Archive for April, 2010

YouTube – Israel: Defying all odds

April 27, 2010

YouTube – Israel: Defying all odds.

The conflict between the US and Israel must end now!

April 18, 2010 | BlogCentral | Double Standard Watch | The conflict between the US and Israel must end now!.

Thursday Apr 01, 2010

Double Standard Watch: The conflict between the US and Israel must end now!

Posted by Alan M. Dershowitz
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The apparently escalating conflict between the US and Israel did not have to occur. It must be resolved now, before it does irreparable harm to prospects for peace.

The conflict was largely contrived by people with agendas. The initial impetus for the brouhaha was an ill-timed announcement that permits had been issued for building 1,600 additional residences in a part of Jerusalem that had been captured by Israel in the 1967 war. The Netanyahu government had been praised by President Obama for agreeing to a freeze on building permits on the West Bank, despite the fact that the freeze did not extend to any part of Jerusalem. Thus the announcement of new building permits did not violate any agreement by Israel. Nonetheless, the timing of the announcement embarrassed Vice President Joe Biden, who was in Israel at the time.

The timing was neither an accident nor was it purposely done by Prime Minister Netanyahu to embarrass Biden. Many believe that the announcement was purposely timed by opponents of the peace process in order to embarrass Netanyahu. Whatever the motivation, the announcement deserved a rebuke from Vice President Biden. It also warranted an apology and explanation from the Israeli government, and Netanyahu immediately issued one. That should have ended the contretemps. But some in the Obama administration apparently decided that they too had an agenda beyond responding to the ill-timed announcement, and decided to take advantage of Israel’s gaffe. They began to pile on – and on, and on. Instead of it being a one-day story, the controversy continues to escalate and harden positions on all sides to this day, and perhaps beyond. The real victim is the peace process, and the winners are those – like Iran, Hamas and extremist Israelis – who oppose the two-state solution.

The building permits themselves were for residences not in east Jerusalem, but rather in north Jerusalem, and not in an Arab section, but rather in an entirely Jewish neighborhood. This neighborhood, Ramat Shlomo, is part of the area that everybody acknowledges should and will remain part of Israel even if an agreement for a two-state solution and the division of Jerusalem is eventually reached. In that respect, it is much like the ancient Jewish quarter of Jerusalem, which was illegally captured from the Jewish residents by the Jordanian army in the 1948 war. The Jordanians then desecrated Jewish holy places during its illegal occupation, and the Israelis legally recaptured it during the defensive war of 1967. No one in their right mind believes that Israel has any obligation to give up the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem, including the Western Wall, the holiest Jewish site in the world, despite the fact that it was recaptured during the 1967 war.

Because the Palestinians understand and acknowledge that these entirely Jewish areas of Jerusalem will remain part of the Jewish state even after an agreement, the ill-timed announcement of building permits during the Biden visit generated a relatively mild and routine complaint, rather than a bellicose response, from the Palestinian Authority leadership. The bellicose response came from the American leadership, which refused to let the issue go. Once this piling-on occurred, the Palestinian leadership had no choice but to join the chorus of condemnation, lest they be perceived as being less pro-Palestinian than the Obama administration.

Now positions have hardened on both sides, due largely to the public and persistent nature of the American condemnation. This rebuke culminated in the very public dissing of Prime Minister Netanyahu by President Obama during their recent White House meeting. Obama treated Netanyahu far worse than he treated Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who is corrupt to the core and who had invited Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to deliver an anti-American tirade inside Afghanistan’s presidential palace. According to a high-ranking Afghan source, Karzai “invited Ahmadinejad to spite the Americans.” Nonetheless, President Obama flew to Afghanistan and had a very public dinner with Karzai, according him the red carpet treatment, thus granting him legitimacy following his fraudulent re-election.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, on the other hand, has been treated with disrespect in what many Israelis see as an effort to delegitimize him in the eyes of Israeli voters who know how important the US-Israeli relationship is in the Jewish state.

The shabby treatment accorded Israel’s duly elected leader has also stimulated an ugly campaign by some of Israel’s enemies to delegitimize the US-Israeli strategic relationship, and indeed the Jewish nation itself, in the eyes of American voters. The newest, and most dangerous, argument being offered by those who seek to damage the US-Israel alliance is that Israeli actions, such as issuing building permits in Jerusalem, endanger the lives of American troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This phony argument – originally attributed to Vice President Biden and General David Petraeus but categorically denied by both of them – has now taken on a life of its own in the media. A CNN headline on the Rick Sanchez Show blared: “Israel a danger to US Troops.” Other headlines conveyed a similar message: “US Tells Israel: ‘You’re undermining America, endangering troops.'” Variations on this dangerous and false argument have been picked up by commentators such as Joe Klein in Time Magazine, Roger Cohen in The New York Times, DeWayne Wickham in USA Today and, not surprisingly, Patrick Buchanan and Professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer.

It is a dangerous and false argument. It is dangerous because its goal is to reduce support for Israel among mainstream Americans who understandably worry about our troops fighting abroad. This is ironic since the major pillar of Israel’s policy with regard to US troops is that Israel never wants to endanger our troops. That’s why it has never asked US soldiers to fight for Israel, as other allies have asked our soldiers to fight for them.  By seeking to scapegoat Israel for the death of American troops at the hands of Islamic terrorists, this argument blames those who love America for deaths caused by those who hate America.

Most of all, it is an entirely false argument. There is absolutely no correlation between Israeli actions and the safety of American troops – none.

No one has ever shown any relationship between what Israel does and the rate of American casualties, because there is no such relationship – none

Consider two significant time periods. The first is the end of 2000 and the beginning of 2001, when Israel offered the Palestinians virtually everything they could have wanted: a state on 100 percent of the Gaza Strip and 97% of the West Bank, a capital in a divided Jerusalem and a $35 billion reparation package for refugees. Virtually the entire Arab world urged Arafat to accept this generous offer, but he declined it. During the very months that Israel was doing everything possible to promote peace with the Palestinians, al-Qaida was planning its devastating attack on the World Trade Center. No correlation between Israeli actions and American casualties.

Then consider the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 when Israel was engaged in Operation Cast Lead, which caused significant Palestinian casualties. During that difficult period, there was no increase in American casualties. Again, no correlation.

Those offering up this phony empirical argument have an obligation to present evidence in support of this fallacious correlation, or else to stop making this bigoted argument.

The reason there is no correlation is because extremist Muslims who kill American troops are not outraged at what Israel does, but rather at what Israel is – a secular Jewish, democratic state. As long as Israel exists, there will be Islamic extremists who regard that fact as a provocation. The same is true of the United States: as long we continue to exist as a secular democracy with equal rights for women, Christians and Jews, the Osama Bin Ladens of the world will seek our destruction. Certainly as long as American troops remain in any part of the Arab world – whether it be Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq or Afghanistan – Muslim fanatics will try to kill our soldiers. Blame for the murder of American troops should be placed on those who kill them, rather than on those who stand for the same values of democracy and equality as America does.

In considering the relationship between the United States and Israel, several points must be kept in mind. First and foremost, the US and Israel are on the same side in the continuing struggle against Islamic extremists who endanger the lives of American troops and American civilians. Second, Israel is one of America’s most important strategic allies, providing us with essential intelligence, research and development and other important assets. Third, there is nothing that Israel or the United States can do that will turn these extremist enemies into friends. It is what we are, rather than what we do, that enrages those who wish to turn the entire world into an Islamic caliphate and subject us all to Islamic sharia law. Fourth, any weakening of the alliance between the United States and Israel will make it far less likely that Israelis – who get to vote on these matters – will take significant risks for peace. Fifth, the Obama administration’s public attacks on Israel will harden Palestinian demand and make it less likely that they will accept a compromise peace. Sixth, if Israel’s enemies were to lay down their arms and stop terrorist and rocket attacks against Israel, there would be peace. Seventh, if Israel were to lay down its arms, there would be genocide. And eighth, when the Palestinian leadership and population want their own state more than they want there not to be a Jewish state, there will be a two-state solution.

It is in the best interest of the United States, of the peace process and of Israel for disagreements between allies to be resolved quietly and constructively, so that progress can be made toward achieving a two-state solution that assures Israel’s security and Palestinian statehood.

Ten Years, 968 Terror Victims

April 17, 2010

Since 2000, 968 Israelis have been murdered in terrorist attacks, and 17,000 have been wounded. The statistics were released by the National Insurance Institute in advance of Memorial Day (Yom Hazikaron).

