38 thoughts on “Divide and Conquer: Israel Learns from the ‘Best’ – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. [comment deleted: this was a marginal comment in terms of being on-topic. But the level of conspiracy-mongering, Russophilia, & extreme rhetoric unsupported by facts renders it unpublishable here.]

    1. This conspiracy theory on Russian politics is ridiculous: didn’t it come to your mind that maybe majority of population in EU and US have nothing agains Russia (has the same culture, friendly nation, it’s not real threat to any serious European country, has no wish to project power further then its near abroad) and that they are surprised by the amount of russophobia in the foreign policy of Clinton-Obama administration.

      For Israel I don’t think devide and rule is the right approach towards Arab countries: Israel’s liberation of it’s homeland was a just cause, it has a support of any normal person. There was a population transfer: Sephardi Jews were expelled from Arab countries into Palestine, Muslim Arabs were expelled from Palestine – not much difference comparing to Poland/Germany and India/Pakistan case.

      1. @ Russocrat: Russia has no doubt endured abuse & disrespect at the hands of Cold Warriors fur decades. But the Russian response was to.install a bunch of kleptocrstic, homicidal mafiosi in power to protect national interests & restore imperial power. No American supports that.

        Your knowledge of Israeli history would fit on the back of a postage stamp. “Sephardic Jews” were not expelled from Arab lands. You are speaking of Mizrahi Jews, not Sephardic. Also, relatively few were expelled. Either they left voluntarily, we’re stampeded by Israeli false flag attacks like in Egypt & Iraq, or they were, in some cases, expelled.

  2. In Palestine, as in Ireland, there wasn’t a minority to favor, so Perfidious Albion imported minorities; Scots and English to Northern Ireland during the Ulster Plantation, and Jews to Palestine.

    1. @ Seamus: Good point. As for the Jews, I don’t think Britain willingly imported them. I think they came on their own. But once they were here, the Brits did try to play them off against the indigenous Arabs. It didn’t appear to work very well. And note that in 1948 the resulting bloodshed was caused, in part, by these rivalries. Similar outcomes in 1948 when Britain freed India & Pakistan, excerpt there there was much more violence & mass expulsions (because the populations were much greater).

      1. Are you saying there weren’t any Jews in Israel before the brits?
        That explain a lot about your opinion of the ME. Jews have always lived in Israel.

        1. “Jews have always lived in Israel.”
          A handful, yes. Are you trying to say there were more than a mere handful of Jews in Israel before the Zionist project got under way, Jim? Hmmm?

        2. “Jews have always lived in Israel.”
          This claim is often brought up by ardent Zionists. Do a few Jews function as pars pro toto here? Because some Jews lived in Israel, this means that Jews really always lived in Israel, even though it seems to the superficial eye that they lived almost exclusively in other places?

        3. @ Jim: Whenever a hasbarist asks “are you saying?” the answer is always: “No, I’m not.” So as a rule never believe any such person who asks such a trollish question.

          I’ve studied Jewish and Zionist history as an undergraduate and graduate student at Jewish THeological Seminary and Hebrew University, among other distinguished institutions, for well over a decade. SO why in God’s name would you think I believed that? I take it back, don’t answer that question. Because I’m not interested in the answer. Just don’t make such a stupid assumption again.

          But the number of Jews who’ve lived in Israel-Palestine before the 20th century is miniscule compared to the number living there now, as Elisabeth noted.

          1. @Richard

            Jewish migration to Eretz Yisroel ebbed and flowed for at least one thousand years.

            The reason for the low Jewish population at the turn of the 20th century is that the Jewish migrants, over many centuries, could not establish themselves in their Jewish homeland. Messianic Jews and persecuted Jews would migrate to Eretz Yisroel, find refuge, but would eventually be persecuted again.


            Professor Morgenstern’s papers and books are ‘must reads’.

          2. @Seamus: Azure is publication of Shalem Ctr. Likudist Party think tank. Not credible. Jews were no more persecuted in Palestine than they were anywhere else in world. In fact, Ottomans were fairly benign & tolerant of non-Muslim populations compared to Christian Europe.

          3. You are shifting to “Eretz Yisroel” terminology all of a sudden. Does that say something about the stuff you want me to read?

          4. I can only speak for what you wrote. The initial comment of Seamus was false. There were Christians and Muslims in Israel. There were Arabs, Druze, Bedouins and other groups. Tying them all as Arabs is as racist as grouping Koreans, Japanese and Chinese as simply Asians.

            On a different note, India and Pakistan are a great example for why 1 state won’t work. They are basically the same nation with a different religion and they couldn’t stay together. Can Israelis and Palestinians make it?? We’ll, that example says NOOOO

          5. @Jim: for centuries Indian -Pakistan was a single kingdom in which both religions co existed. My whole pt, which you missed, was that COLONIALISM destroyed the ability for both religions to co exist. Before colonialism, there was relative tolerance. So historically the opposite of what you claim is true.

