Guardian columnist Giles Fraser should know better than to hold Jews to higher standards

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Giles Fraser

“Of all people”, opined Giles Fraser in his Nov. 28th Guardian column about the proposed Jewish nation-state law, “Jews know what it is to live in somebody else’s country, without rights, subject to their laws, subject to their prejudices”, before citing the following verse from the Hebrew Bible (Numbers 15:15):

“The community is to have the same rules for you and for the foreigner residing among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the foreigner shall be the same before the Lord. The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the foreigner residing among you.”

The point of citing scripture for Fraser is quite simple: 

“the Bible insists that both Jews and non-Jews are to be subject to the same laws, the latter having the same legal protections as the former.”

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Israel is the only state favoring one religious tradition…except for all the others

If the Guardian or New York Times published a long essay about some tiny, obscure indigenous tribe in Africa with a language, culture, and religious tradition unique in the region, whose history extends several thousand years and was threatened with extinction, readers would almost certainly lament their plight.  Further, it certainly seems unlikely that many readers would challenge the tribe’s vigilance in protecting its ancient traditions, or its fierce desire to prevent the erosion of their unique religious-ethnic identity. 

Though this blog has been dealing of late with the specific false charge legitimized by Times of London that the new ‘Jewish nation-state bill’ proposed by Israel’s government will render non-Jews “second class citizens”, the broader debate about Israel’s right to identify with a specific religious tradition is the subtext underlying many online debates about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

Whilst it seems beyond debate that Arab-Israelis – whether or not the current bill passes the Knesset – will continue to enjoy the kind of democratic political rights that their ethnic brethren in the region could only dream of, the debate over Israel’s Jewish ethos is often clouded by the implicit suggestion that the rest of the world has moved away from such particularistic notions of statehood.

This is not true.

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‘Comment is Free’ contributor: Is the “Global war on Terrorism” all about Israel?

For well over a decade now the U.S. has been “a nation at war”, explains Andrew Bacevich in a May 28 essay at ‘Comment is Free’, before asking: “Does that war have a name”?

namelessBacevich employs the opening query to lament that the ‘Global War on Terror’ which began on September 11, 2001 is nameless, writing thusly:

When it comes to war, a name attached to a date can shape our understanding of what the conflict was all about. To specify when a war began and when it ended is to privilege certain explanations of its significance while discrediting others

After providing a bit of background on the imperfect names given to other wars – such as the Civil War, World War I, and World War II – Bacevich considers some possible monikers for the current military enterprise “we’ve been waging…in Iraq and Afghanistan [and] other countries…across the Islamic world”.  He proposes names such as “The Long War”, “The War against al-Qaida”, “The War for the Greater Middle East”, and even “The War Against Islam” or “The War for/against/about Israel“.  

Bacevich devotes a bit of space making the case for each possibility, and writes the following as a possible justification for the latter Israeli-centric title: 

It began in 1948. For many Jews, the founding of the state of Israel signified an ancient hope fulfilled. For many Christians, conscious of the sin of anti-Semitism that had culminated in the Holocaust, it offered a way to ease guilty consciences, albeit mostly at others’ expense. For many Muslims, especially Arabs, and most acutely Arabs who had been living in Palestine, the founding of the Jewish state represented a grave injustice. It was yet another unwelcome intrusion engineered by the west – colonialism by another name.

Recounting the ensuing struggle without appearing to take sides is almost impossible. Yet one thing seems clear: in terms of military involvement, the United States attempted in the late 1940s and 50s to keep its distance. Over the course of the 60s, this changed. The US became Israel’s principal patron, committed to maintaining its military superiority over its neighbors.

In the decades that followed, the two countries forged a multifaceted “strategic relationship”. A compliant Congress provided Israel with weapons and assistance worth billions of dollars, testifying to what has become an unambiguous and irrevocable US commitment to the safety and wellbeing of the Jewish state. Meanwhile, just as Israel had disregarded US concerns when it came to developing nuclear weapons, it ignored persistent US requests that it refrain from colonizing territory that it has conquered.

