Month: December 2014

Was IsrACTION day a cynical gesture?

Food bank investigation by the Sunday Mirror

As editor of the Jewish Media Agency I am being attacked on social media because I did not cover the recent IsrACTION day, held in the UK on Sunday December 21st.

IsrACTION day involved the purchasing of Israeli-made products from supermarkets and delivering the food to homeless shelters and local food banks.

With the slogan “Beat the Boycotts – Help the Homeless,” the nationwide campaign was led by Sussex Friends of Israel and Northwest Friends of Israel.

I am a passionate Zionist but the reason I took exception to this campaign is because it is quite obviously a publicity stunt –  a cynical gesture designed to raise the profile of certain grassroots Israel advocacy groups.

If the Jewish community wants to help the homeless, then it should do so without fuss. Homelessness and food poverty are serious issues. But Sussex Friends of Israel and Northwest Friends of Israel have hijacked these problems for their own self-promoting ends.

Yes, the end result is good – lots of food for the poor. But the motive behind IsrACTION day is questionable.

And that’s the reason why the I didn’t cover the story.

EVALUATING PALESTINIANISM

TableSeveral days ago, members of the European Parliament backed a compromise motion on Palestine by 498 votes to 88. After a deal among the main parties in the parliament, the motion stated: “The European parliament supports in principle recognition of Palestinian statehood and the two-state solution, and believes these should go hand in hand with the development of peace talks, which should be advanced.”

So what is the ideology behind a Palestinian state? Is Palestinianism a genuine liberation movement or is it an Arab strategy designed to undermine the legitimacy and security of the Jewish state?

By JMA editor Richard Mather 

Palestinianism is a global anti-Semitic ideology comprising the combined efforts of the Arab and Muslim world, the Left, the Far Right, the media, the UN and various non-governmental organisations. Its goal is the advancement of the dishonest Palestinian narrative and the destabilisation of the world’s only Jewish state, which also happens to be the only democratic nation in the Middle East. Palestinianists use the weapons of delegitimisation, defamation, disinformation, anti-Semitic propaganda, faked news footage, sanctions and boycotts to achieve their aims.

Palestinianists deny or falsify the Jewish people’s historical, legal (and biblical) ties to the land of Israel. Palestinianism is non-teleological, disparate, and ahistorical. It has no specific origin or aim other than the vilification of the Jewish people and the undermining of the State of Israel. It is not interested in the creation of democratic institutions or peaceful co-existence with Jews. Palestinianism encapsulates and advances violence, rupture, ahistoricity, instability and relativism, all of which are in conflict with liberal (and Hebraic) notions of time, history, truth, democracy and development.

Palestinianism is a political pastiche of Zionism. The Palestinian Arabs did not seek to establish a homeland until after the formation of the State of Israel, and even then they were more concerned with destroying the Jewish state than actually focusing on how to build their own democratic institutions. Once it was clear that the Arab states could not defeat Israel in the wars of 1947-9 and 1967, the Arabs had no choice but to invent a Palestinian nationalism, which involved the appropriation of Israeli land, especially Jerusalem and the Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria. The invention of Palestinianism – which is symbolised by the invention of the Nakba and the ambition to divide Jerusalem – is a political tool designed to undermine Israel’s existence and security.

Before the creation of Israel, the word “Palestinian” usually denoted the Jewish occupants of the Land of Israel. (That is why The Jerusalem Post used to be called The Palestine Post.) In a 1939 essay, George Orwell referred to the “Arabs” on the one hand and “Palestine Jews” on the other. All of which helps explain why Arab leaders like Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi told the Peel Commission in 1937: “There is no such country as Palestine. Palestine is a term the Zionists invented.”

In a sense, he was right. Never in history has there been a country called Palestine. As Arab historian Philip Hitti told the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry in 1946, “there is no such thing as Palestine in history.” In the years and decades preceding the establishment of the State of Israel, Arab riots and pogroms against British rule were not directed towards the creation of a Palestinian state. And the Arab massacres of Jews in the 1920s and 1930s were inspired by anti-Semitism, not by a desire for an independent Palestinian state.

In 1947, Arab leaders protesting the UN partition plan argued that Palestine was part of Syria. Indeed, before the 1960s, many Arab yearned for a “Greater Syria.” There was no Palestinian nation at the time of Israel’s independence and there was no demand for Palestinian statehood when Egypt controlled Gaza and Jordan occupied Judea and Samaria (“the West Bank”) from 1948 to 1967.

The words “Palestinian” and “Palestine” were only appropriated by a number of Arabs when it became clear that the Jewish state was a fact. Since the 1960s, the word “Palestinian” has been invested with a political significance designed to undermine Israel’s legitimacy.

