.

Monday, April 30, 2012

IOC: Israel and "Palestine" are on different continents

According to Israeli media, last week the official Olympics site said that Jerusalem was the capital of "Palestine" but Israel had no capital:


After inquiries and complaints, the website swapped things:


(Also note that their population of "Palestine" does not include Gaza!)

But if you go now to the site you see that they scrapped the idea of listing "capital" altogether.

Yet there is still one bizarre "fact" about "Palestine" and Israel remaining on the site.

"Palestine" is in Asia:

While Israel is in Europe!

The reason, of course, is that Arab nations never accepted Israel to  become a member of the Asian region, so Israel must compete in European competitions. But it is still a little nutty to say that Israel is physically located in Europe.

Although Helen Thomas and Arab leaders would suggest that Israelis indeed belong in Europe.

I am a little surprised that the Olympics website crack fact checkers didn't claim that Palestine's Olympics Committee was created in 1932.



Don't forget, you can still buy official London 2012 Zionist Games apparel and products (based on Iran's complaints about the logo.)


Ben White proves the hypocrisy of the anti-Israel crowd

Ben White, who is apparently a writer specializing in hating Israel, wrote an article in Electronic Intifada criticizing my post pointing out the hypocrisy of the British Co-op boycott of Agrexco, which I noted also effectively hurts the livelihood of most Palestinian Arab farmers. In his critique, White unwittingly shows exactly the hypocrisy that I am talking about.
Following the decision of major UK supermaket chain the Co-op to boycott four Israeli suppliers, Israel’s apologists have responded with an ‘argument’ of unintentional hilarity: that BDS harms the Palestinians it claims to help.

One would be forgiven for viewing this newly discovered concern for Palestinian farmers living under Israel’s colonial occupation with scepticism, given that the same folks downplay, deny, or whitewash the routine apartheid policies enforced by Israel’s military.
I have noted numerous times, including in the linked post, that people who claim to be pro-Palestinian are almost always really anti-Israel and show no real concern for Palestinians. I have also pointed out that while Zionists have the tendency of trying to find win-win solutions, Arabs and the anti-Israel crowd tend to think in terms of the conflict being a zero-sum game. And I have also shown that what the anti-Israel crowd accuses Israel of is almost always something that they are far more guilty of - and they are projecting their own hate onto Israel.

Until this little screed by White, I never connected these three themes.

White assumes that I hate Palestinian Arabs. He says that I have a "newly found concern" for them, implying that I am only defending Israel and conveniently using this issue as an excuse, when in fact I would be happy seeing Palestinian Arab farmers drop dead.

This is of course nonsense. I challenge White or anyone to go through my 14,000+ posts over the years and find anything where I show hatred for ordinary Palestinians. Because yet another theme I have used throughout the years is that the highest priority for most ordinary Palestinian Arabs is to raise their families and live in dignity. Politics, for the majority of Palestinians, are secondary to living a normal, dignified life. They don't care if they work for Israelis or Arabs or British or Turks. Tens of thousands don't even care if they work for Jewish settlers! They just want to live without having to worry about artificial obstacles caused by political or other factors. And if Jews happen to pay a higher salary than Arabs do, they will invariably make the best decision for their families.

I have nothing whatsoever against that desire. As a committed Zionist, I want to give Arabs as many rights as possible - as long as they do not violate the rights of Jews to live in security within their ancestral homeland. It is sometimes a hard line to draw between the two competing sets of rights, but that is my view and that has been the mainstream Zionist viewpoint as well since the 1910s (for those who actually read real Zionist literature and not the cherry-picked, out of context quotes that are shown so prominently on sites such as the ones White writes for.)

When White assumes that I hate Palestinian Arabs, it is because he is projecting his own hate - that towards Zionist Jews.

At this point in time, there is no question that the best thing for Palestinian Arab farmers is to continue to export their goods to the West, and the only way for them to do that in any real quantities is through Agrexco. At this point in time, it is a win-win for Israel and for the Palestinian Arabs, where both work together to achieve the common goal of growing and marketing produce.

Now, White could have argued that this is not good in the long run for the farmers. He could be advocating for an alternative distribution channel that would bypass Agrexco and presumably leave more money in their pockets. He could be proposing a five year plan to keep the farmers at the status quo and migrate them to a better solution, without losing anything in the meanwhile, and in the end cutting out Agrexco. He could be pushing the expansion of existing small but growing alternate, non-Israeli channels for export to other markets (something that the Israeli government is actually supporting!)

That is what a real pro-Palestinian activist would say.

But White doesn't say that.


No, he wants the boycott to happen now, today - and consequences to his pet Palestinians be damned. (Yes, his attitude towards them is more akin to performing animals than real people.)  It is obviously not possible to create a marketing and distribution channel to various European markets overnight, and someone who loves Palestinians would never, ever propose that they lose their livelihoods in the hope that somehow such a channel might be built without Israeli cooperation. But someone who hates Zionists - and doesn't give a damn about Palestinians - would definitely say exactly what White is saying.

White thinks he can buttress his argument, however - by quoting a spokesman for the Palestinian Union of Agricultural Work Committees in favor of the boycott. Since this union supports BDS, then the farmers must support it too, according to White.

In the real world, however, this is also nonsense. Palestinian unions are notoriously political and out of touch with what ordinary people want. They spout the largest amount of anti-Israel invective but they cannot stop normal Palestinians from buying Israeli goods, or working for the hated Zionists, of their own free will. There is a huge disconnect between the politicians and the people, and the union heads represent, literally, no one but themselves. BDSers love to quote "Palestinian civil society" as supporting BDS but for the most part these are a bunch of tiny organizations with no real constituency.

To see what real Palestinian Arabs want, look at their companies who attend Israeli trade shows  and fairs to increase their market. Look at those who visit the ports at Ashdod and Haifa to better understand import/export procedures. Does White expect people to believe that the "Palestinian Union of Agricultural Work Committees" represent farmers more than the actual dozens of West Bank farmers who attended an Israeli-sponsored R&D seminar? It is a joke. Real Palestinians, like people everywhere, act out of self-interest - and if that self-interest coincides with Zionist interests, that is not a problem to them.

People blinded by hate, however - like Ben White - will reflexively push any policy that they believe hurts Israel in the naive hope that eventually they can destroy the state. They have no conception - none - of trying to find solutions that can benefit everyone. For all the thousands of words they churn out, their message always comes down to nothing more nuanced than "Israel bad." 

And that is the difference between Zionists and anti-Zionists. Zionists want to find solutions that can benefit even their supposed enemies; anti-Zionists just blindly push whatever they think will hurt Zionists. And anti-Zionists pretend that their hate is meant to help Palestinians - which is the biggest lie of all.

Ben White proves this, unwittingly but brilliantly.