          6. For those who refuse to study history, my point is that Jews had a low population in Eretz Yisroel (arrrgghhh) because, over many centuries, they had been unable to establish a secure foothold in the land and repopulate it.

          7. @Seamus: your pt is neither historical nor accurate. Jewish population was small because Jews relatively didn’t choose to come to Israel Palestine. There was no Zionist movement before 1898 urging them to settle the land. Further, economically the land couldn’t really support a major influx of Jews.

          8. I do not even think there was a tradition of pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Jews were no that focused on (what was once) Israel, before Zionism.

          9. @ Elisabeth: No, there wasn’t a pilgrimage because there no longer was a Temple at which to worship. But there were Jews who throughout this period did make aliya & move from Europe & elsewhere to live in Israel. Not that many. But there were some.

          10. @Seamus: Zionism didn’t exist till 1898. So there were no “waves of messianic Zionist immigrants” 1,000 years ago, or even 150 yrs ago. You’re also mixing up political Zionism, which until 1967 had no religious component, with a purely religious impulse to return to Zion to fulfill Biblical commandments & messianic yearnings.

            Concerning those Jews who lived in Israel-Palestine before political Zionism, they had no desire for political sovereignty there. They also did not come in “waves.” They came in dribs & drabs, families here & there.

            Israel-Palestine was a very poor land. It could not sustain any “waves of messianic immigrants.”

            You are done in this thread

          11. “WAVES of MESSIANIC Zionist immigrants RETURNED to ERETZ YISROEL over a period of ONE THOUSAND YEARS”

            Is your Professor Morgenstern only capable of such gushing, ideological prose? Have you not learned to be wary of publications that use such a style? Did your parents fail to introduce you to quality newspapers when you were a teenager?

            Earlier you linked to a story with a similar over-the-top tone, and grossly exaggerated claims:

            “Most PROGRESSIVES in the US view Israel as an AGRESSOR, OPPRESSING the POOR NOBLE Arabs who are being so BRUTALLY denied their FREEDOM.”

            Poor? Noble? Brutally? Waves? A Thousand Years? Gimme a break.

          12. [Comment deleted. I really hate piling on. Keep your comments related to your own views about the specific topic of the post. Other commenters don’t need you to defend them.]

      2. @Richard – “for centuries Indian -Pakistan was a single kingdom” these are some great alternative facts with no real base. Muslims have conquered parts of India and ruled over the Hindus. No sure what “tolerance” you are referring to. According to Wikipedia , many of the Muslims were forcefully converted from Hinduism.

        1. @ Jim: The history of India is long & complex. There have been migrations and invasions by scores of ethnic & religious groups throughout its long history (well before Muslims came on the scene). There were times when Hindus were in ascendance and times when Muslims were, over various portions of its territory. But the history of India certainly doesn’t prove your claim that Israeli Jews & Palestinians can’t co-exist. As I stated earlier, Muslims & Hindus co-existed for over 1,000 years in the Indian subcontinent.

  3. You know I value and appreciate your work immensely! However on analysis of Putin, Russia and the start of Cold War 2.0 we differ in opinion. Just read an interview in Dutch press yesterday about former FM and NATO SG De Hoop Scheffer. Confirms my point of view where responsibilities lie.

    1. Oui, your comment is not deleted because of your long history of meaningful comments. The blind eye for the NATO offensive and soros/clinton colorrevolutions in this great blog is really disappointing and shows you how propaganda gets to everybody.

  4. There were few inaccuracies in this debate:
    Zionism begun before 1898. In fact, the first Moshava of Hovevevi Zion was founded in 1882 and more than a few others were founded between then and 1898.
    Jewish immigration to Israel has always existed but got stronger since the end of the 18 century, By the second half of the 19 century Jews were the biggest religious community in Jerusalem.
    While Jews were immigrating into Israel so did Muslims of different ethnic backgrounds (later, they will be defined a Arabs when the notion of “Arabs” was developed in the region). Most of the large families in Israel have immigrated to it few hundred years at the most.

    This is because the country was poor and an ongoing war zone. It was very hard place to survive in. Hence, people were immigrating in and out. In their attempt to keep the country populated, the Ottoman empire brought in various groups of people who had hard times in their homelands. One interesting example is the Circassians (those who survived the Russians) who were brought in towards the end of the 19 century.
    So, the population in the country was rather fluid. Most Arabs and Jews there are decedents of fairly recent immigrants, though both sides make claims of being the true endogenous people.

