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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘1948’

‘National Day of Commemoration for the Jewish Refugees from Arab Lands’ Passes First Reading

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

On Monday, the Knesset passed the first reading of a new law which would designate November 30th as a national day for the commemoration of the Jewish refugees from Arab lands.

MK Dr. Shimon Ohayon, the initiator of the law said on its passing,

“For too long the issue has not been properly dealt with, either nationally or internationally.

Thanks to great efforts like this law and the work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under Minister Avigdor Liberman, the silence is ending.

The fact that the issue of redress for the Jewish refugees from Arab lands will be raised in the Kerry framework agreement demonstrates that this issue of rights and justice is finally receiving the attention that it deserves. These Jews, numbering around 850,000, left behind assets around double that of those Palestinians who left their homes in Israel before and during the War of Independence, and above all, were not involved in any conflict or any theater of war. These important factors should be front and center of any discussion relating to a future peace agreement.“

The law places the responsibility for the day of commemoration with the Minister of Pensioners Affairs, the responsibility for the introduction of related activities in the educational curriculum with the Minister of Education and the responsibility for international and diplomatic activities with the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

“Around half of all Jews in the State of Israel are descended from refugees from Arab lands and their exodus and expulsion, from lands they inhabited long before the Islamic conquest and Arab occupation of the Middle East and North Africa must become known to all citizens,” MK Ohayon continued. “Especially when the Arab world is talking about peace and reconciliation, an important first step would be the acceptance of responsibility for what was done to these ancient Jewish communities.”

“This law will ensure that Israelis will remember what took place in this tragic chapter in Jewish history long after many of those who suffered are no longer with us.”

British MP Still Angry about 1948

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

News item:

A British MP who was caught on camera branding an Israeli soldier a “bloody Jew” has apologized for his remark, the British-based Jewish News reports. …

Describing an encounter with a soldier while trying to enter an “intelligence establishment” during a recent visit to the Jewish state, he was reported during last Thursday’s program as saying, “An 18-year-old girl wearing a uniform, but with her sort of hair in plaits, and crazy jeweler [sic] and open-toed sandals, with a rifle up my nose. Who the f*** are you, you know? ‘Well I’m a soldier.’ Are you? You don’t look like a soldier to me. You look like a bloody Jew. And I’ve no doubt that if I’d come up with the wrong answer, I’d have had my head blown off.”

[MP Patrick] Mercer, who served as shadow homeland security minister under Michael Howard and Iain Duncan Smith, has told the Jewish News, “I’d like to apologies [sic] unreservedly for any offence I’ve caused to all my friends in the Jewish community.”

A pity he didn’t get his arrogant Jew-hating head blown off, in my opinion. And he doesn’t need to apologize to “all [his] friends in the Jewish community,” assuming that he still has any. He has to apologize to that young woman who, while doing her duty, taught this worthless prick an important lesson: that there is one place in the world where Jews don’t have to take crap from such as him.

MP Mercer expressed the thought held more quietly by so many, especially in Europe and the UK: they believe that it’s just not proper for there to be Jewish soldiers, a Jewish army, a Jewish air force, Jewish nuclear weapons, or a Jewish state. In their minds, Jews exist to be insulted, to be victimized in various ways, maybe to be pitied but never to be respected.

But those days ended in May, 1948, when MP Mercer’s own regiment, the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters, along with the rest of the British forces in Palestine, slunk back to England with its tail between its legs, after getting its ass kicked by Jewish soldiers like the young woman he insulted!

There. Now I feel better.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

Lag B’Omer Trivia

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

The Palmach division of the Haganah was established on Lag B’Omer 1941.

The Gadna program (youth brigade) was also established on Lag B’Omer 1941, and their symbol is the bow and arrow.

Ben-Gurion gave the order to officially create the IDF on Lag B’Omer 1948 (assuming he issued it after sunset on May 26, 1948).

Lag B’Omer is the official day for saluting IDF reserve soldiers.

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson ZT”L writes in his Likkutei Sichos that the reason why the day should be called Lag BaOmer and not Lag LaOmer is because the Hebrew words Lag BaOmer (ל״ג בעמר), spelled without the “vav”, have the same gematria as Moshe (משה), and Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was mystically a spark of the soul of Moses.