Five Israeli civilians were murdered by terrorists over the course of the past year, since Independence Day 2009. Seventy-one were wounded by terrorists.

The number of civilians murdered by terrorist attacks in Israel since the War of Independence ended on January 1, 1950 stands at 2,431. That number includes 118 foreign citizens murdered in such attacks.

NII Director General Esther Dominissini said that the NII sees the rehabilitation of those wounded in terrorist attacks, and the care for the families of those killed, as a national mission of the utmost importance. In 2009, the NII spent 400 million shekels on assistance to those wounded in terrorist attacks and surviving relatives of terrorism victims.

The NII has also set up a website [in Hebrew], L’Ad (Until Eternity), to commemorate victims of terrorism. The site tells the stories of the lives and deaths of 3,971 people killed by terrorism in Israel since the days of the First Aliyah in the late 19th century.

This year, the Knesset passed a law requiring employers to allow anyone who has lost a family member to terrorism to take a paid day of leave from work on Memorial Day.

Memorial Day, which commemorates victims of terrorism as well as the more than 20,000 soldiers who have fallen in defense of Israel, will begin on Sunday night. At 8 p.m., the Knesset will hold an official ceremony attended by Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Minister of Welfare and Social Services Yitzchak Herzog. The ceremony will also be attended by representatives of the families of fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism.

A state ceremony will be held on Monday at 1 p.m. at the Har Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem.

by Maayana Miskin

אתר לזכר האזרחים חללי פעולות האיבה

YouTube – Ofra Haza – Yerushalayim Shel Zahav

April 17, 2010

YouTube – Ofra Haza – Yerushalayim Shel Zahav.

The amazing story of survival in the sewers of Lvov

April 14, 2010
The amazing story of survival in the sewers of Lvov.

It was the end of May, 1943 and Jewish Lvov was burning. Once home to Poland’s third largest Jewish community, Lvov’s 100,000 Jews numbered less than 8,000. “They are killing the Jewish police! This is the end!” came a cry from the ghetto.

Huge buildings, entire blocks were on fire. Jews ran in all directions. Hundreds made a dash for the sewers, hoping to avoid detection by vicious German dogs and their inhuman masters. Jewish children were rounded up and tossed into awaiting trucks like sacks of raw potatoes. Watching helplessly at the fate of their children, some women threw themselves down from several stories high. Little Krystyna Chiger beheld all of this in fear and terror. months, a small group of Jews were preparing for this moment. Yaakov Berestycki understood the fate of Lvov’s already martyred Jews would soon be his own. Daily, he and a few others clawed away at a concrete floor with spoons and forks and small tools from the apartment of a Jew named Weiss to gain entry into the sewers.

Ignacy Chiger was their leader. Weeks before the ghetto’s destruction they broke through and lowered themselves into the sewers of Lvov. As they searched for a place that might be their ‘home,’ they were discovered by three Polish sewer workers.

The three Poles could have easily handed them over to the Nazis for a reward of badly needed food.

The three Poles could have easily handed them over to the Nazis for a reward of badly needed food. With no options before them, Weiss and Chiger explained what they had done. A cherubic-looking Pole named Leopold Socha was amused. He followed the diggers and raised himself up through the floor of the ghetto apartment. He beheld a defiant Jewish mother, Paulina Chiger, clutching two children closely to her chest. Deeply moved by the frightened youngsters, he broke out in a magnificent smile. Socha was not merely any sewer worker; he was Chief Supervisor of all of Lvov’s sewers. He knew the best places to hide and how to lead prowling German inspectors in a direction away from clandestine Jews.
For Krystyna, her brother Pavel and the rest, the escape into the sewers was a nightmare. Accompanied by screams and shrieking in a stone and lime chamber that trapped all sound, the Jews entered a world of cold darkness. The deafening sound of the river waters terrified Krystyna. Her subterranean world was inhabited by rats that made no secret of their presence, and she could not see where she was going.

Lvov’s labyrinth underground system was actually a complicated work of art, designed by early 20th century Italian engineers. As it wove its way beneath the city’s major landmarks and streets, the 20-foot wide Peltew River roared, charging mightily. It snatched all those who got too close, including Krystyna’s beloved Uncle Kuba. Jew who descended that terrible day in May 1943 was a resourceful, spirited Jew named Mundek Margolies. His name was on several deportation lists. Each time he somehow managed to escape. While in the ghetto he grew fond of Klara Keller. Mundek convinced her to take a chance with life by coming with him into the sewers, leaving her sister, Mania, behind.

Socha promised Chiger that he would protect 20 Jews — for a price.
Socha promised Chiger that he would protect 20 Jews — for a price. The Chigers provided the lion’s share of the money, having stashed some cash and valuables away before the war. Socha brought whatever food he could each day, as well as news from a place called Earth. He gave them pages of newspapers and took their clothes home to clean each week. On Passover he provided potatoes. time the 20 hidden Jews shrank to ten. Some died. After living under inhuman conditions for several months, some left out of sheer madness. A newborn baby was smothered by its mother to save the lives of the others who trembled at the sound of his pitiful cries.
This small group of Jews struggled to maintain some semblance of Jewish life in their underground hiding place. Yaakov Berestycki, a chassid, found a relatively clean place to put on tefillin each morning.
Paulina Chiger asked Socha if he could bring her some candles. She wished to bring light of Shabbat into the sewers. Socha loved those who loved God as much as he did and he was excited by the challenge. Every Friday, Socha was paid by Ignacy and Paulina later lit her candles.
Socha spoke to the children. He played with them and tried to raise the spirits of all ‘his’ Jews. He took Krystyna to a place where she could see light drifting into the sewers as she sat upon his shoulders.
Mundek Margolies made daring forays into the destroyed ghetto to bring anything left behind that would make the lives of his friends more bearable. He had resolved to marry Klara after the war. They eventually learned that Klara’s sister, Mania, was sent to Janowska concentration camp. Klara blamed herself for abandoning her.
In the hellish world of concentration camps Janowska was particularly horrific. People were left overnight to see how quickly they could freeze to death in icing vats of water. Each morning nooses were prepared in the large square. Jews were “invited” to “volunteer” to be hanged. Tragically, there was no shortage of daily volunteers. Despite all this, Mundek determined to sneak himself into Janowska to rescue Mania and other Jews he could convince to follow him into the sewers.

It was insane. It was impossible. But angels can fly.
It was insane. It was impossible. But angels can fly. Mundek changed identities with a Jewish slave he spied out from a work detail on one of his courageous flights outside the sewer. He smuggled himself into Janowska with the work detail at evening.
A little over a day later he located Mania behind a fence. Mania told him she simply could not live in a sewer and wrote a note to Klara, begging that she not blame herself. She blessed Klara with life.
Mundek met other Jews, urging them to leave. They thanked him and blessed him. But they were weak and terrified. The angel returned to the sewers, alone.
After several months the Chigers’ money ran out. They met with Socha and he told them such an enormous risk required compensation; that Wrobleski and Kowalow, his two Polish friends, could not be expected to assist him otherwise. They wished each other goodbye and good luck.
The following day a familiar shuffling of footsteps was heard. It was Socha! He became so committed to preserving their lives he saw no alternative but to use his own money. But he was concerned that his buddies, upon learning that the money was his, would back out of the rescue. So he asked Chiger to pretend he had found extra money and that is was really Jewish money being paid to Wrobleski and Kowalow.
One day Socha revealed to the Jews his motive for rescue. He had been a convicted felon, spent considerable time in jail before the war. This mission was his way to show that he was a changed man and return to God.
Protective wings sheltered the hidden Jews. They survived discovery by a Pole who opened up a manhole cover and shouted: “It’s true! There are Jews in the sewers!” (Socha moved them to a safer location.) They survived the planting of mines only days before the Germans fled Lvov, as the Russian army neared. Socha and Kowalow shouted with all the authority men in overalls could muster before well-dressed German soldiers. They warned that gas pipes lay directly below the ground they were digging for the mines. The Germans would blow up the whole street, themselves included.
It was a lie. And it saved the subterranean Jews.
They survived the melting snows and heavy spring rains in the winter of 1944. The water filled their small basin and rose above their necks. Krystyna screamed to Yaakov, the chassid, “Pray, Yaakov! Pray to God to save us!” Yaakov prayed and the water receded. Sixty years later she said, “It was a miracle.”

