Tag Archives: Peel Commission

The cowardly Zionism of Jonathan Freedland.

In his piece Yearning for the same land in this week’s New Statesman magazine prize winning author and columnist Jonathan Freedland cites four shades of Zionism: secular, religious, left-wing and rightist.

Make that five shades: Freedland Zionism – sitting in one’s comfortable diaspora home while joining in the delegitimisation of Israel.

A May issue of the New Statesman was devoted to Who Speaks for British Jews? This week’s issue asks Israel: the future – Is the dream of a two-state solution dead? In January 2002 the New Statesman’s sickening front cover had the Star of David piercing the Union Jack with the words Kosher Conspiracy? It was an issue devoted to the undue influence of “the Zionist lobby” (see end).

Israel is unique in being the only country whose future, or lack of, is constantly under discussion. And who knew that ripping the heart out of Judaism by giving up places like the Machpelah in Hebron is considered a “dream”?  A necessity in return for an elusive peace maybe, but no dream.

Freedland puts himself among the “left-leaning Zionists”. These are “true Zionists” who think that “the 45-year long occupation is jeopardising the founding Zionist goal of a Jewish, democratic state.”

Freedland doesn’t tell us why the “occupation” is threatening Israel’s Jewish and democratic status but it sounds like the scaremongering of J Street and Yachad.

Yachad, for example, claims that if Israel doesn’t withdraw from the West Bank then by 2020 the Palestinians between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea will outnumber Jews. Minority autocratic rule by Jews over Palestinians will follow or, as Mick Davis, a British Jewish community leader put it recently, “Israel is heading towards an apartheid state”.

Those who cite this thesis never back it up with a source, but that is because it is just more anti-Israel propaganda; a ploy to force Israel to dangerously concede more land.

Yoram Ettinger shows how the numbers of Palestinians on the West Bank are regularly artificially inflated by at least one million and argues that Palestinians and Israeli Arabs can never make up more than 30% of those living between the River and the Sea. Freedland wouldn’t want facts to get in the way of a good story.

Freedland claims to support Israel’s right to exist. He just doesn’t like how Zionism was implemented or current Israeli policy. And he believes that “the security, viability and even the ethical character of the Jewish state matter more than its size.”

He contrasts this position with that of the “hawkish Zionists, heirs of the revisionist tradition of Vladimir Jabotinsky who are territorial maximalists, eager to fly the Israeli flag over all of the West Bank”.

So just how small does Freedland think Israel should have been?

The Peel Commission of 1937 offered the Arabs 80% of British Mandate Palestine and the Jews 20%. The Zionists accepted but Arab leaders rejected this leaving Europe’s Jews to their fate in the gas chambers.

Freedland states “Israel needs to look plainly at the circumstances of its birth and understand why Palestinians regard the event as a catastrophe.” But Arab leaders having rejected, this time, 45% of British Mandate Palestine in 1947 went on to commence hostilities against the Jews instead.

So who are the real “territorial maximalists” here?

In fact the seeds for Arab defeat in 1947-1949 were self-inflicted having been sown during the 1936-39 Arab uprising in British Mandate Palestine which was brutally crushed by the British leaving the Arabs bereft of leaders, fighters and weapons while Zionist militias used the time to build up their reserves.

Freedland then complains that there were no takers in Israel for a “national memorial day to mark the Arab dispossession”.

But why would Israelis commemorate an attempt by Arab leaders to kill them?

Despite all this Arab rejectionism Freedland then, incredibly, goes on to portray Jews and Arabs as drowning nations clinging to the same piece of driftwood. He thinks the Jews who were “gasping for breathe” were right to cling to it in 1948. After 1967, he claims Israel pushed the Palestinians off the shared driftwood and into the sea.

Freedland doesn’t bother analysing what the situation might have been like today had Israel not been in West Bank.  One need only look at the aftermath of Israel’s pullout from Gaza: rockets slamming into Tel Aviv, anyone?