Hundreds of thousands of Jews visit the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, in Meron on Lag B’Omer.

Lag B’Omer has joined Rosh Hashana to become the only other 2 day holiday in Israel. In order to avoid possible desecration of Shabbat this year (2013), the Rabbanut asked that schools be closed on Sunday and Monday, and that bonfires be delayed until Sunday afternoon. Most people ignore the request to delay the bonfires.

Jerusalem pollution levels rise 6 times normal on Lag B’Omer due to the bonfires.

3600 tons of wood are burned.

Construction sites lose on average, NIS 15,000 worth of material, as children raid the sites for wood.

500 firetrucks and 300 firefighters are on duty in Israel.

Feel free to add your Lag B’Omer trivia in the comments.

Looking for Family of Soldier Killed in Fall of Gush Etzion, 1948

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Private Yitzchak Mizrachi is the only soldier who fell in the battle for Gush Etzion in the War of Independence whose relative have not been located.

During one of the bitterest battles fought by the Haganah prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, 241 Israeli soldiers and civilians were killed in the final battle for Gush Etzion, which finally succumbed to the attacks of Jordanian Legionnaires and local Arabs on the fourth of, May 13, 1948.

The Legionnaires took 320 men and women into captivity, where they were to languish for many months. The next day, on the fifth of Iyar, David Ben Gurion proclaimed Israel’s independence. Gush Etzion was resettled after the Six-Day War in 1967, and many of those who returned to the Gush were children who were evacuated before the falling of Gush Etzion.

There is detailed archival documentation on all those who heroically gave their lives during these acrimonious clashes, except for one, Private Yitzchak Mizrachi.

All that is known is that he served in squad 9 of platoon 6, under the command of the renowned composer Tzvi Ben Yosef.

Until this day, no relative has been tracked down in Israel. This has led those who are involved in the search for information about Private Mizrachi to believe that his family resides abroad.

A note found at the Haganah Museum archives states the exact date of his death and where he died. but someone erased the initial place of death because he thought the information was incorrect. His name was also crossed out and corrected to “Manosy”.

One of the museum managers, Yaron Rosenthal, calls on anyone who knows about him or his family to contact him “so that we will be able to bestow upon him and his relatives the proper honors he deserves as someone who gave his life for us all.”

Dewey Stone: Unsung Hero of Israeli Independence

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

When most people think of the refugee ship “Exodus,” the Paul Newman movie and Leon Uris novel on which it was based come to mind. But not many people know that one of the heroes behind the real-life Exodus was American businessman Dewey D. Stone.

Stone’s role in purchasing ships and weapons—under the nose of the FBI—and helping to orchestrate the founding of Israel is the subject of a new documentary, “The Dewey Stone Connection: From Exodus to Independence.”

The film is the result of a five-year effort headed up by Walter M. Newman, who grew up a few blocks from Stone’s house.

Newman – a retired official with the Environmental Protection Agency who helped supervise the Boston Harbor cleanup – was researching the founding of Israel and noticed that Stone’s name “kept popping up,” he said in a phone interview in January shortly after the film’s first public showing and a month before his death at age 76.

Newman scoured the records at the American Jewish Historical Society office in Boston, where Stone’s papers are archived. “There were so many things, so many wonderful things,” he said. “It was an eye-opening experience.”

Stone was swept up in the cause of the Palestinian Jews after hearing a speech in 1940 by Chaim Weizmann, the head of the World Zionist Organization and later the first president of Israel. A renowned chemist, Weizmann was in Boston drumming up support for a research university in a future Jewish state.

After his talk, Weizmann invited Stone and a few others back to his hotel room, where they chatted until the wee hours of the morning. The next day, Stone drove Weizmann to Harvard, where he was giving another speech. On the way, they stopped in front of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – the very model of the university Weizmann sought to build.

After the war, as the full extent of the Holocaust became apparent, Stone worked behind the scenes on both military and diplomatic efforts to forge a Jewish state.

Suspecting the FBI was tapping his phone, Stone made calls from his sister’s house to procure ships and surplus U.S. weapons. In the documentary, nephew Ted Teplow, of Cambridge, Mass., recalls being up in his bedroom doing homework and overhearing his uncle on the phone. “We were all told not to talk about it,” Teplow, now 84, said in a phone interview.

