There’s an old anarchist slogan: “property is theft.” In Israel this is true of the settlements.
Haaretz once again proves why it’s Israel’s newspaper of record by reporting a blockbuster story of a secret Defense ministry report documenting that the settlements are based on a tissue of lies and theft:
Just four years ago, the defense establishment decided to carry out a seemingly elementary task: establish a comprehensive database on the settlements. Brigadier General (res.) Baruch Spiegel, aide to then defense minister Shaul Mofaz, was put in charge of the project. For over two years, Spiegel and his staff, who all signed a special confidentiality agreement, went about systematically collecting data, primarily from the Civil Administration.
One of the main reasons for this effort was the need to have credible and accessible information at the ready to contend with legal actions brought by Palestinian residents, human rights organizations and leftist movements challenging the legality of construction in the settlements and the use of private lands to establish or expand them. The painstakingly amassed data was labeled political dynamite…
…In the vast majority of the settlements – about 75 percent – construction, sometimes on a large scale, has been carried out without the appropriate permits or contrary to the permits that were issued. The database also shows that, in more than 30 settlements, extensive construction of buildings and infrastructure (roads, schools, synagogues, yeshivas and even police stations) has been carried out on private lands belonging to Palestinian West Bank residents.
A 2006 Peace Now report documents that a large percentage of Israeli settlements are built on such Palestinian land (the total acreage was something like 33% or more if I recall correctly). In the same sense that the United States was built and based upon the theft of Native American land, we similarly see that settlements could not exist without the theft of Palestinian land. And just as the U.S. has had to negotiate agreements with various tribes to compensate them for such theft, Israel will have to do the same. It will eventually either have to return the land or compensate the rightful owners if any semblance of justice is to be done. There certainly can be no legitimate resolution of the conflict that doesn’t address this deep injustice.
The carefully assembled journalistic indictment clarifies that the report not only documents the shady dealings of the illegal outposts, which one might expect–but refers as well to the most well-established settlements:
The data, it should be stressed…refers [to those at]…the very heart of the settlement enterprise. Among them are veteran ideological settlements like Alon Shvut (established in 1970)…Ofra (established in 1975)…and Beit El (established in 1977, population 5,308, including Hagai Ben-Artzi, brother of Sara Netanyahu). Also included are large settlements founded primarily for economic motives, such as the city of Modi’in Illit (established in 1990 and now home to 36,282 people), or Givat Ze’ev outside Jerusalem (founded in 1983, population 11,139), and smaller settlements such as Nokdim near Herodion (established in 1982, population 851, including MK Avigdor Lieberman).
The report puts the lie to claims by the Israeli foreign ministry that settlements conform fully to international law and it also confirms the government’s willing collusion in the charade:
…The Foreign Ministry Web site…states: “Israel’s actions relating to the use and allocation of land under its administration are all taken with strict regard to the rules and norms of international law – Israel does not requisition private land for the establishment of settlements.” Since in many of the settlements, it was the government itself, primarily through the Ministry of Construction and Housing, that was responsible for construction, and since many of the building violations involve infrastructure, roads, public buildings and so on, the official data also demonstrate government responsibility for the unrestrained planning and lack of enforcement of regulations in the territories.
I fear that despite the damning nature of this report and others like it, little will change within Israel with regard to the settlements. Israelis do not choose to know or understand the facts. Reports like this are distant from the average Israeli’s daily concerns.
The settlements are like those blood sucking vampire bats which remove just enough blood from their victims so as not to kill them, but too much to do much good for their health. Or to put it another way, settlements are the Count Dracula of Israeli society. They suck up the lifeblood and nothing can kill them except a stake through the heart. And which Israeli leader has the courage to face the deadly Count and plunge the dagger?
Thanks to Kung Fu Jew for making me aware of the significance of this report. He’s written about it as well at Jewschool.
the comparison with the Native Americans’ is instructive; I heard Norman Finkelstein comment once during a talk that this is one reason why the American’s could buy into the Israeli narrative of settling a largely barren land and making it civilised since it chimed in with their own historical experience (self-serving of course) while the British and the Europeans, were much more attuned to the actual reality of the region; escpecially after decolonisation.
I would comment however, that far from being somehow the passive victims or antagonists Israeli policymakers are the enablers and the orginators of settlement strategy in the West Bank. The explosion of settlement activity immediately after Oslo I indicates that it was a clearly meditated policy of land theft for strategic and expansionary purposes that aimed to gobble up as much territory as possible. Expecting an Israeli leader to start dismantling the whole settlement policy will be like expecting a Pope to start dismantling the Church; the ethical, rational and philosophical basis for such action are persuasive but overlooks the fact that no one who reaches such a position would ever undertake such an action.
Arie Brand says
The Israeli government gave land theft a “legal” character and could therefore claim with a straight face that it was in accordance with international law. I don’t know whether some of the land theft now described was not even in accordance with these “legal standards”.
I have written earlier on Israel’s quasi-legal methods in this matter and believe that what I wrote then is germane here.