    1. @ Amico: I meant that the Zionist movement began formally in 1898. Efforts that preceded that date were the first stirrings of a movement and probably had a great deal to do with the (bad) condition for Jews in Russia.

      1. Its actually a complex (and interesting) story-
        The pogroms in Russia were indeed a major catalyzer but if that was the only factor than the Jews there would have immigrated to America (as most indeed do, including my grate grandparents). Some Jews Europe were influenced by the rise of nationalism in the continent. Its led some Jews to stop seeing themselves just as a religion or social group but rather as a nation in the modern sense of the word.
        The combination of nationalistic Ideas and the anti-Semitic persecutions led to the development of Hovevi Zion.
        Interestingly, the same idea of nationalism also reached the Ottoman empire and led to the development of Arab nationalism. Its hard to imagine today but many in the middle east did not at all defined themselves as “Arabs” until than. The population in Egypt had very little in common with the one in Syria aside from the religion of the majority and the Arab language (and even the language was not identical). Christians had a lot to do with the idea of Arab identity as it was a good substitute to a Muslim identity.
        Indeed, Israel never had to work too hard to “divide and conquer” as the Arab states were never too united. Any sense of Arab solidarity was weaker than the local and religious interests.
        Also, you seem to confuse between “divide and conquer” and seeking alliances. These are two very different things.

        1. @ Amico:

          you seem to confuse between “divide and conquer” and seeking alliances. These are two very different things.

          They should be. But Israel doesn’t understand alliances based on shared values & alliances based on cynical manipulation for the sake of short term gain. Israeli alliances with Arab states are the latter since they are not based on shared values (at least not “values” as most of us know them). Those alliances are based on cynical sort term interests and will evaporate as soon as the political winds change.

          The U.S. alliance with the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan was a similar sort of cynical alliance, which turned around & bit us in the ass as soon as the short term enemy was removed from the picture.

          Alliances based on divide & conquer are by definition short term & the most cynical of alliances. Israel pursues them with vigor because it has no other choice. It has no alliances based on shared values except perhaps with the U.S. And even here citizens are rising up to question what those values are & whether they are real or contrived.

    2. “By the second half of the 19 century Jews were the biggest religious community in Jerusalem.”
      Nope, nobody can say that, there are many different census, and they all come to very different results (cf wiki on demographics in Jerusalem which gives a varity of sources), some clearly had political motives. Generally speaking, the number of the Muslim population was underestimated because many families omitted to register their male children due to forced conscription to the Ottoman army, later when it was extended to Christians, they started to omit registring their children too, or to send them abroad (circonscription was the primary reason for the strong emigration to South America of Christians from Palestine 1880-1920, 500.000 descendants only from Bethlehem, Beit Jala and the surrounding area in the Americas).

      And we know the BS about Jews and Arabs being equally recent newcomers, which of course is to justify Zionist takeover.

      PS. Not linked to Amigo’s comment: Shlomo Sand has written a book on “Comment la terre d’Israël fut inventée” (How the Land of Israel was invented”), I haven’t read it but I’ve heard him speaking about it when it was published, he goes through sources on Jewish ‘return’ to the Holy Land, it seems Jews were not prevented but didn’t particularly opt for it, a few went on religious pilgrimage and returned to their homelands, some went there to die, but Zionism has clearly rewritten this part of history (too) according to Sand.

      1. First, I liked the “Amigo” thing…I don’t know if that was on purpose but that’s a great name…I will adopt it if you don’t mind
        Second, I won’t get into an argument about the historical demographic data about which group was the largest in Jerusalem (though I don’t accept your unsupported arguments) cause that was not my point…
        I merely wanted to demonstrate that Increased Jewish immigration to Israel begun before political Zionism. All accounts of the population of Jerusalem show that. Mishkenot Sha’ananim was founded outside the walls of the old city already in 1860 because the Jewish population outgrown what the Jewish quarter could sustain. These are simple facts.

        “And we know the BS about Jews and Arabs being equally recent newcomers, which of course is to justify Zionist takeover”.
        Sorry, but if you look into the large Arab Palestinian families you will see that they all immigrated from other countries. Few go as far back (or at least claim to) to the Muslim occupation in the 7th century but most arrived much later, starting in the 12th century and up to the 19th century. For example, the MASARVA family is the largest Arab family residing in Israel. It has arrived in the 19th century from Egypt (the name refers to their Egyptian decent). No one can dispute these facts. Nor does it matter much-

        If you live in a country for few generations, you become integral part of it. You have every right on it. Its true for the Arab immigrants who became “Palestinian” as it is true for Jewish immigrants who became “Israeli”. Beyond this its all myths. From my personal perspective, I, who’s family (from my father side) lived in Israel for the past 85 years , am as integral part of it as someone, Arab or Jewish, who’s family arrived to it 50 or even 500 years before that. Just as my mother’s family, who arrived to the USA in the late 19 century is as American as those who arrived in the 16 century from England.

