed back into their own countries, but rather were used as tools, as pricks, in the side of the new Israel. Indeed, some of these “immemorial” refugees were declared refugees (by the United Nations Relief and Work Agency) if they had lived in Palestine a minimum of two years before the 1948 conflict.
Rosemary Syigh wrote in 1977 that “a strongly defined Palestinian identity did not emerge until 1968, two decades after expulsion.” Peters comments, “It had taken twenty years to establish the “myth” prescribed by Musa Alami” See, Rosemary Syigh, “Sources of Palestinian Nationalism: A Study of a Palestinain Camp in Lebanon,” Journal of Palestinian Studies, vol. 6, no.3, 1977. Musa Alami (1897-1984) was an Arab leader born in Jerusalem. Peters quotes him as saying in 1948, “The people are in great need of a “myth” to fill their consciousness and imagination” (Peters, p.11). Alami wrote in 1949, “How can people struggle for their nation, when most of them do not know the meaning of the word? … The people are in great need of a ‘myth’ to fill their consciousness and imagination…” Musa Alami, “The Lesson of Palestine,” The Middle East Journal, October, 1949.
Palestine is not a country. “Palestinian” does not denote a language, a religion, a culture, or an ethnicity. It is a myth, indeed. It is a political vision and the most ill-founded, perverted money laundry in modern times. That even someone as noble and broad-minded as Benjamin Netanyahu must speak of “Palestinians” as if they are a legitimate people demonstrates how effective anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism still is in the world.
As an American Indian, a Comanche from Oklahoma, it may strike some as wholly inappropriate that I should venture to comment on affairs so apparently remote from my own. There is a reason for my indulgence: In 2002, there were journalistic political attempts to associate Palestinians with American Indians, such as “Swallowing all before them,” in The Economist (October 31, 2002), and “Palestinians and Native Americans” in Counterpunch (January 14, 2003), and even crazy home-made web pages like “Colonization and Resistance in North America and Palestine” (2002). These efforts to cast Israel in the mold of a colonial force against the “Palestinians” were loud, and I was piquantly offended. I wrote articles of response, as I mentioned earlier, beginning with a FrontPageMagazine piece on April 9, 2002, called “American Indians Aren’t Like Palestinians.” I’ve written numerous articles since, and published them on BadEaglel.com, my own web site.
I was particularly offended in January, 2007, when a group of so-called “Palestinians” actually dressed in pathetic, dime-store American Indian costumes to express their protest to the aggressions of the great Israel. (They were protesting road blocks!) The analogy is amiss. American Indians are not of some foreign race moved into a foreign country not theirs. We invaded no country. We later did fight a mighty invader, indeed. But we were never asked to go back to our native countries and leave America in peace. Moreover, we did not have billions of other American Indians in surrounding countries ready to come to our aid (or even to use us) and to ‘wipe America off the map.’ The analogy of “Palestinians” and American Indians is therefore preposterous, stupid, and reflects the superficial emotionalism of liberals. Liberals profess great sympathy for the poor Indians, and decry the horrible abuse of white America wreaked upon the Indians. Liberals use Indians as a symbol, a token of anti-Americanism, anti-patriotism, and anti-white racism, really. That Indians should be also used to support other political groups in the world who claim abuse, as if Indians are the universal mascot of the oppressed, is something I simply cannot tolerate. This places American Indians in the most pathetic, weak, and abject position possible, precluding us from any positive self-image, any development, and any real dignity in the world.
I don’t appreciate abuse of American Indians—especially when Indian images are being used to support specific political positions which I reject or despise. My whole purpose in public speaking and writing on political issues in America and in the world is to proffer American Indian history as an example of racial and national honor, not chauvinism, and least of all as a tool to support the antithesis of such. I believe in the preservation of race, nationhood, and honor. In the so-called “Palestinians,” I see no race, no nationhood, and no honor.
Dr. David Yeagley (1951-2014) was a twenty first century renaissance man. Armed with a doctorate in Music and a Master’s degree in Divinity, he attacked issues head on, paying little heed to those offended by his onslaughts. An author, political commentator, classical composer and biblical scholar, he was the conservative voice among American Indian intellectuals. An enrolled Comanche Indian and an avowed patriot, he railed against those he felt to be a threat to American liberty.
He had a special interest in Persian culture: He published articles on this subject and toured Iran. He was a Judeophile, often expressing his admiration for the Jewish people, the modern state of Israel, and the ancient land of the Bible.
He was a Bible scholar, posting on YouTube a series of five minute “Torah Shiurim,” (commentaries). When I mentioned to him a concern about a series of verses in the book of Samuel, he quickly brought together other verses which resolved the question.
He was intolerant of people who claimed special privilege based on past or contemporary raccial oppression. This earned him the enmity of liberal Indians and their supporters, who denied Yeagley’s authenticity as well as his facts. His harsh criticism of many black leaders and especially of their enmity towards American values brought charges of racism. Perhaps there was some truth to this. However, Yeagley also expressed profound admiration for black people who upheld American values, such as Allan West, Herman Cain, and Condoleeza Rice. He said of the latter “Sheer elegance is her draw, and class, to say nothing of intelligence, character, and consistency.”
He was also intolerant of people who tried to exploit Native American identity and culture. He ridiculed those who claimed the words “Redskin” or “Indian” to be demeaning, and carried both labels proudly. He denounced other ethnic groups who tried to latch on to past exploitation of Indians in order to advance the cause of their own victimization.
Dr. Yeagley had cancer in his youth. The radiation treatments resulted in Mesothelioma when he got older. I called him several times to inquire about his well-being, and he could barely catch his breath to say a few words. He was grateful when I told him my synagogue was including him in its prayers for the ill.
Alas, those prayers were insufficient, and he passed away on March 11, 2014. His essay on Palestinian attempts to exploit Indian identity reflects the depths of his scholarity, and the intensity of his passion. While he said much to offend, he said more to inform.
We don’t endorse everything that Dr. Yeagley has said during his life. Then again we don’t endorse everything the other contributors to this publication have said, either. We choose to let their essays included herein, including Dr. Yeagley’s, speak for themselves.
David Ahenakew (1933 –2010) was a Canadian First Nations leader who left a significant legacy of achievement in advancing educational opportunity among First Nations people in Saskatchewan. His career included a term as Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, and another as National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations [AFN]. His achievement was crowned by the award of the Order of Canada. However his public career was fatally compromised by his expression of antisemitic feelings. Accusations against him of promoting hatred against Jews led to two trials that achieved much notoriety and to the revocation of his membership in the Order of Canada by the Governor General. The Ahenakew affair has much to say to us concerning antisemitism in contemporary Canada.
According to one version of the story related by Ahenakew, he first learned about “the Jews” as a teenager in Saskatchewan from both returning First Nations veterans of the Second World War and from local residents in Saskatchewan. In Ahenakew’s other version, the roots of his attitudes toward the Jews stem from his experience in the Canadian Forces from 1951-1967, during which period, he was stationed in Germany in 1957, and discussed the issue of the Jews with Germans he met. Either way, Ahenakew was exposed to a fairly standard antisemitic narrative that he accepted as true. According to this narrative, as he would relate it:
The Second World War was started by the Jews …The Jews damn near owned all of Germany prior to the war. That’s why Hitler came in. He was going to make damn sure that the Jews didn’t take over Germany, or even Europe. That’s why he fried six million of those guys, you know. Jews would have owned the goddamned world.
During his career with the Canadian Forces, he was also stationed with the United Nations peacekeeper force in the Gaza Strip, where it is not unlikely that he picked up a Palestinian anti-Israeli narrative (also held by many contemporary anti-Semites) that he also adopted as his own. As he stated:
And look what they’re [Jews] doing now; they’re killing people in Arab countries. I was there, I was there.
Further into the interview which constituted the main evidence against him at his trial, he reiterated:
Well, because I saw the Jews kill people in, in the Egypt when I was over there. And the Palestinians, the Egyptians, the Arabs generally, eh. I saw them fucking dominate everything.
Finally, he gave expression to a fairly standard contemporary antisemitic narrative that Jews controlled things, especially the media, in North America, as well:
…who in the hell owns many of the banks in the States, many of the corporations, many, well look it her [sic] in Canada, ASPER…ASPER, he controls the media…Well, what the hell does that tell you? You know that’s power.
All these remarks, which triggered Ahenakew’s first trial, were made in a question and answer session after a lecture he gave at a meeting of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations on December 13, 2002. They were reported by the Saskatoon Star Phoenix and were quickly picked up by the Canadian national media. Because of these remarks Ahenakew was charged with promoting hatred in June, 2003.
