Based on a Lecture

by
Joachim Martillo
before
New Jersey SolidarITy
New Brunswick

New Jersey
October 3, 2002

 


Issues and Questions In the Historiography of Pre-State Zionism

The Failure of Jewish Studies in America




Issues and Questions In the Historiography of Pre-State Zionism

The Failure of Jewish Studies in America[i]

Introduction

Zionism is the movement to make Palestine the site of a nation-state for Jews.  It can also be the ideology associated with the movement.  A Zionist supports the goals of Zionism.  The preceding definitions represent a plethora of questions far more than they provide any sort of explanation, for one must ask in response the following.

 

The academic field of Jewish Studies or Judaica should provide answers, reasonable analysis or the tools by which an educated person might be able to address the questions himself.  Unfortunately, this field supplies only propaganda or poor scholarship from the study of the ancient Middle East to the history of Zionism and the State of Israel.  The state of the academic disciplines associated with Judaica can be compared with the situation Eastern European historians faced after the fall of the Soviet Union when they suddenly had to write genuine history, and no one really knew how.  As of today Judaicists are not ready to provide genuine scholarship, but once they are, Eric Hobsbawm’s Budapest 1993 lecture to Eastern European students on the question of proper historiography identifies a large part of the problem that real scholars of Jewish Studies must address.

Eric Hobsbawm – Inside and Outside History

Either Elvis Presley is dead or he isn't. The question can be answered unambiguously on the basis of evidence insofar as reliable evidence is available, which is sometimes the case. Either the present Turkish government, which denies the attempted genocide of the Armenians in 1915, is right or it is not. Most of us would dismiss any denial of this massacre from serious historical discourse, although there is no equally unambiguous way to choose between different ways of interpreting the phenomenon or fitting it into the wider context of history ...

Few of the ideologies of intolerance are based on simple lies or fictions for which no evidence exists. After all, there was a battle of Kosovo in 1389, the Serb warriors and their allies were defeated by the Turks, and this did leave deep scars on the popular memory of the Serbs, although it does not follow that this justifies the oppression of the Albanians, who now form 90 per cent of the region's population or the Serb claim that the land is essentially theirs. … [1]

The most usual ideological abuse of history is based on anachronism rather than lies. Greek nationalism refuses Macedonia even the right to its name on the grounds that all Macedonia is essentially Greek and part of a Greek nation-state,[2] presumably ever since the father of Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia, became the ruler of the Greek lands on the Balkan peninsula. Like everything about Macedonia, this is a far from a purely academic matter, but it takes a lot of courage for a Greek intellectual to say that, historically speaking, it is nonsense.[3] .... These and many other attempts to replace history by myth and invention are not merely bad intellectual jokes. After all, they can determine what goes into schoolbooks, as the Japanese authorities knew, when they insisted on a sanitized version of the Japanese war in China for use in Japanese classrooms.[4] Myth and invention are essential to the politics of identity by which groups of people today, defining themselves by ethnicity, religion or the past or present borders of states, try to find some certainty in an uncertain and shaking world by saying, `We are different from and better than the Others.'

… History is not ancestral memory or collective tradition. It is what people learned from priests, schoolmasters, the writers of history books and the compilers or magazine articles and television programmes. It is very important for historians to remember their responsibility, which is above all, to stand aside from the passions of identity politics -- even if we feel them also. After all, we are human beings too.

How serious an affair this may be is shown in a recent article by the Israeli writer Amos Elon about the way in which the genocide of the Jews by Hitler has been turned into a legitimizing myth for the existence of the state of Israel. More than this: in the years of right-wing government it was turned into a sort of national ritual assertion of Israel state identity and superiority and a central item of the official system of national beliefs, alongside God. Elon, who traces the evolution of the transformation of the concept of the ‘Holocaust’ argues … that history must now be separated from national myth, ritual and politics.

As a non-Israeli, though a Jew, I express no views about this. However, as a historian I sadly note one observation by Elon. It is that the leading contributions to the scholarly historiography of the genocide, whether by Jews or non-Jews, were either not translated into Hebrew, like Hilberg's great work, or were translated only with considerable delay, and then sometimes with editorial disclaimers. The serious historiography of the genocide has not made it any less of unspeakable tragedy. It was merely at variance with the legitimizing myth.[5]

 

Don’t Touch My Holocaust!

Hobsbawm could perhaps have emphasized far more that correct historiography can have value far beyond the country or regions that are the subjects.  Genuine pre-state Zionist histories should investigate issues of

·         development of a sense of ethnic identity,

·         fabrication or obliteration of “national” memory and

·         the creation of an imagined community.

As these processes take place in the case of Zionism particularly late in the history of European nationalism and with copious documentation, the study of pre-State Zionism can perhaps provide insight not only into the specifically European phenomena but also into general global phenomena or at least into some similar non-European situations like the development of Sikh ethnonational identity in Punjab.

Besides any global or generalizable implications, the study of pre-State Zionism provides a unique window onto Central and Eastern European politics at one of the most critical periods in modern history as well as a magnifying glass on a racist Eastern European settler colonist movement and on the Eastern European settler colonists themselves in their interactions with a non-Western population.  Not only may analysis of the history of Zionist aggression in Palestine aid in understanding Czarist colonial imperialism and Russian expansionist aspirations in Central and Southwest Asia, but comparison with Zionist settlement activities may serve to illuminate French colonialist imperialist endeavors in Algeria.

Better histories of Zionism could have predictive value in the current Palestine conflict.  Zionists have never been particularly imaginative.[ii]  The treatment of Arafat today parallels the Zionist demonization of al-Haj Amin al-Hussayni, the Mufti of Jerusalem during the Mandatory period.  Zionist propaganda transformed the rather compliant Hussayni into a bogeyman.  As a result Zionists could avoid dealing with any of the difficult ethical questions of their aggression against the native population because dealing with the bogeyman took precedence.  The Barghouti trial is merely an attempt to reprise the trial of Eichmann, a Nazi war criminal, who was captured by Israeli spies and then brought to Israel to be tried.  That case could have been concluded within two weeks, but Ben-Gurion wanted to make a show trial to mobilize world opinion and the Israeli Jewish population.  The Barghouti trial has the same purpose.  Even the election of Sharon himself shows the inability of Zionists to develop new ideas in response to new situations, for the Israeli Jewish electorate facing difficult questions has chosen to depend on a member of the generation of ethnic cleansers from 50 years ago and not to rely on their current leadership.[6] 

Sharon himself simply follows the logic of the “Iron Wall” that Jabotinsky, one of the primary pre-State Zionist leaders, articulated from 1916 through 1923.  This idea assumes “What is impossible is voluntary agreement.”  Zionists must work for “the establishment in Palestine of a force that will in no way be influenced by Arab pressure.  In other words, the only way to achieve a settlement in the future is total avoidance of attempts to arrive at a settlement in the present.”  This strategy, as first clearly articulated by Jabotinsky 80 years ago[iii] and as reiterated by Sharon today is, completely incompatible with the goal of globalization as espoused and supported by the USA.

