Saturday, September 6, 2014

Denis MacEoin: Will Fact Ever Displace Anti-Israel Fiction?

by Denis MacEoin

Anti-Israel propaganda has been driven from the start by lies distortions and a massive rewriting of history. Blame for everything is piled on the Jews, while the crimes of the Arabs, including the Palestinians, are exonerated.
The American Vice-Consul, along with British officers and the British High Commissioner, Sir Alan Cunningham, stated at the time that the Arabs were encouraging flight while the Jews were doing all in their power to prevent it.
The Hagana's behavior was the exact opposite of "ethnic cleansing." Once order was restored, Arabs were appointed to key posts and part of the supplies originally earmarked for the Jewish inhabitants were given freely to the Arabs.

Just now I'm feeling a bit ashamed of being Irish. Although our music, dance, and Nobel-prize winning literature have helped us punch above our weight in the ring of international culture, our politics has never been a model for anyone -- and it is getting worse.

Back in 2011, for instance, Israel's Foreign Ministry stated that Ireland had undoubtedly become the most hostile country to Israel in the European Union, "pushing all of Europe's countries to a radical and uncompromising approach."

Oddly enough, Ireland also has a reputation as a country relatively free from anti-Semitism. According to John Gallen, anti-Jewish incidents are thirty-two times more likely in the U.S. than in the Poblacht na hÉireann. One of the reasons there are almost no anti-Semitic incidents in Ireland is that there are very few Jews in the Irish Republic in the first place: under 2000 (0.04% of the population).

This information is based on data from the European Jewish Congress and the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism, Tel-Aviv University; but I remain sceptical.

Anti-Israel rhetoric in Ireland is commonplace, and the press regularly prints diatribes against the Jewish state. A particularly galling example of this occurred when the Irish Examiner, a newspaper with a long history and a claimed readership of 189,000 per day (but a circulation of about 37,000), published an op-ed piece on July 31 by a little-known journalist, Victoria White, the wife of Eamonn Ryan, leader of the Green Party in the Irish parliament, the Dáil.

Entitled, "We are washing our hands of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians", this piece was an uncompromising diatribe, a spittle-flecked assault on Israel that dragged out the usual false claims of "ethnic cleansing" during Israel's War of Independence in 1947 and 1948.

Ms. White seems either to have stumbled on or been given an infamous and widely discredited book by an anti-Israel Israeli "historian," Ilan Pappé. His book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006), has long been castigated as a non-history in which facts are distorted, important information disregarded, and only one side of the story told. There is no space here to write a review of Pappé's fiction, but it is the sort of book, like the equally discredited, totally fraudulent "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," that poorly educated pro-Palestinian activists revel in without setting eyes on other histories by far better historians than Pappé.

It is obvious that White has not read anything else. She does not quote even once from any of the major historical studies of this crucial period, such as Efraim Karsh's deeply-researched Palestine Betrayed (2010) or Benny Morris's archive-based re-evaluation, 1948: The First Arab-Israeli War. White thinks she knows all the answers. She does not.

Now, an op-ed like White's in a small Irish newspaper may be small enough beer in itself, yet it is important to comment on what it stands for. White may be taken to stand for that vast brood of anti-Israel writers, journalists, and hacks who cobble together a warped narrative out of one or two books and a couple of pamphlets by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, while quite happily dismissing professional historians who work on archival material from across a mountain of sources.

The demonization of Israel through false or simplistic images of the struggle for Israel's independence has penetrated right to the heart of the pro-Palestinian soul. Like most amateurs, White never checks or cross-checks her sources. She takes sides without any mastery of the facts, and fetishizes Palestinian victimhood as if it were the golden standard by which all moral issues must be judged. So her diatribe merits a rational, historical refutation.

Where better to start than the beginning, five lines into her argument, where she says that, in Ilan Pappé's book, "I read about the campaign to ethnically cleanse the city of Haifa of Palestinians." "Oh dear," I thought, "not Haifa." She could not have chosen a worse example, whether she had studied for years or just stuck a pin in the map.

There was no "ethnic cleansing" in Haifa. What happened is closely recorded by Arab, Israeli, British and even American observers, and sources cited by Efraim Karsh in Palestine Betrayed. In a chapter entitled, "Fleeing Haifa," they paint a picture totally at odds with Pappé's fiction. White evidently does not understand the proper context here, namely that, following the UN decision to partition the Palestine Mandate (then under British control), the Jews gladly accepted their much diminished portion of the territory. The Arabs did not, and instead embarked on a Civil War. When the Jews finally established their state as the British took themselves off back to Blighty, seven armies from various Arab nations invaded Israel, provoking a war that lasted until the signing of an armistice agreement on July 20, 1949, following an astonishing Israeli victory and much anguish, which still continues, for those Arabs who had set out to exterminate the Jews in a religious war.[1]

At that time, Haifa was the second city in Mandated Palestine and the key seaport. It was inhabited almost equally by Jews and Arabs, between whom relations were in the main cordial. After the war, a Palestinian myth about Haifa grew up and dominated world perceptions of the "expulsion" of Arabs from the city. We now have reliable documents, however, that tell another story.

We now know that Arabs started fleeing from Haifa even before the 1947 partition plan, when wealthy Haifan Arabs, knowing that war was inevitable — as they planned to launch it — started to go to places they considered safe. In October 1947, a British intelligence briefing stated that "leading Arab personalities are acting on the assumption that disturbances are near at hand, and have already evacuated their families to neighboring Arab countries."[2]

By November, more were fleeing, even though no Jews had threatened them. Things got worse by December of that year, when 15,000-20,000 Arabs, out of a population of almost 71,000, had already fled.

