HISTORY Settled in 9500, B.C. the Arab city of Jericho is one of the oldest human settlements. People farmed crops and kept animals. There is little documentation on the earliest inhabitants of modern Israel.
Throughout history many powers have ruled the area, including the Egyptians, Persians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, and Islamic leaders. Fighting continues today in the region.
Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, is considered a holy city by Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike. This city is the historical hub of all three religions and faithful followers of each religion have fought over it. Jews believe the Messiah will one day appear here, Muslims believe that Muhammad ascended to heaven from here, and Christians believe this is where Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
After the Nazi takeover of many countries in Europe, the Jews who were able to leave needed a new home. Many went to Israel. The State of Israel was created after Israel fought six wars with its Arab neighbors and the British left Palestine in 1948.
In 1967, after the Six Day War, Israel took control of Arab areas of Palestine which included the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Sinai, and the Golan Heights. The areas became known as the Occupied Territories. To secure peace, Israel in 1982 ended its occupation of the Sinai Peninsula and returned the land to Egypt.
Israel annexed the Golan Heights in 1981 after capturing it in 1967Syria still claims this territory.
A Palestinian rebellion, called an intifada, began in 1987 and took hundreds of lives before negotiations resulted in a 1993 accord that granted Palestinian self-rule in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank city of Jericho.
The Israeli military withdrew from all West Bank cities by 1997and also left southern Lebanon in 2000. After peace talks failed another intifada started in September 2000, and most of the West Bank was reoccupied by 2002.
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Israel – National Geographic Kids
Efraim Karsh is director of the Mediterranean Studies Programme at King’s College, University of London, and editor of the quarterly journal Israel Affairs.
One of the reasons I gave up political history was that it is very difficult not to direct it towards the future, towards your idea of what ought to happen. And that somehow distorts your view of what has happened.
As Israel edges toward peace with the Palestinians, old, highly controversial, and seemingly defunct issues are back on the table, such as the legal status of Jerusalem and the question of the Palestinian refugees. The refugees and their present rights inspire two very different approaches. The Israeli view, based on an assessment of the 1947-49 period that ascribes primary responsibility for the Palestinian tragedy to an extremist and short-sighted leadership, sees Palestinian wounds as primarily self-inflicted and so not in need of compensation. In contrast, Palestinian spokesmen justify their “right of return” to the territory that is now part of the State of Israel (or an alternative compensation) by presenting themselves as victims of Jewish aggression in the late 1940s.
Ironically, it is a group of Israelis who have given the Palestinian argument its intellectual firepower. Starting in 1987, an array of self-styled “new historians” has sought to debunk what it claims is a distorted “Zionist narrative.” How valid is this sustained assault on the received version of Israel’s early history? This question has real political importance, for the answer is bound to affect the course of Israeli-Palestinian efforts at making peace.
THE NEW HISTORIANS AND THEIR CRITICS
Simha Flapan, the left-wing political activist and editor of New Outlook who inaugurated the assault on alleged “Zionist myths,” made no bones about his political motivations in rewriting Israeli history, presenting his book as an attempt to “undermine the propaganda structures that have so long obstructed the growth of the peace forces in my country.”1 But soon after, a group of Israeli academics and journalists gave this approach a scholarly imprimatur, calling it the “new history.”2 Its foremost spokesmen include Avi Shlaim of Oxford University, Benny Morris of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Ilan Papp of Haifa University. Other prominent adherents include Tom Segev of the Ha’aretz newspaper, Benjamin Beit Hallahmi of Haifa University, and researchers Uri Milstein and Yosi Amitai.
Above all, the new history signifies a set of beliefs: that Zionism was at best an aggressive and expansionist national movement and at worst an offshoot of European imperialism;3 and that it was responsible for the Palestinian tragedy, the continuing Arab-Israeli conflict, and even the Middle East’s violent history.
In an attempt to prove that the Jewish State was born in sin, the new historians concentrate on the war of 1947-49 (in Israeli parlance, the War of Independence). Deriding alternative interpretations as “old” or “mobilized,” they dismiss the notion of a hostile Arab world’s seeking to destroy the Jewish state at birth as but a Zionist myth. They insist that when the Jewish Agency accepted the U.N. Resolution of November 1947 (partitioning Mandatory Palestine into Arab and Jewish states), it was less than sincere.
It is obviously a major service to all concerned to take a hard look at the past and, without political intent, to debunk old myths. Is that what the new historians have done? I shall argue that, quite the contrary, they fashion their research to suit contemporary political agendas; worse, they systematically distort the archival evidence to invent an Israeli history in an image of their own making. These are strong words; the following pages shall establish their accuracy.
A number of scholars have already done outstanding work showing the faults of the new history. Itamar Rabinovich (of Tel Aviv University, currently Israel’s ambassador to the United States) has debunked the claim by Shlaim and Papp that Israel’s recalcitrance explains the failure to make peace at the end of the 1947-49 war.4 Avraham Sela (of the Hebrew University) has discredited Shlaim’s allegation that Israel and Transjordan agreed in advance of that war to limit their war operations so as to avoid an all-out confrontation between their forces.5 Shabtai Teveth (David Ben-Gurion’s foremost biographer) has challenged Morris’s account of the birth of the Palestinian refugee problem.6 Robert Satloff (of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy) has shown, on the basis of his own research in the Jordanian national archives in Amman, the existence of hundreds of relevant government files readily available to foreign scholars,7 thereby demolishing the new historians’ claim that “the archives of the Arab Governments are closed to researchers, and that historians interested in writing about the Israeli-Arab conflict perforce must rely mainly on Israeli and Western archives”8 — and with it, the justification for their almost exclusive reliance on Israeli and Western sources.
This article addresses a different question. The previous critics have looked mostly at issues of politics or sources; we shall concentrate on the accuracy of documentation by these self-styled champions of truth and morality. By looking at three central theses of the new historians, our research reveals a completely different picture from the one that new historians themselves have painted. But first, let us examine whether the alleged newness of this self-styled group is justified.
The new historians claim to provide factual revelations about the origins of the Israeli-Arab conflict. According to Shlaim, “the new historiography is written with access to the official Israeli and Western documents, whereas the earlier writers had no access, or only partial access, to the official documents.”9
The earlier writers may not have had access to an abundance of newly declassified documents, which became available in the 1980s, but recent “old historians,” such as Rabinovich and Sela, have made no less use of them than their “new” counterparts, and they came up with very different conclusions. Which leads to the self-evident realization that it is not the availability of new documents that distinguishes the new historians from their opponents but the interpretation they give to this source material.
Further, much of the fresh information claimed by the new historians turns out to be old indeed. Consider Shlaim’s major thesis about secret contacts between the Zionist movement and King `Abdallah of Transjordan. He claims that “it is striking to observe how great is the contrast between accounts of this period written without access to the official documents and an account such as this one, based on documentary evidence.”10 Quite the contrary, it is striking to see how little our understanding has changed following the release of state documents. Shlaim himself concedes that the information “that there was traffic between these two parties has been widely known for some time and the two meetings between Golda Meir [acting head of the Jewish Agency’s political department] and King `Abdullah in November 1947, and May 1948 have even been featured in popular films.”11 Indeed, not only was the general gist of the `Abdallah-Meir conversations common knowledge by 1960,12 but most of the early writers had access to then-classified official documents. Dan Kurzman’s 1970 account of that meeting is a near verbatim narration of the report prepared by the Jewish Agency’s political department adviser on Arab affairs, Ezra Danin.13 Shlaim also relies on Danin’s report, adding nothing new to Kurzman’s revelations.
Much of the fresh information claimed by the new historians turns out to be old indeed. . . .
. . . As for new interpretations, some are indeed new, but only because they are flat wrong.
Similarly, Shlaim places great stress on a February 1948 meeting between the prime minister of Transjordan, Tawfiq Abu’l-Huda, and the foreign secretary of Great Britain, Ernest Bevin, claiming the latter at that time blessed an alleged Hashemite-Jewish agreement to divide Palestine. But this meeting was already known in 1957, when Sir John Bagot Glubb, the former commander of the Arab Legion, wrote his memoirs,14 and most early works on the Arab-Israeli conflict used this information.15
Morris’s foremost self-laudatory “revelation” concerns the expulsion of Arabs from certain places by Israeli forces, at times through the use of violence. This was made known decades earlier in such works as Jon and David Kimche’s Both Sides of the Hill; Rony Gabbay’s A Political Study of the Arab-Israeli Conflict; and Nadav Safran’s From War to War.16
Eager to debunk the perception of the 1947-49 war as a heroic struggle of the few against the many, the new historians have pointed to an approximate numerical parity on the battlefield.17 Yet this too was well known: school-children could find it in historical atlases, university students in academic books.18 Ben-Gurion’s autobiographical account of Israel’s history, published nearly two decades before the new historians made their debut on the public stage, contains illuminating data on the Arab-Israeli military balance; his edited war diaries, published by the Ministry of Defense Press in 1983, give a detailed breakdown of the Israeli order of battle: no attempt at a cover-up here.19
As for new interpretations, some are indeed new, but only because they are flat wrong. Ilan Papp has gone so far as to argue that the outcome of the 1947-49 war had been predetermined in the political and diplomatic corridors of power “long before even one shot had been fired.”20 To which, one can only say that the State of Israel paid a high price indeed to effect this predetermined outcome: the war’s six thousand fatalities represented 1 percent of Israel’s total Jewish population, a higher human toll than that suffered by Great Britain in World War II.21 Further, Israel’s battlefield losses during the war were about the same as those of the Palestinians; and given that its population was roughly half the latter’s size, Israel lost proportionately twice the percentage of the Palestinians.22
Other interpretations ring truer, but only because they are old and familiar. Shlaim concedes that his charge of Jordanian-Israeli collusion is not a new one but was made decades before him.23 In fact, this conspiracy theory has been quite pervasive. In Arab historiography of an anti-Hashemite caste, “the collusion myth became the crux of an historical indictment against the king for betraying the Arab national cause in Palestine.”24 On the Israeli side, both left- and right-wingers have levelled this same criticism at the government’s conduct of the 1947-49 war. Shlaim has hardly broken new ground.
Shlaim’s main claim to novelty lies in his challenging “the conventional view of the Arab-Israeli conflict as a simple bipolar affair in which a monolithic and implacably hostile Arab world is pitted against the Jews.”25 But this “conventional view” does not exist. Even such passionately pro-Israel feature films on the 1947-49 war as Exodus and Cast a Giant Shadow do not portray “a monolithic and implacably hostile Arab world pitted against the Jews,” but show divided Arab communities in which some leaders would rather not fight the Jews and others would cooperate with the Jews against their Arab “brothers.” And what applies to popular movies applies all the more to scholarly writings. Not one of the studies by the “old historians” subscribes to the stereotypical approach attached to them by Shlaim.
The same applies to Morris. His claim that “what happened in Palestine/Israel over 1947-9 was so complex and varied . . . that a single-cause explanation of the exodus from most sites is untenable”26 echoes not only Aharon Cohen’s and Rony Gabbay’s conclusions of thirty years earlier27 but also the standard explanation of the Palestinian exodus by such “official Zionist” writers as Joseph Schechtman: “This mass flight of the Palestinian Arabs is a phenomenon for which no single explanation suffices. Behind it lies a complex of apparently contradictory factors.”28
Even the claim to novelty is not new! Aharon Klieman, the quintessential “old historian,” wrote in his study of Hashemite-Zionist relations, published just two years before Shlaim’s book, that “it has been a commonplace to present the Palestine or the Arab-Israeli conflict in all its historical stages as a simple bilateral conflict. . . . It is a mistake to present the Arab side to the equation as a monolithic bloc. The `Arab camp’ has always been divided and at war with itself.”29
At times, the new historians themselves realize they are recycling old ideas. For example, Shlaim acknowledged that their arguments were foreshadowed by such writers as Gabbay, Israel Baer, Gabriel Cohen, and Meir Pail.30 In all, the new historians have neither ventured to territory unknown to earlier generations of scholars, nor made major factual discoveries, nor provided truly original interpretations, let alone developed novel historical methodologies or approaches. They have used precisely the same research methods and source-material as those whose work they disdain — the only difference between these two groups being the interpretation given to their findings. Let us now turn to the accuracy of those interpretations.
I. PUSHING OUT THE ARABS
The new historians make three main claims about the Zionist movement in the late 1940s: it secretly intended to expel the Palestinians, it conspired with King `Abdallah to dispossess the Palestinians of their patrimony, and it won British support for this joint effort. Are these accusations accurate?
Morris writes that “from the mid-1930s most of the Yishuv’s leaders, including Ben-Gurion, wanted to establish a Jewish state without an Arab minority, or with as small an Arab minority as possible, and supported a `transfer solution’ to this minority problem.”31 He argues that the transfer idea “had a basis in mainstream Jewish thinking, if not actual planning, from the late 1930s and 1940s.”32 But Morris, the new historian who has made the greatest effort to prove this thesis, devotes a mere five pages to this subject. He fails to prove his claim.
First, the lion’s share of his “evidence” comes from a mere three meetings of the Jewish Agency Executive (JAE) during June 7-12, 1938. Five days in the life of a national movement can scarcely provide proof of longstanding trends or ideologies, especially since these meetings were called to respond to specific ad hoc issues. Moreover, Morris has painted a totally false picture of the actual proceedings of these meetings. Contrary to his claim that the meetings “debated at length various aspects of the transfer idea,”33 the issue was discussed only in the last meeting, and even then as but one element in the overall balance of risks and opportunities attending Britain’s suggested partition rather than as a concrete policy option. The other two meetings did not discuss the subject at all.34
Secondly, Morris virtually ignores that the idea of transfer was forced on the Zionist agenda by the British (in the recommendations of the 1937 Peel Royal Commission on Palestine) rather than being self-generated.35 He downplays the commission’s recommendation of transfer, creates the false impression that the Zionists thrust this idea on a reluctant British Mandatory power (rather than vice versa), and misleadingly suggests that Zionist interest in transfer long outlived the Peel Commission.36
Thirdly, and most important, Morris systematically falsifies evidence, to the point that there is scarcely a single document he relies on without twisting and misleading, either by a creative rewriting of the original text, by taking words out of context, or by truncating texts and thereby distorting their meaning. For example, Morris finds an alleged Zionist interest in the idea of transfer lasting up to the outbreak of the 1948 war. Yes, Morris concedes, Ben-Gurion in a July 1947 testimony to the United Nations Special Commission on Palestine (UNSCOP) “went out of his way to reject the 1945 British Labour Party platform `International Post-war Settlement’ which supported the encouragement of the movement of the Palestine Arabs to the neighboring countries to make room for Jews.”37 But he insinuates that Ben-Gurion was insincere; in his heart of hearts, he subscribed to the transfer idea at the beginning of the 1947-49 war. Becoming a mind-reader, Morris discerns the transfer in a Ben-Gurion speech in December 1947:
There was no explicit mention of the collective transfer idea.
However, there was perhaps a hint of the idea in Ben-Gurion’s speech to Mapai’s supporters four days after the UN Partition resolution, just as Arab-Jewish hostilities were getting under way. Ben-Gurion starkly outlined the emergent Jewish State’s main problem — its prospective population of 520,000 Jews and 350,000 Arabs. Including Jerusalem, the state would have a population of about one million, 40% of which would be non-Jews. “This fact must be viewed in all its clarity and sharpness. With such a [population] composition, there cannot even be complete certainty that the government will be held by a Jewish majority. . . . There can be no stable and strong Jewish state so long as it has a Jewish majority of only 60%.” The Yishuv’s situation and fate, he went on, compelled the adoption of “a new approach . . . new habits of mind” to “suit our new future. We must think like a state.”38
Morris creates the impression here that Ben-Gurion believed only transfer would resolve the problem of a substantial Arab minority in the Jewish State.
Is this mind-reading of Ben-Gurion correct? Was there really a hint of the transfer idea in his speech? Here is the text from which Morris draws his citation:
We have been confronted with a new destiny — we are about to become masters of our own fate. This requires a new approach to all our questions of life. We must reexamine all our habits of mind, all our systems of operation to see to what extent they suit our new future. We must think in terms of a state, in terms of independence, in terms of full responsibility for ourselves — and for others.39
This original text suggests that Morris has distorted the evidence in three ways.