When it comes to identifying the minimal essential requirements of Israeli security and the terms that will define any Palestinian-Israeli peace deal, the US defers to Israel. That may qualify as an overstatement, but only slightly. Given the Israeli perspective on those requirements and those terms – permanent military supremacy and a permanently demilitarized Palestine allowed limited sovereignty the War for/against/about Israel is unlikely to end anytime soon either. Whether the US benefits from the perpetuation of this war is difficult to say, but we are in it for the long haul.

This remarkably ahistorical account of the Israeli-Palestinian (and Israeli-Islamist) Conflict – which erases over six decades of Arab wars, terrorism and belligerence – is provided to buttress the argument that the ‘Global War’ against Islamist extremism is arguably rooted in an understandable grievance against Israeli policy.  

Bacevich’s facile analysis of course ignores Islamism’s expansionist and reactionary political pedigree (the Muslim Brotherhood movement which gave birth to modern Islamism seeks the universal imposition of Sharia law, and proclaims that violent jihad and martyrdom is their path), as well as the obvious timeline (the Brotherhood was founded twenty years before Israel’s birth, and by the 1930s was already calling for boycotts against Jewish owned businesses in the Middle East).

However, even if we were to give credence to such specious ‘Zionist root cause’ arguments for modern terror (which ignore both chronology and ideology), proponents of such arguments often go further than merely asserting causation, suggesting that there’s in fact something reasonable, or even just, about such ‘grievances’ about Israel’s very existence.

No, the ‘War on Terror’ – or whatever Bacevich prefers to call the West’s battle with global jihadism – isn’t about Israel.  However, even if a malign obsession with Israel did indeed represent the root cause of their violence, its difficult to understand how any truly liberal commentator could implicitly assign blame to the Jewish target of such antipathy.    

Indeed, Bacevich – quite interestingly in light of his gig at ‘Comment is Free’ – has also contributed to Pat Buchanan’s paleo-conservative magazine, the American Conservative’, and penned a piece there in 2012 titled ‘How we became Israel‘.  His essay includes a characterization of the US ‘War on Terror’ – and America’s willingness since 9/11 to use force around the globe – as a dangerous sign that “U.S. national-security policy increasingly conforms to patterns of behavior pioneered by the Jewish state”, what he terms the “Israelification of U.S. policy”.

The Zionist footprint on the war on terror, for Andrew Bacevich, is simply undeniable, and arguably global.

‘Comment is Free’ contributor Antony Lerman plays ‘Israel-Nazi’ card

Antony Lerman is a ‘Comment is Free’ contributor. 

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Lerman lectured on ‘The Revival of Jewish Culture in Europe’ at Cambridge University on Feb. 28.  I know this because I saw his Tweet to this effect.

Though Lerman is not a frequent Tweeter he found time today to retweet this lovely 140 character ‘meditation’ by David Sheen.

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Sheen is referring to Israel’s interior minister, Eli Yishai, and is presumably responding to news that Yishai recently confirmed that more than 2,000 migrants in Israel have recently been repatriated back to Sudan.

I had never heard of David Sheen, but this Zionism – Nazism analogy was not a one-off, as you can see by looking at his Tweets for the day.

In fact, he was kind enough to post the following graphic on his Twitter page to help illustrate the ‘comparison’ between Yishai and Adolf Hitler.

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Sheen, a filmmaker, is quite prolific in the social media world, as you can see by the bio on his website.

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Here’s a photo of the “documentarian”:

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While one of his videos was briefly noted in a Guardian live blog on the Nov. war in Gaza, Sheen hasn’t formally contributed to the Guardian or ‘Comment is Free.  However, he has contributed to Mondoweiss and Electronic Intifada, and has worked as a reporter and content editor at Haaretz.com.