It is a heck of a family tree

From Wikipedia:


Nathan Mileikowsky
(Writer and Zionist activist)
Benzion Netanyahu
(Professor of History and Zionist activist)
Elisha Netanyahu
(Professor for Mathematics)
Shoshana Shenburg
(Justice at the Supreme Court of Israel)
Yonatan Netanyahu
(Commander of Sayeret Matkal)
Benjamin Netanyahu
(Prime Minister of Israel)
Iddo Netanyahu
(A radiologistauthor and playwright)
Nathan Netanyahu
(Professor of Computer Science)



Baruch Dayan ha-Emet for BenZion Netanyahu.

BDS Fail: $50M in trade between Israel and Morocco

Morocco's Hespress reports that trade between Israel and Morocco is now more than $50 million annually.

Quoting a Slate Afrique article from last year, it notes that the trade keeps growing despite the noisy Moroccan groups that are against "normalization" with Israel.

There is a lot of trade in agriculture, the Slate article says that much of it goes through European middlemen. But, surprisingly, much of the trade is in spare parts for Morocco's armed forces - parts for F-16s as well as for armored vehicles, which may be the only instance where Israel provides parts for an Arab army.

Other items being sold by Israel to Morocco include telecommunications equipment.

(The illustration to the article, showing a protest against Moroccan normalization with Israel, indicates that the people opposed to such trade are not exactly "anti-Zionist":)


To put this in perspective, this means that every year, a single, medium sized Arab country buys about 100 times the amount of goods from Israel that the British Co-Operative supermarket chain did from the Israeli companies it decided to boycott. The increase in goods sold to Morocco alone this year alone will be far greater than the amount Israel might lose from any conceivable BDS action.

When Israel is making inroads into Arab(!) markets at rates that are orders of magnitude greater than "progressive" Westerners manage to boycott Israeli goods, it seems that BDS is not just a failure, but a spectacular failure.

Egyptian MPs deny "farewell sex" law - but admit 14-year old bride draft law

Last week I quoted an Al Arabiya article that the new Islamist Egyptian parliament was considering a law to allow sex within six hours after a wife dies, as well as a law to allow 14 year old girls to get married.

Al Arabiya was only half-right:
Members of the Egyptian parliament responded to the uproar caused by Egyptian and Arab media reports about a new law that would allow a husband to have sex with his dead wife within six hours after her death and denied existence of any such draft.

“This is indecent and nonsense. The whole issue is unacceptable. It is even unacceptable to give any statement to media about this issue,” Islamist MP Mamdouh Ismail told Al Arabiya.

The news about passing the so-called ‘Farewell Intercourse’ law by the country’s Islamist-dominated parliament was first reported by Egyptian state-run al-Ahram newspaper and Egyptian ON TV on Tuesday. It was picked up and analyzed by Al Arabiya English a day later, following which international media picked up the story.

The People’s Assembly Secretary General, Samy Mahran, denied to Al Arabiya the existence of such draft law. “I have never heard of anything in this regard,” he said.

Egyptian MP Hisham Ahmed Hanafi told the London-based Asharq al-Awsat on Saturday that “such reports are completely false and aim mainly to deform the image of the Egyptian parliament.”

Egyptian Islamist MP Ashraf Agour of the Construction and Development Party also denied the reports and said that “the issue has never been discussed in the parliament,” according to Asharq al-Awsat.

However, MP Amin Eskandar of al-Karama Party said that “the general atmosphere in the Egyptian parliament is vulnerable to such kinds of rumors.” He did confirm the presence of a draft law for early marriage that would permit girls to get married at the age of 14 instead of 18.
While the "farewell intercourse" law of course got the headlines as it was picked up by the mainstream media the day after, the draft law for allowing 14-year old girls to get married is objectively far more sickening.

After all, the victims of that law are still alive, and it is essentially state-sponsored rape. Too many teenage Muslim girls get pressured into marrying much older men and if this law is passed they have no legal protection against being forced to marry against their will.

Let's hope that the immorality of that draft law does not get lost in the glare of the false reports of the necrophilia law. The lives of thousands of girls depends on it.

Hamas leader Zahar gets Egyptian citizenship!

Palestine Today reports that Mahmoud Zahar, a Hamas leader in Gaza, admits that he applied for and received Egyptian citizenship and an Egyptian passport last September.

That's when Egypt first started allowing those with Egyptian mothers to apply to become Egyptian nationals.

He told BBC Arabic that this was his right, and he also intended to exercise his right to vote for an Islamist candidate in Egypt's presidential elections.

As I have reported, tens of thousands of Gazans applied  for Egyptian citizenship after the 2004 law that allowed those with Egyptian mothers to become citizens started being enforced last year. A coupleof thousand have been accepted as Egyptians.

Arab leaders, and credulous Western experts, have claimed for decades that Palestinian Arabs would refuse to become citizens of Arab countries and their Palestinian Arab leaders insist that they must remain stateless in order to keep the Palestinian Arab cause alive.  But when they have a chance to become citizens elsewhere, they always  jump at the opportunity.

One of the biggest human rights abuses in the world today is the refusal of most Arab countries to naturalize their Palestinian residents, even though they have laws to allow other non-Palestinian Arabs to become citizens. Rather than fight against this - which violates the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and the Convention on the Rights of the Child - human rights organizations actually support keeping Palestinian Arabs stateless - against their will.

It is just another example of the hypocrisy of those who are pretending to fight for the rights of Palestinians.

Old-school anti-semitism in NYC

From Gawker:
A bunch of us here at Gawker Media have received letters recently containing nothing but this single photocopied montage of magazine covers bearing the words, "WALL ST. JEWS."

What is the deal with this mysterious mailing, anyhow? Why the persistence required to design, copy, and laboriously mail so many letters to so many people? What is the message here, about all of these Jews, on Wall Street? Put your guesses in the comments.

[Confidential to all lone nuts out there: just keep mailing your bizarre letters and you'll make Gawker eventually!]
Interestingly, while all of the people pictured are apparently Jewish, not all of them have been implicated in any crimes. Apparently, just being Jewish and in the financial industry is criminal enough for the sender.

It is interesting that in the 21st century and in the days of 45 cent postage rates, Jew-haters will still use old-fashioned mail to send out their hate.

In the Gawker comments, one anti-semite (who denies being an anti-semite, naturally) is persistently defending the thesis that Jews are the root of all financial evil.

(h/t Yoel)

UK Foreign Office swallows a "price tag" lie

From Human Rights and Democracy: The 2011 Foreign & Commonwealth Office Report (UK)

We were concerned at violent attacks by extremists among the Israeli settler population in the West Bank and East Jerusalem against Palestinians and their property in 2011. We saw an increase in the number of so-called “price tag” attacks – a reaction by some extremist settlers to Israeli government policies that they see as against their interests – including vandalism of Muslim and Christian cemeteries in Jaffa, hate graffiti on the homes and offices of Peace Now activists, and arson attacks on mosques. We have condemned these incidents; Mr Burt described the “intentionally provocative attack” on a mosque in Tuba Zangria, northern Israel as “appalling”.