First, Morris omits Ben-Gurion’s statement that there can be no stable and strong Jewish state so long as the Jewish majority “consists of only 600,000 Jews.” He distorts Ben-Gurion’s intention by narrowing the picture to a preoccupation with the 60-40 percent ratio, when its real scope was a concern about the absolute size of the Jewish population.
Secondly, Morris creates the impression that Ben-Gurion’s call for a “new approach . . . new habits of mind” applied to the Arab minority problem, implicitly referring to transfer. In fact, it applied to the challenges attending the transition from a community under colonial domination to national self-determination.
Thirdly, he omits Ben-Gurion’s statement on the need to take “full responsibility for ourselves — and for others.” Who are these others but the non-Jewish minority of the Jewish State?
Worse, Morris chooses to rely on a secondary source rather than consult the primary document; and for good reason, for an examination of the original would easily dispel the cloud of innuendo with which Morris surrounded Ben-Gurion’s speech:
. . . There can be no stable and strong Jewish state so long as it has a Jewish majority of only 60 percent, and so long as this majority consists of only 600,000 Jews.
From here stems the first and principal conclusion. The creation of the state is not the formal implementation process discussed by the UN General Assembly. . . . To ensure not only the establishment of the Jewish State but its existence and destiny as well — we must bring a million-and-a-half Jews to the country and root them there. It is only when there will be at least two millions Jews in the country — that the state will be truly established.40
This speech contains not a hint of the transfer idea. Ben-Gurion’s long-term solution to the 60-40 percent ratio between the Jewish majority and non-Jewish minority is clear and unequivocal: mass Jewish immigration.
As for the position of the Arabs in the Jewish State, Ben-Gurion could not be clearer:
Ben-Gurion envisaged Jewish-Arab relations in the prospective Jewish State not based on the transfer of the Arab population but as a true partnership among equal citizens; not “fortress Israel,” a besieged European island in an ocean of Arab hostility, but a Jewish-Arab alliance.
These passages make it clear that Benny Morris has truncated, twisted, and distorted Ben-Gurion’s vision of Jewish-Arab relations and the Zionist position on the question of transfer. All this is especially strange given that Morris contends that the historian “must remain honour-bound to gather and present his facts accurately.”42
II. COLLUSION ACROSS THE JORDAN
Shlaim traces Israel’s and Transjordan’s alleged collusion to a secret meeting on November 17, 1947, in which King `Abdallah and Golda Meir agreed supposedly to frustrate the impending U.N. Resolution on Palestine and instead divide Palestine between themselves. He writes that
Is there any evidence for this alleged conspiracy? No, none at all. First, a careful examination of the two documents used to substantiate the claim of collusion — reports by Ezra Danin and Eliyahu Sasson, two Zionist officials — proves that Meir implacably opposed any agreement that would violate the U.N. partition resolution passed twelve days later. In no way did she consent to the Transjordan annexation of Arab areas of Palestine. Rather, Meir made it eminently clear that:
* Any Zionist-Hashemite arrangement would have to be compatible with the U.N. resolution. In Danin’s words: “We explained that our matter was being discussed at the UN, that we hoped that it would be decided there to establish two states, one Jewish and one Arab, and that we wished to speak now about an agreement with him [i.e., `Abdallah] based on these resolutions.”44 In Sasson’s words: “Replied we prepared [to] give every assistance within [the] frame [of the] UN Charter.”45
* The sole purpose of Transjordan’s intervention in post-Mandatory Palestine would be, in Meir’s words, “to maintain law and order and to preserve peace until the UN could establish a government in that area,”46 namely, a short-lived law-enforcement operation aimed at facilitating the establishment of a legitimate Palestinian government. Indeed, even `Abdallah did not expect the meeting to produce any concrete agreement. In Danin’s words: “At the end he reiterated that concrete matters could be discussed only after the UN had passed its resolution, and said that we must meet again immediately afterwards.”47
Secondly, Meir’s account of her conversation with `Abdallah — strangely omitted in this context by Shlaim (though he cites it elsewhere in his study) — further confirms that Mandatory Palestine was not divided on November 17, 1947.
For our part we told him then that we could not promise to help his incursion into the country [i.e., Mandatory Palestine], since we would be obliged to observe the UN Resolution which, as we already reckoned at the time, would provide for the establishment of two states in Palestine. Hence, we could not — so we said — give active support to the violation of this resolution.48
Thirdly, Shlaim’s thesis is predicated on the idea of a single diplomatic encounter’s profoundly affecting the course of history. He navely subscribes to the notion that a critical decision about the making of war and peace or the division of foreign lands is made in the course of a single conversation, without consultations or extended bargaining. This account reflects a complete lack of understanding about the nature of foreign policymaking in general and of the Zionist decision-making process in particular.
Fourthly, as mere acting head of the Jewish Agency’s political department, Meir was in no position to commit her movement to a binding deal with King `Abdallah, especially since that deal would run counter to the Jewish Agency’s simultaneous efforts to win a U.N. resolution on partition. All she could do was try to convince `Abdallah not to oppose the impending U.N. partition resolution violently and give him the gist of Zionist thinking.
Fifthly, Meir’s conversation with `Abdallah was never discussed by the Jewish Agency Executive, the Yishuv’s effective government. The Yishuv’s military operations during the 1947-49 war show not a trace of the alleged deal in either their planning or their execution. Quite the contrary, the Zionist leadership remained deeply suspicious of `Abdallah’s expansionist ambitions up to May 1948.
Lastly, while the Jewish Agency unquestionably preferred `Abdallah to his Palestinian rival, the Jerusalem mufti Hajj Amin al-Husayni, this preference did not lead the agency to preclude the possibility of a Palestinian state. As late as December 1948 (or more than a year after `Abdallah and Meir had allegedly divided Palestine), Ben-Gurion stated his preference for an independent Palestinian state to Transjordan’s annexing the Arab parts of Mandatory Palestine. “An Arab State in Western Palestine is less dangerous than a state that is tied to Transjordan, and tomorrow — probably to Iraq,” he told his advisers. “Why should we vainly antagonize the Russians? Why should we do this [i.e., agree to Transjordan’s annexation of Western Palestine] against the [wishes of the] rest of the Arab states?”49
In short, not only did the Zionist movement not collude with King `Abdallah to divide Mandatory Palestine between themselves but it was reconciled to the advent of a Palestinian state. `Abdallah was the one who was violently opposed to such an eventuality and who caused it to fail by seizing the bulk of the territory the United Nations had allocated to the Palestinians.
III. COLLUSION WITH GREAT BRITAIN
Shlaim writes that “Britain knew and approved of this secret Hashemite-Zionist agreement to divide up Palestine between themselves, not along the lines of the U.N. partition plan.”50 This alleged British blessing was given in the above-noted conversation between Bevin and Abu’l-Huda, in which the foreign secretary gave the Transjordanian prime minister
This thesis is fundamentally flawed. True, the British were resigned to Transjordan’s military foray into post-Mandatory Palestine, but this was not out of a wish to protect Jewish interests. Rather, it was directed against those interests: Israel was intended to be the victim of the Transjordanian intervention — not its beneficiary.
* Contrary to Shlaim’s claim, the British government did not know of a Hashemite-Zionist agreement to divide up Palestine, both because this agreement did not exist and because `Abdallah kept London in the dark about his contacts with the Jewish Agency. The influential British ambassador to Amman, Sir Alec Kirkbride, was not aware of the secret Meir-`Abdallah meeting until well after the event.52 How then could the British bless a Hashemite-Zionist deal?
* Glubb’s memoirs alone indicate that Bevin gave Abu’l-Huda a green light to invade while warning him, “do not go and invade the areas allotted to the Jews.”53 In contrast, declassified British documents unequivocally show that Bevin neither encouraged Abu’l-Huda to invade the Arab parts of Palestine as “the obvious thing to do,” as claimed by Glubb, nor warned him off invading the Jewish areas. Bevin said only that he “would study the statements which his Excellency had made.”54 Shlaim’s choosing an old and partisan account over a newly released official document suggests a desperate attempt to prove the existence of such a warning.
* The British archives are bursting with evidence that the foreign secretary and his advisers cared not at all whether `Abdallah transgressed Jewish territory; they only wanted to be sure he did not implicate Britain in an embarrassing international situation. Shortly after the Bevin-Abu’l-Huda meeting, Bernard Burrows, head of the Eastern department, wrote (with Bevin’s approval) that
More important, on May 7, 1948, a week before the all-Arab attack on Israel, Burrows suggested to the Foreign Office intimate to King `Abdallah that “we could in practice presumably not object to Arab Legion occupation of the Nejeb [i.e., Negev].”56 In other words, not only was the Foreign Office not opposed to Transjordan’s occupation of the Jewish State’s territory but it encouraged `Abdallah to go in and occupy about half of it.
* Having grudgingly recognized their inability to prevent the partition of Palestine, British officialdom wished to see a far smaller and weaker Jewish state than that envisaged by the U.N. partition resolution and did its utmost to bring about such an eventuality. Limitations of space do not allow a presentation of the overwhelming documentary evidence of British efforts to cut Israel “down to size” and stunt its population growth through the prevention of future Jewish immigration.57 Suffice to say that British policymakers sought to forestall an Israeli-Transjordanian peace agreement unless it detached the Negev from the Israeli state.
Recently declassified documents in Israeli and Western archives fail to confirm the picture of the origins of the Arab-Israeli conflict painted by the new historians. The self-styled new historiography is really a “distortiography.” It is anything but new: much of what it presents is old and much of the new is distortion. The “new historians” are neither new nor true historians but rather partisans seeking to give academic respectability to longstanding misconceptions and prejudice on the Arab-Israeli conflict. To borrow the words of the eminent British historian E.H. Carr, what the new historians are doing is to “write propaganda or historical fiction, and merely use facts of the past to embroider a kind of writing which has nothing to do with history.”58
Returning to political issues of today: the Palestinian claim to national self-determination stands on its own and does not need buttressing from historical falsification. Quite the contrary, fabricating an Israeli history to cater to interests of the moment does great disservice not only to historical truth but also to the Palestinians that the new historians seek to champion. Instead, they should heed Albert Hourani’s advice. Securing the future means coming to terms with one’s past, however painful that might be, not denying it.
1 The Birth of Israel: Myths and Reality (New York: Pantheon, 1987), p. 4; see also pp. 10 and 233. 2 The new historians make much of their relatively young age: “Most of them, born around 1948, have matured in a more open, doubting, and self-critical Israel than the pre-1967, pre-1973, and pre-Lebanon War Israel of the old historians.” Of course, biological age indicates little about outlook. The opponents of the new historians also matured “in a more open, doubting, and self-critical Israel,” many of them belonging to the same age group and having lived in the same milieu as the new historians. Moreover, some new historians are older than the “old” historians, especially Flapan, who was born in 1911 and thus precisely a member of that generation that “had lived through 1948 as highly committed adult participants in the epic, glorious rebirth of the Jewish commonwealth” and that was consequently derided by the new historians as being “unable to separate their lives from the events they later recounted, unable to distance themselves from and regard impartially the facts and processes through which they had lived.” Benny Morris, 1948 and After: Israel and the Palestinians (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), p. 7. 3 Avi Shlaim writes: “At the time of the Basle Congress, Palestine was under the control of the Ottoman Turks. It was inhabited by nearly half a million Arabs and some 50,000 Jews. . . . But, in keeping with the spirit of the age of European imperialism, the Jews did not allow these local realities to stand in the way of their own national aspirations.” Avi Shlaim, Collusion Across the Jordan: King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement, and the Partition of Palestine (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988), p. 2. Ilan Papp has been far more outspoken in articulating Zionism as a brand of Western colonialism that “gained control over a land that is not theirs at the end of the nineteenth century.” See, for example, “Damning the Historical Forgery,” Kol Ha-ir, Oct. 6, 1995, p. 61.
4 Itamar Rabinovich, The Road Not Taken: Early Arab-Israeli Negotiations (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991). 5 Avraham Sela, “Transjordan, Israel and the 1948 War: Myth, Historiography, and Reality,” Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 28, No. 4Oct. 1992, pp. 623-89. 6 Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), p. 286; Shabtai Teveth, “The Palestine Arab Refugee Problem and its Origins,” Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 26, No. 2Apr. 1990, pp. 214-49. 7 Robert Satloff’s review of Morris’s Israel’s Border Wars, in Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 31, Number 4 Oct. 1995, p. 954. 8 Benny Morris, “A Second Look at the `Missed Peace,’ or Smoothing Out History: A Review Essay,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Autumn 1994, p. 86. 9 Avi Shlaim, “The Debate about 1948,” International Journal of Middle East Studies, Aug. 1995, p. 289. See also Morris, 1948 and After, p. 7. 10 Shlaim, Collusion, p. viii. 11 Shlaim, “The Debate about 1948,” p. 296. 12 Jon Kimche and David Kimche, Both Sides of the Hill (London: Secker and Warburg, 1960), p. 60; Marie Syrkin, Golda Meir: Woman with a Cause (London: Victor Gollancz, 1964), pp. 195-202. 13 Dan Kurzman, Genesis 1948: The First Arab-Israeli War (New York: New American Library, 1972), pp. 42-44. 14 Sir John Bagot Glubb, A Soldier with the Arabs (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1957), pp. 63-66. 15 For example, Kurzman, Genesis 1948, pp. 116-17; Zeev Sharef, Three Days (London: W.H. Allen, 1962), p. 77; and Kimche and Kimche, Both Sides of the Hill, p. 39. As we shall see (on p. XX), the newly released official British documents do shed fresh light on the Bevin-Abu’l-Huda meeting but completely in the opposite direction from that claimed by Shlaim. 16 Kimche and Kimche, Both Sides of the Hill, pp. 227-28; Rony Gabbay, A Political Study of the Arab-Israeli Conflict: The Arab Refugee Problem (A Case Study) (Geneva: Libraire E. Droz, 1959), pp. 108-11; and Nadav Safran, From War to War: The Arab-Israeli Confrontation 1948-1967 (Indianapolis, Ind.: Pegasus, 1969), pp. 34-35. 17 Morris, 1948 and After, pp. 13-16; Shlaim, “The Debate about 1948,” pp. 294-95. 18 See, for example, Moshe Lissak, Yehuda Wallach, and Eviatar Nur, eds., Atlas Karta Le-toldot Medinat Israel: Shanim Rishonot, Tashah-Tashak (Karta Atlas of Israel: the First Years, 1948-61),(Jerusalem: Karta, 1978); Safran, From War to War, p. 30. 19 David Ben-Gurion, Medinat Israel Ha’mehudeshet, vol. 1 (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 1969), pp. 70-71, 98, 102, 106, and 115; idem, Israel: A Personal History (London: New English Library, 1972), pp. 61, 90; G. Rivlin and E. Orren, eds., Yoman Ha-milhama, 3 vols. (Tel Aviv: Misrael Ha-bitahchom, Ha-hotsa’a La-or, 1983), particularly vol. 3, pp. 1013-19. 20 Ilan Papp, The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1947-1951 (London: I.B. Tauris, 1992), p. 271. 21 See, for example, Martin Gilbert, The Second World War (London: Fontana, 1990), p. 746; National Register of the United Kingdom and the Isle of Man, Statistics of Population on 29 September 1939 (London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office (hereafter HMSO), 1939. 22 “Casualties in Palestine since the United Nations Decision, Period 30th November, 1947 to 3rd April, 1945,” CO 733/483/5, p. 19. 23 Shlaim, “The Debate about 1948,” p. 296. On the Jordanian side, Col. `Abdallah at-Tall, who served as a messenger between King `Abdallah and the Zionists during the armistice talks at the end of the 1947-49 war, then defected to Egypt and wrote about his experiences in Karithat Filastin: Mudhakkirat `Abdallah at-Tall, Qa’id Ma`rakat al-Quds (Cairo: Al-Qalam, 1959). On the Israeli side, Lt. Col. Israel Baer, an adviser to Ben-Gurion later convicted of spying for the Soviet Union, told about the negotiations in Bithon Israel: Etmol, ha-Yom, Mahar (Tel Aviv: Amikam, 1966). 24 Sela, “Transjordan, Israel and the 1948 War,” pp. 623-24. See also his article “Arab Historiography of the 1948 War: The Quest for Legitimacy,” in Laurence J. Silberstein, ed., New Perspectives on Israeli History (New York: New York University Press, 1991), pp. 124-54. 25 Shlaim, “The Debate about 1948,” p. 297. 26 Morris, Palestinian Refugee Problem, p. 294. 27 Aharon Cohen, Israel and the Arab World (London: W.H. Allen, 1970), pp. 458-66; Gabbay, A Political Study, pp. 54, 85-98. 28 Joseph B. Schechtman, The Arab Refugee Problem (New York: Philosophical Library, 1952), p. 4. 29 Aharon Klieman, Du Kium Le-lo Shalom (Unpeaceful Coexistence: Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinians) (Tel Aviv: Ma`ariv, 1986), pp. 15-16. 30 Shlaim, “The Debate about 1948,” p. 289. And, years earlier, Arnold Toynbee, Alfred Lillienthal, Noam Chomsky, and Edward Said all used these same arguments. 31 Morris, 1948 and After, p. 17. “Yishuv” refers to the Zionist community in Palestine before the establishment of Israel. 32 Morris, Palestinian Refugee Problem, p. 24. 33 Ibid., pp. 25-26. 34 Protocols of the Jewish Agency Executive meetings of June 7, 9, and 12, 1938, Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem. 35 The Peel report suggested the partition of Mandatory Palestine into two states, Arab and Jewish; to reduce frictions between the two communities, the commission also suggested a land and population exchange, similar to that effected between Turkey and Greece after the First World War. See Palestine Royal Commission, Report, Presented by the Secretary of State for the Colonies to Parliament by Command of His Majesty, July 1937, Cmd. 5479 (London: HMSO, 1937), pp. 291-95. There being far more Arabs in the Jewish state-to-be than the other way around (225,000 vs. 1,250), Ben-Gurion and some other Zionist proponents of partition viewed this exchange (or transfer, as it came to be known) as a partial compensation for the confinement of the prospective Jewish state to a tiny fraction of the Land of Israel.