Lerman, a far-left British Jew who has used his position at ‘Comment is Free’ to justify antisemitism, penned his most recent essay at CiF, titled The abuse of dissenting Jews is shameful.  In the post, he complained of being ostracized, and smeared by the UK Jewish establishment due ‘merely’ to the fact that he’s an opponent of the Jewish state’s continued existence.  He ended with the following flourish:

That dissenting Jews are still demonised is shameful and undermines Jewish pluralism. But it’s manageable. Because the Jewish diaspora’s support matters so much to Israel’s leaders, the quest for serious, open and civil debate among Jews about what is really best for Israel must continue.

Evidently, Lerman’s expansive understanding of what constitutes “civil debate” about Israel includes not only calling for the state’s dissolution, but likening an Israeli government official to a Nazi.

Postscript to David Ward’s comments about ‘Jewish culpability’.

There was an interesting exchange of comments below the line of ‘s Feb. 6 Guardian piece, David Ward: ‘The solid ground I walk on is that I’m not a racist‘.

As a reminder, here are Ward’s comments in the context of Holocaust Memorial Day which began the row:

“Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.”

Here, a commenter using the moniker ‘bonbonniera’ responds to ‘chrisgnolan’, picking up on the broad theme advanced by Ward of Jews’ alleged guilt in carrying out atrocities following their liberation after the Holocaust.

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‘Bonbonnier’ then adds:

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‘Bonbonniera’ then responds to a question by a commenter using the moniker ‘Rantalot’, about the rights of non-Jews in “Palestine”, writing, thus:

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Some exchanges below the line at ‘CiF’ are quite instructive.  Here, ‘bonbonniera’ gets to the heart of why Ward’s comments were so offensive:  While the Holocaust, contrary to what some claim, does not represent the justification for a Jewish state (a right derived by Jews’ historical connection to the land, and legally codified by the the Mandate for Palestine), it takes an incredibly hard heart not to sympathize with the political aspirations of Jews following the Holocaust.

Further, Ward’s faux history ignores the fact that it was Arabs who committed extreme acts of violence against Jews in pre-state Israel, and Arabs who sought the annihilation of all Jews from the river to the sea in 1948 (a war which resulted in a large exodus of Palestinian Arabs), Arab leaders who ethnically cleansed Jews from Arab countries in the years following ’48, and Arabs who still refuse to recognize the right of Jews to live in a sovereign state.

The racism which needs to be acknowledged – and which MP Ward truly needs to address – is that of Arabs against a tiny Jewish minority.  Ward, and his defenders at CiF, have learned nothing about the true lessons of the Holocaust, and certainly nothing about the history of the 65 year Arab war against the Jewish state. 

In support of Jews goin’ rogue

Is it possible that the whole world is wrong and [the Jews] are right?”

– Ahad Ha-‘Am, 1893 (about the blood libels)

Kofi Anan, 2002 (about the Jenin “massacre”)

“How impoverished a world, when the answer to that question is no.”

- Richard Landes

Glenn Greenwald believes in ‘American Exceptionalism’.

He is a firm believer that, contrary to what most Americans think, his country is exceptionally oppressive to its perceived enemies, both foreign and domestic.  The America conjured by Greenwald daily on his blog is that of an imperialist hegemon exporting ‘terror’ around the globe - a putative democracy which stifles dissent and denies true freedom to its citizens.

One day historians may look back at the likes of Greenwald and marvel at the political dynamic in early 21st century America which influenced affluent and privileged Americans – those blessed with freedom and prosperity unimaginable to most – to be so hyper-critical of their own nation and possessed with a seeming religious belief in their country’s immutable sin.

While it would be easy to contextualize Greenwald’s hostility towards Israel – and the ‘Comment is Free’ columnist’s history of employing Judeophobic tropes in the service of criticizing the state’s American supporters – in a manner imputing antisemitism, a different conclusion should be reached.  Though, admittedly, he seems to have accepted narratives about the dangers of Jewish power which are often advanced by anti-Jewish racists, his anti-Zionism seems to more accurately represent a political derivative of his anti-Americanism.

The American public’s overwhelming support for Israel likely only indicates, to Greenwald, (ala Noam Chomsky) imperialist overlap.

