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Why are Jews Against Israel?

Jews Against Themselves coverWe have been an admirer of David Isaac’s commendable documentary series, “Zionism 101”.  It is a beautiful constructed graphic Baedeker  and comprehensive guide to the origins and evolution of religious and political Zionism.  We  count him among the leading defenders of Israel, the Jewish nation and the Diaspora,  the ‘galut’.  Thus, I found it in character for him to publish  a review of a new book of withering essays by University of Washington  scholar, Edward Alexander, “Jews Against Themselves”.  Isaac’s review of Alexander‘s collection of jeremiads, “The Enemy Within”   published in today’s  Washington Free Beacon excoriates these diverse ‘shadtlanim’  beyond the usual suspects.  Isaac pays tribute to Alexander withering and acerbic wit in these essays.  He writes:

Alexander describes “the new forms taken by Jewish apostasy in an age when Jewish existence is threatened more starkly and immediately than at any time since the Nazi war against the Jews.” He notes that there are always readers astonished to learn that Israel-bashing Jews exist. But precisely these home-grown haters are the ones who “play a disproportionate role in basic

Isaac notes Alexander’s  theme threading his  oeuvre  defending Israel against the usual and not so usual  suspects::

Alexander is a staunch defender of Israel, the foundation of which he calls one of the “few redeeming events in a century of blood and shame, one of the greatest affirmations of the will to live ever made by a martyred people, and a uniquely hopeful sign for humanity itself.” As an English professor at the University of Washington, he wrote books on moral exemplars of the Victorian period like Matthew Arnold. He could have remained in his ivory tower, but instead he has delved into the muck. With pen in hand—happily Alexander is a superb writer and wields a very sharp pen—he has taken apart Israel’s enemies in books ranging from The Jewish Idea and Its Enemiesto The Jewish Wars to The State of the Jews and The Jewish Divide Against Israel.

Alexander is not out to create a “systemic taxonomy” of the many species of anti-Israel Jews but he does give the reader a brief, dizzying list of them: “Jewish progressives against Israel; Jewish queers against Israel; Haredim against Israel; Holocaust survivors against Israel; children of Holocaust survivors against Israel; Jewish Voice for Peace; grandchildren of Holocaust survivors against Israel … and so on and on, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.”

Anti-semitic cartoon posted by Richard Falk on his blog.

One of the worst  Isaac cites  in his review of Alexander’s book for particular scorn  is Princeton Professor Richard Falk, a former special rapporteur on Palestine for the oxymoronic UN Human Rights Commission:

Unfortunately, Jewish defamers of Israel often occupy positions of influence. Take Richard Falk, a Princeton professor for 40 years, who served for six years as the UN’s special rapporteur “on human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.” In 2008 Falk issued a statement condemning Israel (which had finally reacted to years of missiles lobbed into its territory) for “war crimes” in Gaza. Alexander writes of him: “From his UN post Falk has relentlessly described Israel as Satan’s lair, called for ‘a legitimacy war against Israel,’ blamed the Boston Marathon bombings on ‘Tel Aviv,’ and then—in the summer of 2011—having exhausted his own store of verbal eloquence on the topic, posted on his ‘blog’ site a cartoon of a dog wearing a yarmulke urinating on a blindfolded female figure of Justice. If any single figure ever embodied the image of the UN as the center of the world’s evil, it is Richard Falk.”

Then there is J Street that we have conducted our own withering campaign against:

J Street is another example of the real-world impact of these internal enemies. The group boasts a “Rabbinic Cabinet,” Alexander writes, “whose members include supporters of Hamas’s relentless bombing of Sderot.” In lobbying to oppose Israeli policies, J Street has proven a useful tool in the hands of the Obama administration, which sends its highest officials to attend its conferences, presumably because it sees in the group a kindred spirit and hopes that the group will provide cover, as a self-styled “Zionist” organization, against charges of being anti-Israel.

Isaac  condemns the obscenity of Jewish  descendents of Holocaust survivors  misappropriating their memories in squabbling debates within the same family, as in the case of the Petos:

Such a one is Jennifer Peto, whose anti-Israel master’s thesis (briefly the focus of a 2010 media controversy in Canada) was dedicated to her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor: “If she were alive today, she would be right there with me protesting against Israeli apartheid.” Fortunately, her brother, David Peto, a Houston physician, sent an open letter to the press describing their real grandmother, a teacher at a Jewish orphanage in Budapest “who saved countless children from death at the hands of the Nazis.” She was “an ardent supporter of the state of Israel … [and] I cannot in good conscience allow my sister to misappropriate our grandmother’s memory to suit her political ideology.”

Then there are Israel-bashing Israelis that Alexander takes particular exception to:

One of the biggest surprises in Alexander’s book—at least to the uninitiated—is that there are Israelis who join in the defamation. One would think terrorist bombs and missiles would act as a reality check, but this is far from the case. Alexander quotes the Israeli writer Aharon Megged saying in 1993 that “Since the Six Day War, and at an increasing pace, we have witnessed a phenomenon which probably has no parallel in history: an emotional and moral identification by the majority of Israel’s intelligentsia with people openly committed to our annihilation.” Alexander observes that when the Labor Party took back the reins of government in 1992, they had absorbed the ideas of this intelligentsia. The result was the Oslo Accords, which gave the PLO’s Yasser Arafat a launching pad for attacks on Israel.

