Next Year in a Jerusalem for All its Citizens

Jewish settlement in Silwan, East Jerusalem (photo from Activestills)

The words “Next Year in Jerusalem”  seriously stuck in my throat at seder this year.

I know that these words are largely a spiritual metaphor.  I know that for centuries of Jewish history these words referred to a messianic vision of the future and not literal immigration. Still, given the political realities of the day, it’s just so very to difficult to separate spiritual metaphor from literal facts on the ground.

It was enormously difficult for me to proclaim “Next Year in  Jerusalem” together with Jews the world over knowing that right now in Yerushalayim Shel Mata (“earthly Jerusalem”), non-Jewish residents are being evicted from their homes and the construction of Jewish residences are increasing with utter impunity. By any other name this would be called “ethnic cleansing,” and I have no trouble saying so.

Many will claim that Jews have a right to build houses anywhere that they please. That is not the issue. This issue, of course, is that Palestinians in Israel do not. Others will say that the government is only building in parts of Jerusalem that “everyone knows” will be always be part of Israel anyway.  This is, in fact, exactly what Netanyahu claimed in his address at the recent AIPAC Policy Conference:

Everyone knows that these neighborhoods will be part of Israel in any peace settlement. Therefore, building them in no way precludes the possibility of a two-state solution.

This claim is hogwash. If you would like to know why, please read this article by Danny Seidemann and Lara Friedman, who understand the recent history and politics of Jerusalem better than just about anyone:

What Netanyahu really means is that East Jerusalem land falls into two categories: areas that “everybody knows” Israel will keep and where it can therefore act with impunity, and areas that Israel hopes it can keep, by dint of changing so many facts on the ground before a peace agreement is reached that they move into the first category.

It is an approach that can be summed up as: “what’s mine is mine, and what you think is yours will hopefully be mine, too.” It discloses with stark clarity the underlying principle of Netanyahu’s Jerusalem policies: the status of Jerusalem and its borders will be determined by Israeli deeds rather than by negotiations. More bluntly, who needs agreement with Palestinians or recognition of the international community when “everybody knows”?

And it is an approach that we see today on the ground, where Israel is doing its best — through construction, demolitions, changes in the public domain — to transform areas of East Jerusalem that have always been overwhelmingly Palestinian into areas that everybody will soon recognize as Israeli, now and forever. This is happening in the area surrounding the Old City, in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods like Ras al Amud and Jebel Mukabber, and it is now starting to target areas like Shuafat and Beit Hanina.

The notion that a peace process can survive such an Israeli approach in Jerusalem is not rational.  The notion that Israel can be taken seriously as a peace partner while acting this way is farcical.  And the notion that the United States can be a credible steward of peace efforts while tolerating such behavior is laughable.

Next year in a Jerusalem for all of its citizens…

21 thoughts on “Next Year in a Jerusalem for All its Citizens

  1. rabbibrian

    What a great post! Just returned today from a tour of East Jerusalem with Ir Amim. The tour was in Hebrew so it was mostly for Israelis. We saw the huge Jewish neighborhoods (Pisgat Zeev, Ramot, Maaleh Admumim) and smaller neighborhoods like Ramat Shlomo, Neve Yaakov,Givon, all built between Palestinian areas. We saw the roads that Jews use and the roads used by local villagers. All this was not new for me. What was new was that there is one new Palestinian neighborhood, I thought there were none, built by the Waqf, the Islamic Religious Council with the approval of Israel. This neighborhood, one of only two new Palestinian neighborhoods, still does not have the infrastructure from Israel (water, electricity etc.) that is supplied to all the Jewish settlements. The second neighborhood also doesn’t have the infrastructure.

    At the end of the tour the participants asked the tour guide what is the solution to this mess. I was stunned that most people on the bus argued for a settlement imposed by the U.S. Their argument was that there was no way that Israel was about to solve this issue and like any “failing family business”, to use the metaphor suggested by one participant, someone has to step in to save it before it goes completely broke!

    Is America up to this task?

    My Pesach wish: next year in a Jerusalem and Israel with equal rights for all!

    1. Shirin

      Please do not call them neighborhoods. Please call them what they are; illegal colonies. Or at the very least call them settlements.