To Greenwald, both nations’ proclivities to ignore the fiction known as the “international community” and go their own way in protecting their interests and in refusing to bow before the UN designated authorities on moral behavior (in sober recognition of the selective justice pursued by such arbiters of civility) makes them especially worthy of opprobrium.

Indeed, quite recently the Guardian blogger expressed concern that, contrary to conventional wisdom on which nations in the world should be criticized for flagrantly defying international norms, it is the stubbornness of Israel (and the U.S.) which should rightly earn them the status of “rogue states”. (A short quiz on the US, Israel on ‘rogue nation’ status, CiF, Dec. 4).

Their sins, per Greenwald?  Opposing Palestinians observer status at the UN, opposition to calls for international oversight of Israel’s nuclear facilities, and Netanyahu’s decision to allow for zoning and planning for future Israeli homes between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim.

For Greenwald, it simply isn’t possible that the whole world is wrong – that granting the Palestinians a road to statehood independent of negotiations and without assurances as to the nascent state’s peaceful intent, is advisable – and Israel and the U.S. are right.

Nor, evidently, can Greenwald conceive why Israel may be a bit suspicious that Arab-led efforts to neuter Israel’s military advantages may not be motivated by the best of intentions.

And, of course, Greenwald is baffled as to why the Jewish state is hesitant to defer to the collective wisdom of leaders in Brussels, London and NYC before engaging in planning decisions near their capital.

Though these all represent unique questions, they are also tied in to a larger dynamic often at play within the pages of ‘Comment is Free’ – a tendency of those who fancy themselves anti-colonialists to engage in a form of soft colonialism which continually fancies in haughtily lecturing Jews on what they need to do, and what they need not do, to pacify their enemies and achieve peace.

The history of such imperiousness attitudes in the face of determined Jewish will predates, by quite a few years, Glenn Greenwald and the New Left – and indeed the evocation of the ‘obstinate Jew’ underlay much of early Christian anti-Judaism.

In its modern (20th century) form Jews were asked why they stubbornly infested a continent instead of packing up and leaving for Palestine – to be followed, decades later, with the inverse query: why don’t they get the hell out of Palestine and return to their European cities of “origin”?

Thousands of Jews ignored warnings to avoid emigrating to Palestine during WWII, as the consensus was that the land couldn’t possibly economically support such a massive influx of impoverished refugees.

Jews were told to delay, or permanently avoid, declaring statehood in 1948, as Western leaders were certain that they’d be horribly defeated by numerically superior enemy forces.

Levi Eshkol was told not to launch a strike against Arab armies, which were amassed along their border in June 1967 and planning a catastrophic attack, but to wait instead for the international community to intervene.  Golda was told much the same in the days leading up to the surprise Arab attack on Yom Kippur in 1973.

The voices of wisdom and protocol were certain that Menachem Begin absolutely should not strike Iraq’s nuclear facility in 1981.

Oslo, Israelis were assured by statesmen and diplomats, would moderate Palestinians and reduce their motivation for terror.  The ‘Land for Peace’ formula, they were told, was simply axiomatic.  

In 2001, when Israel denied it had committed a massacre in Jenin, the spokesman for the ‘international community’ – and more than a few journalists – scolded Jews for their pomposity: How could it be that Israel was right and the whole world wrong?

When a few stubborn scholars began to critically examine the  death of Mohammad al-Durrah, many stood aghast at the audacity of questioning what everyone simply knew to be true.

Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon would make Hezbollah less powerful, they said. And, similar territorial concessions in Gaza would neuter Hamas, denying the Islamist group their raison d’être – and would surely bring peace to Israel’s south.  

The roots of radicalism lay in occupation we were and still are told – a political calculus not scrutinized even after thousands of rockets have been launched from unoccupied land.  And, of course, defending yourselves against such premeditated acts of terror emanating from sovereign Palestinian territory will only radicalize the radicals. 

Through it all, the secular sages who continue to grace the mainstream media pages have never waned in their beliefs: that they know what’s best, their ‘tough love’ will save Jews from themselves.