In a magazine article published soon afterward, he was quoted as once again accusing the media, which he likely held responsible for his troubles, of being controlled by Jews:
“When a group of people, a race of people, control the world media, something has to be done about it,” he wrote.
When he was put on trial in July, 2005, Ahenakew attempted to excuse his remarks, blaming them on his diabetic condition, a bad reaction to a change in medication, and his having drunk some wine previously. He was convicted of promoting hatred against Jews and fined $1,000.00. Even though the amount of the fine was set fairly low, in order not to make him into a “martyr”, the aftermath of his conviction, on July 8, 2005, Ahenakew accused the Canadian legal system of systemic bias against First Nations. As he stated:
My case was as much about racism against First Nations as it was about alleged racism against Jewish people…First Nations have never received a fair trial in Canada’s judicial system.
On July 11, 2005, he was stripped of his Order of Canada. Ahenakew was quoted as attributing the revocation of his Order of Canada to “the pressure put on the advisory committee by some of the Jewish community, including a letter writing campaign and the lobbying by the Canadian Jewish Congress…the decision by the Advisory Council is a clear indication of where the power in this country lies”.
Approximately one year later, in June, 2006, the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench overturned his conviction and ordered a new trial on the grounds that while “Mr. Ahenakew’s comments, on any standard, were shocking, brutal and hurtful,” the judge had failed to properly take into account the context of Ahenakew’s anti-Semitic statements that came out in an angry confrontation with a reporter, and, therefore, may not have constituted “willful” hatred.
A new trial was held in 2008, as a result of which Ahenakew was acquitted of the charges against him. In the court’s decision, issued in February 2009, Judge Wilfred Tucker characterized Ahenakew’s anti-Semitic remarks as “revolting, disgusting and untrue”, but basically accepted the defense’s contention that the confrontational context of the remarks did not constitute an “intent “to incite hatred. The Crown did not choose to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, which disappointed many within the Jewish community who supported such an appeal because the Ahenakew case was considered by many Jewish observers to be similar to the well-publicized hate speech cases of James Keegstra and Ernst Zundel. As B’nai Brith Canada Executive Vice President Frank Dimant stated at the time: “We urge the government to step in and take the opportunity to review hate legislation in light of ongoing manifestations of hate in this country.”
One thing the Ahenakew affair certainly brought into focus was the presence of antisemitic attitudes among First Nations in Canada. Although, in response to the charges against David Ahenakew, a number of prominent First Nations leaders, like Matthew Coon Come and Phil Fontaine, thoroughly condemned his antisemitism, there were other first Nations voices that supported Ahenakew. For example, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, whose Chief Ahenakew had been, proposed Ahenakew’s reinstatement as a Senator in that organization, which Ahenakew declined when considerable negative political pressure was exerted against the reinstatement . Manitoba aboriginal leader Terry Nelson, who has himself accused the Canadian government of attempting to commit genocide against First Nations, and who has publicly associated himself with Iran’s attempt to impugn Canada’s record on human rights, asserted that Ahenakew was a victim of a Jewish-controlled media and stated that if First Nations people resorted to violence it was the Jewish media that would be to blame.
What did the Ahenakew Affair mean to the relations between First Nations and the Jewish community in Canada? First of all, it meant that Jewish leaders were paying more attention to the Canadian First Nations community and listening to their concerns with greater sensitivity. One small token of this was that, prior to criminal charges being filed against Ahenakew, Dimant spoke of the possibility of dealing with Ahenakew not through the ordinary Canadian justice system, but rather through procedures of “Indian restorative justice”, involving sentencing and healing circles.
Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) had established relations with representative First Nation organizations like the Assembly of First Nations at least since the 1980s. This was entirely consistent with its philosophy that discrimination against one group is discrimination against all and that the CJC had an obligation to intervene in larger societal issues, especially those respecting human rights. Nonetheless, in response to the Ahenakew affair, the Canadian Jewish communal leadership seems to have devoted special attention to the First Nations community. CJC President Ed Morgan and CEO Bernie Farber thus met with AFN chief Phil Fontaine in Ottawa on May 16, 2005. Both Morgan and Farber participated in the annual General Assembly of the AFN which met in Yellowknife on July 7, 2005. As Farber stated, “the Ahenakew case has solidified our relations with First Nations.” He was further quoted as saying that CJC was cooperating with First Nations on issues like land claims and residential schools. Furthermore, CJC sponsored several trips to Israel by aboriginal leaders.
Morgan’s speech to the AFN’s General Assembly, held on the very eve of the Ahenakew verdict, dealt in general with things the Canadian Jewish and First Nations communities held in common and how they could better understand each other. In his prepared remarks, Morgan spoke at length concerning the Ahenakew affair and its implications for Jewish-First Nations relationships:
I cannot help but be moved by how decisively and articulately the messages came to us from aboriginal peoples across Canada in the wake of his [Ahenakew’s] ugly rant. We were inundated with calls, e-mails, faxes all conveying the same message of condemnation on the one hand and of solidarity with us on the other. They knew that the pain he had caused, though aimed at one group, had hit a much broader target including their own community and Canadian society at large. They understood the irony of a representative of one minority community that has experienced discrimination targeting another such community for a hateful diatribe. They knew that, in the words of one chief, “silence was not an option”, so they spoke…The Ahenakew affair began with hate but thanks to the aboriginal peoples of this country it ended with…support, mutual respect, and enhanced friendship.
Morgan concluded this section of his remarks by pledging:
…that the Canadian Jewish Congress will be more active on aboriginal issues and we will seek new and creative ways to work together to achieve our common goals. We have much to teach, and much to learn from each other.
Anita Bromberg, Bnai Brith Canada National Director of Legal Affairs, echoed Morgan’s Jewish commitment to First Nations when she stated, “But as we have said, there is a silver lining, namely, that we have worked closely with the aboriginal community to build a Canada based on tolerance and understanding and will continue to do so.” Alan Yusim, another Bnai Brith Canada official, emphasized the excellent relationships the organization has built up with Aboriginal groups across the country. “These relationships are stronger than ever as we move forward with many joint initiatives,” Yusim said.
Compared to the hate speech affairs of Keegstra and Zundel, whose overt antisemitic activities and trials were conducted over a period of decades, the Ahenakew affair seems relatively simple and straightforward. Though the evidence shows that Ahenakew held anti-Semitic views, as well as disparaging views of other groups, such as Asians, Blacks, Eastern Indians, and others that he had expressed privately for years, there was only one major public incident lasting a bit more than two minutes. Why, then, all the fuss?
It seems most likely that the rapt attention Jews in Canada paid to this case is directly related to its having come after the long drawn out frustrations of the Keegstra and Zundel trials, and reflects the Jewish community’s concern that the Ahenakew case was yet another in a series of legal precedents that had been set that, in the words of Bnai Brith Canada’s Steven Slimovitch, “constitute a dangerous precedent in which the standard of conviction could be set inappropriately high.” And indeed, in the years since Ahenakew was ultimately found not guilty, it has been noted that Provincial Attorneys General have been reluctant to approve hate crime prosecutions.
It is also likely that the Jewish community became as deeply aroused as it was due to Ahenakew’s absorption of the anti-Israel narrative in his antisemitic remarks. These remarks reflect a contemporary global trend in which anti-Israel and antisemitic narratives have been merged. It is for this reason, among others, that one of the primary public actions by the organized Jewish community of Canada has been to sponsor trips to Israel for First Nations leaders.
In a Canada that has become highly sensitive to expressions of prejudice against defined groups of people, the Ahenakew case has taken its place as an example of the real penalties to be paid by a person in the public eye who transgresses the boundaries of hate speech, even if the Canadian judicial system could not formally convict him of a criminal offense.
Ira Robinson is Professor of Judaic Studies and Interim Director of the Institute for Canadian Jewish Studies, Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. He is also an executive board member of the Canadian Institute of Jewish Research (CIJR).