  2. Shirin

    Danny Seidemann is a long-time hero of mine. I cannot help wondering why he is sounding as if the policy he is describing is something new, or something specific to Netanyahu. In fact, exactly what he is describing here has been the Israeli plan and policy throughout the West Bank, and particularly in East Jerusalem and environs since June, 1967 and before. Israel began to implement this policy in East Jerusalem virtually the moment they had it in their hands, and one of the first things they did was to ethnically cleanse the area in front of the Kotel.

    I think it is essential to emphasize that what is going on now is nothing new, but rather merely a continuation of what has been going on in the Occupied Territories for the last 43 years.

  3. Cotton Fite

    A Palestinian friend who was a consultant to the negotiations at the end of the Bush administration described his experience something like this: “It is like negotiating over a pie. While we negotiate, the Israelis are eating the pie, piece by piece by piece. The Israelis love to negotiate; they do not love to make agreements.”

    If it was ever not clear what is happening in East Jerusalem, sitting with members of a family evicted from their home in Sheikh Jarrah directly across the street from the flag-draped Jewish “settlement” last month made it unmistakable. And very, very sad.

    1. Shirin

      What many people do not know about is the very obvious ethnic cleansing that took place in the West Bank, and East Jerusalem and environs in June, 1967 and the months that followed. This ethnic cleansing was in some ways more systematic and organized than the massive ethnic cleansing of 1948. Tens if not hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were loaded onto buses and trucks, taken to a border, and forced to cross. Once they crossed they were not allowed to come back. Many thousands were forced to wade across the Jordan river, sometimes with the “encouragement” of shots fired over their heads. UNRWA reported that by the end of July, 1967 there were more than 200,000 refugees from the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the East Bank area of Jordan, and the outflow did not stop then.

      Contrary to propaganda the colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the creation of facts on the ground began within weeks of June, 1967. And by July, 1967 the Alon Plan, which laid the basic groundwork for what we see today, had been devised.

      The only thing that sets Netanyahu apart from his predecessors since 1967 is his outrageously brazen approach, and the fact that he is acting as he is at a time that the world, including the United States, is more aware than they have ever been of the reality that is Israel and its occupation. Other than that, he is not doing anything that every one of the PM’s before him has not done. This is just a continuation of what has been going on for the last 43 years.

  4. Babette Powell

    We are still thoroughly enveloped with the warmth and compassion engendered by the Good Friday/Passover “conversation”. As far as the message here………..we receive the Americans For Peace Now literature and just read your enclosure on their site and want to say that you’re preaching to the choir, but it must be hammered home AGAIN AND AGAIN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Babette and Don Powell

    1. Shirin

      I am afraid that the choir is still too small to be heard clearly above the ugly din of hatred, but it does seem to be growing, and hopefully it will continue to grow until it is large enough to drown out the hate.

  5. Michael Levin

    However, now posted on the side of 200 Egged buses in Jerusalem:

    “J’lem posters call for 3rd Temple,” Abe Selig, Jerusalem Post, 3/29/2010.

    Excerpt] “Posters leaving out Al Aksa mosque plastered on buses with e. Jerusalem routes.

    While tensions continue to simmer around the Temple Mount after riots in and around the capital’s Old City earlier this month, a new campaign calling for the construction of the Third Temple atop the holy site has made its way to the sides of 200 Egged buses in the city, which now sport posters featuring a picture of a rebuilt temple on the Mount, and nothing else.

    The posters, which contain the phrase, “May the Bais Hamikdosh be rebuilt speedily and within our days,” were sponsored by the Our Land of Israel group, which is led by Rabbi Shalom Dov Volpo and activist Baruch Marzel, leave out the site’s current structures – namely the the Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

    The campaign’s organizers chose to plaster the posters on buses whose routes take them through predominately Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem.

    With regards to the campaign, Volpo said Israel is waiting breathlessly for the coming of the messiah and the rebuilding of the temple.

    “The Arabs and President Obama know that the Temple will be built on the Temple Mount,” he said. “Instead of the temporary buildings that are there today.”

    Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, Marzel said it was no mistake that the Islamic shrines were left out of the picture.

