May 16, 1948: Jews in danger in all Muslim lands (NY Times)

An article in CiF Watch about Jewish refugees posted a screen shot of a New York Times article published on May 16, 1948, with the headline, “JEWS IN GRAVE DANGER IN ALL MOSLEM LANDS,” with the content largely based on a report that the World Jewish Congress had submitted to the United Nations. I had never seen this headline and was intrigued by it. I reproduce it here. I find this particularly interesting because it reveals that right at the very beginning, just as the Arab armies were invading Israel, Jews in Arab and Muslim countries were under threat because of the existence of Israel. Already at the establishment of the state all Jews in Arab countries were identified by their governments with Israel (even if they were not Zionists, or were anti-Zionists). It was no idyllic pre-Zionist utopia that the Mizrahi Jews fled when they went to Israel or western countries.


Nine Hundred Thousand in Africa and Asia Face Wrath of Their Foes

by Mallory Browne
Special to the New York Times

LAKE SUCCESS, N. Y., May 15 – For nearly four months, the United Nations has had before it an appeal for “immediate and urgent” consideration of the case of the Jewish populations in Arab and Moslem countries stretching from Morocco to India.

Even four months ago, it was the Zionist view that Jews residing in the Near and Middle East were in “extreme and imminent danger.” Now that the end of the mandate has precipitated civil war or even worse developments in Palestine, it is feared that the repercussions of this in Moslem countries will put the Jewish populations in many of these states in mortal peril.

Reports from the Middle East make it clear that there is serious tension in all Arab countries. The Jewish populations there are gravely worried at the prospect that an Arab-Jewish war may break out suddenly at any moment.

Feeling Runs High

Already in some Moslem states such as Syria and Lebanon there is a tendency to regard all Jews as Zionist agents and “fifth columnists.” There have been violent incidents with feeling running high. There are indications that the stage is being set for a tragedy of incalculable proportions.

Near 900,000 Jews live in these Moslem and Arab countries stretching from the Atlantic along the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean. Zionist leaders today are convinced that their position is perilous in the extreme.

When the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations meets in Geneva next July, this matter will come before it.

On Jan. 19, 1948, the World Jewish Congress submitted a memorandum on the whole problem to the Economic and Social Council, asking for urgent action during the spring session of the Council.

This plea arose to some extent from statements made by Arab spokesmen during the General Assembly session last autumn, to the effect that if the partition resolution was put into effect, they would not be able to guarantee the safety of the Jews in any Arab land.

The memorandum of the World Jewish Congress went into considerable detail on this danger. It cited the text of a law drafted by the Political Committee of the Arab League which was intended to govern the legal status of Jewish residents in all Arab League countries.

It provides that beginning on an unspecified date all Jews except citizens of non-Arab states, would be considered “members of the Jewish minority state of Palestine.” Their bank accounts would be frozen and used to finance resistance to “Zionist ambitions in Palestine.” Jews believed to be active Zionists would be interned and their assets confiscated.

The memorandum gave many details of instances of persecution of Jewish individuals and whole communities. It listed the following tabulation of the Jewish residents in Arab countries.

French Morocco 190,000
Iraq 130,000
Algeria 120,000
Iran 90,000
Egypt 80,000
Tunisia 80,000
Turkey 75,000
Yemen 40,000
Libya 30,000
Spanish Morocco and Tangier 30,000
Syra 11,000
Lebanon 7,000
Aden (including refugees from Yemen) 8,000
Afghanistan (including refugees in India) 5,000
Other countries (Hadramuth, Sudan, Bahrein) 3,000
Total 899,000

Later information submitted to the Economic and Social Council was to the effect that:

In Syria, a policy of economic discrimination is in effect against Jews. “Virtually all” Jewish civil servants in the employ of the Syrian Government have been discharged. Freedom of movement has been “practically abolished.” Special frontier posts have been established to control movements of Jews.

In Iraq no Jew is permitted to leave the country unless he deposits £5,000 ($20,000) with the Government to guarantee his return. No foreign Jew is allowed to enter Iraq even in transit.

In Lebanon Jews have been forced to contribute financially to the fight against the United Nations partition resolution on Palestine. Acts of violence against Jews are openly admitted by the press, which accuses Jews of “poisoning wells,” etc.

Danger Emphasized

Giving many other details of persecution, this report declares that “the very survival of the Jewish communities in certain Arab and Moslem countries is in serious danger unless preventative action is taken without delay.”

Today, with a Jewish State an established fact, Jewish spokesmen at Lake Success do not conceal their anxiety that this danger to the survival of the Jewish population of the Arab countries is even more imminent, and that the only effective solution would be to facilitate their quick transfer, in so far as is possible and practicable, to the new Jewish State.

Conditions vary in the Moslem countries. They are worst in Yemen and Afghanistan, whence many Jews have fled in terror to India. Conditions in most of the countries have deteriorated in recent months, this being particularly true of Lebanon, Iran and Egypt. In the countries farther west along the Mediterranean coast, conditions are not so bad. It is feared, however, that if a full-scale war breaks out, the repercussions will be grave for Jews all the way from Casablanca to Karachi.

Posted in Israel, Jews | 1 Comment

Benjamin Netanyahu and the American Right

Haaretz published an excellent article today on Netanyahu’s connections to the Christian Right in the US.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s links with U.S. Republican presidential candidates, and with the Christian right, are getting closer….