Until about 1977 land seizures were mainly justified by citing security reasons. A military commander would spell out such reasons in an affidavit and the defence minister would back it up with a statement of his own. This way of going about things became undesirable mainly because the invocation of such reasons was often patently absurd and also because it could lead into legal hassles. Though challenges were mostly futile (the Israeli Supreme Court took the military declarations at face value) they did entail legal formalities and unwelcome publicity.
After 1977 things were changed. Under the direction of Likud’s legal eagle, Ms.Pli’a Albek, appeals to the Supreme Court were made impossible. Now all appeals had to be directed to military commissions consisting of members of the military government itself and these were heard in camera – a method which prevented unwelcome publicity.
After diligent digging Ms.Albek found two Ottoman legal provisions that were to her purpose. The first of these dated from 1855 and has long since been rescinded in Turkey itself (and is not applied in Israel). It held that any land not explicitly granted by the Sultan to anyone belonged to the Sultan unless it was located so close to a town or village that a scream from a person on this parcel of land could be heard in the center of this town or village. These tests were performed in all seriousness by Israeli officials (often after the village or town concerned was put under a curfew for the purpose).
The second Ottoman legal provision that Ms. Albek found to her liking held that if a piece of land, whether close to a village or not, had not actually been used for pasture or farmed for a number of years, it also belonged to the Sultan.
Since Israel apparently held that it was in these matters the successor in law to the Ottoman Empire it donned the garb of the Sultans and acquired in this way land without paying a penny of compensation. And where Ottoman laws did not provide sufficient justification for the seizure of coveted land other reasons could be invoked: the land was designated for ‘archeological excavations” or a ‘nature reserve” or “ recreation park” etc.etc. In this way Israel had already confiscated more than half of the West Bank land by the beginning of the nineties. Henceforward this land would only be accessible for Jews. Israeli citizens who could not be typified as such could not apply for settlement there and to Palestinians it was off limits altogether.
Now even if we take Israel’s adoption of these ancient Ottoman legal provisions seriously it will be quite easily guessed where the shoe pinched. The premiss was that any land taken was state land. It was thus up to the owners to prove that somehow they had a right to it on the basis of Ottoman or Jordanian legal documents (they could not do so on the basis of Israeli documents because Israeli military order 291, issued in 1968, suspended land registration indefinitely). Here was the first hurdle for traditional owners because many of them did not have explicit documents conferring ownership. This is not uncommon at all in countries with inadequate land registries. If, for instance, the Philippines would adopt the position that any land on which there was no explicit title belonged to the state it could confiscate most rural properties tomorrow – because many of these have nothing more than a tax declaration to prove ownership and others have no documents at all.
But even if owners had legal documents concerning a title they were in no way out of the woods. The land registry systems used by the Ottoman Empire and Jordan were often difficult to decipher and uncertain about the boundaries of the property described because these could be indicated by landmarks that might no longer exist.
Moreover, the manner in which Israel notifies Palestinians of land seizures also creates problems. Apparently it rarely attaches maps showing the boundaries of what is now regarded as state land. Those who take the trouble to lodge an appeal have to hire their own surveyor and attorney and then still frequently discover that they have missed an appeal date or have lodged an appeal for the wrong plot since it was not clearly indicated from the start what the right plot was.
The methods employed to seize land in East Jerusalem are too convoluted to be described here.
These quasi-legal methods of land acquisition pile layer upon layer of unfairness. First, there is the legal fiction that the Ottoman Sultan was the supreme owner of the land. Colonial states often used the same fiction about their particular territory. The pre-colonial princes, so it was held, were owners of the land. Their successor in law, the colonial state, was thus entitled to the same ownership.
Second, there is the fiction that land ownership is preponderantly of an individual nature – it is unclear whether communal ownership too could, in Ms.Albek’s view, be indicated by the range of a scream (I rather think not because of the requirement of signs of actual exploitation – also, Israel sets village boundaries unilaterally on the basis of aerial photographs).The government of the Netherlands East Indies (present day Indonesia) entertained a similar fiction until it was proven by (Dutch) experts in Indonesian customary law that there was such a thing as a ‘communal right of avail’ over a certain area around and in a village – a right vested in all members of a community freely to avail themselves of and administer all land, water and other resources within a certain area. I would be very surprised if a similar right didn’t exist in Palestine but it seems fairly clear that if so the Israeli government has ignored it.
Third, there is the requirement that land ownership is demonstrated by documentary evidence. Not even the colonial government I am reasonably familiar with (that of the Netherlands East Indies) ever came up with this requirement in a territory with a history of inadequate land registration. It is clear that this would be patently unfair (as I argued above, for instance, for the Philippines).
Fourth, the way in which the Israeli government announced its intended land seizures made it very difficult and costly for owners to lodge an appeal, as has been indicated above.
What is this all about? Are Israel’s housing needs so pressing that it has to resort to these methods of land acquisition? This is most certainly not the case. Only a small percentage of the seized land, now off limits to Palestinians and only inhabitable by Jews (even if they come straight from overseas and have never lived in Israel before), actually became inhabited. Sometimes even already built housing units remained vacant for a considerable time, in spite of all kinds of perks offered to settlers by the government (subsidized mortgages, educational subsidies, generous grants to local government councils etc.).
