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November 22, 2014 / 29 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Return’

Moses’ Spies in Art

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Growing up, I used to enjoy reading S. Weissman’s Little Midrash Says (published 1986) and carefully studying Siegmund Forst’s illustrations of the weekly Torah portion. At the time, I had no idea how many of Forst’s drawings were derived from earlier traditions of biblical illustration (many of them Christian), but I was particularly struck by the moral readability of the narratives. It was always a cinch to figure out who was a good character and who was evil; you could read it on their faces. The heroes were always smiling widely and the villains looked ugly and angry at the world.

 

Unsurprisingly, this technique of revealing characters’ true colors (or their perceived characteristics) in their faces, which seems to be more of a Hellenistic than a Jewish approach, dates much further back than the 1980s. Medieval anti-Semitic illuminated manuscripts often depicted Jews with hooked noses, hunched backs and ugly faces and there are indications that ancient theatrical masks similarly exaggerated characters’ features. It makes sense to apply artistic license in instances like these, just as many movies today cast the hero in white and the villain in dark clothes.

 

Moses’ 12 spies, who surface in this week’s Torah portion of Sh’lach as the Israelites’ scouts to the Holy Land, can be viewed, if not as evil, then at the very least as having questionable motives (with the exception of Caleb and Joshua). Their denouncement of Canaan as “a land that consumes its inhabitants” (Numbers 13:32) and their subsequent campaign to convince the Israelites to pine for their time in Egypt led to a punishment of 40 years of wandering in the desert.

 

Richard McBee. “Return of the Spies.” Relief sculpture. 24″ x 30″. 1984.

 

Artists have pasted the spies’ evil designs on their faces. In a late 15th-century Flemish book of hours, attributed to the so-called Master of the Prayer Book of Maximilian, the two spies, who wear pointed hats, carry a very large cluster of grapes on a rod, per Numbers 13:23. Like the verse says, it takes two spies to carry the branch and the attached cluster of grapes, though the artist neglects to depict the other fruits mentioned in the verse: pomegranates and figs.

 

Rather than depicting the grape cluster (no doubt evoking the spies’ intoxication with their fear of the Canaanite giants) tied to the pole, the Flemish master shows the rod slid between two branches of the cluster, held in place by gravity. The cluster is about half as tall as the spies and slightly wider than they. The spy in front wears a goofy expression while the second spy, whose face is covered by his hat (hinting at his blindness), is even more the dunce.

 

At the spies’ feet, and climbing up the branches around them, are several snails. Although it is possible that the artist has misinterpreted Numbers 13:33, where the spies speculate that they appeared like “grasshoppers” to the Canaanite giants, it is hard to imagine the artist confusing grasshoppers and snails, given the appearance of the word “chagav” in other contexts like 2 Chronicles 7:13, where it clearly refers to some kind of locust.

 

In “Image on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art,” Michael Camille cites a paper by Lilian Randall, titled “The Snail in Gothic Marginal Warfare” [Speculum, Vol. 37, No. 3 (Jul., 1962), pp. 358-367], which argues that snails have been viewed by scholars in a variety of ways. The 19th-century critic Champfleury saw them as “agricultural pests,” while a Flemish historian of caricature saw snails safe inside their shells as “a satire on the powerful who in their fortified castles laughed at the threat of the poor whom they exploited.” Randall goes one step further and identifies snails with the cowardice of the Lombards, a Germanic people, whom Camille notes, “not only bore the stigma of being turncoats but who, along with the Jews, were Europe’s bankers.” Not only are Moses’ spies evil on account of their immature facial expressions and dunce caps; they are also surrounded by symbols of cowardice.

 

Detail of Nicolas Poussin’s “Autumn, or The Bunch of Grapes of the Promised Land.” 

1600-1664. 117 x 160 cm. Louvre.

 

In the 16th-century Swiss painter Tobias Stimmer’s woodcut “The Spies Bring Back the Cluster of Grapes from the Land of Canaan,” the spies look particular ugly and fierce, as they do in Jost Amman’s woodcut by the same name. Stimmer’s work has the notable distinction of featuring other spies, carrying backpacks, in the background.

 

All of the dozens of medieval prints and illuminations I studied show the spies carrying just the grapes, with the exception of the c. 1450 colored pen drawing, “Spies return from Canaan carrying a large bunch of grapes,” by the anonymous illustrator of Speculum humanae salvationis, in which the spies carry another food which resembles an acorn but is probably a fig.