Yet they quickly dismissed this idea, as shown by the fact that not one of the 30-odd submissions the JAE made to the Palestine Partition Commission (the Woodhead Commission, 1938) suggested population exchange and transfer.
36 Morris, The Birth, pp. 27-28. 37 Ibid., p. 28. 38 Ibid. Morris traces the speech to Dec. 3, 1947, as is done in the secondary source from which he borrowed it. In the original source, however, the date given is Dec. 13, 1947. 39 Rivlin and Orren, eds., Yoman Ha-milhama, vol. I, p. 22. 40 Ben-Gurion, Ba-ma’araha, vol. IV, part 2 (Tel Aviv: Hotsa’at Mifleget Poalei Eretz Yisra’el, 1959), pp. 258-59 (emphasis added). 41 Ibid., p. 260. 42 Morris, 1948 and After, p. 47. 43 Shlaim, Collusion Across the Jordan, p. 1; idem, The Politics of Partition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), p. viii (this is an abridged and slightly revised edition of Collusion). Other new historians have taken up this thesis. Thus, Papp: “The common ground for the agreement was a mutual objection to the creation of a Palestinian state. . . . The Jewish Agency in particular abhorred such a possibility, asserting that the creation of a Palestinian state would perpetuate the ideological conflict in Palestine” (The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, p. 118). 44 Ezra Danin, “Siha in Abdallah, 17.11.47,” Central Zionist Archives, S25/4004. 45 Sasson to Shertok, Nov. 20, 1947, Central Zionist Archives, S25/1699. 46 Danin, “Siha in Abdallah.” 47 Ibid. 48 Golda Meir’s verbal report to the Provisional State Council on May 12, 1948, Israel State Archives, Provisional State Council: Protocols, 18 April – 13 May 1948, Jerusalem, 1978, p. 40.[Eds: the collection had an English title. Yeshivat Minhelet Ha-am, 12/5/48.] 49 Ben-Gurion, Yoman Ha-milhama, vol. III, Dec. 18, 1948, p. 885. 50 Shlaim, “The Debate,” p. 297. 51 Ibid., p. 293. 52 See, for example, Kirkbride’s telegram to Bevin dated Nov. 17, 1947, displaying total ignorance of the Abdullah-Meir meeting, which was held that very day (FO 816/89). For further evidence of British ignorance of the alleged Hashemite-Jewish deal, see a personal and secret letter from H. Beeley, Eastern Department, Foreign Office, to T.E. Bromley, Jan. 20, 1948, FO 371/68403/E1877; and Michael Wright, “Brief for Conversation with Transjordan Prime on Palestine,” Feb. 6, 1948, FO 371/6837/E1980G. 53 Glubb, A Soldier with the Arabs, p. 66. 54 Mr. Bevin to Sir Alec Kirkbride (Amman), “Conversation with the Transjordan Prime Minister,” Feb. 9, 1948, FO 371/68366/E1916/G. 55 Memorandum by Bernard Burrows, Feb. 9, 1948, FO 371/68368/E296. 56 Bernard Burrows, “Palestine After May 14,” May 7, 1948, FO 371/68854/E6778. 57 For a discussion of this issue, see Efraim Karsh, Fabricating Israeli History: “The New Historians” (London: Frank Cass, forthcoming). 58 E.H. Carr, What is History? (Harmondworth: Penguin, 1984), p. 29.
Related Topics: Arab-Israel conflict & diplomacy, History, Israel & Zionism, Middle East studies | Efraim Karsh | June 1996 MEQ receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free mef mailing list This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.
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Rewriting Israel’s History :: Middle East Quarterly
Dear Akhlah Friends and Family:
Sixteen years ago, I saw a need for Jewish education materials designed just for very young children that would be freely available online. A site where Jewish families who lived far from a temple or shul, or didn’t have access to a congregational cheder, could access the teaching/learning materials that would strengthen their childrens’ connection to their Jewish heritage. No advertisements, no off-site links, no subscription charges, just a place for learning the alef-bet and the Hebrew language, Judaism’s history, and all about Israel and the people who helped build her. So I began creating Akhlah’s pages, every year adding more categories, and now Akhlah has users all around the world, with more than 12,000 unique users every day.
I’m proud of Akhlah; I very much want to keep it alive and growing. But I am facing a diagnosis and consequent surgery that may oblige me to set all my work on Akhlah aside. I will not be able to cover Akhlah’s expenses for the next few months and I must ask for your assistance. Without your financial support, Akhlah cannot be sustained. Please consider helping out in this time of need. Your donation will keep Akhlah online through this crisis, and I will soon, I pray, be able to return to my regular job and resume my role as Akhlah’s backbone.
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Akhlah, the Jewish children’s learning network
The following is a very short synopsis of the history of this conflict. We recommend that you also read the much more detailed account, “The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict.”
For centuries there was no such conflict. In the 19th century the land of Palestine was inhabited by a multicultural population approximately 86 percent Muslim, 10 percent Christian, and 4 percent Jewish living in peace.
In the late 1800s a group in Europe decided to colonize this land. Known as Zionists, they represented an extremist minority of the Jewish population. Their goal was to create a Jewish homeland, and they considered locations in Africa and the Americas, before settling on Palestine.
At first, this immigration created no problems. However, as more and more Zionists immigrated to Palestine many with the express wish of taking over the land for a Jewish state the indigenous population became increasingly alarmed. Eventually, fighting broke out, with escalating waves of violence. Hitlers rise to power, combined with Zionist activities to sabotage efforts to place Jewish refugees in western countries, led to increased Jewish immigration to Palestine, and conflict grew.
Finally, in 1947 the United Nations decided to intervene. However, rather than adhering to the principle of self-determination of peoples, in which the people themselves create their own state and system of government, the UN chose to revert to the medieval strategy whereby an outside power divides up other peoples land.
Under considerable Zionist pressure, the UN recommended giving away 55% of Palestine to a Jewish state despite the fact that this group represented only about 30% of the total population, and owned under 7% of the land.
While it is widely reported that the resulting war eventually included five Arab armies, less well known is the fact that throughout this war Zionist forces outnumbered all Arab and Palestinian combatants combined often by a factor of two to three. Moreover, Arab armies did not invade Israel virtually all battles were fought on land that was to have been the Palestinian state.
Finally, it is significant to note that Arab armies entered the conflict only after Zionist forces had committed 16 massacres, including the grisly massacre of over 100 men, women, and children at Deir Yassin. Future Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, head of one of the Jewish terrorist groups, described this as splendid, and stated: As in Deir Yassin, so everywhere, we will attack and smite the enemy. God, God, Thou has chosen us for conquest. Zionist forces committed 33 massacres altogether.
By the end of the war, Israel had conquered 78 percent of Palestine; three-quarters of a million Palestinians had been made refugees; over 500 towns and villages had been obliterated; and a new map was drawn up, in which every city, river and hillock received a new, Hebrew name, as all vestiges of the Palestinian culture were to be erased. For decades Israel denied the existence of this population, former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir once saying: There were no such thing as Palestinians.
In 1967, Israel conquered still more land. Following the Six Day War, in which Israeli forces launched a highly successful surprise attack on Egypt, Israel occupied the final 22% of Palestine that had eluded it in 1948 the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Since, according to international law it is inadmissible to acquire territory by war, these are occupied territories and do not belong to Israel. It also occupied parts of Egypt (since returned) and Syria (which remain under occupation).
Also during the Six Day War, Israel attacked a US Navy ship, the USS Liberty, killing and injuring over 200 American servicemen. President Lyndon Johnson recalled rescue flights, saying that he did not want to embarrass an ally. (In 2004 a high-level commission chaired by Admiral Thomas Moorer, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, found this attack to be an act of war against the United States, a fact few news media have reported.)
There are two primary issues at the core of this continuing conflict. First, there is the inevitably destabilizing effect of trying to maintain an ethnically preferential state, particularly when it is largely of foreign origin. The original population of what is now Israel was 96 percent Muslim and Christian, yet, these refugees are prohibited from returning to their homes in the self-described Jewish state (and those within Israel are subjected to systematic discrimination).
Second, Israels continued military occupation and confiscation of privately owned land in the West Bank, and control over Gaza, are extremely oppressive, with Palestinians having minimal control over their lives. Thousands of Palestinian men, women, and children are held in Israeli prisons. Few of them have had a legitimate trial; Physical abuse and torture are frequent. Palestinian borders (even internal ones) are controlled by Israeli forces. Periodically men, women, and children are strip searched; people are beaten; women in labor are prevented from reaching hospitals (at times resulting in death); food and medicine are blocked from entering Gaza, producing an escalating humanitarian crisis. Israeli forces invade almost daily, injuring, kidnapping, and sometimes killing inhabitants.
According to the Oslo peace accords of 1993, these territories were supposed to finally become a Palestinian state. However, after years of Israel continuing to confiscate land and conditions steadily worsening, the Palestinian population rebelled. (The Barak offer, widely reputed to be generous, was anything but.) This uprising, called the Intifada (Arabic for shaking off) began at the end of September 2000.
Largely due to special-interest lobbying, U.S. taxpayers give Israel an average of $8 million per day, and since its creation have given more U.S. funds to Israel than to any other nation. As Americans learn about how Israel is using our tax dollars, many are calling for an end to this expenditure.
 John W. Mulhall, CSP, America and the Founding of Israel: an Investigation of the Morality of Americas Role (Los Angeles: Deshon, 1995), 48; Mike Berry and Greg Philo, Israel and Palestine (Pluto Press, 2006) p. 1; Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD, author of Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human Rights and the Israeli-Palestinian Struggle, includes a number of population tables in this book, which are available in his booklet, Palestinian Refugees Right to Return and Repatriation (http://ifamericansknew.org/history/ref-qumsiyeh.html); Justin McCarthy, author of The Population of Palestine: Population History and Statistics of the Late Ottoman Period and the Mandate, provides detailed information on population in the excerpt Palestines Population During The Ottoman And The British Mandate Periods. (http://www.palestineremembered.com/Acre/Palestine-Remembered/Story559.html)
 John W. Mulhall, CSP, America and the Founding of Israel: an Investigation of the Morality of Americas Role (Los Angeles: Deshon, 1995), 47-52.
 In many places Zionists manipulated local Jewish populations into going to Palestine/Israel, in some cases using subterfuge and terrorism.
Sami Hadawi, Bitter Harvest, p. 37: Commenting, author Erskine H. Childers, wrote, one of the most massively important features of the entire Palestine struggle was that Zionism deliberately arranged that the plight of the wretched survivors of Hitlerism should be a moral argument which the West had to accept. This was done by seeing to it that Western countries did not open their doors, widely and immediately, to the inmates of the DP. (displaced persons) camps. It is incredible, that so grave and grim a campaign has received so little attention in accounts of the Palestine struggle it was a campaign that literally shaped all subsequent history. It was done by sabotaging specific Western schemes to admit Jewish DPs.
A number of authors have discuss Zionist connections with Nazis; for example:
He describes this in greater detail in his book: Ben-Gurions Scandals: How the Haganah and the Mossad Eliminated Jews:
I write this book to tell the American people, and especially the American Jews, that Jews from Islamic lands did not emigrate willingly to Israel; that, to force them to leave, Jews killed Jews; and that, to buy time to confiscate ever more Arab lands, Jews on numerous occasions rejected genuine peace initiatives from their Arab neighbors. I write about what the first prime minister of Israel called cruel Zionism. I write about it because I was a part of it.
 Qumsiyeh, Palestinian Refugees Right to Return and Repatriation (http://ifamericansknew.org/history/ref-qumsiyeh.html)
Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict; George W. Ball & Douglas B. Ball, The Passionate Attachment, on p. 29: quotes a message from future prime minister Menachem Begin, head of the Irgun Zionist terrorist group, commending them on the grisly massacre of women, children, and old men at the village of Deir Yassin: Accept my congratulations on this splendid act of conquest. Convey my regards to all the commanders and soldiers. We shake your hands. We are all proud of the excellent leadership and the fighting spirit in this great attack. We stand to attention in memory of the slain. We lovingly shake the hands of the wounded. Tell the soldiers: you have made history in Israel with your attack and your conquest. Continue thus until victory. As in Deir Yassin, so everywhere, we will attack and smite the enemy. God, God, Thou has chosen us for conquest.
 Sunday Times, June 15, 1969, quoted widely.
 Donald Neff, The Six Days War, Simon & Schuster
During the Six-Day War, Israel also attacked a US Navy ship, the USS Liberty, killing and injuring over 200 American servicemen. Many analysts believe that the fact that there were no consequences for this attack led Israeli leaders to conclude that they could commit any act of aggression without US complaint. While this attack has largely been covered up in the US media (see American Media Miss the Boat: For USA Today, Freedom of the Press Means the Right to Report It Wrong http://ifamericansknew.org/media/misslib.html, Alison Weir, CounterPunch, June 23/24, 2007), it is discussed in a number of books, including James Ennes, The Assault on the Liberty; William Gerhard, Attack on the USS Liberty; Dr. John Borne, The USS Liberty, Dissenting History vs. Official History; Stephen Green , Taking Sides: Americas Secret Relations with a Militant Israel; James Bamford, Body of Secrets; and in a recent article: New revelations in attack on American spy ship Veterans, documents suggest U.S., Israel didnt tell full story of deadly 67 incident, John Crewdson, Tribune senior correspondent, Chicago Tribune, October 2, 2007 (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-liberty_tuesoct02,0,66005.story?coll=chi_tab01_layout).
Additional information can be found at:
 See, for example, BTselem The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Absolute Prohibition: The torture and Ill-Treatment of Palestinian Detainees, May 2007, http://www.btselem.org/publications/summaries/200705_utterly_forbidden
Defence for Children International/Palestine Section, http://www.dci-palestine.org/theme/detention
Addameer, Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, http://www.addameer.org/index.php
Samidoun, Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, http://samidoun.ca/
Alison Weir’s new book Against Our Better Judgement: How the U.S. was used to create Israel brings together meticulously sourced evidence to outline the largely unknown history of U.S.-Israel relations.
Buy the book on Amazon.com.