After 14 months underground, Socha lifted the manhole cover, telling the Jews they were free.
The long awaited day of liberation came. In July 1944, after 14 months underground, Socha lifted the manhole cover, telling the Jews they were free! Like creatures from another planet, hunched over from a hideout with low ceilings, ten ragged, thin and filthy survivors found themselves surrounded by Poles who gaped in wonder: “Jews really did live in the sewers!” After months of darkness, their eyes were blinded by the sunshine. Everything seemed red, “bathed in the color of blood.” Socha brought them indoors, to dark rooms where their eyes could adjust to light.
Months after liberation, Socha and his daughter were riding their bicycles in the street. A truck came careening in the direction of Socha’s little girl. He steered quickly to knock her out of the way. Once again he saved a life — his daughter’s — but Socha was killed, his blood dripping into the sewer. ‘His’ Jews, dispersed around Poland and Europe, returned to pay their last respects.
Krystyna still cannot cry. In the sewer she learned to suffer quietly. Her body swallows her tears. She dreads the sound of rushing water and moments of darkness. But she is a healer — a medical professional with an office in New York and has raised a Jewish family. Her brother Pavel served in the IDF and also raised a new generation. Ignacy and Paulina lived out their lives in Israel where Paulina continued bringing the light of Shabbat into her home.
Yaakov moved to Paris where he, too, raised a Jewish family and lived a full life. All those in the sewer, but for Krystyna, have since passed to a world with angels on high. and Klara married shortly after the war. After moving to London from Poland, they established together a flourishing kosher catering business, still run by the family. He danced in the very center at every celebration he catered, grabbing his clients by the hand and beaming a broad smile, for his Jewish world was revived. Every Jewish simcha was his simcha. The world of darkness he once knew was now filled with light.

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A letter to the world from Jerusalem

April 11, 2010

by Eliezer ben Yisrael (Stanley Goldfoot) from The Times of Israel

On November 24, 2006, at the age of 92, a man named Stanley Goldfoot passed away. He is remembered by family and friends for his love for and devotion to Israel and the Jewish people.

Stanley Goldfoot was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Subsequent to his hearing a speech about the Zionist vision by Ze’ev Jabotinsky, he headed for Palestine where, at the age of 18, he joined the LECHI fighters against the British occupiers which Yair Stern founded. After the rebirth of the Jewish State of Israel his main goal, which he eventually realized, was to establish a Zionist English newspaper, “The Times of Israel.”

In the first issue of “The Times of Israel”, Stanley Goldfoot wrote his
famous and controversial “Letter to the World from Jerusalem”, which caused quite a stir. The article is still relevant.


A Letter to the World from Jerusalem, 1969
by Eliezer ben Yisrael (Stanley Goldfoot)

I am not a creature from another planet, as you seem to believe.

I am a Jerusalemite – like yourselves, a man of flesh and blood.

I am a citizen of my city, an integral part of my people.

I have a few things to get off my chest. Because I am not a diplomat, I do not have to mince words. I do not have to please you or even persuade you. I owe you nothing.

You did not build this city, you did not live in it, you did not defend it
when they came to destroy it.

And we will be damned if we will let you take it away.

There was a Jerusalem before there was a New York.

When Berlin, Moscow, London, and Paris were miasmal forest and swamp, there was a thriving Jewish community here. It gave something to the world which you nations have rejected ever since you established yourselves – a humane moral code.

Here the prophets walked, their words flashing like forked lightning.
Here a people who wanted nothing more than to be left alone, fought off waves of heathen would-be conquerors, bled and died on the battlements, hurled themselves into the flames of their burning Temple rather than surrender, and when finally overwhelmed by sheer numbers and led away into captivity, swore that before they forgot Jerusalem, they would see their tongues cleave to their palates, their right arms wither.

For two pain-filled millennia, while we were your unwelcome guests, we
prayed daily to return to this city. Three times a day we petitioned the

“Gather us from the four corners of the world, bring us upright to our land, return in mercy to Jerusalem, Thy city, and dwell in it as Thou promised.”

On every Yom Kippur and Passover, we fervently voiced the hope
that next year would find us in Jerusalem.

Your inquisitions, pogroms, expulsions, the ghettos into which you jammed us, your forced baptisms, your quota systems, your genteel anti-Semitism, and the final unspeakable horror, the holocaust (and worse, your terrifying disinterest in it)- all these have not broken us. They may have sapped what little moral strength you still possessed, but they forged us into steel. Do you think that you can break us now after all we have been through? Do you really believe that after Dachau and Auschwitz we are frightened by your threats of blockades and sanctions?

We have been to Hell and back- a Hell of your making. What more could you possibly have in your arsenal that could scare us?

I have watched this city bombarded twice by nations calling themselves civilized.

In 1948, while you looked on apathetically, I saw women and children blown to smithereens, after we agreed to your request to internationalize the city. It was a deadly combination that did the job – British officers, Arab gunners, and American-made cannon.

And then the savage sacking of the Old City-the willful slaughter, the
wanton destruction of every synagogue and religious school, the desecration of Jewish cemeteries, the sale by a ghoulish government of tombstones for building materials, for poultry runs, army camps, even latrines.

And you never said a word.

You never breathed the slightest protest when the Jordanians shut off the holiest of our places, the Western Wall, in violation of the pledges they had made after the war- a war they waged, incidentally, against the decision of the UN. Not a murmur came from you whenever the legionnaires in their spiked helmets casually opened fire upon our citizens from behind the walls.

Your hearts bled when Berlin came under siege. You rushed your airlift “to save the gallant Berliners”. But you did not send one ounce of food when Jews starved in besieged Jerusalem. You thundered against the wall which the East Germans ran through the middle of the German capital- but not one peep out of you about that other wall, the one that tore through the heart of Jerusalem.

And when that same thing happened 20 years later, and the Arabs unleashed a savage, unprovoked bombardment of the Holy City again, did any of you do anything?

The only time you came to life was when the city was at last reunited. Then you wrung your hands and spoke loftily of “justice” and need for the “Christian” quality of turning the other cheek. The truth – and you know it deep inside your gut – you would prefer the city to be destroyed rather than have it governed by Jews.

No matter how diplomatically you phrase it, the age old prejudices seep out of every word.

If our return to the city has tied your theology in knots, perhaps you had better reexamine your catechisms. After what we have been through, we are not passively going to accommodate ourselves to the twisted idea that we are to suffer eternal homelessness until we accept your savior.

For the first time since the year 70, there is now complete religious
freedom for all in Jerusalem. For the first time since the Romans put a
torch to the Temple, everyone has equal rights (You prefer to have some more equal than others.) We loathe the sword- but it was you who forced us to take it up. We crave peace, but we are not going back to the peace of 1948 as you would like us to.

We are home. It has a lovely sound for a nation you have willed to wander over the face of the globe. We are not leaving. We are redeeming the pledge made by our forefathers: Jerusalem is being rebuilt. “Next year” and the year after, and after, and after, until the end of time- “in Jerusalem”!

From Ancient to Modern: Continuous Jewish History in Israel

April 10, 2010

Facebook | From Ancient to Modern: Continuous Jewish History in Israel.

  • From Ancient to Modern: Continuous Jewish History in Israel מאז ועד היום – נוכחות בלתי פוסקת של יהודים בישראל

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    The Jews were never a people without a homeland. Having been robbed of their land, Jews never ceased to give expression to their anguish at their deprivation and to pray for and demand its return. Throughout the nearly two millennia of dispersion, Palestine remained the focus of the national culture. Every single day in all those seventy generations, devout Jews gave voice to their attachment to Zion.

    The consciousness of the Jew that Palestine was his country was not a theoretical exercise or an article of theology or a sophisticated political outlook. It was in a sense all of these — and it was a pervasive and inextricable element in the very warp and woof of his daily life. Jewish prayers, Jewish literature, are saturated with the love and the longing for and the sense of belonging to Palestine. Except for religion and the love between the sexes, there is no theme so pervasive in the literature of any other nation, no theme has yielded so much thought and feeling and expression, as the relationship of the Jew to Palestine in Jewish literature and philosophy. And in his home on family occasions, in his daily customs on weekdays and Shabbat, when he said grace over meals, when he got married, when he built his house, when he said words of comfort to mourners, the context was always his exile, his hope and belief in the return to Zion, and the reconstruction of his homeland. So intense was this sense of affinity that, if in the vicissitudes of exile he could not envisage that restoration during his, lifetime, it was a matter of faith that with the coming of the Messiah and the Resurrection he would be brought back to the land after his death.