By that time, Syrian, Lebanese and Iraqi volunteers had entered Haifa with the aim of driving out the Jews. There was general pandemonium and growing fear -- a fear greatly exacerbated by scaremongering propaganda from the Arab radio and press. In January, the National Committee, Haifa's leading Arab body, started to recommend mass flight. They followed this up in March by ordering the removal from the city of women and children. By early April, the population had dropped to about half its original size.

It was April 21-22 when the Hagana troops were forced to engage in a battle with armed Arab irregular troops. The Jewish Zone Commander issued a guarantee that if the Arabs chose to remain, they would enjoy equality and peace. The city's Jewish Mayor, the elderly Shabtai Levy, pleaded with the Arab leadership to let his Arab citizens stay, but they turned him down. Those same Arab leaders were asked to sign an extremely fair truce, but they responded by declaring, "We will not sign. All is already lost, and it does not matter if everyone is killed so long as we do not sign the document." Within days, only 3,000 Arabs remained in the town.

On the 27th of April, the Jewish force distributed a leaflet that urged fleeing Arabs to return. "Peace and order reign supreme across the town and every resident can return to his free life and resume his regular work in peace and security."[3] There were radio broadcasts to this same effect, in all of which reassurance was given to the Arabs. This came after the Hagana had taken the town. The Hagana's behavior was the exact opposite of "ethnic cleansing." Once order was restored, Arabs were appointed to key posts, and part of the supplies originally earmarked for the Jewish inhabitants were given freely to the Arabs.

Is this Zionist propaganda? Well, the documents are there, and the American Vice-Consul Aubrey Lipincott along with British officers and the British High Commissioner, Sir Alan Cunningham, stated at the time that the Arabs were encouraging flight while the Jews were doing all in their power to prevent it. On April 25, Lippincott cabled Washington: "Jews hope poverty will cause laborers [to] return [to] Haifa as many are already doing despite Arab attempts [to] persuade them [to] keep out."[4] The following day, the British district superintendent of police remarked that, "every effort is being made by the Jews to persuade the Arab populace to stay and carry on with their normal lives, to get their shops and businesses open, and to be assured that their lives and interests will be safe."

On April 28, the U.S. consul sent another cable: "Reportedly Arab Higher Committee ordering all Arabs [to] leave." And on that same day, Cunningham reported that "British authorities in Haifa have formed the impression that total evacuation is being urged on the Haifa Arabs from higher Arab quarters and that the townsfolk themselves are against it."[5]

Karsh summarizes the situation at the end of a separate article: "In Haifa, one of the largest and most dramatic locales of the Palestinian exodus, not only had half the Arab community fled the city before the final battle was joined, but another 5,000-15,000 apparently left voluntarily during the fighting while the rest, some 15,000-25,000 souls, were ordered or bullied into leaving against their wishes, almost certainly on the instructions of the Arab Higher Committee. The crime was exclusively of Arab making. There was no Jewish grand design to force this departure, nor was there a psychological 'blitz.' To the contrary, both the Haifa Jewish leadership and the Hagana went to great lengths to convince the Arabs to stay.

"What happened in Haifa reflected the wider Jewish attitude in Palestine. All deliberations of the Jewish leadership regarding the transition to statehood were based on the assumption that, in the Jewish state that would arise with the termination of the British Mandate, Palestine's Arabs would remain as equal citizens."[6]

Perhaps this is enough to show convincingly that the repeated claim of "ethnic cleansing" in 1947-48 is an outright lie. Countless other documents and public records tell this same story. It is a matter of history, and not speculation for ill-informed journalists to make merry with.

Jewish fighters during the Battle of Haifa. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

The story of an absence of ethnic cleansing in Haifa is only part of the much wider story of the war as a whole, during which Arab leaders and military commanders ordered Palestinian Arabs to leave in order to allow the Arab Liberation Army, the Arab Legion, and other Arab armies to get through so they could more easily slaughter the Jews. In other places, as in Haifa, Arab inhabitants fled but were driven out in only one instance, after intense fighting between Israeli troops and foreign invading troops supplemented by local residents. This happened in the joint towns of Lydda (now Lod) and Ramla, taken by Israeli forces in July 1948. "This," writes Karsh, "was the first, indeed the only, instance in the war where a substantial urban population was driven out by Jewish or Israeli forces."[7]

In all places where Arab inhabitants refused to fight against Israeli forces, everyone stayed put and, after the war, settled down as respected Arab citizens of Israel. There was no ethnic cleansing and no expulsion from Shafa Amr, Bu'eina, Uzayr, Ilut, Kafr Kanna, Kafr Manda, Rummana, 'Ayn Mahil, Tur'an, Iksal, Dabburiyya, Reina, Sakhnin, Hurfaysh, Fasuta, Dayr Asad, Dayr Hanna, Sajur, Rama, Nahf, Jish, Majd Kurum. And even settlements where heavy fighting took place were left intact. Today, Israelis and tourists flock to Abu Ghosh for the Arab restaurants there, still run by Israeli Arabs who, for centuries, have been providing welcome hospitality to sojourners near Jerusalem.