Along these lines,  Isaac asks  why the  Israel government  mindlessly  awards  the Israel Prize to Israeli Jewish self  haters:

While Alexander does not talk about this, the Israeli government itself is guilty of precisely such “honors, flattery and oily sycophancy.” The Israel Prize, the highest bestowed by the Israel government, has gone to some of Israel’s worst defamers: men like Yeshayahu Leibowitz who repeatedly referred to Israel’s government and soldiers as “Judeo-Nazis”; Natan Zach, a supporter of boycotts against Jewish communities outside the armistice borders of 1949; Ze’ev Sternhell, “only he who is willing to storm Ofra [a Jewish community between Jerusalem and Nablus] with tanks will be able to block the fascist danger”; Arik Shapira, who said his musical composition was dedicated to the destruction of Ofra , and a number of others of that ilk. What happens when the state gives its highest honor to those who call Israelis Nazis, justify Arab terrorism and advocate civil war among Jews? The prizes say that these people are the most cultivated; the highest achievers Israel has to offer. In giving these prizes to those who despise the state, Israel becomes an enabler and megaphone for its defamers.

Isaac ends his review of Alexander’s collection of 18 essays by reaching back into ancient history to show that  despite massive repeated   existential threats, Israel and the Jewish people have survived :

Israel is ringed by enemies, excoriated by “the world community,” and has to endure so many enemies within the Jewish world, it is helpful to end on a positive note. Alexander reminds us that “the first elegist to crow over the demise of Zion was a fellow named Merneptah, a ruler of Egypt who announced that ‘Israel is desolated; its seed is no more.’ That was in the year 1215 BCE.”

ABOUT DAVID ISSAC:

David Isaac is an editor at NewsMax.com and  the founder of a Zionist history site, Zionism101.org.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Get Your Politics Off Our Kids!

The Texas social studies textbook adoption process has turned into a political fight, just as many predicted it would.  That’s a shame.

This past week, a reporter for a local San Antonio news site interviewed us about the politics behind education.  However, when her stories came out, it was party-line politics once again.  Included in her two stories were the following:

  • One article cites, without skepticism, a review by the partisan National Center for Science Education (NCSE) that perpetuates debunked claims about scientific consensus. The NCSE openly attempts to inject its special interest politics into education. It is not a scientific organization.
  • Both articles quote the highly partisan Texas Freedom Network (TFN) as saying that the publishers are not to blame for problems in the textbooks, only the State Board of Education (SBOE) is.  But the TFN has made it very clear that its primary aim is to discredit and defeat politically certain elected members of the SBOE.
  • Finally, one of the articles mimics a TFN complaint about political cartoons that appeared in one proposed text and joked about affirmative action via a story about space aliens.  Apparently, neither the blogger nor TFN realized that this cartoon is provided as a primary source and the lesson is designed to encourage critical thinking about affirmative action.  While the related questions might be lacking, the idea of having a cartoon as a primary source, it is perfectly acceptable to use political cartoons – which will always insult someone – as primary sources in critical thinking exercises.

All textbooks have problems, and many of these proposed Texas textbooks are particularly inaccurate or biased.  The state adoption process should be about correcting these problems before the books are published and handed to students.

It is forever disappointing when partisan groups hijack this process to further their political goals.  In the end, the children suffer when politics and special interest control the content of educational material.  Verity Educate continues to expose these influences and the inaccuracies and biases they perpetuate.

#GetYourPoliticsOffOurKids

Why Turkey’s Jews Left following WWII

Turkey, the Jews and the Holoacuast coverHarold  Rhode, whom we interviewed in the December 2013 edition  of the New English Review (NER), has an  review of a new book in Sephardic  Horizons about Turkish treatment of its once numerous Jewish population; 100,000 at the start of WWII now less than 15,000.  The book is Turkey, the Jews, and the Holocaust by Corry Gutstadt, originally published in German in 2008 and reissued in an English translation by Cambridge University Press in 2013.  Rhode spent nearly three decades, as a Turkish and Islamic Affairs expert in the US Office of the Secretary of Defense before his retirement in 2010.

Coincidentally, in our interview with Michel Gurfinkiel, to be published in the forthcoming February 2014 edition of the NER, he spoke of the migration of Turkish Jews following WWII.  They migrated to Israel and France prompted by their mistreatment by the xenophobic Turkish wartime regime.