Binyamin Netanyahu, then deputy to the Prime Minister, described in 1992 what this policy should lead to. The West Bank should become
“a sea of Israeli security with Arab autonomy pockets inside it”.
“The Palestinians will be granted cultural, municipal and domestic political autonomy, but only in defined geographic boundaries where the majority of the Palestinian population lives. These areas will not be connected one with the other, there will be no central authority linking them, and each area will be surrounded by Israeli military installations, roadblocks and Jewish settlements.” (Haaretz, March 1, 1992).
Baruch Kimmerling, professor of sociology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, found a telling term for this policy: ‘politicide’, a policy of which the ultimate goal is “the dissolution of the Palestinian people’s existence as a legitimate social, political and economic entity”.
“This policy may also, but not necessarily, include the partial or complete ethnic cleansing from the territory known as the Land of Israel.”
This policy is often referred to as amounting to a creation of ‘Bantustans’ but the ‘eminence grise’ of Dutch sociology, the late Jacques van Doorn, has pointed out that this actually attaches more opprobrium to the Afrikaners than they deserve. They, at least, were concerned to make of the Bantustans viable social-economic units. No similar concern can be found on the side of the Israeli government.
The rate of unemployment among Palestinians is frightening. Many can only survive on food handouts from international agencies. The obstacles put in their way, also in the form of roadblocks, manned by young soldiers whose discretionary power has frequently gone to their heads, is well known (even George Bush spoke once of the ‘daily humiliations’ suffered by Palestinians).The settlements are often inhabited by fanatical Zionists – the Gush Emunim settlers were the pioneers here – who harass their Palestinian neighbours (the Israeli army is not allowed to use its weapons against these characters).
In short, it seems to me that there is something going on here that is more than ‘politicide’. The aim seems to be to make daily life so immensely difficult for Palestinians that many will pack up and leave ‘voluntarily’ if they have the chance. This would make more direct methods of ‘ethnic cleansing’ superfluous.
Arie, your last paragraph was explicitly confirmed by Moshe Dayan in 1968 (I think), telling the Palestinians “that we have no solution for you, that you will live like dogs, and whoever will leave will leave”. That’s also the difference to Apartheid South Africa and colonial states: they never wanted to get rid of the native population, only contain them, so they could be exploited for glory and wealth of the motherland. Making the Bantustans viable social-economic units was a means of containment. For many years WB Palestinians were used for cheap labour in Israel, until it became clear that panem et circenses wasn’t going to turn them into Zionists. Why Netanyahu thinks it will work this time, only he himself knows.
How correctly put…. with an addendum… Israel did not learn from any history, and certainly nothing from its recent and very short history. They seem to think that the Palestinians would fall in love with the Zionist idea, just because they have jobs. This is like saying or thinking that the Syrian labor force in Lebanon is pro-phalanges, or pro-Maronite. Of course, I am generalizing a bit here…. Sorry
Richard Witty says
For once, I agree with Arie’s thesis. (I didn’t read every word.)
Israel, as a state (not only individual settler groups), created an environment to expropriate.
I agree with Arie, that original title via Ottoman law is ambiguous, and is opportunistically attributed to former Jordanian state land, unoccupied land (even if privately titled), then transferred to Israeli military for temporary use, then made more permanent by the creation of supporting barracks and then civilian residence, then made more permanent in transfer to the Jewish Agency, and then transferred to cooperative associations or individuals, that they believe are fully perfected title.
With the layers of transfers, and the innaccessability to Israeli courts, Palestinians have a very uphill and expensive process to assert land claims, which inevitably take years of court process to sift through the layers. A claimant has to prove that each level of transfer starting with the final, is imperfect.
Still, the courts IS the appropriate place to determine land status. Political determination is inherently innacurate and therefore UNJUST.
The courts have two tasks. One is to determine the SUBSTANCE OVER THE FORM of transactions, and then to determine what is the most fair and prospectively consented remedy. (Political jurisdiction does effect what is the fairest remedy and how that is to be administered.)
There are also likely cases of Palestinians, within the relevant historical period, expropriated land. I don’t know which is more or how much more. I expect that the presence of an institutionally supported expropriation and recruitment mechanism in Israel would result in MUCH MORE being expropriated by Israel.
Still, to get to rule of law (in addressing the past, and in setting a precedent for the future), cases have to be determined individually.
Even with the opportunistic titling process, the volume of land expropriated is still relatively small. (Not small to those who have lost title.)
In Israel proper, the expropriation is larger. Israel faces the internal test of whether to repeal the laws passed in the 1950’s legislating prohibition from return, prohibition from access to the courts, and state annexation of “abandoned” lands.
Those laws need to be repealed for Israel to be able to claim that it functions under the rule of law in a color blind manner.
But, those laws will NOT be repealed in an environment of threat or rage that overshadows reason.