When Netanyahu and his aides are asked, they insist that they make every effort to avoid meddling in domestic American politics. The speech in Congress, they say, bore witness to widespread support for Israel and for Netanyahu among both parties. Netanyahu, they insist, makes a point of meeting with virtually any member of Congress, Democrat or Republican, who comes to Israel, and in every speech before an American audience, he emphasizes that Israel must remain a non-partisan issue in the U.S.

Yet, Netanyahu is very close to Newt Gingrich, and the two of them share connections with a right-wing Jewish millionaire, Sheldon Adelson, who has made his money as a casino mogul and has supported right-wing Israeli causes for a long time (he’s also now a major contributor to Birthright). Adelson has supported both Gingrigch’s and Netanyahu’s election campaigns. Adelson owns the right-wing Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom, which is distributed for free. When I read about this in the article, I thought about the legislative assault upon Israeli NGOs – laws have been proposed in the Knesset to limit the amount that an Israeli NGO can receive from a foreign government to 20,000 NIS a year. This attack is aimed at NGOs that receive money from the EU or various European countries, usually for coexistence work between Jews and Arabs in Israel or for human rights advocacy. If money is cut off from these NGOs, shouldn’t Israeli law also ban other foreigners trying to influence the Israeli political process – like Sheldon Adelson giving money to Netanyahu for his political campaign in Israel?

Netanyahu doesn’t exactly maintain balanced relations with America’s two political camps. He is deeply rooted in the conservative camp, and shows disdain for the “naivete” of the Democratic party’s liberal wing, from which Barack Obama emerged. As with Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu, his natural allies are evangelicals and members of the Tea Party movement.

Netanyahu and his associates are close to the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) organization, which is comprised mainly of evangelicals who believe that Israel’s existence is a necessary precondition for the return of the Messiah, and the coming of redemption. In their eyes, Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who threatens to destroy Israel, is nothing less than an agent of Satan on earth.

Each year, Netanyahu delivers a satellite address to thousands of participants at CUFI’s conference in Washington. “Our enemies think that we are you and that you are us,” exclaimed Netanyahu at July’s CUFI conference. “You know something? They are absolutely right.

With “friends” of Israel like Sheldon Adelson, Newt Gingrich, John Hagee, and CUFI, nothing can go wrong, right?

Posted in Evangelicals, Israel | 1 Comment

Is this apartheid?

Israel gearing for effective separation of East Jerusalem Palestinians (Haaretz).

Last week, a new border crossing was opened in East Jerusalem’s Shoafat neighborhood, to little fanfare. Two days later, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat asserted that Israel should relinquish Palestinian neighborhoods of the capital that are beyond the separation barrier, despite the fact that their residents carry Israeli identity cards.

The Separation Wall at Abu Dis, Jerusalem

Some people view these events as two pieces of the same puzzle. A third piece is the resumption of work on separate roads for Israelis and Palestinians between Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim.

The Separation Wall at Abu Dis, Jerusalem

Posted in Israel | 3 Comments

Jewish terrorism?

The Miami Herald has an article about the increasing attacks by radical right-wing settlers against the state of Israel.

YITZHAR, Israel — A young man calling himself Yehudi Tzadik – “righteous Jew” – picked up a rock and rolled it around in his hand, as if considering pitching it at a police car parked nearby.

Within sight was a mosque in Jerusalem that was torched and defamed Wednesday with graffiti that included, “Death to Arabs.” Tzadik claimed he knew some of the group that was responsible for the attack, though he added that he wasn’t there when it happened.

“The state of Israel has lost its moral code. It has forgotten what is at the heart of the Jewish nation. … We are reminding them,” said Tzadik, who gave his real name only as David.

A spate of attacks last week by Jewish right-wing extremists has called into question Israel’s definition of the word “terrorist,” and has prompted security officials to acknowledge the separate rules of engagement they’ve created for Jews and Palestinians.

People like David attacked an IDF base and an IDF commander last week. The commander was injured, and the base was vandalized, but no one has yet been killed by these “hilltop youth.” I fear that eventually, in the not too distant future, these “youth” will be taking up arms against the IDF, in addition to their campaign of intimidation and violence against Palestinians. In that case, the government will have to decide whether to treat these rebels like terrorists, as they would treat Palestinians who behaved in the same way. A government has to have a monopoly on the means of force – that’s what the Israeli government did after the declaration of the state in May 1948. The Etzel and Lehi militias had to disband and join the IDF. If a government doesn’t have the fortitude to enforce its monopoly, either because of military weakness or an ideologically-based inability to oppose the creation of militias that oppose its military, then it is opening the way to civil war.

See Jeffrey Goldberg’s comments on the extremist settlers.

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I’m going to Israel on January 8, 2012

I’m going to be living in Israel from early January to the end of July, 2012, and I’m very excited (and somewhat nervous) to be going. I haven’t lived in Israel since the 1998-99 academic year (long ago, when Bill Clinton was still president!) and I know it’s changed quite a bit. I’ve observed that in my (almost) yearly visits back, but the changes seem to be accelerating, according to all the news reports I’ve been reading. The government is very right wing, much more so than when Sharon was prime minister or even the last time that Netanyahu was prime minister. The latest proposed bill is one to ban the earliest and latest Muslim call to prayer (azan) from being sounded from the mosques, on the pretext that the sound bothers hundreds of thousands of Israelis. I’ve been visiting Israel since 1983, and I lived there from 1987-89, 92-93, and 98-99, and I’ve never heard a single person tell me about how disturbing they found the call to prayer. I think this is simply another way that the government is trying to pander to the most extreme of the settlers.

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