In these days of change, (Aren’t they all…and haven’t they always been) I wanted to share some of my own experience of being born in a liminal place and of a liminal status. Always on the cusp of beginnings and endings, of being between Worlds, and Peoples, and what it means to me as a Jewish Woman of the Oyukpehe Tiyospe”White Horse Creek People”, Hehaka Sapa Tiawe “Black Elk”, from the Oglala “Scatters Their Own” Band of the Titonwan Lakota “Red Earth People”
In Lakota, the language of my mother’s birth people, “Iyeska,” has taken on a pejorative meaning – literally meaning “Speaks with white mouth.” It was first used to identify the children born of unions between those who came from “over the water” and those who are indigenous to this land. These were the children who could speak both parents’ language and who had exposure to both cultures. The Tiyospaye , the Lakota extended Family structure, was one where people intermarried with other Peoples, their Ceremonies allowed family members to “Hunka” “Makes Relatives” from outside, and to make them ours. As the whole World is perceived Lakota Way, to be a great interconnected web of Relatives, therefore one must Respect all. Subsequently, Lakota perspectives were never exclusionary, nor did Lakotas feel particularly threatened by other people’s ways. Either others were tolerated, or they weren’t, as relations with other Tribes and Tribal Histories demonstrated. We had no use for cannibals, human sacrifice or the imbalance of disrespect. By the Lakota way of time keeping, we moved from Dog Days, when dogs pulled our Travois, as we followed the herds of buffalo across the Grasslands of the North Plains, to Horse Days, when the Sacred Elk Dog came home. We knew little hunger, and the great blossoming of our Culture happened, and then the heartache of the conquest and the loss of freedom that came with Reservation Days, and the ever abiding hurt of 1893, and the butchery at Wounded Knee.
This is when the “Iyeska” label had begun to pick up its negative connotations. Often the “Iyeska” used their knowledge of both languages and their relationships with the “other” parent’s people, who were now in control, to their personal advantage. And often they encountered the worst of the European prejudices and racism, which they took on as their own, and with which they identified. This is the very definition of being “colonized”. We see this happening wherever peoples have been subjected to conquest and dispossessed of their heritage and history. These peoples identify with the oppressor, as the Kapo’s did in the European concentration camps for my father’s People. From 1876 until 1978, when the United States allowed the Indian Religious Freedom Act to become law, there were the ongoing depredations of boarding/residential schools where children were taken in order to assimilate them. The “Kill the NDN, save the Child” policy of the US government damaged generations that have yet to heal. (NDN is shorthand spelling for Indian.) The forcible removal of Children from their Families, and their Peoples in order to gut the Cultures and the Identity of these generations, along with the Graveyards filled with Children’s remains are just a few of the hallmarks of genocide. The challenge then was bare survival. Humans tend to become very tactical living for the next meal, surviving the next big storm -when the goal is to survive this season, this year – and you can lose hope when there is just more of the same, no future and the sense of valuing who and what they are has been erased.
But there are those who survive, who take a long view, and find what is right for them, despite all they have been through, personally and generationally. My mother was one such indigenous survivor. She rarely spoke of what she had lived through. In fact, not until the evening before she passed did she tell me the worst of it – the rapes, the medical experimentation, the grinding poverty, but also how she had triumphed, finishing university and learned what she needed to know to survive in the world of a dominant culture and make it her own. But she came from a very spiritually focused family, and people whose own spirituality had been proscribed, though practiced secretly. And then, post WWII, she found a spirituality that resonated with her and a people she felt at home with, more than any of the other immigrants who had come to North America. She found Judaism. She told me once, “Since all these Peoples didn’t seem to like Jews, I wanted to find out why? And I found out that it was because they were a Good People, different than any other”.
She spent seven years learning the language, ways of life, traditions and ceremonies of the Jewish people. And then she understood what an old piece of writing on the thinnest of hide in the old parfleche bag was. A ketubah that was taken in a raid on the Thieve’s Road (Bozeman Trail), during the Red Cloud’s War. It had belonged to her Mother’s, Mother’s, Mother. A captive girl. Her cousin sent it to her, and the Rabbi overseeing her study had pictures made. And told her she was a returned person, like the “Lostbirds” the taken away, who finally came home. Mother continued her studies, for while she knew Jews were indigenous to the Levant, they were also the only group of immigrants who spoke of leaving North America through their prayers and as an understanding of who they are, she had to learn what had been lost to her. Knowing the Spirituality, the Lifeways of your people makes you know yourself, and your relationships with others. As a group who came from Tribes themselves, Jews understood their place as a Family, a great World Family, connected to their past and their future, and remembering as a matter of everyday living. She resonated with this on a deeply spiritual level, as she told me, “One of the best things, is Jews are like Lakota in that they don’t have to have everybody be just like them. They are who they are and they know it”. She also liked the fact that Jews didn’t do the proselytizing “thing”, given her own experiences with that.
All this being said, and, as with all things, nothing comes from nothing, and we all come from something. Growing up during the US civil rights movement and with the hard-headed pragmatism of being Ranching Folks, along with the cultural dichotomy of the annual visits to my father’s family in Seattle, my first perspectives of “white” people were not only of the intolerance of Rapid City, South Dakota for NDN People, and the apartheid prejudices that were faced there, but also the noisy, verbal, all encompassing Mizrahi/Sephardi Jewish family I was a part of in Seattle. Always being too tall, for that side of my family is short, and their understanding of their piece of the United States versus how we lived in, isolated Reservation Ranch Country. For all the misunderstanding and lack of knowledge about the way of life there (They thought Mom and I lived in a Tipi), they were concerned that the tiny Jewish community in Rapid City couldn’t provide enough; enough contact, enough education, enough sense of what it meant to be Jewish in a largely gentile world, amongst gentile relatives. My great grandma told me story after story of my Jewish family’s history. She insisted I learn Hebrew, as well as the Arabic and Ladino spoken in her home. What she and most of my folks there did not realize, is that it was very, very much like my Lakota family home: The multilingual, ancient oral tradition, as well as story after story of our Lakota history with high value placed on remembering. Given all of this, I came out essentially a tri-cultural human being. This was a generation before most US citizens had an idea about what that might mean: The ability to see reality through a number of perspectives, but most importantly, with an ease of movement between different cultures, and rarely seeing the world as “One Way Only,” always knowing the exception, and the greatest challenge, being true to all my “selves”, and never disrespecting where I come from, or what I learned there. This might have been more difficult had I been born Navajo, or Zuni, traditionally polytheist, but the Lakota perceptions of the world, are what they are, and in very many ways are very similar to Jewish perceptions. Learning to honor both ways within the constraints of the other was hard. And not always knowing my “place” and growing up without the boundaries most have in knowing who they are.
This led to some difficulties of heart and mind; My Jewish faith upheld me through those times. The relationship with the One, the relationship with my Peoples, this gave me the anchor of my fluid existence as a career military member. The tradition of coming from a Warrior People on one side, and as Healers on the other, I found my niche as Flight Nurse, in an Operational Flying Unit. I found a home-away-from-home in any nearby Jewish community wherever I found myself, and in the sketchy, but valuable observances with other Jewish military members in the war zones I worked in. The affinity with other Jewish members of other nation’s Military….and of course there is Israel.
As an indigenous person from North America, known as Turtle Island from the traditional Ojibwe reference, I was not prepared for the physical and psychic resonance with the land (Israel) there, and had to accept that I was indigenous, though not native there as well. And I know exactly what that means. I uphold those inherent obligations in all ways except by making aliyah. And yes, I would give my life for that land and my people there, as I would for this land, and my people here.
Today, the European Left, along with their colleagues in North American academia, and media, the post liberal, globalist ideology, coupled with the hatred of Jews which is part and parcel of the European cultural matrix, (how could it not be after 1700 years of indoctrination) and which is now in concert with the oil producing nations and their clients – they are all spilling their cultural and religious agendas and false narratives into the ears of indigenous peoples here. They seek a commonality that is not real. And, to them, ideology is more important than people. As it was with the European communists and the European missionaries, and the European whatever that sought to suborn and homogenize identity, and are as intolerant of others’ beliefs as any Spanish Conquistador ever was. And they have used the North American indigenous experience, and claimed it for their own. There is some reason they do this, perhaps to gain credibility for their untruths. But I look at the propaganda pictures, the false allegations, and the knowingly misleading memes that so many accept as “reality”, when it has nothing to do with the reality on the ground either in Israel, or Judea/Samaria or Gaza. Someday, I will go to Hebron, and see where my family came from….I shall not try to take the house back from the Arab family that lives there now. Nor, as I have never lived there, do I regret not doing so up till now. But my Jewish great grandma would have. To claim that Jews are “colonizers and occupiers” when they have simply gone back to the land from which they came makes me angry. Jews always lived there, and now they are living there again, despite massacres and ethnic cleansing.