When Israeli troops took Nazareth in June, strict orders were given that no holy places were to be desecrated in the smallest way. David Ben Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, gave an even blunter order: "No people are to be moved from Nazareth".[8]

Let Benny Morris have the final word: "Neither Ben-Gurion nor the Zionist movement 'planned' the displacement of the 700,000-odd Arabs who moved or were removed from their homes in 1948. There was no such plan or blanket policy. Transfer was never adopted by the Zionist movement as part of its platform; on the contrary, the movement always accepted that the Jewish state that arose would contain a sizeable Arab minority."[9]

Victoria White, like so many haters of Israel, bases wild claims on invalid information. She refers to incidents of Israeli massacres at Deir Yassin and Sasa. There is no doubt that Israeli forces behaved badly in both incidents, but they happened in time of war and in the teeth of fierce fighting on the Arab side. The story of a great massacre at Deir Yassin was blown up out of all proportion by Arab propagandists. Between 100 and 120 villagers died (many, perhaps most, of them combatants). These figures were immediately inflated to 254 by almost everyone. Before the fighting there, the Etzel and Lehi troops were specifically ordered not to kill women, children or POWs.[10]

At Sasa only 60 died. White also mentions a massacre of 230 Arabs at Tantura. The only source for this is her old friend Ilan Pappé. In fact, just over 70 villagers were killed, not in a 'massacre' but when they put up a hard resistance to Israeli troops fighting in an all-out war for their country's survival.

The truth is that Israeli alleged "war crimes" in 1948 pale in comparison with Allied crimes and massacres during World War Two, which included many killings of German and Italian prisoners of war. Such crimes, though despicable, were a direct result of fighting an enemy whose every action was a crime. Placed within that context, the small number of Israeli excesses and the tiny number of rapes — about one dozen recorded — committed by Israel soldiers do not lose their moral censure, but acquire a very different context. What's worse, White is happy to retail exaggerated stories of Israeli misconduct yet totally avoids any reference to massacres committed in cold blood by Arab soldiers: the fighting on May 12-15 at the Etzion Bloc, when the Jewish defenders surrendered and 240 men and women were slaughtered; the Hebron massacre of 1929, when 67 Jews were murdered, or the infamous ambush of a convoy of lecturers, students, nurses and doctors travelling to Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital, when 78 Jews were murdered, most of them roasted alive. Doesn't that bear telling? Wasn't that a war crime? Do I sense, from Pappé's and White's lack of balance, that only Jews commit terrible deeds, even when they don't?

Anti-Israel propaganda has been driven from the start by lies, distortions, and a massive re-writing of history. Blame for everything is piled on the Jews, while the crimes of the Arabs, including the Palestinians, are exonerated. Israel was and is a legally established state, and the 1947-48 war was initiated, sustained, and fought as a jihad by Arabs in an attempt to kill as many Jews as possible two years after the end of the Holocaust.

The charges against Israel — just like those being made today over Gaza — must be refuted one by one through the judicious use of accurate historical facts, an emphasis on the morality of Israel's struggle to survive, an equal stress on the immorality of those who seek to wipe the tiny nation out, and a firm refutation of charges brought by the ignorant and the gullible.

[1] On the 1948-49 war as religious in character, see Morris, 1948, pp. 393-4 and index under "jihad". And see "Benny Morris: 'The 1948 War Was an Islamic Holy War'", Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2010, pp. 63-69.
[2] Sixth Airborne Division, "Weekly Intelligence Summary No. 61, Based on Information Received up to Oct. 23, 1947, WO 275/120, p. 3; "Fortnightly Intelligence Newsletter No. 54," issued by HQ British Troops in Palestine, Nov. 8, 1947, WO 275/64, p.2. Cited Karsh, Palestine Betrayed, p. 124.
[3] Quoted Karsh, Palestine, p. 138.
[4] Ibid, p. 139.
[5] Ibid, pp. 141-42.
[6] Efraim Karsh, "Were the Palestinians expelled?", Commentary Magazine, 1 July 2000.
[7] Quoted Karsh, Palestine, p. 216
[8] Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited. Cambridge, 2004, pp.419-420.
[9] Morris, unpublished letter to the Independent, reproduced in Tom Gross, "Benny Morris responds to 'numerous historical errors' in The Independent", Mideast Dispatch Archive, 6 Dec., 2006
[10] Morris, 1948, pp. 126-27.

Denis MacEoin


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Jonathan Spyer: The IS-Kurdish War

by Jonathan Spyer

"Eighty years ago, they joined three nations together and formed Iraq. This mistake must not be repeated … The solution is a breakup," says General Maghdid Haraki.

The Kurdish peshmerga officer is speaking from the front lines in Khazar, northern Iraq. His position is only 45 kilometres northwest of Erbil, capital of the autonomous Kurdish regional government (KRG), which along with Sunni and Shiite Arab lands makes up modern Iraq.

Today, not only the existence of Iraq is in jeopardy. So is the existence of the KRG itself, assailed by the Islamic State of Iraq & Al-Sham (ISIS), whose harsh brand of Islam is terrifying locals and appalling the world.

A single war between ISIS and the Kurds is now under way, stretching along an enormous front line from Jalawla, near the Iraq-Iran border, all the way to Jarabulus on the frontier between Syria and Turkey.

On the jihadi side of the line, the Iraqi-Syrian border no longer exists. ISIS now controls huge swaths of Syria and Iraq, and will continue to do so unless and until it is destroyed.

After their lightning advance from Mount Sinjar in early August, the jihadis have dug in on three sides of Erbil. Facing them are Gen. Haraki and the peshmerga.

The front lines are quiet for now, mainly because U.S. air strikes Aug. 8 stemmed the Islamists' headlong rush toward the Kurdish capital. But the general and his men know the quiet is likely to be only transient.

To reach Erbil, ISIS forces would have to advance over bare, flat ground. Were they to attempt this, the Kurds would request the help of the Americans and the ISIS force would be obliterated. ISIS knows this, too. Hence the strange and sullen silence.

Nevertheless, Erbil remains tense. The city is swollen with refugees — Chaldean Christians from Mosul, Yezidis from the Sinjar area — who understand all too well what any jihadi advance would mean for them, non-Muslim minorities who were smart or lucky enough to get away in time.

They are living in tent encampments in open areas of Erbil and in the half-built grey structures that characterize this place, which had the feel of a boom town until fairly recently.