        As for Sand-He got to his academic position by studying the history of France. That work might have been great. His recent books, on the other hand are garbage. I did read his work, and I find it offensive. Not as a Jew or an Israeli but as a scholar…Sand is, and always has been, anti-Zionist, and his recent books are nothing but anti-intellectual propaganda. His arguments, as for the origins of the Ashkenazi Jews are so illogical and unfounded that it’s a sad joke. To the point, immigration to Israel in historical time was allowed (who ever claimed that it was not? but it was very difficult given the hardship of travelling there and the conditions in it. Still, Jews immigrated to the country. Yes, in small numbers, but the fact that they did choose to go there and not to any other much more comfortable place says something.
        Anyway, I fail to see how arguing against the historical connection betweent he Jewish people and Israel serves any good to anyone. Million of Jews are living in the country and are not going to say “oopss…we really should not be here. Good bye”. Nor does it negate Arab-Palastinan claims for the country. The Palastinians are not going anywhere either.

        1. @ Amico: I am profoundly bored by the hasbara claims made by those like you that because Arabs supposedly immigrated to Israel later than Jews did that they have no, or a lesser claim to the land. You claim not to care for this argument. Yet you made it. Cease & desist immediately. I could care less who came when. It’s an empty argument. If you, as you claim, don’t believe it, then don’t raise it in any form.

          I find it offensive. Not as a Jew or an Israeli but as a scholar

          When I read statements like this my antenna go up. So now you’re claiming to be a scholar? You know how this works: you make such a claim, you support it. If you are not an academic, don’t make such claims. If you are, prove it.

          Sand is, and always has been, anti-Zionist, and his recent books are nothing but anti-intellectual propaganda

          You have made an absolutely false equivalence between anti-Zionism & anti-intellectualism. That is a foul claim, not supported by facts or anything. Don’t make it again. Also, I so don’t wish to get into a knock down drag out fight about Sands’ views, I can’t tell you. So cut it off right now.

          At any rate, Sands’ claim that relatively few Jews in the world chose to come here until the early 20th century is absolutely accurate. It wasn’t much more more difficult to emigrate to Israel in 1600 than it was in 1905. Yet relatively few Jews did in 1600. Many more beginning after 1898. The numbers were, as I wrote earlier, dribs & drabs. Let’s leave this argument now, please.

          Million of Jews are living in the country and are not going to say “oopss…we really should not be here. Good bye”.

          If you know anything about the history of your region, you’ll know that it is the history of constant migration, expulsion & even genocide. Tribes have come and gone. Tribes have invaded & massacred & been massacred. To claim that Israeli Jews are immune to the waves of history that have washed over the region constantly for millenia is the height of folly. Do I wish that Israeli Jews have more staying power than Amalekites, Philistines, Moabites, Emorites, etc.? Certainly. But will they? Given how things are going, I’d say odds aren’t good.

          You’re at your 3 per day comment limit.

        2. @ Amico
          1. I didn’t claim anything on Jerusalem demographics, so you hardly can’t disagree with my claim. YOU made a claim that I said is impossible to prove.
          2. Concerning Shlomo Sand, you don’t know what you’re talking about ! He’s NOT an anti-zionist and he’s said on many occasions. People who claim so don’t know what they’re talking about, they just want to dismiss his academic works: Sand is against a One State solution and against the return of refugees, now for an anti-zionist what a weird point of view…. Sand is not a Zionist either, he mostly says “post-zionist” or “non-zionist” fits him. The only ‘radical’ thing about Sand is that he want to turn Israel into a State for all its citizens.
          Sand got his PhD from the finest school of social sciences in France, even though he specialized in French history, he has the academic tools to study other topics, many academics do so. His books are full of sources, though they are for laymen and not fellow academics they have all been highly praised, of course not by Zionists.
          3. Concerning Arabic family names; I guess you know that because your family name is al-Masri or al-Baghdadi, it doesn’t mean your ancestor came from Egypt or Baghdad …

  5. “If the long arc of history bends toward justice, as I’d like to believe it will, the Arab masses will eventually throw off their chains and come to confront their real enemies, both internal and external.”

    This is a signficant statement. vis a vis the direction of history. But the rub is, what is “justice”? I do agree, ala Pinker, that in general the world is trending more towards liberty and less violence. But how this manifests politically could be in a lot of different ways. Does it mean nationalism, in its various forms? Globalism? Formations of confederacies and common unions? Religiousity or securalism? All of these could bring entirely different outcomes.
    If you look at it strictly through the narrow lens of a “social justice” warrior I suspect that this is a passing fad and not part of the bigger picture that is evolving.

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