On Sunday a mosque in the Bedouin village of Tuba Zangharia was attacked by unknown, but presumably Jewish assailants.
The Mosque was severely damaged. It appears highly likely that this attack was another in a series of attacks cynically labelled ‘Price Tag’ by Jewish Right Wing extremists.
Their avowed motivation is to make the Israeli government ‘pay’ for any actions this self-appointed group deems to be against the interests of settlers in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) or which this groups believes to be even the hint of a settlement freeze or preparation for eventual withdrawal.
Mainly religiously motivated, this group believes that Judea-Samaria is a God-given land which the Jewish people are not just entitled to settle but are duty-bound to do so.
The village of Tuba Zangharia is in Israel. An attack on any religious place of worship by Jews is extremely rare in Israel itself.
The Bedouin have a long tradition of support for the State of Israel, serving in the IDF. There is no logical reason, let alone justification for this attack.
Let me make this quite clear. This attack and all the others, wherever they may be, are shameful. I have written before about ‘ashamed Jews’ whose distorted view of Israel leads them to supports its enemies. I am a proud Jew and proud of Israel.
But I am ashamed of this action and those that have gone before.
Immediately that the attack became known the Israeli government and a consensus of MK’s across the political and religious spectrum condemned it utterly.
President Peres went with both of Israel’s Chief Rabbis and leaders of the Muslim and Christian faiths to the village.
This is what he said:
At the start of my remarks I wanted to express my profound shock from the horrible attack on the Mosque in Tuba Zangria which took place today.
It is unconscionable that a Jew would harm something that is holy to another religion. This act is not-Jewish, illegal, immoral, and brings upon us heavy shame. I strongly condemn this horrible act in every language. This is not only a difficult day for the residents of Tuba Zangria, it is a difficult day for all Israeli society. As the President of Israel, during these days of introspection between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, I call upon all to denounce these terrible acts. These acts, destroy relations between us and our neighbors, and between the various religions in Israel.
We will not allow extremists and criminals to undercut the need to live together equally in equality and mutual respect. Arabs and Jews as one. I am sure that the Israeli police and security forces will apprehend these criminals and bring them to justice.
We must all stand behind them in an effort to preserve human dignity and respect for the law.
Both Chief Rabbis stressed that such actions are in direct violation of Jewish Law let alone human decency. It is actually one of the worst offences a Jew can commit. To damage a holy site of any faith is an offence against God.
Sephardi Chief Rabbi Amar said, “The perpetrators have wounded the heart of us all.”
This is what Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger said:
I came here to express my revulsion at this wretched act of burning a place holy to the Muslim people…
Seventy years ago the Holocaust, the biggest tragedy in our history, began with the torching of synagogues during Kristallnacht.
We are still living this trauma. And in the state of Israel, we will not allow a Jew to do something like this to Muslims.
And this is where I have an issue with comparisons to Nazis.
There is a superficial connection to Kristallnacht when thousands of synagogues and Jewish businesses were burned.
But on that night in 1938 hundreds of brownshirts as an instrument of government policy caused, death and destruction, nationwide, on a huge scale on a host of trumped up charges against the entire Jewish community. Kristallnacht was the prelude to the Shoah and the one event that led to thousands attempting to flee and sending their children on kindertransports.
The series of events in Israel aimes almost exclusively at mosques is not government sanctioned policy and has been condemned in the strongest terms.
For any Israeli, let alone a Chief Rabbi, to compare these acts to Nazi crimes is very dangerous. Firstly it is not true. It is not true because however reprehensible this is, it does not compare in scale or intent to Nazism. Those responsible are a small minority. Germans in 1938 were not ashamed of Kristallnacht; they thought the Jews had it coming.
The denizens of Rosh Pina came out on a solidarity march to protest the arson attack. There was no equivalent to Rosh Pina in Nazi Germany.
Rabbi Metzger certainly did not intend to be helpful to antisemites, anti-Zionists and the extreme Left in Israel by using language they would approve of and use themselves.
What Rabbi Metzger did was to find the most extreme way to express how he felt about such an enormity, and so he drew from the Jewish experience to relate that feeling of empathy.
I believe he was wrong to use Kristallnacht. We have seen enough debasement of language by Jew-haters: apartheid, Nazi, genocide, holocaust, massacre, racism. All these terms are debased when the people who use them are often the chief practitioners and most egregious criminals such as Ahmadinejad, Hamas and Hizbullah. Their hyperbole debases these words and renders them useless. Just as Durban I, II and III debases the concept of Human Rights.
And the way the language is debased is to use the most extreme terms for each and every act which, mainly Israel, carries out to protect itself from the aggression of these same language-debasers.
I understand what Rabbi Metzger tried to convey but I believe he was wrong.
The government, police and army are determined to bring the perpetrators to justice. It is vital they do so and give them exemplary sentences. If they are let off lightly, as has previously happened, this will be morally obnoxious and damage Israel’s democracy.
In the JPost article cites below “Analysis: Jewish terrorism gaining steam’ Yaakov Katz, despite an idiomatically infelicitous headline, expresses his fear that the Far Right is gaining ground and their target is not always mosques but also olive trees and even on Left Wing activists.
The Israeli government and its people must act swiftly.
Yet again, I cannot agree with Katz’s use of ‘terrorism’. These people are politically motivated vicious vandals. They are not terrorists. When synagogues in the UK are smashed and daubed, this is called an anti-Semitic attack; it is not terrorism.
No-one has died and no-one has been directly attacked. This is about property. It’s an attempt to foment inter-communal violence. It is not terrorism. At least not yet. To call it such debases real terrorism and hands the usual suspects an open goal in which to justify their demonisation of all Israeli Jews.
It is sad, but predictable, that some members of the Bedouin village saw fit to degrade themselves to the level of the mosque attackers by torching public buildings in their own town. They fell into the trap laid by the arsonists.
In their natural eagerness to express their moral indignation, politicians, clerics and journalists must avoid confirming and validating the animus of those already minded to hate Israel and Jews.
A telling post by Elder of Ziyon today “World Bank calls health of PalArab children “outstanding”.
In this post the Elder examines two conflicting reports; one from the Lancet, the venerable British medical journal, the other is from the World Bank.