Like in his piece This is Israel? Not the one I Love in the Jewish Chronicle last November Freedland doesn’t like to complicate the issue by mentioning Hamas or Islamic Jihad. No mention of Hamas’ call to kill Jews in its charter or of Hamas’ beliefs that Israel is an “Islamic waqf” and that peaceful solutions are invalid.

Freedland never asks, or answers, why he thinks the Palestinians, who rejected 80% of the territory in 1937 and 45% in 1947 would accept 22% now. In fact he doesn’t criticise the Palestinians once.

Luckily for Freedland he has never had to take a life or death decision. Sadly, he takes the coward’s way out and criticises those unlucky Jews forced to. He yearns for the perfect Israel and until then won’t stop his constant delegitimisation of the Jewish state.

But it gets worse. Alongside Freedland’s piece is a piece by Ali Abunimah. Abunimah calls for a one state solution and the ending of “Israelis’ demand for the supremacy of Jewish rights over those of the Palestinians”. While Geoffrey Wheatcroft, in his book review How the dream died, describes the American “pro-Israel official ‘Jewish establishment'” as “elderly, rich and right-wing”.

“Supremacy of Jewish rights”, Jews described as “rich”? The New Statesman obviously has no problem with keeping sickening anti-Semitic stereotypes alive.

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Benny Morris fends off allegations of “racism” at LSE.

Benny Morris taking a question at LSE.

Benny Morris taking a question at LSE.

Israeli revisionist historian Benny Morris gave a talk at the London School of Economics on Tuesday night and was labeled a “racist”, “theologian” and a “social darwinist” by some anti-Zionists in the audience and others protesting his presence outside.

His talk was called Reconsidering the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

The “theologian” accusation (see second video clip below) is absurd on two counts.

First, as Morris suggested, if anyone has a problem with his thesis all they need do is look at the footnotes in his book 1948 and then go and check the documents referred to and if they disagree with his interpration of the documents then they can challenge him.

Second, Morris questions the narrative, that many  Zionists hold dear, that the Palestinians simply left during the 1948 war on the orders of the surrounding Arab countries with a view to returning once the Jews had been defeated.

He cited incidences of transfer of Palestinians and massacres of Palestinians by Jewish/Israeli militias during the 1948 war, although, he said, whether any of this happened as a matter of “policy” is another matter; no governmental documentation was ever discovered that indicated such orders, and it is likely that such decisions were made independently by generals on the ground during individual battles (incidentally, it was the British that introduced the idea of transfer in the 1937 Peel Commission report)

He said that during the 1948 war 800/900 Palestinians were massacred by Jewish/Israeli militias, while 200/300 Jews were massacred by Arab militias; the disparity was because Jewish/Israeli militias conquered some 400 Palestinian towns and villages, whereas the Arabs conquered only a dozen Jewish settlements.

He said that as wars go 1948 was not, in the scheme of things, as bloody as many try to make it out to be when considering that, for example, 8,000-9,000 Muslim men and boys were killed at Srebrenica in the space of just two days during the Bosnian war.

He also said that the 1948 war created two refugee problems; a Palestinian one and a Jewish one. 700,000 Palestinians were displaced as were some 600,000 to 700,00 Jews who were intimidated and harassed and forced to leave their Arab countries; for example, in 1956 Jews were literally expelled from Egypt.

The difference is that the expelled Jews were aborbed into other countries, while the Palestinians were not. 700, 000 Jews and 150,000 Palestinians remained in Israel in 1949 and even today, after Israel has absorbed 3,000,000 Jewish immigrants, the ratio of Jews to Arabs remains the same in Israel, indicating the high birthrates of Arabs living in Israel.

On the war itself Morris said it was fought in two phases; the civil war from 29th November 1947, when the UN partitioned British Mandate Palestine, until 14th May 1948, when Israel declared independence. The first shots of the civil war were fired by Palestinian guerillas who ambushed a bus and killed seven Jews near Tel Aviv.

The second phase was from 14th May 1948, when Israel declared independence and the surrounding Arab armies invaded, until the ceasefire in 1949. Israel won the war possibly due to their purchase of airplanes after they declared independence. Until that time the Jews had no planes. The Israelis still had far fewer planes than the combined Arab armies, but were able to fly far more missions and had better trained pilots.