Pretty much all of the Jewish leaders in Judea and Samaria have severely condemned "price tag" attacks as well, something that should have been mentioned in the report.

More problematic, though, is the fact that the Tuba Zangaria attack was almost certainly done by Arabs.

An Israeli blogger was the first to discover that the evidence did not add up. Later Israel's Channel Two did its own investigation and interviewed a Muslim resident who stated flatly that it was done by Arabs.

It is interesting that the FCO seems unaware of this months after the fact.


After the Arab's comments on Tuba-Zangaria were published, his house was sprayed with gunfire.

But that breach of human rights was not considered important enough to be covered by the FCO.

In fact, Arab-on-Arab violence is essentially ignored in the report, and human rights abuses by Hamas are similarly downplayed compared to what they consider the major human rights crime of the area - Jews building houses in their ancestral homeland.

(h/t Gidon)






Hamas member blows himself up in "the playground of death"

From Hamas' Al Qassam Brigades website, in their typical fractured English:

Al Qassam Brigades mourns the death of the Mujahed Ahmed Abu Warda

As Al Aqsa Intifada against the occupation assault on the Gaza Strip continues, Ezzeddeen Al-Qassam Brigades has its best men to be in the playground of death to defend their people from any attack by the enemy ... Today, Al-Qassam Brigades mourn the death of the Mujahed:

[Ahmed Ramadan Abu Warda,24, years old]

Jabaliya refugee camp – North of Gaza Strip

The Mujahed martyred during his duty. He was martyred on Monday morning April 30th, 2012. He was martyred after a long bright path of jihad, hard work, struggle and sacrifice.

Al Qassam Brigades mourn the death of the Mujahed, reaffirms the commitment and determination to continue the resistance against the belligerent occupation forces.

Al-Resalah reports that the jihadist was blown up during a training mission in Rafah, and three other Hamas members were injured in the incident.

May all of the terrorists enter their bizarre paradise in an equally illustrious manner.

French Muslims protest against religious extremism

From MSN France:
A hundred Muslims gathered Sunday afternoon on the steps of the Opera Bastille in Paris to "say no to religious radicalism" and proclaimed their attachment to France and the values ​​of the Republic, says an AFP reporter.

With French flags on their jackets and under a banner saying "Together against fanaticism", demonstrators observed a moment of silence in memory of "Children of Toulouse and Montauban," victims of Mohamed Merah, responsible for seven murders in both cities in March, and who claimed, according to the Interior Minister, Claude Gueant,to have links with Al Qaeda.

They then sang the Marseillaise "to show that Muslims know how to integrate", before declaring "Long live France, long live the Republic".

Some thirty Muslim organizations said they represent "all French people of all backgrounds, of all political persuasions" to say "no religious radicalism, yes to living together ".

In particular, the organizers did not want people to confuse Muslims and radical Islamists, following the case of Mohamed Merah.

"Islam has nothing to do with bigotry. After Toulouse, there was a mix between a martyr and criminal within the community and we want to say stop. We have nothing to do with Mohamed Merah" , the imam of Drancy (Seine-Sant-Denis), Hassen Chalghoumi, told AFP.
It's a start.

I am curious what these organizations are doing to actually try to fix the problems of vicious anti-semitism and violence among thousands of Muslim youths throughout the country.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

"Jews in Trouble" (Ludwig Lewisohn, The Atlantic, 1936)

The Atlantic has dug out a very prescient article written by Ludwig Lewisohn in 1936 about the dangers facing the Jews of Europe and the importance of Zionism.

Background:
Although his gentile friends were blind to the radicalizing anti-semitism in Europe, Ludwig Lewisohn saw the truth: European Jews were in grave danger. And it wasn't a matter assimilation could solve -- with each year, they were increasingly targeted and discriminated against, regardless of how they felt about their home nations.

In a January 1936 Atlantic piece, succinctly titled "Jews in Trouble," Lewisohn outlined the status of the diaspora. In short, it wasn't good. More than ever before, Jews were being rejected from the societies of Europe. "They are isolated as savages isolate things or persons accursed or sacred, so that in many cities they suffer hunger because no one will sell them food," he writes.

Lewisohn, an outspoken Zionist, had moved to the United States from Germany early in his life and initially tried to shake his Jewish roots. But as he grew and entered academia, he learned that despite assimilating, he could not escape being labeled a Jew and discriminated against as such. Embracing his identity, he divorced his Christian wife and found a new Jewish one, and he preached Zionism wholeheartedly. To him, saving the Jewish people was a matter of saving the Jewish identity, and he believed that "assimilation as a method of adjustment is totally bankrupt."

"The Jew is damned when he abstains from participation in the majority civilization and equally damned when, heart and soul and mind, he seeks to identify himself with it," he writes.
Here is the first part of the Lewisohn article, but the entire thing is worth reading:
ONE of the most excellent of my Christian friends (the greater number of my older friends are such) could finally hold in no longer. 'Your people are in trouble!' There was a tinge of over-eagerness in his tone; there was the faint shadow of something akin to the triumph of one who can say, 'I told you so.' He had, in fact, never told me anything. But an unspoken implication had hung in the air between us (as it has between other Christian friends and me) for years. The implication could be phrased somewhat as follows: 'You had become quite one of ourselves; we never thought of you as different. Did you have, as it were, to leave us and identify yourself so wholly with this people which, whatever its virtues and whatever be the merits of the case, does always create friction and commotion? Where there is so much smoke, there must be some fire. Did you have both to fan that flame and to leap into it?'

I did not answer my friend's unspoken but emphatic implication. For he is the type of American liberal, with slight theoretical radical leanings, who feigns to himself sincerely enough that the historic sources of life have run dry; that we are abstract and unfathered creatures; that the voice of the innumerable generations in our blood the voice of common experience through pain and aspiration can be silenced by a formula invented yesterday and very sure to be outmoded tomorrow.

He lives apparently merrily enough without piety (pietas) or metaphysical hope or God in the world, and he would have dismissed my explanation as mystical or - devastating word -- reactionary.

Hence I limited myself to comment on his spoken words. I pointed out to him that the Jewish people was in much greater trouble than any reader of American newspapers and magazines could possibly suspect. The half million of men and women and children who are left trapped among the sixty million Germans have been rendered taboo, within the strict meaning of the term. They are isolated as savages isolate things or persons accursed or sacred, so that in many cities they suffer hunger because no one will sell them food. They spend the greater part of their time in their houses, for the streets are never safe for them. They pray for drenching rains in order to go comparatively unmolested upon the most necessary errands. All that for centuries they have built up or acquired of scientific skill or practical work or property is being crunched into dust under an iron heel. They are pariahs; the great majority are already paupers; tomorrow they will all be.