The Lancet would be the last place to find anti-Israel bias, right? Apparently not.
The Elder tells us that the BBC reported in 2009:
The Lancet medical journal report highlights how 10% of Palestinian children now have stunted growth.
This was criticised within Israel as political propaganda and Israel’s record on treating Palestinians in Israeli hospitals was defended.
The Lancet report continued:
Mortality rates among infants and under-fives haven’t declined much. This is unusual when compared with other Arab countries that used to have similar rates but have managed to bring them down.
The trend for stunting among children is increasing, and the concern is about the long-term effects. It is caused by chronic malnutrition, and affects cognitive development and physical health.
There are pockets in northern Gaza where the level of stunted growth reaches 30%.
We are told how a Harvard researcher slammed the Israelis reaction and insisted the figures were accurate and, therefore, the Israelis were to blame for this terrible situation in Gaza.
But, as the Elder tells us, using the same statistics, the World Bank spun this the completely opposite way.
In terms of indicators of early childhood nutrition, WB&G is an outstanding performer. Among children under the age of 5, only 11.5 percent suffer from stunting (low height for age) and a mere 1.4 percent from wasting (low weight for height). In the average middle income country, 3 out of 10 children are stunted, i.e. more than three times the figure for WB&G. Performance in terms of wasting incidence is even more compelling: one in 10 children in a middle income country suffers from wasting, i.e. the rate is 7 times lower in WB&G. Thus, judged by anthropometric outcomes, WB&G performs better than most other countries in the world, irrespective of income. …It is important to note that the pool of countries in the sample includes a variety of middle income countries from the region, such as Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, and Morocco — and WB&G fares better than these in terms of early childhood nutrition indicators. In addition, overall incidence rates of stunting and wasting have been relatively stable over time.
So which is it?
It depends on what propaganda goal you have in what you are writing. When you want to demonize Israel, you cherry pick numbers to make it the health situation look bad; when you want to make the PA look good and ready for a state you do the exact opposite. That “objective data” mentioned in the NYT is now seen to have been presented in the most subjective manner possible – by not comparing it to similar territories worldwide.
Quite right, Elder.
The most telling point is that nutrition actually improved during the so-called blockade. This is the polar opposite of what everyone, including politicians who should know better, are saying. It is the alleged motivation behind flotillas who want to bring ‘aid’ to the starving Gazans.
In other words, it’s all one big propaganda stunt to accuse Israel of causing a ‘humanitarian disaster’. Well I have news for you, the real humanitarian disasters are in Africa and currently in North West Japan.
It is interesting that in my blog last month about the author Michael Morpurgo’s visit to Gaza I wrote the following:
Morpurgo tells us that levels of poverty and malnutrition are appalling. The doctors at the hospital he visits report on these levels of malnutrition. It is a hospital to specifically treat this problem.
This is the crux of the issue. So what is the truth. Well, it probably lies between ‘everyone is fit and healthy’ and ‘everyone is starving’. So quite a wide gap into which to insert this assertion: it’s a pretty normal Middle Eastern state. In fact, it’s better than ‘normal’.
A caveat is that these statistics were for a combination of the West Bank and Gaza and it is entirely possible that Gaza is worse than the West Bank. But if it were as bad as painted, then these figures would not be possible.
What is clear is that statistics can be used to almost any purpose and political bias if you do not give context. The Lancet failed to provide context because it wanted to embarrass Israel; the World Bank did give context because it wanted to show that the Palestinians were ready for statehood.
Inadvertently, the World Bank highlighted the Lancet bias.
Neither actually gave Israel any credit.Emphases throughout are those of the Elder
I covered his Gaza experiences, but his West Bank one is equally as enlightening.
Hitchens begins describing Arab hospitality but soon we find:
once again I saw the outline of a society, slowly forming amid the wreckage, in which a decent person might live, work, raise children and attempt to live a good life. But I also saw and heard distressing things
‘Wreckage’? Not sure what he means here. The last war here was 37 years ago. Many Arab towns in the West Bank look like anywhere else in the Middle East. Presumably this is a psychological wreckage in terms of almost 40 years of direct conflict with Israel.
At least we see civil society beginning to form, and about time too.
Hitchens is quick to see the plight of Christians under Palestinian Authority rule:
I feel all of us should be aware of … the plight of Christian Arabs under the rule of the Palestinian Authority. More than once I heard them say: ‘Life was better for us under Israeli rule.’
One young man, lamenting the refusal of the Muslim-dominated courts to help him in a property dispute with squatters, burst out: ‘We are so alone! All of us Christians feel so lonely in this country.’ Substitute ‘lonely’ with ‘hounded’ and persecuted’.
It appears it isn’t just Jews some Muslims are uncomfortable with. Whilst denying any Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, they now want to end 2,000 years of continuous Christian presence in the West Bank it appears. Will it be that a future Palestine is not just judenrein but christenrein as well.
This conversation took place about a mile from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, where tourists are given the impression that the Christian religion is respected. Not really.
I was told, in whispers, of the unprintable desecration of this shrine by Palestinian gunmen when they seized the church in 2002 – ‘world opinion’ was exclusively directed against Israel. I will not name the people who told me these things.I have also decided not to name another leading Christian Arab who told me of how his efforts to maintain Christian culture in the West Bank had met with official thuggery and intimidation.
There is no unsubstantial Christian presence in Bethlehem, as you might imagine. Hitchens tells us that it’s about 30,000 in the area but between 2001 and 2004 2,000 emigrated and if we assume that this migration will continue there may be no Christians at all in 10 to 15 years.
Arabs can oppress each other, without any help from outside. Because the Palestinian cause is a favourite among Western Leftists, they prefer not to notice that it is largely an aggressive Islamic cause.
Spot on, my man. This guy isn’t afraid to tell the truth.
Let’s digress here and look at the evidence for Christian persecution over many years. Let’s start with the Methodists current policy of a boycott of Israeli goods manufactured in the West Bank and their reason for it.
On their Conference website the most salient point for me is this:
The decision is a response to a call from a group of Palestinian Christians, a growing number of Jewish organisations, both inside Israel and worldwide, and the World Council of Churches. A majority of governments recognise the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories as illegitimate under international law.
