23 thoughts on “Daniel Gordis and the Transferists Among Us – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Transfer of Israel’s non-Jewish (or merely of its Arab) citizens might be accomplished either by transferring the people to another place or by transferring the territory (where they live) outside Israel. Assuming that Gordis means the first, and further assuming that such transfer (if not the choice of the people to be transferred) is illegal (anyone know an analysis of this question?), then Gordis is proposing that Israel’s desire to be “Jewish State ” entitles it to violate international law.

    What other desires or what other state would Gordis imagine entitles such other state to violate international law? Does he care?

    And if international law is “caduc” (as far as Gordis’s opinions go, and perhaps also as far as the opinions of the government of Israel go), let us all welcome what should be called the Israeli-moderated arrival of the New World Disorder.

  2. I’m always bemused by the contempt Zionists like Gordis have for Jews. Israel is the “state that saved the Jewish people”? The Jewish people survived for thousands of years without a state, under conditions of sometimes extreme persecution, yet their survival is now dependent on a state founded in 1948?

    1. The other thing about “The State that save the Jewish people” is that some of its founders were more obsessed with hating the British than saving the Jews or fighting those trying to exterminate Jews. They continued to pass information on Allied shipping movements to the Nazi’s naval intelligence service up until March 1945, stopping, not because death camps were being exposed, but because the German navy was no longer in a position to kill American and Commonwealth sailors supporting the soldiers carrying out the liberation.

      This was “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” taken to its demented extreme. There’s an awful lot in Israel’s current policies which reminds me of this.

      Always remember that your enemy’s enemy may actually be a worse bastard than your enemy.

  3. Richard tends to get antsy whenever I make an argument that amounts to what’s sauce for the goose is gravy for the gander. Thus, I will state explicitly that I am making below a hypothetical inversion argument that I already posted on Jeremiah Haber’s site.

    If we are looking at involuntary transfer as a solution to the conflict over Palestine, why are we only discussing the involuntary transfer of the native Palestinian population?

    Why not look at the removal of the Zionist settler colonists as the proper solution?

    Doesn’t Gordis see that the logic of transfer applies far more strongly to Israeli Zionists?

    Under Nuremberg Tribunal Law and the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, the native Palestinian population has suffered an immense tort at the hands of Zionist colonists, who do not count as a protected population under the Nuremberg Precedents or the Convention and who continue to engage in genocide and terrorism to this day right before our eyes.

    Removing the Zionist colonists would be reasonable relief because ethnic Ashkenazim, Moroccan Jewish Arabs, Iraqi Jewish Arabs, and Yemeni Jewish have no claim whatsoever to historic Palestine beyond a twisted and extremist misinterpretation of certain religious texts and mythology.

    To be realistic, transferred Israeli Jews could easily assimilate into Jewish communities throughout the world while another forced transfer of the native Palestinian population would probably create at least another two generations of Muslim anger against the USA.

    Believing that the State of Israel saved the Jewish people is questionable at least.

    Replacing am yisrael or klal yisrael with haam hayehudi is a reinterpretation of Eastern European Ashkenazi ethnicity for the purpose of staking an insupportable claim to Palestine.

    We need an open discussion of Jewish history since the assassination of Czar Alexander II. Arguing that Christian anti-Semitism is an eternal threat to Jews simply is not supported by the factual data.

    I know that the discussion could be painful, but I am really tired of Zionist platitudes.

    Zionism probably closed havens for Jews throughout the Islamic world during the Hitler years while the role of ethnic Ashkenazim in Bolshevism and communist revolutionary activity throughout Central and Eastern Europe made it hard for the USA, Canada, Latin American countries, and the UK to accept larger numbers of Jewish refugees after the German Nazis took power than were granted asylum.


    BTW, I have never understood Jewish objections to the Lord’s prayer, which when translated into Hebrew sounds like any of a number of Jewish prayers that one might find in a traditional Jewish prayerbook.

    Muslims have more reason to object to such a prayer because Islam tends to reject the imagery of “God the Father.”

    [Of course, the similarity of Christian and Jewish prayer might be a source of Jewish objection to the Lord’s prayer.]

    PS. Jeremiah Haber corrected me and essentially substituted leshon kodesh for Hebrew in his reply.

  4. Joachim Martillo proposes (as a gedanken experiment I suppose) transfer of Israel’s Jewish population to — elsewhere. A lovely thought, if just to get humane people thinking about what Israel’s idea of transfer (and its execution in 1948) really mean in human terms. (Merely thinking about Palestinians seems not to turn on the humanitarian “light” for many people, so they need this help!)

    The term “transfer”, however, is always used to describe an Israeli action, and Israel has shown a propensity to act. Removal of israeli Jews from anywhere (whether from Golan and West Bank see: Obama-should-end-illegalities-of-Israeli-occupation-before-pressing-for-an-Israeli-Palestinian-peace.php or from pre-1967 Israel does not appear to be something that any “power” has yet shown a propensity to seek to accomplish.