Morris also suggested that, in additon to the 1948 war being one about territory, it was regarded by the Arab side as a Holy Jihad. Many Imams declared a pan-Muslim Jihad and called for the mobilisation of Muslims to fight the Jewish state.

This was hotly disputed by some in the audience who asked for proof. Morris said he wasn’t an expert, as it would involve going through every Arab newspaper between 1947 and 1949, but this is his view based on what he has read and it is an issue that only occupies four pages in his book.

But, and this seemed to be the crux of the matter, all of the Arab archives remain closed. If they were opened it would shed light on this issue.

One woman in the audience claimed that, if anything, it was the Zionists who were waging a Holy Jihad due to their nature of wanting a Jewish state. Another woman suggested that proof that the Jews were fighting a holy war was their desire to reclaim Jerusalem.

Morris refuted both claims (see video clips below) by answering that most Israeli Jews in 1948 were either atheist or agnostic and that ben Gurion had decided against the mention of “God” in Israel’s Declaration of Independence as he thought it would alienate many Jews; in 1948 Israel was totally dominated by socialist thinking.

As for Jerusalem he said that the Jews simply saw it as an issue of reclaiming their old capital city, as opposed to a religious requirement.

He did say, though, that he believed that Jerusalem should become internationalised, as was originally foreseen by the UN. He is also against the settlements.

Morris was also asked to explain his comments in 2004, when he was quoted in Haaretz as saying that the Palestinians should be fenced in or have a cage built for them. He answered that at the time Palestinian suicide bombers were getting into Israel on a daily basis and his comments were aimed at the suicide bombers; if they couldn’t be stopped from entering Israel, then they should be fenced in or caged. He said that the questioner was taking his comments completely out of context.

On leaving the talk we were met with the same old faces of the small group of anti-Israel activists. They hadn’t been in the talk but had “Morris is a racist” stickers on their foreheads and were giving out leaflets headed “Is Benny Morris a Serious Historian or a Plain Old Racist?”

Video clips and photos:
The clips below are worth watching if you have time because Morris is very entertaining and sometimes the audience just won’t let him answer.

Protester with sticker cleverly stuck to her forehead.

Protester with sticker cleverly stuck to her forehead.

Can someone please explain this to me!!!

Can someone please explain this to me!!!

Channel 4 is not ‘Promising’ for British Jews.

The character of Len in The Promise (Guardian.co.uk)

The character of Len in The Promise (Guardian.co.uk)

Many British Jews woke up this morning feeling a little less welcome living in the UK. The overall feeling of watching the four episodes of The Promise is one of inciting racial hatred.

And it says a lot about the current UK environment that anti-Jewish propaganda is now so freely available on British tv and not just British university campuses.

Peter Kosminsky spent seven years writing The Promise but consulted avowedly anti-Israel groups like Breaking the Silence, Combatants for Peace and ISM and also British soldiers who had come under fire from Jewish military groups.

His facile conclusion is:

“The most striking thing I’m left with is a question: how did we get from there to here? Like most British soldiers we interviewed, arriving in Palestine from the war in Europe, Len Matthews felt only sympathy for the Jewish plight. Having seen the ovens of Bergen-Belsen, his heart tells him that Jews deserve a place of safety, almost at any price. In 1945, that view was shared by most of the world. In the era inhabited by Erin, his granddaughter, just 60 years later, Israel is isolated, loathed and feared in equal measure by its neighbours, finding little sympathy outside America for its uncompromising view of how to defend its borders and secure its future. How did Israel squander the compassion of the world within a lifetime?” (See a response to this here).

There was no attempt at balance or context. Jews and Israelis were portrayed as evil and the Arabs were portrayed as the good guys.

And these are the words that Len, the main British Mandate character in The Promise, writes in his diary as he departs British Mandate Palestine:

“We’ve left the Arabs in the shit. But what about the Jews and their bloody state for which they fought so hard? Three years ago I would have said give them whatever they want, they deserve it after all they have been through. Now I’m not so sure. This precious state of theirs has been born in violence and in cruelty to its neighbours. I’m not sure how it can thrive.”