I’m not going to get into the argument that the settlements are or are not illegal, what strikes me is ‘a call from a group of Palestinian Christians’. The fact that there are Israeli groups which favour boycotts is none of the Methodists’ business, but the Christians are.
Yet the Methodists are fixated on what Jews are purported to be doing to Christians but make no equivalent criticism or boycott of many egregious Muslim activities where Christians are being murdered or expelled or persecuted.
The atrocity at Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad in which 52 Christians were murdered has set off a flurry of articles about Christians under threat of extinction in the Middle East. Al-Qaeda has declared Arab Christians a legitimate target. Even Robert Fisk of The Independent is sounding the alarm about a flight of Christians of Biblical proportions – and that was before the massacre.
First the Saturday people – now the Sunday people. Jews have been virtually wiped out in Muslim lands. Now it’s the turn of the ancient Christian communities. Forty percent of the Assyrian Christian population of Iraq has fled since the fall of Saddam.
And much of this under the noses of the American coalition forces, presumably.
Also, in Syria:
since the late 1960s private Christian schools have been suppressed, …. the Armenian Christians of Syria are leaving at a particularly high rate: the government has banned their associations, publications, the teaching of their language and their political party.
Hmm. Seems like the Christian Arabs of the West Bank are not alone.
What about Jordan:
the monarch [sic] sees itself as the protector of the six percent of Jordan’s population who are Christians; they are given limited political rights. However, there is plenty of evidence that displaced Iraqi refugees view Jordan as a way-station to a third country of asylum – namely,the US. The refugees – and by no means all are Christian – complain bitterly that as non-residents they are not permitted to work or are paid exploitative wages. Only those with $100,000 to spare can obtain Jordanian residency rights.
Hmm. Seems the Christians in Jordan are worse off than those in the West Bank too.
Surely in Egypt, I want some good news:
It was the ‘secular’ regime under Gamal Abdul Nasser which did most to marginalise the Copts, now barely 10 percent of Egypt’s population. They are not allowed to repair their churches without government permission, let alone build new ones. Ever since the 1950s, the Copts have been persecuted, murdered, their women kidnapped and forcibly converted. Copts have been leaving Egypt for decades.
Decades? Centuries, isn’t it?
New York, NY, November 16, 2010 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today denounced the torching of at least 10 houses belonging to Coptic Christians in southern Egypt and called on Egyptian government officials to vigorously prosecute the perpetrators and increase protection for Copts. (http://www.adl.org/PresRele/IslME_62/5909_62.htm)
Hmm. So Egypt is also bad. So that’s Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Lebanon, then, with its institutionalised power sharing between Muslim and Christian can be the only haven for Christians in the Middle East? Surely?
I found an excellent website: Christian Persecution Info. The Methodists should have a read:
Lebanese security forces prepared to crackdown on Islamic insurgents Friday, June 25, after threatening leaflets were found calling on Christians to leave a key port city, and a bomb blast that killed at least one person in a predominantly Christian town.
Officials said they already detained this week two suspects accused of distributing the threatening publications in the southern port city of Sidon. Those arrested where [sic] not immediately identified.
The leaflets included Islamic slogans and warned Christians in the area to “spare their lives by evacuating the area within one week” or “bear the consequences,” Lebanese media reported.
Underscoring the seriousness of the threats was a bomb blast last weekend that ripped through a car parts shop in eastern Lebanon, killing one person and injuring two others, an official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The explosion reportedly occurred shortly before midnight Saturday, June 19, in an industrial neighborhood of the predominantly Christian town of Zahle.
Now correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it the current Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who is accused of wanting to drive out Arabs? Yet Israel seems to be the ONLY place in the area where Christians are free to worship without hindrance, are free from persecution.
You could accuse me of selective bias. OK, find me some negative stories about Christians being persecuted by the state in Israel.
I found a nice Italian site in English with the endearing headline ‘In Israel, Christians are Sprouting’. Conjures up an interesting picture, but we know what they mean.
Many of the members of indigenous communities, heirs of the ancient forms of Christianity that flourished there before the arrival of Islam, are fleeing.
The ones who remain live here and there in terror, for example in northern Iraq, in Mosul and the surrounding area, where in order to defend themselves they tend to make ghettos in the plain of Nineveh.
Ah, Iraq again.
The number of Christians within the borders of Israel has not been falling, but in absolute terms it has risen year after year: from 34,000 in 1949 to 150,000 in 2008, the last official figure.
One can speak only of a slight reduction in percentage terms – from 3 to 2 percent – because in the same span of time the number of Jewish citizens has grown from one million to 5.5 million, thanks to immigration from abroad, and the number of Muslims from 111,000 to 1.2 million.
Most of the Christians in Israel live in Galilee, while there are 15,000 of them in Jerusalem.
The exodus of Christians that has set off alarms therefore does not regard Israel, but rather the Holy Land, a geographically flexible term that extends to the Palestinian Territories and parts of the neighboring Arab countries, all the way to Turkey and Cyprus.
And for balance:
… there are the Palestinian Catholics who have been in Israel since its foundation, with the status of citizenship but in socially disadvantaged conditions.
Yes, maybe the Methodists would be better directing their efforts to helping the Arabs just like Jewish organisations:
LONDON – A new Jewish community initiative to promote understanding and equality for Israel’s Arab citizens is up and running with the announcement last week of its first coordinator.
The United Kingdom Task Force on Arab Citizens of Israel was set up last year by a broad coalition of Jewish organizations, to deepen UK Jewish engagement and understanding of issues facing Israeli Arabs and to leverage communal resources to provide effective solutions for furthering their rights.
Founding members of the initiative are the Board of Deputies of British Jews, United Jewish Israel Appeal, the Pears Foundation, the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, the New Israel Fund and UK Friends of the Abraham Fund. The task force’s executive committee is made up of the chairmen or chief executives of those organizations.
Task force members have highlighted the obligation set out in Jewish tradition and Israel’s Declaration of Independence to social and political equality for all the country’s inhabitants – Jews and Arabs alike.
Until a few years ago, there were just a few hundred Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel. But they are growing steadily, and today number at least seven communities: in Jerusalem, Jaffa, Be’er Sheva, Haifa, Tiberias, Latrun, and Nazareth.