    And Israel’s open and notorious and contumaceous defiance of international law and the laws of war is too well known for anyone to suppose that Israel, as a Spartan warrior state, would show any hesitation to execute “transfer” if it thought it would advance its ends to do so.

    1. Israelis often refer to the disengagement from Gaza as the Israeli transfer, and the same applies to future disengagements from the West Bank.

      In fact, many Israelis support the idea of mutual transfers of settlers & Israeli Palestinians.

      1. # Shai)
        That shows that ‘many Israelis’ do not live in the Real World. The Palestinians living within the State of Israel do so on legal grounds whereas the settlers in the OT live there illegally – and that’s one of the main reasons they’ve been encouraged to settle there: as ‘monnaie d’échange’ in any future négociation.
        Instead of 55% of Mandatory Palestine with a nearly 50 % Arab population, the ‘moderate’ Israelis now considerr 78% without any Arabs as a fair deal.
        This just confirms Richard’s statement about the Gordis-like Israelis: Palestinians don’t count !

        1. While I really doubt settlers have been encouraged to settle for the purpose of serving as monnaie d’échange, I agree about the rest.

          It is quite sad, really, but I think many of them completely disregard the legal aspect. Then again, it’s quite understandable as nobody else in the Middle East seems to do otherwise.

          1. # Shai)
            If the settlers weren’t encouraged to settle in the OT for an eventual future negociation, does that mean that no Israeli government ever had the slightest intention of transferring them back within the ’67-borders after a Peace Treatment ? So you acknowledge that Camp David was a fake ?

          2. Shai’s comment about ignoring the legal aspect represents a typical sort of Jewish Zionist bigotry that projects historical ethnic Ashkenazi cultural propensities onto Arabs.

            Arab Muslim political culture has tended to be highly legalistic and scrupulous in obeying precedents, providing proper formulations for international actions, and in carrying out treaties.

            If one looks for example at the documents that Arab regimes issued to justify intervening in Palestine in 1948 after the Zionist militias engaged in wholesale mass murder, ethnic cleansing and genocide, unlike Jewish racists who babble incoherently about living in a dangerous region, the Arab policy makers dotted every i and crossed every t in formulating the basis for humanitarian intervention on behalf of native population under attack by murderous merciless Eastern and Central European invaders.

            By our own standards the USA should have assisted the native Palestinians against Jewish Zionist invaders that were engaging in a rerun of the barbarism with which Jewish Bolsheviks treated the Polish and Ukrainian peasantry.

            There has not been sufficient study of the degree to which Russian Jewish anti-Muzhik hostility was translated in the Palestinian context into hatred of the Palestinian fellah.

            [Of course, to be honest, Herzl, who was not Russian Jewish, evinces in Altneuland a vicious bigotry against Palestinian peasants.

            From Altneuland.

            Kingscourt und Friedrich beeilten sich auch fortzukommen. Sie fuhren auf der schlechten Eisenbahn nach Jerusalem. Auch auf diesem Wege Bilder tiefster Verkommenheit. Das flache Land fast nur Sand und Sumpf. Die mageren Äcker wie verbrannt. Schwärzliche Dörfer von Arabern. Die Bewohner hatten ein räuberhaftes Aussehen. Die Kinder spielten nackt in Straßenstaube.

            Kingscourt and Friedrich hurried to get away. They traveled on the miserable railroad to Jerusalem. Even on this route scenes of the deepest depravity. Flat land almost only sand and swamp. The spare cultivated fields as if scorched. Colorless villages of Arabs. The inhabitants looked like robbers. The children played naked in the street dust.

            “Verkommenheit” is something rotten, neglected, ruined; “sand und sumpf,” an infertile land, not cultivated by “civilized” people; scorched fields and the neglected, colorless villages reminds us of a country devastated
            by war; the inhabitants are either second-class human beings or not human at all; they are criminals, homeless, dishonest, not trustworthy.]

          3. # Joachim Martillo)
            Jesus C… What a pretentious commentary ! In fact reading you is as tiresome as the worst Hasbara propagande ! How do you know that Shaï is projecting ‘historical ethnic Ashkenazi blabla . . ” ?
            He might be Mizrahi.
            And your statement on ‘genocide’ is totally off the line. You’re doing NO favor to the Palestinians with that kind of extremist and ‘brain-washed’ commentary. Do you have any idea what a genocide is ?? What a bore !

          4. How do you know that Shaï is projecting ‘historical ethnic Ashkenazi blabla . . ” ?

            Not to mention the absolutely ludicrous suggestion that Zionist Ashkenazi Jews inheritly disregard law.