Yet, despite being an evidently stubborn lot – or, more likely, because of it – Jews (not unlike Americans) are alive and quite well, proud, prosperous, masters of their fate and still audaciously goin’ rogue. 

A Guardian Left extremist mourns Israel’s continued existence

 A guest post by AKUS

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Joseph Massad

If we could vote on it, I suspect that his Nov. 30 essay at CiF, The UN vote to recognise Palestine legitimises a racist status quo, deconstructed by Adam Levick at The Guardian approved malice of Joseph Massad, would beat out articles by such worthy contenders as Ben White, Chris McGreal, and Hamas spokesmen for first place in its sheer outpouring of racist hatred towards those who he terms “colonists” – Jews who settled in Israel.

Massad managed a truly imaginative job of rewriting history in one column. According to Massad, Arab armies did not invade the new Jewish state to tear it apart at birth – they “intervened to stop the expulsion” of Palestinians.

Not for him are the records of Jewish mayors begging Arabs to stay, or Arab leaders urging Arabs to move aside to better enable the slaughter of the Jews, the census results recording the massive influx of Arabs from other countries to partake of the growing economy of the Jewish towns and farms of the Mandate.  It’s all very simple and clear in his mind. Indigenous Arabs were expelled by colonist Jews, to become 6 million refugees (or even 12 million, later in his article).

In line with his teachings that Zionists are now the true anti-Semites, and Arabs their “victims”, Massad even managed to work in a comparison of “Palestinian refugees” to those who perished in the Holocaust – now there are “six million other [Palestinian] refugees”, a marvelously convenient number echoing the Holocaust that presumably includes every “refugee” living comfortably and teaching at American Universities, like Jordanian-born Massad himself.

Nevertheless, if there is one group of people Massad loathes more than the Jewish “colonists” in Israel, it is what he terms the “collaborationist Palestinian Authority”. As the vitriol drips down the screen, it seems that he hates them even more than Hamas does. Ismail Haniyah might, for the sake of political expediency, shake the hand of Abbas, even kiss him on both cheeks, but one feels that Massad would never be trapped into such a glaring surrender of his principles.

And therein lies a strange kernel of truth that this excoriator of Zion reveals about the recent UN vote on “Palestine”. Like Balaam, he came to the Guardian to curse Israel and in the end, blesses her and curses the PA.

Massad writes:

“Yesterday, the general assembly voted to admit Palestine as a state with observer status. Despite assurances to the contrary, the new state is likely to undermine the status of the PLO at the UN. Whereas the PLO represented all Palestinians, the PA only represents West Bankers. This recognition has diminished the Palestinian state geographically from 43% of historic Palestine granted by the partition plan to less than 18% of it (possibly 10%, if we factor annexations, settlements, military areas, etc), and has reduced Palestinians from 12 million people to 2.4 million West Bankers, 40% of whom are refugees.

The vote is essentially an update of the partition plan of 1947, whereby the UN now grants Jewish colonists and their descendants 80-90% of Palestine, leaving the rest to the native inhabitants, and it risks abrogating the refugees’ right of return.” [emphasis added]

Leave aside the false arithmetic that ignores the existence of Jordan as part of the former mandate territory of Palestine, thus inflating the  percentage of land grabbed by those greedy colonists, the miraculous growth in one article from six million to 12 million Palestinian (see next excerpt), and observe how he mourns what he sees as the monumental blundering away of his version of what  “Palestine” should be. The PA has created “West Bankers” rather than “Palestinians” — and, worse yet, implicitly endorsed the acceptance of the existence of that racist state of Israel and reaffirmation of by the UN of the 1947 partition plan!!

Massad’s racist summation of his article was a masterful example of Hamas reasoning and a revelation of the desire to take over the thriving, prosperous state of Israel rather than have two non-viable statelets competing for the title of “Palestine” (I leave out some of the most racially charged parts of his concluding diatribe):

“By recognising a diminished Palestinian state, the vote effectively abandons the UN understanding of the “Jewish state” as one that has no right to discriminate against or ethnically cleanse non-Jews….  The Palestinians, however, whose majority is not represented by the PA, will no more heed this new partition plan than they did the last one and will continue to resist Israeli colonialism until it comes to an end and until Israel becomes a state for all its citizens with equal rights to all regardless of national, religious, or ethnic background”.