    “We’re representing the truth, in front of everyone, and saying out loud what every Jew believes,” Marzel said. “That the Third Temple needs to be built immediately on the Temple Mount and that the mosque should not be there.”

    “When we reach the end of the Pessah Seder tomorrow night, he continued, “we’ll say, ‘Next year in a rebuilt Jerusalem.’ What does ‘rebuilt’ mean? It means with the Third temple intact. . . . ”

  6. Israel Gershon

    I think it is really unfortunate to see the “ethnic cleansing” charge tossed around so easily. It does a real disservice to those who have really suffered from ethnic cleansing in this violent world. You may not be happy with all of Israel’s policies, but that is no excuse for using such charged rhetoric. Jews were actually ethnically cleansed from the west bank in 1948. During that war, the invading Arab armies attacked the civilian centers of the Jewish communities throughout Israel with the real goal of ethnically cleansing Palestine of its Jewish population. Today, after years of war and conflict Israel continues to exist as a multi-ethnic democracy. In Jerusalem, Jews and Arabs live together, I know because I lived there, along side Arabs. It should also be noted that Arabs have reached very high positions in Israeli society and are contributing in all fields. As one Israeli Arab said, “In Israel an Arab doctor gets paid the same as a Jewish doctor.” He said this in defense of his Israeli Arab identity. Charged rhetoric that seeks to demonize Israel does nothing for peace and makes it harder for Jews and Arabs to live together.

    I must also say that I find this blog very sad as it seems to have nothing positive or uplifting to say about Israel and all that it achieves on so many levels all while facing the constant pressure of existential threats and potential war.

    Maybe I misunderstand, maybe you don’t believe Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state.

    1. Rabbi Brant Rosen Post author


      You will not be surprised to learn I take exception to your version of history. After the UN passed its Partition Plan in 1947,well before Arab countries mobilized their military operations, the Jewish Yishuv embarked upon a systematic campaign of expulsion of Palestinian Arabs from their villages. These actions largely took place in areas that were designated as part of the new Arab state according to the UN plan.

      This is well-documented history but, of course, is notably absent from the Zionist narrative of Israel’s founding. And even if you do not accept this narrative, I don’t see how anyone could possibly excuse current Israeli policy that is forcibly removing Palestinians from their homes in order that these areas can be populated by Jewish residents.

      I also take exception to your rosy picture of the status of “Israeli Arabs” in Jerusalem. Anyone who has visited both West and East Jerusalem cannot help but note there is a significant disparity in the standard of living between the Jewish and Arab populations. There is also a significant disparity in legal status. You can visit the Ir Amim website to get the full picture:

      Palestinians permanent residents of Jerusalem are not entitled to an Israeli passport. As well, they are not allowed to participate in Israeli national elections. They are allowed to participate in Jerusalem municipal elections, however most residents chose to ignore this right in order to protest Israeli control over East Jerusalem.

      Moreover, although granted a “permanent” resident status, Palestinians residents of Jerusalem may lose their residency if they leave Israel for over seven years while not maintaining “links” to the city of Jerusalem. Many of them live in constant fear of losing their residency status. The child of a permanent resident is only given a residency status under certain conditions. Furthermore, since correction to the “citizenship” law has been applied by the Israeli Knesset, it has become difficult and almost impossible for the partner of a Jerusalemite to receive a status of permanent residency. This causes many difficulties with regards to maintaining a functioning family unit…

      Thousands of Palestinian students in East Jerusalem are being denied access to free public education, although they are entitled to it by Israeli law. In East Jerusalem there is a shortage of over 1,350 classrooms…

      Neglect of the physical infrastructure of the public educational system in East Jerusalem has worsened over the years until it has reached the crisis point; today, it is necessary to build thousands of additional classrooms overnight in order to accommodate the needs of residents.

      The situation has deteriorated even further as a result of construction of the Separation Barrier in Jerusalem…

      Yes, I am consistently critical of Israel on my blog. This is partly because I want to provide an antidote to the widespread unwillingness of the American Jewish community to address Israel’s ongoing persecution of Palestinians. I simply cannot subscribe to the view that Israel is a stable and wonderful democracy that has a few “blemishes.” I believe that Israel’s oppression of its non-Jewish population is fundamental and systematic – and it’s high time we Jews owned the policies of the Jewish state for what they really and truly are.