It is hard for an educated American even to notice the recourse of Israeli Jews to outmoded and failed strategies. Because of the laziness of textbook writers or because of Zionist manipulation, in the USA the historiography of the ME at least at the high school and to a large extent at university level conforms to Zionist ideology.  American academic description of the history of Zionism has little factual basis and even less interpretive value.  One could say that the discourse on the ME in the USA is Zionist through and through.  It is a serious problem in a republic that must depend on an informed citizenry.

As long as US strategic foreign policy is hitched to Israel, whether an American citizen supports the alliance between the USA and Israel or opposes it, he must be distressed by the inadequacy of Jewish studies in America because a good background in Judaica is necessary in order to make an informed judgment on this policy.  The discipline of Jewish studies, which is dominated by racists, tribalists and Zionists, has simply failed the obligation to educate Americans.[iv]  The wrong issues are debated while important questions are not posed.

Figure 1 Zionist Dictionary of the English Language

Not Even Questions -- “Either Elvis Is Dead or He Isn’t”

Because of Zionist control of the discourse, obvious facts become the subject of dispute.

Zionism is A racist Ideology

Zionism presupposes that Jewish historical, ethnic or national rights to Palestine are superior to the human rights of the native population.

The first edition of the American Heritage Dictionary defines racism[v] as follows.

 The notion that one’s ethnic stock is superior.

The assertion that one group’s rights are superior to another group’s rights is tantamount to the claim that the former group is superior to the latter group.  Zionism is a racist ideology as matter of standard dictionary definitions that American journalists and political leaders simply ignore (viz Figure 1). It is hard to be more explicitly racist than Zionist ideology.[7]  Zionists dispute the point because in our culture it is acceptable to hate racism, racists and those that support racism.  Simple application of dictionary definitions and basic rules of logic like modus ponens show that hostility toward the Zionist state, Zionists and those that support Zionism is perfectly legitimate and as meritorious by modern standards as despising any form of racism.

His Fraudulency, The Unelected President and Thief, Is a Dope[8]

President Bush created perhaps even a stupider more vacuous debate than the non-question of the racism of Zionist ideology when he claimed that “they” hate our freedom and individuality.  In the aftermath of the WTC attack, “they” was supposed to mean Usama bin Ladin and his followers, but talking heads and political commentators quickly expanded the range of meaning to include Arabs, Muslims or some generalized third-world “other.”

  1. They do not hate our freedom.[9]

  2. As Karen Armstrong points out, at the beginning of the century, western politics, economics, society and culture were admired.[vi]

  3. They do hate Israel with perfect legitimacy. (Just check out the Bible.)
     
    תְבֹרָךְ לֹא וְאַחֲרִיתָהּ בָּרִאשֹׁנָה מְבֹחֶלֶת נַחֲלָה: 20:21 (Proverbs)  מִשׁלֵי .  The verse tells us in a loose translation that is faithful to the meaning, “If you steal a legacy that is not yours, you will be hated [more literally its end result will not be blessed/secure].”

  4. The USA is allied with Israel or, to be more accurate, maintains Israel as a colony.   If the USA supports bad people and a bad country, the USA will be hated.

  5. The USA inspires hatred

a.        by forestalling Arab political development through the sponsorship of despots that long ago would have been overthrown but for US interference and

b.       by murdering Arabs directly and indirectly in Iraq for a decade while its Zionist colonial surrogate has oppressed, brutalized and murdered the native Arab population of Palestine for over 50 years.

  1. They hate US policy with perfect justice, and so should Americans as well.

  2. The closed-minded bigotry, ignorance and arrogance of the Bush administration does not improve the general world impression of the President, his policy, the USA or Americans.

 

The Bully Pulpit Betrayed

Bush is not alone in obscuring the basic facts.  If practically all the main political, intellectual, journalistic and academic leaders were not misleading the public not merely on the core racist nature of Zionist ideology but also on practically all other major issues, the key points would be obvious.

 

Zionists Are The Bad Guys!! And the USA should switch sides in the conflict.  A competent statesman in the White House would have all the means at hand to direct American public opinion against Zionism and the State of Israel as well as to act against those organizations that support Zionist racism, aggression and terrorism.

The Primary Anachronism – Who Are the Jews?

Almost everyone that tries to discuss the issues rationally quickly runs into the first wall of anachronism and obfuscation.  However one attempts to describe Jews, whether as a race, an ethnic group, a people, a Volk, a territorial population, a nation or a religion, a Zionist interlocutor will invariably object according to the following rule.

Pick the definition of Jews that best serves the specific Zionist argument at the time.

 

Not only does Zionism control the discourse about Palestine and related issues in the USA; it also attempts to control the English language as used in the discussion.[12]

The Greco-Roman Anachronism:
יהודים, ’Iουδαϊοι and Iūdaei are Judeans Not Jews

Biblical Israel[vii] and the associated Greco-Roman Judean religion of a later period simply were not “Jewish” as we understand it today.  When talking about the Greco-Roman period and earlier,[viii] one should never employ the term Jew, which belongs to a much later time frame.  The correct word is Judean, from which Jew derives etymologically.  The meaning of Judean in the Greco-Roman period is subject to much debate.  I can only assume modern scholars simply do not have much command of classical idiomatic usage, for Judean had the same range of definitions as Roman had then and still has today. Generally, Roman could imply residence in Rome, descent from residents of Rome, practice of a religion or culture perceived as Roman[13] or citizenship in the Roman Empire.  Likewise Judean could imply residence in Judea or descent from former residents of Judea.  It could refer to people whose religious practices were connected[14] or originating with Judea as well as to the subjects of the King of Judea.[15]

Greco-Roman Judean religion has approximately the same connection to modern Rabbinic Judaism that ancient Roman religion, which was centered on the worship of Jupiter, has to modern Roman religion, which is generally called Roman Catholicism. People that observed Roman, Greek or Judean religious or cultic practices in ancient times rarely had ancestry that traced to Rome, Greece or Judea just as few Roman Catholics today are Roman in the sense of residing in Rome or of having ancestors that came from Rome.

Most Judeans in Greco-Roman times were Judean by religious practice, did not live in Judea or Palestine and were neither Judean nor Palestinian by ancestry or by residence.  The majority of the population in Palestine was not Judean by religion.  Sometimes the people of Palestine or of Judea are described as Judean in a purely territorial sense even when they do not practice Judean religious ritual.  Most cultic Judeans lived in Mesopotamia (i.e., Iraq) and were the descendants of non-Judean non-Palestinian populations that took up Judean cultic practices.  Most Judeans of the Roman Empire were Greek-speaking and were the descendants of non-Judean non-Palestinian populations that practiced variants of Judean religion.  During the period of Judean Rebellions in Palestine during the 1st and 2nd centuries, the Romans took some rebels as captives and sold them as slaves to defray costs, but the total number seized from all the rebellions probably did not exceed 20,000. The Romans did not expel the Judean population from Palestine.

