anti-Zionism

Should Jews reclaim the words ‘Palestine’ and ‘Palestinian’?

MAGIC_1_PPPABy Richard Mather…

In a pair of recent articles for the Jewish Media Agency I explored the nature of Arab immigration in historic Palestine (i.e. before 1948) and also the way in which the names ‘Palestinian’ and ‘Palestine’ have been appropriated by Israel’s enemies for ideological purposes. I’m glad to say that both articles struck a chord with many readers and I was subsequently asked to write something that would combine both pieces of writing.

According to the most reliable statistics, most non-Jewish immigration to Palestine occurred in the 1800s and early 1900s (which explains why in the late 17th century not a single settlement had a name that was of Arabic origin). Demographer Roberto Bachi believes there were around 151,000 non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine in 1540. By 1800, the Muslim and Christian populations had risen to 268,000, rising to 489,000 by 1890, 589,000 in 1922, and swelling to just over 1.3 million in 1948.

Many of the non-Jewish migrants to Palestine came for several reasons. The Ottoman authorities, for instance, transferred a great many people to Palestine to put them to work on infrastructure projects and to outflank Jewish immigration. Furthermore, the  Zionist project was very attractive to Arabs who were drawn to Palestine by the good wages and healthcare offered by the Jews.  Indeed, the Arab population of Palestine increased the most in cities where there were large numbers of Jews. Between 1922 and 1947, the Arab population grew by 290 per cent in Haifa, 158 per cent in Jaffa and 131 per cent in Jerusalem. By contrast, the growth in Arab-majority towns was less dramatic: 37 per cent in Bethlehem, 42 per cent in Nablus and 78 per cent in Jenin.

During the British civil administration in Palestine (1920 to 1948), restrictions were placed on Jewish immigration in order to appease Arab troublemakers. However, there was significant illegal Arab immigration from Egypt, Transjordan and the Hauran region of Syria. The Peel Commission reported in 1937 that a “shortfall of land” was “due less to the amount of land acquired by Jews than to the increase in the Arab population.”

Arab immigration continued at a pace until the Jews declared independence in 1948. By the time the Jews declared autonomy,  the Muslim and Christian population had risen substantially. The fact that non-Jewish immigration continued right up until Israeli independence is borne out by the United Nations stipulation that any Arab refugee who had lived in Palestine for a mere two years prior to Jewish independence was entitled to refugee status.

So while it would be silly to argue that there were few Arabs living in Palestine in the late 19th and the early 20th centuries, the figures do show that the Arab population of Palestine largely comprised recent migrants from the Arab world and/or the Ottoman empire. This is important because it tells us that the postmodern notion of a deep-rooted Arab Palestinian culture is a sham. All the evidence points to the conspicuous absence of Arab culture. This explains why, historically, Arabs never talked about Palestinian identity – because there wasn’t one. They were Egyptian, Syrian, Moroccan, Iraqi, Yemeni, Balkan, Sudanese and Ottoman Arabs, and many of them expressed allegiance to a Greater Syria or a supranational caliphate. (Many others, to their credit, became steadfast citizens of Israel.)

So the erroneous (but commonly-held) belief that colonialist Jews invaded a country called Palestine and displaced its native inhabitants is completely false. For a start, the people of Palestine who have the deepest roots in the land are the Jews whose relatives and ancestors have lived there  (to varying degrees) for several thousand years. Secondly, most of the Arabs who fled Palestine between 1947-49 did so because they were sure their Arab compatriots from Egypt, Iraq et al would be victorious in making Palestine Judenrein.

It wasn’t until the mid-1960s that a semi-coherent Arab Palestinian identity came into being. Until then, the Arabs had refused to call themselves the Palestinian people because it was a epithet reserved for the Jews. When people talk of a Arabic Palestinian culture or history, they are being disingenuous: the only Palestinian culture or history of any note is Jewish. Arabic-speaking Palestinianism started in the 1960s and even this was couched in fervently anti-Zionist and Judeophobic terms – hardly a stable platform on which to build a nation.