Channel Four also recently showed War Child, a documentary on the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead in which “the Jews” were portrayed as going on a killing spree against Palestinian children.

And a few years ago it allowed mass murderer of his own people and Holocaust denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to broadcast a Chistmas speech. Then there is the anti-Israel Jon Snow who seems to split his career between reading Channel 4’s nightly news and chairing anti-Israel events.

Last night we finally found out what “the promise” of the title was all about. In 1948 Len, the British soldier, had promised, but failed, to return the key of the house owned by an Arab family he had befriended and who he ordered to flee to avoid being massacred by the oncoming Jews. 62 years later this promise was fulfilled by his grand-daughter, Erin. When she told him in his hospital bed back in the UK that she had finally returned the key he just lightly squeezed her hand before passing away without speaking.

To arrive at that point we witnessed some six hours of unmitigated demonisation of Jews; both those in British Mandate Palestine and those living in Israel today.

We watched as Erin gradually turned into a hardcore anti-Semite due to her experiences in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. She was an epileptic who suffered three seizures during the series. But the only time she fitted was when she was with Jews, never with Arabs.

The first time was in an Israeli nightclub when she collapsed on to the floor shaking uncontrollably and instead of anyone coming to help the Israelis just laughed at her.

The second time was when she was being reprimanded by the wealthy Jewish family she was staying with in Israel for bringing an Arab back to the house.

The third time was when she was confronted by three aggressive Israeli soldiers while she was trying to comfort a sick Palestinian woman who had been removed from her house just before it was about to be blown up because her family helped to shield a suicide bomber.

Meanwhile, Jews during the British Mandate Palestine era were all portrayed as brutal cold-blooded murderers with Kosminsky concentrating solely on the Irgun.

British soldiers and Arabs were constantly seen being shot by Jews, while we only see one Jew killed. Len shot a Jew dead while defending his beloved adopted Arab family.

No one would be able to comprehend from this series that almost 6,000 Jews died fighting the Arabs between 1947 and 1949, equivalent to 1% of the Jewish population of British Mandate Palestine at the time.

Nor was there any context to the Irgun’s actions. British government policy had become so anti-Jewish that the Jews were fighting for their lives.

In 1939 the British had reversed their own 1917 promise to the Jews to create a Jewish homeland. Instead only 75,000 Jews were now to be allowed to immigrate in to British Mandate Palestine over the next five years, after which the immigration numbers would be up to the Arab majority to decide. By 1949 British Mandate Palestine would effectively become another Arab state.

The Irgun put off any fighting until this five year period had expired. When there was no change in this British policy they starting fighting, which consisted of attacking buildings, not people (It was the Stern Gang, a small group of extremist Jews, who had no compunction about attacking civilians, soldiers and diplomatic figures).

The Irgun attacked the King David Hotel, as shown in The Promise, but not before, according to Menachem Begin, phoning through ignored warnings to evacuate.

In The Promise we were also shown Jews massacring unarmed Arabs in the village of Deir Yassin.

Begin claims that a warning was given to the inhabitants of Deir Yassin, so throwing away the element of surprise. He claims heavy fighting ensued and the Irgun suffered casualties of four dead and forty wounded, not as portrayed in The Promise.

Benny Morris claims that Arab radio broadcasts inflated what took place at Deir Yassin, and it was this that helped instigate the flight of the Arabs from all around the country.

But in The Promise the Arabs flee as a direct response to this “massacre” and fear of what the Jews might do to them. Again, there is no mention that up to 400,000 Palestinians did not flee.

The Promise also failed to mention La Saison when the Haganah (the main Jewish military force in British Mandate Palestine) caught members of the Irgun and handed them over to the British.

Instead, we were treated to one scene where British soldiers were shot through their heads as they sat in a military jeep outside a restaurant while rich Jewish diners just carried on eating, drinking and laughing.