Modern Palestinians are descendants of ancient Roman period Judeans (in the territorial sense) or Palestinians of all religions.  They were gradually Christianized and then Islamized like all other Middle East populations. Zionist racists, tribalists and propagandists in the media and in academia promote a false primordialist[ix] equation between modern Jews and ancient Judeans in order to justify or to legitimize the theft of Palestine from the native population by European settler colonists.[x]  Even though the primordialist argument is fundamentally nonsensical even if true (to wit, no one believes Vienna should be handed over to the Irish because the founders were Celts), such primordialism characterizes most Central and Eastern European nationalism of which Zionism is a particular extreme example.  Radical German nationalists attempted to equate modern Germans with ancient Teutonic tribes even though modern Germans have probably more Celtic and Slavic ancestry than anything that can be considered Teutonic and even though we know that there was considerable Hunnish settlement of Bavaria.  Polish nationalists had their own comparable version of primordialist nonsense and claimed to be reviving the Medieval Rzeczpospolita (Republic) while extremist Rumanian nationalists try to equate modern Rumania with ancient Roman Dacia. 

The implicit content of primordialist claims is the assertion that Jews, Germans, Poles or Rumanians as the extremist nationalists define them were there first and that their rights are superior to those of anyone else in the lands the nationalists claim. The counterfactual Zionist primordialist propaganda that pertains to Biblical and Greco-Roman times has tended to be most effective with the most ignorant and gullible of American fundamentalist Christians.

The Medieval Anachronism:
יהודים, ’Iουδαϊοι, Iūdaei and اليهود Become Jews
(Origins of MOdern Rabbinic Judaism)

Despite the uninformed beliefs of most Christians and Jews, modern Rabbinic Judaism crystallizes in the 10th century C.E. thanks to the efforts of Saadya Gaon and other 10th century sages and emissaries from the Gaonic academies of Mesopotamia.  From then on it becomes legitimate to use the term Jew in lieu of Judaean.  This time period was a general age of theological consolidation for cultures derived from ancient Hellenism.  Christian theology attained its final form in the Roman West and the Byzantine East with the exception of some developments linked to the Protestant Reformation.    The stimulus for such consolidation among Christians and Jews may have been the finalization of Islamic theology with the Sunni rejection of the doctrine of المُعْتَزِلَة (the Mu`tazilah).[16] We can only speculate why the Gaonic form of Judean religion became dominant as modern Rabbinic Judaism, but there is evidence from Geniza studies that the Geonim were in communication with elite of the Khazar Turks, who seem to have converted en masse to Judean religion between the 8th and 9th centuries as they migrated westward from Central Asia into Southern Russian and the Ukraine and then into the Balkans.  The Khazar elite may have provided funding to the Gaonic academies, whose form of Judean religion thus had a tremendous advantage over other forms of Judean religion like modern Karaitism in the competition for the hearts and minds of adherents of Judean religion.

Modern Rabbinic Judaism could well be a product developed jointly by a collaboration of the Geonim and the Khazar Turks.[17]  Even if not, modern Rabbinic Judaism is still properly understood as the youngest of the Abrahamic religions.[18]  It originates in the Diaspora, and its natural environment is the Diaspora.  The Zionist assertion of having returned (Rabbinic) Judaism to its native soil is about as anachronistic as a claim can be and serves as nationalistic propaganda that is most effective among Jews whose origins are Central and Eastern Europe.

Anachronism Upon Anachronism:
Eastern European Jews Become Ashkenazim
(Origins of the Autochthonous Eastern European Ashkenazi Ethnic Group)

During and subsequent to the time period when communities practicing Judean and related rites became modern Rabbinic or modern Karaite Jews, there is no evidence of any migration from the Middle East or N. Africa to medieval Central or Eastern Europe except for a small migration into France from Egypt and N. Africa during the late 12th and early 13th century and another migration into Hungary during the 100 year occupation by the Ottoman Empire that ends in the middle 16th century. 

All archeological, historical, ethnographic, linguistic and textual evidence available to us is consistent with the assumption that Jews from Central and Eastern Europe, most of whom later came to be known as Ashkenazim, are an autochthonous population of Eastern Europe or Southern Russia and have practically no ancestry from the ancient Palestinian Judean communities of the Greco-Roman period or earlier.[19]  Jews in Central and Eastern Europe were an indigenous population whose Germanic, Slavic, Turkic, Celtic and Romanic ancestors assumed some form of Judean cultic practices long ago and then were subsequently Judaicized to Rabbinic Judaism like almost all populations that practiced some form of the ancient Judean religious rites.[xi]

At first only Jews in the region bounded by the Rhine, Danube and Elbe called themselves Ashkenazim (viz Figure 2).  There is a good possibility that many early Judean-rite immigrants to this region came from the Turkic Khazar Empire, for the time frame of the founding of the Ashkenazi communities in German territories corresponds roughly to a period of increasing practice of Judean rituals within the Khazar Empire and continuing migration of Eastern populations westward.  There is also considerable archeological evidence of western migration of refugees when the Empire finally dissolved and was overrun.[xii]

The use of the term Ashkenazi for self-identification is suggestive in and of itself. Ashkenazi is a Hellenistic Judean Hebrew-Aramaic term for Scythian (also known as Ashguzai), Turk, Phrygian, Mysian or Ascanian.  Geographically, the term is associated with Southern Russia, Western Turkey and parts of the Balkans.  During the period of the Khazar Empire, Khazars that practiced Judean rites probably called themselves Ashkenazim because of this traditional terminology. Khazar immigrants to Central Europe could have joined already existing pre-Ashkenazi communities of Celts and Germans that followed some form of Judean or related religion.  Probably, Khazar immigrants, associated with the activities of Radanite merchants, dominated these communities economically, intellectually and culturally.  As Central European populations that practiced pre-modern Judean cults were gradually Judaized to modern Rabbinic Judaism, they forgot their actual origins like many other European populations.  When only memory remained of the name by which the dominant element described itself, all Central European Jews came to be known as Ashkenazim, and the Central European German speaking region became the original territory of Ashkenaz.[20] 

Before Eastern Europe became the eastern region of greater Ashkenaz, it was a major source of slaves during the Medieval period and was at first known as Canaan in Jewish writings because Hellenistic Judean Aramaic used Canaanite as a common term for slave just as most Medieval European languages and Medieval Arabic used some variant of the word Slav as the word for slave.[21] 

There were some basic differences between Ashkenaz and Canaan simply because the Ashkenaz region was mostly Germanic linguistically while Canaan in the early period was mostly Slavic in terms of language, but the critical historical divergence between Central and Eastern Europe takes place in 1648. 

In Central Europe, the Treaty of Westphalia, which ended The Thirty Years War, had the effect of excluding religion as a cause for war in Western and Central Europe.