Despite their successful efforts in deceiving the world, many Arab Palestinian leaders know the truth about the origins of their people. Egyptian-born Yasser Arafat made this very clear when he said, “The Palestinian people have no national identity. I, Yasser Arafat, man of destiny, will give them that identity through conflict with Israel.” And in a conversation with Dutch newspaper Trouw in March 1977, the leader of the pro-Syria as-Sa’iqa faction of the PLO, Zuheir Mohsen, remarked: “It is only for political reasons that we carefully underline our Palestinian identity […] yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity serves only tactical purposes. The founding of a Palestinian state is a new tool in the continuing battle against Israel.”

Why else do the people who claim to be Palestinians regularly turn down the possibility of an independent state alongside Israel? It’s because the Arabs themselves don’t really believe in a State of Palestine. Their only interest is abolishing the ample Jewish presence between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Jewish self-determination is anathema to many Muslims who, since the time of Muhammed, have tried to keep the Jews in a state of subjugation and dhimmitude. When Arab and/or BDS protestors call for Palestine to be free “from the river to the sea,” what they are really calling for is the genocide (or at best the suppression) of the Jews.

Many of the problems experienced by Israel stem from something very simple but profound –  the change of name. While it is totally understandable that the leaders of the Yishuv chose the name Israel for their state (Judea was another option), it has had unfortunate consequences. By rejecting the labels Palestine and Palestinian, the Jews circumvented their own local history and identity, and bequeathed both the name and heritage of Palestine to modern-day Arabs who have only a tenuous connection to the land. So we are now in a perverse situation where Palestinian Jews call themselves Israelis and the Ottoman/Arab peoples call themselves Palestinians. What’s worse is the fact that the latter now claim to have been the indigenous people of Palestine all along (since before the dinosaurs?) – and the world (which has always been a sucker for conspiracy theories) believes it.

Isn’t it time to remind the Arabs and the international community that the Jews are the true Palestinians? Why else would there be a Palestinian Talmud or a Jewish newspaper called The Palestine Post. Why, until the creation of Israel, were the Jews known as Palestinians? Why did Immanuel Kant refer to Jews in Europe as “the Palestinians among us”? Why does the 1939 flag of Palestine have a Star of David on it? Why was the journal of the Zionist Organisation of America called New Palestine? Why was the Israel Electric Company’s originally called the Palestine Electric Company? Why was the major funding arm of the World Zionist Organization called the Palestine Foundation Fund?

The answer: Because the word Palestine is a descriptive for the land that, for thousands of years, was the incubator for Judean identity.

(I am not proposing for a minute that Israel changes its name back to Palestine. After all, Palestine was a name foisted upon the Jews by Roman imperial aggressors. But I am saying that Jews should not let the Arabs and their Israelophobic supporters hijack the names ‘Palestine’ and ‘Palestinian’ as part of their delegitimisation campaign. Palestine was Jewish; it was never Arab. Language is everything. By relinquishing the proper use of words and removing them from their historical context, the truth of the matter is either degraded or lost altogether.)

All things considered, the Arabs since the 1960s claim to be Palestinians have done rather well. Having been on the losing side in various wars and skirmishes, and having sided with the Nazis during the 1930s and 1940s, the Arabic-speaking people of Palestine have managed to appropriate centuries of Judeo-Palestinian heritage, have turned their dirty terror war into a bogus human rights struggle, have received billions of dollars in aid, are able to make huge demands on foreign policymakers, have been offered a state of their own on several occasions, and are a cause celebre on the Left and in the liberal media.

A critic of mine recently said, “Well, all this may be true,  but the people who claim to be Palestinians are Palestinians because they say  they are and, as such, they deserve our sympathy.” The trouble is, how can I trust these self-proclaimed Palestinians who lie about their history and who are engaged in a long culture war against the Jewish people? By perpetuating the ridiculous myth that they are the indigenous people of Palestine who were kicked out by the wicked  Zionists, they do themselves a great disservice. (Historians will no doubt look back on this period and wonder how on earth the world was so deceived by the Arabs.) If the Palestinians do want a viable state (and there is little evidence that they do) then they must start acting like grown-ups.