And I am glad. And I hope and pray that their experiences with their Arab neighbors will improve. That they not be what they were for my Mizrahi Family, that they be not “dhimmi” living under those apartheid laws. I pray that someday the Arab peoples will accept Jewish indigenous rights as being a real thing, and that not all peoples have to be Muslim, or ruled by Muslims, and certainly not by Arab Muslims. The Amazigh and Kurds are quite competent to rule themselves, and Arab colonialist culture is just that. In the lands they control, there are no safe minorities, if even allowed to remain there at all, and no respect for indigenous peoples or their spiritual traditions.
I have shared my “liminal” experience with you. I hope you do not mind. I see coming, the further destruction of more of the different lenses on reality that humanity encompasses, in favor of a homogeneous wad – and further loss of generationally-acquired wisdom of different peoples. The new “Liberals” who embrace the idea that all cultures are the equals of all other cultures are insane. Different perspectives, competing ideas, and taking pride in who and what you are, is not a negative thing. I believe it is the push to eradicate all the “differences” between humans that has proven most dangerous to humanity. And if there is any worse form of governance for Humans than theocracy to be found, I am unaware of it. The Militants of a Hamas or ISIL would see my Traditional Relatives butchered as Pagans….and the lack of respect for others’ lives and ways of life will cause even more loss of the richness of Humanity with the same methods which were used to wipe out Indigenous Religions and Peoples in the Middle East and the Levant. None of what ISIL and Hamas do are new things….just more firepower and better propaganda excusing what they do…otherwise, it could still be 637 C.E. with people being buried alive and having their heads hacked off. And they intend to take their show on the road. That is something truly real for all Traditional Indigenous to consider.
Mara Cohen was born in 1957 in Seattle, Washington. She is of mixed heritage: Middle Eastern Levantine Jewish from the Island of Rhodes and Sioux, specifically from the Oglala Lakota People. Cohen worked as a Medevac flight nurse and chief of operational training for a Tactical Operational Group for the United States Air Force and as a cultural linguist specialist served on the Minority Veteran’s Advisory Committee for the US Congress and advocates for Indigenous People’s Rights.
My name is Uqittuk Mark and I’ve lived my whole life in Ivujivik, an isolated, ice-swept village of 380 people located in the Nunavik region, 2,000 kilometers north of Montreal, Quebec. Ivujivik means “Place where ice accumulates because of strong currents.” Situated on a sandy cove sandwiched between imposing cliffs overlooking Hudson Bay and the Hudson Strait, the currents between the two are so strong that trapped animals are often crushed by the flowing ice.In Ivujivik. Ice is a constant: There are only three months of the year, from July till October, when there isn’t any.There are no roads linking Ivujivik to any other Nunavik villages; the only way into the settlement is by plane.
I was born in an igloo, but shortly after my birth, my entire community moved into regular housing. Most young Inuits stay in town; they find jobs here. The majority hunt for a living, mainly seal, walrus and beluga. Then, there are those like me who leave temporarily to attend schools of higher education. I studied at the Algonquin College in Ottawa. Today, I work as a weatherman and a control tower operator at the Ijuvik Airport.Our people have lived in Ivujivik for 4,000 years.
Inuits began converting to Anglicanism in the mid-70s. Along with this conversion came secular knowledge. Before then, we didn’t attend school because there were no schools. But, even prior to that, young people began leaving the traditional ways en masse.
Since attending Sunday school as a young boy, I had always longed to visit the Holy Land. I told myself that should the opportunity to go there arise, I would grab it. The opportunity presented itself in 2006 when I joined the Canada Awakening Ministries tour. I was one of 40 participants that comprised of First Nations groups, their ministers as well as others from Ireland, Fiji and Ontario. I was the only male from the North. It was a two-week trip from start to finish, my first outside Canada and it didn’t disappoint. For some, it was a life-altering experience: For me, it was a remarkable pilgrimage – a personal journey into the world of the Torah and the New Testament. The stories I learned in Sunday school came alive to me, for instance, the desert where John the Baptist was born and the Sea of Galilee. I felt at home in the Galilee.
We toured most of the land. The only places we didn’t visit were the West Bank and Gaza as It was considered too dangerous to go there. Keeping away from those places, though, didn’t immunize us from danger. One kibbutz we visited was hit by Hamas rockets soon after we left. Had we remained longer, we would have been casualties of those missiles, as were many of the Israelis we met there. Seeing and experiencing the land and the people, opened me up to a new perspective on the world and, interestingly, deepened my understanding of what needed to be done to help preserve my own culture.
I was most struck by the differences between Israeli and Canadian culture. In my naiveté, I just assumed that Israel would be yet another Western democracy. I wasn’t prepared for just how traditionally Jewish it is. It isn’t only the language, the fact that Israelis speak Hebrew and Yiddish and not English, but I found their customs and traditions unexpected and, at times, inexplicable. In one kibbutz we visited, pigs were elevated onto some kind of platform; we were told that the Jews weren’t allowed to touch them. How Israelis observe the Sabbath also intrigued me. There, the Sabbath begins Friday night and ends Saturday night. Orthodox Jews keep the Sabbath according to God’s commandment to Moses, as an example, they don’t use the elevators on the Sabbath: They consider pushing a knob work and Jews aren’t allowed to work on the Holy Day.
We also attended museums where we were introduced to Jewish history, especially what happened during World War II. We were told that before becoming a State, Jewish settlers weren’t allowed to arm themselves but were innovative in bypassing these restrictions. For instance, to protect Jews, one man smuggled in guns piece by piece and assembled them in Jerusalem. It was a superhuman effort. I found that awesome.
Israel has a lot to teach us Inuits about preserving a culture. Look at what Eliezer Ben-Yehudah accomplished by reinvigorating the Hebrew language. Ben-Yehuda was a Polish lexicographer and journalist who moved to Palestine in 1881. This accomplishment especially resonated with me. Over the years, many of us became confused because of having lost our identity, especially when the Canadian government tried assimilating us into the Canadian culture. Besides losing our culture, we also lost our language. We were taught that our language is something we should be ashamed of. After hearing about what Ben-Yehudah did, I felt encouraged. Perhaps we, too, can reinvigorate our language, albeit with a lot of effort. There are attempts being made today. Recently, a few books written in Inuit were published and even a dictionary. I’m sure more books will follow. I hope all is not yet lost.
Israel, though, has so much more to teach us as a people, especially about how to survive. Jewish history parallels what we are going through today in terms of our own relationship with a dominant, domineering society. In that regard, we share a deep understanding of what Jews have endured over the centuries and what they continue to endure, even in their own country.
We have certain expectations of native people. They have to be militant. They should be political radicals, and quick to rebuke white people, the “colonizers.” They should bang on drums, chanting in a tongue that no one else can understand, and refer to the mysteries of the Great Spirit.Very often, native people know what’s expected of them, and if in the mood, will play the role. My friend Uqittuk Mark won’t. He refuses to be the aggrieved aboriginal. When I first visited his community in the early 1980’s, he didn’t lecture me about the evils of the white man. Rather, he pulled out his guitar and gave me a folk music concert, with songs by Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, and more. We did discuss native issues, but not as personal accusations. Rather, we talked to improve our understanding. Uqittuk’s critiques of government policy on education and development were passionate, but even-handed.When I recently reconnected with Uqittuk, he again greeted me with the same warm demeanor as I experienced decades ago. He still takes the issues affecting his family and community quite seriously, and he still uses the approach of trying to achieve understanding.A major change is that he is now a committed Christian. He is passionate about his beliefs, and in keeping with his character, is always trying to understand more. He told me about his recent Israel pilgrimage, which had a profound spiritual effect on him.Uqittuk is from a kind of sandwich generation of Inuit. Their modern education limited their ability to learn traditional hunting. The influence of western popular culture affected them, whether in music, food, or livelihood. Uqittuk and I had many discussions about authenticity: was his generation authentically Inuit, was my generation authentically Jewish? They’re not “real” Inuit, he and his friends declared, because they had been educated in someone else’s culture. It took a few years, but I eventually realized his perspective was right, and mine wrong. And not just about Inuit.Uqittuk is authentic: as an Inuk (Eskimo), Christian, and as a sensitive and intelligent friend. It’s an honor to have him offer to tell CIJR about his Israel pilgrimage.
I have some interesting conversations sometimes. That comes from being Métis. Métis are known as the “bridge people,” which means that we are often seen as the go-betweens for white people and Indians. What it really means is that we don’t really fit in anywhere completely, unless it’s with our own people or oddly enough another group of people who have been marginalized and oppressed like the Jews.