But let’s move back to Peter Hitchens territory and look again at the plight of Christian Arabs in the Palestinian Authority controlled Bethlehem and see what Daniel Pipes was reporting in 2007:
… a campaign of persecution against the Christians of the West Bank and Gaza has succeeded. “Even as the Christian population of Israel grows, that of the Palestinian Authority shrinks precipitously. Bethlehem and Nazareth, historic Christian towns for nearly two millennia, are now primarily Muslim.…Khaled Abu Toameh of the Jerusalem Post reports from Bethlehem, increased attacks by Muslims on Christian-owned property in recent months means thatsome Christians are no longer afraid to talk about the ultra-sensitive issue. And they are talking openly about leaving the city. … According to the families, many Christians have long been afraid to complain in public about the campaign of “intimidation” for fear of retaliation by their Muslim neighbors and being branded “collaborators” with Israel. …
And in Hudson New York in May 2009, Khaled Abu Toameh again reported:
Christian families have long been complaining of intimidation and land theft by Muslims, especially those working for the Palestinian Authority.
Many Christians in Bethlehem and the nearby [Christian] towns of Bet Sahour and Bet Jalla have repeatedly complained that Muslims have been seizing their lands either by force or through forged documents.
In recent years, not only has the number of Christians continued to dwindle, but Bethlehem and its surroundings also became hotbeds for Hamas and Islamic Jihad supporters and members.
Moreover, several Christian women living in these areas have complained about verbal and sexual assaults by Muslim men.
Over the past few years, a number of Christian businessmen told me that they were forced to shut down their businesses because they could no longer afford to pay “protection” money to local Muslim gangs….
On the eve of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the Holy Land, a Christian merchant told me jokingly: “The next time a pope comes to visit the Holy Land, he will have to bring his own priest with him pray in a church because most Christians would have left by then.”
Indeed, the number of Christians leaving Bethlehem and other towns and cities appears to be on the rise, according to representatives of the Christian community in Jerusalem.
Today, Christians in Bethlehem constitute less than 15% of the population. Five or six decades ago, the Christians living in the birthplace of Jesus made up more than 70% of the population.
Now there IS a cause for the Methodists who probably just care about this bit:
True, Israel’s security measures in the West Bank have made living conditions more difficult for all Palestinians, Christians and Muslims alike. But to say that these measures are the main and sole reason for the Christian exodus from the Holy Land is misleading.
If the security fence and the occupation were the main reason, the Palestinian territories should by have been empty of both Muslims and Christians. These measures, after all, do not distinguish between Christians and Muslims.
In fact, Christians began leaving the Holy Land long before Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967. But the number of those moving to the US and Canada has sharply increased ever since the Palestinian Authority took control over Bethlehem and other Palestinian villages and cities. When the second intifada erupted in September 2000, Christian leaders said they were “terrified” by the large number of Christians who were leaving the country.
Ironically, leaders of the Palestinian Christians are also to blame for the ongoing plight of their people because they refuse to see the reality as it is. And the reality is that many Christians feel insecure and intimidated because of what we Muslims are doing to them and not only because of the bad economy.
When they go on the record, these leaders always insist that Israel and the occupation are the only reason behind the plight of their constituents. They stubbornly refuse to admit that many Christians are being targeted by Muslims. By not talking openly about the problem, the Christian leaders are encouraging the perpetrators to continue their harassment and assaults against Christian families.
Gotcha! Gotcha, Methodists. You believe what you want to believe and blame the Jews, the Christ-killers and ignore the real persecution. For shame!
Let’s get back, once more, to Hitchens odd Odyssey across the West Bank where, Alice-like, he encounters some strange truths.
Hitch and the Wall (barrier, actually, for most of its length)
Think about this wall. I acknowledge that it is hateful and oppressive – dividing men from their land, and (in one case) cutting across the playground of a high school. But I have concluded that it is a civilised response to the suicide bombing that led to its being built.
Encountering Muslim anti-Semitism:
My host, a thoughtful family man who has spent years in Israeli prisons but is now sick of war, has been talking politics and history. His wife, though present, remains unseen.
Suddenly he begins to speak about the Jews. He utters thoughts that would not have been out of place in Hitler’s Germany. This is what he has been brought up to believe and what his children’s schools will pass on to them.
The heart sinks at this evidence of individual sense mixed up with evil and stupidity. It makes talk of a ‘New Middle East’ seem like twaddle. So, are we to despair? I am not so sure.
This is the demonisation that few neutrals and no anti-Zionists speak of, and if they do, they’ll tell you it is ‘understandable’.
Here Peter scrabbles to find a suitable end to his article, telling us about improving conditions, shops serving Arabs and Israelis and hoping the whole thing won’t end in a nuclear Holocaust.
Well done, Hitch. Not a perfect 10, but you made me think there is hope yet for the British Press.
Update: I noticed that Prof. Barry Rubin has written on this subject here.
Yep, you read right.
I’ve had to admit it.
I can’t live a lie any longer.
I’m deeply, deeply ashamed.
Ashamed of being Jewish?
No way. I’m very proud to be Jewish and a member of the Jewish people.
Ashamed of Israel? Wrong again. I’m proud of Israel’s achievements. I worry about its policies, sometimes; I’m concerned, sometimes, about some of its actions and those of some of its citizens, but I could say the same for Britain and I’m still proud to be British.
So why am I ashamed?
I’ll tell you.
I’m ashamed of Jews who say they are ashamed to be Jews or Jewish.
I don’t hear Palestinians coming out to declare they are ashamed to be Palestinian and denounce suicide bombs or missiles.
I don’t hear Arabs writing they are ashamed to be Arabs because of Al Qaeda or Sudan or Yemen.
I don’t hear Muslims forming groups of shame because of what Sunni does to Shia, or 9/11, or 7/7, or Madrid, or Mumbai.
I don’t know of any Ashamed Catholic groups forming because of the paedophilia apparently rife in Catholic clergy.
In fact I know of no other group of people who so often announce their ashamedness to be who they are as Jews do.
And you know what?
It makes me ashamed.