 

Many works (like Michiel van der Borch’s 1332 “The Spies return with the grapes”) show poorly formed grapes, and many of the clusters look more like bunches of bananas. Several of the figures are visibly weighed down by the grapes, as in a 1478 woodcut, “The Spies Returning from Canaan,” perhaps a reference to Christian identification of the grapes on the rod with Jesus. If that is what Christian artists truly had in mind, it makes sense that they would have depicted the Jewish pole bearers in a negative light and often with walking sticks, evoking the Wandering Jew. (Though it is worth noting later artists like Poussin used the scene to depict a secular theme – autumn – rather than a sacred one. Richard McBee has written brilliantly on this image in “Poussin’s Bible,” The Jewish Press, April 30, 2008.)

 

One of the earliest possible depictions of the scene is a frieze in the west fa?ade at the Gothic Cathedral of St. Etienne (c. 1270-1280, France), which shows spies in a vineyard, perhaps Moses’ spies, as two appear to carry a basket of grapes between them. But the scene has often been confused or mislabeled, as in a gothic stained glass “redemption window” from an early 13th-century church (with 20th century restoration) in Canterbury, Kent, which shows two spies with grapes mistitled “Joshua’s Spies in Canaan (the Grapes of Eschol).”

 

 

John Bradford. “Return of the Spies.”

 

 

Contemporary depictions of the spies, of which works by Archie Rand, John Bradford and Richard McBee are foremost – although there is a miniature rendition of the spies in the bottom right corner of Chagall’s tapestry “The Entry into Jerusalem,” 1963-1964 – show a very different scene.

 

Rand’s work, which has one of the spies say (via cartoon bubble), “We got to the land you sent us to. And yea, it’s really flowing with milk and honey – you can see from the fruit,” is compositionally similar (if flipped 180 degrees) to Pieter Bruegel’s “The Hunters in the Snow.” The Canaan Rand’s figures emerge from is rendered with bold strokes and a colorful palette, as the spies head down toward a more dreary place. Their sin seems to stem from inability to explain a world of dramatic aesthetics to denizens of the desert doldrums.

 

Bradford’s spies, like Moses and the rest of the Israelites, are nearly indistinguishable from the landscape and it is difficult to identify where walking sticks end and trees begin. If their sin was speaking ill of the land of Canaan, they were spreading lies about themselves as well, so embedded are they in the landscape.

 

Archie Rand. “The Return of the Spies.” 1992. Exhibited at Arthur Roger Gallery, fall 1992. Photograph by: Larry Qualls.

 

But if Rand and Bradford focus more on the landscape that surrounds the figures, as Poussin does but in sharp contrast to the medieval depictions which portrayed the figures alone, McBee focuses on the spies making their pitch to the Israelites. One can see sheer terror on the faces of the spies’ audience members, who fear for their lives and their families’ safety. Where many of his predecessors focused on the spies’ psychology and immorality, McBee is far more interested in the bystanders who receive their dark message. In so doing, McBee has broadened the scope from the Classical (and individualized) heroes and villains to the larger mass of people, which of course, includes us all as well.

 

 

Menachem Wecker, who blogs on faith and art for the Houston Chronicle at http://blogs.chron.com/iconia, welcomes comments at mwecker@gmail.com.

Moses’ Spies in Art

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Growing up, I used to enjoy reading S. Weissman’s Little Midrash Says (published 1986) and carefully studying Siegmund Forst’s illustrations of the weekly Torah portion. At the time, I had no idea how many of Forst’s drawings were derived from earlier traditions of biblical illustration (many of them Christian), but I was particularly struck by the moral readability of the narratives. It was always a cinch to figure out who was a good character and who was evil; you could read it on their faces. The heroes were always smiling widely and the villains looked ugly and angry at the world.

 

Unsurprisingly, this technique of revealing characters’ true colors (or their perceived characteristics) in their faces, which seems to be more of a Hellenistic than a Jewish approach, dates much further back than the 1980s. Medieval anti-Semitic illuminated manuscripts often depicted Jews with hooked noses, hunched backs and ugly faces and there are indications that ancient theatrical masks similarly exaggerated characters’ features. It makes sense to apply artistic license in instances like these, just as many movies today cast the hero in white and the villain in dark clothes.

