The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland, Hebron and the logic of ethnic cleansing

Writing for The JC, under the heading, “This is Israel? Not the one I love“, Jonathan Freedland abandoned his usual relatively mild tone reserved for the ‘Organ of British Jewry’, and launched into a vitriolic, Guardian-style attack on the situation in Hebron today – Judaism’s second holiest place – not from the Jewish or Israeli perspective, but only through the prism of the Palestinians, the evidently rightful inhabitants of the city.

“What I saw would shock those who think they know it all” he opined (using a mini-headline in red for added emphasis), to prepare us for the worst.

So what was the the shocking scene he described?  Could it be that Israelis were hurling rocks at their Palestinian neighbours, using them as target practice in drive-by shootings, breaking into Palestinian homes to lynch their children while they sleep, etc.?

No. It was that the centre of Hebron (he coyly omits to say how much) “…has been utterly emptied, its streets deserted, its shops vacant, thanks to a policy the Israeli army calls ‘sterilisation’–ensuring the area is clear and safe for Hebron’s 800 settlers”.

He goes on to lament that “in what was once a throbbing market district…..successive restrictions have been placed on Hebron’s Palestinian population”, such as roads where they are not allowed drive or “even walk”.

Added to that, horror of horrors, the graffiti daubed on shuttered shops by the ‘settlers’, and, perhaps the most shocking of all, Stars of David used to “spit in the eye of a population hounded out of their homes”. Not nice, but not life threatening.

He then invoked the wisdom of Shaul, his “kippah- wearing army reservist guide” from the NGO Breaking the Silence, (anti-Israel activists generously funded by the EU who have been criticized by Israeli police for “antagoniz[ing]…settlers [in Hebron] in the hope that the settlers will attack them.”), who conducts tours for Anglo Jewish Zionist youth leaders, and “believes that Hebron…reveals the reality of the occupation in an intense, distilled form”.

Of course, the devil is in the detail, and what Freedland omits is not mere details but, rather, essential facts, omitted  because they would expose his damning accusations for what they are.

So here  they are :

Abraham resided in Hebron when he arrived in Canaan, King David was annointed there, and Jews have lived there almost continuously throughout the Byzantine, Arab, Mameluke and Ottoman periods.

It was only in 1929, long before the creation of Israel and the “occupation”, that the city became Judenrein, following a murderous Arab pogrom in which 67 Jews were murdered, and the rest forced to flee.

After 1948, during the Jordanian occupation of the West Bank which followed Israel’s War of Independence, Jews were forbidden to live in Hebron, and, despite the terms of the Armistice Agreement, forbidden from visiting the city to pray at the Jewish holy sites there – namely, the Cave of Machpelah, burial place of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rebecca and leah, the world’s most ancient Jewish site.

Even though Israel controls Hebron today, the Islamic Waqf controls the holy sites, and Jews have access to Ohel Yitzchak only 10 days a year, and visits are severely restricted to the other rooms.

It should be noted that the Jordanians together with local residents,  between 1948 and 1967, undertook a systematic campaign to obliterate evidence of the Jewish history of Hebron.  They razed the Jewish Quarter, desecrated the Jewish cemetery and built an animal pen on the ruins of Avraham Avinu synagogue.

Hebron was first called Kiryat Arba, mentioned in the bible, and today is a Jewish suburb of Hebron, the first re-established Jewish community in Judea and Samaria after the Six Day War, with some 6,000 Jews.

Today,  80% of Hebron is under the control of the Palestinian Authority.

What Freedland wilfully ignores is that without the protection of the IDF the Jewish inhabitants would be in grave danger of violent attacks from the Arab majority.

For Freedland, Jews are always the “illegal settlers”, even in cities where they’ve lived for thousands of  years.

Well done Jonathan—-your job at the Guardian is safe for a while—-your minders there will be delighted with this latest effort…you have proved yourself!

Cameron’s “come-on” to an unsavoury bed-fellow, and CiF’s Simon Tisdall’s reaction to it

In Turkey today, David Cameron lost no time in indulging  the FCO’s favourite pastime of  giving a good kicking to those pesky, arrogant Israelis/Jews (well, what’s the difference?), simultaneously having a love-in with Turkey’s Islamist PM, Tayyip Recep Erdogan—- can’t  wait to have you in bed with us in the EU—-you’re my heart’s desire.  (It’s always good to kill two birds with one stone.)