I’m an ashamed Jew who is ashamed of ashamed Jews. If that’s a paradox, so be it. And I’m not ashamed to declare my shame.
Shame on me!
I don’t see why Arabs or Muslims or Palestinians or Brits or Americans or Chinese or anyone else should be ashamed of what they are because of the actions of a few.
If I’m ashamed to be a Jew because I don’t like what Israel does, that is a form of self-hating, it’s bigotry – by golly, its anti-Semitic.
If I hate all of a group because of the actions of some, then I am a bigot. And if I am the target of my own bigotry then I’m a pretty sick bigot.
On the Andrew Marr program this morning on BBC 1, the eponymous Scottish interviewer had the (Jewish) actress Miriam Margolyes in the studio reporting on a recent visit to Israel and the West Bank.
We see her approaching a young Palestinian woman and asking through an interpreter whether she can see where she lives. The woman, carrying a young child, takes her to a canvas tent. Miriam is shocked and says ‘no-one should have to live like this’.
I absolutely agree with her. No-one in the West Bank should be living in a tent.
So why are they?
Miriam believes it’s because of the terrible Israelis who make her an ‘ashamed Jew’. Neither she nor Marr question why this woman lives like this. No-one asks why after 62 years a young woman whose grandparents left or were driven out of what is now Israel should be a refugee and have refugee status uniquely different from all other refugee groups in history.
Neither Margolyes nor Marr wanted to mention, or even wanted to entertain, the idea that refugee camps, so-called, exist for one reason and one reason only: to deliberately perpetuate the victimhood of Palestinians and to preserve the idea, which Margolyes and other ashamed Jews have swallowed whole , that it is Israel who is responsible for these conditions.
Margolyes appears unaware that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians live comfortably on the West Bank in normal housing. She seems unaware that despite the billions of dollars poured into the Palestinian economy people are still allowed to live in tents and camps.
There is no need for it.
Pakistanis are not living in tents three generations after their forbears fled India.
There are no refugee camps in Israel for the hundreds of thousands who were forced from their homes after 1948 from Egypt and Iraq and Syria and North Africa.
Marr asks ‘Do you think being a Jew gives you a different authority, ability to talk about [the Palestinian question]?’
‘The only authority I have is as a human being’, Margolyes replies. So far, so good.
Then she says that it should not make a difference being Jewish or not Jewish to be able to comment on the situation, but then says, somewhat in contradiction, that she is ‘embarrassed and ashamed’ (that word again) because ‘my “lot” is doing “it” to them’.
She then says ‘that’s why I wanted to go there, to see for myself’. Fine. But it appears she had already made up her mind that ‘her lot’ were doing ‘it’ to ‘them’.
Marr asks for her reaction, and she then puts on a faux Arab accent and says that some said ‘why do you come? You are a Jew. We hate you.’ And then in her own voice ‘And I totally understood why’.
Yet, she doesn’t understand why at all. She doesn’t understand that this hatred predates the Jewish state. She doesn’t understand the daily diet of anti-Semitism that is fed to Palestinians in schools, newspapers and on TV.
Marr then asks a question which links the Holocaust to what he clearly believes is a given Israeli/Jewish paranoia. He asks that, given Margolyes and her generation know what it’s like growing up in the shadow of the Holocaust, does she not realise that Israelis feel hemmed in and beleaguered by Iran, suicide bombs and missiles.
She admits her sympathy. She knows what anti-Semitism is. But ‘treating people the way the Israelis are treating the Palestinians is not making things better’. In other words, the blame for the situation is all on the Israeli side.
And then, lo and behold, the old ignorant trope comes out. ‘What people forget over there is that the Palestinians were not responsible for the Holocaust.’
Arghhh! I’m so ashamed. What the hell has the Holocaust got to do with the situation? Is she suggesting that Israel exists because of Holocaust guilt? Is she suggesting that the Palestinians are paying for the crimes of Europeans? If so, she is ignorant of her own people’s history.
‘They were not the enemy at that time’, she says. But THEY WERE! The Mufti of Jerusalem was a friend of Hitler and organised Muslim Nazi brigades in Yugoslavia. He assured Hitler that he would solve the Jewish Question in Palestine. Hamas and the PLO are the ideological progeny of the Muslim Brotherhood and its anti-Semitic policies.
Margolyes and other ashamed Jews need to educate themselves. I am sick of being ashamed of them.
What is she saying now? Oh yes, the Israelis should understand and accept that they owe reparation to the Palestinians just like the Jews expect it from the Germans.
So she, perhaps unwittingly, makes a moral equivalence between the way Jews were treated in the Holocaust and the way Palestinians (who have been hell-bent on another Holocaust for 100 years, and certainly 60) have been treated by the Israelis.
Who attacked Israel in 1967?
Why was the PLO formed in 1964 before there was any ‘Occupation’?
The Israelis are behaving ”so cruelly’. Yes, sometimes all those with power over others behave cruelly. Maybe she should understand why Israelis might do so to Palestinians who want to kill them, and blow up their children on buses and in their beds. Why can she only see one side to this conflict?
Even Marr has to remind her about suicide attacks and rockets. And then we get the real answer to Margolyes ashamedness. She is not a two-state solutionist. She wants ’those people to be back in their own villages, which is what they want.’
How ignorant is this. They just want to go back to their villages. But their villages are Haifa and Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and Eilat and Beersheva. Margolyes is clearly advocating the end of the Jewish state as a deluded one-stater who believes the Palestinians, who she admits hate the Jews, just want to go back peacefully to their homes.
How often do we see people in the media like Miriam Margolyes, Jews and non-Jews, well-meaning, decent people who just do not understand. They live in their cosy left-wing bubbles dreaming of world peace where all will be luvvies.
Sorry Miriam. You are a very nice woman and a wonderful actress, but you are a deluded Jew.
Go read some history. Go read the PLO charter and the Hamas charter. Don’t pose as a woman of peace when you clearly want a second Holocaust – because if you don’t, then you need to wake up out of your deluded lefty dreams, you and all the ashamed Jews.
Until you do so, I will continue to be an ashamed of ashamed Jews Jew.
I have always determined that this blog is not propaganda but tells the truth even when it hurts.