 

Moses’ 12 spies, who surface in this week’s Torah portion of Sh’lach as the Israelites’ scouts to the Holy Land, can be viewed, if not as evil, then at the very least as having questionable motives (with the exception of Caleb and Joshua). Their denouncement of Canaan as “a land that consumes its inhabitants” (Numbers 13:32) and their subsequent campaign to convince the Israelites to pine for their time in Egypt led to a punishment of 40 years of wandering in the desert.

 


Richard McBee. “Return of the Spies.” Relief sculpture. 24″ x 30″. 1984.

 

Artists have pasted the spies’ evil designs on their faces. In a late 15th-century Flemish book of hours, attributed to the so-called Master of the Prayer Book of Maximilian, the two spies, who wear pointed hats, carry a very large cluster of grapes on a rod, per Numbers 13:23. Like the verse says, it takes two spies to carry the branch and the attached cluster of grapes, though the artist neglects to depict the other fruits mentioned in the verse: pomegranates and figs.

 

Rather than depicting the grape cluster (no doubt evoking the spies’ intoxication with their fear of the Canaanite giants) tied to the pole, the Flemish master shows the rod slid between two branches of the cluster, held in place by gravity. The cluster is about half as tall as the spies and slightly wider than they. The spy in front wears a goofy expression while the second spy, whose face is covered by his hat (hinting at his blindness), is even more the dunce.

 

At the spies’ feet, and climbing up the branches around them, are several snails. Although it is possible that the artist has misinterpreted Numbers 13:33, where the spies speculate that they appeared like “grasshoppers” to the Canaanite giants, it is hard to imagine the artist confusing grasshoppers and snails, given the appearance of the word “chagav” in other contexts like 2 Chronicles 7:13, where it clearly refers to some kind of locust.

 

In “Image on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art,” Michael Camille cites a paper by Lilian Randall, titled “The Snail in Gothic Marginal Warfare” [Speculum, Vol. 37, No. 3 (Jul., 1962), pp. 358-367], which argues that snails have been viewed by scholars in a variety of ways. The 19th-century critic Champfleury saw them as “agricultural pests,” while a Flemish historian of caricature saw snails safe inside their shells as “a satire on the powerful who in their fortified castles laughed at the threat of the poor whom they exploited.” Randall goes one step further and identifies snails with the cowardice of the Lombards, a Germanic people, whom Camille notes, “not only bore the stigma of being turncoats but who, along with the Jews, were Europe’s bankers.” Not only are Moses’ spies evil on account of their immature facial expressions and dunce caps; they are also surrounded by symbols of cowardice.

 


Detail of Nicolas Poussin’s “Autumn, or The Bunch of Grapes of the Promised Land.” 

1600-1664. 117 x 160 cm. Louvre.

 

In the 16th-century Swiss painter Tobias Stimmer’s woodcut “The Spies Bring Back the Cluster of Grapes from the Land of Canaan,” the spies look particular ugly and fierce, as they do in Jost Amman’s woodcut by the same name. Stimmer’s work has the notable distinction of featuring other spies, carrying backpacks, in the background.

 

All of the dozens of medieval prints and illuminations I studied show the spies carrying just the grapes, with the exception of the c. 1450 colored pen drawing, “Spies return from Canaan carrying a large bunch of grapes,” by the anonymous illustrator of Speculum humanae salvationis, in which the spies carry another food which resembles an acorn but is probably a fig.

 

Many works (like Michiel van der Borch’s 1332 “The Spies return with the grapes”) show poorly formed grapes, and many of the clusters look more like bunches of bananas. Several of the figures are visibly weighed down by the grapes, as in a 1478 woodcut, “The Spies Returning from Canaan,” perhaps a reference to Christian identification of the grapes on the rod with Jesus. If that is what Christian artists truly had in mind, it makes sense that they would have depicted the Jewish pole bearers in a negative light and often with walking sticks, evoking the Wandering Jew. (Though it is worth noting later artists like Poussin used the scene to depict a secular theme – autumn – rather than a sacred one. Richard McBee has written brilliantly on this image in “Poussin’s Bible,” The Jewish Press, April 30, 2008.)

 

One of the earliest possible depictions of the scene is a frieze in the west façade at the Gothic Cathedral of St. Etienne (c. 1270-1280, France), which shows spies in a vineyard, perhaps Moses’ spies, as two appear to carry a basket of grapes between them. But the scene has often been confused or mislabeled, as in a gothic stained glass “redemption window” from an early 13th-century church (with 20th century restoration) in Canterbury, Kent, which shows two spies with grapes mistitled “Joshua’s Spies in Canaan (the Grapes of Eschol).”