CiF contributor Simon Tisdall framed Dave’s comments as signalling “his kick and run diplomacy”, but obviously delighted in what he probably regards as the deserved reward for all CiF’s tireless efforts in it’s relentless campaign against the Zionist entity.

He thus writes, “David Cameron jumped into the ever-sensitive politics of the Middle East with both boots flying today, determined to call a spade a bloody shovel and Gaza a prison camp that shamed all those, principally Israel, responsible for its enduring misery.”

So there you have it, CiF’s enduring leitmotif, it’s all Israel’s fault.

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More On Seth’s “Settler Derangement Syndrome”, and the calumny of “illegal settlements”

Our old friend, Seth Freedman, is at it again, and just to drive the point home, the sub-caption, says it all:–

“No Israeli words can speak as loudly as the action of a large-scale pull-out from illegal West bank settlements”.

The crux of he matter for Seth, the lie repeated ad nauseam, again and again—-

“…the settlements are deemed illegal under international law…”

NO, Seth, they are not. There are volumes and tomes written which disprove this calumny, and so, to assist you I’ve summarized the essence of the matter.

Governments famously have “interests”, in this case those being the markets and oil of 1.2 billion Muslims, as opposed to the influence of just 13 million Jews world-wide, and so it is unsurprising that their interpretation of international law is somewhat elastic.

International law is crystal clear as to the status of the territories, which belong to Israel, and the reasons can be neatly summarised as follows:–

1) The “Mandate for Palestine” document, ratified  unanimously by all 51 members of the League of Nations in 1922, designated all land west of the Jordan river, Gaza, the Golan (23% of historic Palestine) to the future Jewish state, and called for “its close settlement by Jews” there. (This was after Churchill gave away the other 77% originally intended for the Jews, to the Saudi Hashemite family to create Trans Jordan, as a reward for its allegiance to Great Britain in defeating the Turks in WWI.)

This was incorporated into Article 80 of the UN Charter, and in the absence of any agreement since then, remains the legal status to the present day.

Israel is the only country to have its legitimacy confirmed by both the League of Nations, and the UN.

2) In 1970 Judge Stephen Schwebel, who headed  the International Court of Justice in the Hague, ruled that Israel had the better title to the West Bank than had Jordan, which had illegally annexed it in 1950, and then lost it in an aggressive war it waged against Israel.

Jordans’s illegal occupation of the West Bank was only recognised by Great Britain and Pakistan, but MINUS its occupation of Jerusalem.

3) Many of the “settlements” are on land  legally owned by Jews from whence they were driven in Arab riots, such as the Gush Etzion block and the Jewish Quarter in the Old city of Jerusalem. They were reclaimed by their rightful owners.

In any event, all the other settlements are on “state land” not privately owned land, on accordance with Ottoman, Mandate and Israeli law, determined by legal process.

The last point is important, and directly challenges Seth’s :–

“One fifth of built up settlement areas are constructed on privately owned Palestinian land, giving the lie to the assertion of settler leaders that their actions are entirely above-board”.

He then goes on to quote that bastion of truth, B’Tselem, giving “facts and figures” to “prove” the theft of Palestinian land. If Seth were to consult the government archives, instead of swallowing B’Tselem’s lies, he would learn of the role Plia Albeck, the distinguished lawyer, played in this. No government of whatever stripe  allowed  the construction of any settlement without her say so. She was a lawyer (with pro-Palestinian sympathies), who was an expert on what constituted “state land”, based on Mandate law, Ottoman law and Israeli law. In any event, the notion of “Palestinian land” is a nonsense, because there never has been a sovereign Palestinian entity there, ever.

The only people to have had dominion in the land are the Jews.

This is the inconvenient truth.

Birds of a Feather

On June 15 and 16 respectively, the Guardian’s CiF site lent its hospitality to Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, the Northern Irish catholic activist who campaigned against the British government in 1969 at the onset of the troubles, and Chris Doyle, of CAABU, the organisation whose remit is to present the Arab world to us in touchy feely loveable terms, and to constantly remind us of Israel’s villainy.

Bloody Sunday: Put Britain in the dock by Bernadette Devlin

Before getting to the article, here are some things we should know about Devlin:–

1) As an MP in the British parliament in 1972, she crossed the floor of the House and punched Reginald Maudling, whom she accused of lying, in a statement about Bloody Sunday.

2) She has a prison record,of which she is, no doubt proud, because of her involvement in what became known as the Bogside barricades.