Last Friday a mosque in the West Bank town of Yasuf was vandalised; a library of holy books was set on fire and graffiti in Hebrew was written on he floor of the mosque. Apparently these graffiti were of a racist nature. In addition there was mention of “price tag” which is the extreme Jewish right-wing settler strategy to make the Israeli government pay for every concession it makes with regard to settlements, most notably the recent settlement freeze announced by the Netanyahu government in response to US pressure and as a statement of Israel’s genuinely seeking a return to the negotiating table.
I condemn this attack completely and without reservation. It is morally inexcusable; to set fire to any building to promote any cause is irresponsible in the extreme and potentially a risk to life; it goes against Jewish law to make unjustified attacks against any holy site and, therefore, the perpetrators are breaking their own moral code.
But such an act goes beyond just moral turpitude. It blackens the name of Israeli Jews and endangers the life of Jews everywhere who may be subject to retaliation. It does what it sets out to do: risk any peace initiative, cause more fear and hatred in the hearts of Palestinians. It also provides an excuse for future violence and gives fuel to those who want to label and libel all Israelis and Jews for the actions of a few.
The Jerusalem Post reported some reactions which are instructive:
Defense Minister Ehud Barak condemned the attack. In a statement issued by his office, Barak said he viewed the attack with grave severity and called it “an act of extremism designed to hurt any attempt by the government to make progress” toward renewing peace talks with the Palestinians. Barak said he had instructed the defense establishment to find those responsible as quickly as possible…..
Kadima and opposition leader Tzipi Livni [said] that the vandalism was a “severe, despicable act of provocation” and stress[ed] that the perpetrators must be brought to justice.
“While a human rights march goes on in Tel Aviv, in Samaria extremist elements set fire to a mosque,” she said during a Herzliya speech on Friday afternoon. “We must turn to introspection and contend with what is happening within Israeli society.”…..
Danny Dayan, head of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip said in response to the incident that he hoped police would find those responsible. “Whoever did this is not helping the settlements,” Dayan said. “This is a wrong and foolish act.”
In contrast, right wing activists and politicians pointedly refused to condemn the act and blamed the government – a sad reflection on some elements in Israeli society.
But let us, nevertheless, reflect briefly; as despicable as this attack was, such attacks against holy sites are rare; no-one was injured although in scuffles with police afterwards there were minor injuries; the building was not destroyed. None of this is an excuse or mitigation but I am suggesting that the intent here was more against Israeli government policy than against the Palestinians, but I’m aware that such niceties may be lost of many.
Sometimes positives come from such heinous acts. Ha’aretz also reports:
Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger on Monday visited the West Bank village of Yasuf, where days earlier a mosque was torched allegedly at the hand of settlers angry over the 10-month construction freeze.
“I came here to expression my revulsion at this wretched act of burning a place holy to the Muslim people,” Metzger told the residents after he was escorted into the village under the protection of the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinian police. “This is how the Holocaust began, the tragedy of the Jewish people of Europe.” …..
On Sunday, a delegation of Israelis from the West Bank settlement bloc of Gush Etzion brought copies of the Koran to villagers to replace those destroyed in the attack.
The group, led by peace activist Rabbi Menachem Froman, met the village elders at a nearby checkpoint after being held up for several hours by the IDF.
“Our going to the village can bring about a resolution of the conflict,” said Froman, of the southern West Bank settlement of Tekoa.
“The people who spread hate in the region are those who invented the method of ‘price tag.’ They should be cast out of here,” Froman said, referring to the term used by right-wing activists for actions opposing anti-settlement moves by the government.
“We want to create new conditions between Jews and Arabs. Arson in a mosque is an attempt to sow hatred between Jews and Arabs. Jewish law also prohibits damaging a holy place.” Froman said.
At the end of the meeting, Froman presented a Koran to the village leader, Munir, who thanked the delegation for “coming here to identify with us against violence.”
Whatever your views on settlements, this at least shows that the perpetrators of the crime are a minority, a dangerous minority, and Israel must act against them to protect Palestinians and also prevent an escalation.
So far the response from the Palestinians is muted which is a positive sign – but things can change quickly.
There is also a clear danger here for Israeli with the tactic of “price tag” creating an internal problem for Israel which will be exploited by those who want to bash Israel and cause a potentially dangerous fault-line in Israeli society. The fault-line has existed for a long time but could now become seismically active.
No doubt you have heard in the news and media many negative things about Israel and its relations with the Palestinians.
You have heard about Gaza and Operation Cast Lead; you have heard about Gaza being a new Warsaw Ghetto; you heard about blockades and “humanitarian disasters”‘ that require aid convoys to travel overland from Europe across North Africa and then enter Palestine via Israel; you have heard of apartheid operating on the West Bank; you have heard illegal settlements and the “ethnic cleansing” of East Jerusalem; you heard about boycotts and UN resolutions; you have heard of the Goldstone Report.
Now hear this.
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has just released its periodic update on “The economic situation in the Palestinian Authority and Israeli relief measures”.
The headline of this document states that a double-digit growth rate might be reached by the end of 2009 in the Palestinian Authority area of the West Bank. And it appears that this rate, in a world economic crisis, has been achieved because of unprecedented assistance from Israel.
Here are some highlights:
PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told the Washington Post that 2009 (October) had seen a growth rate of 8% “If not even more”.
Now here’s a surprise for you. Israel collected tax on behalf of he PA to the tune of NIS 330 million in November compared to NIS 293 million in October.
Now here’s another surprise for you blocade-niks: Israel transfer NIS 50 million every month to Gaza to pay the salaries of PA employees and as much as $13.5 to UNWRA employees who are not only Palestinian but many of whom have a close association (to put it coyly) with Hamas. (I’m worried. This does not sound like a genocidal policy to me. What’s going on?)
Some bad news. The PA still has a $200 million budget deficit and it would be more were it not for $200 million from the Saudis. Come on Arab world! The Israelis are doing more than you are to help the Palestinians. Where’s Dubai when you need them? Oh yes, forgot, sorry.
“The Israeli government decided to establish a ministerial committee headed by the prime minister to examine and promote economic measures that will lead to further economic growth in the West Bank. A regional cooperation minister will be appointed, whose ministry will be in charge of coordinating and advancing the above matters.”