And this means being open and honest about their identity and admitting that they are, in fact, an invention of Arafat’s Third World nationalism. There’s nothing necessarily wrong in that, but why can’t they be honest about it? It also means accepting the existence of a Judeo- Palestinian country called Israel; it means apologising for their role in the massacres of Jews in 1920, 1921, 1929, 1936 and 1947; it means apologising for the complicity of their leaders during the Holocaust; it means taking responsibility for the mistakes of the past and saying sorry for the countless deaths of Israeli civilians; and it means putting an end to the abhorrent anti-Zionist/pro-BDS propaganda that is fuelling anti-Semitism across the globe.

Only then will I consider the reality and destiny of an Arab-Palestinian people. Until then, they’ll get no sympathy from me.

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ANTI-ZIONISM IS INCITEMENT TO RACIAL HATRED

images_news_2012_04_26_freedom-center-poster_300_01There is to be a debate in Manchester town hall about flying the Palestinian flag following a 2,500-strong petition. The idea was put forward at the height of 2014 conflict in Israel/Gaza but critics say it would harm community relations. The move is bound to anger Communities Secretary Eric Pickles who recently claimed that councils which invent their own “municipal foreign policy” by flying the Palestinian flag are behaving “irresponsibly.”

Meanwhile, anti-Semitic incidents have soared by 80 per cent in Manchester over the past year. Incidents have included verbal abuse, physical attacks, vandalism, desecration of cemeteries and the boycotting of Kedem, a Jewish cosmetics shop. In 2014, 269 anti-Semitic hate crimes were recorded in Manchester – up from 131 in 2013 and 127 in 2012. Together Manchester and London represent three-quarters of all anti-Semitic hate crime in Britain.

According to Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, anti-Semitic reactions to tensions in the Middle East are the single biggest contributing factor. “We know from our figures that international events – such as the escalation of hostilities in Gaza – have had a significant impact within our communities and has motivated a large number of these hate crimes,” he stated.

Manchester has a good record when it comes to tackling hate crime. According to police, a hate crime is a crime committed against someone because of their disability, race or ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation and transgender identity. For the first time in the UK, police in Greater Manchester will officially record if a person who belongs to an alternative sub-culture has been a victim of hate crime.

This begs the question, should Greater Manchester Police lead the way once again by categorising anti-Zionist rhetoric and imagery as a hate crime? After all, the fifty-day protest outside Kedem in Manchester last year was clearly designed to incite racial hatred. When an individual or group threatened to harass a person or a group of people because of their pro-Israel attitudes, that is incitement to hatred. In the case of the Kedem protests, incitement took the form of words, pictures and videos. It also included information posted on YouTube and other social media.

In other words, much of the violence committed against Jews in Manchester during 2014 can probably be attributed to anti-Zionism. Of course, anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism, but it also something more. It is a hatred of the State of Israel and her supporters – both Jew and gentile. Because many anti-Zionists like to claim they’re not anti-Semitic, we also have to make a distinction. Without defining what it is we are trying to combat, how can we ever hope to defeat it? Anti-Zionism must be exposed as a particular kind of hatred if it is to contested.

Moreover, because a tiny minority of Jews are anti-Zionist, the term ‘anti-Semitism’ can be problematic. Anti-Zionism and anti-Zionist, then, are useful epithets that can be directed at both gentiles and Jews who incite hatred against the Jewish State and her supporters. In my view, anti-Zionism should be treated with the same public disgust as homophobia and misogyny. In other words, anti-Zionists should be publicly and legally ostracised.

Under UK law, “incitement to racial hatred” was established as an offence by the provisions of of the Public Order Act 1986, although it was first established as a criminal offence in the Race Relations Act 1976. The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 made publication of material that incited racial hatred an arrestable offence. Laws against incitement to hatred against religions were later established under the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006. The offense of “incitement to racial hatred” refers to deliberately provoking hatred of a racial group, distributing racist material to the public, inciting inflammatory rumours about an ethnic group, for the purpose of spreading racial discontent, making inflammatory public speeches and creating racist websites. All of this can be applied to the proliferation of anti-Zionist rhetoric and imagery in Manchester and elsewhere.