Anyway, when talking about the commonalities between Jews and Indians, I often deal with some ingrained prejudices. You see, most natives are Christians who have been indoctrinated with prejudices towards Jews, and when you add the fact that most people who have been fighting for native rights also have a left-wing bias, you add in people who have been only ever told the false narrative of Palestinian indigenous status and surface commonalities.
I work hard to teach people that they have got to look deeper than the surface, because the surface is populated mostly by false narratives based on flawed understandings of history, and that the people who perpetuate those myths do NOT have our best interests at heart; in fact, their arguments are actually extremely damaging to our struggle.
This is an excerpt from an actual conversation between myself and an Indian friend. Do not be alarmed, it’s natural for someone to have opinions like this based on flawed history. But most of my people are very intelligent and once set straight, they often understand very well why what they once believed was incorrect. This conversation was with someone who asked me why I am “always talking about the Middle East and Jews.” They were upset that I had said something about Palestinians not wanting peace.
“But Ryan, the Jews are bad people because the bible says they killed Jesus. The priest told me that they are bad people,” said an Indian friend of mine whose family was forced into residential schools.
“Umm seriously? I am going to ask you a question and I need you to answer honestly. This same priest who told you Jews were bad people, isn’t that the same priest who told you that speaking your own language is evil and that having dark skin is a mark of sin? Did you believe that? Are you evil for speaking Cree and being brown?”
“No of course not, why would I be evil for speaking Cree or being dark that’s just who I am, saying that, well that’s just stupid.”
“So why the hell would you believe the priest who tells you the Jews were bad people? That same priest forgets to tell you that Jesus was Jewish himself, he was a rabbi, that same priest tells you that you are bad and evil for being who you are, so why would he be telling the truth about one thing and not the other?”
“I never thought of it like that, but you are right, if he’s lying about us being bad, then he’s probably lying about those Jews too.”
“Exactly. Especially given that his entire religion is based around Jewish principles and the teachings of a Jewish person, doesn’t it seem odd for them to dislike Jewish people so much?”
“So why do you think that Jews are so much like us? They have pale skin so they are white people and all white people have treated us rough.”
“Because whiteness isn’t about skin tone, it’s about privilege. What if I told you that in all of history, only one people was treated as badly as us by white people? That these people were marginalized, oppressed and treated like second and third class citizens even though some of them, physically, look exactly like most white people? Now what if I told you that these people who sometimes look exactly like white people, were never allowed to be safe or comfortable and, in fact, every few decades would be murdered and scattered?”
“Seriously? But they looked like white people!”
“ Yes, but they were always made aware that no matter how white they might look, they were not in fact white people and therefore they were always LESSER and not safe .because no matter how high they got, they could lose it in a second. Does that sound familiar to you at all?”
“Yeah that sounds like Métis people hahahaha.”
“Yup. So now do you understand why my Jewish friends understand us better than white people? Because they aren’t white either, they understand better than anyone how crappy it is to work hard and be marginalized for the blood you carry. But they were given a chance to fight for a state of their own and they took it. We can learn a lot from them.”
“But I thought they stole the land from the Palestinians?”
“Did Indians steal the land from the white man here in Canada?”
“Don’t say such stupid things, everyone knows Indians were here before white people, how could we steal what was already ours?”
“Exactly. And the Jews were in Israel for 3,000 years before the Arabs, so you tell me how the Jews are stealing land that was theirs? The Jews were kicked off their land just like we were , with only a few of them staying on their traditional lands just like us, the people who kicked them off their lands were the Arabs who showed up 700 years after Jesus. That’s important to know because Arabs come from a place called the Arabian Peninsula NOT the Levant. They were outsiders, like the white people here. So if we regained our lands would we be stealing the land from the white people who kicked us off our land or would we simply be regaining our lands? Because the Jews are returning to their traditional lands, how does one steal what one already owns?”
“I thought Arabs were from there forever. But if they came from somewhere else and just took over, then they are just colonists like white people.”
“ Yes exactly and that’s why arguing that Israel is the colonists and the Palestinians are indigenous should bother you, because by making that argument, you are arguing that white people will eventually become indigenous too.”
“Wow I never thought of that, white people can’t become indigenous just by conquering us, so that means other colonizers can’t either. So what if the Palestinians are just Jews who converted to avoid being killed. Aren’t they still indigenous?”
“ Ok, let me ask you a question, if you have mixed blood on two sides, but deny one sides culture, language and traditions, but adopt those of the other side, and you self identify as that side, what are you? Really? Are you really a mixed blood person anymore or have you completely self identified as one side. Because to be indigenous you must demonstrate that you have ties to a community, you have indigenous language and culture and religion. if you deny those things and adopt the culture, religion and language of the colonizer, are you really indigenous anymore?” “I don’t think so, that’s like all those Métis who tell everyone they are white.”
“Exactly, they don’t want to be Indians, so we don’t force them to be. It’s their choice, but they don’t get to say “I’m not an Indian, I’m white, but I’m indigenous”. They are either Indians or they aren’t.” Is that clear?”
“Yeah I have a lot to think about.”
A few weeks later, this friend joined some pro-Israel groups on Facebook and elsewhere and asked several questions. Now he wants to be more involved in some of the work I’m doing involving setting up cultural exchanges for Native and Jewish kids. So you see, sometimes, all you need, is the right argument at the right time, and you can change hearts and minds.
Its Important to remember that even though some Jewish people are pale skinned, they are not in fact white. They were not the people who gave us spoiled rations, stole our land and gave us shiny beads in return. While I hesitate to allow our enemies to define us in any way, we must remember that to the government, all Indians are Indians no matter our blood quantum, and to the enemies of our Jewish brothers and sisters, all Jews are simply Jews. This is a burden we both share but we share it together and it suddenly becomes way less heavy.
Ryan Bellerose is a Métis from Northern Alberta. His father, Mervin Bellerose, co-authored the Métis Settlements Act of 1989, which was passed by the Alberta legislature in 1990. This act cemented Métis land rights. Ryan founded Canadians for Accountability, a native rights advocacy group. He is also an organizer and participant in the Idle No More movement in Calgary, Alberta, and a proclaimed Zionist.
Simple Truths: A Cree Indian Explains a 2,000 Year Old Rabbinic Teaching
By Nathan Elberg
Our Sages teach us that our livelihood is in the hands of God. While we have to go through the motions, our success has little to do with our machinations. Rather, it’s a reflection of what God has ascertained is best for us, whether it be immense wealth, terrible poverty, or somewhere in between. All is in the hands of God, and if we want financial success, we should address our request to heaven, rather than to the stockbroker.
It’s a simple concept, and an easy principle for a pious person to accept intellectually. But it’s much harder to believe in your gut. For example, when you have the opportunity to make extra money by cheating, is that money part of God’s plans for you? Conversely, how will God protect your retirement savings when the CEO of the corporation in which you’ve invested commits massive fraud? If you recite a lot of Tehillim (psalms), is God going to suppress your boss’s free will when you ask for a raise?
Two thousand years ago, when our Sages taught about our livelihood being in the hands of God, the economy was much simpler. If it rained, the farmers would be successful. If a Greek or Roman authority overtaxed the people, God could smite him, and solve the problem. If God sent forth the animals, hunters would be successful.
In succeeding centuries, in Babylonia, Spain, eastern Europe and elsewhere, the climate and other natural factors remained strong forces in the economy. Although trade, feudalism and war influenced people’s well-being, the connection between livelihood and God was still clear.
With the industrial revolution, the western world turned its devotion to a new deity, progress. This theology placed the illusion of control in the hands of man. For the elite, for those controlling the means of production, the illusion seemed quite real. For the masses of workers, for the peasants, their livelihood became even more capricious. The weight of the burdens of the new taskmasters obscured the hand of God.
Robert Visitor, a Cree Indian living in the small community of Wemindji, taught me the meaning of Chazal’s (our sages’) teaching about livelihood. I was a young anthropologist, visiting the Quebec coast of James Bay on behalf of the provincial native political association, doing research to fight the James Bay hydroelectric project. Bobby and I had become friends, getting drunk together on the Anglican church’s sacramental wine. Over the next few years, as I traveled back and forth to the James Bay coast, I always felt at home at Bobby’s, and I tried to make him feel welcome when he visited the urban commune where I lived.
We were spending the winter in the sub-arctic forest in a region that was to be flooded by the hydro project, intending to trap all the fur-bearing animals. The nearest other people were fifty to a hundred miles away. There was no radio or telephone. The only roads were the rivers and lakes we paddled, or after freeze-up, walked along.