So more evidence of an Israeli policy to improve the condition of Palestinians, and it goes pretty much unreported in the West where only negativity is news.
There is a Joint Economic Committee to boot. This is sounding very much like what one would like to see were there two states with very close ties and mutual interests.
Almost 50,000 Palestinians were given work permits in Israel and West Bank ‘settlements’. In fact there are are huge number of Palestinians working in Israel and in Israeli businesses in the West Bank. The report states that 14% of the workforce is employed by Israel in the West Bank. Are you listening boycott-niks?
Unemployment in the West Bank is still unacceptably high although it has dropped from 19% in 2009 to 16.4% in the second quarter of 2009. In Gaza it dropped from 45.5% to 36% which is a startling statistic. If things are so much better in the Hamas-free West Bank why not Gaza? Nothing to do with Hamas, by any chance?
The Palestinians themselves have said there was a six-fold increase in foreign investment in the West Bank because of the improving security situation compared to last year. Six-fold!!
A new city – Rawabi – is planned and Ramallah “has become an unprecedentedly bustling and flourishing West Bank city of cafes and restaurants“.
Power plants, sewage works, road networks, industrial zones all progress apace funded by the French and the EU with technical assistance from the Israelis.
Commerce between Israel and Palestine have risen steeply both ways.
In the first half of 2007 about 81,000 trucks passed from Israel to the West Bank. In the second half of 2008 this had reached 189,000 – more than doubled in two years.
A new Cell phone company. Gasoline consumption up 29% and a 93% increase in tourism to Bethlehem! and a 42% increase in hotel stays.
Once again I am worried. This does not sound like apartheid South Africa to me. Someone has been telling fibs.
There has been a huge reduction in checkpoints and roadblocks due to improved security. These reductions have led to much greater freedom of movement within the West Bank and for Israeli Arabs who want to visit the West Bank. These roadblocks have always been seen as an instrument of Israeli oppression and not a security measure. Surely if Israel is so willing to remove these obstacles (and there is a long way to go, not least of all the security barrier), does not this tell you something about Israel that you may not have been aware of?
And now for Gaza.
Before, during and after Operation Cast Lead, Israel facilitated the entrance of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. Israel ensured the orderly operation of the electricity, communications and water infrastructures, including bringing in equipment and repair teams to repair water and sewer facilities during the operation, and to repair turbines and parts of the Gaza power station after the operation. This included a two-month stay by a Siemens team, which conducted repairs and maintenance work at the power station.
The report makes clear that essential supplies are getting through but there is still an issue with building materials, but even that is being negotiated with the UN.
Marc Otte, European Union emissary to the Middle East, stated the following to the working group for Middle East affairs in the European Parliament, on November 24:
- There has been an economic improvement in the West Bank, primarily due to removal of the checkpoints.
- There is no shortage of equipment or cement for construction in Gaza, and Hamas is controlling the resources.
- Hamas dismissed employees of the systems and appointed its own people, and that is the reason that there is no construction in Gaza.
- The prevailing economy in Gaza is not an official economy but rather an economy of tunnels; there are no shortages in Gaza, but there is a problem of unemployment, primarily for civilians who are not close to Hamas and have no buying power.
The security fence has proven its effectiveness in the fight against terrorism.
So there you have it. The more peaceable, the better off you are likely to be economically. This does not sound like the Israel I read about in the press.
The current world media, and indeed the Palestinian and left-wing Israel narrative about Israel’s activities on the West Bank tells of road-blocks, a so called “apartheid” wall, unwarranted restrictions on movement of Palestinians and general emiseration of life.
But here’s a funny thing. Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas has just been to Washington. In an interview with the Washington Post he made (albeit translated) the following astonishing statement:
“I will wait for Hamas to accept international commitments. I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements,” he said. “Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life.”
Normal life! Good reality! If everything is so dandy, what’s the beef?
The truth is that whatever the aspirations and long-term goals of the PA things have got a lot better recently. I’m not saying there is normality as that would be untrue. But Abbas sees new possibilities with Obama. Abbas can wait to achieve his goals whilst the US, Europe and, ironically, Israel pour billions of dollars into the development of the West Bank and what would be a future Palestinian state. Yes. He can wait.
Abbas also revealed what former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered him, and this says it all about Abbas, Obama’s policy, the possibility of peace and the PA’s true intentions:
Abbas acknowledged that Olmert had shown him a map proposing a Palestinian state on 97 percent of the West Bank — though he complained that the Israeli leader refused to give him a copy of the plan. He confirmed that Olmert “accepted the principle” of the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees — something no previous Israeli prime minister had done — and offered to resettle thousands in Israel. In all, Olmert’s peace offer was more generous to the Palestinians than either that of Bush or Bill Clinton; it’s almost impossible to imagine Obama, or any Israeli government, going further.
Abbas turned it down. “The gaps were wide,” he said.
What!!! He turned it down? Just like his predecessor, Yasser Arafat at Camp David and Taba in 2000/2001 who was made a similar offer, rejected it and began the Second Intifada. Why does the world say it is Israel that is the main stumbling block to peace? Each time Israel offers more, not less (as would be the case in any other conflict where the answer to peace negotiations is violence not a counter-offer). “The gaps were wide”. What does Abbas want for heaven’s sake? Well we know what he wants: the right of return for 4 million Palestinians and ALL of the Old City of Jerusalem (he does not reveal waht Olmert offered there but Barak in 2000 offered to divide the city). In other words he will settle for nothing less than the destruction of Israel demographically.
Now, perhaps, we can see why the Netanyahu government sees no point to further negotiations with the PA. What more is there to discuss at the moment? What will Israel get in return for freezing settlement expansion or dismantling settlements? It’s a stand-off. It’s a bit like the final scene in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” with each side circling round the other and waiting for someone to blink.
Obama to Netanyahu: stop settlement expansion and we’ll talk about Iran
Netanyahu to Obama: do something about Iran or we’ll continue with (existing) settlement expansion
Obama to Abbas: stop saying horrible things about Israelis (you can’t use the words “vile anti-Semitic propaganda” in the even-handed world of Obama). Make nice with Hamas.