Of course Kosminsky tried to promote what he thought was the Jewish/Israeli narrative.

The Promise occasionally flashed back to real scenes from The Holocaust, but there was no explanation of the Jews’ historic connection to Israel. The implication was that the Jews had stolen a country belonging to another people.

Second, Kosminsky showed two suicide bombings. The first one was just after an Israeli left-wing character had explained how the Security Wall has Arabs on both sides of it; some inside Israel proper and some inside the West Bank. The implication of the suicide bomb taking place straight after this was that the Security Wall was ineffective to stop suicide bombings and was merely a political tool used to grab more Palestinian land.

And after the second suicide bombing Erin, quite incredibly, befriends the family of the suicide bomber and even tried to stop their home being blown up by the IDF. This despite Erin not knowing the extent of the knowledge that the Palestinian family had about the intentions of their terrorist daughter.

Kosminsky also had Jewish children in the West Bank attacking Arab families with rocks while the IDF looked on and the IDF using a child as a human shield. We also saw a bulldozer almost run down Erin, recalling the death of Rachel Corrie in the same way. This is all straight out of an ISM handbook.

The Promise had everything for the Jew hater and Israel hater, but what you won’t see is a series about the Arab uprising in British Mandate Palestine between 1936-1939, which was brutally put down by the British and in which some 5,000 Arabs, 300 Jews and 260 Britons were killed and during which the Peel Commission offered the Arabs 80% of British Mandate Palestine, which the greedy Arab leadership duly rejected.

It was this that sowed the seeds for what followed and for the Arab defeat in 1948, but, as ever, why let facts get in the way of demonising Jews and Israel.

Arabs and Israelis facing the Holocaust and the Nakba (A book and a talk at SOAS)

On tuesday two hundred students attended SOAS to hear Gilbert Achcar, a Professor of International Relations at SOAS, talk about his new book The Arabs and the Holocaust: the Arab-Israeli War of Narratives.

Achcar claimed:

1. The Arabs bear no responsibility at all for the Holocaust.
2. The Israelis have Nazified the Palestinian people.
3. This Nazification has come about by Israel’s broadcasting of the Mufti’s connections with Hitler during WW2.
4. The Israelis must apologise for the Nakba (the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948) for there to be peace.
5. The Israelis are today still frozen with fear by Holocaust.
6. Any anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial in the Arab world is purely a result of Israel’s aggression or Israel’s societal shift to the right.

He presented the Arab and Israeli narratives, as he saw them, on the conflict as follows:

Arab – Israel is a Zionist colonial enterprise where the “ethnic cleansing” of 1948 was a defining moment. The expansion of this colonial state continued after the 1967 war and continues to this day with the oppression of the Palestinians on the West Bank and in Gaza.

Israeli – Zionism was a response to anti-Semitism and Israel was created as redemption for the Holocaust. The Arabs are like the Nazis. There was no ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and the 1948 War was purely a defensive one.

Achcar didn’t refute the Arab narrative but did refute the Israeli one.

He said that there had been a total lack of sympathy with Nazism throughout the Arab world and no military actions were undertaken by the Arabs with the Axis powers but Israel needs to acknowledge its role in the Nakba and its oppression of the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, Arabs must acknowledge the role of the Holocaust on the Israeli psyche.

Mohammad Amin al-Husayni (The Mufti) cleared by Achcar of all charges of conspiring with the Nazis

Mohammad Amin al-Husayni (The Mufti) cleared by Gilbert Achcar of any responsibility at all for the Holocaust

Next to speak was Palestinian author and journalist Nur Masalha.

Masalha said “we are not responsible for the Holocaust. We are its indirect victims. We paid for the Holocaust and we are still paying for it. The Jews were its victims but we are also its victims. We are the Jews of the Jews. We have become the Jews of history” and he spoke of “concentration camps in Gaza”.

He claimed the Mufti was not an anti-Semite and that as Jews and Muslims had fought in several wars together this was proof that there was no history of anti-Semitism in the Middle East.

