Resolution of the Middle East crisis cannot be obtained on a battlefield. It can be won by exposing media deceptions engineered by Israel and its supporters, and by actions that change Israel into a just and genuine nation, into a state that recognizes its duty to the world community and obligations to all peoples that inhabit land that it occupies.
World opinion has shifted — recognition that oppression of the Palestinians requires forcible measures be taken against Israel in order to halt the persecution is widely expressed. Israel reacts with its usual manipulations, using its media supporters to deflect from the criticism and portray Israel as a defenseless victim. Pro-Israel commentators who interview Israel’s critics are prepared with standard Macros — a series of provocative questions that they hope will generate a confused reply and embarrass the person being interviewed.
(1) “Do you believe Israel has a right to exist?”
(2) “Do you believe Jews have a right to their own country in their ancient land?”
(3) “What is your opinion of the rising anti-Semitism and do you disown known anti-Semites?”
No reason for confusion; these questions have concrete answers that silence the commentators.
Do you believe Israel has a right to exist?
Because nations do not exist by right but by recognition from other nations, the question has no standard answer and seeks a logical answer. Did the Soviet Union have a right to exist? Yes, a Soviet Union, but not that Soviet Union; not the totalitarian Soviet Union that oppressed its citizens and refused to implement economic policies that would allow an adequate standard of living.
The same logic can be applied to Israel; an Israel can exist but not a virulent nationalist, militarist, and expansionist Israel that has caused several wars, steals Palestinian lands, oppresses the Palestinians to near destruction, places world Jewry in jeopardy by its nefarious actions, and is a continuous threat to Middle East peace.
A larger dimension to the question – the Israeli government, by action and directives, has indirectly informed the world it is not a nation and is not inclined to be a nation. By lacking the totality of institutions that define a legally constituted nation state, Israel remains identified as a combination of military state, tribal state, theocracy, supercharged council, and a highly refined association of collective minds — a mini-mini-empire — all of which are consistent with a lack of constitutional rule. Treating Israel from that perspective, as a community and not as a nation, clarifies its actions, redefines its international relationships, and, as will be shown, answers the question, “Do you believe Israel has a right to exist?”
Borders define a nation and Israel has no defined borders.
Israel has neither defined its borders nor shown any inclination to delineate its boundaries. Its Nation State Law de-emphasizes a nation state and establishes a privileged Jewish community, governed by communal administration, with an extension to Jews in other nations who can align themselves with Israeli society. Israel is an atavistic revival to a tribal form of governance, where borders and boundaries are not fixed. Settlers in the Golan and throughout the West Bank are Israeli citizens but do not inhabit a land that shows on world maps as being part of an Israel nation
There is no Israel nationality.
In almost all modern and democratic nation states, nationality and citizenship are identical. Israel has many ethnicities and nationalities to use for registration of an ID card, most prominent being Jewish, Arab, and Druze. All of the recognized nationalities might be Israeli citizens, but none is an Israeli nationality. Because nation implies people of a common nationality, Israel is not a certified nation.
Israel has no Constitution and is governed by an assortment of contested and prejudicially applied laws. Some examples from http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/aboutisrael/state/law/pages/basic%20laws%20of%20the%20state%20of%20israel.aspx
Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel – Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.
The world contradicts this law. As of January 1, 2017, 60 years after establishment of Israel, no nation had its embassy in Jerusalem. In January 2019, only two nations, the United States and Guatemala have embassies in Jerusalem.
Basic Law: Israel Lands – The ownership of Israel lands, being the lands in Israel of the State, the Development Authority or the Keren Kayemet Le-Israel, shall not be transferred either by sale or in any other manner.
The State owns approximately 93% of the allocated land. This law, which contradicts the democratic system of private property, and is equivalent to the much-maligned Soviet system of land ownership, conveniently prevents Israeli Palestinians from purchasing or leasing newly available land in their own country.
Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty – The purpose of this Basic Law is to protect human dignity and liberty, to establish in a Basic Law the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
Is there a contradiction between Israel being a democratic state and proclaiming itself as a Jewish state in a nation in which a large minority is not Jewish?
Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation – Every Israel national or resident has the right to engage in any occupation, profession or trade.
Government studies conducted in conjunction with The Hebrew University of Jerusalem have found that “a job applicant with an Ashkenazi-sounding name has a 34 percent higher chance of being hired by an employer than a person with a Sephardi-sounding name applying for the same position. … [and also that] over 22% of employers openly stated that they actively discriminate against applicants with Arab-sounding names.”
Israel’s Right of Return, which permits Jews to migrate to Israel and automatically apply for citizenship, is not a rule in other nations.
Nations that have a Right of Return give that right to previous nationals and their children. One exception, Armenia, allows a Right of Return to all disbursed Armenians that can trace their heritage directly back to an Armenian ethnicity. Contrary to the Armenian position, there is no accepted historical or genetic proof that Jews disbursed throughout the world have more connection to a land in Israel than other persons in much of the world.
Israel has a chaotic political system in which Parties come and go every few years.
Previously established major political Parties have severely declined, while individuals, often due to media popularity, spontaneously form active Parties. In each election, it is difficult to know the present characteristics of a political Party, and its policies. Cabinet positions, especially Foreign Minister, are based on political compromise and personal favors and not on experience and/or skill.
Israel has failed to comply with any of the myriad of UN Resolutions condemning Israel’s practices and human rights violations.
The U.N. General Assembly’s 2015 session adopted 20 resolutions singling out Israel for criticism, and only three similar resolutions for the rest of the world combined
An unusual large percentage of Israelis do not live in Israel.
Accurate statistics are not available, but a figure of about 1 million Israelis living abroad, which is 12% of the population, has been cited by Foreign Policy at https://foreignpolicy.com/2011/07/05/the-million-missing-israelis/.
Combine all of the characteristics — no fully defined borders, no constitution, sketchy laws, an unrecognized capital city, failure to respect UN resolutions, severe human rights violations, chaotic political system, biased immigration policy, and a large number of citizens living outside the country — and the conclusion is that Israel has trappings of a nation, but has not completely evolved into a nation state. Even if it incorporates all of the West Bank and the Golan into a desired perimeter and self-defines its borders, which is unlikely, the international community will not recognize Israel’s self-declared borders. Without recognized borders, where is sovereignty asserted? Without respect to international law, how can international legitimacy be claimed? Can this Israel ever exist as a nation state?
Do you believe Jews have a right to their own country in their ancient land?
The question needs two clarifications.
(1) Are Jews a People?
(2) Was the British Mandate an ancient home of modern day Jews?
It can be shown that the answers to both of these questions are a “no,” and, therefore, “Jews do not have a right to their own country in what was not their ancient land. However, it can be shown that the Palestinians are a people and inhabited the British Mandate for centuries and probably several millennia.
A people is “a body of persons that are united by a common culture, tradition, or sense of kinship, that typically have common language, institutions, and beliefs, and often constitute a politically organized group.”Although modern day Jews have some identifiable characteristics and affinity with one another, they do not share, as Palestinians do, the characteristics that define a people — common language, common culture, common values. Contemporary Jews have languages and cultures coincident with the nation they inhabit. Atheist, Reform, Constructionist, Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jews have different traditions, different values, and entirely different cultural expressions.
The area that is now Israel was not the ancient home of modern Jews. When ethnicities speak of an ancient home, they speak, such as from the voices of Palestinians, of having legal title to the land, of caring for the land, of attachment to a soil that nourished them, and with intimate knowledge of ancestors. They may look back at a recognized civilization that gave the world new advances in technology, culture, warfare, administration, or other disciplines, and left identifiable physical traces that excite humankind. Modern Jews have no attachment to a soil, no memories of an advanced civilization, no honest attachment to an ancient land, and do not have intimate knowledge of ancestors.