    Over the centuries, through the pressures of Persecution — of social and economic discrimination, of periodic death and destruction — the area of exile widened. Hounded and oppressed, the Jews moved from country to country. They carried Eretz Israel with them wherever they went. Jewish festivals remained tuned to the circumstances and conditions of the Jewish homeland. Whether they remained in warm Italy or Spain, whether they found homes in cold Eastern Europe, whether they found their way to North America or came to live in the southern hemisphere where the seasons are reversed, the Jews celebrated the Palestinian spring and its autumn and winter. They prayed for dew in May and for rain in October. On Passover they ceremonially celebrated the liberation from Egyptian bondage, the original national establishment in the Promised Land-and they conjured up the vision of a new liberation.

    Never in the periods of greatest persecution did the Jews as a people renounce that faith. Never in the periods of greatest peril to their very existence physically, and the seeming impossibility of their ever regaining the land of Israel, did they seek a substitute for the homeland. Time after time throughout the centuries, there arose bold spirits who believed, or claimed, they had a plan, or a divine vision, for the restoration of the Jewish people to Palestine. Time after time a wave of hope surged through the ghettos of Europe at the news of some new would-be Messiah. The Jews’ hopes were dashed and the dream faded, but never for a day did they relinquish their bond with their country.

    There were Jews who fell by the wayside. Given a choice under torture, or during periods of civic equality and material prosperity, they forsook their religion or turned their backs on their historic country. But the people, the land — as it was called for all those centuries: simply Ha’aretz, the Land — remained the one and only homeland, unchanging and irreplaceable. If ever a right has been maintained by unrelenting insistence on the claim, it was the Jewish right to Palestine.

    Widely unknown, its significance certainly long ungrasped, is the no less awesome fact that throughout the eighteen centuries between the fall of the Second Jewish Commonwealth and the beginnings of the Third, in our time, the tenacity of Jewish attachment to the land of Israel found continuous expression in the country itself. It was long believed — and still is — even in some presumably knowledgeable quarters, that throughout those centuries there were no Jews in Palestine. The popular conception has been that all the Jews who survived the Destruction of 70 C.E. went into exile and that their descendants began coming back only 1,800 years later. This is not a fact.1 One of the most astonishing elements in the history of the Jewish people — and of Palestine — is the continuity, in the face of the circumstances, of Jewish life in the country.

    It is a continuity that waxed and waned, that moved in kaleidoscopic shifts, in response to the pressures of the foreign imperial rulers who in bewildering succession imposed themselves on the country. It is a pattern of stubborn refusal, in the face of oppression, banishment, and slaughter, to let go of an often tenuous hold in the country, a determined digging in sustained by a faith in the ultimate full restoration, of which every Jew living in the homeland saw himself as caretaker and precursor.

    This people that was “not here” — the Jewish community in Palestine, its history continuous and purposeful — in fact played a unique role in Jewish history. Too often lacking detail and depth, the story of the Jewish presence in Palestine, threaded together from a colourful variety of sources and references, pagan and Christian, Jewish and Moslem, spread over the whole period between the second and the nineteenth centuries, is a fascinating and compelling counterpoint to the, dominating theme of the longing-in-exile.

    Only when they had crushed the revolt led by Simon Bar Kochba in 135 C.E. — over sixty years after the destruction of the Second Temple — did the Romans make a determined effort to stamp out Jewish identity in the Jewish homeland. They initiated the long process of laying the country waste. It was then that Jerusalem, “plowed over” at the order of Hadrian, was renamed Aelia Capitolina, and the country, denied of the name Judea, was renamed Syria Palestina. In the revolt itself — the fiercest and longest revolt faced by the Roman Empire — 580,000 Jewish soldiers perished in battle, and an untold number of civilians died of starvation and pestilence; 985 villages were destroyed.2

    Yet even after this further disaster, Jewish life remained active and productive. Banished from Jerusalem, it now centred on Galilee. Refugees returned; Jews who had been sold into slavery were redeemed. In the centuries after Bar Kochba and Hadrian, some of the most significant creations of the Jewish spirit were produced in Palestine. It was then that the Mishnah was completed and the Jerusalem Talmud was compiled, and the bulk of the community farmed the land.

    The Roman Empire adopted Christianity in the fourth century; henceforth its policy in Palestine was governed by a new purpose: to prevent the birth of any glimmer of renewed hope of Jewish independence. It was after all, basic to Christian theology that loss of national independence was an act of God designed to punish the Jewish people for their rejection of Christ. The work of the Almighty had to be helped along. Some emperors were more lenient than others, but the minimal criteria of oppression and restriction were nearly always maintained.

    Nevertheless, even the meagre surviving sources Name forty-three Jewish communities in Palestine in the sixth century: twelve towns on the coast, in the Negev, and east of the Jordan, and thirty-one villages in Galilee and in the Jordan valley.

    The Jews’ thoughts at every opportunity turned to the hope of national restoration. In the year 351, they launched yet another revolt, provoking heavy retribution When, in 438, the Empress Eudocia removed the ban on Jews’ praying at the Temple site, the heads of the Community in Galilee issued a call “to the great and mighty people of the Jews” which began: “Know that the end of the exile of our people has come”!3

    In the belief of restoration to come, the Jews made an alliance with the Persians who invaded Palestine in 614, fought at their side, overwhelmed the Byzantine garrison in Jerusalem, and for three years governed the city.4 But the Persians made their peace with the Emperor Heraclius. Christian rule was re-established, and those Jews who survived the consequent slaughter were once more banished from the city. A new chapter of vengeful Byzantine persecution was enacted, but as it happened, it was short-lived. A new force was on the march. In 632, the Moslem Arab invaders came and conquered. By the year 640, Palestine had become a part of the emerging Moslem empire.

    The 450-year Moslem rule in Palestine was first under the Omayyads (predominantly Arab), who governed tolerantly from Damascus; then under the Abbasid dynasty (predominantly Turkish), in growing anarchy, from Baghdad; and finally, in alternating tolerance and persecution, under the Fatimids from Cairo. The Moslem Arabs took from the Jews the lands to which they had clung for twenty generations after the fall of the Jewish state. The Crusaders, who came after them and ruled Palestine or parts of it for the better part of two centuries, massacred the Jews in the cities. Yet, under the Moslems openly, under the Crusaders more circumspectly, the Jewish community of Palestine, in circumstances it is impossible to understand or to analyse, held on by the skin of its teeth, somehow survived, and worked, and fought. Along with the Arabs and the Turks, the Jews were among the most vigorous defenders of Jerusalem against the Crusaders. When the city fell, the Crusaders gathered the Jews in a synagogue and burned them. The Jews almost single-handedly defended Haifa against the Crusaders, holding out in the besieged town for a whole month (June-July 1099). At this time, a full thousand years after the fall of the Jewish state, there were Jewish communities all over the country. Fifty of them are known to us; they include Jerusalem, Tiberias, Ramleh, Ashkelon, Caesarea, and Gaza.

    During more than six centuries of Moslem and Crusader rule, periods of tolerance or preoccupied indifference flickered fitfully between periods of concentrated persecution. Jews, driven from the villages, fled to the towns. Surviving massacre in the inland towns, they made their way to the coast. When the coastal towns were destroyed, they succeeded somehow in returning inland. Throughout those centuries, war was almost continuous, whether between Cross and Crescent or among the Moslems themselves. The Jewish community, now heavily reduced, maintained itself in stiff-necked endurance.

    Moslem and Christian records report that they pursued a variety of occupations. The Arab geographer Abu Abdallah Mohammed — known as Mukadassi — writing in the tenth century, describes the Jews as the assayers of coins, the dyers, the tanners, and the bankers in the community. In his time, a period of Fatimid tolerance, many Jewish officials were serving the regime. While they were not allowed to hold land in the Crusader period, the Jews controlled much of the commerce of the coastal towns during times of quiescence. Most of them were artisans: glassblowers in Sidon, furriers and dyers in Jerusalem.

    In the midst of all their vicissitudes and in the face of all change, Hebrew scholarship and literary creation went on flourishing. It was in this period that the Hebrew grammarians at Tiberias evolved their Hebrew vowel-pointing system, giving form to the modem study of the language; and a large volume of piyutim and midrashim had their origin in Palestine in those days.

