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October 26, 2016 / 24 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘1948’

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 In their absence, they could not tell of the calamity that befell them when their citizenship was withdrawn, their money and property confiscated, their rights denied, and when they were subjected to being imprisoned or murdered while ethnic cleansing was committed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.

Nabil Al-Hadairi

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.

Vardah Littmann

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.

Gidon Ben-Zvi

‘I am Refugee’: Israel Launches Int’l Campaign on Expulsion of Jews from Arab Lands

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

Before 1948, there were close to one million Jews living in the Arab world, while today only a few thousand still remain. During the four years following the establishment of the state of Israel, violent anti-Semitic riots broke out across the Middle East and restrictive government measures were put in place, which forced ancient Jewish communities, some thousands of years old, to dissolve. Driven from their homes and properties, 856,000 Jews were expelled from Arab countries and Iran, fleeing mostly to Israel but also to the United States, Europe, Canada, and elsewhere.

The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has launched a new campaign to mark this tragedy in cooperation with the World Jewish Congress and the Ministry of Pensioner Affairs. Called ‘I Am a Refugee,’ the international campaign seeks to bring the forgotten and often overlooked stories of Jewish refugees from Arab countries to both Israel and the international community.

The campaign, led by Deputy Foreign Minister, Daniel Ayalon, whose own father’s family was forced to flee Algeria, aims to highlight the injustices that were done to the Jewish refugees, via Facebook and online sources. “The time has come to correct an ongoing historical injustice that has affected half of the population of Israel,” said Deputy FM Ayalon on the MFA website.

Jews living in Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Iraq, Iran, Morocco, Egypt, Yemen and Syria lost their legal status, properties and homes, which in many cases were seized by the government.  On the I Am a Refugee Facebook campaign page, personal stories, photos, video documentaries, and documents have been uploaded of Jewish life and escape from these different Middle Eastern countries.  In one pre-World War II photo, a class of Jewish youngsters can be seen in a Benghazi synagogue, while another photo depicts a Jewish wedding in Aleppo, Syria in 1914. In others, Iraqi and Kurdish Jewish refugees are seen arriving to Israel in the 1950s, while other photos show life in the Israeli transit camps that absorbed these refugees.  An uploaded video documentary tells the story of a Jewish family’s exodus from Egypt.

According to MFA website, the personal stories that appear on the Facebook page will be presented at a conference in New York when the United National General Assembly convenes at the end of September.

Ayalon has asked Jewish refugees and their families to take an active part of this campaign via Facebook, to “tell the world your personal story, which is an inseparable part of the Jewish people and the story of the re-establishment of the State of Israel.”

This past June, the United Nations marked World Refugee Day, where only one group of refugees—the Jewish refugees from Arab countries– was noticeably absent, according to a recent Huffington Post article written by Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Proser. “The historic Jewish presence in the Arab World must be recognized. The grave injustices inflicted upon them must be acknowledged,” Prosor wrote in response to the UN oversight.

The I Am a Refugee campaign aims to open the way to international acknowledgement and recognition of the Jewish refugee issue. This coming Monday, an international conference of jurists and experts on the refugee matter will be held in Jerusalem, to continue to advance this campaign.

Anav Silverman, Tazpit News Agency

Ma’ariv Switches to Internet-Only on Weekdays

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

The Israeli daily Ma’ariv, which has been in existence since 1948, will cease its daily print edition, and will instead provide only internet news during the week.

The weekend Ma’ariv edition will be sold every Friday and on holidays, according to the newspaper’s editor. No exact date for the changes has been announced.

The board of Discount Investment Corporation, owned by Nochi Danker, who also owns Maariv, on Sunday agreed to put more than $3 million into the daily newspaper.

The board of Ma’ariv also ordered the liquidation of the newspaper’s at the printing house in Bat Yam, in a sale expected to take in some $50 million.


The Center of Jewish Culture is Already in Israel

Monday, August 20th, 2012


A particularly pessimistic article about the future of France’s Jews — that is to say, about the lack of one — has prompted me to think about the future of the Jewish people everywhere.

Two major centers of Jewish culture disappeared during the 20th century, in Eastern Europe and the Muslim Middle East. Now there is pressure on what is left of the Jewish populations of Western Europe.

A general explanation for this phenomenon can and does fill books, but a quick summary is that traditional forms of antisemitism that developed in the Christian and Muslim worlds came together and exchanged DNA during the Nazi period, making both strains more virulent. Then, after 1948 and in the cauldron of the Cold War, political anti-Zionism combined with simple Jew-hatred to produce today’s particularly dangerous pathogen, which is as deadly as Nazism and as easily transmissible as left-wing politics.

Jews today are concentrated in Israel and in the US. There’s no need to discuss yet again the external and internal threats Israel faces (although I’m confident that it will prevail in the current confrontation with Iran). What about the Jewish population of the US?

America is different from Europe or the Muslim world. America defines itself as a nation of immigrants, so the Jew is not automatically an ‘other’ as in France, for example. America has an aggressive tradition of institutionalized religious tolerance which is unmatched anywhere else in the world.

The influence of Muslims is less of a problem than in Europe. American Muslims are a much smaller percentage of the population than in Europe, and they tend to be more educated, assimilated and likely to accept Western values.

That is not to say that there isn’t a certain amount of Jew-hatred here, either the more traditional “paleo” kind represented by Pat Buchanan or David Duke, or the so-called “new antisemitism” that hides behind an anti-Zionist political facade. But the great majority of Americans find these attitudes offensive. While ugly stereotypes about Jews are common, they rarely result in overt behavior. All this could change, but not easily and not quickly.

But there are other factors at work that will reduce the importance of American Jews. The Jewish community in the US is shrinking (by 5% since the 1990′s) because of a low birth rate and high degree of intermarriage among secular and Reform or Conservative Jews, who are close to 80% of the total. It is much harder for secular or liberal Jewish families to maintain Jewish cultural identity in the majority non-Jewish US than in Israel.

Orthodox Jews, on the other hand, are increasing numerically and as a percentage of the Jewish population. At least half of those are considered Hareidi (“ultra-Orthodox”), which is the fastest growing subgroup.

I think that these trends will gradually result in less Jewish influence on American culture and politics because of smaller numbers and the tendency of the more observant Jews — especially Hareidim –  to participate less in the public sphere. While I don’t think we will see a surge of antisemitism here, I expect that the Jewish community will become smaller proportionally and less involved in American life and politics.

The center of Jewish culture — spiritual, scientific, entrepreneurial, artistic — is today, as it should be, Israel. This was not the case in 1948 or 1967, but it is true now, and I can only expect it to become more true as time goes by. Which means that the future of the Jewish people depends on the survival and prosperity of the Jewish state.

Vic Rosenthal

Cherry Picking Festival

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

The cherry picking festival was held last Friday in Kibbutz Rosh Tzurim, Gush Etzion.

Kibbutz Rosh Tzurim was founded after 1967, on the remains of Kibbutz Ein Tzurim, which was destroyed by the Jordanian Legion in 1948.

Close to ten years ago, the kibbutz went through a privatization process and opened its doors to additional families, first through the rental of available houses, and later with the decision to build an additional neighborhood, Nof Tzurim, on the kibbutz grounds.

Today there are close to one hundred families ranging from young newlyweds, many young families, and even a few retired couples.

The next phase of construction is under way at Rosh Tzurim.

Jewish Press Staff

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/photos/cherry-picking-festival/2012/06/17/

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