Now, the bars and restaurants catering for foreigners are largely empty. Employees of the big foreign oil firms and consular staff left hurriedly when the jihadis seemed to be about to descend. Many residents also fled.

ISIS has not forgotten Erbil. A terror campaign has begun here. There are mysterious explosions of a type familiar to residents of Iraqi cities further south. Last week, a car bomb ripped through a central neighbourhood, wounding several people.

But Kurdish forces are hunkering down, facing the jihadis with grim determination. With the help of U.S. air cover and Iraqi special fores, they are beginning to reconquer some of the areas lost. Most significantly, these include oilfields near Mosul, retaken this week, and the Mosul Dam, which provides water and electricity for much of northern Iraq.

The Kurds are well aware of what an ISIS victory would mean. After the jihadis took the Mount Sinjar area (Shinghal in Kurdish), they unleashed a series of atrocities that shocked even this most hardened of lands.

At the fly-blown Newroz refugee camp in northern Syria, Yezidi refugees described what happened when ISIS fighters appeared in their villages near the mountain and the peshmerga fled.

"We tried to withdraw all the women and kids from the village. People who could get to the mountains were safe, people who stayed were killed," said Kawa, 30, who was lucky enough to escape with some of his family.

The refugees' bitterness at their abandonment by the peshmerga remains raw and palpable. But still more tangible is the sense of stark horror as they recall the jihadis' actions.

"When ISIS came to the village, they took all the women, and any man who could hold a weapon was slaughtered. Now they are selling Yezidi women for $5 in the slave market in Mosul," Kawa says.

"My parents were too old and sick to come with us, and we had to leave them. We don't know what has happened to them. Also, some people didn't have fuel for their cars, and those ones couldn't get to the mountain."

The man and his family were among the lucky ones, rescued by members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Turkish Kurds, who led them to safety in Syria.

The peshmerga's failure to hold the line at Sinjar was a shock, both for observers and inhabitants of Kurdish northern Iraq. Gen. Haraki blames it on the help afforded ISIS by local Sunni Arabs.

In this regard, at least, he is in agreement with the refugees at Newroz.

"Our neighbours in Iraq became our enemies, and killed us," says Kawa's wife.

But the peshmerga's initial failure was not only the product of local Sunni support for ISIS. These once-vaunted fighters had not taken part in combat for 20 years. Deprived of modern equipment by the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad and the West, which remains suspicious of Kurdish separatist ambitions, they found themselves outgunned and initially outfought by the jihadi blitzkrieg.

But, as the refugees' testimony suggests, other Kurdish forces appeared at Mount Sinjar mountain — the ragged and formidable fighters of the Kurdish YPG (People's Protection Units) militia from Syria and PKK guerrillas from Turkey.

Armed only with Kalashnikovs and light machine guns, but with much combat experience, these fighters succeeded in opening a road from Sinjar up to Jezza, Rumeilan and then to the refugee camp outside Derik. Tens of thousands of lives may have been saved because of this action.

The YPG and ISIS are old acquaintances. The Kurds have been battling the jihadis since late 2012 to maintain two Kurdish-controlled enclaves on the border between Syria and Turkey, Jazeera and Kobani.

ISIS has been notably unsuccessful in its efforts to make progress in this little-reported front of the Syrian war.

The opening of the corridor from Mount Sinjar was the most notable achievement yet for the YPG/PKK.

It indicates that, for all their undoubted fanaticism, the jihadis are not invincible and can be turned back when met by equal commitment and greater skill.

On the Kurdish side, the peshmerga and the YPG, and their very different political masters are for now allied in the face of the common threat. They sense both threat and opportunity in the break-up of Syria and Iraq.

The threat can be seen 45 km outside of the KRG capital, in the silent but glowering positions of the Islamic State.

The opportunity, meanwhile, is that Kurdish sovereignty has already emerged as a more benign successor entity in a contiguous line across the old border — and Kurdish forces are today the only ones engaged in earnest against a savage force universally acknowledged to constitute an enemy of humanity.

Gen. Haraki's statement a break-up of Iraq represents the solution may well be heard more widely and insistently in the months ahead. This is a war to create new borders, and to hold back the advance of a savagery not seen in the Middle East for a generation.

Jonathan Spyer, a fellow at the Middle East Forum, is a Jerusalem-based journalist and researcher.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

A Shadow of a Doubt

by Dror Eydar

They never let up. The geniuses who marketed the Oslo Accords as though they would make all our dreams come true; who promised in every possible media outlet that the withdrawal from Gaza and the destruction of Gush Katif would improve Israel's security, who laughed off the sobering forecasts of rocket fire on Ashkelon and Ashdod; who actively supported an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights in order to convince Syrian President Bashar Assad to sign a peace agreement with us, because it would improve our security, obviously. 

It was those same geniuses who watched the riots in Tahrir Square and saw an "Arab Spring" involving only Facebook activists; who criticized the Israeli government for staying back and neglecting to applaud the calls for freedom and democracy at the Muslim Brotherhood demonstrations there; who could easily read on well-known sites (MEMRI, Palestinian Media Watch and more) about flagrant incitement not just among Hamas but in the Palestinian Authority as well -- incitement against Israel's right to exist; who saw with their own eyes that Hamas prefer killing Jewish children over the welfare of their own people; who learned, like we all did, of the monstrous terrorist plan to infiltrate Gaza-vicinity Israeli communities over the upcoming holidays and execute a mega-terror attack involving kidnappings and possible conquest of the area by Hamas murderers. 