      1. YBD

        Since you are anti-Israel and since you oppose its existence as a Jewish state, could you then please explain to us why you support J-Street which claims to be “pro-Israel”? Since I view J-Street also as an anti-Israel organization (and by anti-Israel I mean it supports policies, particularly in the security realm that are opposed by the vast majority of the Jewish Israeli population, including the Zionist Left), is it that you are you attempting to subtly redefine what being “pro-Israel” means in order to lure in unsuspecting and unknowledgable American Jews by throwing the world “peace” around?

        BTW-I reject your assertion that Israel started some sort of unprovoked attacks on Arab villages after the UN Partition Plan Resolution was passed on 29 November 1947. Recall the Jews accepted partition, the Arabs rejected it and the Arabs IMMEDIATELY attacked Jewish yishuvim and particularly transportation arteries as a result of this rejection, which included express intentions, publicly stated, to “throw the Jews into the sea”. The attacks by the Haganah, ETZEL and LEHI on the Arab villages you referred to were designed to secure the yishuvim the roads connecting them.

        I also VEHEMENTLY reject your use of the loaded statement that Israel PERSECUTES the Palestinians. This is an outrageous statement and I suggest you retract it if you intend to have any place in public Jewish discourse.

    2. Shirin

      Mr. Gershon, ethnic cleansing is defined as “The systematic elimination of an ethnic group or groups from a region or society, as by deportation, forced emigration, or genocide.

      In this day and age these facts are simply no longer open to challenge, and the more research that takes place the more clear the reality becomes.

      – In 1947-49 (and continuing for some time after that on a smaller scale) the Yishuv, and after May 14, the State of Israel used a variety of means to systematically and forcibly cleanse the land of the overwhelming majority of the non-Jewish natives from the territory it conquered. Those means included but were not limited to terrorism, “whispering campaigns” aimed at inducing terror and therefore flight, and direct expulsion.

      – The Yishuv, and later the State of Israel took several measures intended to prevent the return of the refugees including but not limited to destruction of neighborhoods and villages; quickly moving Jews into the refugees’ homes; quickly populating with Jews the neighborhoods from which the Palestinians had fled or been expelled; murdering any Palestinians who attempted to return to their homes.

      – In addition they confiscated and redistributed the refugees’ possessions including but not limited to household goods, furniture, bedding, clothing, family heirlooms, jewelry, business equipment and supplies, bicycles, motor vehicles, livestock, and clothing to Jews. This is further evidence that they had no intention of allowing refugees to return, even to retrieve their personal belongings.

      – The State of Israel rejected any and all efforts to effect the repatriation of the non-Jewish natives to the territory it conquered (yes, I know there was a purely symbolic repatriation of a very small number of refugees, but I hope you will not insult our intelligence by trying to pass that off as anything significant).

      – And then there was the little matter of so-called “present absentees”, a device intended to rob as many as possible of the Palestinians who remained of their land and property and turn it over to Jews.

      By any measure; by any logic; by any reasoning, the above four actions on the part of the Israelis constitute by definition ethnic cleansing.

      In addition, it is unquestionably clear that from the very outset there was recognition by Zionist leaders that if they were to be successful in achieving their goal of a Jewish state in Palestine or anywhere else they would have to ensure a Jewish majority, and that the only way to do that was to remove by some means or other at least the vast majority of the non-Jews living in the land they chose. This understanding runs as a constant thread throughout the history of Zionist thinking from Herzl’s first work on the subject until this very day.

      And finally, if you like we can talk about projects inside Israel, such as the Judaization of the Galilee and gentrification of cities such as Jaffa that have been intended to ethnically cleanse Israel’s own “equal” Palestinian citizens from parts of Israel and replace them with Jews.

      Mr. Gershon, you can object to the use of a particular term all you like, but that will never change reality, and the reality is that Israel was created by ethnic cleansing, and ethnic cleansing has continued both in the Occupied Territories and inside Israel to this day.