We had flown into the forest in the early fall. There were seventeen of us: three families, living in a teepee, going out on day-trips to set or check traps and fish nets. Our food was mainly fresh fish, rabbit, partridge and beaver, supplemented by oatmeal, coffee, tea and flour. Mostly, we lived off the land.
I didn’t mind the minus-forty temperature. But I couldn’t bring myself to stick my hands in a hole in the ice of the frozen lake to take the fish out of the net strung underneath. Bobby smiled, and explained that the water was warmer than the air.
The hunting, fishing, and trapping was successful. Current anthropological research has indicated that many hunting societies lived relatively comfortable lives, much better off than the more “advanced” pastoral or farming societies that succeeded them. As I set rabbit traps, butchered a beaver, and filtered bugs out of the lake water, I had no thoughts about danger, hunger, or God doing anything not nice to me.
One November morning, nobody went hunting. We had freezing rain, and it was impossible to hunt, check fishnets, traps, or anything like that. At best, we could edge down the slippery path to the lake, re-open the hole in the ice, and draw drinking water.
On the second day of freezing rain, again nobody went hunting. No one seemed particularly concerned.
On the third day of freezing rain, I asked Bobby “what happens if the freezing rain keeps up?”
“We starve,” he shrugged.
It was an interesting idea. But, I thought, “what if the federal government lowers interest rates to increase consumer spending? How about if the CEO announces a generous dividend? Lower taxes? Socialist revolution?”
These would not change anything. Nothing man could do would make any difference. If God kept the freezing rain going, we’d starve. If God improved the weather, we’d be fine.
This is a direct one-on-one relation with the concept that our livelihood is in G`d’s hand. Bobby and his fellow Cree understood that teaching at a gut level. It wasn’t an idea to be learned and integrated. It’s part of the world. We don’t have to be taught that the sky is above us, rain falls downward or that we get older over time. The Cree hunters of the northern forest know in the same way that our livelihood is in the hands of God.
We have been alienated from this knowledge by complex economies, high and low technology, and the mythology generated by progress. We can’t know it instinctively, so we must rely on our Torah learning to allow us to grasp the wisdom hidden by the world around us.
A corollary of the teaching that our livelihood is in the hands of God is that we shouldn’t worry about what we will eat tomorrow. When Bobby said “we’ll starve,” I could not be as blasé as him. I was concerned, and wanted to do something. Bobby knew that our fate was in God’s hands, and was quite comfortable with it.
By the age of thirty-seven, he was periodically crippled by arthritis and bad medicine. He attributed the arthritis to traveling in the rain in the forest for many days. I blamed the bad medicine on government policies that treated natives as an annoying obligation. The hospital in Montreal had him travel twelve hundred miles to give him cases of aspirin, telling him to take twenty-four pills a day. Maybe the plan was to dissolve his stomach so they wouldn’t have to bother with his arthritis, which on some days was so bad that he couldn’t move out of bed. I brought him to my doctor, who changed Bobby’s diet, eased the arthritis, and saved his stomach.
Bobby had a bad back. When he was a child in a church-run residential school, a teacher heard him speaking Cree, rather than English to a friend. As punishment, the teacher smashed him on the back with a heavy stick. Decades later, when beating and molesting young natives was no longer considered polite, the Chief in Wemindji told Bobby that he should file a claim for the damage he suffered from that punishment; he could probably get ten thousand dollars. As Bobby recounted this to me he was puzzled: what would he do with ten thousand dollars? Why would he need so much money? Bobby meant it. It wasn’t a cliché or a bargaining point with him. It was him.
I’ve been in business negotiations with some of the wealthiest people in Canada. As they bargained over a transaction, they asked what difference it would make to get a better price; what difference would the extra money make in one’s life?
Sitting on their tens of millions of dollars, those real-estate moguls did not impress me in their renunciation of the value of wealth. Bobby, who gave away his money as soon as he got it, who didn’t have a bank account or even a phone, was really not interested in ten thousand dollars.
In Pirkei Avot , Ethics of the Fathers, we are told “Who is wealthy- he who is satisfied with his lot.” It’s a theme repeated in folk songs, in movies… It’s usually written into the song or script by people with lots of money, and according to some is a capitalist plot to keep the poor from complaining about their impoverishment.
Bobby didn’t calculate that he could use the money to buy some luxuries for his modest home, take a trip, or purchase a savings bond. Bent over by arthritis, without a penny to his name (and, at the time I last saw him, trying unsuccessfully to recover from a massive heart attack) Bobby was satisfied with what he had. It was his nature.
Bobby took me into his life, he disrupted his family, he traveled a thousand miles for me. If we went by bus, train, or chartered helicopter, it was the same to him. When I bought him an expensive shotgun as a gift, he didn’t mind that it only worked properly with expensive shells. Bobby didn’t have any money anyway, so whether the ammunition cost a lot or a little was irrelevant.
Bobby was a country & western singer. He considered himself Johnny Cash, but without the cash. He wrote what became a theme song for his people’s resistance to the James Bay Hydro Project mentioned above. The refrain was straightforward:
Building dams on our land is not right
All the things we have will be destroyed
If you fellow Indians stand up and fight with all your might,
If you fellow Indians stand up and fight…
His people signed a multimillion dollar deal with the government, allowing the dams to be built, rivers diverted, hunting grounds flooded. It might have been a good deal had the government lived up to its obligations. Bobby was a bit upset when I satirically re-wrote his theme:
Building dams on our land is all right
Though the things we have will be destroyed
If you fellow Indians stand up and sign with all your might,
If you fellow Indians stand up and sign…
Pirkei Avot also teaches us that we are obliged to honor our teachers, even a person from whom we have learned only a single letter. Robert F. Visitor was a man of simple wants, uneducated, an alcoholic. He taught me deep truths, not through lessons or lectures, but through living, and I honor his memory.
We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to: Rob Coles, Publications Chairman,Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7–
AS WE GO TO PRESS: HAMAS RENEWS ROCKET ATTACKS AGAINST ISRAEL (Jerusalem) Hamas renewed its rocket fire against Israel at exactly 8 a.m. Friday as the 72-hour cease fire-ended. Jerusalem had hoped Hamas would agree to another 72 hour extension to allow time for Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams in Cairo to come to an agreement that would end Operation Protective Edge, which now enters its 32nd day. The IDF said that 11 Gaza-launched rockets and mortars had been fired into Israel in the first hour after the cease-fire ended. During that salvo, one rocket was shot down over Ashkelon and 7 more landed in open areas in the Hof Ashkelon region. There was also a failed rocket strike that landed somewhere in the southern Gaza Strip, the IDF Spokesperson's Office said. In the Eshkol region there were at least three strikes reported Friday morning, and residents have been told to stay within 15 seconds of a safe room or bomb shelter. Four hours before the cease-fire ended, when it appeared that the Cairo talks would fail, two mortars from Gaza struck that region. Israel launched at least 10 airstrikes in response to rocket and mortar fire from Gaza. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 8, 2014)
The Resurrection of Abbas: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Aug. 8, 2014 Bungling international envoys, stale politicians, and clichéd columnists are revving up a campaign to "re-empower" Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank and Gaza.
Hamas' Phony Statistics on Civilian Deaths: Alan M. Dershowitz, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 7, 2014: It's a mystery why so many in the media accept as gospel Hamas-supplied figures on the number of civilians killed in the recent war.
The Tunnels of Hamas—and of Ancient Jews: Benny Morris,Wall Street Journal, Aug. 6, 2014 — I often walk my dog along the dusty paths of Khirbet Madras in the Judean foothills, just south of Beit Shemesh in central Israel.
In Defense of Zionism: Michael B. Oren, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 1, 2014 — They come from every corner of the country—investment bankers, farmers, computer geeks, jazz drummers, botany professors, car mechanics—leaving their jobs and their families.
Bungling international envoys, stale politicians, and clichéd columnists are revving up a campaign to "re-empower" Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank and Gaza. They want Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to "pluck peace from the rubble of Gaza," and throw himself into a conciliatory embrace of Abbas. This means that Israel should embark on withdrawals from the West Bank, not just from Gaza, and once again bet its future on "moderate" Palestinians. This is dodgy talk. The notion that Abbas and his Palestinian "Authority" can be Israel's salvation is without evidentiary foundation. Abbas is not "part of the solution," but a central part of the problem.