Visit the book website for reviews, more ordering options, and upcoming author events.
Ethnic Cleansing: How Palestine Became Israel In the late 1800s a small, fanatic movement called political Zionism began in Europe. Its goal was to create a Jewish state somewhere in the world. Its leaders settled on the ancient and long-inhabited land of Palestine for the location of this state. READ MORE | FOOTNOTES
See more here:
A Synopsis of the Israel/Palestine Conflict
Yale historian Timothy Snyder is indebted to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who recently made Snyder’s new book even more newsworthy than his extraordinary scholarship deserves to be.
And Netanyahu is indebted to Snyder, whose theory of Hitler’s anti-Semitism is germane to two questions: Is the Iranian regime’s anti-Semitism rooted, as Hitler’s was, in a theory of history that demands genocide?
If so, when Iran becomes a nuclear power, can it be deterred from its announced determination to destroy Israel?
Netanyahu recently asserted, again, that a Palestinian cleric was important in Hitler’s decision to murder European Jews. Netanyahu said that on Nov. 28, 1941, when Hitler supposedly preferred to expel Europe’s Jews rather than exterminate them, Haj Amin al-Husseini, grand mufti of Jerusalem, met with Hitler and urged him to “burn them.”
Certainly the mufti favored genocide; he certainly was not important in initiating it. Mass murder the Holocaust accompanied the German army, especially after the September 1939 outbreak of war, and especially after the June 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union.
Granted, it was not until the January 1942 Wannsee Conference that the “final solution” became explicit. But by the time Hitler met the mufti, approximately 700,000 Soviet Jews had been shot. Snyder, not Netanyahu, should be heeded concerning the Holocaust’s genesis.
Attempts to explain Hitler’s obsession with Jews began with the idea that he was unfathomable, a lunatic “teppichfresser” (carpet chewer). The comforting theory was that no theory can explain Hitler because he was inexplicable, a monster, a phenomenon without precedent or portent.
In 1996, however, Daniel Goldhagen’s book “Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust” argued that the explanation for the genocide was acculturation centuries of German conditioning by the single idea of “eliminationist anti-Semitism.”
This cognitive determinism reduced Hitler to a mere catalyst who unleashed a sick society’s cultural latency.
This drew a rejoinder from Christopher Browning, author of “Ordinary Men” (1992), a study of middle-aged German conscripts who became consenting participants in mass-murder police battalions in Poland.
Browning noted that protracted socialization, centuries of conditioning, could not explain the Khmer Rouge’s murder of millions of Cambodians, or the Chinese’ slaughter of millions of Chinese during Mao’s Cultural Revolution.
What happened in those places proved the power of an idea Marxism understood as a mandate to extirpate “false consciousness” to legitimize, even mandate, mass murder.
In “Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning,” published in September, Snyder argues that the Holocaust’s origins have been hidden in plain sight, in ideas Hitler articulated in “Mein Kampf” and speeches.
Snyder presents a Hitler more troubling than a madman, a Hitler implementing the logic of a coherent worldview. His life was a single-minded response to an idea so radical that it rejected not only the entire tradition of political philosophy but the possibility of philosophy, which Hitler supplanted by zoology.
“In Hitler’s world,” Snyder writes, “the law of the jungle was the only law.” The immutable structure of life casts the various human races as separate species.
Only races are real and they are locked in mutual and unassuageable enmity, in Hitler’s mindset, because life is constant struggle over scarcities of land, food, and other necessities.
One group, however, poisoned the planet with another idea. To Hitler, says Snyder, “It was the Jew who told humans that they were above other animals, and had the capacity to decide their future for themselves.”
To Hitler, “Ethics as such was the error; the only morality was fidelity to race.” Hitler, who did not become a German citizen until 11 months before becoming Germany’s chancellor, was not a nationalist but a racialist who said “the highest goal of human beings” is not “the preservation of any given state or government, but the preservation of their kind.” And “all world-historical events are nothing more than the expression of the self-preservation drive of the races.”
Now, assume, reasonably, that Iran’s pursuit of a potentially genocidal weapon will not be seriously impeded by parchment barriers such as the recent nuclear agreement. And assume, prudently, that the Iranian regime means what it says about Jews and their “Zionist entity.”
Then apply Snyder’s warning: Ideas have consequences. The idea of anti-Semitism is uniquely durable and remarkably multiform. It can express a mentality that is disconnected, as in Hitler’s case, from calculations of national interest.
Hence an anti-Semitic regime can be impervious to the logic of deterrence. Much, including Israel’s calculation of what military measures are necessary for its safety, depends on the nature of Iran’s anti-Semitism.
George F. Will is one of today’s most recognized writers, with more than 450 newspapers, a Newsweek column, and his appearances as a political commentator on Fox news. Read more reports from George Will Click Here Now.
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Is Iran’s Anti-Semitism Too Deep for Deterrence?
The bony finger of war is clearly marking an ancient route to the players. It is difficult to know what to say or write that might chart a path to a more wholesome future.
Whether the clashes in Jerusalem and the West Bank are the long-awaited “Third Intifada” is the question being asked by virtually every journalist covering the Middle East.
Border crossings and ad hoc and unpredictable checkpoints made us and the subjugated Palestinians into cattle, prodded and shouted at by Israelis with machine guns, proving who had colonial power and who had none.
Director, Global Campaign for Education-US
My situation is not unique. People coming from the Gulf and Europe to visit their families in Gaza lose their jobs, scholarships, or miss their classes — all for wanting to see a sick parent or meet a new family member.
TEL AVIV — Foreign analysts have been quick to claim that recent events are about Al Aqsa, and they’ve been even quicker to argue about whether or not this is a third intifada. But both discussions miss the point.
AMMAN — While attention has been given to attacks on Israelis, few have looked into the other side. Palestinians in Jerusalem are feeling terrorized, worried about leaving their homes and becoming a victim of summary execution.
I love movies because they seem to simplify life. Nowhere is it more clear than on the big screen when a character’s predicament begins to shift.
Divided Palestinians need to be united if the current protests are to have direction.
This conflict is not the only one in the Middle East, but a solution would send a strong signal of hope that solutions even for very intractable disputes are possible. Fortunately, both sides overwhelmingly agree on the key aspects of a viable solution: two states within the 1967 borders, with some mutual border adjustments.
Washington should not pretend that the conflict and settlements are foreign issues. Its own citizens are being affected on both sides. Israel has shown it cannot be trusted to effectively handle settler terrorism and the United States should not leave the fate of its citizens in the hands of a foreign government.
Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center and Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University in Qatar
Will Clinton’s more muscular alternative be the future of U.S. foreign policy if the Democrats hold on to the Oval Office in 2016? Or would Bernie Sanders, if he grabs the Democratic nomination and triumphs in the general election, guide the United States in a different direction?
Director, Foreign Policy In Focus and Editor, LobeLog
WASHINGTON–As one of the American citizens who was born in Israel and is well versed in Middle East affairs, my friend Raphael Benaroya has an intere…
Founding Chairman, Business Executives for National Security
Mahmoud Abbas holds many titles. He is the head of the Fateh movement, chairman of the PLO’s executive committee and president of the state of Palestine. Technically and legally, the Palestine Liberation Organization is superior.
When a Palestinian Christian says, “If the only choice is between violent resistance to the Occupation or submission, you must understand that for us, submission is not an option,” it needs to be heard not as a threat or ultimatum, but as a plea.
John H. Thomas
Ordained UCC minister with a forty year career in local and national UCC ministries, including General Minister and President, 1999 to 2009.
Of all the bizarre encounters the Palestinian conflict has generated, Tony Blair’s four meetings in Doha with Khaled Meshaal, the Hamas leader must surely rank as one of the oddest.
The following conversation between Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi) and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is fictitious.
Continue reading here:
Palestinian Territories: Pictures, Videos, Breaking News
Anti-Semitism: Why Does It Exist? And Why Does it Persist?
By Mark Weber
Over the centuries, hostility against Jews has repeatedly erupted in terrible violence. Again and again, Jews have been driven out of countries where theyd been living. Why does anti-Semitism exist? And why has rage against Jews broken out, again and again, in the most varied nations, eras and cultures? Closely related to this is the broader issue of relations between Jews and non-Jews a subject that many writers and scholars have called the Jewish question.
All too often, discussions of anti-Semitism and the Jewish question have been distorted by prejudice, bigotry and lack of candor. But this important subject deserves careful, informed and honest consideration.
Prominent Jewish leaders claim to be puzzled by the persistence of anti-Jewish sentiment and behavior. Insisting that anti-Semitism is a baseless and unreasonable prejudice, they often compare it to a mysterious virus or disease.
Elie Wiesel is one of the best-known Jewish authors and community figures of our age. His memoir of wartime experiences, entitled Night, has been obligatory reading in many classrooms. Hes a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, and for years has been a professor at Boston University. Wiesel is considered to be an authority on anti-Semitism, but he says that hes puzzled by it. The source and endurance of anti-Semitism in history remains a mystery, he told an audience in Germany in April 2004. /1 In another address he described anti-Semitism as an irrational disease. Speaking at a conference in October 2002, Wiesel went on to say: The world has changed in the last 2,000 years, and only anti-Semitism has remained … The only disease that has not found its cure is anti-Semitism. /2
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is one of the worlds largest and most influential Jewish-Zionist organizations. It considers itself the foremost center for monitoring and combating anti-Semitism, and educating the public about this dangerous phenomenon. In his 2003 book, Never Again?: The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism, ADL national director Abraham Foxman expressed grave concern about what he sees as rising hostility toward Jews: I am convinced we currently face as great a threat to the safety and security of the Jewish people as the one we faced in the 1930s if not a greater one. /3 Remarkably, he too claimed to be perplexed about the reasons for the origin and durability of discord between Jews and non-Jews. I think of anti-Semitism as a disease, Foxman writes. Anti-Semitism also resembles a disease in being fundamentally irrational … Its a spiritual and psychological illness. /4
Charles Krauthammer, an influential Jewish-American writer who is a fervent defender of Israel, is similarly puzzled by the endurance of anti-Jewish sentiment. The persistence of anti-Semitism, that most ancient of poisons, is one of historys great mysteries, he wrote in a Washington Post column that also appeared in many other newspapers across the country. /5
Wiesel, Foxman and Krauthammer, along with other prominent Jewish-Zionist leaders, are unable — or unwilling — to provide an explanation for the persistence of anti-Semitism. They believe, or claim to believe, that because its an entirely irrational and baseless disease, theres no relation between what Jews do, and what non-Jews think of Jews. In their view, the strife and tension between Jews and non-Jews that has persisted over the centuries is not caused by, or is even related to, Jewish behavior.
Fortunately, a reasonable explanation for this enduring phenomenon has been provided by one of the most prominent and influential Jewish figures of modern history: Theodor Herzl, the founder of the modern Zionist movement. He laid out his views in a book, written in German, entitled The Jewish State (Der Judenstaat). Published in 1896, this work is the basic manifesto of the Zionist movement. A year and a half later he convened the first international Zionist conference.
In his book Herzl explained that regardless of where they live, or their citizenship, Jews constitute not merely a religious community, but a nationality, a people. He used the German word, Volk. Wherever large numbers of Jews live among non-Jews, he said, conflict is not only likely, its inevitable. The Jewish question exists wherever Jews live in noticeable numbers, he wrote. Where it does not exist, it is brought in by arriving Jews … I believe I understand anti-Semitism, which is a very complex phenomenon. I consider this development as a Jew, without hate or fear. /6
In his public and private writings, Herzl explained that anti-Semitism is not an aberration, but rather a natural response by non-Jews to alien Jewish behavior and attitudes. Anti-Jewish sentiment, he said, is not due to ignorance or bigotry, as so many have claimed. Instead, he concluded, the ancient and seemingly intractable conflict between Jews and non-Jews is entirely understandable, because Jews are a distinct and separate people, with interests that are different from, and which often conflict with, the interests of the people among whom they live.
Anti-Jewish sentiment in the modern era, Herzl believed, arose from the emancipation of Jews in the 18th and 19th centuries, which freed them from the confined life of the ghetto and brought them into modern urban society and direct economic dealings with middle class non-Jews. Anti-Semitism, Herzl wrote, is an understandable reaction to Jewish defects. In his diary he wrote: I find the anti-Semites are fully within their rights. /7
Herzl maintained that Jews must stop pretending — both to themselves and to non-Jews — that they are like everyone else, and instead must frankly acknowledge that they are a distinct and separate people, with distinct and separate goals and interests. The only workable long-term solution, he said, is for Jews to recognize reality and live, finally, as a normal people in a separate state of their own. In a memo to the Tsar of Russia, Herzl wrote that Zionism is the final solution of the Jewish question. /8
Israels first president, Chaim Weizmann, expressed a similar view. In his memoirs, he wrote: Whenever the quantity of Jews in any country reaches the saturation point, that country reacts against them … [This] reaction … cannot be looked upon as anti-Semitism in the ordinary or vulgar sense of that word; it is a universal social and economic concomitant of Jewish immigration, and we cannot shake it off. /9
Such candor is rare. Only occasionally do Jewish leaders today explain anti-Semitism as a reaction to the behavior of Jews. One of the wealthiest and most influential figures in todays world is George Soros, the Hungarian-born billionaire financier. Generally he avoids highlighting his ties to the Jewish community, and only rarely attends purely Jewish gatherings. But in November 2003 he addressed a meeting in New York City of the Jewish Funders Network. When he was asked about anti-Semitism in Europe, Soros did not respond by saying that it is an irrational disease. Instead, he said that it is the result of the policies of Israel and the United States. There is a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe. The policies of the Bush administration and the Sharon administration contribute to that, he said. If we change that direction, then anti-Semitism also will diminish,” he went on. I cant see how one could confront it directly. /10
Jewish community leaders reacted angrily to Soros remarks. Elan Steinberg, senior adviser at the World Jewish Congress (and former executive director of that influential organization), said: Lets understand things clearly: Anti-Semitism is not caused by Jews; its caused by anti-Semites. Abraham Foxman called Soros comments absolutely obscene. The ADL director went on to say: He buys into the stereotype. Its a simplistic, counterproductive, biased and bigoted perception of whats out there. Its blaming the victim for all of Israels and the Jewish peoples ills. /11
Most people readily accept that positive feelings by non-Jews toward Jews have some basis in Jewish behavior. But Jewish leaders such as Foxman, Wiesel and Steinberg seem unwilling to accept that negative feelings toward Jews might similarly have a basis in Jewish behavior.
Along with all other social behavior over time, conflict between Jews and non-Jews has an evident and understandable basis in history and human nature. The historical record suggests that the persistence of anti-Semitism over the centuries is rooted in the unusual way that Jews relate to non-Jews.
Israeli and Jewish- Zionist leaders affirm that Jews constitute a people or a nation that is, a distinct nationality group to which Jews everywhere are supposed to feel and express a primary loyalty. /12 Some American Jewish leaders have been explicit about this. Louis Brandeis, a US Supreme Court justice and a leading American Zionist, said: Let us all recognize that we Jews are a distinctive nationality of which every Jew, whatever his country, his station or shade of belief, is necessarily a member. /13 Stephen S. Wise, president of the American Jewish Congress and of the World Jewish Congress, told a rally in New York in June 1938: “I am not an American citizen of the Jewish faith. I am a Jew … Hitler was right in one thing. He calls the Jewish people a race, and we are a race.” /14 In keeping with this outlook, Israeli leaders also say that the Zionist state represents not just its own Jewish citizens, but Jews everywhere. /15
While affirming — usually only among themselves that Jews are members of a separate nationality to which they should feel and express a prime loyalty, Zionists simultaneously insist that Jews must be welcomed as full and equal citizens in whatever country they may wish to live. While Zionist Jews in the US such as Abraham Foxman speak of the Jewish people as a distinct nationality, they also claim that Jews are Americans like everyone else, and insist that Jews, including Zionist Jews, must be granted all the rights of US citizens, with no social, legal or institutional obstacles to Jewish power and influence in American life. In short, Jewish-Zionist leaders and organizations (such as the World Jewish Congress and the American Jewish Committee) demand full citizen rights for Zionist Jews not only in their country, Israel, but everywhere.