3) On a visit to New York, she was given the honour of being given the keys to that city by the mayor, which she then passed on to the Black Panthers, in a deliberately provocative act against her hosts.

Devlin is given free reign by CiF, to paint the British government in the worst possible light, following the Saville enquiry into whether the 14 peaceful, unarmed demonstrators at what became known as the Bloody Sunday massacre were killed deliberately by the British government, whose “anonymous and brutalised soldiers of its alphabet army should be in the dock at the international court of justice in the Hague” and whether the “British government committed a war crime in 1972 and in so doing started a war”. The Saville inquiry took some 12 years, and cost the British taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds, and it was set up because the initial inquiry by Widgery was considered a whitewash.

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Antisemitism is a light sleeper

So now we have the latest take on the Midde East impasse in the print version of the Guardian, as well as on CiF, by Chris Patten, one time conservative cabinet minister, and EU commissioner.

Just to remind ourselves who Crass, oops, Chris Patten is :–

This piece, as noted by below the line commenter, TiredOldDog, can be summarised in a short sentence, “To assure world peace, the EU must make Israel surrender”.

Patten talks about the “morally appalling and politically self-defeating policy of Israel” etc etc.

As Patten is someone whose opinions carry weight in the corridors of power, I would draw his attention to the recent sequence of events which have brought us to where we are today. Let me clarify the situation for Chris Patten.

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Tarring Jews with the Same Brush

Some people are never happy unless Jews are centre stage, preferably when the spotlight shows them in a less than flattering light.

And so we were treated to a new theory by one of the Guardian’s CiF newer in-house Jews, Rosa Freedman, (any relation to the  anti-Israel Seth?), to demonstrate that in matters of child sex abuse, the ultra orthodox Jewish community is no better than the Catholic church, and in its treatment of sex offenders within its ranks,  goes to all lengths to cover up these crimes and to ensure that the victims are silenced, whilst the perpetrators are protected.

In other words, why give all the attention to the Catholics, when exactly the same situation obtains in the Jewish community, albeit in the ultra orthodox wing?

To support her assertions, she invoked a little-known Talmudic law, mesira, which forbade a Jew from reporting another Jew to the gentile authorities, which she goes on to expain, correctly in this instance, that this law was formulated at a time when courts of gentile governments were staffed by antisemites, who looked for any excuse to find against a Jew. She would have us believe that today’s leaders of these communities still use mesira as a way of keeping a tight grip on them, and then goes on to say that as in the Catholic church, “things are starting to change in the ultra-orthodox world.Top rabbis, such as Rav Elyashiv, have come out in support of reporting abuse to the police. Clearly, the ultra- orthodox word is learning from the Catholic church’s experience, and listening to the victims”. Thus she displays her monumental ignorance, in that she thinks that an intellectual giant of the calibre of Rav Elyashiv, held in the highest regard by diverse Jewish communities worldwide, would play follow my leader to the Catholic church.

Of course, the glaring omission in her piece is any support of her theory by way of statistics or reference sources.

Indeed, below the line Jubilation 1 askedDo you have any statistics for haredim as against the others? This is the second article published in comment is free without statistics and without stating reference sources.”

To which she responded:-

We’re still waiting!

The truth of the matter is that in all communities, secular or religious, across different creeds and religions, there are and always will be instances of sexual abuse, where the powerful prey on the vulnerable, sadly.

Ms.Freedman provides no evidence whatsoever that the scale of sexual abuse in the haredi world in any way mirrors that in the Catholic church, or that it is tolerated, let alone covered, up by those in authority.

The scandal in the Catholic church is that the protection of the abusers, and the facilitiation of these priests to continue their nefarious activities in other locations for years, once their guilt was discovered, went to the very top. The head of the Catholic church in Ireland admitted as much, and the Pope himself held that it was not in the interest of the church that these crimes should be made public.

Sexual abuse of minors by priests is endemic in this institution.

Let the commenter, Santa Moniker, give the final verdict on this shoddy piece of sensationalism:-

Falsely Equivocating Orthodox Judaism

Well Dan Rickman, CiF’s most recently anointed useful idiot, is at it again taking aim at orthodox Judaism.

The first point to take issue with on Dan Rickman’s piece, is in the sub-heading itself, namely, “fundamentalist currents have moved Orthodox Judaism in the UK to the right”.

This statement represents a failure to understand what is actually happening within British Jewry, namely that there has been an upsurge of interest in authentic Judaism amongst all sections of the community and across the age divide. The core beliefs expounded by orthodox Judaism have not changed, indeed, may not change.