In principle I’d agree, but, you see, the current status quo was reached by precisely the sort of political determination you rightly denounce – only it wasn’t “inaccurate” but deliberate. That means a judicial process proceeding from there is necessarily going to be unfair, no matter how unbiased the court itself may be. It’s not just the theft (rather armed robbery) of privately owned land after all, the treatment of “state land” in the OPT as freely and legally available for Jewish settlement needs to be rolled back as well. If that doesn’t happen, it amounts to confirming that Israel has in fact a kind of one-state solution since 1967 in all but name, and it’s about time to formalise it. In that case Israel will of course have to swallow the toad of having to incorporate the Palestinian population that comes with the land, meaning the days of Jewish supremacism are numbered.
Richard Witty says
The determination of title status and appropriate remedy can ONLY be justly determined through courts applying law in a color-blind manner.
If reforms are needed, or new jurisdiction of courts are needed, to adjudicate land claims fairly, then that is a good goal to work towards.
My sense is that some real political settlement that includes court review of contested land claims is a prerequisite to fair courts existing.
And, the prerequisite for real political settlement is either total annexation (likud goal, but Zionist/apartheid), or unification of Fatah/Hamas to negotiate in earnest with Israel, or a third possibility of Gaza negotiated to be permanently separate from the West Bank.
Richard Witty says
Following Jordan’s taking over the West Bank in 1948, due process of law wasn’t available to Jewish land owners relative to Jordanian state and Palestinian individuals similarly opportunistically asserting title over “unoccupied” land.
Hardly unique to the West Bank, far more owners of land were expropriated within the 1948 borders of Israel. The numbers of Jewish landowners who supposedly lost land in the Jordanian takeover of the West Bank would be interesting to know but I would be suprised if they amounted to anything more than a small number.
Richard Witty says
The point is that rule of law in FACT, will not always result in what the mob desires.
Eh? What “mob” are you talking about here?
Rule of law is great imo in a lot of cases; the ugly reality is that Israel has a long tradition of ignoring the rule of law when it suits and its courts are notoriously weak in defending rights against so-called security concerns by the stare.
I have very little faith in Israeli courts, not because I don’t beleive in the rule of law but because I don’t think the Israeli state does.
Richard Witty says
EVERYTHING changes if Netanyahu wins the election in 10 days.
Peter D says
Maybe for you, Richard. I don’t think it changes anything at all. Differences b/w the three candidates are only in semantics and even there are minute.
However, the fact that his election could be the straw that breaks the back of your support of Israel is in itself significant. A lot of us have had these straws in the past, looks like your back is just stronger 🙂
Richard Witty says
Even if you actually think that, Netanyahu won’t apologize about enacting expropriation.
Livni and Barak have each formally committed to an actual two-state solution, and reconciliation on the basis of significant compromise with the Palestinians.
For them to backtrack, means that they have to break promises.
Netanyahu can proceed with “impunity” (to coin an overused left term).
I actually believe that Livni and Barak could be convinced that the two-state solution at the green line, is a reasonable alternative.
There is no change for that to occur with Netanyahu.
I’m of the opinion that relative worse law, is ACTUALLY worse.
Peter D says
It also sort of validates the Magnes Zionist’s endorsement of Bibi (even though I’d still vote Hadash; if only Israel had absentee voting…)
Richard Witty says
Magnes Zionists endorsement is cynical.
It effectively applies the same logic that the Gaza military escapade applied for the IDF. That is that politics trumps suffering.
He’s hoping that with the clarity that Netanyahu is opposed to his objectives that he’ll “reign him in”.
Its a bullshit reasoning. Sorry.
For the Israelis and their supporters maybe; doubt much will change for the Palestinians.
C O Lindale says
Obama needs to make the M E be A NUCLEAR-WEAPONS FREE ZONE and should impose an immediate ARMS BAN
Netanyahu still clings to his unwritten agenda for the TRANSFER of all Arabs out of the West Bank, to Jordan and neighbouring territories. There is little doubt in the mind of everyone both inside and outside Israel that if he gets elected, it will be the first step towards a nuclear war in the region, which will eventually encompass Europe as well as the entire region. Netanyahu is dangerous because he desperately wants his finger on the trigger of the 5th most powerful, secret, nuclear-weapons store in the world. If he gets there, be prepared for your smoked salmon bagel to be gamma-radiated and I kid you not. Netanyahu is a shlemiel who thinks he’s a stateman.
If you feel that your house is built on occupied territory, then why don’t you vacate yours? You won’t! Hypocrite….
Haaretz is owned by Germans through and through-and it shows!
Nonsense. Christians and Muslims read Jewish scriptures-it says that Jews will return to their homeland-which they were forced to leave by way of violence. Where were the leftists then?
The days of Jewish secularism are numbered-and you know this…
Richard Silverstein says
Let it not be said that you waste any time actually trying to propound truthful or factual arguments. Haaretz is not “owned” by Germans. A German publishing company owns a minority stake. Furthermore, the German company has specifically said it has absolutely no control over anything written in the newspaper. So much for yr command of the facts. You can’t stand the idea that Israelis actually write Haaretz and advance ideas & arguments w. which you vehemently disagree. So you conveniently argue that the reason for this is that Haaretz is owned by anti-Semitic Nazis/Germans. Nice work.
This is a non sequitur. When did I ever say that I believed this?
Yes, and anti-Semites & even some Jews have said that the days of Judaism are numbered. But somehow the predictions hasn’t come true. Nor will yours. What a load of hot air you are.