Abbas' regime is extraordinarily feeble — corrupt and unpopular. His security forces are politicized and inert. Hamas and other Islamic jihadists blew him away in Gaza and would do so in the West Bank too, if not for effective IDF control of the territory. Abbas cannot guarantee Israel's security, neither in the Jordan Valley and the Samarian mountaintops overlooking Ben-Gurion International Airport, nor in Shujaiyya, Beit Hanoun and the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. Moreover, Abbas' rump regime is no partner for any real peace accord, as the failed Kerry diplomatic process proved for the umpteenth time. Abbas made it clear over the past year that the Palestinian liberation movement will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state, or agree to forgo the so-called "right" of refugee return. He views Israel's maximum contours for a two-state solution as a "sovereign cage"; as nothing more than a "statelet" in which he is not interested.
Sure, Abbas wants his state, but without an end to the conflict. He wants state status in order to continue the conflict; in order to brow-beat Israel into dissolution through demonization and criminalization. That is why Abbas was last seen fleeing the scene of negotiations. Perhaps some people have failed to understand the meaning of Israel's…mini-war against Hamas in Gaza. This offensive was not about solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or opening a door to newfangled diplomatic arrangements. It was about destroying Hamas' attack tunnels and rocket armories. It was about crushing an Iranian-backed terrorist army on our southern border. And to the extent that the job wasn't finished, the IDF will have to go at it again. In other words, the war was about degrading the enemy's firepower and deterring it from attacking again for an extended period of time. Israel was "mowing the grass," which is a way of managing protracted conflict. No more, no less.
Operation Protective Edge was not meant to be segue to swell peace conferences in Camp David or Geneva. It was not meant to give birth to phantasms of Palestinian unity, Palestinian moderation, and Palestinian statehood. It was not meant to wedge Israel into yet another round of withdrawals. Israel has suffered enough from escapades of iffy peacemaking. Nine years (exactly) after the disengagement from Gaza and destruction of Gush Katif, Netanyahu can honestly and bluntly say to the world: Not again. Perhaps those who are now beautifying and remarketing Abbas have failed to notice the major changes that have come about in Israeli strategic thinking. Seismic shifts in Israeli defense concepts have been wrought by the gains made by radical Islamists in Arab civil wars raging across the region, and by the serial failures of peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
In short: Israel intends to build strong defenses on every frontier and to ensure the non-militarization of the West Bank and Gaza over the long term with its own forces. There is no power that can guarantee Israel's security in these areas other than the IDF. Israel cannot afford to, and does not intend to, withdraw anywhere, anytime soon. Faced with multiple threats from implacable, nonstate enemies like Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, al-Qaida, and ISIS; and faced with chronically unreliable Palestinian neighbors, Israel will not quickly relinquish strategic tracts of land. Moreover, it will be lashing out occasionally to quash nearby insurgencies, especially when weapons are actually fired at Israel. Israel is in a long war of attrition.
Thus the Palestinian "independence" that Israel can countenance essentially amounts to a Palestinian province (or provinces) with political and economic autonomy, while Israel remains fully in charge of perimeter and inland security. A full-fledged, unitary Palestinian state, as in the "two-state solution," has become an anachronism. Netanyahu must not allow the Left to wring Israeli diplomatic defeat and introduce new security risk out of the hard-fought battles in Gaza. He should not be party to the glamming up of Abbas or any daft plans for Israeli withdrawal.
It's a mystery why so many in the media accept as gospel Hamas-supplied figures on the number of civilians killed in the recent war. Hamas claims that of the more than 1800 Palestinians killed close to 90% were civilians. Israel, on the other hand, says that close to half of them were combatants. The objective facts support a number much closer to Israel's than to Hamas'. Even human rights group antagonistic to Israel acknowledge, according to a New York Times report, that Hamas probably counts among the "civilians killed by Israel" the following groups: Palestinians killed by Hamas as collaborators; Palestinians killed through domestic violence; Palestinians killed by errant Hamas rockets or mortars; and Palestinians who died naturally during the conflict. I wonder if Hamas also included the reported 162 children who died while performing child slave labor in building their terror tunnels. Hamas also defines combatants to include only armed fighters who were killed while fighting Israelis. They exclude Hamas supporters who build tunnels, who allow their homes to be used to store and fire rockets, Hamas policemen, members of the Hamas political wing and others who work hand in hand with the armed terrorists.
Several years ago I came up with a concept which I call, the "continuum of civilianality"—an inelegant phrase that is intended to convey the reality that who is a civilian and who is a combatant is often a matter of degree. Clearly every child below the age in which he or she is capable of assisting Hamas is a civilian. Clearly every Hamas fighter who fires rockets, bears arms, or operates in the tunnels is a combatant. Between these extremes lie a wide range of people, some of whom are closer to the civilian end, many of whom who are closer to the combatant end. The law of war has not established a clear line between combatants and civilians, especially in the context of urban warfare where people carry guns at night and bake bread during the day, or fire rockets during the day and go back home to sleep with their families at night. (Interestingly the Israeli Supreme Court has tried to devise a functional definition of combatants in the murky context of urban guerrilla warfare.)
Data published by the New York Times strongly suggest that a very large number—perhaps a majority—of those killed are closer to the combatant end of the continuum than to the civilian end. First of all, the vast majority of those killed have been male rather than female. In an Islamic society, males are far more likely to be combatants than females. Second, most of those killed are within the age range (15-40) that are likely to be combatants. The vast majority of these are male as well. The number of people over 60 who have been killed is infinitesimal. The number of children below the age of 15 is also relatively small, although their pictures have been shown more frequently than others. In other words, the genders and ages of those killed are not representative of the general population of Gaza. It is far more representative of the genders and ages of combatants. These data strongly suggest that a very large percentage of Palestinians killed are on the combatant side of the continuum. They also prove, as if any proof were necessary to unbiased eyes, that Israel did not target civilians randomly. If it had, the dead would be representative of the Gaza population in general, rather than of the subgroups most closely identified with combatants.
The media should immediately stop using Hamas-approved statistics, which in the past have proved to be extremely unreliable. Instead, they should try to document, independently, the nature of each person killed and describe their age, gender, occupation, affiliation with Hamas and other objective factors relevant to their status as a combatant, non-combatant or someone in the middle. It is lazy and dangerous for the media to rely on Hamas-approved propaganda figures. In fact, when the infamous Goldstone Report falsely stated that the vast majority of people killed in Operation Cast Lead were civilians and not Hamas fighters, many in Gaza complained to Hamas. They accused Hamas of cowardice for allowing so many civilians to be killed while protecting their own fighters. As a result of these complaints, Hamas was forced to tell the truth: namely that many more of those killed were actually Hamas fighters or armed policemen. It is likely that Hamas will make a similar "correction" with regard to this conflict. But that correction will not be covered by the media, as the prior correction was not.
The headline—"Most of those killed by Israel were children, women and the elderly"—will continue to be the conventional wisdom, despite its factual falsity. Unless it is corrected, Hamas will continue with its "dead baby strategy" and more people on both sides will die.
I often walk my dog along the dusty paths of Khirbet Madras in the Judean foothills, just south of Beit Shemesh in central Israel. Occasionally, after the rains, an ancient coin—Hasmonean, Roman, Byzantine—will surface, testifying that here stood a small Jewish and then Byzantine town. Archeologists have uncovered the remains of a synagogue and a church. At the center of the ruins are entrances to an underground cave complex, which the Jews had hewn out of the rock 2,000 years ago. Archaeologists say there are some 450 such cave systems in Israel/Palestine, 350 of them in the Judean hill country, especially in the foothills, at 1,000 to 1,600 feet above sea level, where the rock is soft and easily excavated. During the two Jewish revolts against Rome, in 66-73 and 132-135 A.D., which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem and in much of the population's exile, the Jews used these cave systems to hide from the ravaging Roman legions and, guerrilla style, to attack them from behind.
Dio Cassius, the Roman historian who died in 235, described the second Jewish revolt: "To be sure [the Jews] did not dare try conclusions with the Romans in the open field, but they occupied the advantageous positions in the country and strengthened them with mines and walls, in order that they might have places of refuge whenever they should be hard pressed, and might meet together unobserved under ground; and they pierced these subterranean passages from above at intervals to let in air and light." There is an eerie parallel here, in terms of modus operandi, with the Hamas battle against the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip in recent weeks. Hamas fighters slipped in and out of concrete tunnel-and-shaft networks, in front of and behind the more or less static Israeli troop concentrations, picking off a soldier here or an armored personnel carrier there, and vanishing quickly underground, only to pop up a few hours later from a new shaft hundreds of yards away.