But let us focus on the positive. This hatemonger concludes that:

  1. The UN (again) recognizes Israel’s right to exist (which every country has, but thanks anyway)
  2. Recognizes that the “West Bankers” can only lay claim to some part of the West Bank and denies them (and presumably Hamas and this spokesman) the “right of return” and the “right” to take over Israel, even as he still desperately clings to the delusion of a “one state solution” and believes he speaks for those heedless Palestinians not represented by the PA.
  3. Appears to think that the “West Bankers” will only get a statelet on the West Bank and not some geographically bizarre confederation with Gaza (perhaps he needs to consider the “Jordanian option?)

If Massad is to be believed, perhaps this second November 29th was as good a day for Israel in the General Assembly as the one 65 years ago!!

65 years ago today: Guardian misses one key element of 1947 UN partition

Today is the 65th anniversary of the passage of UN General Assembly Resolution 181 on the future status of British ruled Palestine. 

The Guardian’s Picture of the Day, Nov. 29, in recognition of this event in history, includes the following iconic image of Israelis celebrating in the streets of Tel Aviv shortly after the UN vote codifying their right to statehood.

Here’s the Guardian headline and strap line for the pictorial post.

Do you notice any information missing from the strap line?

Well, it seems that they failed to mention one quite significant element of the UN resolution (which passed with 33 votes in favor, 13 against, 10 abstentions and one absent). Res. 181 not only called for the creation of a Jewish state, but the creation of an Arab one as well.

The Jews accepted partition.  

The Arabs didn’t accept partition, refused to compromise on any outcome other than a single unitary Arab state and launched a war when Israel declared independence in May, 1948.

While the UN debates Palestinian statehood tonight in NYC, it’s important to remember that on this day, 65 years ago, a Palestinian state was offered by the international community, accepted by the Jews, but rejected by the Arabs.

Proposed borders per UN Resolution 181 in 1947.

Rachel Shabi has “fresh hope” that the Jewish state may cease to exist

Perhaps someone needs to remind Rachel Shabi, and ‘Comment is Free’ editors, that the Peel Commission has adjourned, the Jewish nation is a wonderful reality, and the state’s radical bi-national reconstitution will never, ever be countenanced by its citizens.

Shabi’s Oct. 23 piece, ‘The death of the Israel-Palestine two-state solution brings fresh hope‘, pronounces the two-state principle dead, a victim, she claims, of the impossibility of removing “half a million Jewish settlers and infrastructure from the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.”

However, this line of argument is absurd, as it implies that nothing other than the evacuation of 100% of Israelis from the territories would achieve a two-state solution.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s proposal in 2008 would have given the Palestinians an independent, contiguous state, with 94% of the West Bank (plus land swaps in pre-1967 Israel to make up for the 6% of the WB which would remain in Israel’s control), 100% of Gaza, and a capital in East Jerusalem. Tens of thousands of Jews would have been uprooted.

Yet, Olmert’s peace plan, the details of which have been confirmed by U.S. leaders active in the talks, were rejected by Mahmoud Abbas, who walked away from the deal - just as Yasser Arafat did in response to Ehud Barak’s offer of statehood in 2000.

Here’s a map representing the proposed deal.

As former U.S. Secretary of State Condi Rice wrote in her autobiography:

“Although Palestinian negotiators spoke publicly about compromise on refugees privately they spoke of the “right of return” as a matter of individual choice that would have to be extended to each of over seven million people and with Palestinians retaining the open-ended right to try to negotiate additional “returns” beyond any number initially agreed upon in a peace treaty.

Abbas was simply unprepared to accept any offer that did not allow for the “right of return.” [emphasis added]

The Palestinians’ trickery on what they were actually willing to accept concerning the “refugees” completely fooled the Guardian in their contextualization of the ‘Palestine Papers’ in 2011.