    3. Shirin

      Arabs have reached very high positions in Israeli society and are contributing in all fields.

      And what percentage the people in Israel who have reached “very high positions” are “Arabs”, and is the number of “Arabs” who have reached “very high positions” even remotely in proportion to their numbers in the population? And what happens to “Arabs” who have reached “very high positions” when they get uppity? The name Azmi Bishara comes to mind, for example. What happened to him when he became just a bit too uppity for his own good?

      As one Israeli Arab said, ‘In Israel an Arab doctor gets paid the same as a Jewish doctor.’

      Big deal. In every Arab or Muslim country I know anything about a Christian doctor, a Jewish doctor, a Druze Doctor, a Mandaean doctor, a Yezidi doctor, a Zoroastrian doctor, a Muslim doctor, a Kurdish doctor, a Turkmen doctor, an Assyrian doctor, an Armenian doctor, a Baluchi doctor and an Arab doctor all get paid the same (sorry for the religious and ethnic minorities I have left out). As far as I know it’s that way pretty much everywhere in the world. Doctors practicing in the same country all get paid more or less the same regardless of religion or ethnicity, so why should anyone be impressed if “Arab” doctors get paid the same as Jewish doctors in Israel?

      More significant is the question of how many “Arab” doctors there are compared to the number of Jewish doctors and whether that number is in proportion to the number of “Arabs” in the population. More worth mentioning is how easy or difficult it is for an “Arab” to become a doctor in Israel compared to a Jew. Even more basic is the question of whether “Arabs” have the same educational and career opportunities at any level as do Jews. In fact, we should even ask whether “Oriental” Jews have the same educational opportunities as do Jews of European origin, and exactly what are the prevailing beliefs and attitudes in Israel about education for “Arabs” and “Oriental” Jews. Anyone who wants to talk about equality in Israel must be able to answer these questions factually and honestly (instead of off the top of their head).

      As for Israel as a “multi-ethnic democracy”, there are certainly plenty of questions similar to the above that you should examine. You might ask yourself whether there is or is not a huge disparity in allocation of state funds to communities based on 1) whether or not they are Jewish, 2) whether or not their populations are of European origin; whether there is or is not institutionalized discrimination, including laws that discriminate on the basis of whether a citizen is Jewish or not; whether it is or is not true that every single one of the symbols of the state, including the national anthem explicitly or implicitly excludes every non-Jewish citizen of the State, and whether that constitutes a very blatantly visible form of official discrimination (do you really believe that a Palestinian citizen of Israel feels his heart swell with pride and joy when he listens to Ha Tikvah?). Oh – and what are “unrecognized villages”, by the way, and what kinds of people live in them?

      Those are just a handful of the thousands of questions that should be asked before describing Israel as a “multi-ethnic democracy”.

    4. Shirin

      At the risk of taking up far more than my share of this thread, I really must address one more thing.

      During that war [1948], the invading Arab armies attacked the civilian centers of the Jewish communities throughout Israel…

      That is blatantly contra factual.

      – The so-called “invading Arab armies” did not attack civilian centers inside Israel, let alone “throughout” it. Their main focus was on preventing the Zionist/Israeli takeover of the areas outside what was allocated to the Jewish state. It was the invading Zionist armies and terrorist groups that attacked Palestinian civilian centers throughout the territory allocated to the Jews, and throughout the territory not allocated to the Jews.

      – The “Arab armies” were not the invaders. It was the armies and various terrorist groups of the Yishuv and later Israel that did the invading of territory outside what was allocated to the Jews.

      with the real goal of ethnically cleansing Palestine of its Jewish population.

      Nice repetition of one of the standard-issue founding myths of Israel, but there are no actual facts to support it. On the contrary, the facts tell a very different story. The facts show that the Arab states were reluctant to send any of their military to Palestine, that their goals in doing so were self-serving and conflicting, and that none of them had ethnic cleansing in mind.

  7. Rabbi Brant Rosen Post author


    I’m “anti-Israel” and you don’t understand why I support J Street, which is also “anti-Israel?” The only way I can possibly understand this calculus is to assume you believe anyone who doesn’t share your views to be “anti-Israel.”