    After the Crusaders, there came a period of wild disturbance as first the Kharezmians — an Asian tribe appearing fleetingly on the stage of history — and then the Mongol hordes, invaded Palestine. They sowed new ruin and destruction throughout the country. Its cities were laid waste, its lands were burned, its trees were uprooted, the younger part of its population was destroyed.

    Yet the dust of the Mongol hordes, defeated by the Mamluks, had hardly settled when the Jerusalem community, which had been all but exterminated, was re-established. This was the work of the famous, scholar Moses ben Nachman (Nachmanides, the “RaMbaN’). From the day in 1267 when RaMbaN settled in the city, there was a coherent Jewish community in the Old City of Jerusalem until it was driven out, temporarily as it proved, by the British-led Arab Legion from Transjordan nearly seven hundred years later.

    For two and a half centuries (1260-1516), Palestine was part of the Empire of the Mamluks, Moslems of Turkish-Tartar origin who ruled first from Turkey, then from Egypt. War and uprisings, bloodshed and destruction, flowed in almost incessant waves across their domain. Though Palestine was not always involved in the strife, it was frequently enough implicated to hasten the process of physical destruction. Jews (and Christians) suffered persecution and humiliation. Yet toward the end of the rule of the Mamluks, at the close of the fifteenth century, Christian and Jewish visitors and pilgrims noted the presence of substantial Jewish communities. Even the meagre records that survived report nearly thirty Jewish urban and rural communities at, the opening of the sixteenth century.

    By now nearly fifteen hundred years had passed since the destruction of the Jewish state. Jewish life in Palestine had survived Byzantine ruthlessness, had endured the discriminations, persecutions, and massacres of the variegated Moslem sects-Arab Omayyads, Abbasids, and Fatimids, the Turkish Seljuks, and the Mamluks. Jewish life had by some historic sleight of hand outlived the Crusaders, its mortal enemy. It had survived Mongol barbarism.

    More than an expression of self-preservation, Jewish life had a purpose and a mission. It was the trustee and the advance guard of restoration. At the close of the fifteenth century, the pilgrim Arnold Van Harff reported that he had found many Jews in Jerusalem and that they spoke Hebrew. They told another traveller, Felix Fabri, that they hoped soon to resettle the Holy Land.5

    During the same period, Martin Kahatnik (who did not like Jews), visiting Jerusalem during his pilgrimage, exclaimed:

    The heathens oppress them at their pleasure. They know that the Jews think and say that this is the Holy Land that was promised to them. Those of them who live here are regarded as holy by the other Jews, for in spite of all the tribulations and the agonies they suffer at the hands of the heathen, they refuse to leave the place.6
    At the height of their splendour, in the first generations after their conquest of Palestine in 1516, the Ottoman Turks were tolerant and showed a friendly face to the Jews. During the sixteenth century, there developed a new effervescence in the life of the Jews in the country. Thirty communities, urban and rural, are recorded at the opening of the Ottoman era. They include Haifa, Sh’chem, Hebron, Ramleh, Jaffa, Gaza, Jerusalem, and many in the north. Their centre was Safed; its community grew quickly. It became the largest in Palestine and assumed the recognised spiritual leadership of the whole Jewish world. The luster of the cultural “golden age” that now, developed shone over the whole country and has inspired Jewish spiritual life to the present day. It was there and then that a phenomenal group of mystic philosophers evolved the mysteries of the Cabala. It was at that time and in the inspiration of the place that Joseph Caro compiled the Shulhan Aruch, the formidable codification of Jewish observance, which largely guides orthodox custom to this day. Poets and writers flourished. Safed achieved a fusion of scholarship and piety with trade, commerce, and agriculture. In the town, the Jews developed a number of branches of trade, especially in grain, spices, and cloth. They specialised once again in the dyeing trade. Lying halfway between Damascus and Sidon on the Mediterranean coast, Safed gained special importance in the commercial relations in the area. The 8,000 or 10,000 Jews in Safed in 1555 grew to 20,000 or 30,000 by the end of the century.7
    In the neighbouring Galilean countryside, a number of Jewish villages — from Turkish sources we know of ten of them — continued to occupy themselves with the production of wheat and barley and cotton, vegetables and olives, vines and fruit, pulse and sesame.8

    3 hours ago · Report

  • I ♥ ISRAEL The recurrent references in the sketchy records that have survived suggest that in some of those Galilean villages — such as Kfar Alma, Ein Zeitim., Biria, Pekiin, Kfar Hanania, Kfar Kana, Kfar Yassif — the Jews, against all logic and in defiance of the pressures and exactions and confiscations of generation after generation of foreign conquerors, had succeeded in clinging to the land for fifteen centuries.9 Now for several decades of benevolent Ottoman rule, the Jewish communities flourished in village and town.

    The history of the second half of the sixteenth century illustrates the dynamism of the Palestinian Jews their prosperity, their progressiveness, and their subjugation. In 1577, a Hebrew printing press was established in Safed. The first press in Palestine, it was also the first in Asia. In 1576, and again in 1577, the Sultan Murad III, the first anti-Jewish Ottoman ruler, ordered the deportation of 1,000 wealthy Jews from Safed, though they had not broken any laws or transgressed in any way. They were needed by Murad to strengthen the economy of another of the Sultan’s provinces — Cyprus. It is not known whether they were in fact deported or reprieved.10

    The honeymoon period between the Ottoman Empire and the Jews lasted only as long as the empire flourished. With the beginning and development of its long decline in the seventeenth century, oppression and anarchy made growing inroads into the country, and Jewish life began to follow a confused pattern of persecutions, prohibitions, and ephemeral prosperity. Prosperity grew rarer, persecutions and oppressions became the norm. The Ottomans, to whom Palestine was merely a source of revenue, began to exploit the Jews’ fierce attachment to Palestine. They were consequently made to pay a heavy price for living there. They were taxed beyond measure and were subjected to a system of arbitrary fines. Early in the seventeenth century, two Christian travellers, Johann van Egmont and John Hayman, could say of the Jews in Safed: “Life here is the poorest and most miserable that one can imagine.” The Turks so oppressed them, they wrote, that “they pay for the very air they breathe.”11

    Again and again during the three centuries of Turkish Decline, the Jews so lived and bore themselves that even hostile Christian travellers were moved to express their astonishment at their pertinacity–despite suffering, humiliation, and violence-in clinging to, their homeland

    The Jews of Jerusalem, wrote the Jesuit Father Michael Naud in 1674, were agreed about one thing: “paying heavily to the Turk for their right to stay here. — They prefer being prisoners in Jerusalem to enjoying the freedom they could acquire elsewhere… The love of the Jews for the Holy Land, which they lost through their betrayal [of Christ], is unbelievable. Many of them come from Europe to find a little comfort, though the yoke is heavy.”12

    And not in Jerusalem alone. Even as anarchy spread over the land, marauding raids by Bedouins from the desert increased, and the roads became further infested with bandits, and while the Sultan’s men, when they appeared at all, came only to collect both the heavy taxes directed against all and the special taxes exacted from the Jews, Jewish communities still held on all over the country. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, travellers reported them in Hebron (where, in addition to the regular exactions, threats of deportation, arrests, violence, and bloodshed, the Jews suffered the gruesome tribulations of a blood libel in 1775); Gaza, Ramleh, Sh’chem, Safed (where the community had lost its pre-eminence and its prosperity); Acre, Sidon, Tyre, Haifa, Irsuf, Caesarea, and El Arish; And Jews continued to live and till the soil in Galilean villages.

    But as the country itself declined and the bare essentials of life became inaccessible, the Jewish community also contracted. By the end of the eighteenth century, historians’ estimates put their number at between 10,000 and 15,000. Their national role, however, was never blurred. When the Jews in Palestine had no economic basis, the Jews abroad regarded it as their minimum national duty to insure their physical maintenance, and a steady stream of emissaries brought back funds from the Diaspora. In the long run, this had a degrading effect on those Jews who came to depend on these contributions for all their needs. But the significance of the motive and spirit of the aid is not lessened: the Jews in Palestine were regarded as the guardians of the Jewish heritage. Nor can one ignore the endurance and pertinacity of the recipients, in the face of oppression and humiliation and the threat of physical violence, in their role of “guardians of the walls.”

    However determined the Jews in Palestine might have been, however deep their attachment to the land, and however strong their sense of mission in living in it, the historic circumstances should surely have ground them out of physical existence long before the onset of modem times.