In Eastern Europe, the Chmielnicki Rebellion results in a series of slaughters of Polish Roman Catholics,[22] Polish Jews and Ukrainian Orthodox.[xiii]  Relations among the three groups begin a long downward slide. Confessionalism, which is religious hatred without religious belief, takes root in Eastern Europe as a precursor to the development of modern ethnic identities.  

Figure 2 from A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names by Alexander Beider

The short-term consequences of Chmielnicki Rebellion included the absorption of Poland and the Ukraine into the empires of the Prussian Hohenzollerns, the Austrian Habsburgs and the Russian Romanovs while Jewish Canaan completed its merger into Ashkenaz.  As a result, Eastern European Jews finished the linguistic shift from derivatives of West Yiddish and from Slavic (as well as possibly Turkic, Romanic or Yavanic) languages to East Yiddish, which is basically a Germanoslavic creole or fusion language.  Nowadays, practically all Jews whose origins lie in Central and Eastern Europe are considered Ashkenazim.[23]

In the long-range the effects of the Treaty of Westphalia and the Chmielnicki Rebellion defined the 19th century evolution of modern nationalism, which demanded that the nation and the state must be congruent.

·         France and the UK, belonging wholly to the area of the Treaty, developed a secular civil or voluntary nationalism according to which citizenship conferred membership in the nation,

·         Germans, whose territories came to span the regions of the Treaty and the Rebellion, tended toward secular organic nationalism according to which the individual was analogous to a cell in the organic body of the nation and the state was identified with a specific ethnonational group, and

·         Eastern Europeans including Ashkenazim developed a confessional organic nationalism according to which the specific ethnonational group to which the state belongs was strictly defined on confessional boundaries even though religious belief declined precipitously among Eastern Europeans during the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.

The pattern of secularity and confessionalism among Central and Eastern Europeans held true even during Nazi persecutions of European Jews.  Nazi Germans claimed to abuse Jews on strictly racial grounds while Eastern European collaborators generally showed strong confessional tendencies in their persecutions.

In the Modern Period:  Not only Anachronism But Also Exceptionalism and Omission

Modern Ashkenazi history no more takes place in a vacuum than Greco-Roman Judean history, but modern historiography of Ashkenazim is flawed not only by anachronism as Hobsbawm points out but by exceptionalism and omission.  Exceptionalism is probably either Zionist or racist in origin. Omission is characteristic of all false and propaganda histories.  Zionist historians have gotten away with this sort of intellectual dishonesty far longer than most similar historian-propagandists.

 Exceptionalist histories of Ashkenazim avoid connecting Ashkenazi social, political, intellectual and economic history to the Central and Eastern European environments in which they lived.  Exceptionalist history serves Zionist purposes because prejudiced historians and propagandist can avoid interpreting Zionist ideology and actions as part of the general tapestry of European aggression, imperialism and colonialism against the non-Western world.  Instead, such exceptionalist pseudohistorians can portray well-meaning Zionist settlers as merely reacting to groundless savagery and hostility according to the Zionist formula popularized by Herzl in Altneuland.[24],[xiv] At the same time such exceptionalist histories are fundamentally racist because they follow a standard Judeophobic racist formula that Ashkenazim are non-Europeans that have no place in Europe.

In the non-exceptionalist history of the 17th and 18th century, Ashkenazim in Central and Eastern Europe faced the common issues related to modernization of traditional societies just like all other Central and Eastern Europeans.  For the most part Ashkenazim selected one of three possible responses.  The earliest and most commonly chosen reaction was Enlightenment (השכלה) and assimilation.  Most Eastern European and practically all German and Austrian Ashkenazim selected this path,[25] which was particularly easy for the latter group because there were no major ethnolinguistic distinctions between German-Austrian Ashkenazim and other German-speakers and because most German nationalists had no inclination to exclude German Ashkenazim from German ethnicity or identity until the later part of the 19th century.[26]  German Ashkenazim were Germans just like German Protestants or German Roman Catholics, and Ashkenazi identity in Germany was purely religious.

Somewhat later Yiddishism developed as a particularly Eastern European populist Ashkenazi response to modernization.[27]  Yiddishism developed into several distinct movements that sought Yiddish cultural autonomy in various forms.  Yiddishism was an expression of the developing Eastern European Ashkenazi ethnic identity that was distinct from Jewish religious identity and unprecedented in the history of Jewish religion since the 10th century.  Zionism was primarily an even later development among a very small group of elitist Central and Eastern European Ashkenazi intellectuals that were estranged both from Jewish religion and from Eastern European Ashkenazi culture.  Such Ashkenazi intellectuals are typically called non-Jewish Jews, but they are more correctly identified as non-Jewish Ashkenazim.  The animosity between Yiddishists and Zionists was immense in practically every way (viz Figure 3).

Zionism like practically all other 19th century Eastern European nationalist movements makes its first appearance as a rerun and translation of Polish nationalist ideology into Ashkenazi terms.  The Medieval Polish Rzeczpospolita (Republic) provides the archetype of the anachronistic mythological lost nation state that must be restored.  Even though important Polish nationalists had proto-Zionist or Zionist beliefs and even canvassed the Polish Ashkenazi community for support of both Polish nationalism and also of Zionism, no history of Zionism mentions the connection of Polish nationalism with early Zionist thought while the standard histories like those of Walter Laqueur, Howard Sachar or Arthur Hertzberg dig up a long list of fairly implausible Jewish forerunners of Zionist ideas.  This effort looks more like a dishonest attempt to establish the internal Jewish legitimacy of Zionism and to deny the connection with Polish nationalism than to provide historical illumination. 

To find fully integrated analysis of the politics of Polish Ashkenazim within the context of political developments within all Poland, one must search outside the standard histories of Zionism or of Ashkenazim in texts of general European political history like Fire in the Minds of Men by James H. Billington[28] or in Polish language biographies and memoirs of Polish nationalist leaders.  The absence of investigation of the Polish influence in the origins of Zionism may be symptomatic of the anti-Polish and anti-Slav prejudice of many historians that specialize in Jewish studies.

Polish nationalism is hardly the only Slavic influence or source for proto-Zionism or early Zionism.  The influence of Russian culture is fairly obvious although hardly ever mentioned in the standard histories of Zionism.  Czar Alexander II encouraged a very Palestine oriented form of Russian Orthodoxy especially in the 1870s and sponsored the pilgrimage of tens of thousands of Russians to Palestine.  Shortly after the institution of this program the ציון חבת (Love of Zion) movement appears among Russian Jews.  The development of Zionism among Russian Ashkenazim could be a symptom of the thoroughness of the Czarist Russianization program that had made Russian the primary language of most of the worlds Jews by 1905.  The absence of discussion of the influence of Russian social, political and religious culture in the development of early Zionist thought suggests anti-Russian or anti-Slavic bias and a conscious distortion of the history of Zionism by historians associated with Jewish studies.[xv] 

The Known Facts

There is no doubt that German, Austrian and Russian social, political and intellectual culture served as the main influence on the three primary leaders of Zionism from the 1890s through the first decades of the 20th century, for Herzl the journalist, Nordau the social critic and Жаботинский (Jabotinsky) the literateur were the most non-Jewish of Ashkenazim. Like most German, Austrian and Russian intellectuals of the fin de siécle, they were all anti-bourgeois, anti-liberal, collectivist, anti-democratic and social Darwinist.  Even though in their own minds they were very much members of the European elite and men of great personal achievement, they found themselves excluded from the highest ranks of German, Austrian and Russian society in a manner somewhat analogous to the treatment of Burakumin in Japan or Hakka in China.[29]  For such cultured men espousing primitive Eastern European Ashkenazi Yiddishism was simply out of the question. 