The tunnels, some extending well into Israel, proved to be effective for substantially harrying the Israel Defense Forces before a ceasefire was agreed on this week and the IDF withdrew from Gaza. Using the tunnels—and armed, by Iran and Syria, with antitank missiles and rocket-propelled grenades, explosive devices, mortars, and Kalashnikov assault rifles—the Hamas fighters battled with great courage, and no little Islamist religious fervor, against the much more numerous and powerful Israeli troops. The Hamas fighters had a major advantage over the Jewish guerrillas of 2,000 years ago: The use of Gaza's civilian population as a vast human shield. And when the IDF, deploying bombs and shells to keep down its casualties, tried to break through the shield, Hamas used the inevitable civilian casualties to splatter TV screens in the West, with great political and propaganda effect.
But there is another significant difference between Hamas and the Jewish rebels. Those long-ago Jews sought to free themselves from the yoke of an all-powerful imperial oppressor; they never aimed at destroying Rome. All they wanted was to be left alone, to be free and to worship their own god as they saw fit. Hamas and their allies in the Palestinian camp seek, as a first stage, liberation from foreign rule or constriction and, as a second stage, to destroy their neighbor, Israel. They also look to the eventual world-wide victory of Islam over infidels. Hamas's constitution, or charter, written in 1988 and never since rescinded or amended, says: "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it" (the reference is to the medieval Crusader states). Hamas defines its struggle as "against the Jews," who are "smitten with vileness wheresoever they are found." According to the charter, the prophet Mohammed said: "The Day of Judgment will not come until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say 'O Moslems, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.' " The Israel Defense Forces say that they destroyed 32 Hamas tunnels before the troop withdrawal this week, but they have no way of knowing whether others remain undetected. And Hamas is still in place in Gaza, free to resume its work.
They come from every corner of the country—investment bankers, farmers, computer geeks, jazz drummers, botany professors, car mechanics—leaving their jobs and their families. They put on uniforms that are invariably too tight or too baggy, sign out their gear and guns. Then, scrambling onto military vehicles, 70,000 reservists—women and men—join the young conscripts of what is proportionally the world's largest citizen army. They all know that some of them will return maimed or not at all. And yet, without hesitation or (for the most part) complaint, proudly responding to the call-up, Israelis stand ready to defend their nation. They risk their lives for an idea.
The idea is Zionism. It is the belief that the Jewish people should have their own sovereign state in the Land of Israel. Though founded less than 150 years ago, the Zionist movement sprung from a 4,000-year-long bond between the Jewish people and its historic homeland, an attachment sustained throughout 20 centuries of exile. This is why Zionism achieved its goals and remains relevant and rigorous today. It is why citizens of Israel—the state that Zionism created—willingly take up arms. They believe their idea is worth fighting for. Yet Zionism, arguably more than any other contemporary ideology, is demonized. "All Zionists are legitimate targets everywhere in the world!" declared a banner recently paraded by anti-Israel protesters in Denmark. "Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances," warned a sign in the window of a Belgian cafe. A Jewish demonstrator in Iceland was accosted and told, "You Zionist pig, I'm going to behead you."
In certain academic and media circles, Zionism is synonymous with colonialism and imperialism. Critics on the radical right and left have likened it to racism or, worse, Nazism. And that is in the West. In the Middle East, Zionism is the ultimate abomination—the product of a Holocaust that many in the region deny ever happened while maintaining nevertheless that the Zionists deserved it. What is it about Zionism that elicits such loathing? After all, the longing of a dispersed people for a state of their own cannot possibly be so repugnant, especially after that people endured centuries of massacres and expulsions, culminating in history's largest mass murder. Perhaps revulsion toward Zionism stems from its unusual blend of national identity, religion and loyalty to a land. Japan offers the closest parallel, but despite its rapacious past, Japanese nationalism doesn't evoke the abhorrence aroused by Zionism.
Clearly anti-Semitism, of both the European and Muslim varieties, plays a role. Cabals, money grubbing, plots to take over the world and murder babies—all the libels historically leveled at Jews are regularly hurled at Zionists. And like the anti-Semitic capitalists who saw all Jews as communists and the communists who painted capitalism as inherently Jewish, the opponents of Zionism portray it as the abominable Other. But not all of Zionism's critics are bigoted, and not a few of them are Jewish. For a growing number of progressive Jews, Zionism is too militantly nationalist, while for many ultra-Orthodox Jews, the movement is insufficiently pious—even heretical. How can an idea so universally reviled retain its legitimacy, much less lay claim to success? The answer is simple: Zionism worked. The chances were infinitesimal that a scattered national group could be assembled from some 70 countries into a sliver-sized territory shorn of resources and rich in adversaries and somehow survive, much less prosper. The odds that those immigrants would forge a national identity capable of producing a vibrant literature, pace-setting arts and six of the world's leading universities approximated zero.
Elsewhere in the world, indigenous languages are dying out, forests are being decimated, and the populations of industrialized nations are plummeting. Yet Zionism revived the Hebrew language, which is now more widely spoken than Danish and Finnish and will soon surpass Swedish. Zionist organizations planted hundreds of forests, enabling the land of Israel to enter the 21st century with more trees than it had at the end of the 19th. And the family values that Zionism fostered have produced the fastest natural growth rate in the modernized world and history's largest Jewish community. The average secular couple in Israel has at least three children, each a reaffirmation of confidence in Zionism's future. Indeed, by just about any international criteria, Israel is not only successful but flourishing. The population is annually rated among the happiest, healthiest and most educated in the world. Life expectancy in Israel, reflecting its superb universal health-care system, significantly exceeds America's and that of most European countries. Unemployment is low, the economy robust. A global leader in innovation, Israel is home to R&D centers of some 300 high-tech companies, including Apple, Intel and Motorola. The beaches are teeming, the rock music is awesome, and the food is off the Zagat charts.
The democratic ideals integral to Zionist thought have withstood pressures that have precipitated coups and revolutions in numerous other nations. Today, Israel is one of the few states—along with Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the U.S.—that has never known a second of nondemocratic governance. These accomplishments would be sufficiently astonishing if attained in North America or Northern Europe. But Zionism has prospered in the supremely inhospitable—indeed, lethal—environment of the Middle East. Two hours' drive east of the bustling nightclubs of Tel Aviv—less than the distance between New York and Philadelphia—is Jordan, home to more than a half million refugees from Syria's civil war. Traveling north from Tel Aviv for four hours would bring that driver to war-ravaged Damascus or, heading east, to the carnage in western Iraq. Turning south, in the time it takes to reach San Francisco from Los Angeles, the traveler would find himself in Cairo's Tahrir Square. In a region reeling with ethnic strife and religious bloodshed, Zionism has engendered a multiethnic, multiracial and religiously diverse society. Arabs serve in the Israel Defense Forces, in the Knesset and on the Supreme Court. While Christian communities of the Middle East are steadily eradicated, Israel's continues to grow. Israeli Arab Christians are, in fact, on average better educated and more affluent than Israeli Jews. In view of these monumental achievements, one might think that Zionism would be admired rather than deplored. But Zionism stands accused of thwarting the national aspirations of Palestine's indigenous inhabitants, of oppressing and dispossessing them. Never mind that the Jews were natives of the land—its Arabic place names reveal Hebrew palimpsests—millennia before the Palestinians or the rise of Palestinian nationalism. Never mind that in 1937, 1947, 2000 and 2008, the Palestinians received offers to divide the land and rejected them, usually with violence. And never mind that the majority of Zionism's adherents today still stand ready to share their patrimony in return for recognition of Jewish statehood and peace…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
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What Gaza Tells us About Canadian Politics: Konrad Yakabuski, Globe & Mail, Aug. 7, 2014—Outside federal New Democratic Leader Thomas Mulcair’s Montreal office, an ex-supporter ripped up her NDP membership card while protesters in blood-stained shirts lay down in a “die-in” to denounce the party’s kid-gloves treatment of Israel amid the rising civilian death toll in Gaza.
What is Going to Become of Gaza?: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Aug. 8, 2014 —The question worrying everyone who has an interest in Israel's security is how Operation Protective Edge will end and what the near and distant future of Gaza will be.
Reporter: Gazans Only Want Us to Show Damage, Not Shooting: Lahav Harkov, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 8, 2014 —In recent weeks, there has been much discussion about whether or not reporting by foreign press in Gaza can be trusted, due to accounts – some confirmed, some denied – of Hamas threatening and intimidating reporting.
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