 

 


John Bradford. “Return of the Spies.”

 

 

Contemporary depictions of the spies, of which works by Archie Rand, John Bradford and Richard McBee are foremost – although there is a miniature rendition of the spies in the bottom right corner of Chagall’s tapestry “The Entry into Jerusalem,” 1963-1964 – show a very different scene.

 

Rand’s work, which has one of the spies say (via cartoon bubble), “We got to the land you sent us to. And yea, it’s really flowing with milk and honey – you can see from the fruit,” is compositionally similar (if flipped 180 degrees) to Pieter Bruegel’s “The Hunters in the Snow.” The Canaan Rand’s figures emerge from is rendered with bold strokes and a colorful palette, as the spies head down toward a more dreary place. Their sin seems to stem from inability to explain a world of dramatic aesthetics to denizens of the desert doldrums.

 

Bradford’s spies, like Moses and the rest of the Israelites, are nearly indistinguishable from the landscape and it is difficult to identify where walking sticks end and trees begin. If their sin was speaking ill of the land of Canaan, they were spreading lies about themselves as well, so embedded are they in the landscape.

 


Archie Rand. “The Return of the Spies.” 1992. Exhibited at Arthur Roger Gallery, fall 1992. Photograph by: Larry Qualls.

 

But if Rand and Bradford focus more on the landscape that surrounds the figures, as Poussin does but in sharp contrast to the medieval depictions which portrayed the figures alone, McBee focuses on the spies making their pitch to the Israelites. One can see sheer terror on the faces of the spies’ audience members, who fear for their lives and their families’ safety. Where many of his predecessors focused on the spies’ psychology and immorality, McBee is far more interested in the bystanders who receive their dark message. In so doing, McBee has broadened the scope from the Classical (and individualized) heroes and villains to the larger mass of people, which of course, includes us all as well.


 


 


Menachem Wecker, who blogs on faith and art for the Houston Chronicle at http://blogs.chron.com/iconia, welcomes comments at mwecker@gmail.com.

Return of the Bad Old Middle East

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

For most of the past 16 years or so, a seemingly benign specter has been haunting the world – namely, the notion that there exists a New Middle East, one that plays by rules very different from those in the Bad Old Middle East.

Beginning with the first of the Oslo Accords in the early 1990s, Israel was launched by its own political leadership into a “peace process” whose main axiom was that the Old Middle East was dead and gone.

Oslo was based on the assumption that what was needed to resolve the conflict was a sincere willingness on Israel’s part to reach an accommodation with the Arab world through unilateral concessions and especially through Israel’s acknowledging the legitimacy of Palestinian demands for statehood.

But as we enter the year 2009, the conclusion is unavoidable that there is no such thing as a New Middle East. The Bad Old Middle East keeps reasserting itself – with a vengeance.

It is crucial at this point in history for all to abandon the campaign of peace through make-believe that has governed efforts at resolving the conflict since late 1992. No progress can be made until the world renews its acquaintance with Middle East reality and stares it straight in its unpleasant face. Unhappy truths and principles must again be understood and internalized. The most important ones follow.

I. Arab terrorism and military aggression are not caused by Israeli occupation but rather by the removal of Israeli occupation.

Since Oslo, the working hypothesis of the Israeli government, endorsed by nearly everyone on the planet, has been that the most urgent task at hand was to end the Israeli “occupation” and remove Israel from its position of control over the lives of Palestinian Arabs.

The Israeli Left and its amen chorus in the international media have been repeating for so many years that the ultimate cause of Palestinian terrorism and Arab grievances is the “occupation” of “Palestinian lands” by Israel that few are capable any longer of thinking about that assertion critically. It is wrong. The main cause of anti-Israel terrorism today is the removal of Israeli occupation from Palestinian Arabs.

This is so obvious that it is a major intellectual challenge to explain why so few people understand it. Israel ended its occupation of the Gaza Strip in its entirety in 2004 and evicted all Jews who had been living there. The result was the massive ongoing rocket assaults launched from the Gaza Strip against Sderot, Ashkelon, and other towns in the south of Israel.

The Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon was unilaterally ended in the year 2000 by then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak. The direct result of that move was the launching of 4,000 Katyusha rockets from Lebanon against northern Israel in the summer of 2006 and several times that number now poised to strike Israel.

The worst waves of Palestinian suicide attacks were directly triggered by the early Oslo withdrawals – before which there were no suicide bombings.