He thought that a Holocaust denier in France would go to prison and in the UK would lose his job but if you deny the Nakba in the UK, like the current Chief Rabbi did, you go to the House of Lords.

Last to speak was Idith Zertal of the Institute for Jewish Studies, University of Basel. Again we heard that the Arabs had nothing to do with the Holocaust. She said that too much had been said about the Mufti and that the Palestinians are the scapegoats of the Israelis.

She also felt that Israelis are so helpless in the face of such an event like the Holocaust, and how it was allowed to happen, that Israelis are transferring their rage onto the Palestinians.

She said that even the Poles share in this Israeli “rage” because as so many Israeli youngsters visit Auschwitz they think the Poles exterminated the Jews.

How I wished for a Melanie Phillips or a Geoffrey Alderman to be on the panel.

The audience asked the usual banal questions including on the prospect of a one-state solution, while a few felt the urge to label themselves “Jewish” before comparing Israel to Nazi Germany.

I also contributed:

1. How can Achcar claim that the Palestinians had no responsibility for the Holocaust? The Arabs had persuaded the British to shut the door of British Mandate Palestine to Jewish immigration leaving the Jews to their fate at the hands of the Nazis. (There was also the 1937 Peel Commission which offered the Jews just 20% of British Mandate Palestine. Had the Arabs accepted even more Jews would have escaped the Nazis).

Achcar told me that all nations had shut their doors to the Jews including “racist Britain”.

Evenso, that doesn’t absolve the Arabs from all responsibility for the Holocaust!

2. Israel does bear little, if any, responsibility for the 1948 Nakba as UN Resolution 181 created two states; one for the Jews and one for the Palestinians. The Arabs rejected it and chose war instead.

Achcar countered that the Palestinians had a right to resist the takeover of “their country”.

3. Jews were not treated well in Arab countries. They were dhimmi (tolerated and protected but subordinate) and one million were expelled after Israel’s creation compared to the 750,000 Arabs that left British Mandate Palestine/Israel. There was also the Farhud of 1941 during which 175 Iraqi Jews were massacred.

Achcar answered that it was debatable as to why the Jews had “migrated” but it was nothing compared to the fate of the Palestinians. He also said that despite being dhimmi Jews had always fared better in Arab and Muslim countries than in Western countries.

4. As for Nazification if anything it was the Arabs who were doing this of Israel with slogans like “Stop the Holocaust in Gaza” and talk of Palestinians in concentration camps. Even Nur Masalha had just mentioned concentration camps.

Masalha replied that it was the British who invented concentration camps so he, of course, was not referencing the Holocaust.

Achcar did however dispute Masalha’s astonishing claim that the Mufti was not an anti-Semite. He said the Mufti was anti-Semitic as evidenced by his radio broadcasts from Berlin inciting Muslims to kill the Jews wherever you find them. But, Achcar said, this had all come to nothing anyway.

Hizbollah fighters: According to Gilbert Achcar the Nazi salutes are purely down to Israel's behaviour.

Hizbollah fighters: According to Gilbert Achcar the Nazi salutes are purely down to Israel's behaviour.

However, I would suggest, it isn’t the Holocaust that keeps Israelis locked in a state of fear but these murderous pronouncements of intent by the Mufti which have been taken up by Hamas and Hizbollah.

The Hamas Charter explicitly calls on Muslims to kill Jews and Sheikh Nasrallah, the head of Hizbollah, said that “if all the Jews gather in Israel it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide”.

But not once were Hamas or Hizbollah even mentioned. There was no acknowledgment of any Jewish connection to the Land of Israel. There was no acknowledgment of the ethnic cleansing of one million Jews from Arab countries who had to leave everything behind them.

Quite incredibly, all three speakers painted the Arab nations, and the Palestinians in particular, as innocence personified.

The only thoughtful comment came from Idith Zertal.

She agreed that some Arabs do Nazify Israel but felt that Israelis invented this type of the Nazification.

However, she felt it was now important for both sides to find other words to describe the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Holocaust was a unique tragedy and there is no place for such comparisons today.

Finally, after two long hours, some sense was spoken.