Unlike in the 1960 movie, the real Exodus, carrying Holocaust survivors from France to Palestine in 1947, was rammed by a British destroyer just a few miles off the coast of Palestine, then under British control. Its 4,500 passengers were sent to a displaced-persons camp in Germany, the very nation that had persecuted them. Eventually, the majority of passengers settled in Israel. Meanwhile, worldwide outrage over the refugees’ plight helped bolster the push to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states.

Stone also played an important role in that push. His brother Judge Harry K. Stone had become acquainted with Anastasio Somoza when the Nicaraguan dictator was in Boston for surgery in the 1930s. At the time, the Stone family owned Converse Rubber Co., maker of raincoats and shoes (and later, most famously, Chuck Taylor sneakers).

The brothers thought it would be good publicity for the company to host a reception for Somoza. Somoza, who had been miffed that the U.S. government had ignored his presence, was delighted by the attention and became close friends with Judge Stone, naming him honorary consul. That relationship paid off a decade later when Dewey and Harry Stone enlisted the Somoza regime to rally Latin American support that proved crucial for UN approval of the partition plan.

But just a few months before Israel was to declare independence, the State Department persuaded President Truman to reject its recognition. Truman went so far as to shut the White House doors to Zionists. Weizmann, who was waiting anxiously in New York, expressed his frustration to Stone in a meeting on March 12, 1948. That night a visibly shaken Stone returned to Boston, where he was honored at a B’nai B’rith dinner along with Frank Goldman, the national head of the organization.

Hearing about Weizmann’s predicament, Goldman said he might have a solution. He had just attended a Kansas City B’nai B’rith event recognizing Eddie Jacobson, who had been Truman’s partner in a clothing store business. Why not see if Jacobson would intervene with his old pal, Goldman suggested.

The Redacted Iraqi Jews

Monday, January 7th, 2013

The recent Conference of Religions and Sects in Sulaymaniyah, organized under the supervision of Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani, was an important milestone: The first such conference to take place in Iraq that seriously covered the defense of religions and sects after the collapse of the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein.

Present at the conference were Christians, Muslims (both Sunni and Shi’a) and other, smaller, minority groups. What was surprising was that there was not a single representative of Iraqi Jews to relate their glorious history, so full of great accomplishments for the glory of Iraq and its constitution. In their absence, they could not tell of the calamity that befell them when their citizenship was withdrawn, their money and property confiscated, their rights denied, and when they were subjected to being imprisoned or murdered while ethnic cleansing was committed by forcing the best of my Iraqi Jewish friends to emigrate.

At the conference, it was apparent that no one was available to represent them or mention this sensitive subject. Therefore, to balance the debate, I decided that this was going to be my discussion subject, as my solemn duty to repay some of our debt to them.

The Presidential Council, the ruling party, and Iranian agents in Sulaymaniyah all warned me not to raise such a subject and speak about it, and tried to forbid it. They claimed that it is too sensitive and dangerous, and that due to the current public mood, it should not to be spoken about in public.

On both the first day and the final day of the conference, I spoke before the conference organizers, ministers and various international media outlets, about the massive contribution made by Jews to Iraq’s history over more than 2500 years, beginning with their exile in Babylon from 597 B.C., and referred to three famous Iraqi books:

* Jewish Prominent Characters In Current Iraq, by Meir Basr
* Kurdistan Jews, by Omar Kader
* Lovers stroll in Iraqi Jewish History, by Youssef Ganiamah

I spoke about the great history of Iraqi Jews in building modern Iraq, its economy and way of life, and mentioned several examples in social, intellectual and political areas. Sir Sassoon Eskell, for example, was the greatest Iraqi Minister of Finance of the twentieth century, responsible for incredible achievements at the Iraqi central bank.

Iraqi Jews had been genuine citizens for thousands of years — even before Muslims and Christians. Jews made up a huge part of Baghdad’s population – by the 1920′s they were 40% of the city’s people.

I also noted that the Iraqi constitution does not mention anything about Iraqi Jews, so that it has become necessary to draft an amendment to Article II of the constitution, granting official recognition to the Jewish faith, adding it to the other recognized national religions.