Figure 3 The literary battleground between Yiddishists and Zionists.[30]

Instead, they redefined the Eastern European Ashkenazi ethnic group as the Pan-Judaic Jewish nation on Pan-German and Russian Pan-Slavic models.[31],[xvi] Herzl was quite frank in his diary that Central European German and Austrian Ashkenazim, who were not a Volk or Race in the Pan-German sense, would have to be shaped into a nation.[32]  Naturally, Herzl, who was developing a primordialist pan-Judaic fiction of ancient Jewish glory for Zionists, found inspiration in Wagners attempt to create a modern myth of a heroic German past for romantic nationalist pan-Germanists.[33]

Herzls pan-Judaic Zionism looks like a combination of the ideas of Western European and perhaps Russian imperialist colonialism with the pan-German ideology of the Austrian politician and racist anti-Semite Georg Ritter von Schönerer, who founded the Pan-German party, a direct ancestor of the Nazi party and who achieved the rank for which Herzl longed.  Herzl’s newspaper, Die Neue Freie Presse, carried many stories about von Schönerer and his party.[xvii]   A genuine historian that sought the inspiration and model for Herzl’s Zionism would probably investigate connections between Herzl and von Schönerer and not waste time on insignificant rabbis like Yehuda Alkalai[34] and Zvi Hirsch Kalischer or Ashkenazi eccentrics like Moses Hess in a propagandistic effort to provide a Jewish lineage and legitimacy for Herzl’s ideas.

The origins of Nordau’s and Jabotinsky’s ideas come no less from the Austrian, German and Russian cultural milieu than Herzl’s.  The nation, body and violence worship of the racist anti-Semite Turnvater Jahn, who founded the German nationalist gymnastic movement in the early 19th century, apparently had a strong influence on both Nordau and Jabotinsky[35].  Jabotinsky was fortunate in developing his form of Zionist ideology in the Russian culture milieu from whose models of gunpowder imperialism, colonialism and expansionism he could draw directly.

The fascination that racist anti-Semites held for the three patriarchs of Zionism is not a little bizarre but does make sense in terms of their personal belief systems and of their goals for European Ashkenazim.  The attraction that anti-Semitic public personalities exerted over them is also not particularly hard to document even though it rarely appears in Zionist histories.  Nordau had a particularly long-standing, somewhat twisted and probably sexual relationship with the rather notorious Russian anti-Semite Olga von Novikoff, to whom he dedicated his play The Right to Love.[36]

The Scary Story

Jabotinsky’s thought and behavior crosses the line from the peculiar and disconcerting to the scary.  His writings of the naughts and teens of the twentieth century were far more creative and innovative than either Herzl or Nordau.  A lot of this material is either not translated or is badly translated from Russian to English or to Hebrew.  Сионизм и Палестина (Sionizm i Palestina Zionism and Palestine) in Еврейская Жизнь (Evreiskaia zhizn' Hebrew Life), no. 2 (February 1904), p. 205, proclaims a very strong primordialist blood and soil form of nationalism.

[The] tie between Zionism and Zion is for us not only an ineradicably strong instinct, but also an empirically proven consequence of strictly positivist study (пробньи, законньи вывод строго-позитивного размышление -- probnyi, zakonnyi vyvod strogo-pozitivnogo razmyshlenie).[37]

 

Subsequent discussion combines the blood and soil logic with social Darwinism to create a very basic form of biological determinism.  In short, Jabotinsky develops in the naughts a political ideology that combines extremist organic nationalism, primordialism, biological determinism and social Darwinism.  Zionist historians either credulously or disingenuously describe Jabotinksy’s occasional and perfunctory protestations of devotion to democracy, liberalism and Enlightenment ideals to English-speaking audiences as indicative of his fundamental beliefs. Yet, in Russian Jabotinsky never wavered in his anti-democratic anti-bourgeois anti-liberal ideals.  In short, Jabotinsky created about two decades in anticipation of Hitler a complete abstract form of Nazism.[38]  Labor Zionists were correct when they called him Vladimir Hitler with the qualification that Jabotinsky’s abstract Nazism is an independent creation and crystallizes earlier than German Nazism.[39]

Americans incorrectly view Nazism as a uniquely horrible movement that requires singularly evil political leaders.  In reality Nazism is just a specific conglomeration of 19th century fin de siécle ideas.  Nazism can occur over and over again if we fail to keep guard against it. The component ideas of Nazism suffused the intellectual milieu of Central and Eastern Europe.  Jews and Non-Jews were equally likely to incorporate them into their Weltanschauungen.[40],[xviii] The ideology of Sharon and his government, with which the USA is allied, is on the straight line of development from Jabotinsky’s abstract Nazism.  If one understands Modern Israeli Hebrew and German, the similarity of political discourse in Israel and 1930s Germany is striking.  Despite the portrayal in US media there is hardly any debate about transfer among Israeli Jewish politicians.  Usually, the discussion focuses mostly on manner and on means.[xix]

Exceptionalism and Omission:  A Fantasy Pretending to Be History

The disconnection between reality and American perception of Zionism directly relates to the Zionist control of the historical and political analysis taught in American universities.  The indoctrination then percolates outward into primary and secondary school education as well as into the journalistic and popular media.  Two examples can show some of the perniciousness of Zionist historiography.  A conscientious college course whose topic related to Zionism might include readings from The Founding Myths of Israel by Zeev Sternhell or from Zionism and the Arabs 1882 – 1948, A Study of Ideology, by Yosef Gorny, for these two books are probably the best of Zionist historiography, and there is some internal evidence that at a conscious level both authors tried to transcend the mindset of Zionist propaganda and write genuine history even though they were mostly unsuccessful.

Zeev Sternhell

Sternhell is one of the leading experts on late 19th and early 20th European political movements of which Zionism is one example. The Founding Myths of Israel purports to be a genuine history of the development of Labor Zionist ideology even as it makes an internal Israeli political argument for a new civil nationalist form of Zionism.  The political argument is mostly irrelevant to the topic of pre-state Zionist historiography while the actual concept that Sternhell advocates is oxymoronic.  As an historian Sternhell made his reputation with several books and papers on the origin and development of fascist and nationalist socialist thought.  In the historical framework that Sternhell has developed, nationalist socialism is a nationalist revision of Marxist socialism according to which the class struggle is transcended via national revival while fascism combines opposition to bourgeois democracy with extremist organic nationalism, nationalist socialism and state corporatism, which places industry and agriculture under the collective control of worker syndics or unions in coordination with the government. 