Further, their maximalist, unlimited demand for a so-called “right of return” (for Palestinians refugees from 1948 and millions of their descendants) by Palestinian leaders  is perhaps the greatest indication that their “two-state” support is merely a chimera – that Palestinian leadership have never reconciled themselves to the continued existence of a Jewish state.  

A “right of return” for “7 million Palestinians”, back to places in Israel where the overwhelming majority have actually never lived, necessarily negates Israel’s continued existence as a state for the Jewish people.  

In her CiF piece, Shabi writes:

“…a new generation of Palestinian activists, in part inspired by the Arab uprisings in the region, are bypassing territorial demands to focus on civil rights and freedoms.

Shared-space [binational] alternatives have grassroots momentum, but no leadership support. “

Of course, the term “grassroots momentum” is one of those intentionally blurry words meant, in this case, to avoid having to acknowledge that, the overwhelming majority of Jewish Israelis would fiercely reject a bi-national solution. (Per a recent poll by the Israel Democracy Institute, 86% of Israeli Jews reject such a plan.)

Those who advocate for a one-state solution are either parroting the narrative of Palestinian rejectionists, or are indifferent to the fact that any attempt to impose a one-state “solution” would be met by fierce Jewish resistance, inspired by the historical lessons Jews have painfully learned on the political necessity and ethical imperative of Jewish sovereignty.

Such Utopian dreams represent a recipe for endless war – and certainly nothing resembling peace. 

The Jewish state has been re-established in our historic homeland, and those wishing to undo 1948 should get over it.  

Their malign fantasies are not going to be realized.

Dhimmi Roots of the Arab-Israeli Conflict

This was written by Lyn Julius, and published at The Propagandist. Julius co-founded Harif, a UK Association of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa. Her parents fled Iraq in 1950.

Six little words. That’s all it will take to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. So said Benjamin Netanyahu last week, on the eve of yet another Quartet meeting to kickstart the Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process.

Those words are:  “I will accept the Jewish state.”

We’ve been hearing these six little words lately – but never from the lips of a Palestinian leader. In early June Nabil Sha’ath told an Arabic newspaper that the Palestinians will never recognise a Jewish state – only a state of Jews, Muslims and Christians in Israel.

Until Netanyahu decided to make a stand on Israel ‘s acceptance ‘as a Jewish state’,  Israeli negotiators assumed that if Arabs accepted the ‘two-state solution’ they automatically accept Israel as a Jewish state. They do not. Having obtained UN approval in September to achieve their independent state of Palestine on the West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinians will move on to their next target : achieving their ‘right of return’ to Israel proper – a surefire euphemism for turning Israel into an Arab-majority state.

The refusal to utter those six little words points to the Arab rejectionism  at the heart of the conflict. As Netanyahu states, ‘The issue is not over what Israel calls itself, but rather over what it is’.

Netanyahu’s appeal echoes that of Abraham Foxman, national director of the influential Anti-Defamation League. Foxman has also called for Arab leaders to utter those six little words. But Foxman goes further. He puts his finger on the nub of the conflict between Muslims and the Jews of Israel. The root of Arab/Muslim rejectionism lies in Dhimmitude.

 “It speaks to the long history of relations between Jews and Muslims  through the centuries, a relationship that in many ways was better than  that of Jews living under Christians in Europe, but was still  characterized by a consistent Muslim belief in Jewish inferiority and  second-class status, Abraham Foxman wrote in the Huffington Post.” Israel, if it stands for anything in the Arab mind, is an assertion  of Jewish equality. This is difficult for Arabs and Muslims to swallow  under any circumstances, but particularly so because that assertion is  being made in the heartland of the Arab world.”

The Muslim denial of collective minority rights is rooted in the  historical rejection of non-Muslim peoplehood. Dhimmitude, a term coined by the historian Bat Ye’or, describes the Islamic practice of denying equality to Jews and Christians who live under Muslim rule. Islam offers them religious autonomy, not  national freedom. The orthodox Palestinian line has been to deny Israel’s existence, but to offer to allow Jews, after Israel’s demise, to live in a “secular and  democratic” Palestinian state. Implicit even in the Saudi peace initiative, hailed by many Israelis as a moderate and reasonable blueprint, is the notion that, in return for ‘normalisation’ ,the Jews of Israel must agree to submit to the traditional cultural and political dominance of the Arabs.