II

Let us not forget that Zionism was born out of Europe’s inability to accept Jews into their societies. After crusades, inquisitions, forced conversions, countless pogroms and the industrialised murder of six million Jews, the only option left to the Jewish people was/is to have a homeland. Now after having achieved the goal of Jewish self-determination in the Middle East, along comes anti-Zionism, which essentially denies Jews to a homeland. So where are Jews expected to go? Europe has made it clear that Jews are not welcome. Therefore, with nowhere else to go, the only logical alternative is the disappearance of the Jewish people. That is anti-Zionism and it is a form of racial hatred.

In other words, the core of the anti-Zionist worldview is the irrational and hateful belief that the Jews are not entitled to exist as a people, especially in their historic homeland in the Middle East.

Of course, criticism of Israeli policies – like criticism of any other country – is part and parcel of rational public discourse. Indeed, Israel’s media and Knesset members are not afraid of critiquing their own society. But drawing comparisons of Israel to that of the Nazis is a form of hate speech. Terms of abuse such as “Zio-Nazi” and “Zionists are the Nazis of the Middle East” should be classed as hate speech. Defacing the Israeli flag with a swastika is incitement to hatred and must be seen as such.

Applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation is incitement to hatred. Denying Israel’s right to exist and/or calling for the State of Israel to be dismantled or destroyed is a form of hate speech. Calling for a war against an entire country and attempting to abolish the Jewish State is incitement to genocide.

Until the police and the authorities understand that anti-Zionism is a particular problem, then no progress will be made. Perhaps one solution is to tackle anti-Zionist on campuses. When he was Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks spoke about the intimidation of Jewish students in Britain as “part of a long, slow, insidious process intended to undermine academic freedom and it must not be tolerated.”

For example, the University and College Union (UCU) has repeatedly called for a boycott of Israeli academics. In May 2011, UCU members voted to disassociate itself from the EU working definition of anti-Semitism. In disgust, four leading Jewish academics in Scotland quit the UCU and the British government called on the Equality and Human Rights Commission to investigate the union. At the same time, the UCU was given notice of the intent of a Jewish UCU member to sue for breach of the UK Equality Act (2010).

According to Lesley Klaff, senior lecturer in law at Sheffield Hallam University, by allowing anti-Zionist expression on campuses, university authorities are in breach of their own equality, diversity and anti-harassment policies in relation to Jewish staff and students. Such policies, she says, “are required by law to promote equality of opportunity for minorities and to protect them from harassment and ethnic hostility.”

Another solution to the problem of anti-Zionism is to demonstrate to students that supporting Israel is liberally progressive. Israel is a world leader in innovating green technology and the advancement of animal welfare. It has a free press, a trade union movement and several co-operatives. Women are guaranteed gender equality, Israeli Arabs have the right to vote and homosexuals enjoy full civil rights. These values, which are in short supply in the Middle East, are exactly the kind of values which progressives and students should champion.

At the same time, Israel advocates must continue to protest against the presence of anti-Zionist guest speakers at university events, and challenge the charities, organisations, NGOS and churches that set up their Israelophobic stalls during Freshers’ week. We also need to educate people. We must explain to students that it was Islam, not Zionism, that colonised Palestine in the seventh century and built a mosque on the Temple Mount. We must explain to people that the Palestinians and the Arab states collaborated with the Nazis and then rejected the UN partition plan because they didn’t want to share the land with Jews. We must point out that on at least six occasions since 1948, the Palestinian Arabs have refused the offer of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.

In short, a sustained campaign is needed – a campaign which highlights the progressive nature of Zionism and exposes the reactionary intolerance of those who wish to dismantle the only democracy in the Middle East. Meanwhile, we need a debate in the UK and the wider European Union over whether legislation is needed to to outlaw racist hate speech, which is used to incite violence.