The Founding Myths has some value in its discussion and analysis of Labor Zionist ideology, but for the most part, it tends consciously or unconsciously to subtle Zionist propaganda and disinformation.  Sternhell admits facts that are harmless or indisputable.  He notes that the Zionist linguistic program is fairly typical of Eastern European nationalist political movements.  He admits that the Labor Zionist ideologist Berl Katznelson plagiarized ideas from the Henri de Man, the leader of Belgian fascism.  Sternhell even admits that the Zionist state is racist albeit somewhat cravenly, for he uses the German word völkisch instead of plain English.[41]  Yet, The Founding Myths remains a unique example of Zionist exceptionalism, for Sternhell fails to apply to Labor Zionism the same intellectual apparatus by which he analyses fascist and nationalist socialist movements or ideologies in Neither Right nor Left and his other publications.  Thus, Sternhell’s own historical analysis of Zionism is exceptionalist with regard to Sternhell’s own historical analysis outside Zionism.[xx] 

When readers have asked Sternhell to explain why Labor Zionism is not a fascist ideology, Sternhell simply lies.  He claims that Labor Zionists were not anti-democratic.  The main Labor Zionist ideologist Victor Arlosoroff did not conceal his anti-democratic political positions while Labor Zionists invariably opposed the creation of local democratic political structures in Palestine whenever the issue came up in discussions with the Mandatory government, and it is certainly impossible to call any movement democratic whose first act in achieving state power is the ethnic cleansing of the majority of the population.  But Sternhell makes most of his argument by omission, for he fails to place Zionism in the Eastern European context, where Fascist movements and ideologists under the influence of the myth of the ancient Polish Rzeczpospolita have generally preferred a formal democracy that concealed an undemocratic political military oligarchy to outright antidemocratic political forms and structures.

From the creation of the State of Israel through the 60s the oligarchic structure of the Israeli state has been obvious, for citizens were given the option of voting for party lists chosen by the parties.  Later, the Zionist government has used more subtle means to discount the votes of non-Zionist elements of the population especially as the native proportion of the population has increased.  In a genuine democracy, we would expect the government of the state to change as the demography of the state changes.  In non-democratic states like Israel the political leadership develops a strategy to change the demography of the state[42] to maintain the power of political elite.

Yosef Gorny

Despite its problems Sternhell’s work has a lot of value, but Gorny’s has less.  It is a measure of the quality of pre-State Zionist historiography that this text has become more or less the standard work from which Hebrew and English speakers learn this area of ideological history.  Even Finkelstein cites him rather uncritically.  Zionism and the Arabs embodies every questionable aspect of Zionist historiography. The least of its flaws is the use of ideological terminology in the presentation of an “alleged” history of ideological development.  The book uses expressions like return of Jews to Palestine instead of  emigration of Ashkenazim to Palestine. 

Gorny is a complete and utter historical exceptionalist.  He is blind how Slavic racist the Zionist theory of relations with the native population is. The argument whether Palestinians[xxi] are a genuine nation show the typical logic by which Slavic nationalists deny minorities national or cultural rights.  Extremist Slavic nationalists invariably casuistically describe people whose rights are to be denied as a народность (nationality) and not as a народ (nation).

Gorny unlike Sternhell is also blind how thoroughly German völkisch racist Zionist ideology about relations with the native population is.  The argument whether Palestinians are a genuine people or defined only negatively in response to Zionism evinces the typical logic that German racists applied to Ashkenazim when they argued that Ashkenazim were a Gegenvolk (i.e., an anti-people) and not a genuine Volk (i.e., a people in the racial spiritual sense of German Romanticism)?

Gorny simply ignores the effects of the Nazi persecutions on Zionist ideology.  When one reads Zionist literature of the 40s or often even earlier, one cannot help but notice that Palestinians had become surrogates in the thinking of many of the Palestine-resident Zionist leaders for all the supposed European persecutors of Ashkenazim in the false “pogrom and persecution” version of Ashkenazi history that Ashkenazim commonly believe.  It is simply mind-boggling that the UN could propose in 1947 to place so many Arabs under the rule of people so likely to view them as reasonable targets of revenge for every real and imagined grievance against someone else.

Nevertheless, according to Gorny’s narrative Zionist leaders are invariably moderate and reasonable while Arab leaders are extreme, unreasonably and unwilling to negotiate.   He omits to mention that Shakib Arslan as an agent al-Hussayni and later various Syrian Nationalists offered to facilitate the immigration of Ashkenazim into Arab countries if Zionists would renounce the goal of making Palestine a Jewish state.  Arabs offered Ashkenazim more in the way of refuge than the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia or anyone else, but this fact is absent from practically all histories of the Pre-State Zionism[43] because it belies “the compelling necessity” argument for Zionism.[xxii]  Gorny dismisses pre-State Arab attempts to negotiate just as Barak did at Camp David.  Like most Zionists Gorny does not permit the facts to interfere with his worldview.

Gorny includes the usual counterfactual nonsense that the rumor of the murder of an Arab boy by a Zionist settler immensely disturbed העם אחד (Ahad Haam, Asher Ginzburg[44]) even though there is no evidence whatsoever that Ashkenazim were any less violent than other Eastern and Central Europeans.  In Eastern Europe throughout the 19th century and 20th century, Ashkenazim took part in revolutionary and terrorist violence just like all other Eastern European ethnic groups.[45] In Palestine during the teens Ashkenazi שומרים had no reluctance to use violence, terrorism and intimidation to claim property illegitimately or to deny Palestinians their legitimate non-title rights to land use.[46] 

In the aftermath of WW1, rage, disappointment and anger drove many demobilized soldiers to join or form private militias.[47] Tough violent former soldiers existed just as frequently among Ashkenazim as they did among all other Central and Eastern European populations. The Yiddish novel, Steel and Iron by I. J. Singer, focuses on such a tough former Jewish soldier.  It is a great novel that portrays a reality very different from the Zionist anti-Diaspora ideology of passive and weak Diaspora Jews.  Such Zionist anti-Diaspora attitudes represent genuine irrational anti-Semitism unlike the Palestinian anti-Zionist resistance, which is simply a normal reaction to murderous genocidal racism and theft.

Not only does Gorny ignore 19th and early 20th century history of Ashkenazim in Europe, he fails to contextualize the Zionist ideology of the relationship with native Palestinians in the framework of Eastern and Central European Orientalist discourse, particularly that which is associated with Russian imperialism and colonialism in Central Asia.  Nowadays, scholars probably do not put the Prussian or Austrian policy of colonization, domination and Germanization in Eastern Europe in the same category as European colonialism and imperialism in the 3rd world, but in the 19th century the similarities were undeniable, and Ashkenazim were often in the position of local collaborators with the foreign Austrian or Prussian overlords.[48]  One could argue that Herzl’s Altneuland was a sort of personal advertisement of a would-be colonial surrogate population for an imperial motherland.