Moreover, during the Roman Empire and later, Europeans and North Africans converted to Judaism. Many present day Jews are descendants of the converted and have no direct lineage to people from the Levant. From Nature Communications, A substantial prehistoric European ancestry amongst Ashkenazi maternal lineages, October 8, 2013 at https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms3543
Here we show that all four major founders, ~40% of Ashkenazi mtDNA variation, have ancestry in prehistoric Europe, rather than the Near East or Caucasus. Furthermore, most of the remaining minor founders share a similar deep European ancestry. Thus the great majority of Ashkenazi maternal lineages were not brought from the Levant, as commonly supposed, nor recruited in the Caucasus, as sometimes suggested, but assimilated within Europe. These results point to a significant role for the conversion of women in the formation of Ashkenazi communities, and provide the foundation for a detailed reconstruction of Ashkenazi genealogical history.
The Mizrahi who came to Israel were Arabs; the Ashkenazi were western; the Falasha were Ethiopians; and the Yemenites were from the Arabian Peninsula. Israel replaced the differing languages, dialects, music, cultures, and heritage of these ethnicities with unique and uniform characteristics, and created a new people. Accompanying creation was the destruction of centuries old Jewish history and life in Tunisia, Iraq, Libya, and Egypt.
Historical evidence shows that, after the ancient Hebrews, due to conquest and subjugation, faded from history, many of the later Jews were not attached to the land and did not consider it a national home — just the opposite — a large number of the later Jews preferred to remain in Babylonia. Jews moved throughout the Roman Empire, populating Alexandria, Rome, Cyrenaica, Salonika, Cyprus, and other places. From the time of the Maccabean revolt of the mid-2nd century B.C. to the Bar Kokhba revolt of the 2nd century A.D., which included the reign of the Hasmoneans, a sizable Jewish exodus to Mesopotamia and Persia and throughout the Roman Empire occurred. Freed from a pastoral life, dry conditions, and restricted economies, new communities of Mesopotamian Jews, knowledgeable and worldly, appeared in the Fertile Crescent. That region, which housed the great Jewish academies of Surah, Pumbadita, and Nehardea, best expressed the legacy and heritage of modern Judaism. In The Chosen Few: How Education Shaped Jewish History, 70-1492, winner of the 2012 National Jewish Book Award in Scholarship, by Maristella Botticini, Zvi Eckstein, Princeton University press, 2012, the authors claim that “Judaism reached its Golden Age in 800 -1200 A.D. During that time, Mesopotamia and Persia contained 75% of world Jewry with the rest in North Africa and Western Europe.”
A constant drumming of public relations and historical misconceptions have made it seem as if the more than one thousand years of lack of control and deficiency in physical presence by Jews in the Levant did not occur. Today is portrayed as only a short interval from the 2700-year-old reign of ancient King Hezekiah. Centuries of Christian and Crusader rule and more than one thousand years of Muslim rule and their tremendous constructions and creations in Jerusalem are downplayed. The Christian and Muslim everything become nothing, and a minor Hebrew something becomes everything. Myth replaces reality. Ethereal spirituality replaces physical presence.
The Holy Basin contains well-marked Christian and Muslim institutions and holy places that have had historical placement for more than a millennium — Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Al Aqsa Mosque, Dome of the Rock and its Mosque of Omar. Some remains of Jewish dwellings, burial grounds and ritual baths can be found, but few, if any, major Jewish monuments, buildings or institutions from the Biblical era exist within the “Old City” of today’s Jerusalem. The oft-cited Western Wall is the supporting wall for Herod’s platform and is not directly related to the Second Temple. According to historian Karen Armstrong, in her book Jerusalem, Ballantine Books, April 29, 1997, Jews did not pray at the Western Wall until the Mamelukes in the 15th century allowed them to move their congregations from a dangerous Mount of Olives and pray daily at the Wall. At that time, she estimates that there may have been no more than 70 Jewish families in Jerusalem. Have seventy Jewish families determined the “holiest site” of the Jews? No remains of the Temple have been located.
Myths have been portrayed as reality and that portrayal is incorrect.
What is your opinion of the rising anti-Semitism and do you disown known anti-Semites?
Empathy for all victims of hate crimes is without question. However, is a similar question asked that opines the continuous and more damaging hate crimes against African Americans and Muslims?The answer, as will be shown is “no,” which leads to the question, “Why not?”