Do British Jews have a future?

Israel_-_Boycott,_divest,_sanction

Speaking at a service in London to commemorate those killed in the terror attacks in Paris, British Home Secretary Theresa May has said the UK must redouble its efforts to “wipe out anti-Semitism.”

She added: “I never thought I would see the day when members of the Jewish community in the United Kingdom would say they were fearful of remaining here in the United Kingdom.”

So do Jews in Britain have a future? Yes, they do, but only if the British – especially politicians and the media – do something about their Israelophobic bigotry.

The driving force behind contemporary anti-Semitism is anti-Zionism. This prejudice usually involves prejudicial, stupid and vitriolic condemnation of Israel, with absurd characterisations of the Jewish state as an apartheid nation that tortures Arab children.

This is little different from accusing Jews of poisoning wells or using the blood of Christian children to make Passover bread.

Far too often, universities, political institutions, charities, churches and media outlets provide a platform for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists to disseminate their hatred of Zionism and therefore Jews.

If Theresa May is really committed to safeguarding British Jews, then she will speak out against the one-sided criticism of Israel and the culture of incitement before innocent Jews are killed in a kosher supermarket in London or Manchester.

In other words, the anti-Zionist hate speech must be challenged at the highest level.

 

 

 

Broken Britain: UK Jews suffer anti-Semitic backlash

In a fascinating article for The Tower Magazine Benjamin Kerstein convincingly argues that a global pogrom against Israel and the Jewish diaspora is being conducted by an alliance of anti-Semitic Islamists and Far Left agitators.

In recent weeks the Jewish community in Britain has seen its fair share of alarming hatred from this obscene Islamist-communist alliance. In the UK there has been a 36 per cent rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents since the start of Operation Protective Edge. Businesses in Manchester, Whitechapel, Brixton, Brighton and Birmingham have been attacked and/or forced to close because of pro-Palestinian protestors. Jews have been attacked in the street and the windows of a Belfast synagogue have been smashed.

But it is in Greater Manchester and London – home to Britain’s two largest Jewish communities – where Jews are experiencing the worst and most sustained anti-Semitic hatred. Protestors have barricaded businesses, thrown eggs and drink cans at Jewish pedestrians, and hurled torrents of racist abuse. Jews (and non-Jewish supporters of Israel) are regularly subjected to accusations of bloodletting and baby-killing, thus recalling the detested medieval blood libel.

Events in Manchester have come to symbolise the plight of British Jewry. The city centre has witnessed an unprecedented wave of anti-Semitism since the start of the Israeli-Hamas war. Pro-Palestinian protestors make Nazi salutes and make obscene comments about Jewish suffering under the Nazis. Zionism is routinely equated with genocide and Nazism. Shoppers are prevented from entering shops that sell Israeli products because they apparently “fund the Israeli war machine in Gaza.”

It is not just Jews who are suffering. Stores which have nothing to do with Israel have have pulled down the shutters because of the chaos. Shop workers who have no connection with the Middle East are intimidated and harassed by the marauders. The local economy is suffering and Manchester’s reputation as a multicultural and commercial powerhouse is under threat. Not surprisingly, the city council has had furious rows with the police who are blamed for not doing enough to prevent public disorder.

To be fair, the police have done their best to maintain a balance between the legal right to protest and the right for shops to trade freely. But they have been overwhelmed by the size and the persistence of the pro-Palestinian mob. A leading police chief has said the ongoing stand-off between pro-Palestinians and pro-Israelis could be the start of a breakdown in community cohesion. In my view, the ethnic and religious divide between Muslims and Jews in Manchester is now beyond repair.

The situation in London is just as bad. For the third time in a month, tens of thousands of anti-Semites have brought the capital to a standstill. Pro-Palestinian protestors have bullied their way through London’s streets, intimidating passers-by and verbally abusing Jews and anyone else who gets in their way. Douglas Murray, writing for The Spectator, has described these rallies as “disgusting” and “anti-Semitic.” These protestors, he says, are nowhere to be seen when Isis ravages Iraq or Boko Haram commits atrocities in Africa.