The only possible exception to the rule that removal of Israeli occupation causes terrorism has been the Sinai Peninsula, which is largely empty. Yet given the role of the Sinai and its Egyptian-sponsored smuggling networks in providing a pipeline for rockets and explosives to Hamas in Gaza, it is not even clear that Israel’s withdrawal from Sinai is an exception to this rule.

There can be no doubt that a complete Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and a return to pre-1967 borders would trigger a massive rocket and terror assault against the remaining rump areas of Israel, launched from the “liberated” lands in the West Bank. The same thing would result from relinquishing the Golan Heights to Syria.

There are worse things in the world than occupation, and the experiences of the past few years have demonstrated how much worse are the consequences that follow the removal of Israeli occupation. The inevitable consequence of a complete withdrawal by Israel to its 1967 borders would be a replay of 1967, when the Arab world hoped to achieve the military annihilation of Israel inside its Green Line borders. This time, though, the Arabs would be using 21st century military technology.

Academics can debate about whether animosity to Israel was itself initially stoked by the years of Palestinians living under occupation. But in fact there was more than sufficient Palestinian animosity and terrorism long before Israel occupied anything at all in the 1967 Six-Day War. Be that as it may, progress today can occur only if the starting point is the understanding that removal of Israeli occupation causes terror and violence.

II. Israeli goodwill concessions do not trigger goodwill among Arabs, they trigger Arab aggression and violence.

The Arabs interpret such goodwill measures as admission of weakness on Israel’s part and as demonstrations of Israeli vulnerability and destructibility. More generally, the axiom that Israeli niceness toward Arabs can generate Arab moderation, reasonableness, and friendliness is also false. It cannot.

Attempts at buying Arab moderation through demonstrations of Jewish self-restraint and niceness go back decades and predate Israel’s independence (back then it was termed havlaga). They have never worked. Present-day attempts to win over Arabs with niceness and restraint range from affirmative action programs that benefit Arabs, to turning a blind eye toward massive lawbreaking by Arabs, particularly regarding construction and squatting on public lands.

Niceness means never prosecuting Arab political leaders for treason and espionage or for endorsing terror, no matter how openly they do so. It means exempting Israeli Arabs from military conscription and even from civilian national service. It has even meant that families of Arabs killed while perpetrating terror atrocities against Jews were allowed to draw “survivor benefits” from Israel’s social security system (the National Insurance Institute).

Outside the Green Line, niceness often consists of endless offers of cease-fires with the terrorists – cease-fires that consist of Palestinians shooting and Israelis not shooting back. It means delivering funds and sometimes weapons to the very groups engaged in terrorism, in an attempt to maintain the fa?ade of an ongoing peace process.

None of these measures can assuage Arab bellicosity toward Israel and Jews; actually, each contributes toward its escalation. Should Israel ever nicely withdraw to its pre-1967 borders, the Arab world led by “Palestine” will launch a war against the remaining territory of the Jewish state. It is likely to do so in the name of the “oppressed” Arabs in the Negev and the Galilee supposedly suffering from “discrimination” in the Israeli “apartheid regime.”

III. The Arab-Israeli war is not about land, and it cannot be resolved by Israel’s relinquishing land.

The Arab world already controls territory nearly twice that of the United States (including Alaska), whereas all of Israel cannot be seen on most world maps. When Israel was occupying nothing outside of its pre-1967 borders, the Arab world refused to come to terms with its existence and is no more willing to do so today, even if Israel were to return to those same borders.

The Arab-Israeli conflict is not about Israel refusing to share land and resources with Palestinians but about the absolute refusal of the Arab world to acquiesce in the existence of any Jewish-majority political entity within any set of borders in the Middle East.

This misrepresentation of the conflict serves to prolong it, precisely because it misleads. The Arab world insists that Israel trade land for peace not because it is prepared to in turn offer Israel peace for the land it vacates, but because a smaller Israel will be that much easier to destroy. And even if Israel consisted of nothing more than downtown Tel Aviv, the Arab world would consider it to be an imperialist affront sitting on stolen Arab land – an illegal “settlement.”

IV. Education and economic progress do not produce political moderation or a desire for peace in the Arab world.

To the contrary, there is reason to believe that wealth and education are negatively correlated with moderation, meaning that wealthier and better-educated Arabs are more likely to support terrorism and extremist political ideas. Arab students in European and American universities have been regular recruits for terrorist groups, and most of the al Qaeda terrorists who carried out the 9/11 atrocities had been students.