It is the same very smart people who are now looking around to see the Islamo-fascist madness of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, and now on the outskirts of Jordan; the Nusra Front in the Syrian Golan; global jihadist groups and al-Qaida in Sinai; Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iran with its accelerated pursuit of nuclear weapons. They have all come to the realization that the United States, under President Barack Obama, has almost entirely disappeared from the leadership of the free world. (In the videos released by the Islamic State group, it is not the act of beheading that is new, it is the fact that they are not in the least afraid of the U.S. On the contrary: They are challenging the U.S. to a duel, as humiliating as that is.) 

These smart people are seeing how worthless U.N. peacekeepers are as buffers or as enforcers of agreements, especially in this region. (This week, Ban Ki-moon's troops fled from the fighters belonging to the "peaceful religion" of Islam and sought refuge in our "apartheid" state.) Unlike the dim-witted foreign media, which is not familiar with the geography of the region, these smart people know exactly how far it is from Samaria to Kfar Saba, Tel Aviv or Ben-Gurion International Airport. They know that behind the friendly grandfatherly facade that has been created for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (he's so cute, that grandpa, whose grandson declared to the whole world that he and his family would never relinquish the demand to return to Safed), there are Hamas murderers. They know that if it weren't for the IDF guns, the Palestinian Authority wouldn't survive one hour, and neither would the Hashemite Kingdom in Jordan. 

Despite it all, these geniuses are still talking about a Palestinian state, just a stone's throw from Tel Aviv, which would mean the establishment of an insane Islamic caliphate within western Israel. These people claim that they are guided by morals, and that is why they are willing to risk the lives of millions of Jews in the name of their flaccid ideologies, not to mention the millions of Arabs who would be forced to spend their lives in an Islamic state where beheadings are considered entertainment. 

How many lies and how much hypocrisy is the public expected to consume? Who even still believes these claims? No one but a small cult of fanatic, orthodox leftists who worship diplomatic gods that have nothing to do with any rational observation of reality. Why are the same people invited to the television and radio studios time and again even after their forecasts have been disproven over and over by reality? How can anyone seriously listen to them?

* * *

This week, I spoke to a well-known media personality who told me that for years he had voted for left-wing parties (Labor and Meretz) but the recent war in Gaza convinced him to cross over to the Right. I had a similar conversation two weeks ago with another media personality. Let's hope that they, and others like them, will have the courage to come out of the closet. It would be an important contribution to the disillusionment of many among us who are still captivated by diplomatic fantasies. They understand that they are dealing with people at home who have trouble judging reality accurately. For example, they just heard that Israel was going to expropriate 1,000 acres of land and the doomsday prophets on the Left clamored to cry out: "a knife in Abbas' back" (Peace Now); "now is not the time" (when was it ever the time?) and much worse. 

Zionism (and before then, the Jewish Enlightenment movement in the 18th and 19th centuries) signaled the return of the Jewish people to history, from a ghost-like state to national and diplomatic resurrection. Until then, we had been swirling around in a mix of nationalities and peoples. Not living and not dead, existing nowhere, outside time and the normal rules of history, wandering, desirable for a time and then viciously expelled, constantly searching for a place to rest our feet.

Over the last 200 years, the pendulum of history changed direction from exile to redemption; from destruction to independence. The direction taken by the Jews is clear: a return to Zion -- to our ancient homeland. Some parts of the world do not accept the change and wish to put the Jewish genie back into the bottle for another 2,000 years. 

The war against the Jews' return to Zion is being waged on several fronts: Consistent prevention of Jewish establishment and sovereignty in Israel, vocal opposition to Jews actively defending themselves in their land, and a growing new breed of anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Israel and anti-Zionist activism. You can't blame them: after all, over the course of hundreds of years they had become accustomed to Jews who submissively accepted pogroms, murders and bitter religious persecution, as well as expulsions starting with Spain and ending with the gates of Auschwitz. So how dare we change the rules now and defend ourselves? We Jews must have gone crazy. 

The war is also against our sovereignty in our land. The name "Palestine" for Judea/Israel is the result of a Roman ploy during the second century, meant to sever the Jews' historic, religious and national link to their land. During the seventh century, Muslims came here and continued the destruction and expulsion of Jews. In an ironic twist of history,"Palestina" was the name given to the land of Israel, and specifically to Judea, by the Roman Emperor Hadrian after the Bar Kokhba revolt (132-135 C.E.). He chose to name it after the Philistines -- a sea people who had disappeared from the region hundreds of years earlier. And if we look at the Bible, we will find that the Philistines' main role was to prevent the tribes of Israel, and later the kings of Israel, from gaining sovereignty over the land of Israel. 

The use of the term Palestine is a perpetuation of Hadrian's plan. It is not Palestine that the Arabs of the region seek. Neither is it what the nations of the world seek. They don't care if there is one more or one less Arab state in this world just like they don't care that millions of Muslims have been slaughtered by other Muslims over the last ten years. It is not Palestine that they seek, but rather to erase the Jewish people from the tangible form of history. They seek to combat the Jews' return to Zion. "The name of Israel may be no more in remembrance" (Psalms 83:5).

In the face of doubt and despair it is important to look back and see where we were only 70 years ago, and what we have achieved since. This is sure to cheer us up. "Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to thee. As I live, saith the lord, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all as with an ornament, and gird thyself with them, like a bride" (Isaiah 49:18). We need patience. And faith.

Dror Eydar


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

An Illegal Arab Settlement in the West Bank?

by Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn

Another illegal settlement has arisen in the Judea-Samaria (West Bank) territories, the New York Times reports. Surely there will soon be an expression of “deep concern” from the Obama administration, a furious resolution from the United Nations Security Council, and a letter from twelve angry congressmen mobilized by J Street.

Oh, wait. It’s not a Jewish settlement — it’s an Arab settlement. Cancel the outrage!

A feature article in the New York Times on August 31 reports that the Palestinian Authority is building a new settlement called Rawabi. The first 600 apartments are already complete, out of a projected 6,000 units that will house an estimated 40,000 people.