Struma Ferry in Istanbul harbor 1942

Ill-fated Romanian ferry Struma in Istanbul harbor 1942

One horrific defining moment was the refusal of the Turkish government in 1942 to permit transit of 769 passengers aboard the Romanian ferry, the Struma. Its engines had failed and the vessel was anchored in Istanbul harbor for 71 days, overloaded with desperate Jews seeking to escape the Holocaust.  The British Consul in Istanbul had refused to issue visas for entry of these Romanian Jews to transit to Palestine, because of the draconian immigration restrictions of the 1939 White Paper.  On February 23, 1942  the Struma was  ordered by Turkish authorities towed out into the Black Sea and  tragically sunk the following day  by a Soviet submarine with loss of all aboard save for two survivors. They were a woman, Mrs. Medea Solomonowitz recuperating from a miscarriage in Or-Haim Jewish hospital in Balat, Istanbul and David Stollar.

About the time of the Struma incident, the neutral Turkish regime had implemented Varl?k Vergisi  literally, a capital tax, on the properties, assets and businesses on all non-Muslim minority Turkish citizens;  Greek Orthodox, Armenians and Jews.  While, the official goal was to fund Turkey’s defense during WWII, in reality it was to punish these minorities. Consider it a secular form of Islamic jizya to extort wealth.  Not unlike the horrific labor camps of the Nazi ally Horthy Regency in Hungary, Turkey implemented a forced draft of non-Turkish minorities to work in labor camps in Thrace, European Turkey, and in Anatolia.  Many labor camp inmates, Jews among them, died as a result of mistreatment.  The punishing ‘capital tax’ ended in 1944 after objections were raised by the British government. As Rhode relates in his review, the wartime Turkish government supplied chromium to the Nazi war effort, not unlike iron ore supplied from neutral Sweden, only to have the British buy up and store stockpiles in Turkey.  Hapless Turkish Jewish citizens caught in Nazi occupied Europe ended incarcerated and lost their lives in concentration and death camps.  A limited number of Jews in Salonika in occupied Greece, which once a majority Jewish population, were virtually extinguished in Nazi death camps. A small contingent received Spanish birth certificates and Visas from the wartime Franco government.  Wealthy Turkish Jewish citizens had sent funds aboard for safekeeping to establish bolt holes in France and Switzerland. Many poorer Turkish Jews left for Israel after its founding in 1948.  The 15,000 Turkish Jews who remain now are split between the elderly and those who have become Turkified and intermarried with Muslims.  Young Jews see no future in Turkey have left for Israel, Europe and the US.

Note these excerpts from Rhode’s review of Turkey, the Jews, and the Holocaust.

Despite Ataturk, non-Muslims remained outside the Turkish mainstream in that new country.   Though Ataturk and his followers tried to make the word ‘Turk’ mean any citizen of Turkey, it quickly became the accepted term for any Muslim citizen of Turkey, regardless of ethnicity. Any Muslim, no matter how short a time his ancestors or he himself lived in Turkey, was a Turk. The new term ‘Turk’ became, in essence, a synonym for the old word ‘Muslim’.

But what about the other non-Muslim citizens of that country? Very quickly, the term ‘Turk Vatandasi’, [i.e., Turkish citizen] became the phrase by which non-Muslims were politely known. Non-Muslims, many of whose ancestors had lived in modern Turkey for millennia, were, in effect, still outsiders. Despite Ataturk’s wishes, Turks still divided their world into two groups: Muslims and non-Muslims.

[…]

Those Muslim Turks who opposed Ataturk’s reforms often referred to him using the polite term ‘Salonikli’ (one whose origins were from today’s Greek city Thessaloniki – the pre-World War I population of which had a Jewish majority) or less politely ‘Dönme‘ (meaning turncoat). What these terms really mean is someone whose ancestors had been Jewish, but outwardly followed the Jewish false messiah Shabbatai Tvsi who, in the 1660s, converted to Islam. Those Jewish followers who remained loyal to Shabbatai Tsvi thereafter married among themselves and outwardly lived as Muslims, but had their own unique prayers, some of which were of Jewish origin. A large contingent of these people had lived in Salonika. So labeling Ataturk either as Salonikli or Dönme was an insult. The inference was that he wasn’t a real Muslim, and therefore not a real Turk. He, according to many of Ataturk’s opponents was an outsider of Jewish origin, who took over and, because he wasn’t a real Turk, tried to separate Turkey from its Islamic identity.

[…]

During the 1950s, the UK was looking to leave Cyprus, which had a large Greek Christian majority, and a Turkish Muslim minority. There was a Greek group which favored union (called Enosis) with (Christian) Greece. The Arab world, by and large, backed the Greeks against the UK and the Turks. One could understand why anti-Greek fervor was strong in Turkey. But anti-Jewish fervor rose as well.

[…]

Why did this happen? Simply because in the Turkish (Muslim) mind, all non-Muslims were one group. As such, they believed that all non-Muslims work together against the Muslims. This principle is so deeply ingrained in Turkish culture–whether or not a Turkish Muslim is religious–that the Greek problem in Cyprus was understand not in terms of Greeks vs. Turks, but, on a much deeper level, as a battle between the Turks (i.e., the Muslims), and the Greeks (i.e., the non-Muslims). ….In this context, it is obvious why Jews in Turkey would suffer as a result of Greek-Turkish troubles in Cyprus, which, from a Western point of view, sounds absurd.

(READ MORE)

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.