I then spoke about the crimes of stripping the Iraqi Jews of their citizenship, their their expulsion from the country, and the dreadful looting of their properties.

I urged President Jalal Talabani — a well-known humanitarian — and Masood Barazani, the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, to legislate a law of citizenship in Iraq that would enable Jews of Iraqi descent to regain Iraqi citizenship; award them parliamentary seats proportional to their actual population size, as is done the other minority religious groups such as the Christians and Muslims; and to compensate them for their usurped rights, in the same way other Iraqi countrymen who had suffered were compensated for their ordeals.

Despite the uncivilized methods used in attempting to suppress my presentation, the audience responded with full support and a standing ovation The address apparently caused considerable embarrassment to the conference’s organizing committee, which then was forced to take the topic seriously.

Results were achieved when three paragraphs were adopted in the text of the final communique: The seventh paragraph states the importance of correcting the constitution to add Judaism as an official religion alongside Islam, Christianity and others, and restoring the Jews’ citizenship. The ninth paragraph consists of ten points, of which article nine recognizes the rights of Jews in nationality and national belonging. Article five recognizes the crime of expulsion and its effects, and article five calls for Jewish heritage sites to be cared for, without tampering.

These declarations now need to put into action and implemented at all levels. Anyone who would like to energize this topic publicly to ensure its implementation is welcome to contact me at: nabel202000@hotmail.com – not only will injustices be reversed, but the good name of Iraq will be restored.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

Jerusalem Walking Tour (Along part of the 1948 armistice line)

Friday, September 28th, 2012

For 19 years Yerushalayim was a city divided, cut in two by the 1948 armistice line. After Israel’s War of Independence on November 30, 1948, at the time of the official cease-fire, Moshe Dayan sat with Abdallah Tell and UN mediators, slicing up Yerushalayim. Using a map scaled at 1:20,000, each side used a different coloured wax pen to delineate the furthest point under its control. Israel drew a red line and Jordan a green line. This is the origin of the phrase used to describe land that is “behind the green line.”

Beit Israel Shul of Yemin Moshe

The 1948 armistice line in Yerushalayim stretched from Armon HaNatziv in the south of Jerusalem to Ammunition Hill to the north of the City. In many places the two lines converged. In addition, as the wax of the China graphic pens dried, the coloured ink lines spread out until they coved two millimetres of the map which equaled 200 meters. The drying ink caused a delicate problem as to where the exact boundaries were. For example, part of the neighbourhood of Musrara remained in a deadlock until an agreement was reached in July 1951.

Mount Scopus, where the Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital are situated, remained in Jewish hands, although it was unequivocally within the Jordanian boundary. Twice a week, our soldiers disguised as policemen would travel in a convoy in order to be able to reach Mount Scopus to guard the area. The original sites of Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital were technically under the protection of the United Nations, but despite the “Mount Scopus Agreement,” the institutions were not permitted to reopen.

Jordan was a threatening enemy state.

Along the seam of the division line on the Israeli side, people lived in danger and anxiety. At any given moment the trigger-happy Jordanian soldiers might open fire on innocent civilians. Many times children playing in front of their homes were shot at. Mothers would scream to their children to take cover.

As time passed, both sides built walls and fences for defence and security reasons. The Jordanians had 36 posts around the City, as compared to Israel’s 19.

Entrance to Cable Car Monument on Rehov Derech Hebron

Our starting point on the walking tour is the gas station next to Liberty Bell Park. We begin our brisk walk though the suburbs, facing the old city walls that had been turned into a frontier-like no-man’s land from 1948 until 1967. Our first stop is the Har Tzion Hotel, at the Cable Car Monument, on Derech Chevron. Here, the Duke of Kent, who was member of the British Order of the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, built a hospice for eye diseases in the 1880’s. At the time there were about four hundred different eye afflictions. The Ottoman army used the building as a weapons storehouse during the First World War. During the War of Independence fire from the Arab League made it impossible to reach positions on Har Tzion from the west of the City. At first the connection was maintained by means of a tunnel though the wadi. The tunnel made it possible to transfer supplies and evacuate the injured. This method obviously had its limitations.