Read the rest of the essay, here.

Israel: The Miracle

CiF Watch is certainly a blog in every sense of the word, but we also are a community – one which not only fights anti-Semitism and the assault on Israel’s legitimacy at the Guardian but which also takes the ideas which inspire Zionism, and the animosity towards the Jewish state, seriously.  As such, in May 1998, the eminent British historian Paul Johnson published an essay in Commentary to mark Israel’s 50th birthday and, marking its 63rd, we are re-publishing it here, courtesy of our friends at Jewish Ideas Daily

Independence Day, 1948

The state of Israel is the product of more than 4,000 years of Jewish history. “If you want to understand our country, read this!” said David Ben-Gurion on the first occasion I met him, in 1957. And he slapped the Bible. But the creation and survival of Israel are also very much a 20th-century phenomenon, one that could not have happened without the violence and cruelty, the agonies, confusions, and cross-currents of our tragic age. It could even be argued that Israel is the most characteristic single product, and its creation the quintessential event, of this century.

Certainly, you cannot study Israel without traveling the historical highroads and many of the byroads of the times, beginning with the outbreak of World War I in 1914. That great watershed between an age of peace and moderation and one of violence and extremism set the pattern for all that followed, and marked a turning point as well in the fortunes of Zionism.

Theodor Herzl’s Zion, a product of the 1890’s, was not exactly a modest proposal, but it could fairly be described as a moderate one. His book was entitled Der Judenstaat, and that phrase—a “state of the Jews”—fairly describes what he had in mind. But he was not necessarily wedded to the historical dream of a state in Palestine. He toyed, for example, with the notion of a giant settlement in Argentina, and not until the Seventh Zionist Congress in 1905 was Uganda, too, finally rejected as a possible site. By that time Herzl was dead, at the age of forty-four. One of his last pronouncements had been: “Palestine is the only land where our people can come to rest.”

Uncertainties and ambivalences of other kinds abounded. Although Herzl had always used the word “sovereignty” in connection with his imagined Jewish state, his friend Max Nordau, the philosopher, believed that in order to avoid offending the Turks, of whose empire Palestine then formed a part, the term Judenstaat should be replaced by Heimstätte, or homestead, rendered into English as “national home.” This fortuitously became an important factor in winning acceptance for the Zionist idea among European statesmen. Similarly, Herzl had written of a huge “expedition” that would “take possession of the land,” but the idea that the land would actually have to be conquered, and then fiercely defended, does not seem to have occurred to him.

As for the arrangements of life in his future commonwealth, Herzl was enamored of the model of Venice at the height of its power. He imagined a Venetian-style constitution, a Jewish doge, a coronation ceremony, and city plans featuring huge squares like the Piazza San Marco. He also foresaw theaters, circuses, café-concerts, and an enormous opera house specializing in Wagner, his favorite. The only military touch was to be a guards regiment, the Herzl-Cuirassiers, for ceremonial occasions; the New Zion would not, he thought, need much of an army. In many ways, Herzl’s conception had more in common with the Ruritania of Anthony Hope’s novels than with the state that actually came into being a little over four decades after his death.

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World War I had a double effect on Zionism, transforming its program from a theoretical into a real possibility but also ensuring that the creation of the Jewish state would be bloody. Until 1914, the men who ran the British empire, though sympathetic to Zionism, were inclined to fob off Jewish leaders with schemes for developing a slice of Africa. Turkey was a traditional British ally, and keeping its ramshackle possessions together was a prime object of British policy. What put an end to all that was the fateful decision of the Turks to join the side of Germany in the war. In a dramatic speech in November 1914, the British Prime Minister, H.H. Asquith, announced: “The Turkish empire has committed suicide.”

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