Major Jewish-Zionist organizations, and, more broadly, the organized Jewish community, also promote pluralism, tolerance and diversity in the United States and other countries. They believe this is useful for Jews. Americas pluralistic society is at the heart of Jewish security, wrote Abraham Foxmam. In the long run, the ADL director went to explain, what has made American Jewish life a uniquely positive experience in Diaspora history and which has enabled us to be such important allies for the State of Israel, is the health of a pluralistic, tolerant and inclusive American society. /16
For some time, the ADL has promoted the slogan Diversity is Our Strength. In keeping with this motto, which it claims to have invented, the ADL has devoted effort and resources to persuading Americans — especially younger Americans — to welcome and embrace ever more social, cultural and racial diversity. /17
This campaign has been very successful. American politicians and educators, and virtually the entire US mass media, promote diversity, multiculturalism and pluralism, and portray those who do not embrace these objectives as hateful and ignorant. At the same time, influential Jewish-Zionist organizations such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) insist that the US must recognize and defend Israel as a specifically Jewish ethnic-religious state. /18 Pluralism and diversity, it seems, are only for non-Jews. Whats good for Jews in their own homeland, Jewish-Zionist leaders seem to say, is not pluralism and diversity, but a tribalistic nationalism.
What Jews think is important because the Jewish community has the power to realize its goals. In a remarkable address in May 2013, Vice President Joe Biden said that the immense and outsized Jewish role in the US mass media and cultural life has been the single most important factor in shaping American attitudes over the past century, and in driving major cultural- political changes. I bet you 85 percent of those [social- political] changes, whether its in Hollywood or social media, are a consequence of Jewish leaders in the industry. The influence is immense, he said. Jewish heritage has shaped who we are all of us, us, me as much or more than any other factor in the last 223 years. And thats a fact, he added. /19
Biden is not alone in acknowledging this clout. It makes no sense at all to try to deny the reality of Jewish power and prominence in popular culture, wrote Michael Medved, a well-known Jewish author and film critic in 1996. /20 Joel Stein, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, wrote in 2008: As a proud Jew, I want America to know about our accomplishment. Yes, we control Hollywood … I dont care if Americans think were running the news media, Hollywood, Wall Street or the government. I just care that we get to keep running them. /21
Even though Jews have more influence and power in US political and cultural life than any other ethnic or religious group, Jewish groups are uncomfortable when non- Jews point this out. In fact, says Foxman and the ADL, one sure sign that someone is an anti-Semite is if he agrees with the statement that Jews have too much power in our country today. /22 For Foxman, apparently, there can never be too much Jewish influence and power.
Anti-Semitism is not a mysterious disease. As Herzl and Weizmann suggested, and as history shows, what is often called anti-Semitism is the natural and understandable attitude of people toward a minority with particularist loyalties that wields greatly disproportionate power for its own interests, rather than for the common good.
— December 2013. Revised January 2014.
About the Author
Mark Weber is a historian, author and current affairs analyst. He studied history at the University of Illinois (Chicago), the University of Munich, Portland State University and Indiana University (M.A., 1977).
For Further Reading
Norman F. Cantor. The Sacred Chain: A History of the Jews. New York: Harper, 1994.
Benjamin Ginsberg. The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State. The Univ. of Chicago Press, 1993.
Peter Harrison, What Causes Anti-Semitism? Review of Macdonalds Separation and Its Discontents. The Journal of Historical Review, May-June 1998. ( http://ihr.org/jhr/v17/v17n3p28_Harrison )
Stanley Hornbeck. Review of Macdonalds The Culture of Critique. American Renaissance, June 1999. ( http://www.csulb.edu/~kmacd/review-AR.html )
Seymour Martin Lipset and Earl Raab. Jews and the New American Scene. Harvard University Press, 1995.
Kevin MacDonald, A People That Shall Dwell Alone: Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy. Praeger, 1994.
Kevin MacDonald, Separation and Its Discontents: Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Anti-Semitism. Praeger,1998
Kevin MacDonald, The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements. Praeger, 1998 (Softcover edition, 2002).
W. D. Rubinstein. The Left, The Right and the Jews. New York: Universe Books, 1982.
Israel Shahak. Jewish History, Jewish Religion. London: Pluto Press, 1994,
Goldwin Smith. The Jewish Question. From: Essays on Questions of the Day. New York: Macmillan, 1894. ( http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v17/v17n1p16_Smith.html )
Mark Weber, A Straight Look at the Jewish Lobby ( http://ihr.org/leaflets/jewishlobby.shtml )
Mark Weber, Holocaust Remembrance: What’s Behind the Campaign? Feb. 2006. ( http://www.ihr.org/leaflets/holocaust_remembrance.shtml )
Mark Weber, Jews: A Religious Community, a People, or a Race?, March-April 2000. ( http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v19/v19n2p63_Weber.html ) ;
Mark Weber, Straight Talk About Zionism: What Jewish Nationalism Means. April 2009. ( http://www.ihr.org/zionism0409.html )
Mark Weber, The Weight of Tradition: Why Judaism is Not Like Other Religions. Oct. 2010. ( http://www.ihr.org/judaism0709.html )
Mark Weber, Vice President Biden Acknowledges ‘Immense’ Jewish Role in American Mass Media and Cultural Life, July 2013. ( http://ihr.org/other/biden_jewish_role )
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Anti-Semitism: Why Does It Exist? And Why Does it Persist?
Antisemitism (also spelled anti-Semitism or anti-semitism) is prejudice against, hatred of, or discrimination against Jews as an ethnic, religious, or racial group. A person who holds such positions is called an antisemite. Antisemitism is widely considered to be a form of racism.
While the conjunction of the units anti-, Semite, and -ism indicates antisemitism as being directed against all Semitic people, the term was popularized in Germany in 1873 as a scientific-sounding term for Judenhass (Jew-hatred), although it had been used for at least two decades prior, and that has been its normal use since then. For the purposes of a 2005 U.S. governmental report, antisemitism was considered “hatred toward Jewsindividually and as a groupthat can be attributed to the Jewish religion and/or ethnicity”.
Antisemitism may be manifested in many ways, ranging from expressions of hatred of or discrimination against individual Jews to organized violent attacks by mobs, state police, or even military attacks on entire Jewish communities. Although the term did not come into common usage until the 19th century, it is now also applied to historic anti-Jewish incidents. Notable instances of persecution include the pogroms which preceded the First Crusade in 1096, the expulsion from England in 1290, the massacres of Spanish Jews in 1391, the persecutions of the Spanish Inquisition, the expulsion from Spain in 1492, Cossack massacres in Ukraine of 16481657, various pogroms in Imperial Russia between 1821 and 1906, the 18941906 Dreyfus affair in France, the Holocaust in German-occupied Europe, official Soviet anti-Jewish policies and Arab and Muslim involvement in the Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries.
The origin of “antisemitic” terminologies is found in responses of Moritz Steinschneider to the views of Ernest Renan. As Alex Bein writes “The compound anti-Semitism appears to have been used first by Steinschneider, who challenged Renan on account of his ‘anti-Semitic prejudices’ [i.e., his derogation of the “Semites” as a race]”.Avner Falk similarly writes: ‘The German word antisemitisch was first used in 1860 by the Austrian Jewish scholar Moritz Steinschneider (1816-1907) in the phrase antisemitische Vorurteile (antisemitic prejudices). Steinschneider used this phrase to characterise the French philosopher Ernest Renan’s false ideas about how “Semitic races” were inferior to “Aryan races”‘.
Pseudoscientific theories concerning race, civilization, and “progress” had become quite widespread in Europe in the second half of the 19th century, especially as Prussian nationalistic historian Heinrich von Treitschke did much to promote this form of racism. He coined the phrase “the Jews are our misfortune” which would later be widely used by Nazis. In Treitschke’s writings “Semitic” was synonymous with “Jewish”, in contrast to its use by Renan and others.
In 1873 German journalist Wilhelm Marr published a pamphlet, Der Sieg des Judenthums ber das Germanenthum. Vom nicht confessionellen Standpunkt aus betrachtet (The Victory of the Jewish Spirit over the Germanic Spirit. Observed from a non-religious perspective.)[pageneeded]&/or[need quotation to verify] in which he used the word Semitismus interchangeably with the word Judentum to denote both “Jewry” (the Jews as a collective) and “jewishness” (the quality of being Jewish, or the Jewish spirit).
This use of Semitismus was followed by a coining of “Antisemitismus” which was used to indicate opposition to the Jews as a people and opposition to the Jewish spirit, which Marr interpreted as infiltrating German culture. His next pamphlet, Der Weg zum Siege des Germanenthums ber das Judenthum (The Way to Victory of the Germanic Spirit over the Jewish Spirit, 1880), presents a development of Marr’s ideas further and may present the first published use of the German word Antisemitismus, “antisemitism”.
The pamphlet became very popular, and in the same year he founded the Antisemiten-Liga (League of Antisemites), the first German organization committed specifically to combating the alleged threat to Germany and German culture posed by the Jews and their influence, and advocating their forced removal from the country.
So far as can be ascertained, the word was first widely printed in 1881, when Marr published Zwanglose Antisemitische Hefte, and Wilhelm Scherer used the term Antisemiten in the January issue of Neue Freie Presse.
The Jewish Encyclopedia reported: In February 1881, a correspondent of the “Allgemeine Zeitung des Judenthums” speaks of “Anti-Semitism” as a designation which recently came into use (“Allg. Zeit. d. Jud.” 1881, p.138). On 19 July 1882, the editor says, “This quite recent Anti-Semitism is hardly three years old.”
The related term “philosemitism” was coined around 1885.
Despite the use of the prefix anti-, the term “anti-Semitic” is not a direct opposite of “Semitic” which linguistically makes the term a misnomer. Within common, day to day usage, however, the terms “anti-Semitism” and “antisemitism” have accepted and specific use to describe prejudice against Jews alone and in general. This is despite the fact that there are other speakers of Semitic languages (e.g. Arabs, Ethiopians, or Assyrians) and that not all Jews speak a Semitic language.
The term “antisemitic” has been used on occasion with meanings inclusive of bigotry against other Semitic-language peoples such as Arabs, with the validity of such use being challenged.
The terms “anti-Semitism” and “antisemitism” are both in use. Some scholars favor the unhyphenated form because, “If you use the hyphenated form, you consider the words ‘Semitism’, ‘Semite’, ‘Semitic’ as meaningful” whereas “in antisemitic parlance, ‘Semites’ really stands for Jews, just that.” For example, Emil Fackenheim supported the unhyphenated spelling, in order to “[dispel] the notion that there is an entity ‘Semitism’ which ‘anti-Semitism’ opposes.” Others endorsing an unhyphenated term for the same reason include Padraic O’Hare, professor of Religious and Theological Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations at Merrimack College; Yehuda Bauer, professor of Holocaust Studies at the Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and James Carroll, historian and novelist. According to Carroll, who first cites O’Hare and Bauer on “the existence of something called ‘Semitism'”, “the hyphenated word thus reflects the bipolarity that is at the heart of the problem of antisemitism”.
Though the general definition of antisemitism is hostility or prejudice against Jews, and, according to Olaf Blaschke, has become an “umbrella term for negative stereotypes about Jews”, a number of authorities have developed more formal definitions.
Holocaust scholar and City University of New York professor Helen Fein defines it as “a persisting latent structure of hostile beliefs towards Jews as a collective manifested in individuals as attitudes, and in culture as myth, ideology, folklore and imagery, and in actionssocial or legal discrimination, political mobilization against the Jews, and collective or state violencewhich results in and/or is designed to distance, displace, or destroy Jews as Jews.”
Elaborating on Fein’s definition, Dietz Bering of the University of Cologne writes that, to antisemites, “Jews are not only partially but totally bad by nature, that is, their bad traits are incorrigible. Because of this bad nature: (1) Jews have to be seen not as individuals but as a collective. (2) Jews remain essentially alien in the surrounding societies. (3) Jews bring disaster on their ‘host societies’ or on the whole world, they are doing it secretly, therefore the anti-Semites feel obliged to unmask the conspiratorial, bad Jewish character.”
For Sonja Weinberg, as distinct from economic and religious anti-Judaism, antisemitism in its modern form shows conceptual innovation, a resort to ‘science’ to defend itself, new functional forms and organisational differences. It was anti-liberal, racialist and nationalist. It promoted the myth that Jews conspired to ‘judaise’ the world; it served to consolidate social identity; it channeled dissatisfactions among victims of the capitalist system; and it was used as a conservative cultural code to fight emancipation and liberalism.
Bernard Lewis defines antisemitism as a special case of prejudice, hatred, or persecution directed against people who are in some way different from the rest. According to Lewis, antisemitism is marked by two distinct features: Jews are judged according to a standard different from that applied to others, and they are accused of “cosmic evil.” Thus, “it is perfectly possible to hate and even to persecute Jews without necessarily being anti-Semitic” unless this hatred or persecution displays one of the two features specific to antisemitism.
There have been a number of efforts by international and governmental bodies to define antisemitism formally. The U.S. Department of State states that “while there is no universally accepted definition, there is a generally clear understanding of what the term encompasses.” For the purposes of its 2005 Report on Global Anti-Semitism, the term was considered to mean “hatred toward Jewsindividually and as a groupthat can be attributed to the Jewish religion and/or ethnicity.”
In 2005, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (now Fundamental Rights Agency), then an agency of the European Union, developed a more detailed working definition, which states: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” It also adds that “such manifestations could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity,” but that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.” It provides contemporary examples of ways in which antisemitism may manifest itself, including: promoting the harming of Jews in the name of an ideology or religion; promoting negative stereotypes of Jews; holding Jews collectively responsible for the actions of an individual Jewish person or group; denying the Holocaust or accusing Jews or Israel of exaggerating it; and accusing Jews of dual loyalty or a greater allegiance to Israel than their own country. It also lists ways in which attacking Israel could be antisemitic, and states that denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor, can be a manifestation of antisemitismas can applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation, or holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel. Late in 2013, the definition was removed from the website of the Fundamental Rights Agency. A spokesperson said that it had never been regarded as official and that the agency did not intend to develop its own definition.
In 1879, Wilhelm Marr founded the Antisemiten-Liga (Anti-Semitic League). Identification with antisemitism and as an antisemite was politically advantageous in Europe in the latter 19th century. For example, Karl Lueger, the popular mayor of fin de sicle Vienna, skillfully exploited antisemitism as a way of channeling public discontent to his political advantage. In its 1910 obituary of Lueger, The New York Times notes that Lueger was “Chairman of the Christian Social Union of the Parliament and of the Anti-Semitic Union of the Diet of Lower Austria. In 1895 A. C. Cuza organized the Alliance Anti-semitique Universelle in Bucharest. In the period before World War II, when animosity towards Jews was far more commonplace, it was not uncommon for a person, organization, or political party to self-identify as an antisemite or antisemitic.
In 1882, the early Zionist pioneer Judah Leib Pinsker wrote that antisemitism was a psychological response rooted in fear and was an inherited predisposition. He named the condition Judeophobia.
Judeophobia is a variety of demonopathy with the distinction that it is not peculiar to particular races but is common to the whole of mankind.’…’Judeophobia is a psychic aberration. As a psychic aberration it is hereditary, and as a disease transmitted for two thousand years it is incurable.’… ‘In this way have Judaism and Anti-Semitism passed for centuries through history as inseparable companions.’……’Having analyzed Judeophobia as an hereditary form of demonopathy, peculiar to the human race, and having represented Anti-Semitism as proceeding from an inherited aberration of the human mind, we must draw the important conclusion that we must give’ up contending against these hostile impulses as we must against every other inherited predisposition. (translation from German)
In the aftermath of the Kristallnacht pogrom in 1938, German propaganda minister Goebbels announced: “The German people is anti-Semitic. It has no desire to have its rights restricted or to be provoked in the future by parasites of the Jewish race.”
After the 1945 victory of the Allies over Nazi Germany, and particularly after the extent of the Nazi genocide of Jews became known, the term “anti-Semitism” acquired pejorative connotations. This marked a full circle shift in usage, from an era just decades earlier when “Jew” was used as a pejorative term. Yehuda Bauer wrote in 1984: “There are no anti-Semites in the world… Nobody says, ‘I am anti-Semitic.’ You cannot, after Hitler. The word has gone out of fashion.”