While Jewish communities in the same area, with even larger populations, are called “settlements” by the Times and the rest of the world news media, Rawabi is for some reason characterized as a “town” and a “city.”

Why is one man’s community called a “settlement” and another’s a “town” ?

Because a “settlement” sounds like a foreign implant — something that has no business being there. A “town” sounds normal and natural. Supporters of the Palestinian cause — whether in the news media, the State Department, or misnamed “peace” groups — want to award Judea and Samaria to the Palestinian Arabs. They want everyone to recognize those territories to be “Palestinian.”

The problem they face is that there are three significant obstacles to calling the territories “Palestinian”:  international law, history, and a text of religious history called the Bible.

According to international law, Jews have at least as much right as Arabs to build towns in Judea and Samaria. All of the documents related to the governing of those territories throughout the past century — the Balfour Declaration, the League of Nations Mandate, and so on–specifically endorse the right of Jews to build there. The territories have never been part of a “Palestinian” state which made them legally off-limits to Jews.

And according to the historical record, Judea and Samaria belong to the Jews. That’s why they have been called “Judea and Samaria” since ancient times. The Jews had a sovereign state there for nearly a thousand years, then maintained a continuous presence for the past 3,000 years. Arab roots in the area are remarkably shallow: the vast majority of the Arab residents are the children or grandchildren of migrants from Arab countries who immigrated when the Jews began developing the land in the 1920s and 1930s. The local Arabs traditionally called themselves “southern Syrians” and never claimed any separate “Palestinian” identity until they began using it as a propaganda weapon against Israel in the 1960s.

Tens of millions of Bible believing Christians in America, and many more around the world, join millions of Jews in acknowledging that the Bible repeatedly and unambiguously refers to Judea and Samaria as the heart of the Jewish national homeland. As birth certificates go, that’s pretty strong.

That’s a lot for proponents of the Palestinian cause to overcome. Some of them have used terrorism to try to intimidate Israel into withdrawing. Some have used threats of boycotts and international isolation to frighten the Israeli public and its Diaspora supporters.

And some use the weapon of language to subtly wage war, wielding labels and slogans and assumptions as rhetorical swords to slash their opponents. Exhibit A: The illegal settlement of Rawabi.

Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn


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Amir Taheri: Hamas and the Delusion of Victory

by Amir Taheri

While victory has a thousand fathers, defeat is always an orphan. The Latin proverb came to my mind the other day as I watched Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh boasting on live television about his group’s “historic victory” in the recent mini-war with Israel. 

The 90-minute harangue was interesting for at least one reason: Haniyeh punctured the global media’s narrative, according to which Israel triggered the mini-war, ostensibly to gain some unspecified advantage, while the world was distracted by the blood-fest organized by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in parts of northwest Iraq.

“We started the war by striking Haifa with rockets,” Haniyeh boasted, while wiping the sweat off his brow. 

The Hamas leader did not say who took the decision to start a war in which more than 2,000 Gazans died, nor how that decision was taken. In his vision, people count for nothing, except as cannon fodder to be used in an unequal war against a much stronger enemy, and in the absence of any credible strategy.

To hammer that point home, Haniyeh paid tribute to the handful of Hamas figures who died in the mini-war, while sailing over the fact that the overwhelming majority of those killed were civilians used as human shields. Nor did he seem too concerned about the fact that his victory was marked by the destruction of 90 percent of Gaza’s already meager infrastructure.

According to UN experts, it may take the enclave up to 20 years to rebuild what the Israelis destroyed. Some victory, indeed. Nevertheless, Haniyeh was right, at least in a sense, about having won a victory. He and his gunmen are still around, and in control of Gaza. Israel’s chicken-hawk Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, did an Ehud Olmert by starting what he did not have the guts to finish. He wreaked havoc in Gaza, but allowed Hamas not only to continue existing, but also to retain its iron grip on a helpless and unarmed population. Niccolò Machiavelli’s sound advice is not to wound a mortal enemy but let him live. Either kill him or turn him into a friend, he urged.

Haniyeh’s message to Gazans was clear: we start a war when we like and finish it when we like! You count for nothing! Worse still, it was clear that the decision to start a war had not been discussed even inside Hamas. A handful of men operating as a star chamber ran the macabre show.

However, Haniyeh’s boastful speech, in front of a crowd whose silence was more telling than the loudest of protests, may have been premature. A day later, it was the turn of the daily newspaper Kayhan, published by the office of the “Supreme Guide,” to claim “victory in Gaza” on behalf of the Khomeinist regime in Tehran.

In an editorial, the paper claimed that “the fate of the Middle East is decided here, in the Imam Khomeini Hussainiah in Tehran.” The paper quoted “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei as saying that, ostensibly to achieve similar victories, “the West Bank should also be armed like Gaza.”

The paper went on to praise Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, who was reshaping the Middle East on behalf of the “Supreme Guide.”

To back the claim, the Tehran official media splashed a series of messages from Hamas leaders thanking the Islamic Republic for backing them in the “Great Battle” against the “Zionist enemy,” all in the name of “Islamic solidarity.”

Some Tehran newspapers have a tradition of printing quotations from the late Ruhollah Khomeini, the mullah who founded the Islamic Republic, as examples of words of wisdom. The latest quote they published from Khomeini appeared to be in response to Hamas leaders’ talk of “Islamic solidarity.” The quote runs thus: “You must know that just being Muslim is of no use. You must also acknowledge the Islamic Republic.” (From Khomeini’s Sahifat al-Nour, Vol. 18, page 198).

In other words, the message to Hamas leaders is: there is no free lunch as far as Tehran is concerned. If we give you money and missiles, you ought to obey orders, as do the Lebanese Hezbollah and the gang of President Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus. The Islamic Republic does not want, indeed can’t have, allies. Like other empires, established or aspirant, it wants servants.