    Please show me real, actual evidence for your claim that J St. supports policies that are opposed by “the vast majority of the Jewish Israeli population.” That sounds suspiciously like a sweepingly false statement to me.

    I find your historical claims to be sweepingly false as well. You cite the the Arab states’ rhetoric to “throw Jews into the sea” but you conveniently leave out a myriad of Zionist statements that made their ultimate intentions clear well before 1947. Just one of many examples:

    If there are other inhabitants there, they must be transferred to some other place. We must take over the land.

    -Menachem Usshiskin, chairman of the Jewish National Fund, speaking in 1930

    I can come of with a myriad of other such statements if you like.

    Bottom line: by late 1947, it was clear to the Palestinian Arab community that the Jewish Yishuv intended to “cleanse” as many Arab population centers as possible in order to create a new reality on the ground – and this included many villages that would be part of the new Jewish state according the UN Partition Plan. Again, there is plenty of historical documentation to support this – most of which has been presented to us by Israeli historians.

    You also leave out important context: Palestinian Arabs opposed the UN Partition Plan because it was an unfair and inequitable solution. In 1947, Jews were a clear minority in terms of population and land ownership in Palestine. Palestinian Arabs constituted more than two thirds of the population and were a majority in all but one of its sub-districts. By comparison, Jews owned just over 6% of the total land of Palestine.

    In spite of these demographic realities, the UN Plan handed over 55.5% of Palestine to the proposed Jewish state. Palestinian Arabs would make up almost half the population of the new Jewish state (territory that included the Negev, which was then 1% Jewish.) It also included the prime agricultural land and 40% of existing Palestinian industry.

    In short: Palestinians did not oppose partition because they wanted to “throw Jews into the sea.” They opposed partition because they opposed officially sanctioned Jewish takeover of their land and resources.

    You take exception to my claim that Israel persecutes Palestinians? This is controversial? Look carefully at what Israel is doing to Palestinians in Gaza and the Occupied West Bank. By any other definition, this would be considered oppression pure and simple – and I have no trouble making this claim “in public Jewish discourse.”

    And with all due respect, it is not for you to determine what who can or cannot have any place in public Jewish discourse. That is up to the Jewish public.

  8. Gil Franco

    The Arabs “may” have ethnically cleansed Jews from the land they occupied even though not a single Jew remained in the territory they captured in 1948. The racist, genocidal remarks their leaders repeatedly made (and make) are just “rhetoric” they must not really mean even they did manage to evict literally 100% of the Jews from the territory they captured in mandatory Palestine and close to 100% from the Arab countries. Just an amazing coincidence then.

    Meanwhile, in Israel itself, the number of Arabs has risen from 150,000 to over a million despite Israel’s ethnic cleansy ways and the fact they their bretheren are at war with Israel and even the idea of a Jewish state. Yet the all the onus is on me as a Jew, whose grandparents were stripped of their citizenship and property in Egypt to come terms with my oppression of the Palestinans. I am not sure my therapist would agree.

    1. Shirin

      The Palestinians did not capture any land in 1948. They only managed to hang onto a small portion of what they had.

  9. Israel Gershon

    Rabbi Rosen,

    I think it would be very helpful to me and the readers of your blog, if you would answer my implied question. Do you believe Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state? Perhaps Shirin could also answer…just yes or no would help.

    To specifically respond to the original point:
    The fact that Arab forces exercised ethnic cleansing against the Jews of the West Bank territory is not presented as an excuse for Israel, but rather as a correct use of the charge. It makes no sense to accuse Israel, with over one million Arab citizens, of ethnic cleansing while the rest of historic Palestine has been emptied of its Jews.

    Additionally, the historical points that you and Shirin state should not be taken as facts on their face value. Both of you should know that you are not the only ones who read history and know who the “new historians” are. Even Benny Morris likely doesn’t agree with your interpretation. I know Commentary Magazine is not likely ever referred to in your blog, but I really think in light of all the “facts” shared in this string, that Efraim Karsh’s article “1948, Israel, and the Palestinians” would be worthwhile reading for everyone. Karsh claims that, “The recent declassification of millions of documents from the period of the British Mandate (1920-1948) and Israel’s early days…and ignored or distorted by the “new historians, paint a much more definitive picture of the historical record. They reveal that the claim of dispossession is not only completely unfounded but the inverse of the truth.”