Because Germany and Austria had no imperial possessions, German Orientalism of the Ancient and Modern Middle East or India was generally accounted a subspecialty of Classics and therefore tended to relegate even modern Arabic cultures to a non-living status.[49]  German Ashkenazi Zionists steeped in German Semitics had no problems in denying the national and human rights of the members of dead cultures.  German Indology, which had a direct input into Nazi theories of Aryan superiority, probably also had indirect influence on Zionism through the idea of Umvolkung or population supplantation as it developed in extremist German nationalist discourse to justify the displacement of inferior races.

Gorny disregards completely this ideological framework, which first appears among Zionist ideologists during the naughts and the teens in discussions of the transfer or removal of Arabs.  German Nationalists called such a process Umvolkung or population supplantation.  Hitler’s Professors[xxiii],[50] by Max Weinreich describes in detail the Nazi Umvolkung program.  Landeskunde or knowledge of country was the linchpin of this program, whose first step comprised dispatching academics and archeologists to find archeological evidence of ancient ancestors.  The historical presence of ancient Teutons or the shedding of Germanic blood in a region would be verified to justify replacement of the current residents with German settlers.  Thus, German academic Landeskunde was an intimate part of the racist German theory and practice of relations with subordinate non-Germans.

הארץ ידיעת (yedi`at ha’arets, a loan translation of Landeskunde) is the transference of racist German practices and theory to the Zionist context of relations with Palestinians.  הארץ ידיעת  provides the evidence for the claim of superior rights of Ashkenazim to Palestine as Zionist leaders like Jabotinsky claimed on “a strictly positivist basis.”  If Zionism had not been so murderous and genocidal, there would almost be something sad and pathetic that a population like Eastern European Ashkenazim would be so ashamed of their own history that they would deny their own heritage and attempt to claim or to steal the history and heritage of another people.

Unfortunately, in the case of Zionism conflicted Ashkenazi feelings about their genuine ancestry lead to massive brutality and heinous crimes.  From appropriating the archeological and historical sites of Palestine,[51],[xxiv] it was only a small step to stealing the property, expelling the population and destroying the evidence physical presence of the native population. הארץ ידיעת provides the basic ideological legitimization of Zionist expulsion of the native population of Palestine, which in current Israeli discourse is still the final solution to the Arab question within Zionism just as expulsion was the Nazi solution to the Jewish problem up to 1939.[xxv]

הארץ ידיעת directly ties Zionist ideology to German racist and Nazi ideology of purifying the lands of Eastern Europe of non-Germans.  Yet, there is no mention of הארץ ידיעת or Umvolkung in a book that claims to be a study of ideology but is like practically all pre-State Zionist historiography really a whitewashing of a fundamentally racist genocidal program of colonial aggression against an innocent and inoffensive Arab population.  Such historiography makes it possible to portray crimes against humanity as a just and heroic endeavor in which Zionist Ashkenazim and their supporters should take pride.

The Consequences of Zionist Historiography

The failings and distortions associated with the Zionist historiography, of which Sternhell and Gorny are in some sense the best examples, have obvious consequences and repercussions for American historical and political debate as well as the popular culture from which most Americans learn their history and develop their political choices.

…what people learned from … the writers of history books…

The excerpt in Figure 4 from a standard junior high school history textbook used in the Boston public school system shows how the Zionist control of historical discourse affects pre-college education.  This item is hardly the worst example of questionable analysis contained in the book, but it is exceptionally pithy.  Boston students do not learn history; they receive religious indoctrination and study Zionist legitimization narratives or myths. 

This particular textbook is implicitly primordialist.[52]  It does not explicitly say that modern Israeli Jews are descended from Ancient Judeans or Israelites of Canaan or Palestine, but why would anyone reading the text assume otherwise?  Even if modern Ashkenazim were the descendants of Greco-Roman natives of Judea – as we know they are not -- does it make sense for people to attempt to claim the lands where their ancestors might have lived thousands of years ago?  The text does not address this question, but the Bush administration answered the question at Durban at the UN World Conference Against Racism where it argued that for the sake of progress and economic development claims for compensation for events from only 200 years ago must be stayed or allowed to lapse.[53]

Figure 4, World History, Patterns of Interaction, McDougal Littel, p. 75.[54],[xxvi]

… what people learned from … television programmes [and movies] …

 

The ill effects of Zionist control of the political and historical discourse hardly cease with pre-college education.  Americans are constantly bombarded with false and racist depictions of the conflict in the Middle East by the popular media.  No one should wonder why American political leaders consistently side with Zionists on the question of Palestine.  The following partial list of American produced and directed non-documentary non-docudrama feature films,[55] that specifically mention Israel, Israelis, Palestine or Palestinians, shows how much Hollywood and American Indie (Independent) cinema culture has assimilated or absorbed Zionist myths, attitudes and beliefs into its products for dissemination into the American and world market. [56],[xxvii] No Hollywood or American Indie studio has ever produced a feature film with a Palestinian point of view (viz Figure 5).  In fact, the films reviewed contain a plethora of images and scenes in which Palestinians or Arabs kill countless innocent non-combatants while Israelis never kill Palestinian or non-Palestinian innocents, a record that even the US military and special forces cannot match in American film.

Figure 5 Only Zionists need apply.

Both explicit and implicit propaganda films are common.  The stealth indoctrination of the American public begins in the 1950s.

It is a screen representation of the Zionist propaganda that national liberation of the Jews (i.e., stealing Palestine from the Palestinians) will bring liberation of the Arabs albeit as subordinates to the Jews.  This movie sets the standard for very subtle and very effective Zionist indoctrination.[58]

Anachronism is pervasive in this film.  The Star of David was completely unknown as an ancient "Israelite," Judean or even Jewish symbol until the last few hundred years.  As a Jewish symbol, before Zionism the hexagram is associated mostly with Sabbatian and perhaps Frankist heresies.  Yet, the troops of King David and King Solomon wear Stars of David on their uniforms, and it serves as a decoration throughout the film.

King Solomon, who is played by Yul Brynner, repeats all sorts of Zionist slogans throughout the movie, and the geopolitical situation described in the movie is obviously constructed to reflect the situation of the State of Israel in the 1950s.

Nevertheless, it is intriguing that the director, whose conceptualization of story the movie ultimately reflects, was King Vidor.  King Vidor was one of the most talented of Hollywood directors.  He directed the Wizard of Oz.  He also had strong connection to Premillennial Dispensationalist Christianity.  He grew up in Vidor, Texas, which was founded by his father C. S. Vidor.  This town is still noted for irredentist unreconstructed Confederate attitudes, apocalyptic evangelical fundamentalism, KKK connections and extreme racism.  It is also very typical bedrock Texas community of the sort the supports George Bush.

Solomon and Sheba was not a blockbuster, but it did make money and was perhaps symptomatic of things yet to come.