In Poland there has been a less spectacular expulsion of the Jews from the social and economic order; it has hardly been less complete. Of the three million Jews in Poland two millions are ravaged by perpetual famine punctuated by suicide and assassination. And in Lithuania and Latvia and Rumania, as well as in Austria, the Jews see the same terror approaching and slowly creeping nearer and nearer as a man in the very agony of fear sees coiling slowly nearer and nearer a monstrous serpent unescapable and sure to strike. These people have not the wherewithal to flee. But their flight, had they the means and courage, would be a flight without aim. The gates of the Western world are closed to them. They are precisely like the man in Poe's tale of 'The Pit and the Pendulum.' Thongs bind them; the merciless knife comes nearer and nearer; the dreadful walls close in.

My friend, who has a truly humane and feeling heart, had completely lost his slightly challenging air. Yet I had spared him horrors: the pogroms in North Africa suddenly fomented by German agents; the fierce Arab oppression of the group in Yemen. He was stirred. He abandoned at last the glib common superficial view of the situation and asked with impassioned insistence, 'But why? Why?' I was grateful for his question. For the trouble with so many of one's gentile friends is that they never ask. They turn up with a readymade theory accompanied by a readymade nostrum. Both are commonly empty of any exact knowledge of the problem; both are always by at least a quarter of a century too late. Thus a small group of American writers (Mencken, Dreiser, Boyd) have recently raised the cry that American Jewry must assimilate. Do they not know that the German Jews were the most assimilated group in all history, and that their penetration into German life and culture, the inevitable result of assimilation, was the immediate occasion, if not the ultimate cause, of their tragic martyrdom? We have in America, so far as I know, not a single highly articulate friend, like the late Lord Balfour and Josiah Wedgwood in England or Justin Godard in France or Jan Smuts in South Africa, who thoroughly understands our plight. We must be glad enough when someone, like my friend, is impelled to make a sincere inquiry.

Well, the reasons for our persecution are evidently not the reasons which our persecutors give. For their reasons are all mythic or fantastic. We are, except on one point of which more presently, a wretchedly disunited people. Far from being capable of conspiring together, we are not capable (to the constant despair of every Jewish leader) of rational cooperation for purely defensive ends. We are an unbelievably povertystricken people. Of our approximately sixteen millions in the world, the vast majority are in a state of desperate need. Our bourgeoisie has felt the world crisis as keenly as any other and has, in addition, suffered expropriation through persecution not only in Russia but in Poland and Germany. Nevertheless we are, as astute Communists know, a bourgeoisminded, an essentially conservative people. Our Communists are noisy. True. But many of our young Communists are merely lost Jews who go in for proletarian assimilation after they have been rejected by the bourgeoisie of their countries. Nor can it have escaped observation that nearly all Communists are noisy, since they consider the decencies and amenities of life as part of the rottenness of bourgeois ideology. Numerically, Jewish Communists are a negligible group.

Shall I go on, I asked my friend, and assure you that we don't use Christian blood to bake the unleavened bread for Passover? He laughed and shook his head. Very well. Beyond myth and fantasy it may be said that the occurrence of highly ethical characters among Jews (as among one or two other groups) is rather frequent, but that we have and are humanly entitled to our proportion of asocial and antisocial elements. We are a unique people, as ultimately every people or historic culture group is unique, but certain denominators are common. Then why this unending and forever recurrent persecution?
His later description of Jewish life in Palestine is also noteworthy, as he neatly shows the difference between modern Zionism and the still-fashionable colonialism:
Jews have turned immemorial deserts into rich farming communities by the work of their hands; Jews have built a city, TelAviv, the Hill of Spring, which today has 125,000 inhabitants; Jews have made their ancient Hebrew speech into the current vernacular of a highly cultured community and have begun to create in it a new and autochthonous literature. They have done more: they have raised the wage scale and standard of living of the Arab peasant and worker in the land, to the annoyance of the Arab feudal aristocracy; they have upon the whole made a genuine effort to build both a polity and an economy of justice, cooperation, peace.

A polity and an economy of justice! All previous colonization has been a colonization by conquest. Every people originally colonized the land that later became its historic homeland by force. The Greeks did that, and the Angles and the Saxons, and in a late age those who were to become Americans. The Jews, impelled to return to their historic homeland both by an inextinguishable yearning and by an unanswerable need, have used no force. They have bought every unit of land that they possess from its Arab owners. Next, they have earned that land a second time by reclaiming it from desert and wilderness. With that reclamation of lost land as a foundation, they have built up for all the inhabitants of Palestine a higher civilization. Wherever there is a Jewish colony the Arabs flourish both economically and socially. A new thing has occurred in recent years: an immigration of Arabs from Egypt, Iraq, Transjordania, and the Hauran into Palestine to share in the new civilization which the Jews have built. Beyond these incontrovertible facts, the Jews quite understand imaginatively that the Arab aristocracy would rather have been left to its own devices, and that the impact of our colonization, despite its benefits both lower and higher, disturbs these gallant but medievalminded men. The Jews have no answer to that except to double their scrupulous regard for Arab needs and sensibilities, to continue to alleviate the indescribable poverty of the Arab peasantry, to exterminate by their medical service the immemorial endemic diseases that ravage the Near East.

They have not been unrewarded. Over 350,000 Jews live and work in Palestine today; 30,000 souls from the 'fiery furnace' of Germany have already found life and hope there; the immigration has steadily risen to over 50,000 a year. Yet such is the prosperity created by Jewish thrift and Jewish intelligence that the members of the Mandate Commission of the League of Nations, headed by Professor Lange of Norway, recommended strongly that Britain pursue a more generous policy of Palestinian immigration, not only for the sake of the Jewish people, but for the sake of all mankind. Cisjordania, West Palestine today, Transjordania, East Palestine tomorrow, can liquidate the intolerable exile of Israel in the lands of oppression and reestablish that people among the peoples of the earth.
You can see a nice overview of Lewisohn's life in this Tablet article.


...

More about the "ethics" of the British Co-operative Group

The Co-operative Group, whose supermarket decided to boycott Palestinian Arab farmers because their exporter also deals with Jews who live in Judea and Samaria, also owns a bank.

The bank is just as hypocritical as the supermarket is.

According to their stated policies:
"We will not finance any organisation that advocates discrimination and incitement to hatred."

The right to freedom of speech underpins the values of a democratic society and individuals and organisations should be free to express their views or beliefs. However, 99% of customers who participated in the review supported the bank's decision to withhold finance from those extremist organisations that advocate not only discrimination but hatred.
Yet they are the main way to fund Viva Palestina, which has numerous ties with Hamas. Here's a photo of the organization's George Galloway handing cash to Hamas' economic minister.