I have no idea what you are responding to here. I don’t take the blatherings of my own religion seriously as a ground for political action – why on earth would I regard that of Jewish scriptures differently?
brian ahayes says
you must united as a movement like the civil rights movement that happen in the united states the people must lead a nonviolent movement. i do not live in isreal, i wish i did. the doves of isreal can make peace happen peace and compassion to all
Yevno Aron says
We should not forget that Arabs took the Byzantine Palestine by force only 1300 years ago.
However some Christians including some Greeks refused to convert to the faith of the Mohammedans.
brian a.hayes says
we must live now not look for excuses of things that happen in the past. we must make the 21 century a culture of peace. man made these problems and man can make the solutions. the people must stand up and say enough is enough. the doves of isreal and palestine somehow must unite and inspier their goverments to change. this is what happen with the civil rights movement in the united states.
Yevno Aron says
I know that people like TABULA RASA.
However it is just impossible.
If ALL people practice the voluntary simplicity, stay in the identical hotels and drive the same cars and have the same access to the bread baskets (We tried it but failed in the USSR) then it may be feasible.
Long after us, alas…
For now new wars including the civil ones and the rape of the planet!
1-You are comparing the “theft” of Arab lands to what the USA did with regard to the American Indians. If you believe this comparison to be so similar-“In the same sense,” “we similarly see,” and thus advocate a “final agreement” where Israel would be obligated to cede such land to Arab peoples, then logically you must expect the USA to do as such since it was you who created this comparison (not I).
2-I was talking to fiddler, but in any case it was the Haskalah bunch who broke away from the yeshiva establishment-and they succeeded. Today the vast majority of Jews are not observant, as was for about 3,800 years beforehand. Maybe they were anti-Semites because they wanted to be more European and less Semitic. Numerically facts show that the offspring of secularism are assimilating (http://www.ujc.org/page.aspx?id=33650) and the population of observant Jews is increasing. Hot air (me) has risen above apparently.
3-Both owners were Germans-Jews or non Jews-Germans. The Haskalah was most prominent in Germany and that was where anti-traditional culture took hold. If I didn’t like debating with people of different opinions, why would I comment here?
Richard Silverstein says
Unlike Israel, the U.S. has made some attempts to repair its relations with Native Americans. It has compensated them in some cases for land thefts. Though our treatment of N.A.s was execrable & even genocidal, that is an entirely separate issue fr. what Israel has done to Palestinians. Your approach seems to be if any country in the world has committed a crime like Israel’s then no one in the world can complain about Israel until they’re resolved those other crimes. Which is of course a preposterous proposition advanced by those who have no concern for those crimes, but only wish to relieve moral pressure on Israel.
Pls. God tell me you’re not a statistician or demographer. You don’t know what you’re talking about. First, the population of Jews who are not observant VASTLY outnumbers the population that is observant. At this rate, it would take many decades for the observant cohort to outnumber the non-observant.
I have no idea what this means. But the Schocken family were German Jews who’ve lived in Israel since the 1920s. Whether they are observant or non-observant, enlightened or non-enlightened has no bearing whatsoever on the content of their newspaper, which is considered the highest quality newspaper in Israel. The current minority owners are German non-Jews who have made a purely business investment in the company with no editorial control.
I understand the Haskalah followed as a consequence of the enlightenment in the Christian European population and was inspired by it. European Christians had broken away from their equivalent of the yeshiva establishment, that is, from religion dominating every aspect of everyday life. For some that meant leaving religion behind entirely, but in the main it meant separation of religion and the secular aspects of life, of church and state. Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s etc.
I have no problem with more Jews becoming observant – as a goy I’m not going to tell you how to define yourselves. I do have a problem with religion (no matter which one) usurping politics, because that by definition affects everyone, including followers of another, or no religion. That’s got to do with Judaism as much as Dominionism with Christianity, or Salafism with Islam. We liberals of all three religions, and agnostics, too, have risen above that since the Middle Ages. You want to pull us all back to the dark ages of wilful ignorance and intolerance, and that separates us much much more than all theological disputes.
Jeanne Capozzoli says
On a number of occasions, Jews have argued that if Americans could steal land from the Indians, how could we complain if Israel steals land and water from the Palestinians? My answer is this: Israel is stealing Palestinian land and water with the weapons and money from American taxpayers. Thus, the United States is hated is the Muslim world which consists of 1.4 billion people in 57 countries. I cannot understand how Americans Jews in AIPAC etc. can justify this kind of harm to 300 million Americans.
“Unlike Israel, the U.S. has made some attempts to repair its relations with Native Americans.”
Israel evacuated both Yamit and Gaza. Israeli politicians have themselves proposed a “Palestinian State.” The US, as far as I know, as only grown since 1776. Native Americans live on reserves and deal with alcoholism, obesity, and emotional/identity issues. These reservation are unquestionably part of the United States. Who has done more to repair? Should Israel, by this model, absorb all of “occupied territory” and make casinos for them to play in all day? You made this comparison initially, now you say it is separate!
“it would take many decades..”