It is ultimately useless to debate who won the mini-war in Gaza. As the Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher, Sun Tzu, noted more than 2,000 years ago, no war is won unless one side admits defeat. 

Haniyeh cannot admit defeat because that would expose him to the charge of reckless adventurism, to say the least. He and his unnamed associates ignored the advice not only of Sun Tzu, but also Carl von Clausewitz, not to join a battle without having at least a 50 percent chance of winning it. To take one’s people into an unequal war is tantamount to leading them to the slaughter.

For his part, Netanyahu is unlikely to admit that he has lost the mini-war. Such an admission would spell the end of his tumultuous career. So he too claims victory by claiming that he has destroyed the bulk of Hamas’s rocket-launching infrastructure. That may or may not be true. However, that infrastructure could be quickly rebuilt, especially as Hamas would give it priority over rehousing the tens of thousands of unarmed Gazans made homeless. Lost rockets could also be quickly replaced from the same sources that provided the ones destroyed.

The latest Gaza war broke out because both Israel and Hamas found the status quo hard to bear. Hamas knew its support base was collapsing inside Gaza. Earlier this year, the US’s PEW Research Center global poll showed that 63 percent of Gazans had a negative opinion on Hamas. Interestingly, Hamas was slightly less disliked in the West Bank where 53 percent had a negative opinion of it. That was in line with a dramatic change of mood across the Muslim world, where between 50 percent (in Turkey) and 79 percent (in Nigeria) of people rejected radical Islamists.

The status quo that led to war has not changed in Gaza. Hamas is still there with only one strategy: firing occasional rockets against Israel. And Israel is still there with an aversion to having rockets fired against it.

If Haniyeh thinks that is a great victory, he had better seek treatment for an acute attack of delusion.

Amir Taheri was the executive editor-in-chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran from 1972 to 1979. He has worked at or written for innumerable publications, published eleven books, and has been a columnist for Asharq Al-Awsat since 1987.


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Caroline Glick: The Dilemma of the Jewish Leftist

by Caroline Glick


Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

During his yearlong captivity at the hands of the barbarians from Islamic State, Steven Sotloff’s colleagues in Israeli media organs purged all of his articles from their websites to erase his connections to Israel and hide the fact that he was an Israeli citizen. So, too, every effort was made to hide the fact that he was Jewish.

The reason was clear. Given the genocidal Jew-hatred endemic in jihadist doctrine, it was obvious that if Sotloff’s Judaism was exposed, he would have been singled out for torture and execution.

Much has been written since Islamic State released the video of its British executioner chopping off James Foley’s head last month. We have been told by leaders and commentators alike that with this singular crime, Islamic State awakened the sleeping lion of the West. That act of barbarism, we have been assured, will now force the US to lead a global coalition against this Islamic army of butchers.

Clearly Islamic State is not convinced. With the release of the Sotloff beheading video this week, it appears that Islamic State thinks its cinematographers will move the West in another direction – apathy.

Foley’s execution video ended with the preview of coming attractions for the Sotloff execution video.

And the Sotloff execution video ended with the preview of a British hostage’s execution video.

By releasing the films gradually, Islamic State is apparently trying to routinize beheadings. Its leaders are probably betting that by the seventh or eighth beheading video, we will greet the violence with a shrug of our shoulders.

In this, Islamic State is channeling Iran, the PLO, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Taliban.

No, it isn’t that all these terror-supporting regimes and terror groups have engaged in beheading. It is simply that when they began engaging in terrorism, their actions shocked the civilized world until their actions didn’t shock the civilized world anymore.

Once the shock wore off, these terror states and enterprises began enjoying the stature of legitimate parties to a political dispute. As Islamic State sees it, it is only a matter of time before it too is accepted as a legitimate force in world affairs.

To understand why its gamble may well pay off, it is worth considering a seemingly unrelated matter.

At the beginning of the week, the ultra-Orthodox Lev Tahor group was expelled from a Mayan village in Guatemala. Earlier this year Lev Tahor members had fled to Guatemala from Canada.

They left Canada to evade a child abuse probe.

The group set up shop in Canada after fleeing Israel, due to similar charges.

Lev Tahor is a fanatical cult that numbers a few hundred members. Its women and girls are clad in all-black robes and covered from head to toe. The only thing they are allowed to expose is their faces.

According to Canadian child services authorities, Lev Tahor married off girls as young as 12. Its members routinely engage in polygamy. Child abuse, including forced medication with unprescribed psychiatric drugs and starvation, is allegedly rampant.

Moreover, according to Canadian officials, the cult denies its children access to education.

Lev Tahor’s alleged behavioral norms are an affront to the rule of law and human rights. Although the cult was apparently expelled from the village in Guatemala due to anti-Semitism, its members fled both the Canadian and the Israeli authorities to evade prosecution.

And yet for all of its alleged moral depravity and criminal behavior, that fact is that Lev Tahor’s treatment of its girls is certainly no worse, and in many respects better, than the treatment that Islamic societies mete out on their girls and women. And the sad truth is that for hundreds of thousands of Muslim women and girls in the West, their residency in human rights-protecting societies has failed to protect them.

Consider female genital mutilation, which Lev Tahor is not accused of engaging in.

In late July, Islamic State forces in Mosul, Iraq, decreed that all girls and women between the ages of 12 and 42 must have their genitals mutilated.

The order was an act of pure evil. Yet it was not particularly controversial within the Islamist context Islamic State operates.

As Soeren Kern wrote for the Gatestone Institute last July, throughout the world, some 140 million women and girls, the overwhelming majority of whom are Muslims, have been subjected to the barbaric practice. Three million girls under the age of 15 are forced to undergo clitoridectomies each year.