It warms the heart to know that such highly ethical people have no problems with being involved in hosting an organization that funds an unrepentant terror group. They probably also violate existing British terror funding laws, even though they seem to have scammed the British Charity Commission into believing that the money handed over to Hamas was really Galloway's personal contributions.

Ethics are highly relative, you know?



The sacred soccer stadium on the Temple Mount

At the very end of an AP story about the dispute within the Islamic world of whether Muslims should visit Jerusalem or not, it says:
The compound is sacred to both Jews and Muslims. It is one of the most sensitive religious sites in the world.

Palestinians use the area to worship and rest - one of the few open spaces in the intensely crowded walled Old City of Jerusalem.

They sit under the soaring pine trees and walk among the intricately painted turquoise tiles adorning the Dome of the Rock. Children play football nearby.
We've shown videos of Muslim children playing soccer there before:





They even set up a volleyball net on this "sacred" site:



But AP has a new meme to justify this desecration of the holy place: it is a park, too, and there is nowhere else for Palestinian Arab children to play!

Of course, AP doesn't say that Jews who live in the Old City have the right to use this wonderfully beautiful park, even though they live in the same crowded spot. No, only Muslims have permission to use a sacred site as a soccer stadium.


Iran threatens US East Coast

From YNet:
Iran's Navy has the ability to deploy its vessels three miles off the US east coast, a high-ranking Iranian Navy commander was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency.

"Our naval forces are so powerful that we have a presence in all the waters of the world and, if needed, we can move to within three miles of New York," Revolutionary Guards Navy Commander Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi was quoted as saying during a speech to students at the University of Yazd earlier this week.

Meanwhile, Revolutionary Guards Aerospace Commander Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said Iran was capable of crippling or disabling US aircraft carriers, Fars said.

"First, sinking an aircraft carrier is not a complicated task," Hajizadeh said. "Second, an aircraft carrier is equipped with so many advanced, delicate, and sensitive devices … that it could be incapacitated by even the smallest explosion."

Earlier, Fox News reported that the US military has deployed several F-22 fighter jets to an allied base less than 200 miles (320 km) from Iran [in the UAE.]

According to the report, the US Air Force strongly denied ordering the deployment s a show of force against Iran, or that it is in some way related to a potential strike on the Islamic Republic's nuclear facilities. It claimed the measure is part of routine activity and "security cooperation with regional partners."
(h/t Yoel)

Qaradawi calls for holy war to destroy Israel

Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the influential preacher based out of Yemen whose sermons are seen by tens of millions of people, once again has called for Muslims and Arabs to rise up and destroy Israel.

In his sermon last Friday, Qaradawi called on all Arabs and Muslims to be "fighters and mujahadeen" and exhorted them not to accept the "humiliation and disgrace" of Israel.

He said that the Muslims will be victorious and Israelis will go back to "the lands they came from." He added that Muslims are lying in wait for that day to happen.

He further said that the Jews support Israel and it is necessary for the Muslims to similarly support the destruction of Israel.

Qaradawi is often portrayed as "moderate" by Western media.

British co-op boycotts Palestinian Arab farmers

From The Guardian:
The Co-operative Group has become the first major European supermarket group to end trade with companies that export produce from illegal Israeli settlements.

The UK's fifth biggest food retailer and its largest mutual business, the Co-op took the step as an extension of its existing policy which had been not to source produce from illegal settlements that have been built on Palestinian territories in the West bank.

Now the retail and insurance giant has taken it one step further by "no longer engaging with any supplier of produce known to be sourcing from the Israeli settlements".

The decision will hit four companies and contracts worth some £350,000. But the Co-op stresses this is not an Israeli boycott and that its contracts will go to other companies inside Israel that can guarantee they don't export from illegal settlements.

Welcoming the move, Palestinian human rights campaigners said it was the first time a supermarket anywhere in the west had taken such a position.

The Co-op's decision will immediately affect four suppliers, Agrexco, Arava Export Growers, Adafresh and Mehadrin, Israel's largest agricultural export company. Other companies may be affected by the policy.
Right now, if Palestinian Arab farmers want to export their goods to Europe, they use Agrexco as their distributor. They even have their own brand, Coral.

Agrexco ensures that their goods would be accepted in the international markets by providing quality control and an already existing infrastructure for refrigeration, transportation, marketing and other services.

In other words, the Co-op is now boycotting Palestinian Arab farmers who have no other means of distributing their goods to the West, and directly hurting them - and the Palestinian Arab economy as a whole. Tomatoes and other produce grown in Gaza will be affected as well.

The Co-op has made a decision that hurting Israeli companies is more important than helping Palestinian Arabs who have no alternative means to market their products to the West. And this is the hypocrisy that shows that BDS cares not one bit about the people they pretend to be helping.

More on this hypocrisy here.

UPDATE: Ben White thinks he "got" me. I show quite the opposite.

Iranian police crack down on "immoral" dress

From Al Arabiya:
Police in Tehran are conducting a new crackdown on women wearing mandatory headscarves improperly or in “vulgar” dress, the city’s police chief said, according to media reports on Saturday.

Such operations, which see police screening foot and vehicle traffic at major junctions and shopping centers, are conducted fairly often in Iran.

The latest one was ordered days ahead of the May 4 second round of parliamentary elections, and as the onset of warm spring weather prompts Iranian women to don lighter clothing.

The police chief, Hossein Sajedinia, said the crackdown was “asked for by the people,” the Fars news agency reported.

Women wearing “bad headscarves, bad dress, and model-type women in vulgar dress” would be stopped, he said.

Typically, such women are fined or detained in police stations until relatives collect them hours later with more modest clothing.

Sadejinia said that companies importing “illegal clothes” that do not comply with Islamic dress standards would be given a warning or closed.
In Saudi Arabia, there are special religious police to do things like this. In Iran, the regular police are enforcing (current understandings of) Islamic law.

That is even worse, but it is an aspect of Iran that Western media rarely discuss.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Egyptian protesters call Saudis "Zionist," insulted Saudis close embassy

From Al Arabiya:
Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Egypt for “consultation” and temporarily closed its embassy and consulate in Cairo following protests in Egypt against the detention of an Egyptian activist by the Saudi authorities.
The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported that the reason behind the diplomatic move was “unjustified protests” in Egypt and attempts to storm the Saudi embassy and consulates which “threatened the safety of its employees.”

Egyptians have been protesting outside the embassy against the arrest of an Egyptian lawyer and human rights activist, Ahmad al-Gazawi, in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia said he was arrested for smuggling drugs.

Egyptian activists, however, said Gazawi was detained for filing a complaint against Saudi Arabia for its treatment of Egyptian citizens in Saudi prisons.
What the stories aren't telling you is how deeply the Egyptian protesters insulted the Saudis.