    Merely to recall the succession of conquerors who passed through the country and who oppressed or slaughtered Jews, deliberately or only incidentally to their struggle for power or survival, raises the question of how any Jews survived at all, let alone in coherent communities. Pagan Romans, Byzantine Christians, the various Moslem imperial dynasties (especially during the Seljuk Turkish interlude, before the Crusaders), the Crusaders themselves, the Kharezmians and the Mongols, the Ottoman Turks-all these passed over the body of the Jewish community. How then did a Jewish community survive at all? How did it survive as an arm of the Jewish people, consciously vigilant for the day of national restoration?

    The answer to these questions reflects another aspect of the phenomenal affinity of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. In spite of bans and prohibitions, in spite of the most improbable and unpromising circumstances, there was never a period throughout centuries of exile without Jewish immigration to Palestine. Aliyah (“going up”) was a deliberate expression and demonstration of the national affinity to the land. A constant inflow gave life and often vigour to the Palestinian community. By present-day standards, the numbers were not great. By the standards of those ages, and in the circumstances of the times, the significance and weight of that stream of aliyah — almost always an individual undertaking — matches the achievements of the modem Zionist movement.

    Modern Zionism did indeed start the count of the waves of immigration after 1882, but only the frame and the capacity for organisation were new: The living movement to the land had never ceased.

    The surviving records are meagre. There was much movement during the days of the Moslem conquest. Tenth century appeals for aliyah by the Karaite leaders In Jerusalem have survived. There were periods when immigration was forbidden absolutely; no Jew could “legally” or safely enter Palestine while the Crusaders ruled. Yet precisely in that period, Yehuda Halevi, the greatest Hebrew poet of the exile, issued a call to the Jews to emigrate, and many generations drew active inspiration from his teaching. (He himself died soon after his arrival in Jerusalem in 1141, crushed, according to legend, by a Crusader’s horse.) A group of immigrants who came from Provence in France in the middle of the twelfth century must have been scholars of great repute, for they are believed to have been responsible for changing the Eretz Israel tradition of observing the New Year on only one day; ever since their time, the observance has lasted two days. There are slight allusive records of other groups who came after them. Among the immigrants who began arriving when the Crusaders’ grip on Palestine had been broken by Saladin was an organised group of three hundred rabbis who came from France and England in 1210 to strengthen especially the Jewish communities of Jerusalem, Acre, and Ramleh. Their work proved vain. A generation later came the destruction by the Mongol invaders. Yet no sooner had they passed than a new immigrant, Moses Nachmanides, came to Jerusalem, finding only two Jews, a dyer and his son; but he and the disciples who answered his call re-established the community.

    Though Yehuda Halevi and Nachmanides were the most famous medieval preachers of aliyah, they were not the only ones. From the twelfth century onward, the surviving writings of a long series of Jewish travellers described their experiences in Palestine. Some them remained to settle; all propagated the national duty and means of individual redemption of the “going up” to live in the homeland.

    The concentrated scientific horror of the Holocaust in twentieth-century Europe has perhaps weakened the memory of the experience of the people to whom, year after year, generation after generation, Europe was purgatory. Those, after all, were the Middle Ages; those were the centuries when the Jews of Europe were subjected to the whole range of persecution, from mass degradation to death after torture. For a Jew who could not and would not hide his identity to make his way from his own familiar city or village to another, from the country whose language he knew through countries foreign to him, meant to expose himself almost certainly to suspicion, insult, and humiliation, probably to robbery and violence, possibly to murder. All travel was hazardous. For a Jew in the thirteenth, fourteenth, or fifteenth century (and even later) to set out on the odyssey from Western Europe to Palestine was a heroic undertaking, which often ended in disaster. To the vast mass of Jews sunk in misery, whose joy it was to turn their faces eastward three times daily and pray for the return to Zion, that return in their lifetime was a dream of heaven.

    There were periods, moreover, when the Popes ordered their adherents to prevent Jewish travel to Palestine. For most of the fifteenth century, the Italian maritime states denied Jews the use of ships for getting to Palestine, thus forcing them to abandon their project or to make the whole journey by a roundabout land route, adding to the initial complications of their travel the dangers of movement through Germany, Poland, and southern Russia, or through the inhospitable Balkans and a Black Sea crossing before reaching the comparative safety of Turkey. In 1433, shortly after the ban was imposed, there came a vigorous call by Yitzhak Tsarefati, urging the Jews to come by way of then tolerant Turkey. Immigration of the bolder spirits continued. Often the journey took years, while immigrant worked at the intermediate stopping places to raise the expenses for the next leg of his journey or, as sometimes happened, while he invited the local rich Jews to finance his journey and to share vicariously in the mitzvah of his aliyah.

    Siebald Rieter and Johann Tucker, Christian pilgrims visiting Jerusalem in 1479, wrote down the route and stopping places of a Jew newly arrived as an immigrant from Germany. He had set out from Nuremberg and travelled to Posen (about 300 miles). Then Posen [Poznan] to Lublin 250 miles Lublin to Lemberg [Lvov] 120 miles Lemberg to Khotin 150 miles Khotin to Akerman 150 miles Akerman to Samsun 6 days Samsun to Tokat 6-7 days Tokat to Aleppo 15 days Aleppo to Damascus 7 days Damascus to Jerusalem 6 days

    Ottoman Sultans had encouraged Jewish immigration into their dominions. With their conquest of Palestine, its gates too were opened. Though conditions in Europe made it possible for only a very few Jews to “get up and go,” a stream of immigrants flowed to Palestine at once. Many who came were refugees from the Inquisition. They comprised a great variety of occupations; they were scholars and artisans and merchants. They filled all the existing Jewish centres. That flow of Jews from abroad injected a new pulse into Jewish life in Palestine in the sixteenth century.

    As the Ottoman regime deteriorated, the conditions of life in Palestine grew harsher, but waves of immigration continued. In the middle of the seventeenth century, there passed through the Jewish people an electric current of self-identification and intensified affinity with its homeland. For the first time in Eastern Europe, which had given shelter to their ancestors fleeing from persecution in the West, rebelling Cossacks in 1648 and 1649 subjected the Jews to massacre as fierce as any in Jewish history. Impoverished and helpless, the survivors fled to the nearest refuge — now once more in Western Europe. Again the bolder spirits among them made their way to Palestine.

    That same generation was electrified once more by the advent of Shabbetai Zevi, the self-appointed Messiah whose imposture and whose following among the Jews in both the East and the West was made possible only by the unchanged aspirations of the Jews for restoration. The dream of being somehow wafted to the land of Israel under the banner of the Messiah evaporated, but again there were determined men who somehow found the means and made their way to Palestine, by sea or by stages, overland through Turkey and Syria.

    The degeneration of the central Ottoman regime, the anarchy in the local administration, the degradations and exactions, plagues and pestilence, and the min of the country, continued in the eighteenth and well into the nineteenth century. The masses of Jews in Europe were living in greater poverty than ever. Yet immigrants, now also in groups, continued to come. Surviving letters tell about the adventures of groups who came from Italy, Morocco, and Turkey. Other letters report on the steady stream of Hasidim, disciples of the Baal Shem-Tov, from Galicia and Lithuania, proceeding during the whole of the second half of the eighteenth century.

    It is clear that by now the state of the country was exacting a higher toll in lives than could be replaced by immigrants. But the immigrants who came shut their eyes to the physical ruin and squalor, accepted with love every hardship and tribulation and danger. Thus, in 1810, the disciples of the Vilna Goan who had just emigrated, wrote:

    Truly, how marvellous it is to five in the good country. Truly, how wonderful it is to love our country. — Even in her ruin there is none to compare with her, even in her desolation she is unequalled, in her silence there is none like her. Good are her ashes and her stones.13
    These immigrants of 1810 were yet to suffer unimagined trials. Earthquake, pestilence, and murderous onslaught by marauding brigands were part of the record of their lives. But they were one of the last links in the long chain bridging the gap between the exile of their people and its independence. They or their children lived to see the beginnings of the modern restoration of the country. Some of them lived to meet one of the pioneers of restoration, Sir Moses Montefiore, the Jewish philanthropist from Britain who, through the greater part of the nineteenth century, conceived and pursued a variety of practical plans to resettle the Jews in their homeland. With him began the gray dawn of reconstruction. Some of the children of those immigrants lived to share in the enterprise and purpose and daring that in 1869 moved a group of seven Jews in Jerusalem to emerge from the Old City and set up the first housing project outside its walls. Each of them built a house among the rocks and the jackals in the wilderness that ultimately came to be called Nahlat Shiva (Estate of the Seven). Today it is the heart of downtown Jerusalem, bounded by the Jaffa Road, between Zion Square and the Bank of Israel.
    In 1878, another group made its way across the mountains of Judea to set up the first modern Jewish agricultural settlement at Petah Tikva, which thus became the “mother of the settlements.” Eight years earlier, the first modern agricultural school in Palestine had been opened at Mikveh Yisrael near Jaffa. As we see it now — and they in 1810 would not have been surprised, for this was their faith and this was their purpose — the long vigil was coming to an end.