Antisemitism manifests itself in a variety of ways. Ren Knig mentions social antisemitism, economic antisemitism, religious antisemitism, and political antisemitism as examples. Knig points out that these different forms demonstrate that the “origins of anti-Semitic prejudices are rooted in different historical periods.” Knig asserts that differences in the chronology of different antisemitic prejudices and the irregular distribution of such prejudices over different segments of the population create “serious difficulties in the definition of the different kinds of anti-Semitism.” These difficulties may contribute to the existence of different taxonomies that have been developed to categorize the forms of antisemitism. The forms identified are substantially the same; it is primarily the number of forms and their definitions that differ. Bernard Lazare identifies three forms of antisemitism: Christian antisemitism, economic antisemitism, and ethnologic antisemitism.William Brustein names four categories: religious, racial, economic and political. The Roman Catholic historian Edward Flannery distinguished four varieties of antisemitism:
Louis Harap separates “economic antisemitism” and merges “political” and “nationalistic” antisemitism into “ideological antisemitism”. Harap also adds a category of “social antisemitism”.
Gustavo Perednik has argued that what he terms “Judeophobia” has a number of unique traits which set it apart from other forms of racism, including permanence, depth, obsessiveness, irrationality, endurance, ubiquity, and danger. He also wrote in his book Spain Derailed that “The Jews were accused by the nationalists of being the creators of Communism; by the Communists of ruling Capitalism. If they live in non-Jewish countries, they are accused of double-loyalties; if they live in the Jewish country, of being racists. When they spend their money, they are reproached for being ostentatious; when they don’t spend their money, of being avaricious. They are called rootless cosmopolitans or hardened chauvinists. If they assimilate, they are accused of fifth-columnists, if they don’t, of shutting themselves away.”
Louis Harap defines cultural antisemitism as “that species of anti-Semitism that charges the Jews with corrupting a given culture and attempting to supplant or succeeding in supplanting the preferred culture with a uniform, crude, “Jewish” culture. Similarly, Eric Kandel characterizes cultural antisemitism as being based on the idea of “Jewishness” as a “religious or cultural tradition that is acquired through learning, through distinctive traditions and education.” According to Kandel, this form of antisemitism views Jews as possessing “unattractive psychological and social characteristics that are acquired through acculturation.” Niewyk and Nicosia characterize cultural antisemitism as focusing on and condemning “the Jews’ aloofness from the societies in which they live.” An important feature of cultural antisemitism is that it considers the negative attributes of Judaism to be redeemable by education or religious conversion.
Religious antisemitism, also known as anti-Judaism, is antipathy towards Jews because of their perceived religious beliefs. In theory, antisemitism and attacks against individual Jews would stop if Jews stopped practicing Judaism or changed their public faith, especially by conversion to the official or right religion. However, in some cases discrimination continues after conversion, as in the case of Christianized Marranos or Iberian Jews in the late 15th century and 16th century who were suspected of secretly practising Judaism or Jewish customs.
Although the origins of antisemitism are rooted in the Judeo-Christian conflict, religious antisemitism, other forms of antisemitism have developed in modern times. Frederick Schweitzer asserts that, “most scholars ignore the Christian foundation on which the modern antisemitic edifice rests and invoke political antisemitism, cultural antisemitism, racism or racial antisemitism, economic antisemitism and the like.” William Nichols draws a distinction between religious antisemitism and modern antisemitism based on racial or ethnic grounds: “The dividing line was the possibility of effective conversion… a Jew ceased to be a Jew upon baptism.” From the perspective of racial antisemitism, however, “… the assimilated Jew was still a Jew, even after baptism…. From the Enlightenment onward, it is no longer possible to draw clear lines of distinction between religious and racial forms of hostility towards Jews… Once Jews have been emancipated and secular thinking makes its appearance, without leaving behind the old Christian hostility towards Jews, the new term antisemitism becomes almost unavoidable, even before explicitly racist doctrines appear.”
The underlying premise of economic antisemitism is that Jews perform harmful economic activities or that economic activities become harmful when they are performed by Jews.
Linking Jews and money underpins the most damaging and lasting Antisemitic canards. Antisemites claim that Jews control the world finances, a theory promoted in the fraudulent Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and later repeated by Henry Ford and his Dearborn Independent. In the modern era, such myths continue to be spread in books such as The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews published by the Nation of Islam, and on the internet. Derek Penslar writes that there are two components to the financial canards:
Abraham Foxman describes six facets of the financial canards:
Gerald Krefetz summarizes the myth as “[Jews] control the banks, the money supply, the economy, and businessesof the community, of the country, of the world”. Krefetz gives, as illustrations, many slurs and proverbs (in several different languages) which suggest that Jews are stingy, or greedy, or miserly, or aggressive bargainers. During the nineteenth century, Jews were described as “scurrilous, stupid, and tight-fisted”, but after the Jewish Emancipation and the rise of Jews to the middle- or upper-class in Europe were portrayed as “clever, devious, and manipulative financiers out to dominate [world finances]”.
Lon Poliakov asserts that economic antisemitism is not a distinct form of antisemitism, but merely a manifestation of theologic antisemitism (because, without the theological causes of the economic antisemitism, there would be no economic antisemitism). In opposition to this view, Derek Penslar contends that in the modern era, the economic antisemitism is “distinct and nearly constant” but theological antisemitism is “often subdued”.
An academic study by Francesco DAcunto, Marcel Prokopczuk, and Michael Weber showed that people who live in areas of Germany that contain the most brutal history of anti-Semitic persecution are more likely to be distrustful of finance in general. Therefore, they tended to invest less money in the stock market and make poor financial decisions. The study concluded “that the persecution of minorities reduces not only the long-term wealth of the persecuted, but of the persecutors as well.”
Racial antisemitism is prejudice against Jews as a racial/ethnic group, rather than Judaism as a religion.
Racial antisemitism is the idea that the Jews are a distinct and inferior race compared to their host nations. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, it gained mainstream acceptance as part of the eugenics movement, which categorized non-Europeans as inferior. It more specifically claimed that Northern Europeans, or “Aryans”, were superior. Racial antisemites saw the Jews as part of a Semitic race and emphasized their non-European origins and culture. They saw Jews as beyond redemption even if they converted to the majority religion.
Racial antisemitism replaced the hatred of Judaism with the hatred of Jews as a group. In the context of the Industrial Revolution, following the Jewish Emancipation, Jews rapidly urbanized and experienced a period of greater social mobility. With the decreasing role of religion in public life tempering religious antisemitism, a combination of growing nationalism, the rise of eugenics, and resentment at the socio-economic success of the Jews led to the newer, and more virulent, racist antisemitism.
According to William Nichols, religious antisemitism may be distinguished from modern antisemitism based on racial or ethnic grounds. “The dividing line was the possibility of effective conversion… a Jew ceased to be a Jew upon baptism.” However, with racial antisemitism, “Now the assimilated Jew was still a Jew, even after baptism…. From the Enlightenment onward, it is no longer possible to draw clear lines of distinction between religious and racial forms of hostility towards Jews… Once Jews have been emancipated and secular thinking makes its appearance, without leaving behind the old Christian hostility towards Jews, the new term antisemitism becomes almost unavoidable, even before explicitly racist doctrines appear.”
In the early 19th century, a number of laws enabling emancipation of the Jews were enacted in Western European countries. The old laws restricting them to ghettos, as well as the many laws that limited their property rights, rights of worship and occupation, were rescinded. Despite this, traditional discrimination and hostility to Jews on religious grounds persisted and was supplemented by racial antisemitism, encouraged by the work of racial theorists such as Joseph Arthur de Gobineau and particularly his Essay on the Inequality of the Human Race of 18535. Nationalist agendas based on ethnicity, known as ethnonationalism, usually excluded the Jews from the national community as an alien race. Allied to this were theories of Social Darwinism, which stressed a putative conflict between higher and lower races of human beings. Such theories, usually posited by northern Europeans, advocated the superiority of white Aryans to Semitic Jews.
William Brustein defines political antisemitism as hostility toward Jews based on the belief that Jews seek national and/or world power.” Yisrael Gutman characterizes political antisemitism as tending to “lay responsibility on the Jews for defeats and political economic crises” while seeking to “exploit opposition and resistance to Jewish influence as elements in political party platforms.”
According to Viktor Kardy, political antisemitism became widespread after the legal emancipation of the Jews and sought to reverse some of the consequences of that emancipation. 
Holocaust denial and Jewish conspiracy theories are also considered forms of antisemitism.Zoological conspiracy theories have been propagated by the Arab media and Arabic language websites, alleging a “Zionist plot” behind the use of animals to attack civilians or to conduct espionage.
Starting in the 1990s, some scholars have advanced the concept of new antisemitism, coming simultaneously from the left, the right, and radical Islam, which tends to focus on opposition to the creation of a Jewish homeland in the State of Israel, and they argue that the language of anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel are used to attack Jews more broadly. In this view, the proponents of the new concept believe that criticisms of Israel and Zionism are often disproportionate in degree and unique in kind, and they attribute this to antisemitism. Jewish scholar Gustavo Perednik has posited that anti-Zionism in itself represents a form of discrimination against Jews, in that it singles out Jewish national aspirations as an illegitimate and racist endeavor, and “proposes actions that would result in the death of millions of Jews”. It is asserted that the new antisemitism deploys traditional antisemitic motifs, including older motifs such as the blood libel.
Critics of the concept view it as trivializing the meaning of antisemitism, and as exploiting antisemitism in order to silence debate and to deflect attention from legitimate criticism of the State of Israel, and, by associating anti-Zionism with antisemitism, misused to taint anyone opposed to Israeli actions and policies.
Many authors see the roots of modern antisemitism in both pagan antiquity and early Christianity. Jerome Chanes identifies six stages in the historical development of antisemitism:
Chanes suggests that these six stages could be merged into three categories: “ancient antisemitism, which was primarily ethnic in nature; Christian antisemitism, which was religious; and the racial antisemitism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.”
The first clear examples of anti-Jewish sentiment can be traced back to Alexandria in the 3rd century BCE. Alexandria was home to the largest Jewish diaspora community in the world at the time and the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, was produced there. Manetho, an Egyptian priest and historian of that era, wrote scathingly of the Jews. His themes are repeated in the works of Chaeremon, Lysimachus, Poseidonius, Apollonius Molon, and in Apion and Tacitus.Agatharchides of Cnidus ridiculed the practices of the Jews and the “absurdity of their Law”, making a mocking reference to how Ptolemy Lagus was able to invade Jerusalem in 320 BCE because its inhabitants were observing the Shabbat. One of the earliest anti-Jewish edicts, promulgated by Antiochus IV Epiphanes in about 170167 BCE, sparked a revolt of the Maccabees in Judea.
In view of Manetho’s anti-Jewish writings, antisemitism may have originated in Egypt and been spread by “the Greek retelling of Ancient Egyptian prejudices”. The ancient Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria describes an attack on Jews in Alexandria in 38 CE in which thousands of Jews died. The violence in Alexandria may have been caused by the Jews being portrayed as misanthropes. Tcherikover argues that the reason for hatred of Jews in the Hellenistic period was their separateness in the Greek cities, the poleis. Bohak has argued, however, that early animosity against the Jews cannot be regarded as being anti-Judaic or antisemitic unless it arose from attitudes that were held against the Jews alone, and that many Greeks showed animosity toward any group they regarded as barbarians. Statements exhibiting prejudice against Jews and their religion can be found in the works of many pagan Greek and Roman writers. Edward Flannery writes that it was the Jews’ refusal to accept Greek religious and social standards that marked them out. Hecataetus of Abdera, a Greek historian of the early third century BCE, wrote that Moses “in remembrance of the exile of his people, instituted for them a misanthropic and inhospitable way of life.” Manetho, an Egyptian historian, wrote that the Jews were expelled Egyptian lepers who had been taught by Moses “not to adore the gods.” Edward Flannery describes antisemitism in ancient times as essentially “cultural, taking the shape of a national xenophobia played out in political settings.”
There are examples of Hellenistic rulers desecrating the Temple and banning Jewish religious practices, such as circumcision, Shabbat observance, study of Jewish religious books, etc. Examples may also be found in anti-Jewish riots in Alexandria in the 3rd century BCE.
The Jewish diaspora on the Nile island Elephantine, which was founded by mercenaries, experienced the destruction of its temple in 410 BCE.
Relationships between the Jewish people and the occupying Roman Empire were at times antagonistic and resulted in several rebellions. According to Suetonius, the emperor Tiberius expelled from Rome Jews who had gone to live there. The 18th-century English historian Edward Gibbon identified a more tolerant period in Roman-Jewish relations beginning in about 160 CE. However, when Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire, the state’s attitude towards the Jews gradually worsened.
James Carroll asserted: “Jews accounted for 10% of the total population of the Roman Empire. By that ratio, if other factors such as pogroms and conversions had not intervened, there would be 200 million Jews in the world today, instead of something like 13 million.”
From the 9th century CE, the medieval Islamic world classified Jews (and Christians) as dhimmi, and allowed Jews to practice their religion more freely than they could do in medieval Christian Europe. Under Islamic rule, there was a Golden age of Jewish culture in Spain that lasted until at least the 11th century. It ended when several Muslim pogroms against Jews took place on the Iberian Peninsula, including those that occurred in Crdoba in 1011 and in Granada in 1066. Several decrees ordering the destruction of synagogues were also enacted in Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Yemen from the 11th century. In addition, Jews were forced to convert to Islam or face death in some parts of Yemen, Morocco and Baghdad several times between the 12th and 18th centuries. The Almohads, who had taken control of the Almoravids’ Maghribi and Andalusian territories by 1147, were far more fundamentalist in outlook compared to their predecessors, and they treated the dhimmis harshly. Faced with the choice of either death or conversion, many Jews and Christians emigrated. Some, such as the family of Maimonides, fled east to more tolerant Muslim lands, while some others went northward to settle in the growing Christian kingdoms.
During the Middle Ages in Europe there was persecution against Jews in many places, with blood libels, expulsions, forced conversions and massacres. A main justification of prejudice against Jews in Europe was religious.
The persecution hit its first peak during the Crusades. In the First Crusade (1096) hundreds or even thousands of Jews were killed as the crusaders arrived. This was the first major outbreak of anti-Jewish violence Christian Europe outside Spain and was cited by Zionists in the 19th century as indicating the need for a state of Israel.
In the Second Crusade (1147) the Jews in Germany were subject to several massacres. The Jews were also subjected to attacks by the Shepherds’ Crusades of 1251 and 1320. The Crusades were followed by expulsions, including, in 1290, the banishing of all English Jews; in 1394, the expulsion of 100,000 Jews in France; and in 1421, the expulsion of thousands from Austria. Many of the expelled Jews fled to Poland. In medieval and Renaissance Europe, a major contributor to the deepening of antisemitic sentiment and legal action among the Christian populations was the popular preaching of the zealous reform religious orders, the Franciscans (especially Bernardino of Feltre) and Dominicans (especially Vincent Ferrer), who combed Europe and promoted antisemitism through their often fiery, emotional appeals.
As the Black Death epidemics devastated Europe in the mid-14th century, causing the death of a large part of the population, Jews were used as scapegoats. Rumors spread that they caused the disease by deliberately poisoning wells. Hundreds of Jewish communities were destroyed. Although Pope Clement VI tried to protect them by issuing two papal bulls in 1348, the first on 6 July and an additional one several months later, 900 Jews were burned alive in Strasbourg, where the plague had not yet affected the city.
During the mid-to-late 17th century the PolishLithuanian Commonwealth was devastated by several conflicts, in which the Commonwealth lost over a third of its population (over 3 million people), and Jewish losses were counted in the hundreds of thousands. The first of these conflicts was the Khmelnytsky Uprising, when Bohdan Khmelnytsky’s supporters massacred tens of thousands of Jews in the eastern and southern areas he controlled (today’s Ukraine). The precise number of dead may never be known, but the decrease of the Jewish population during that period is estimated at 100,000 to 200,000, which also includes emigration, deaths from diseases and captivity in the Ottoman Empire, called jasyr.