They didn't call them kufrs, or women, or infidels. No, they used the worst insult imaginable.

They called them Israelis.

In this video you can see six pointed stars as graffiti all over the Saudi embassy compound in Cairo.



(h/t jzaik)


How many lies can you find in this article on Palestinian Arab prisoners?

From Russia Today:

Human rights groups in the West Bank say 2,000 Palestinians have been on hunger strike for more than a week, and others are ready to join next week. At the moment there are an estimated 5,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails. Each year, 700-800 minors are arrested, and in all, 20 per cent of Palestinians have experienced Israeli prison.

There are actually less than 4400 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails according to B'Tselem.

The idea that 20% of Palestinian Arabs have been in Israeli prisons is ridiculous. It obviously comes from Adameer, and is obviously a whopper of a lie as I have proven in the past. Yet it gets repeated by magazines, UN agencies and newspapers whose reporters cannot understand anything beyond sixth grade math.

Here's one of the testimonies that RT believes wholeheartedly:
Speaking about his years spent in an Israeli jail, as-Sinwar says different kinds of torture were routine practice.

“They kept me awake for 10 days in a row. Whenever I dozed off, they would pour ice-cold or boiling water on me – depending on their personal preferences. They would tie my arms behind my back, throw me on the floor, a prison guard would sit on my stomach or chest, apply pressure to the groin – the pain was excruciating,” Yahya as-Sinwar recollects.

According to as-Sinwar, the Shabak [Israeli General Security Service] handles torture during the investigation, and the Shabas [Israeli Prison Service] tortures sentenced prisoners. “They have two departments – Nahshon and Metzada – which are responsible for the total psychological destruction of a person. These methods are not used anywhere else in the world.”

He says Israeli prison guards could tie a prisoner to a child’s chair and make him balance on it for days; put a person in an ice box (after this the person’s limbs are usually amputated).

“They have this form of torture when they tie a prisoner’s hands and leave him hanging for 24 hours. Or they suffocate the prisoner, watch him turn blue, let him breathe for a bit, and then repeat this several times,” as-Sinwar told RT. “When they tortured my close friend, they beat him on the back of the head with tightly rolled newspapers. A person has terrible headaches afterwards, becomes hysterical, all the internal organs get damaged.

According to as-Sinwar, these kinds of torture leave no marks and even a very keen doctor would find it very difficult to discover any signs of abuse.
al-Sinwar says that prisoners routinely get frostbite and have to have their limbs amputated - yet RT couldn't seem to find one of these people. Shouldn't be too hard since it happens all the time, right?

And Israeli torturers have the amazing ability to cause severe damage to all one's internal organs - and yet do it in such a way that even expert doctoes cannot find anything wrong with those same organs.

That's a neat trick!

More absurd allegations in the article:

  • “Prisoners in Israel get 10 per cent of the amount of food served in the prisons of other countries."
  • "It was a tiny cell measuring 1.2 by 0.8 m where one person could not lie down, or stand up or stretch his legs, it had no furniture, and food was given once a day, and it’s so bad you couldn’t eat it." 
  • "What they say about prisoners having the opportunity to complete their education in Israeli schools is also a lie.”

Basic journalism standards, folks. It isn't so hard.

(h/t Margie)

Apartheid in Lebanon

Isn't it time for celebrities to boycott Lebanon?
The Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Shahed) announced in its annual report Tuesday that the situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon is getting worse by the year, as their rights diminish in number and value daily.

According to the report, “the [poor] housing conditions in camps have not been addressed, and there is no local or international initiative on the horizon to improve them.” It described the camps as “a breeding ground for disease, home collapses, and a well of social problems.”

There are approximately 400,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, most of whom live in and around the country’s 12 camps. The camps are largely overcrowded and poorly provided for in terms of water and electricity.

The report called the pace of reconstruction of Nahr al-Bared, the northern camp that was mostly destroyed during a 2007 conflict between the Lebanese Army and Islamist group Fatah al-Islam, very slow.

The health situation in the camps is also deteriorating, according to the report, despite slight improvements in UNRWA’s health services. Education provision is dramatically declining, the report added, as problems in the education system have accumulated for 20 years now with the exception of a slight improvement at the high school level.

The report also said that in 2011, it had recorded no initiatives by the Lebanese government aimed at improving the conditions of Palestinian refugees.
Here's a list of concerts planned this summer in a state that has laws specifically to discriminate against hundreds of thousands of its Palestinian residents. Yet no one calls to boycott these bands because they are playing in Lebanon.

So either the boycotters against bands playing in Israel are hypocrites who don't care about Palestinian Arab rights, or....no, that's really the only explanation.

(h/t Andreas)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Spring weekend open thread

Have a great weekend!

Arabs attacked Jews on Yom Ha'atzmaut

From YNet:
While Independence Day celebrations are continuing throughout the country, residents of Hof Ashkelon Regional Council once again found themselves running for shelter.

An air raid siren was sounded on Wednesday night and one rocket exploded in the region. There were no reports of injuries or damages.

Residents told Ynet that at around half past midnight, at the height of an Independence Day party, a siren sounded. Some of the residents said that they also heard an explosion.

The rocket was most likely fired from the Gaza Strip and exploded in an open area within the regional council.
And, worse:
Three members of the Shukrun family were hospitalized overnight Thursday following an attack by a group of young Arabs. Two of the family members were moderately wounded in the attack, while the third suffered light injuries.

"I tried running away with my children and sister, but they kept coming back to hit us," Tzipi Shukrun told Ynet. "They kids are traumatized."

The family arrived at a park located in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, near the Jerusalem Cinematheque, to celebrate Independence Day. "We wanted to have a barbecue on the grass with my parents. I have three small children. At around 16:30 a group of Arabs, who seemed to be about 18 years old, sat next to us. It was calm; there were a number of Jewish and Arab families near us so we weren't scared. My kids played soccer with the Arab children."

But as the Shukrun family was preparing to leave, the teens approached and began cursing. "My two brothers, my father and another teenager tried to prevent them from reaching my children. In response, they took out clubs, chains and a knife and began brutally attacking the children," Tzipi Shukrun recalled.

She said the assailants yelled out "Yahud (Jew)."

Tzipi said one of her brothers "was struck in the head and began bleeding, and another one of my brothers suffered a severe blow to the eye. I called the police but it took them 25 minutes to arrive at the scene.

"My brother, who served in Sayeret Matkal (elite IDF unit), arrived at the scene before the police did," she told Ynet. Police officials said officers arrived at the scene at 6:22 pm, just seven minutes after Tzipi Shukrun called.