Suicide bombers in Israel often are university students or graduates of Palestinian universities. Some have been highly educated professionals, such as the lawyer who blew herself up in the Maxim restaurant in Haifa, killing 21 people on the spot. Public opinion polls among Arabs often show greater support for violence among the better educated.

More generally, in the Middle East poverty and political oppression do not produce terrorism. Anti-Israel terrorism was sparked by the imposition of an enlightened regime on Palestinians by Israel – a regime in which basic freedoms, including freedom of speech and the right to vote in local elections, were enjoyed.

Terrorism escalated with each concession by Israel, especially after it agreed to allow Palestinians political autonomy and then statehood. It escalated after Israel removed its administrative control of the Arab population in most of the “Palestinian territories.”

V. “Talks” cannot produce peace in the Middle East and in fact have harmful effects.

There is a Western obsession with the idea that all world problems can be resolved through talking. But how many international conflicts can be said to have been resolved strictly through talking? Especially in the Middle East, there can be no doubt that talking does not resolve hostilities. It makes them worse.

The Arab-Israeli war is not a marital spat where bringing together the parties to sit around a table and socialize reduces anger, misunderstanding and tension. The conflict is not about hurt feelings but about the refusal of the Arab world to come to terms with Israel’s existence, period, in any set of borders and regardless of whether Jerusalem remains under Israeli control.

VI. There is no “two-state solution” or “one-state solution” to the Arab Israeli conflict.

The latter solution is particularly popular on the left. Under that scenario, Israel is enfolded into a larger “secular democratic Arab state” with an Arab Muslim majority. It is in fact little more than a prescription for a Rwanda-style genocide of Jews. This is little doubt that a significant number of those proposing such a solution would really like to see this happen.

More important, there is no “two-state solution” to the Middle East conflict. Those speaking about a two-state solution really mean a 24-state solution, meaning the Arabs retain the 22 states they already have, adding a 23rd state of “Palestine” in parts of the West Bank and Gaza and pre-1967 Israeli territories, with Israel remaining the Jewish state – the 24th state in the plan – for the moment.

That such a solution will not end the conflict but only signal the commencement of its next stage has long been the quasi-official position of virtually all Palestinian groups, which have long insisted that any two-state solution is but a stage in a plan of stages, after which will come additional steps ultimately ending Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.

The original partition plan of the United Nations had proposed that an Arab Palestinian state arise alongside Israel in 1948. The Arab world rejected this plan altogether. It had no interest in adding one more Arab Islamic state to its portfolio. It went to war to prevent the creation of any Jewish state.

The two-state solution is no more realistic an option today than it was in 1948. It is ultimately as much of an existential threat to Jewish survival in the Middle East as the one-state solution. Creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel would be a major step in the escalation of the Arab war against Israel’s existence, even if that war is delayed for a time while the world celebrates the outbreak of peace in the Middle East thanks to the end of Israeli “occupation.”

VII. Israeli Arabs form a potential fifth column, displaying massive animosity and disloyalty to the state in which they have lived for 60 years and openly identifying with the enemies of that state.

Sixty years of living under the only democratic government in the Middle East has had surprisingly little impact on the feelings and loyalties of Israeli Arabs, who are by and large hostile to the very existence of the state. They are no more resigned to living as a minority within a majority-Jewish state today than they were in 1948.

Their animosity toward Israel is apparent in their voting behavior: the bulk of Israeli Arabs vote for pro-terror Arab nationalist parties with strong fascist tendencies or for the Stalinist HADASH party.

When the opportunity presents itself – for example, during the riots in the fall of 2000 or earlier this year on Yom Kippur in Acre – Israeli Arab enmity toward Jews is candidly manifested, and not just in words.

Education and prosperity offer little hope of changing this reality. One proof is the behavior of Arab college students in Israel. Despite being beneficiaries of affirmative action preferences in college admissions and access to scarce dormitory space, Arab students are almost uniformly anti-Israel and pro-jihad.

Israeli Arabs have long played a Sudeten-like role in the conflict. In any new outbreak of hostilities with neighboring Arab countries, there is a clear and present danger that they will take to the streets in attempts to cripple the country from within. The Arab lynch mobs of the Galilee that operated in October 2000 may have been a small foretaste.

For too long the world, led by Israel’s own deluded leaders, has been attempting to create peace via the pretense that war is over, misrepresenting the fa?ade of negotiations as actual resolution of conflict.