Use of the anti-Semite label to silence opponents is important to Israel’s strategy of confuse and conquer. Israel’s partisans have made anti-Semite an all-encompassing word, posing it as the defining characteristic of humanity, not allowing any shades to a person’s demeanor, character, and beliefs, and shaping it as the third rail of public discourse. Before demonstrating that the original meanings of the words “anti-Semite” and “anti-Semitism” are more serious than common usage, have received broad brushes in their definitions, and have been misdirected, let us propose a response to the question.by examining the rising anti-Semitism.
All ethnic prejudice and hate crimes are dangerous and must be challenged. However, because the Anti-defamation League (ADL) reports every harm to Jewish persons, no matter how slight or unverified ( harassed or perceived) as an anti-Semitic statistic, the exact damages to Jewish psyche and interests are difficult to place in context and evaluate. Seemingly more interested in statistics then in the damages that affect Jewish lives, in how to prevent the hate, and how best to assist the victims, the ADL emphasizes the numbers. Reports contain mostly verbal, passive and non-violent attacks — many can be classified as mischief, others are not definitely proven to being directed against the Jewish community, and many are against persons who just happen to be Jewish. From ADL 2017 report at https://www.adl.org/resources/reports/2017-audit-of-anti-semitic-incidents#major-findings.
The 1,986 total incidents can be subdivided into three major categories: (1) of harassment (where a Jewish person or group of people feel harassed by the perceived anti-Semitic words, spoken or written, or actions of someone else); (2)vandalism (where property is damaged in a manner that indicates the presence of anti-Semitic animus or in a manner that victimizes Jews for their religious affiliation), and (3) assault (where people’s bodies are targeted with violence accompanied by expressions of anti-Semitic animus).
In 2017, there were 1,015 instances of harassment, an increase of 41% over the 721 incidents reported in 2016. One hundred sixty-three of the harassment cases were part of the spree of bomb threats made against Jewish institutions in the first quarter of 2017. If those bomb threats were not included in the total number of harassment cases, the total would be 852, an increase of 18% over the 2016 figure.
Thankfully, the number of assaults with perceived anti-Semitic animus decreased to 19 in 2017; a decrease of 47% compared to the 36 assaults in 2016.
(1) Many of the bomb threats were due to two persons and copycats. Some news reports
CNN World at http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/23/middleeast/israeli-american-teen-arrested-jcc-bomb-threats/index.html
“A Jewish teenager was arrested Thursday in connection with a series of bomb threats that have rattled Jewish institutions and community centers across the United States and other countries, Israeli police said.
“A New York police official said earlier this month he believes most of the bomb threats were made by one person using technology to disguise his voice to sound like a woman’s; the other attacks were likely made by copycats.”
“On March 3, a fired reporter was arrested and accused of making at least eight of the bomb threats. Juan Thompson, who was fired from the online news site The Intercept for fabricating quotes, made the threats in an attempt to intimidate someone after their romantic relationship ended, authorities said.”
(2) Tombstone vandalism is mainly performed by teenagers and rarely has a direct link to a specific prejudice.
CNN at http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/05/us/brooklyn-jewish-cemetery-tombstones-overturned/index.html
“(CNN)Authorities have determined that tombstones disturbed at a historic Jewish cemetery in New York this weekend were damaged by environmental causes and not by vandalism.”
WJLA, Washington, DC at http://wjla.com/news/local/nearly-100-headstones-overturned-at-warrenton-cemetery
“WARRENTON, Va. (ABC7) – The Warrenton Cemetery is a place of rest and a piece of history. “It is part of the fabric of the community,” says Jeff Michael, a neighbor. “This is old Virginia in a lot of ways.” The desecration of 93 gravestones has left many in the town stunned and upset. The stones, toppled over, some of them broken.”
By invoking the special and more meaningful term anti-Semitism, and augmenting its definition to denote any harm, no matter how slight, to the Jewish community, (1) attacks on other communities, which may be statistically less but much more severe, receive less attention than needed; (2) attacks on Jews receive the wrong attention from what is needed, and (3) the term anti-Semitism can be used to stigmatize those who fail to be 100% pure in their lack of bias and subjective attitudes toward others.