Abbas to Obama: I can wait. Get rid of Netanyahu or get him to unequivocally accept a two-state solution. I’m not playing ball with George Mitchell until you do that, so no talks with moderate Arab states to help the process. I can wait for Hamas.
Abbas to Netanyahu: (silence)
Netanyahu to Abbas: (silence)
As the Post concludes:
What’s interesting about Abbas’s hardline position, however, is what it says about the message that Obama’s first Middle East steps have sent to Palestinians and Arab governments. From its first days the Bush administration made it clear that the onus for change in the Middle East was on the Palestinians: Until they put an end to terrorism, established a democratic government and accepted the basic parameters for a settlement, the United States was not going to expect major concessions from Israel.
Obama, in contrast, has repeatedly and publicly stressed the need for a West Bank settlement freeze, with no exceptions. In so doing he has shifted the focus to Israel. He has revived a long-dormant Palestinian fantasy: that the United States will simply force Israel to make critical concessions, whether or not its democratic government agrees, while Arabs passively watch and applaud. “The Americans are the leaders of the world,” Abbas told me and Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt. “They can use their weight with anyone around the world. Two years ago they used their weight on us. Now they should tell the Israelis, ‘You have to comply with the conditions.’ “
So all is quiet in the world of Abbas. He knows that Netanyahu’s options are limited. The next Israeli government might offer even more. Iran might do the job he always dreamed of. Hamas can stew in Gaza because why should he do anything that wil make life for Israel easier. He can squeeze Hamas on the West Bank and take them out when necessary. In fact, by doing so, as the Jerusalem Post reports, he is putting pressure on Israel:
In March 2007, a car carrying over 100 kilograms of explosives succeeded in infiltrating downtown Tel Aviv from the West Bank town of Kalkilya. The terrorists’ plan was to detonate the car on Seder night.
The existence of this cell, which was the target of the Palestinian clashes in Kalkilya on Sunday, had been the IDF’s excuse for refusing to scale back its operations in the West Bank city and implement there and in Tulkarm what is being called the “Jenin model.”
Under the Jenin model, the IDF has scaled back operations in that city, removed checkpoints in the area, permitted the deployment of US-trained Palestinian forces and allowed Israeli Arabs into the city to boost the local economy.
The more effective the PA police are in confronting Hamas and thwarting attacks on Israel, the less reason there is for the Israeli Army to be operating there. This, in turn, reduce tensions between Israelis and Palestinians and increases Abbas’s prestige at home and in the world. But, crucially, Israel’s ability to preempt terrorism emanating from the West Bank would be reduced.
And this is really the true nature of the Pax Palestina on the West Bank. They are rapidly approaching de facto statehood with improving social conditions and security; they are working with Israel on a number of projects to improve living conditions; checkpoints are reducing; Israel is acting against settlements that even they deem illegal.
For Abbas it is just a stage on the road to the destruction of Israel. He still cherishes that hope. He still wants 4 million refugees to flood Israel and create a third Palestinian state in the region; he still wants all of Jerusalem; he still tells his people that Jews have no historic connections or claim to the Holy Land; he still tells his people that there never was a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem; he still allows daily incitement against Israelis and Jews; he still allows lies and vicious Jew-hatred to be inculcated into Palestinian children from the earliest age.
Abbas can afford to wait.
Hamas believe that splitting the skulls of teenage boys is understandable.
The Jerusalem Post reports:
This attack was committed in the framework of the resistance,” Ayman Taha, a spokesperson for the group said. “This is a reaction to the continuing occupation and the continued building of settlements.”
“This is a natural reaction,” he said, “especially against the backdrop of Israeli attacks. We are a people occupied, and it is our right to defend ourselves and to act in every way and with every means at our disposal in order to defend ourselves.”
Thus any act, however depraved, is justifiable. This is the rhetoric of an organisation supported by millions across the world. An organisation as murderous as it is immoral.
Let’s not forget they also attacked a seven year old. And let us not forget that this boy’s father is serving a prison sentence as a terrorist for plotting to blow up a Palestinian school. A plot that was thwarted by the Israeli police.
Now just reverse the roles. Do you see any Palestinian terrorists in prison in Palestine? Did the Palestinian police ever thwart a terrorist attack on Israel, or do they just aid and abet?
Headline at the BBC website: “Israeli boy killed on West Bank”. Note “killed” not “murdered”. And try to find that story today – it suddenly disappeared and has been replaced by “Livni condemns new Israeli leaders” and the Lieberman arrest.
I recently reported here how youth orchestra leader Wafa Younis took her music to Holon where the orchestra sang and played to Holocaust survivors. The orchestra comes from Jenin. Ms Younis did take the opportunity to sing for peace, the release of Gilad Shalit and also berate her audience about injustices against her people in the West Bank.
But Arutz Sheva reports:
Fatah-linked community leaders in the PA-controlled city of Jenin slammed the participation of 13 young local musicians aged 11 to 18 in a “Good Deeds Day,” held at the Holocaust Survivor’s Center in Holon.
The PA politicians made a point of using the issue of the young musicians’ performance as a platform upon which to launch a diatribe against participation in any integrative activity with Jewish Israelis.
Observers noted that Palestinian Authority leaders speak to United States officials about the “vision of two states for two peoples, living side by side in peace and security” but when it comes down to actually allowing their children to participate — let alone encouraging such activity with Israelis — they sing a different tune.
Ms Younis has had her apartment “sealed” and she is banned from entering Jenin. Once again, as with Fatah’s policy of not allowing their citizens to receive treatment in Israeli hospitals (see my article here) they are not only further immiserating the lives of their own people but deterring any moves toward any sort of rapprochement or mutual understanding, the very sort of policy and initiative it is vital to pursue to prevent generation after generation being brought up on hate and alienation from their neighbours.
It is clear that Fatah are not interested in anything which compromises their true agenda; to destroy Israel by stealth in parallel to the agenda of Hamas and Hezbullah who want to destroy Israel by military means.
Fatah complain they have no true peace partners. It’s a shame that the peace negotiations don’t take place between the real peace-loving people of Palestine and Israel rather than their leaders, entrenched as they are in their own ideologies and political posturing. OK. Too simplistic. But if youth are shown such awful examples of bigotry what hope is there.