It has been a sham, of course, and any short-lived lulls in the fighting have served only to weaken the resolve of Israelis, whose leaders have repeatedly presented them with a Potemkin peace based on the substitution of wish-making for statecraft.

Steven Plaut, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.

A July 4 Special Commentary: Patriots, Refugees And The Right of Return

Friday, August 1st, 2003

When the War of Independence began, it quickly assumed the nature of a civil war. Those opposing the declaration of statehood fought alongside the organized armies of their kinsmen that invaded the territory of the infant state from all directions. The fighting was bloody, and the opponents of independence used terrorism against the population defending statehood. The country was partitioned between the areas of the new state and the territories remaining under the rule of the foreign invaders.

As the fighting dragged on, the opponents of independence began a mass exodus. In most cases, they left because they feared the consequences of staying on as a political minority or because they simply opposed on principle the new political entity. In some cases, they refused to live as a religious minority under the rule of those practicing an alien religion. In some cases, they were expelled forcibly. They fled across the frontiers, moving their families to live in the areas controlled by the armies of their political kin. From there, some joined the invading forces and launched cross-border raids. When the fighting ceased, most of the refugees who had fled from the new state were refused permission to return.

The events described above did not transpire in 1947-49, but rather in 1775-1781. The refugees in question were not Arabs, but Tory “Loyalists” who supported the British against the American revolutionists seeking independence. During the War of Independence, large numbers of Loyalist refugees fled the new country. Estimates of the numbers vary, but perhaps 100,000 refugees left or were expelled, a very significant number given the sparse population of the thirteen colonies.

While there are many differences, there are also many similarities between the plight of the Palestinians and that of the Tory refugees during the first years of American Independence. The advocates of Palestinian rights are in fact clearly in the same political bed with King George’s allies who fought against American democracy and independence.

Like all wars of independence, both the Israeli and American wars were in fact civil wars. In both cases, religious sectarianism played an important role in defining the opposing forces, although for Americans taxation was even more important. (Israelis suffered under abominable taxation only after Independence.) Among the causes of the American revolution was the attempt to establish the Anglican Church, or Church of England, as the official bishopric of the
colonies. Anglicans were the largest ethnic group opposing independence in the 1770′s, as were Palestinian Muslims in the 1940′s, although in both cases other religious/ethnic groups were also represented in the anti-Independence movement.

Those fearing the possibility of being forced to live as minorities under the tyrannical religious supremacy of the Anglicans and Muslims, respectively, formed the forces fighting for Independence. The Anglicans and Muslims hoped to establish themselves with the armed support of their co-religionists across the borders. New England was the center of patriotism to a large extent because of the mistrust of the Anglican church by the Puritan and Congregationalist majorities there. The later incorporation of separation of church and state in the U.S. Constitution was largely motivated by the memory of would-be Anglican dominance.

Among the leaders of the Tory cause were many Anglican parsons, perhaps the most prominent being one Samuel Seabury, the Grand Mufti of the Loyalists.

In both wars of independence, the anti-independence forces were a divided and heterogeneous population, and for this reason lost the war. In the American colonies, the Tories included not only Anglicans, but other groups — including Indians, Scots, Dutch, and
Negroes — who feared for their future living under the rule of the local political majority. Tory sympathy was based on ethnic, commercial, and religious considerations. Where Loyalist sentiment was strong enough, namely in Canada, the war produced partition, with territories remaining cut off from the newly independent state.

When Independence was declared, the populations of the opposing forces were about even in both 18th century America and 20th century Palestine. The exact distribution of pro- and
anti-Independence forces in the American colonies is not known, but the estimate by John Adams is probably as good a guess as any, namely, one third patriot, one third Loyalist, and one third neutral.

When fighting broke out, civilians were often the first victims in both wars. The Tories formed terrorist units and plundered and raided the territories under patriot control. The southwestern frontier areas of the colonies, like the southwestern border of Palestine, were scenes of particularly bloody terrorism. In South Carolina the Tory leader Major William Cunningham, known as “Bloody Bill,” became the Ahmed Jabril of the struggle, conducting massacres of patriot civilians. Tory and anti-Tory mob violence became common. The historian Thomas Jones documents many cases of Tories burning patriot homes, but claims the patriots seldom did the same.

Terrorist raids were particularly common along the New England coast and up the Delaware. General Sir Henry Clinton organized many guerilla raids upon patriot territory. Loyalists also
launched assassination plots, including an attempt to murder George Washington in New York in 1776. Among the terrorists participating in that plot was the mayor of New York City.