Yasser Arafat, the icon of the Palestinianist movement, admitted that “the Palestinian people have no national identity.” And he went on to boast that he, as a “man of destiny,” will provide that identity “through conflict with Israel.”

And in an interview with a Dutch newspaper in 1977, PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein stated: “The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity.”

One of the enduring myths of the Arab-Israeli crisis is that the Palestinians are an indigenous people. Palestinians are not an ethnic sub-group. There is no such thing as an ethnic Palestinian. Arabs in Israel and the West Bank are ethnically identical to Arabs living in Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Egypt. The population in Gaza is largely Bedouin Arab in origin.

Furthermore, many of the Palestinian Arabs living in Israel in 1948 were themselves immigrants who came to the land in the wake of successful Zionist enterprises. The Zionists offered a better standard of living and higher wages than neighbouring Arab employers. Before the earliest Zionist settlers arrived at the end of the 19th century, the land was sparsely populated and desolate.

Palestinianism, then, is a recent invention. The sudden desire for a Palestinian state was, and still is, a tool to destabilise the State of Israel. But the problem for the Arabs is that there is neither an authentic Palestinian culture nor a genuine Palestinian history to build on. This may explain why the Palestinians are incapable of establishing a state, even after the Oslo Accords. Both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have failed to establish functioning democratic institutions precisely because they are not interested in doing so. Hamas in particular has done nothing to advance the security and prosperity of Gaza, preferring instead to build terror tunnels.

Whereas Zionism is rooted in thousands of years of culture, religious tradition and history, Palestinianism is groundless and bereft of originality. If Palestine is a state-in-waiting, then it is a state of mind, a figment of the Arab imagination.

A violation of the Jewish people’s biggest tragedy

A Facebook page (“I Acknowledge Apartheid Exists”) supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign has uploaded a modified image of Jewish concentration camp survivors holding anti-Zionist placards.

BDS-flyer

The manipulated picture shows prisoners of the Nazis holding up signs that read “Stop the Holocaust in Gaza,” “Free Palestine” and “Gaza the world’s biggest concentration camp.”

 

What can one say about this image? Cruel? Disgraceful? Obscene? No words can really sum up this picture. It is beyond words. An image such as this can only provoke a feeling of horror. The viewer senses that something sacrilegious has taken place. It is a malevolent violation of the Jewish people’s biggest tragedy.

Of course, the purpose of the image is to disturb and distress. It is meant to provoke widespread revulsion. And so it does. But it does more than that. It invokes a kind of moral panic – and that is why it’s so difficult to talk about the photo. No matter how many words we use, there is something inexhaustible about the image, always something that remains to be said. That’s what horror does to us. It renders us speechless, senseless, unable to formulate a satisfactory response.

[The original image, before it was manipulated, can be viewed at http://www.ushmm.org/lcmedia/photo/lc/image/66/66297.jpg]

 

THE ETHNIC CLEANSING OF JESUS THE JEW

jesus1Christian readers will know that November 30 2014 was Advent Sunday, marking the start of the season of Advent. Advent (which means “coming”) is a season observed in many Western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. In recent years, the birth and life of Jesus has been hijacked by the Palestinian movement, which seeks to portray Jesus as a Palestinian. This is often referred to as Christian Palestinianism.

In recent decades, the quest to rescue Jesus’ Jewish identity has yielded much fruit. Geza Vermes, Robert Eisenman, E.P Sanders, James Tabor, R. T. Herford, George Foot Moor and Hyam Maccoby are among those who have highlighted Jesus’ Jewish identity and origins. Combined with the shared interest in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Jews and Christians have found common ground in the exploration of the Jewish roots of Christianity.

Jesus was born of a Jewish woman in the Judean town of Bethlehem, and was given the Jewish name of “Yeshua,” literally “Joshua.” He was circumcised, attended synagogue services and the Temple, wore tassels, was referred to as “Rabbi,” and observed the Sabbath, Passover and Sukkots. He quoted from the Hebrew bible and clearly saw himself as fulfilling the scriptures in some way. He held the Torah in high esteem and reiterated the importance of the Shema. He also made it clear that he had “come for the lost sheep of Israel” and that “Salvation is of the Jews.”

However, Christian Palestinianism has a done a great deal to undermine this. The Palestinian Jesus falsehood is a shocking return to the “Jesus was an Aryan” falsehood of the Far Right or the Church-sanctioned portrayal of Jesus as a fair-skinned, blue-eyed gentile. The identicide of the Jewish Jesus is also redolent of an ancient heresy known as Gnosticism, sometimes described as a metaphysical anti-Semitism.