Uriel Hefetz formulated a solution in December of 1948. A 200 meter (656 foot) steel cable was stretched across the Hinnon Valley, linking the Eye Hospital to the Israeli position on Har Tzion. It was only used at night, so that Jordanian Legion soldiers would not notice any activity. At the end of each night, the cable would be lowered down into the valley. The cable car reached a height of about 50 meters (164 feet) above the wadi. The rail cart could carry a maximum weight of about a half a ton. Three soldiers on each side were responsible for operating the cable car manually. The journey lasted about two minutes in each direction. Although it was used for only half a year, the IDF maintained it in perfect working condition from 1948 until 1967, in case it needed to be used again. The cable car was kept a military secret for twenty-four years, and its existence was only revealed to the public in 1972.

Victimhood as Foreign Policy

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Would Israel’s ambassador to the U.N. have called on the world body “to tell the 850,000 untold stories of Jewish refugees from Arab countries…” had the Palestinians not made the return of their “refugees” to Israel a foundational point for the securing of a comprehensive peace agreement with the Jewish state?

“We are 64 years late, but we are not too late,” said Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon last Friday.

So why now?

Sadly, it appears that the Israeli foreign policy establishment has given up on convincing the international community as to the essential rightness of the Zionist enterprise. Rather, by attempting to push the issue of Jewish “refugees” from Arab lands to the top of the U.N.’s agenda, Israelis abdicating the moral high ground in favor of sinking into a battle of victimhood narratives with the Palestinians.

Such a lack of conviction bespeaks a general sense of malaise emanating from Jerusalem, where Israel’s leaders have evidently thrown up their hands and embraced the belief that the best defense against anti-Israel bias is a compelling story of mass expulsion.

Now, Minister Ayalon is absolutely correct in asserting that “this issue was never emphasized enough…We have decided to bring it up, to flush out the truth.” It’s a crying shame, not to mention a blight on the records of successive Israeli administrations, that the greatest single demographic upheaval in the modern history of the Middle East was a story largely left untold inside of Israel.

As such, it is altogether appropriate that the Israeli national zeitgeist make room for the largely-forgotten history of Jewish refugees who were summarily expelled from Arab lands.

For while much thought, research, ink and media coverage has been dedicated in recent years to the European Holocaust, the wave of anti-Semitism and violence that swept Arab states in the wake of Israel’s establishment has long been given short shrift.

However, the politicizing of this dark chapter in Jewish history is but a rather lame attempt to stem the growing tide of pro-Palestinian sentiment that has seemingly swept across our world.

For Israel to make any kind of headway by way of ‘hasbara’ (public relations efforts for Israel) it need only remember and repeat these immutable facts regarding the genesis of the Palestinian “refugee” issue:

Settling for approximately one-quarter of the land mass that had been promised by the original partition plan, Jewish leaders made strenuous efforts to encourage their Arab neighbors to stay on and help build up the new state of Israel.

A large majority of local Arabs responded to the call for coexistence by violently rejecting it.  Egged on by a bellicose leadership that darkly warned that its bullets wouldn’t distinguish between Arabs and Jews, hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs summarily packed up and took off, having been reassured that they would be able to return once the foreign Zionist entity had been snuffed out.

What followed was an invasion by seven Arab countries. Had the Arabs accepted the two-state solution, as formulated by the UN in 1947, it is quite likely that war would have been avoided and a separate Palestinian country would have come into existence.

That a refugee problem arose as a result of the invasion is an irrefutable fact. Yet, the births of many sovereign nation have resulted in mass displacement and other social upheavals. Unique to the saga of the Palestinian refugee, however, is the phenomenon of the magically multiplying refugees. From close to 750,000 in 1948, today Palestinian refugees number over 5 million.  Is there any other displaced group on earth that passes their refugee status on genetically?

And while Palestinians around the Middle East have subsequently been used as pawns in a decades-long attempt to destabilize and delegitimize the sovereign state of Israel, Jewish immigrants – that’s right, “immigrants” – from Arab lands were absorbed into Israeli society, where many of their progeny would go on to assume prominent roles within Israeli society.

By referring to Jewish immigrants from Arab lands as refugees, Israeli Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon is inadvertently providing fodder for extremists across the Arab world who argue that all Jewish immigrants should return to their “home” countries since Israel is neither their country nor their ancestral homeland.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/victimhood-as-foreign-policy/2012/09/23/

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