    1. James Parkes, the Christian scholar who has done much to explode the myth, writes: “[The Jews’] real title deeds were written by the … heroic endurance of those who had maintained a Jewish presence in the Land through the centuries, and in spite of every discouragement.” Whose Land? A History of the Peoples of Palestine (London, 1970), p. 266.

    2. Dio Cassius, History of the Romans, Theodor Monunsen, Provinces of the Roman Empire. Both quoted in Jacob De Haas, History of Palestine, the Last Two Thousand Years (New York, 1934). p. 52.

    3. Avraham Yaari, Igrot Eretz Yisrael (Tel Aviv, 1943), p. 46.

    4. A. Malmat, H. Tadmor, M. Stem, S. Safrai, Toledot Am Yisrael Bi’mei Kedem (Tel Aviv, 1969), p. 348. Recent archaeological finds in Jerusalem suggest that the period was five years.

    5. The Pilgrimage of Arnold van Harff (London, 1946), p. 217; The Wanderings of Felix Fabri (London, 1807), p. 130.

    6. Justin V. Prasek, Martin Kabatnik (Prague). Quoted in Michael Ish-Shalom, Masaei Notzrim Beeretz Yisrael (Tel Aviv, 1965), p. 265.

    7. H. H. Ben-Sasson, Toledot Hayehudim Bi’mei Habeinayim (Tel Aviv, 1969), pp. 239-240.

    8. Bernard Lewis, Notes and Documents from the Turkish Archives (Jerusalem, 1952), p. 15ff

    9. Yitzhak Ben-Zwi, She’ar Yashuv (Jerusalem, 1966), p. 10.

    10. Lewis, pp. 28-33.

    11. Travels (London, 1759), quoted by Ish-Shalom, p. 388.

    12. R. P. Michael Naud, Voyage Nouveau de la Terre-Sainte (Paris, 1702), pp. 58, 563.

    13. Avraham Yaari, p. 330.

    This page was produced by Joseph E. Katz
    Middle Eastern Political and Religious History Analyst
    Brooklyn, New York
    E-mail to a friend

    Source: “Battleground: Fact & Fantasy in Palestine” by Samuel Katz,
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Interesting piece of history

April 9, 2010

The following is an interesting piece of evidence about the unfortunate behavior of the Roosevelt administration toward Jews during WW II.

Secretary of State Colin Powell gave a posthumous award for “constructive dissent” to Hiram (Harry) Bingham IV.

For over fifty years, the U.S. State Department resisted any attempt to honor Bingham. For them he was an insubordinate member of the US diplomatic service and a dangerous maverick who was eventually demoted.

Now, after his death, he has been officially recognized as a hero.

Harry Bingham came from an illustrious family. His father (on whom the fictional character Indiana Jones was based) was the archaeologist who unearthed the Inca City of Machu Picchu, Peru in 1911.

Harry entered the US diplomatic service and in 1939 was posted to Marseilles, France as American Vice-Consul.

The USA was then neutral and, not wishing to annoy Marshal Petain’s puppet Vichy regime, President Roosevelt’s government ordered its representatives in Marseilles not to grant visas to any Jews.

Bingham found this policy immoral and, risking his career, did all in his power to undermine it.

In defiance of his bosses in Washington, he granted over 2,500 US visas to Jewish and other refugees, including the artists Marc Chagall and Max Ernst and the family of the writer Thomas Mann.

He also sheltered Jews in his Marseilles home and obtained forged identity papers to help Jews in their dangerous journeys across Europe.

He worked with the French underground to smuggle Jews out of France into Franco’s Spain or across the Mediterranean and even contributed to their expenses out of his own pocket.

In 1941, Washington lost patience with him.. He was sent to Argentina, where later he continued to annoy his superiors by reporting on the movements of Nazis there.

Eventually, he was forced out of the American diplomatic service completely.

Bingham died almost penniless in 1988.

Little was known of his extraordinary activities until his son found some letters in his belongings after his death. He has now been honoured by many groups and organizations including the United Nations and the State of Israel .

PLEASE honor his memory and send this forward.

Historian blasts British policy on Israel

April 6, 2010

Jonny Paul, Jerusalem post correspondent
13/12/2009 20:53

LONDON – One of Britain’s most eminent historians has assailed the country’s policy towards Israel, questioning why Queen Elizabeth II has visited a host of despotic regimes but has never made an official visit to the Holy Land.

Speaking at the Anglo-Israel Association dinner in central London last week, Andrew Roberts suggested that the Foreign Office had a de facto ban on royal visits to Israel.

“The true reason of course, is that the FO [Foreign Office] has a ban on official royal visits to Israel, which is even more powerful for its being unwritten and unacknowledged,” he said. “As an act of delegitimization of Israel, this effective boycott is quite as serious as other similar acts, such as the academic boycott, and is the direct fault of the FO Arabists.”

Roberts, whose work includes biographies of Churchill and Chamberlain, as well as Hitler and Roosevelt and a look at the relationship between Napoleon and Wellington, said that Britain had been at best “a fair-weather friend” to Israel.

The 400 attendees at the dinner, held at the prestigious Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane, included ambassadors, diplomats, lords and Christian leaders celebrating the 60th anniversary of the AIA, the oldest organization of Anglo-Israel friendship in the UK.

Roberts told them that he wanted to try to strip away some of the myths surrounding the relationship between Israel and Britain.

“It is, therefore, no coincidence that although the Queen has made over 250 official overseas visits to 129 different countries during her reign, neither she nor one single member of the British royal family has ever been to Israel on an official visit,” he said.

Even though, he said, Prince Philip’s mother, Princess Alice of Greece, was recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations for sheltering a Jewish family in her Athens home during the Holocaust, and is buried on the Mount of Olives, Prince Philip did not visit her grave until 1994 – “and then only on a private visit.”

Roberts questioned the Foreign Office’s attitude to Israel, because it is the Foreign Office that organizes and sanctions royal visits.

The Foreign Office has responded that Israel was not unique in not having received an official royal visit, as “many countries have not had an official visit,” Roberts said.

“That might be true for Burkino Faso and Chad, but the FO has somehow managed to find the time over the years to send the queen on state visits to Libya, Iran, Sudan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan and Turkey. So it can’t have been that she wasn’t in the area.

“Perhaps her majesty hasn’t been on the throne long enough, at 57 years, for the Foreign Office to get round to allowing her to visit one of the only democracies in the Middle East.

“At least she could be certain of a warm welcome in Israel, unlike in Morocco, where she was kept waiting by the king for three hours in 90-degree heat, or at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Uganda the time before last, where they hadn’t even finished building her hotel.”

Roberts, whose current book The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War reached No. 2 on the Sunday Times best-seller list, also attacked those who accuse Israel of responding “disproportionately” to provocation.

“William Hague [a Conservative MP] called for Israel to adopt a proportionate response in its struggle with Hizbullah in Lebanon in 2006, as though proportionate responses ever won any victories against fascists,” he said.

“In the Second World War, the Luftwaffe killed 50,000 Britons in the Blitz, and the Allied response was to kill 600,000 Germans – 12 times the number and hardly a proportionate response, but one that contributed mightily to victory. Who are we therefore to lecture the Israelis on how proportionate their responses should be?”

He then questioned how Britain would respond to similar provocations faced by Israel.

“Very often in Britain, especially when faced with the overwhelmingly anti-Israeli bias that is endemic in our liberal media and the BBC, we fail to ask ourselves what we would do placed in the same position?

“The population of the UK is 63 million – nine times that of Israel. In July 2006, to take one example entirely at random, Hizbullah crossed the border of Lebanon into Israel and killed eight patrolmen and kidnapped two others, and that summer fired 4,000 Katyusha rockets into Israel which killed a further 43 civilians.