Ye’or, in her book Eurabia: the Euro-Arab Axis, writes of the theological similarities between Palestinianism and Marcion gnosticism, which rejects the Hebrew Bible and believes the God of Israel to be a lower entity than the God of the New Testament. Likewise, Christian Palestinianism either ignores the Hebrew scriptures or wants to ‘de-Zionise’ the prophecies that do not suit the Palestinian agenda. As with Marcionism, God is no longer the God of Israel with a special interest in the fate of the Jewish people, but the God of Palestine.

The ethnic cleansing of Jesus is part of a wider effort to de-Judaize the Jewish people in order to undermine their claim to the land of Israel. So as well as being de-chosen by God, the people of Israel are not even Jewish, according to some Christian Palestinianists. In the mid-1990s, the Palestinian Authority aired a program that claimed Palestinians are the real descendants of the biblical Israelites. One of the so-called experts who was invited to appear on the show was Jarid el-Qadaweh, who declared: “In my blood there is more of the Children of Israel than in that of Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu.” Mitri Raheb, the pastor of Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, has used the figure of Jesus to question the ethnic validity of the State of Israel:

“I’m sure if we were to do a DNA test between David, who was a Bethlehemite, and Jesus, born in Bethlehem, and Mitri, born just across the street from where Jesus was born, I’m sure the DNA will show that there is a trace. While, if you put King David, Jesus and Netanyahu, you will get nothing, because Netanyahu comes from an East European tribe who converted to Judaism in the Middle Ages.”

Like el-Qadaweh, Raheb claims the average Palestinian is native to the land and is genetically similar to Jesus. In contrast, the average Israeli is an interloper from eastern Europe and is genetically dissimilar from Jesus. This raises the controversial question: is there such a thing as a Jewish gene? Extensive DNA testing does show there is such a thing. Genetic studies on the Y chromosome show that modern Jewish populations have a predominantly Middle Eastern ancestry, thereby discrediting the theory that Ashkenazi Jews are descendants of the Khazars (a semi-nomadic Turkic people from the Middle Ages). But the question of “who is a Jew?” is wide open to interpretation and has been debated for thousands of years, sometimes with devastating consequences.

II

When Arafat made his first Christmas appearance in Bethlehem in 1995, he invoked the Christian nativity by crying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill towards men.” To which the crowd responded, “In spirit and blood we will redeem thee, O Palestine!”

Bethlehem obviously held a special place in Arafat’s heart. Not because he had any special love for Jesus and Christianity but because it was a political rallying point. Bethlehem, according to Arafat, was the “birthplace of the first Palestinian Christian, Jesus Christ.”

Arafat’s reference to the nativity is obviously a ploy to unite Muslims and Christian Arabs against Israel. In and of itself, this is unspectacular, but when placed in the wider context of Islamic replacement theology, the (mis)use of Jesus is sinister. (Arafat not only proclaimed that Jesus was a Palestinian but is “our Lord the Messiah,” which is an astonishing statement for a Muslim to make. Referring to Jesus as Lord is to detract from the strict monotheism of the faith, a grave sin known as shirk.)

The appropriation of the crucifixion by Muslim Palestinians in their war on Israel is puzzling. The image of the crucified Palestinian/Jesus is a common propaganda motif. And yet the Quran says that Jesus wasn’t put on the cross but was raised up to heaven. So, not only are Muslims committing an act of apostasy by referring to Jesus as “our Lord” they are even refuting their own sacred scripture by claiming Jesus was a crucified Palestinian. (This is not the only example of Muslims cherry-picking the Quran to suit their agenda. The Quran explicitly states the Land of Israel is a Jewish and not a Muslim inheritance.)

Other times, Jesus is referred to as a Shahid, a holy martyr of Islam. Arafat often referred to Jesus as the first Palestinian martyr, which is historically incorrect and is at odds with Islamic tradition. There are no references to Jesus as a Shahid in Islamic works, and it is impossible for Jesus to be a martyr if he did not die on the cross, which is the view of the Quran.

The final step in the Palestinianisation of Bethlehem is the fact that UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – has approved a Palestinian bid to categorise the Church of the Nativity (the birthplace of Jesus) as a World Heritage Site. UNESCO’s approval effectively endorses a specifically Palestinian culture and heritage that is distinct from the history of Israel.

Obviously, the invention of the Palestinian Jesus and the misuse of the crucifixion as a political weapon is just one more lethal narrative aimed at demonising Israel and is not an authentic reconciliation with Christianity. In fact, the Christian population in the West Bank has ebbed away under PA rule. And yet Christians in the West seem happy to play along with the pretence that nothing is amiss because they both share the same enemy – Israel.