"I tried to run away with my sister and children, but they (Arabs) kept coming back to hit us. Luckily, my brothers blocked their path. It's difficult to fathom that something like this could happen in the heart of the capital," Shukrun said.
(h/t Yoel)

Israelis saving the world - in 1964

Came across this, from the JTA Archives, October 8, 1964:
An Israeli pilot who fought in Israel's War of Independence in 1948, was awarded today the "United States Decoration for Exceptional Service" by Lt. Gen. Harold Grant, deputy administrator of the U. S. Federal Aviation Agency, for developing a safer method for commercial use of airspace.

Bar-Atid Arad, 40, born in Israel and a former member of the Palmach forces, became the first non-American to win the FAA award. He came to the United States through an agreement between the Civil Aeronautics Division of the Israel Ministry of Transportation and FAA, to a research on his theory on more efficient use of airspace. A mathematician, he holds a degree from the University of California. The method he worked out proved so successful that the FAA has applied to all central control towers at American airports.

Mr. Arad was cited by Gen. Grant for his resourcefulness and professional skill in devising a better system for the flow of air traffic both nationally and internationally. He was also awarded a gold medal by the U. S. Government.

Tonight he received another award at a conference on air traffic control at Atlantic City. The conference agenda included a discussion of the "Israeli" innovation. Mr. Arad conceived the theory while working in Israel with the Israel Civil Aeronautics Division.
Clearly an early example of Israeli hasbarists' air-brushing.

Syrian on TV justifies why "Palestine" more important than Syria

Here is a sterling example of how the Arab world uses the "Palestine" issue as a means to avoid anything they don't want to speak about.



From MEMRI:
Following are excerpts from an interchange between Al-Jazeera TV host Faysal Al-Qassem and Lebanese journalist Salem Zahran, on a program that aired on April 10, 2012:

Faysal Al-Qassem: "How do you account for this denial? The Syrian media give you the impression that nothing is happening there. The Syrian people are concerned only with barbeques, and they all hang out in the parks. Today, Syrian TV has run programs on the massacre of Deir Yassin in Palestine, at a time when the Syrian people is being massacred in Idlib, in Deir Al-Zour, in Homs, and in Hama. By God, how can you make a mockery of the people this way? Is this the time to be talking about the massacres in Palestine, when the Syrian people is being massacred in all the towns…"

Salem Zahran: "No, Dr. Faysal…"

Faysal Al-Qassem: "How do you respond to this denial? Go ahead."

Salem Zahran: "First of all, it's beneath your dignity not to talk about Deir Yassin…"

Faysal Al-Qassem: "Just answer the question, don't give me a lesson in morals. I'm asking you a question, so answer it!"

Salem Zahran: "Just a moment…Firstly, it's an honor for Syria and its media to deal with the Deir Yassin massacre…"

Faysal Al-Qassem: "What about the massacres of Deir Al-Zour, Hama, and Idlib? Thousands are being massacred on a daily basis. Who are you kidding?"

Salem Zahran: "The Deir Yassin massacre is part of our history and heritage. Palestinian blood is our blood."

Faysal Al-Qassem: "What about the Deir Al-Zour massacre?"

Salem Zahran: "Don't interrupt me."

Faysal Al-Qassem: "What about the massacres of Deir Al-Zour and Idlib? People are being salvaged from the rubble, and you direct your camera at Deir Yassin?!"

Salem Zahran: "When you're done, let me know."

Faysal Al-Qassem: "Go ahead."

Salem Zahran: "First of all, Palestinian blood is our blood."

Faysal Al-Qassem: "It's the same old record: 'Palestinian blood.' What about the Syrian blood?"

Salem Zahran: "You should not disparage our history, our heritage, and our culture. We've lived for Palestine, and we will die for Palestine."

Faysal Al-Qassem: "And you are also 'peddling' the Palestinian cause."

Salem Zahran: "Don't interrupt me or I won't talk."

Faysal Al-Qassem: "Is this the time to be talking about Palestine? A gazillion times more Syrians than Palestinians have been killed."

Salem Zahran: "You make tens of thousands of dollars in Doha, so you don't care about Palestine. But for us, Palestine is the frontier, the land of return, the main cause. All the rest are trivial details…"

Faysal Al-Qassem: "Right, hundreds of thousands dead and homeless are trivial…"

Salem Zahran: "Palestine is the main cause, and the Syrian media should be commended for mentioning Palestine. We will not make Palestine disappear for the sake of anything else. Dr. Faysal, I didn't think you would fall into such errors…"

Faysal Al-Qassem: "Call me a traitor and a collaborator. Anyone who doesn't believe your lies is a collaborator." […]

(h/t Challah Hu Akbar)

Documentary (by a Muslim) shows Jews from Morocco to Israel

From the website of the Sephardic Film Festival last month:

TINGHIR-JERUSALEM, ECHOES FROM THE MELLAH: The Rediscovery of a Judeo-Berber Culture

Director: Kamal Hachkar
Kamal Hachkar grew up in France with the idea that all Berbers were Muslims. From his grandparents he learns that some Berbers were Jewish and that in many villages, Muslims and Jews lived together for a long time. His search leads him to Israel where he meets families originally from Tinghir.  Elders spoke of  their lives in Tinghir, answering many of his questions.  On meeting Jews of his generation, with origins in Tinghir, Kamal realizes that he is not alone in his desire to restore this buried part of their identities.  He hopes that his generation will be able to acknowledge the bonds broken by history.
Morocco's Hespress interviewed Hachkar. He seems to be a true man of peace, who wants ties between Muslims and Jews to improve. Part of his target audience is Moroccans who are not even aware of the vibrant Jewish culture that existed there not so long ago. The film has been shown in festivals in the US, Montreal and Rabat, Morocco, where Hachkar ways it was well received.

The interviewer asked Hachkar about some Moroccans who are criticizing the film as a means of "normalization" with the Zionist enemy and who called for an investigation of the issue. His answer was simply that they were racists, that Jews are as much a part of Moroccan culture and history as anyone else, and that they are a minority as he has received great feedback from Moroccans who saw the film.He also implied that the Jews in the film love Morocco more than these loudmouths, whom he said probably ignore the real human rights issues in Syria.

He wants to make a sequel where he brings some of the Jews back to Tinghir.

Here is a 5 minute portion of the documentary with English subtitles:



The entire documentary is online, with French subtitles. I understand that there is an English subtitled version that was shown at the film festival.

Independence Day, 1948 (Yehuda Avner)

The Jerusalem Post didn't format this excellent piece into paragraphs, so I did:

May 14, 1948, was a Friday, and unbearably hot. A desert wind blew from the east, fanning the countryside like a blow-dryer.

For three consecutive sun-grilled days we had been hacking trenches out of a Jerusalem mountainside on the city's western edge - where Yad Vashem now stands - overlooking the Arab village of Ein Kerem. There were about 25 of us, armed with pickaxes, shovels, and a dozen World War I rifles - an inglorious bucket brigade of diggers, fortifying a narrow sector of Jerusalem's western front.