This upsurge is the raison d’etre for Rickman’s article, and is at the core of his annoyance—he dislikes the return to orthodox values, and dresses this up using specious arguments.

A true definition of the word “fundamentalism” is given by one dictionary as “a strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles”, which is a good starting point from which to deconstruct Rickman’s tendentious article.

As no rational person could argue against the idea that it is  bad  to adhere strictly to principles which are inherently good, Rickman’s only way forward is to undermine the principles of orthodox Judaism themselves, in order to “prove” his point.

Here, he is on dangerous ground, for anyone with any knowledge at all of the genuine article, will immediately recognise the gross inaccuracies, mischievous assertions and indeed oft-repeated, hoary old chestnuts on which he bases his “argument”.

Let us examine some of these in more depth.

He states that orthodox Jewish “fundamentalists” essentially reject modernity and secular knowledge where it clashes with their beliefs, which are themselves based on a literalist approach to the sources (incluing Maimonides’ 13 principles of faith).

The whole point is that there is no contradiction between orthodoxy and modern scientific beliefs. Let him give but one example, but of course, he is very coy about specifics because he cannot.

The recent strictly orthodox Nobel prize winners in the science disciplines are testament to that. It is inconceivable that such people would compromise  scientific truths to accomodate their religious beliefs.

The statement that the vogue for the Intelligent Design theory has been incorporated into modern orthodox teaching is untrue, and certainly false that outreach organisations, like Aish, give seminars on it.

It has been rejected as scientifically wrong and rejected by orthodox scientific experts.

One powerful example of how orthodox rabbinic ruling has not only accomodated the most recent scientific advances as “kosher” but is actually in the forefront of liberal values, is in the realm of embryo research and cutting edge experimentation. It is deemed not only acceptable, but desirable, at a time when some atheists fear it who invoke the “slippery slope” argument.

When Rickman mentions Maimonides to try to win his case, he neglects to say that the latter, a distinguished physician of the day, himself wrestled with the apparent contradictions between the Aristotlean views and Judaism, but then held that these are dealt with by a thorough understanding of the texts, as opposed to just a superficial reading.

Neither does he mention the most important contribution that authentic Judaism bequeathed to the world, namely, that of the ethical values that make human beings into civilised beings, i.e. the laws governing the codes of behaviour that make life tolerable, indeed, even pleasant.

These values are not innate to human thinking, but had to be taught. The idea that Judaism is a fossilised faith stuck in a trough of hard-line, inflexible beliefs is the impression that Rickman wishes to foist upon his readers.

Even he must surely know that Judaism is based on the ancient tradition of the “oral law”. This means that the written law, ie. The Pentateuch, is never taken at face value, but rather viewed as a multi-dimensional expression of divine will. The Talmud, which is a commentary of the oral law, contains  volume upon volume of argument by earlier and later commentators, so that the laws we hold today are those decided by the majority of the qualified opinions of the day.

Indeed, in the tractate of Baba Kama in the Talmud, it explicitly states that it is forbidden to misrepresent Judaism, no matter how noble the intention.

The idea that orthodox Jewish “fundamentalists” essentially reject modernity and secular knowledge where it clashes with their beliefs is most obviously seen to be false is in the embodiment of the personality of Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who is highly educated and widely respected both in the secular and Jewish worlds, and finds no conflict between them—just the contrary—each complements and enriches the other.

When Rickman says that Orthodox Jews continues to believe that the Torah was divinely ordained, and this is supposedly contrary to ‘evidence from modern Biblical scholarship’, he omits to say that such ‘proof’ is not exactly something one could demonstrate in a laboratory, and so will always remain questionable. In any case what harm is there if people believe that it was divinely ordained?

Finally, in his attempt to demonise orthodox Judaism as a backward, unforgiving creed, best relegated to history, he writes that

“fundamentalism encourages a totalitarian rather than a democratic mindset, which is characterised by rejection of enlightenment values, which is at the core of a wider challenge to western democratic society”.

In so doing, he wickedly draws a false equivalence between the “fundamentalism” of different faiths and creeds.

No-one could argue that, say, Buddhist fundamentalism could ever pose  a danger to anyone, which is what Rickman wishes to taint Judaism with, i.e. its  supposed threat to peace and civilised values. Let him ponder which “fundamentalism” is truly evil and a real threat to humanity, on the 8th. anniversary of 9/11, but we can wait a long time before he does, or before CiF would publish if he did.