There were Loyalist insurrections against the patriots in every colony. Tory military

activity was particularly severe in the Chesapeake, on Long Island, in Delaware, in Maryland, and along the Virginia coast. As violence escalated and spread, the forces of the revolution took countermeasures. Tories were tarred and feathered. Indiscriminate expulsions sometimes took place. Tory areas were sometimes placed under martial rule, with all civil rights, habeas corpus, and due process suspended.

Queens County, New York, a Loyalist stronghold, was put under military administration by Continental troops, and the entire population was prohibited from travel without special documents. General Wooster engaged in wholesale incarceration and expulsion of New York Tories. The Continental Congress called for disarming all Loyalists and locking up the “dangerous ones” without trial. New York Loyalists were exiled to Connecticut and other places, and sometimes used in forced labor.

Loyalists were sometimes kidnaped and held hostage. In some colonies, expressing opposition to the Revolution was grounds for imprisonment. In some colonies, Loyalists were excluded from practicing law and from some other professions. Tories were frequently stripped of all property rights, and had their lands confiscated. In colony after colony, Acts of Banishment forced masses of Loyalists to leave their homes and emigrate. The most common destination was the Canadian maritimes, with others going to the British West Indies, to England, and to Australia.

In both the Israeli and American Wars of Independence, anti-independence refugees fled the country in order to live in areas under the control of their political allies. Many who opposed
independence nevertheless stayed put. After the wars ended, these generally found the Devil was not as bad as they had feared, and were permitted to live as tolerated political minorities with civil rights. (This in spite of the fact that many refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new states, sometimes for decades.)

The colonies/states that had banished Loyalists refused to allow them to return, even after a peace treaty was signed. In most cases, property was never returned. There was fear that returning Tories could act as a sort of fifth column, particularly if the British took it into their heads to attempt another invasion. (Such an invasion took place in 1812.) The newly independent country, like Israel, initially resolved many of its strategic problems through an
alliance with France.

The Tory refugees were regarded by all as the problem of Britain. The American patriots allowed small numbers to return. Others attempted to return illegally and were killed. But most
languished across the partition lines in eastern British Canada, mainly in what would become Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The refugees would never be granted the “right to return.” In most cases they would never even be granted compensation for property; Benjamin Franklin was among the leading opponents of any such compensation.

At this point, the similarity between the Palestinian refugees and the Tory Loyalists breaks down. The British, unlike the Arabs, did a great deal to settle their refugees, rather than force them into festering camps, and allotted $20 million for their resettlement. The Tory refugees quickly became a non-problem, and never played any subsequent role in British-American relations.

Nevertheless, an interesting thought-experiment might be to imagine what would have occurred had the British done things the Arab way. Tory refugees would have been converted into terrorist cadres and trained by British commandos. They would have begun a ceaseless wave of incursions and invasions of the independent United States, mainly from bases along the Canadian frontier. The British, Hessians and their allies would have launched a global
diplomatic campaign for self-determination for the Loyalist Americans. They would have set up an American Liberation Organization (ALO) to hijack whalers and merchant marines and
assassinate U.S. diplomats.

Benedict Arnold would have been chosen ALO chairman and would have written the Tory National Charter under the nom de guerre of Abu Albion. The British would have organized
underground terrorist cells among the Loyalist population that had not fled. Britain and her empire would have boycotted the new country commercially and pressured others to do the same, asserting that the national rights of the Loyalist people were inalienable and eternal, no matter how many years had passed since the refugees fled. International pressure would have been exerted on the U.S. to give up much of its territory and to internationalize Philadelphia.

For more than fifty years the position of the American State Department has been that Israel should grant the Palestinian refugees the “right to return,” that Israel is liable for the suffering of the refugees and should be responsible for their resettlement. The State Department also thinks the refugees should be represented at Middle East peace talks. The State Department is sympathetic to calls for recognizing the rights of the refugees to self-determination and
political expression.

The State Department, in other words, is exhibiting Loyalist Tory sympathies. A large portrait of Benedict Arnold should grace the office of every “Arabist” at Foggy Bottom.

Steven Plaut is a professor at Haifa University. His book ‘The Scout’ is available through Amazon.com. He can be contacted at steven_plaut@yahoo.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/a-july-4-special-commentary-patriots-refugees-and-the-right-of-return/2003/08/01/

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