In Europe, at least 180,000 Muslim females have undergone this defilement. According to British authorities, in England alone, at least 20,000 girls are at risk of “being cut” each year.

Yet, despite the cruelty and degradation inherent to female genital mutilation, and despite the fact that under British law, anyone found guilty of carrying out this practice is supposed to face criminal charges and up to 14 years in prison, so far no one has been convicted and only a five or six offenders have even been charged for the crime.

There are two principal causes for British authorities’ failure to protect Muslim girls residing in England. First, neither the children themselves, who live in a permanent state of terror and abuse, nor their communities, which turn a blind eye, and so condone the practice, are willing to come forward and finger those responsible for this endemic abuse and violence.

And second, non-Islamic British authorities, including welfare workers and teachers, who are in a position to protect the children, are unwilling to stick their necks out. This unwillingness has two causes.

First, they fear for their lives. The murder of Theo van Gogh and the repeated attempts by Muslim fanatics to execute the Danish cartoonists who drew the caricatures of Muhammad are central components of the cost-benefit analysis most Westerners carry out when considering whether or not to get involved with human rights abuses carried out by Muslims.

Second, they fear excommunication from and defamation at the hands of the Left. Over the past 15 years, the international Left has consistently expanded its political alliance with Islamists in the West.

Among other things, this alliance has required the Left to turn a blind eye to barbaric Islamic practices like female genital mutilation and rape and to defame those who dare to openly oppose these reactionary, obscene behaviors as Islamophobic racists.

And so we have a situation where, both at home and abroad, the West has become habituated to Islamic barbarism and passive in the face of its expanding threat to their lives and their way of life both abroad and at home. Observing this behavior, clearly Islamic State’s terror masters are betting that once habituated to the beheading of Westerners, the West will yawn and go to sleep as Islamic State expands its conquests to additional countries.

It isn’t that the Westerners, led by the leftist elite, lack the ability to feel or express moral outrage. It is just that they refuse to direct it against Islamic jihadists.

And this brings us back to their political alliance with the Islamists.

The only meaningful commonality between Islamist and leftist dogma is hatred for Jews with power, first and foremost for Israel. And the singular creation of this alliance is the sides’ joint determination that it isn’t racist to hate the Jewish state, or Jews who refuse to condemn it.

In this state of affairs, the only outlet that leftists have for their moral outrage is Israel. Because while they fear being called racist, they know that being anti-Semitic will not expose them to charges of racism.

And they know Jews won’t assault them for attacking Israel and its supporters. So they project all the crimes perpetrated by Islamic fanatics on Israel.

For instance, this week Megan Marzec, the president of Ohio University’s Student Senate, posted a video of herself dousing herself in a bucket of “blood.”

Marzec explained, “This bucket of blood symbolizes the thousands of displaced and murdered Palestinians – atrocities which OU is directly complacent in [sic] through cultural and economic ties with the Israeli state.”

In other words, she accused Israel of the crimes Hamas seeks to inflict on Israel, and of the crimes that Islamist forces, such as al-Qaida, Islamic State and Boko Haram, are currently carrying out in their areas of operations.

The growing prevalence of anti-Semitism in leftist circles has placed Jewish leftists in a vulnerable position.

Their ideological movement is denying Jews the right to self-defense and self-determination and siding with Islamists who seek to annihilate them. For a growing number of leftist Jews, their new status as members of a hated group has made them feel it necessary to publicly side with Israel’s enemies against it.

Consider the recent New York Times op-ed by Antony Lerman which ran under the title “The End of Liberal Zionism.”

Lerman insisted that there is no way to square Zionism with liberal values.

According to this disaffected Jewish leftist, “The only Zionism of any consequence today is xenophobic and exclusionary, a Jewish ethno-nationalism inspired by religious messianism. It is carrying out an open-ended project of national self-realization to be achieved through colonization and purification of the tribe.”

But of course, outside the fringes of Israeli society, no such movement exists.

Rather, Lerman is describing Islamic supremacism and, like his fellow leftists, projecting its pathologies on Israel, which Islamic supremacists seek to destroy.

Lerman quoted an article published a few weeks before his in The New York Review of Books by Jonathan Freedland titled “Liberal Zionism After Gaza.”

Freedland argued that as the two-state solution becomes more and more remote, liberal Zionists “will have to decide which of their political identities matters more, whether they are first a liberal or first a Zionist.”

But this is of course absurd. The only way a person can uphold liberal values is by being a Zionist. Israel is the only country in the region that is a human rights-respecting liberal democracy that is governed by the rule of law.

What is becoming more and more difficult is being a Zionist while being a leftist. As the Left becomes more and more tied to Islamic fanatics, anti-Semitism is going to become more and more of a staple of leftist dogma. And that anti-Semitism will express itself first and foremost as a virulent rejection of Israel and of Jews who refuse to disavow and condemn the Jewish state.

Sotloff reportedly maintained faith with his Judaism in secret while in captivity. He refused food on Yom Kippur and secretly prayed toward Jerusalem.

In so doing, he showed that the evil that controlled him physically, could not penetrate his soul. For this he died a Jewish hero.

Leftist Jews must take a lesson from Sotloff, who was reportedly a product of a Jewish-leftist worldview.

They should understand that the decision they are being required to make is not a choice between liberalism and Zionism, but between liberalism and a reactionary dogma that sits comfortably with genocidal Jew-haters and misogynist oppressors. It shouldn’t be a particularly difficult choice.

Caroline Glick is the Director of the David Horowitz Freedom Center's Israel Security Project and the Senior Contributing Editor of The Jerusalem Post. For more information on Ms. Glick's work, visit


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