“Now, if we multiply those numbers by nine to get the British equivalent, just imagine what we would not do if a terrorist organization based as close as Calais were to fire 36,000 rockets into Sussex and Kent, killing 387 British civilians, after killing 72 British servicemen in an ambush and capturing a further 18?

“I put it to you that there is absolutely no lengths to which our government would not go to protect British subjects under those circumstances, and quite right, too. So why should Israel be expected to behave any differently?”

US President Barack Obama was also criticized by Roberts.

“At a time when Barack Obama appears to be the least pro-Israeli president since [Dwight] Eisenhower, the dangers are even more obvious. For there is simply no way that Obama will prevent [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, perhaps Jewry’s most viciously outspoken and dangerous foe since the death of Hitler, to acquire a nuclear bomb,” he said.

Ending his speech to raptu rous applause, Roberts said Israel, and Israel alone, knew how to act in the best interest of the Jewish people.

“In her hopes of averting the threat of a second Holocaust, only Israel can be relied upon to act decisively in the best interests of the Jews,” he said.

Roberts’s book A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900 brought him an invitation to the White House in February 2007, where he delivered the prestigious White House Lecture.

His books have been translated into Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Estonian and Spanish.

European Union, the Euro and Germany

April 5, 2010

By Peter Zeihan

The global system is undergoing profound change. Three powers — Germany, Iran and China — face challenges forcing them to refashion the way they interact with their regions and the world. We will explore each of these three states in detail in our next three geopolitical weeklies, highlighting how STRATFOR’s assessments of these states are evolving. We will examine Germany first.

Germany’s Place in Europe

European history has been the chronicle of other European powers struggling to constrain Germany, particularly since German unification in 1871. The problem has always been geopolitical. Germany lies on the North European Plain, with France to its west and Russia to its east. If both were to attack at the same time, Germany would collapse. German strategy in 1871, 1914 and 1939 called for pre-emptive strikes on France to prevent a two-front war. (The last two attempts failed disastrously, of course.)

As much as Germany’s strategy engendered mistrust in Germany’s neighbors, they certainly understood Germany’s needs. And so European strategy after World War II involved reshaping the regional dynamic so that Germany would never face this problem again and so would never need to be a military power again. Germany’s military policy was subordinated to NATO and its economic policy to the European Economic Community (the forerunner of today’s European Union). NATO solved Germany’s short-run problem, while the European Union was seen as solving its long-run problem. For the Europeans — including the Germans — these structures represented the best of both worlds. They harnessed German capital and economic dynamism, submerged Germany into a larger economic entity, gave the Germans what they needed economically so they didn’t have to seek it militarily, and ensured that the Germans had no reason — or ability — to strike out on their own.

This system worked particularly well after the Cold War ended. Defense threats and their associated costs were reduced. There were lingering sovereignty issues, of course, but these were not critical during the good times: Such problems easily can be dealt with or deferred while the money flows. The example of a European development that represented this money-over-sovereignty paradigm was the European Monetary Union, best represented by the European common currency, the euro.

STRATFOR has always doubted the euro would last. Having the same currency and monetary policy for rich, technocratic, capital-intensive economies like Germany as for poor, agrarian/manufacturing economies like Spain always seemed like asking for problems. Countries like Germany tend to favor high interest rates to attract investment capital. They don’t mind a strong currency, since what they produce is so high up on the value-added scale that they can compete regardless. Countries like Spain, however, need a cheap currency, since there isn’t anything particularly value-added about most of their exports. These states must find a way to be price competitive. Their ability to grow largely depends upon getting access to cheap credit they can direct to places the market might not appreciate.

STRATFOR figured that creating a single currency system would trigger high inflation in the poorer states as they gained access to capital they couldn’t qualify for on their own merits. We figured such access would generate massive debts in those states. And we figured such debts would contribute to discontent across the currency zone as the European Central Bank (ECB) catered to the needs of some economies at the expense of others.

All this and more has happened. We saw the 2008-2009 financial crisis in Central Europe as particularly instructive. Despite their shared EU membership, the Western European members were quite reluctant to bail out their eastern partners. We became even more convinced that such inconsistencies would eventually doom the currency union, and that the euro’s eventual dissolution would take the European Union with it. Now, we’re not so sure.

What if, instead of the euro being designed to further contain the Germans, the Germans crafted the euro to rewire the European Union for their own purposes?

Germany and the Current Crisis

The crux of the current crisis in Europe is that most EU states, but in particular the Club Med states of Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy (in that order), have done such a poor job of keeping their budgets under control that they are flirting with debt defaults. All have grown fat and lazy off the cheap credit the euro brought them. Instead of using that credit to trigger broad sustainable economic growth, they lived off the difference between the credit they received due to the euro and the credit they qualified for on their own merits. Social programs funded by debt exploded; after all, the cost of that debt was low as the Club Med countries coasted on the bond prices of Germany. At present, interest rates set by the ECB stand at 1 percent; in the past, on its own merits, Greece’s often rose to double digits. The resulting government debt load in Greece — which now exceeds annual Greek gross domestic product — will probably result in either a default (triggered by efforts to maintain such programs) or a social revolution (triggered by an effort to cut such programs). It is entirely possible that both will happen.

What made us look at this in a new light was an interview with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble on March 13 in which he essentially said that if Greece, or any other eurozone member, could not right their finances, they should be ejected from the eurozone. This really got our attention. It is not so much that there is no legal way to do this. (And there is not; Greece is a full EU member, and eurozone membership issues are clearly a category where any member can veto any major decision.) Instead, what jumped out at us is that someone of Schauble’s gravitas doesn’t go about casually making threats, and this is not the sort of statement made by a country that is constrained, harnessed, submerged or placated. It is not even the sort of statement made by just any EU member, but rather by the decisive member. Germany now appears prepared not just to contemplate, but to publicly contemplate, the re-engineering of Europe for its own interests. It may not do it, or it may not do it now, but it has now been said, and that will change Germany’s relationship to Europe.

A closer look at the euro’s effects indicates why Schauble felt confident enough to take such a bold stance.

Part of being within the same currency zone means being locked into the same market. One must compete with everyone else in that market for pretty much everything. This allows Slovaks to qualify for mortgage loans at the same interest rates the Dutch enjoy, but it also means that efficient Irish workers are actively competing with inefficient Spanish workers — or more to the issue of the day, that ultraefficient German workers are competing directly with ultra inefficient Greek workers.

The chart below measures the relative cost of labor per unit of economic output produced. It all too vividly highlights what happens when workers compete. (We have included U.S. data as a benchmark.) Those who are not as productive try to paper over the problem with credit. Since the euro was introduced, all of Germany’s euro partners have found themselves becoming less and less efficient relative to Germany. Germans are at the bottom of the graph, indicating that their labor costs have barely budged. Club Med dominates the top rankings, as access to cheaper credit has made them even less, not more, efficient than they already were. Back-of-the-envelope math indicates that in the past decade, Germany has gained roughly a 25 percent cost advantage over Club Med.


The implications of this are difficult to overstate. If the euro is essentially gutting the European — and again to a greater extent the Club Med — economic base, then Germany is achieving by stealth what it failed to achieve in the past thousand years of intra-European struggles. In essence, European states are borrowing money (mostly from Germany) in order to purchase imported goods (mostly from Germany) because their own workers cannot compete on price (mostly because of Germany). This is not limited to states actually within the eurozone, but also includes any state affiliated with the zone; the relative labor costs for most of the Central European states that have not even joined the euro yet have risen by even more during this same period.

It is not so much that STRATFOR now sees the euro as workable in the long run — we still don’t — it’s more that our assessment of the euro is shifting from the belief that it was a straightjacket for Germany to the belief that it is Germany’s springboard. In the first assessment, the euro would have broken as Germany was denied the right to chart its own destiny. Now, it might well break because Germany is becoming a bit too successful at charting its own destiny. And as it dawns on one European country after another that there was more to the euro than cheap credit, the ties that bind are almost certainly going to weaken.

The paradigm that created the European Union — that Germany would be harnessed and contained — is shifting. Germany now has not only found its voice, it is beginning to express, and hold to, its own national interest. A political consensus has emerged in Germany against bailing out Greece. Moreover, a political consensus has emerged in Germany that the rules of the euro zone are Germany’s to refashion. As the European Union’s anchor member, Germany has a very good point. But this was not the “union” the rest of Europe signed up for — it is the Mitteleuropa that the rest of Europe will remember well.