Decades is peanuts in the course of a 4,000 year history. None of my friends (secular), all above 30, have any Jewish children-none. The haredim I know have 4-8 kids. That is a kind of genocide I am seeing before my eyes and amongst themselves secular Jews talk about this-I have heard it myself. Dershowitz (The Vanishing American Jew) is not observant either for that matter.
“has no bearing whatsoever on the content of their newspaper”
If religious Jews had founded it, would it have the same content? To borrow your phrase-“Please G-d tell me you’re not a spin-doctor.” Haaretz is a weapon against Mizrachim, the religious, and anyone who questions the secular Jewish identity. It is Big Brother written in grammatically correct Hebrew with a unsound base of Semitic/Germanic dual identity. It is the continuation of everything that went wrong in Jewish Europe.
You’re confusing the founders, the Schocken family, with the German company that now has a stake in the paper. It was the latter Richard said had no bearing on content (although this writer disagrees: http://dada.israel.indymedia.org/newswire/display/9130/index.php).
Haaretz is a weapon etc. – puhleeze! The editors have the same right to their multiple opinions (they’re by no means a monolithic block) and editorial policy as you and I. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. I don’t watch Faux News either.
Say, did you come up with that yourself, or did you lift it straight from Alfred Rosenberg? That’s Nazi language, plain and simple.
I’m Canadian and I believe that our Native Americans are related to those of the Americans. I will admit that my knowledge of Native Americans is not as good as it should be BUT I don’t remember the U.S. or Canada bombing any of the reserves, in my lifetime. I have not heard of either Canada or the U.S. systematically demolishing their houses or arresting the men of the household in the middle of the night.
In 2009, no matter how bad it may be on the reserves, I think I’d prefer being a Native Amercan to a Palestian. I think they have more rights and they have options.
“Nazi language, plain and simple”
Whoops fidldler-the idea actually comes from the Jewish scriptures: (Midrash Raba Exodus Chapter 1, Verse 8): The Jews in Egypt had foreign children and stopped keeping the commandment of circumcision, and said “Let’s be like the Egyptians.” It says that this is why Pharaoh then turned on the Jews before the Exodus.” It is an act of desperation to cite Nazism-I doubt anyone who comes to this blog likes Hitler whatsoever. To answer your question, you are wrong on both accounts-I didn’t invent it and didn’t get it from Alf-the idea comes straight from scriptures that are taught at yeshivas around the world. Too bad you missed out!
“I don’t remember the U.S. or Canada bombing ”
With all due respect, I DO remember “Palestinians” blowing themselves (and other civilian women and children) with bombs packed with nails and other metals and before making videos praising “Allah” and making a religious ceremony out of you. Apparently you have a selective memory. Perhaps Israel should make the Museum of the Palestinian and have a mock celebration of who they are and pretend to care-INSTEAD of giving their land back. Israel says the Land belongs to the Jewish People based on scriptures that billions of people on Earth recognize. In addition, it has had 2 sets of settlements uprooted along with thd withdraw from Lebanon, only to be paid back with an unprovoked military assault by militants. If you don’t choose to mention that-I will.
The question was obviously enough rhetorical and polemical. I’m neither desperate, nor did I mean to call you a Nazi. But your accusation of Haaretz (perhaps the entire Ashkenazi establishment?) having an “unsound base of Semitic/Germanic dual identity” was far too close for my taste to the völkische ideologies (not restricted to, but most poignantly exemplified by the Nazis, see Rosenberg’s “religion of blood”, e.g.) of those times.
There were plenty of fully assimilated Jews in Europe, but while they ultimately weren’t spared from persecution I fail to see how they were in any way responsible for the shoah, as you and Exodus seem to suggest. Please don’t tell me that if they had only kept their Jewish blood and religion pure and goyim-free the Nazi “Pharaoh” wouldn’t have turned on them.
Richard Silverstein says
I’m afraid it is YOU who have the selective memory. You’ve conveniently “forgotten” that the Palestinians have lived under illegal Occupation since 1967. That Israel has agreed to a 2 state solution but refused to allow establishment of the state for Palestinians. That Israel consistently violates international law in assassinating Palestinian militants, not to mention the thousands of Palestinian civilians killed by the IDF. That is what creates suicide bombers. If you’re so upset about Israeli civilians being targets, why aren’t you equally upset about Palestinian civilians being killed? Of course we know the real reason why your memory is so shoddy–because on pain of death you must not concede a shred of humanity to the Palestinians.
Billions of people may recognize the Scriptures but no one outside Israel recognizes Israel’s God-given (supposedly) right to steal this land from the Palestinians who owned it & own it now.
Your arguments are so shoddy as to be laughable.
“I fail to see how they were in any way responsible for the shoah”
Obviously the Nazi regime is responsible. However, just as Jews went from observant to “enlightened,” the Germans went from Christians to Nazis. There was a general lowering of religious standards. It is taught in the Israeli high school program that anti-Semitism in Europe spiked when Jews left their ghettos, abandoned observance, and sought acceptance in the mainstream German society. Germany’s “acceptance” of them was a hoax.
“Please don’t tell me…”
I love it when someone, in their response, has already decided to tell you how to answer them before you have had a chance! Well, it says in the Torah:
Leviticus (20:23): And you shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you; for they committed all these things, and therefore I loathed them.
Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzhak (Rashi), the primary commentator on the Torah says:
-Exodus (10:22) 9th plague-Darkness
-Rashi-during this very dark period, the Jews who did not want to leave Egypt died-it was dark so that the Egyptians couldn’t see that G-d was punishing members of Israel.
You can’t fairly distinguish between Jews and Judaism-for over 3500 years they were one and the same.
I’ve learned in school that correlation is not causation. Of course organised religions (the Christian churches are no better) want the decline of observancy to be responsible for nadirs of moral behaviour, conveniently forgetting that they themselves were responsible for quite a few of those, including Christian collusion with the Nazis and General Franco. That the Germans “went from Christians to Nazis” thanks to the enlightenment is ridiculous. Nazi ideology had itself distinctive religious, albeit not exactly Christian, overtones.
I can very well distinguish between ethnic Jewishness and Judaism, because many Jews themselves make that distinction. Further complicating is the issue of the various Jewish denominations theologically battling each other – the Israeli rabbinate even went as far as to recall conversions because of the recent insufficient observancy of the person.
I don’t care how matters were 3500 years ago, when entrenched tribalism was all the rage. Like everyone, Moses and all the prophets were children of their times, which alone precludes a literalistic interpretation of their writings today. Or, as Holly Near wrote, don’t let the letter of the law obscure the spirit of your love.
Trying to sumbmit a comment is getting very difficult. I tried to submit a comment 4 times previous to this one. They keep getting erased and they are not transmitting.
I think other people were having the same problem.
I’m having the same problem, I suspect it’s a cookie expiring, thus punishing me for taking too long to write a comment.
Solution for me is to Ctrl-A – Ctrl-C the comment, then reload the page (renewing the cookie), then paste the comment into the box again, and submit. That usually works.
“I’ve learned in school that correlation is not causation.”
Your teachers were wrong.
“Christian churches are no better…”
Christianity is a fraud second only to the secular Jewish identity.
“they themselves were responsible”
“That the Germans “went from Christians to Nazis” thanks to the enlightenment is ridiculous.”
I had a Jewish teacher who showed us footage of Germans watching two insects fight each other to death-as part of their “survival of the fittest ideology.” Germans tried to retrofit their culture with Darwinism, which had a profound impact on the West and led to intense questioning of religion in general. Science may not be to be to blame but the “culture of science is.” You didn’t bother to point that out. Germans took it upon themselves to burn down synagogues, Torah scrolls, and uproot yeshivas that were hundreds of years old-the Christian Church never did things of that magnitude-wanting to turn an entire race of people into soap and lampshades.
“Nazi ideology had itself distinctive…”
This above statement is ridiculous! The swastika is called the twisted cross. Hitler, in Mein Kamph (sorry to cite it), said himself that he admired the Catholic Church:
“Here the Catholic Church presents an instructive example.”
“Here again the Catholic Church has a lesson to teach us.”
According to “Why The Jews” by Prager and Telushkin, all of the Nazi laws against Jews were originally instituted by the Church.
“because many Jews themselves make that distinction.”
Most Jews don’t observe the Sabbath or the kosher laws-that’s doesn’t make it right or official. As it says in Exodus (23:2):
“You shall not follow a multitude to do evil;”
Christianity now far outnumbers Judaism, but many if not all Jews would refute its central claims.
“the Israeli rabbinate even went as far as to recall conversions”
Your facts are off. The conversions (Rav Druckman) and those who sought to reverse them (Lithuanian Haredim) were all done in the Orthodox Jewish world.
“I don’t care how matters were 3500 years ago,..”
You are having a tantrum. Apparently the prophets and the greatest rabbis did care. Apparently G-d cared or He wouldn’t have given the prophets His Torah.
“Moses and all the prophets were children of their times,…”
The desire to do evil still exists and the Torah is still it’s cure (as it says in the Talmud)-we saw that with the Nazis. The prophets are far from outdated.
“which alone precludes a literalistic interpretation of their writings today.
Jews don’t interpret scriptures literally-only Christians and other kinds of heretics of Judaism. You are actually right here.
“Or, as Holly Near wrote,”
The Torah states more eloquently:
Deuteronomy (6:5) And you shall love the Lord your G-d with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
What you personally believe in is up to you; if some book you consider holy says the moon is made of cheese, I’m not going to convince you otherwise. Likewise I assert my right not to believe in the holiness of any book, or indeed in the existence of a God.
But a few factual points may be made.
Social Darwinism is a perversion of Darwin’s ideas. Science, just like religion, is capable of being perverted by ignorants or people with ulterior agendas. That doesn’t necessarily reflect back upon science or religion itself. Scientific materialism exists on the fringes, just like religious fundamentalism, these are incompatible with true science and religion in that they both usurp the space of the respective other and are wilfully ignorant of their own boundaries.
Enlightenment sought to ensure rationality – science – its due place. Because that place was unduly occupied by the churches it’s no wonder the pendulum initially swung the other way, but we’re long past that now. It’s only fundamentalists like yourself who’d like to swing it back again. Well, good luck with that (not).