European immigrants to the United States brought antisemitism to the country as early as the 17th century. Peter Stuyvesant, the Dutch governor of New Amsterdam, implemented plans to prevent Jews from settling in the city. During the Colonial Era, the American government limited the political and economic rights of Jews. It was not until the Revolutionary War that Jews gained legal rights, including the right to vote. However, even at their peak, the restrictions on Jews in the United States were never as stringent as they had been in Europe.
In the Zaydi imamate of Yemen, Jews were also singled out for discrimination in the 17th century, which culminated in the general expulsion of all Jews from places in Yemen to the arid coastal plain of Tihamah and which became known as the Mawza Exile.
In 1744, Frederick II of Prussia limited the number of Jews allowed to live in Breslau to only ten so-called “protected” Jewish families and encouraged a similar practice in other Prussian cities. In 1750 he issued the Revidiertes General Privilegium und Reglement vor die Judenschaft: the “protected” Jews had an alternative to “either abstain from marriage or leave Berlin” (quoting Simon Dubnow). In the same year, Archduchess of Austria Maria Theresa ordered Jews out of Bohemia but soon reversed her position, on the condition that Jews pay for their readmission every ten years. This extortion was known as malke-geld (queen’s money). In 1752 she introduced the law limiting each Jewish family to one son. In 1782, Joseph II abolished most of these persecution practices in his Toleranzpatent, on the condition that Yiddish and Hebrew were eliminated from public records and that judicial autonomy was annulled. Moses Mendelssohn wrote that “Such a tolerance… is even more dangerous play in tolerance than open persecution.”
In 1772, the empress of Russia Catherine II forced the Jews of the Pale of Settlement to stay in their shtetls and forbade them from returning to the towns that they occupied before the partition of Poland.
According to Arnold Ages, Voltaire’s “Lettres philosophiques, Dictionnaire philosophique, and Candide, to name but a few of his better known works, are saturated with comments on Jews and Judaism and the vast majority are negative”. Paul H. Meyer adds: “There is no question but that Voltaire, particularly in his latter years, nursed a violent hatred of the Jews and it is equally certain that his animosity…did have a considerable impact on public opinion in France.” Thirty of the 118 articles in Voltaire’s Dictionnaire Philosophique concerned Jews and described them in consistently negative ways,
Historian Martin Gilbert writes that it was in the 19th century that the position of Jews worsened in Muslim countries. Benny Morris writes that one symbol of Jewish degradation was the phenomenon of stone-throwing at Jews by Muslim children. Morris quotes a 19th-century traveler: “I have seen a little fellow of six years old, with a troop of fat toddlers of only three and four, teaching [them] to throw stones at a Jew, and one little urchin would, with the greatest coolness, waddle up to the man and literally spit upon his Jewish gaberdine. To all this the Jew is obliged to submit; it would be more than his life was worth to offer to strike a Mahommedan.”
In the middle of the 19th century, J. J. Benjamin wrote about the life of Persian Jews, describing conditions and beliefs that went back to the 16th century: “they are obliged to live in a separate part of town Under the pretext of their being unclean, they are treated with the greatest severity and should they enter a street, inhabited by Mussulmans, they are pelted by the boys and mobs with stones and dirt.”
In 1850 the German composer Richard Wagner published Das Judenthum in der Musik (“Jewishness in Music”) under a pseudonym in the Neue Zeitschrift fr Musik. The essay began as an attack on Jewish composers, particularly Wagner’s contemporaries (and rivals) Felix Mendelssohn and Giacomo Meyerbeer, but expanded to accuse Jews of being a harmful and alien element in German culture. Antisemitism can also be found in many of the Grimms’ Fairy Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, published from 1812 to 1857. It is mainly characterized by Jews being the villain of a story, such as in “The Good Bargain (Der gute Handel)” and “The Jew Among Thorns (Der Jude im Dorn).”
The middle 19th century saw continued official harassment of the Jews, especially in Eastern Europe under Czarist influence. For example, in 1846, 80 Jews approached the governor in Warsaw to retain the right to wear their traditional dress, but were immediately rebuffed by having their hair and beards forcefully cut, at their own expense.
In America, even such influential figures as Walt Whitman tolerated bigotry toward the Jews. During his time as editor of the Brooklyn Eagle (1846-1848), the newspaper published historical sketches casting Jews in a bad light.
The Dreyfus Affair was an infamous antisemitic event of the late 19th century and early 20th century. Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish artillery captain in the French Army, was accused in 1894 of passing secrets to the Germans. As a result of these charges, Dreyfus was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island. The actual spy, Marie Charles Esterhazy, was acquitted. The event caused great uproar among the French, with the public choosing sides on the issue of whether Dreyfus was actually guilty or not. mile Zola accused the army of corrupting the French justice system. However, general consensus held that Dreyfus was guilty: 80% of the press in France condemned him. This attitude among the majority of the French population reveals the underlying antisemitism of the time period.
Adolf Stoecker (18351909), the Lutheran court chaplain to Kaiser Wilhelm I, founded in 1878 an antisemitic, anti-liberal political party called the Christian Social Party. This party always remained small, and its support dwindled after Stoecker’s death, with most of its members eventually joining larger conservative groups such as the German National People’s Party.
Some scholars view Karl Marx’s essay On The Jewish Question as antisemitic, and argue that he often used antisemitic epithets in his published and private writings. These scholars argue that Marx equated Judaism with capitalism in his essay, helping to spread that idea. Some further argue that the essay influenced National Socialist, as well as Soviet and Arab antisemites. Marx himself had Jewish ancestry, and Albert Lindemann and Hyam Maccoby have suggested that he was embarrassed by it. Others argue that Marx consistently supported Prussian Jewish communities’ struggles to achieve equal political rights. These scholars argue that “On the Jewish Question” is a critique of Bruno Bauer’s arguments that Jews must convert to Christianity before being emancipated, and is more generally a critique of liberal rights discourses and capitalism. David McLellan and Francis Wheen argue that readers should interpret On the Jewish Question in the deeper context of Marx’s debates with Bruno Bauer, author of The Jewish Question, about Jewish emancipation in Germany. According to McLellan, Marx used the word Judentum colloquially, as meaning commerce, arguing that Germans must be emancipated from the capitalist mode of production not Judaism or Jews in particular.
Between 1900 and 1924, approximately 1.75 million Jews migrated to America, the bulk from Eastern Europe. Before 1900 American Jews had always amounted to less than 1% of America’s total population, but by 1930 Jews formed about 3.5%. This increase, combined with the upward social mobility of some Jews, contributed to a resurgence of antisemitism. In the first half of the 20th century, in the USA, Jews were discriminated against in employment, access to residential and resort areas, membership in clubs and organizations, and in tightened quotas on Jewish enrolment and teaching positions in colleges and universities. The lynching of Leo Frank by a mob of prominent citizens in Marietta, Georgia in 1915 turned the spotlight on antisemitism in the United States. The case was also used to build support for the renewal of the Ku Klux Klan which had been inactive since 1870.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Beilis Trial in Russia represented incidents of blood-libel in Europe. Christians used allegations of Jews killing Christians as a justification for the killing of Jews.
Antisemitism in America reached its peak during the interwar period. The pioneer automobile manufacturer Henry Ford propagated antisemitic ideas in his newspaper The Dearborn Independent (published by Ford from 1919 to 1927). The radio speeches of Father Coughlin in the late 1930s attacked Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and promoted the notion of a Jewish financial conspiracy. Some prominent politicians shared such views: Louis T. McFadden, Chairman of the United States House Committee on Banking and Currency, blamed Jews for Roosevelt’s decision to abandon the gold standard, and claimed that “in the United States today, the Gentiles have the slips of paper while the Jews have the lawful money”.
In the early 1940s the aviator Charles Lindbergh and many prominent Americans led The America First Committee in opposing any involvement in the war against Fascism. During his July 1936 visit to Germany, Lindbergh wrote letters saying that there was “more intelligent leadership in Germany than is generally recognized”. The German American Bund held parades in New York City during the late 1930s, where members wore Nazi uniforms and raised flags featuring swastikas alongside American flags. Sometimes race riots, as in Detroit in 1943, targeted Jewish businesses for looting and burning.
In Germany, Nazism led Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, who came to power on 30 January 1933, instituted repressive legislation denying the Jews basic civil rights. In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws prohibited sexual relations and marriages between “Aryans” and Jews as Rassenschande (“race disgrace”) and stripped all German Jews, even quarter- and half-Jews, from their citizenship, (their official title became “subjects of the state”). It instituted a pogrom on the night of 910 November 1938, dubbed Kristallnacht, in which Jews were killed, their property destroyed and their synagogues torched. Antisemitic laws, agitation and propaganda were extended to German-occupied Europe in the wake of conquest, often building on local antisemitic traditions. In the east the Third Reich forced Jews into ghettos in Warsaw, Krakw, Lvov, Lublin and Radom. After the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 a campaign of mass murder, conducted by the Einsatzgruppen, culminated from 1942 to 1945 in systematic genocide: the Holocaust. Eleven million Jews were targeted for extermination by the Nazis, and some six million were eventually killed.
Antisemitism was commonly used as an instrument for personal conflicts in the Soviet Union, starting from conflict between Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky and continuing through numerous conspiracy-theories spread by official propaganda. Antisemitism in the USSR reached new heights after 1948 during the campaign against the “rootless cosmopolitan” (euphemism for “Jew”) in which numerous Yiddish-language poets, writers, painters and sculptors were killed or arrested. This culminated in the so-called Doctors’ Plot (19521953). Similar antisemitic propaganda in Poland resulted in the flight of Polish Jewish survivors from the country.
After the war, the Kielce pogrom and “March 1968 events” in communist Poland represented further incidents of antisemitism in Europe. The anti-Jewish violence in postwar Poland has a common theme of blood-libel rumours.
In 1965 Pope Paul VI issued a papal decree disbanding the cult of Simon of Trent, the shrine erected to him was dismantled, and Simon was decanonized.
Robert Bernstein, founder of Human Rights Watch, says that antisemitism is “deeply ingrained and institutionalized” in “Arab nations in modern times.”
In a 2011 survey by the Pew Research Center, all of the Muslim-majority Middle Eastern countries polled held strongly negative views of Jews. In the questionnaire, only 2% of Egyptians, 3% of Lebanese Muslims, and 2% of Jordanians reported having a positive view of Jews. Muslim-majority countries outside the Middle East held similarly negative views, with 4% of Turks and 9% of Indonesians viewing Jews favorably.
According to a 2011 exhibition at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, United States, some of the dialogue from Middle East media and commentators about Jews bear a striking resemblance to Nazi propaganda. According to Josef Joffe of Newsweek, “anti-Semitismthe real stuff, not just bad-mouthing particular Israeli policiesis as much part of Arab life today as the hijab or the hookah. Whereas this darkest of creeds is no longer tolerated in polite society in the West, in the Arab world, Jew hatred remains culturally endemic.”
Muslim clerics in the Middle East have frequently referred to Jews as descendants of apes and pigs, which are conventional epithets for Jews and Christians.
According to professor Robert Wistrich, director of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (SICSA), the calls for the destruction of Israel by Iran or by Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, or the Muslim Brotherhood, represent a contemporary mode of genocidal antisemitism.
Dean Phillip Bell documents and enumerates a number of categories and causes for anti-Jewish sentiment. He describes political, social, and pseudo-scientific efforts to separate Jews from “civil” society and notes that antisemitism was part of a larger attempt to differentiate status based on racial background. Bell writes, “Socio-psychological explanations focus on concepts of projected guilt and displaced aggression, the search for a scapegoat. Ethnic explanations associated marginalization, or negative representation of the Other, with perceived ethnic differences. Xenophobia ascribes anti-Jewish sentiment to broader concern over minority groups within a national or regional identity.
There are a number of antisemitic canards which are used to fuel and justify antisemitic sentiment and activities. These include conspiracy theories and myths such as: that Jews killed Christ, poisoned wells, killed Christian children to use their blood for making matzos (the Blood libel), or “made up” the Holocaust, plot to control the world (the Protocols of the Elders of Zion), harvest organs, and other invented stories. A number of conspiracy theories also include accusations that Jews control the media or global financial institutions.
A March 2008 report by the U.S. State Department found that there was an increase in antisemitism across the world, and that both old and new expressions of antisemitism persist. A 2012 report by the U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor also noted a continued global increase in antisemitism, and found that Holocaust denial and opposition to Israeli policy at times was used to promote or justify blatant antisemitism.
In Egypt, Dar al-Fadhilah published a translation of Henry Ford’s antisemitic treatise, The International Jew, complete with distinctly antisemitic imagery on the cover.
On 5 May 2001, after Shimon Peres visited Egypt, the Egyptian al-Akhbar internet paper said that “lies and deceit are not foreign to Jews[…]. For this reason, Allah changed their shape and made them into monkeys and pigs.”
In July 2012, Egypt’s Al Nahar channel fooled actors into thinking they were on an Israeli television show and filmed their reactions to being told it was an Israeli television show. In response, some of the actors launched into antisemitic rants or dialogue, and many became violent. Actress Mayer El Beblawi said that “Allah did not curse the worm and moth as much as he cursed the Jews” while actor Mahmoud Abdel Ghaffar launched into a violent rage and said, “You brought me someone who looks like a Jew… I hate the Jews to death” after finding out it was a prank.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, former president of Iran, has frequently been accused of denying the Holocaust.
In July, the winner of Iran’s first annual International Wall Street Downfall Cartoon Festival, jointly sponsored by the semi-state-run Iranian media outlet Fars News, was an antisemitic cartoon depicting Jews praying before the New York Stock Exchange, which is made to look like the Western Wall. Other cartoons in the contest were antisemitic as well. The national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, condemned the cartoon, stating that “Here’s the anti-Semitic notion of Jews and their love for money, the canard that Jews ‘control’ Wall Street, and a cynical perversion of the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism,” and “Once again Iran takes the prize for promoting antisemitism.”
In 2004, Al-Manar, a media network affiliated with Hezbollah, aired a drama series, The Diaspora, which observers allege is based on historical antisemitic allegations. BBC correspondents who have watched the program says it quotes extensively from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Although Malaysia presently has no substantial Jewish population, the country has reportedly become an example of a phenomenon called “antisemitism without Jews.”
In his treatise on Malay identity, “The Malay Dilemma,” which was published in 1970, former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad wrote: “The Jews are not only hooked-nosed… but understand money instinctively…. Jewish stinginess and financial wizardry gained them the economic control of Europe and provoked antisemitism which waxed and waned throughout Europe through the ages.”
The Malay-language Utusan Malaysia daily stated in an editorial that Malaysians “cannot allow anyone, especially the Jews, to interfere secretly in this country’s business… When the drums are pounded hard in the name of human rights, the pro-Jewish people will have their best opportunity to interfere in any Islamic country,” the newspaper said. “We might not realize that the enthusiasm to support actions such as demonstrations will cause us to help foreign groups succeed in their mission of controlling this country.” Prime Minister Najib Razak’s office subsequently issued a statement late Monday saying Utusan’s claim did “not reflect the views of the government.”
Antisemitism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
B’nai B’rith International (English pronunciation: , from Hebrew: b’n brit, “Children of the Covenant”), is the oldest Jewish service organization in the world. B’nai B’rith states that it is committed to the security and continuity of the Jewish people and the State of Israel and combating antisemitism and bigotry. Its mission is to unite persons of the Jewish faith and to enhance Jewish identity through strengthening Jewish family life, to provide broad-based services for the benefit of senior citizens, and to facilitate advocacy and action on behalf of Jews throughout the world.
Although the organization’s historic roots stem from a system of fraternal lodges and units in the late 20th century, as fraternal organizations declined throughout the United States, the organization evolved into a dual system of both lodges and units. The membership pattern became more common to other contemporary organizations of members affiliated by contribution in addition to formal dues paying members. In recent years, the organization reported more than 200,000 members and supporters in more than 50 countries and a budget of $14,000,000. Nearly 95% of the membership is in the United States.
B’nai B’rith International is affiliated with the World Jewish Congress.