          5. Yeah, I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ of reading him on Mondoweiss a year or so back, under different pen names, and I think he managed to get banned there – which takes a lot !
            Reading him makes me sweat – I had a orthodox Marxist teacher at university, no new ideas since the ’60: same effect. Or the impression of being in a “camp for resocialization” in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, the Goulag or other ‘camps for brain-washing’.

      2. many Israelis support the idea of mutual transfers of settlers & Israeli Palestinians.

        A ludicrous statement. If there are 10 or 50 who do it would be a lot. I can think of no Israelis who support forcing settlers to return to the Green Line AND support expelling Israeli Palestinians. You’re makin’ it up.

        1. No I’m not. It’s commonly heard around and supported by many of those who root for “Two states for two nations”. I am not making this up.

          These people believe that there can never be peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians and the only solution is complete segregation. Therefore, it would be legitimate to have a full mutual population exchange.

          You’d be surprised to find out how many Israelis are reluctant to support a withdrawal to the ’67 borders simply because it would result in the creation of a “Palestinian state” and another, “Israeli-Palestinian state”, which would face the same demographic problems (Arab birth rate vs. Jewish birth rate) that would “endanger” Israel’s Jewish majority.

          Of course for many who believe in this, the population exchange stretches to include Israeli Arabs, whom would have to decide if they wish to continue having Israeli citizenship or abandon it in favor of a Palestinian citizenship. This is something I have heard MANY times before, it is NOT something new, and there are A LOT more than 50 Israelis who support this. I do not have statistics to back this up. This is my impression from living in Israel.

          The majority of Palestinians oppose settlers gaining Palestinian citizenship if there are two states, and support their expulsion to Israel. Would it be so hard to believe that while it’s certainly not the majority, but a significant part of Israelis feel the same about Israeli Palestinians?

          1. First, there are a significant number of Palestinians (though perhaps a minority) who would be willing to accept Israeli Jews living in Palestine as long as they accepted Palestinian sovereignty. Second, Israeli Palestinians are already citizens of Israel. Israel Jews are not citizens of Palestine. Therefore, expulsion of one group is neither morally nor logically comparable.

  5. Gordis begins chapter six of his book with this quotation:
    Israel cannot be defined as a democratic state. The only way to make Israel a democratic state is to eliminate its Jewish character.

    Whether partially fabricated or not, this statement is absolutely correct. There cannot be a democratic Jewish state any more than there can be a democratic Islamic, or Christian, or Hindu or Buddhist state as long as that state has even one citizen who is not Jewish, or Muslim, or Christian, or Hindu. That is simply reality whether any of us likes it or not.

    1. None of the Israeli Palestinian documents proposing a new basis for Israel as a state of all its citizens proposes eliminating the Jewish character of the state any more than they would propose to eliminate the Muslim character of such a state. Because the citizens adhere to various religious traditions they must be taken into account in determining the character of the State. In other words, the state would have a Christian, Jewish AND Muslim character. If you disagree w. this formulation then you disagree w. Adalah, Mossawa & many of the other Israeli Palestinian human rights groups.

      If you wish to argue that the state should be completely secular then you’re welcome to do so but I think that’s an even more dubious proposition at this pt in time than to have a single unitary state in all of Palestine.

  6. I did not suggest that any of the documents proposes eliminating the “Jewish character of the state”. I doubt very seriously, though, that any of them endorses retaining the “Jewish character” either. Realistically, any state that has a “Jewish character” – whatever that actually means – by definition excludes non-Jews as fully entitled citizens.

    Setting aside the thorny question of how in any practical sense you create a Christian, Jewish AND Muslim character for a state, by doing so you have automatically excluded from full entitlement Druze, Sabaeans, Baha’is, and other religious minorities, as well as secular persons, who I believe make up a plurality of Israeli citizens, so you have not created a truly pluralistic state at all, but rather an illusion of one.

    And by the way I don’t know to what extent I actually disagree with Adala, etc. on these matters, but I don’t have a problem with it if I do. I know that their official positions on some matters are questions of political realism and not true conviction,and I don’t fault them for that. Sometimes progress requires that one temporarily set aside what is right in favor of what is possible.

    1. I think Druze and Bedouin should have their ethnic identity represented too in this new Israel we envision. I simply don’t see how in the current MIddle East you can create a state that doesn’t ratify religious and ethnic identity in the character of the state. If you could create a truly secular state as we more or less have in the U.S. (on a good day), then yes, you could avoid this. But I think the current realities dictate religion as a major factor in the identity of a state. The key is not to allow the nation or national identity to become subsumed by religious identity. That would be very bad.

      I don’t think it’s a question of explicitly saying they favor “retaining” Israel’s Jewish character. I think, as articulated in this document, they are merely pragmatically recognizing that it exists.

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