Multitudes revere Mahatma Gandhi for his non-violent philosophy and for his efforts in freeing the Indian sub-continent from British imperialism. Devoted expressions occur despite the knowledge that Gandhi referred to black South Africans as “kaffirs,” which is a racist slur, and said that Indians were “infinitely superior” to black people. Considered a racist by many Africans, a proposed statue of the Indian leader has been removed from a university campus in Ghana’s capital, Accra.
Few persons of the twentieth century received the esteem from the world community that South African leader Nelson Mandela maintained. Yet, Nelson Mandela was a known communist, an ideology that is anathema to a great part of the world.
Should Gandhi and Mandela supporters, each time they talk, apologize for allegiance to their heroes? Can we not adhere to the positive qualities of others without being subjected to guilt by association? Let us turn the chairs around. Should every positive utterance for Israel or anti-Palestinian comment be met with, “Do you support the racist attitudes of Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman?” Good question.
Anti-Semitism has received a broad brush in its definition. It cannot be the same as anti-Jewish; if it were, why the different term? According to Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisemitism, “the German word ‘antisemitisch’ was first used in 1860 by the Austrian Jewish scholar Moritz Steinschneider in the phrase ‘antisemitische Vorurteile’ (antisemitic prejudices). Steinschneider used this phrase to characterize the French philosopher Ernest Renan’s false ideas about how Semitic races were inferior to Aryan races.”
In 1879, German writer, Wilhelm Marr, popularized the term anti-Semitic in his pamphlet Der Weg zum Siege des Germanenthums über das Judenthum (The Way to Victory of Germanicism over Judaism). He also founded the Antisemitic Journal, and started an Antisemitic League. Those who followed Marr became known as anti-Semites, and publicized Marr’s concept that “Jewish emancipation, resulting from German liberalism, had allowed the Jews to control German finance and industry. Because this conflict was based on the different qualities of the Jewish and German races, it could not be resolved even by the total assimilation of the Jewish population; the struggle between Jews and Germans would only be resolved by the victory of one and the ultimate death of the other.” At the end of his life, Marr renounced anti-Semitism, arguing that social upheaval in Germany had been the result of the Industrial Revolution and conflict between political movements
In contemporary times, the severely harmful and specifically focused anti-Semitism, which features hate charges against Jewish interests and not the religion or individuals, has been mixed with less severe prejudices, many of which are directed against other ethnicities. It is not related to complaints of Israel actions and Zionist policies. Use of the word anti-Semitism in place of anti-Jewish is contrived and misleading. Interpretation of FBI statistics on hate crimes prove the argument.
Reuters November 13, 2018
U.S. anti-Semitic hate crimes spiked 37 percent in 2017: FBI
This Reuters headline, echoed by other media, does not accurately portray the FBI report. That report, which can be retrieved at https://ucr.fbi.gov/hate-crime/2017/tables/table-1.xls never mentions the word anti-Semitic and has only anti-Jewish incidents (938) as a single bias in the religious category.
Skewing of the audit of hate crimes is also shown in the FBI table. Under the heading of Race/Ethnicity/Ancestry, in a total of 4,131 hate crime incidents, 2,013 are Anti-Black or African American and only 741 are Anti-White. How much anti-Semitism can there be in the anti-White classification?
The ADL has 19 assaults against Jews in 2017 — certainly more than one is alarming — however, the statistic is less alarming when compared to Pew Research report of 127 assaults against Muslims in the same year.
The media headlines, which use the FBI report, highlight a spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes and neglect the more serious hate crimes against other ethnicities. Why?
The battle to resolve the Middle East crisis cannot be won on a battlefield. It can be won by exposing the media deceptions engineered by Israel and its supporters, and by political and economic actions that change Israel into a just and genuine nation, into a state that recognizes its duty to the world community and obligations to all peoples that inhabit land that it occupies.
Dan Lieberman edits Alternative Insight, a commentary on foreign policy, economics, and politics. He is author of the book A Third Party Can Succeed in America, a Kindle: The Artistry of a Dog, and a novel: The Victory (under a pen name). Dan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.