In truth, there was no real frontline where we were, and, other than sporadic sniper fire and an occasional mortar shell, it was quiet. But rumor had it that Iraqi irregulars were infiltrating into Ein Kerem to join up with a Jordanian brigade coming up from Jericho, to launch an offensive that night against besieged western Jerusalem. We were supposed to stop them, but nobody knew how, least of all the man in charge, a fellow called Elisha Linder. With 12 obsolete rifles and a motley, untrained crew like ours, what was he supposed to do?

One insuperable problem was his lack of communication with the outside world - no field phone, no intelligence, not even a radio. So, in the absence of solid facts amorphous rumors mushroomed: Ben-Gurion had capitulated to Washington not to declare independence; the British were not quitting Palestine; Arab armies were invading; Arab governments were suing for peace.

In truth, thirst, not Arabs, was our foe that day. I was delegated as a water-carrier with another fellow, lugging drink from a distant well for the diggers. The other fellow was a Holocaust survivor named Leopold Mahler, grand-nephew of the composer, and himself a violinist. Mahler was a craggy, disillusioned sort whose most cherished possession was his violin, which he carried strapped into a knapsack on his back. With the mountainside cisterns contaminated, the nearest water was in an abandoned orchard a mile away. To get to it we had to run a snipers' gauntlet, up a steep zigzag path to the crest of the mountain, and then sprint down to the orchard on the other side. There, in the shade of the trees, was the well, its water murky but cool. We hauled it back in jerry cans, two to a man. And the only way to drink it was through a handkerchief so as not to swallow the bugs.

Clambering up the zigzag path on that late Friday afternoon, a sniper's bullet whistled past Mahler's face and sliced clean through a tree branch as thick as salami, just above his head. With a brittle crack, the severed bough struck his violin case so sharply it forced him to his knees. He looked up at me dazed. "My violin," he gulped. "It's shattered. I'm finished." I GRABBED him by the shoulders and exhorted him to pull himself together. But he pushed me off, raised himself onto a rock, unstrapped the knapsack, and very gently pulled out his wooden violin case. It was cracked. Cautiously, he opened the lid and lifted out the instrument, turning it this way and that, sliding his eyes very slowly over every inch of it. To me, it looked as exquisite and delicate as a butterfly. Mahler pursed his lips to blow off the grime, took the violin under his chin and, with closed eyes, meticulously tuned each string. Delicately he replaced the instrument, and returned the cracked case to the knapsack and strapped it onto his back. While so doing he said, "My violin is perfect. If I don't survive, give it to the Philharmonic." "That's daft talk," I said, and we picked up our load and, stumbling over rocks and tripping through thickets of dry thistles, we sprinted back to the diggers on the mountainside.

There, Linder filled us in on the latest batch of rumors to come his way: the Arabs were plundering downtown Jerusalem; a coordinated Arab offensive was under way; the British were siding with the Arabs. "We're totally blind up here," he groused, and he instructed Mahler to hitch a ride into town by whatever means, and find out what was actually going on. "Come back with hard news," he commanded.

As the sun went down grimy, exhausted diggers assembled in the glow of a hurricane lamp hanging on the door of a stone ruin, hidden from enemy view, to recite the Sabbath eve prayers - Kabbalat Shabbat. It was a heavenly pause; Shabbat stillness seemed to reign over everything. But then a shell shrieked and blasted the lower reaches of the mountainside, and a headlight briefly cut through the cypress trees at the approaches to Ein Kerem, and we all rolled, crawled, and scrambled for cover. Utter silence followed, broken only by the crunch of rushing feet, panting breath, and the winded cry of Leopold Mahler running out of the blackness into the light of the hurricane lamp by the stone ruin, shouting, "I have news. I have news."

To a man we scampered back into the flickering glow where Linder grabbed him by the arms and snapped, "Well - talk. What did you find out? Are the Arabs plundering downtown Jerusalem?" Mahler wheezed not. On the contrary, the Jews had taken over the whole area. And to vividly substantiate his claim he opened his shabby coat wide and began pulling from its bulging pockets forgotten luxuries like triangles of Kraft cheese, Mars bars, and Cadbury chocolate. Then, he unstrapped his knapsack, and from its side pockets spilled out cans of peaches, jars of Ovaltine, and a bottle of Carmel wine.

We watched, eyes popping, as Mahler told how he had come by his booty: It was from the abandoned officers' mess of the British police headquarters near Zion Square. The English had evacuated the whole area that morning. Moreover, all Union Jacks throughout the country had been hauled down preparatory to midnight when British rule of Palestine would end.

"Has Ben-Gurion declared independence, yes or no?" asked Linder, beside himself with impatience. "David Ben-Gurion declared independence this afternoon in Tel Aviv. The Jewish state comes into being at midnight."

There was a dead silence. Midnight was minutes away. Even the air seemed to be holding its breath. "Oh, my God, what have we done?" cried one of the women diggers, fitfully rubbing her chin with the tips of her fingers. "What have we done? Oh, my God, what have we done?" and she burst into tears, whether in ecstasy or dismay I will never know.

Then cheers, tears, embraces. Every breast filled with exultation as we pumped hands, cuddled, kissed, in an ovation that went on and on. Nobody wanted it to stop.

"Hey, Mahler!" shouted Linder cutting through the hullabaloo, "Our state - what's its name?"

The violinist stared back blankly. "I don't know. I didn't think to ask."

"You don't know?" Mahler shook his head.

"How about Yehuda?" suggested someone.

"King David's kingdom was Yehuda - Judea." "Zion," cried another.

"It's an obvious choice." "Israel!" called a third. "What's wrong with Israel?"

"Let's drink to that," said Elisha with delight, grabbing hold of a tin mug and filling it to the brim. "A lehaim to the new state, whatever its name."

"Wait!" shouted a hassid whom everybody knew as Nussen der hazzan - a cantor by calling, and a most diligent volunteer digger from the ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim Jerusalem quarter. "It's Shabbos. Kiddush first."

Our crowd gathered around him in a hush as Nussen der hazzan clasped the mug and, in a sweet cantorial tone began to chant "Yom hashishi" - the blessing for the sanctification of the Sabbath day.

As Nussen's sacred verses floated off to a higher place of Sabbath bliss, some of us sobbed uncontrollably. Like a violin, his voice swelled, ululated, and trilled in the night, octave upon octave, his eyes closed, his cup stretched out and up. And as he concluded the final consecration - "Blessed art thou O Lord, who has hallowed the Sabbath" - he rose on tiptoe, his arm stiffened, and rocking back and forth like an ecstatic rabbi, voice trembling with excitement, he added the triumphantly exulted festival blessing to commemorate having reached this day - sheheheyanu, vekiyemanu vehegiyanu lezman hazeh."

"Amen!"


(h/t DavidG)