B’nai B’rith was founded in Aaron Sinsheimer’s caf in New York City’s Lower East Side on October 13, 1843, by 12 recent German Jewish immigrants led by Henry Jones. The new organization represented an attempt to organize Jews of the local community to confront what Isaac Rosenbourg, one of the founders, called “the deplorable condition of Jews in this, our newly adopted country”. The new group’s purpose, as described in its constitution, called for the traditional functions performed by Jewish societies in Europe: “Visiting and attending the sick” and “protecting and assisting the widow and the orphan.” Its founders had hoped that it soon would encompass all Jews in the United States, but this did not happen, since other Jewish organizations also were forming around the same time.
With their Yiddish heritage, the founders originally named the organization Shne des Bundes (Sons of the Covenant) to reflect their goal of a fraternal order that could provide comfort to the entire spectrum of Jewish Americans. Although early meetings were conducted in Yiddish, after a short time English emerged as the language of choice and the name was changed to B’nai B’rith. In the late 20th century, the translation was changed to the more contemporary and inclusive Children of the Covenant.
Despite its fraternal and local beginnings, B’nai B’rith spoke out for Jewish rights early in its history and used its growing national chain of lodges as a way to exercise political influence on behalf of world Jewry. In 1851, for example, it circulated petitions urging Secretary of State Daniel Webster to demand the end of Jewish disabilities in Switzerland, during on-going trade negotiations. Into the 1920s the B’nai B’rith continued in its political work by joining in Jewish delegations and lobbying efforts through which American Jews sought to influence public policy, both domestic and foreign. B’nai B’rith also played a crucial role in transnational Jewish politics. The later spread of the organization around the world made it a nerve center of intra-Jewish communication and mutual endeavor.
The organization’s activities during the 19th and 20th centuries were dominated by mutual aid, social service and philanthropy. In keeping with their concerns for protecting their families, the organization’s first concrete action was the establishment of an insurance policy awarding widows of deceased members $30 toward funeral expenses and a stipend of $1 a week for the rest of their life. To aid their children, each child would also receive a stipend and, for male children, the assurance he would be taught a trade.
In 1851, Covenant Hall was erected in New York City as the first Jewish community center in the United States, and also what is widely considered to be the first Jewish public library in the United States. One year later, B’nai B’rith established the Maimonides Library. Immediately following the Civil Warwhen Jews on both sides of the battle were left homelessB’nai B’rith founded the 200-bed Cleveland Jewish Orphan Home. Over the next several years, the organization would establish numerous hospitals, orphanages and homes for the aged.
In 1868, when a devastating flood crippled Baltimore, B’nai B’rith responded with a disaster relief campaign. This act preceded the founding of the American Red Cross by 13 years and was to be the first of many domestic relief programs. That same year, B’nai B’rith sponsored its first overseas philanthropic project raising $4,522 to aid the victims of a cholera epidemic in Ottoman Palestine.
In 1875, a lodge was established in Toronto, followed soon after by another in Montreal and in 1882 by a lodge in Berlin. Membership outside of the United States grew rapidly. Soon, lodges were formed in Cairo (1887) and in Jerusalem (1888nine years before Theodor Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland). The Jerusalem lodge became the first public organization to hold all of its meetings in Hebrew.
After 1881, with the mass immigration of Eastern European Jews to the United States, B’nai B’rith sponsored Americanization classes, trade schools and relief programs. This began a period of rapid membership growth, a change in the system of representation and questioning of the secret rituals common to fraternal organizations. In 1897, when the organization’s U.S. membership numbered slightly more than 18,000, B’nai B’rith formed a ladies’ auxiliary chapter in San Francisco. This was to become B’nai B’rith Women, which in 1988 broke away as an independent organization, Jewish Women International.
In response to the Kishinev pogrom in 1903 President Theodore Roosevelt and Secretary of State John Hay met with B’nai B’rith’s executive committee in Washington, D.C. B’nai B’rith President Simon Wolf presented the draft of a petition to be sent to the Russian government protesting the lack of opposition to the massacre. Roosevelt readily agreed to transmit it and B’nai B’rith lodges began gathering signatures around the country.
In the first two decades of the 20th century B’nai B’rith launched three of today’s major Jewish organizations: The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Hillel and BBYO (originally B’nai B’rith Youth Organization). Later they would take on a life of their own with varying degrees of autonomy.
A growing concern in the 1920s was the preservation of Jewish values as immigration slowed and a native Jewish population of Eastern European ancestry came to maturity. In 1923, Rabbi Benjamin Frankel of Illinois established an organization on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to provide both Reform and Orthodox Sabbath services, classes in Judaism and social events for Jewish college students. Two years later, he approached B’nai B’rith about adopting this new campus organization. B’nai B’rith sponsorship of the Hillel Foundations enabled it to extend throughout the United States, eventually become international and to grow into a network of more than 500 campus student organizations.
At virtually the same time as Hillel was being established, Sam Beber of Omaha, Neb., presented a plan in 1924 to B’nai B’rith for a fraternity for Jewish men in high school. The new organization was called Aleph Zadik Aleph in imitation of the Greek-letter fraternities from which Jewish youth were excluded. In 1925, AZA became the junior auxiliary of B’nai B’rith.
In 1940, B’nai B’rith Women adopted its own junior auxiliary for young women, B’nai B’rith Girls (BBG, then a loose-knit group of organizations) and, in 1944, the two organizations became the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO).
B’nai B’rith has also been involved in Jewish camping for more than a half century. In 1953, B’nai B’rith acquired a 300-acre camp in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. Originally named Camp B’nai B’rith, the facility would later be named B’nai B’rith Perlman Camp in honor of the early BBYO leader Anita Perlman and her husband, Louis. In 1976, a second camp was added near Madison, Wis. Named after the founder of AZA, the camp became known as B’nai B’rith Beber Camp. In 2010, Beber Camp became independent of B’nai B’rith. Perlman Camp functions as both a Jewish children’s camp and as a leadership training facility.
In 1938 B’nai B’rith established the Vocational Service Bureau to guide young people into careers. This evolved into the B’nai B’rith Career and Counseling Service, an agency that provided vocational testing and counseling, and published career guides. In the mid-1980s, the program was dissolved or merged into other community agencies.
Since 1886, B’nai B’rith has published B’nai B’rith Magazine, the oldest continually published Jewish periodical in the United States.
B’nai B’rith also publishes program guides for local Jewish education programs and each year sponsors “Unto Every Person There is a Name”. This program includes community recitations of the names of Holocaust victims, usually on Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.
In 1973, the organization turned what had formerly been an exhibit hall at its Washington, D.C. headquarters into the B’nai B’rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum. The museum featured an extensive collection of Jewish ceremonial objects and art and, for decades featured the 1790 correspondence between President George Washington and Moses Seixas, sexton of the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island. Although the organization’s move from its own building to rented offices necessitated closing of the museum to public view, select pieces of the collection are still on display at B’nai B’rith’s current headquarters and are available for viewing by appointment.
From its earliest days, a hallmark of the organization’s local efforts was service to the communities in which members reside. In 1852, that meant raising money for the first Jewish hospital in Philadelphia. In the 21st century, these community service efforts range from delivering Jewish holiday packages of meals and clothing to the elderly and infirm, and distributing food and medicine to the Jewish community of Cuba.
With the graying of the American Jewish population, service to seniors became a major focus with the first of what was to become a network of 36 senior residence buildings in more than 27 communities across the United States and more internationallymaking B’nai B’rith the largest national Jewish sponsor of housing for seniors. The U.S. facilitiesbuilt in partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)provide quality housing to more than 6,000 men and women of limited income, age 62 and over, of all races and religions. Residents pay a federally mandated rent based upon income.
The beginning of the 21st century also saw the senior service program expand and become the Center for Senior Services, providing advocacy, publications and other services to address financial, legal, health, religious, social and family concerns for those over 50.
In recent years, B’nai B’rith has advocated for health care reform, Social Security and Medicare protection.
B’nai B’rith also includes, on its domestic agenda, tolerance issues such as advocating for hate crimes legislation as well as sponsoring a youth writing challenge, Diverse Minds. This annual writing contest asks high school students to create a children’s book dedicated to the message of ending intolerance and bigotry. Winners earn college scholarships and the publication and distribution of their books to schools and libraries in their communities.
B’nai B’rith also sponsors the Enlighten America program, the centerpiece of which is a pledge that individuals can take to refrain from using slang expressions or telling jokes based on race, sexual orientation, gender, nationality or physical or mental challenges that would serve to demean another.
B’nai B’rith also produces and distributes “Smarter Kids – Safer Kids”, a booklet in both English and Spanish meant to guide parents through discussions with their children about potential dangers.
By the 1920s, B’nai B’rith membership in Europe had grown to 17,500nearly half of the U.S. membershipand by the next decade, the formation of a lodge in Shanghai represented the organization’s entry into the Far East. This international expansion was to come to a close with the rise of Nazism. At the beginning of the Nazi era, there were six B’nai B’rith districts in Europe. Eventually, the Nazis seized nearly all B’nai B’rith property in Europe.
B’nai B’rith Europe was re-founded in 1948. Members of the Basel and Zurich lodges and representatives from lodges in France and Holland who had survived the Holocaust attended the inaugural meeting. In 2000, the new European B’nai B’rith district merged with the United Kingdom district to become a consolidated B’nai B’rith Europe with active involvement in all institutions of the European Union. By 2005 B’nai B’rith Europe comprised lodges in more than 20 countries including the former Communist Eastern Europe.
In response to what later become known as the Holocaust, in 1943 B’nai B’rith President Henry Monsky convened a conference in Pittsburgh of all major Jewish organizations to “find a common platform for the presentation of our case before the civilized nations of the world”. During the next four years, the conference established the machinery that saved untold numbers of lives, assisted in the post-war reconstruction of European Jewish life and helped spur public opinion to support the 1947 partition decision granting Jews a share of what was then Palestine.
Just prior to the creation of the State of Israel, President Harry S. Truman, resisting pressure by various organizations, declined meetings with Jewish leaders. B’nai B’rith President Frank Goldman convinced fellow B’nai B’rith member Eddie Jacobson, long-time friend and business partner of the president, to appeal to Truman for a favor. Jacobson convinced Truman to meet secretly with Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann in a meeting said to have resulted in turning White House support back in favor of partition, and ultimately to de facto recognition of Israeli statehood.
B’nai B’rith was present at the founding of the United Nations in San Francisco and has taken an active role in the world body ever since. In 1947, the organization was granted non-governmental organizational (NGO) status and, for many years, was the only Jewish organization with full-time representation at the United Nations. It is credited with a leading role in the U.N. reversal of its 1975 resolution equating Zionism with racism.
B’nai B’rith’s NGO role is not limited to the United Nations and its agencies. B’nai B’rith also has worked extensively with officials in the State Department, in Congress, and in foreign governments to support the efforts of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to combat anti-Semitism. With members in more than 20 Latin American countries, the organization was the first Jewish group to be accorded civil society status at the Organization of American States (OAS), where it has advocated for democracy and human rights throughout the region. B’nai B’rith’s role in Latin America dates to the turn of the 20th century and grew considerably with the influx of Jewish refugees from Nazi Europe.
In addition to its advocacy efforts, B’nai B’rith maintains a program of community service throughout Latin America. In 2002, in cooperation with the Brother’s Brother Foundation, B’nai B’rith distributed more than $31 million worth of critically needed medicine, books and supplies to Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela following the economic disaster that struck much of Latin America. Through 2011 the program had distributed more than $100 million in medicine and supplies.
In addition to founding the Jerusalem Lodge in 1888, life in Israel has been a prime focus for the organization. Among the Jerusalem lodge’s most noted contributions was the city’s first free public library, Midrash Abarbanel, which became the nucleus of the National and University Library; the first Hebrew kindergarten in Jerusalem; and the purchase of land for a home for new immigrants, the village Motza near Jerusalem. In 1936 B’nai B’rith donated $100,000 to the Jewish National Fund to buy 1,000 acres in what was then Palestine, followed by an additional $100,000 in 1939. Following Israel’s declaration of independence, B’nai B’rith members in the United States sent several ships loaded with $4 million worth of food, clothing, medical supplies, trucks and jeeps to the port of Haifa.
In 1959, B’nai B’rith became the first major American Jewish organization to hold a convention in Israel.
Only six weeks after the signing of the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt in 1978, B’nai B’rith was the first Jewish group to visit Egypt at the invitation of President Anwar Sadat.
In 1980, nearly all nations removed their embassies from Jerusalem in response to the passage by the Knesset of the Jerusalem Law extending Israeli sovereignty over the entire city. B’nai B’rith responded with the establishment of the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem to serve as “the permanent and official presence of B’nai B’rith in Jerusalem”.
On March 911, 1977, three buildings in Washington, D.C. were seized by 12 African American Muslim gunmen, led by Hamaas Abdul Khaalis, who took 149 hostages and killed a radio journalist and a police officer. After a 39-hour standoff, all other hostages were released from the District Building (the city hall; now called the John A. Wilson Building), B’nai B’rith headquarters, and the Islamic Center of Washington.
The gunmen had several demands. They “wanted the government to hand over a group of men who had been convicted of killing seven relatives mostly children of takeover leader Hamaas Khaalis. They also demanded that the movie Mohammad, Messenger of God be destroyed because they considered it sacrilegious.”
Time magazine noted: “That the toll was not higher was in part a tribute to the primary tactic U.S. law enforcement officials are now using to thwart terroristspatience. But most of all, perhaps, it was due to the courageous intervention of three Muslim ambassadors, Egypt’s Ashraf Ghorbal, Pakistan’s Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan and Iran’s Ardeshir Zahedi.”
B’nai B’rith has responded to natural and manmade disasters since 1865, when it assisted victims of a cholera epidemic in what was then Palestine. B’nai B’rith later raised funds and distributed them to those affected by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the Galveston, Texas, flood of 1900 and the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.
Recently, the B’nai B’rith Disaster Relief Fund responded to the 2010 earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, the 2011 Japan tsunami and the multiple tornadoes and subsequent flooding that hit six states in the South and Midwest in 2011. B’nai B’rith also opened a disaster relief fund following the fires that raged through Mt. Carmel in northern Israel and has opened a fund to help victims of the worst drought to hit East Africa in more than 50 years.
Much of the money Bnai Brith raises for disaster relief is focused on long-term rebuilding, meeting needs beyond what the initial responders provide. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the U.S. Gulf Coast-region in 2005, Bnai Brith raised more than $1 million, distributing the money among various projects over a five-year span. The projects included rebuilding homes, houses of worship and restoring parks.
In Haiti, Bnai Brith raised $250,000 for shoes, medicine, health supplies and other needs immediately following the January 2010 earthquake that struck the island nation. The year following the disaster, Bnai Brith and IsraAID initiated Haiti Grows, a program that trained farmers in theory and in practice over a six-month period. The farmers learned new agricultural techniques that allowed them to increase the number of crops they could grow as well as the yield of those crops.
Following Hurricane Sandy in the fall of 2012, Bnai Briths Young Professional Network in New York immediately began assisting in the cleanup. Members descended upon the Rockaways, and over the course of several days helped remove debris and sand from buildings, extract moldy drywall and insulation, and pull out water damaged furniture and appliances from area homes. Bnai Brith has also held and planned several fundraisers for future rebuilding projects.
B’nai B’rith International bestows various recognitions and awards.
The Presidential Gold Medal is awarded by B’nai B’rith every few years to honor the recipient’s commitment to the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Recipients have included David Ben-Gurion, John F. Kennedy, George H. W. Bush, Stephen Harper and Golda Meir. The Gold Medal has been given to former Austrian chancellor Franz Vranitzky,Australian Prime Minister John Howard, former German Chancellor Willy Brandt and former U.S. presidents Harry S. Truman, Gerald R. Ford and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The award was established in 1970. The first recipient was Ronald Sanders for his work The Downtown Jews.
Other awards include the “Jewish Heritage Award” and “Award for Outstanding Contribution to Relations with the Jewish People”.
B’nai B’rith International also awards scholarships. This has been an important contribution from the organization. The first B’nai B’rith recipient to the University of Miami was Dagmar R. Henney, who later became known for her research in theoretical mathematics.
B’nai B’rith – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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