A new and disturbing development is the flying of the Islamic State flag in Britain. The black flag of jihad has been spotted in Manchester and London. The fact that Asian youths feel free to fly the Isis flag on an east London housing estate is one more sign that nothing substantial is being done to prevent the radicalisation of British Muslims. This, of course, spells disaster for the Jewish community, which is in no position to withstand the growing presence of Islamic State sympathisers. (Christians in the UK should not be complacent either. Church buildings and Christian culture are hardly immune from the threat of radical Islam.)

Meanwhile, the international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is in full swing. As well as calling for an end to arms exports to Israel, the BDS campaigners want an economic and cultural blockade on all things Israeli (including Israeli people). Shops, banks, universities, theatres and even entire towns are being targeted by BDS bullies.

A London theatre is refusing to host the UK Jewish Film Festival because it is sponsored by the Israeli embassy, while the National Union of Students wants a boycott of Israeli products on British campuses. Several town halls in England and Scotland are flying the Palestinian flag in a “gesture of solidarity.” And the ridiculous (but dangerous) George Galloway, MP for Bradford West, has unilaterally declared Bradford (a town in northern England) an Israel-free zone:

“We don’t want any Israeli goods; we don’t want any Israeli services; we don’t want any Israeli academics coming to the university or the college. We don’t even want any Israeli tourists to come to Bradford even if any of them had thought of doing so.”

Galloway’s incendiary words came after a Jewish man in Bradford was repeatedly called a “f**king Jewish bastard” by men collecting money for Gaza.

A number of Westminster politicians have also thrown their weight behind the delegitimization campaign. Baroness Warsi chose to resign her job as Foreign Office minister the day after a ceasefire came into place. She claims that her government’s even-handed approach to the Israeli-Gaza crisis is “morally indefensible and not in Britain’s interests.” It’s a pity she didn’t resign when the government failed to act over Syria.

On the Labour side, Jack Straw, who was foreign secretary during the Iraq war in which more than 100,000 people were killed, has referred to Israel’s war in Gaza as an “unspeakable horror.”  And in a transparent attempt to shore up the left-wing and Muslim vote, Labour leader Ed Miliband has condemned Israel’s actions in Gaza as “wrong and unjustifiable.” Miliband claims to speak on behalf of the British people but it is quite clear that he is an opportunist trying to outmanoeuvre Prime Minister David Cameron.

The British media must also accept a large share of the blame for the anti-Semitic upsurge. Apart from The Telegraph, newspapers and other news outlets have spewed anti-Israel vitriol. It is quite clear that most of the British media are offended by Israel’s strength of purpose – which is to protect its citizens.

The BBC, Channel 4 and Sky have consistently failed to report the facts, preferring to take Hamas statements as gospel truth. Plus, the macabre obsession with the death toll in Gaza – combined with the media’s inability to explain why the Israeli death toll is comparatively low – has fuelled the irrational belief that Israelis and Jews are genocidal maniacs.

If Israel is demonized, Hamas is exempt from criticism. For example, The Times newspaper refuses to run an advert that criticises Hamas’ use of children as human shields. Why? Because “the opinion being expressed is too strong […] and will cause concern among a significant number of Times readers.”

Back in Manchester, the mood is pessimistic. Despite a feeling of comradery, a sense of insecurity and foreboding hangs in the air. Some people are openly talking about emigrating to Israel. Others are prepared to stay in Britain and fight the BDS movement but are unsure how to proceed. Stay or go, many people share the belief that Britain and Europe are on the verge of a Kristallnacht-style scenario.

If the media is not capable of telling the truth and politicians are too afraid to stand up for Israel and the police are incapable of protecting the most vulnerable minority, then the UK should no longer consider itself to be a beacon of liberal democracy. If anything, Britain is broken. And there is no indication that anyone is prepared to fix this ailing country.