Hitler admired the Catholic church not for their spiritual message but for their proven staying power, their all-penetrating organisation, which was/is certainly a model case for any political movement. The Nazis used the existing religious networks for their purposes – any demagogue would’ve been foolish not to do so, or even try and work explicitly against the churches. That part should sound familiar to you, as the fanatics among the WB settlers also misappropriate religion for political purposes, and political Islam does the same.
The swastika was adopted because of its ancient ornamental use in Germanic culture, its alleged symbolising the so-called “Aryan race”, originating in India, and its practical value in propaganda (ease of replication and being highly recognisable).
The religious overtones in Nazi “culture” were mostly appropriated from Nordic mythology, they were by far more sentimental kitsch than anything.
I didn’t say the conversion argument was not within the Orthodox world. It seems it’s rather between traditional and ultra-Orthodoxy. I was specifically referring to this. Israel’s rabbinic courts wereinvolved.
Fiddler and Richard, thank you for your advise on posting the comments. I’ve made notes. I’ve had the error message before but somehow the comments always re-appeared and I never had to re-type them. After losing them 4 times to never, never land, I got fustrated!
“if some book you consider holy says the moon is made of cheese,”
Again, people in the past several hundred years have doubted the basis of Jewish values, only to have to boomerang back at them.
“my right not to believe in the holiness of any book,”
Only your Holy Secular Outlook is permitted? Stop fiddling around! You sound like a teenager from the 60’s (“it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to”).
“Social Darwinism is a perversion of Darwin’s ideas.”
“It’s only fundamentalists like yourself…”
It is this petty labeling that undermines your argument. You were doing okay until now. You could be called a secular fundamentalist-it’s all relative. Jews who abandoned Judaism or created false interpretations of Judaism could be called fundamentalists as well-they went to extremes.
“who’d like to swing it back again.”
No-Hopefully Christianity will die for good. As for Jews-those who continue to assimilate will also die away. It is the Haskala that has hijacked the Jewish tradition.
“That part should sound familiar to you, as the fanatics among the WB settlers also misappropriate religion for political purposes…”
First and foremost is it familiar to me because I have gone out of my way to understand Judaism and the elements within it-more than you have I would imagine. What you are saying is a matter of opinion, and even Richard gets that wrong sometimes. You could say that non-Orthodox Jews in the States who criticize the settlement movement are using religion inappropriately for political purposes (like J Street). They have a half-cocked “understanding” of Judaism and that becomes a weapon against Torah Judaism. Most religious Jews support the settlements. Tel Aviv is a settlement whether you want to be honest about it or not-TAU was built on top of an Arab settlement. Haredim like Rav Ovadya have ruled it is forbidden to uproot settlements. Chabad and other Haredim (not Rav Kook) as well. The knitted kippa movement is the defacto representative of the State Of Israel and the secular elements who try to justify the settlement movement rely on their
outlook. Yisrael Beitenu (Leiberman) is a secular party-you don’t mention that for your own purposes (gotcha!). Trying to isolate the settler movement is foolish, even though there are certainly varying degrees of “enthusiasm” within it. The fact is that no one knows what the creation and existence of the State of Israel really means-not you nor I nor Richard nor the Rabbanim. According to the Torah, Jacob (the patriarch) himself wasn’t able to see what would happen with regards to the redemption of his own nation-nor do any of us.
We’re talking past each other. I was merely saying that on theological matters we’ll have to agree to disagree. I’m not going to convert, and I won’t turn you into an unbeliever either. Questions of faith are by design not accessible to rational discussion, but questions of coexistence most definitely are.
I completely reject the notion of a Great Real Estate Agent in the Sky, whether it’s motivated by Christian eschatology, Jewish equivalents of Dominionism, or Neturei Karta (although the latter are at least benign so far, for want of a moshiah).
I didn’t mention Yisrael Beitenu because the topic was the bearing of religion on secular affairs, and YB are secular, as you say. In fact, political Zionism was entirely secular from the start, and religious justifications have been supplied only in recent years to any extent.
“Neturei Karta (although the latter are at least benign so far..”
This organization is not benign. They meet publicly with Holocaust deniers and people who are known to have assisted or have actually committed acts of violence against Jews. Iran supports Hezbollah and has for decades. Their leader denies the Holocaust. Neturei Karta was at the same conference as other known Jew haters as well. They are far from benign. Being against Zionism is not the same as supporting people who actively threaten the Jewish community.
“In fact, political Zionism was entirely secular from the start, and religious justifications have been supplied only in recent years to any extent.”
Not so. I know Rabbanim who are connected to the Vilna Gaon and he actually sponsored what became the beginning of the Zionist Movement:
“In accordance with the Vilna Gaon’s wishes, three groups of his disciples and their families, numbering over 500, made aliyah to the Land of Israel between 1808 and 1812, a movement documented in Arie Morgenstern’s book, Hastening Redemption. This immigration is considered to be the beginning of the modern settlement of Israel.”
Another lesser issue you may want to look into is the Yishuv Ha-Yashan (The Old Settlement) which existed in Israel since the destruction of the Second Temple until “secular Zionism.”