    A few quotes from the article:

    “…Jabotinsky presided over the drafting of a constitution for Jewish Palestine. According to its provisions, Arabs and Jews were to share both the prerogatives and the duties of statehood, including most notably military and civil service. Hebrew and Arabic were to enjoy the same legal standing, and “in every cabinet where the prime minister is a Jew, the vice-premiership shall be offered to an Arab and vice-versa.”


    “It was the mufti’s concern with solidifying his political position that largely underlay the 1929 carnage in which 133 Jews were massacred and hundreds more were wounded—just as it was the struggle for political preeminence that triggered the most protracted outbreak of Palestinian Arab violence in 1936-39. This was widely portrayed as a nationalist revolt against both the ruling British and the Jewish refugees then streaming into Palestine to escape Nazi persecution. In fact, it was a massive exercise in violence that saw far more Arabs than Jews or Englishmen murdered by Arab gangs, that repressed and abused the general Arab population, and that impelled thousands of Arabs to flee the country in a foretaste of the 1947-48 exodus.[15]

    Some Palestinian Arabs, in fact, preferred to fight back against their inciters, often in collaboration with the British authorities and the Hagana, the largest Jewish underground defense organization. Still others sought shelter in Jewish neighborhoods.”

    and footnote [15]”While in 1936, according to official British statistics, 195 Arabs were killed by their Arab brothers, compared with 37 Britishmen and 80 Jews, two years later these figures rose to 503 Arab fatalities, compared with 255 and 77 Jewish and British deaths respectively. Fatalities in 1939 remained on a similar level: 414 Palestinian Arabs murdered by Arab gangs, as opposed to 94 Jews and 37 Brits. Some Palestinian Arab sources put the number of murdered Arabs at a staggering 3,000-4,500.”

    Find the article here:–israel–and-the-palestinians–annotated-text-11373

    Finally, on the issue of the critical nature of your blog, I am reminded of a comment made to me by a Palestinian arab journalist that I had the opportunity to spend the day with. He said that the anti-Israel Americans that he met were more Palestinian than the Palestinians.

    If you are really close to Israel, and know it well, you should know that if a real peace is offered, Israel will not let it pass. I believe the road to real peace will be when the Arabs and the Palestinians own up to their history; their actions; their responsibility and finally decide that they can make peace happen.

    1. Rabbi Brant Rosen Post author


      To your first question: you ask a fully loaded question and then as for a “yes or no” answer. I’m not going to take your bait.

      Here’s my answer: if there is a solution to this conflict that will allow for a Jewish state along with full human/civil rights for all inhabitants of Israel/Palestine, then my answer is yes. If the price for a Jewish state means that these rights will continue to be denied to non-Jewish inhabitants, then my answer is no. If this attitude makes me “anti-Israel” in your eyes, all I can say is God forbid we should be forced to choose between a “right” to a Jewish state and basic human rights.

      I know I’m not the only one “who reads history.” I’m glad to hear that you’ve read the New Historians as well. But you certainly tip your hand when you quote from an article by Efraim Karsh to support your positions on this history. Karsh is well known for making a career out of utterly trashing the research of the New Historians – most prominently Benny Morris (whose research you seem to cite as reasonable). If you’re going to challenge the New Historians, I certainly wouldn’t rely upon Karsh, who isn’t even a trained historian. (He’s a professor of “Mediterranean Studies” at Kings College in London – although to his credit, he claims to have an undergraduate degree in modern Middle Eastern history).

      I’m not even sure how to respond to your final comment: that Israel is patiently waiting for the Palestinians to make peace. I’m sorry, but making peace is a mutual effort – and if as you claim, it is up to the Palestinians “own up to their history; their actions and their responsibility,” I can only say that Israel must do the same if there is ever to be a true peace in Israel/Palestine.

  10. Richard Kahn

    Regarding whether J-Street supports policies opposed by the Zionist left:

    See last year’s war in Gaza that J-Street opposed and Meretz supported.


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