Both the director Otto Preminger and the author Leon Uris had many revisionist associations. Therefore, it is not too surprising that Exodus contains a Jabotinskian or Revisionist justification of Zionist terrorism that in 2002 underscores the hypocrisy of the Israeli and American Ashkenazi reactions to legitimate terrorism against the State of Israel.  Like most Hollywood movies that contain the theme of nation creation, the movie ends with a poignant sacrifice for the sake of the nation.  Exodus is particularly creative in this regard because one of the martyrs on behalf of Zionism is a Zionist Arab.  Exodus is exceptionally explicit in sending the message that the USA should get in bed with Israel.

  • United Artists had a fair amount of success with Exodus and tried once again with Cast a Giant Shadow (1966, UA).  This movie gives the story of Colonel Mickey Marcus, who was recruited by the Haganah, the Labor Zionist militia, to provide operational expertise.  Marcus conveniently dies in 1948 so that the film can have the typical ending for films of nation creation.  The movie lectures the viewer in the standard Labor Zionist הסברה but goes one step beyond Exodus to argue that American Ashkenazim should serve Israeli interests.  The beginning of the movie is worth watching.  It goes through all the standard Zionist propaganda that is still repeated in American schools, universities and media to this day.  It portrays the Ashkenazi settlement as outnumbered although it was not.  It claims Arab leaders made statements that are mostly impossible to verify.  It claims that the Ashkenazim had no place to go even though the Ashkenazi displaced persons could have been resettled fairly easily within a few years while most of the Ashkenazi settlers in Palestine would probably have been happy for the colony to be dismantled.  Major Safir, the Zionist emissary, makes the obligatory emotional pitch about the threat to the Ashkenazim in Palestine so that Marcus will only react reflexively rather than think rationally about the claims Safir makes because otherwise a little reflection might have lead to the revelation that the native population has just as much claim to liberty and justice as the Ashkenazi settler colonists.  At the time Safir is supposed to give his speech, Zionist forces have already begun their ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

Michael Lander is a disgraced US Air Force pilot that plots with the help of Black September to kill 80,000 people and the president of the United States at a Superbowl football game by crashing an explosive laden blimp into the stadium.  Because of the similarity of the movies terrorist operation to the WTC attack, it is worth mention that that no Palestinian group was involved in the September 11 atrocity and that the perpetrators were members of an extremist group loosely associated with the Egyptian Muslim brotherhood (المسلمون الإخوان), which has its own distinct and often legitimate grievances against the USA.  Such complaints, as Palestinians and other Arabs can make against the USA, do not interest Harris, who focuses mostly on the psychopathology of the killer.  Palestinians, the Middle East conflict and Black September are mostly props in his book.  Harris suggested a possible connection of Black September to Vietnamese communists by means of a videotape of Landers confession to war crimes while he was a POW during the Vietnam war.  The screenwriter made the connection to international anti-Americanism by explicitly portraying collaboration with Japanese terrorists.

Both the movie and the book are somewhat unique in that they begin with murders of Arabs by an Israeli death squad in Lebanon. Normally, Israeli terror squads are portrayed as retaliating for some on-screen act of violence, but Harris lack of interest in Middle East issues may have immunized him to some extent to the common Zionist attitudes that most Americans have adopted.[59] Nevertheless, the terrorist act itself corresponds far more to Zionist mythology than to actual Palestinian operations at the time, which generally confined themselves to the seizure of hostages or airplanes to secure the release of prisoners that were held by Israelis under torture and the threat of execution at any time. 

The director and the scriptwriter went beyond the book to explore motivations and the cause of the conflict.  In the movie Major Kabokov, the Israeli protagonist, suffers from the usual whack em and weep syndrome.  Harris and the screenwriter portray such as qualms as explicitly negative in conformance with the Neoconservative ideology that is developing at the time.  If Kabokov had not shown mercy toward Dahlia Iyad in Beirut, the Black September attack would have been stopped before it could even stop. 

Kabokovs self-doubts belong to the films subtheme of recovering masculinity.  The US agents are paralyzed by procedures and rules that prevent them from taking the necessary action to stop the terrorists.  Landers masculinity has been permanently damaged by his imprisonment in Vietnam.  The paralysis of US intelligence agents and Landers impotence serve as fairly obvious metaphors for the Vietnam syndrome.  Lander uses the wrong methods to overcome his sexual dysfunction by sexual and terrorist collaboration with Iyad, who lends Lander evil power by means of Arab sensuality and seduction. She makes Lander hard and tough once again as she directs him to undertake a terrorist attack on behalf of Black September. In contrast, when Kabokov overcomes his self-doubts in response to the killing of his partner and thwarts the terror attack, he becomes in conformance with Neoconservative ideology the forceful Israeli that teaches Americans how to deal with foreign and in particular Arab threats.

The scenes of the auditing of the Black September post-attack tape and of the identification of the Dahlia Iyad by Egyptian security are worth reviewing.  The message that Iyad reads is far more powerful in the movie than in the book while the identification scene was created for the movie. 

One can only speculate why it was necessary in the movie to identify Iyad as an Arab of German Palestinian extraction. Perhaps after showing some sympathy with Palestinian suffering, the director might have felt an obligation to pander Zionist myth of the Arab German link in the opposition to Zionism. Or perhaps, the director just needed explain the portrayal of a Palestinian woman by an actress of German extraction.

I also have to wonder whether the director was reluctant from the start to portray Arabs as relentlessly negative as Harris wrote in the book.  While there could have been some last minute editing of the film in response to Sadats peace initiative, there might be a subtle indoctrination that the validity of Arab or Palestinian grievance is irrelevant.  Arabs and Palestinians are too dangerous, and the coalition of Americans and Israelis must crush them without mercy in all their schemes.

The movies ending differs significantly from that of the book.   While Harris book is on the whole rather flawed, his denouement in which Kabokov sacrifices himself to stop Iyad and Lander would have created a far superior climax for the movie. A powerful cinematic ending seems to have been sacrificed to the desire to provide a triumphalist Neoconservative conclusion to the film.

Because the film concedes the possibility that aspects of Zionism might have morally problematic effects, major public controversy accompanied general distribution.  The clip shows Hanna, the prosecutor and the judge as they attempt to find an extra-juridical solution to the problem that the defendant presents.  Note how the judge makes the usual irrational and unethical Zionist arguments to justify Zionism while he uses the usual psychological triggers about the Nazi persecutions to intimidate Hanna into accepting his viewpoint.

Hanna K. like Torn Apart[61] (1990, Warner Studios) and Double Edge[62] (1991, Faye Milano Limited Partnership) represents a sort of Liberal Israeli or Ashkenazi American fantasy, in which the Zionist heroes really are moral people that strive to overcome obstacles and do right in difficult situations.  Such movies do not address the possibility that Zionism might be fundamentally ethically questionable.  The depiction of Palestinians in these films corresponds to fantasies about Palestinians from Zionist narratives or propaganda and not to any sort of discernible reality.  While individual Israeli settler colonists may be obnoxious or defend themselves violently in the course of the plot, only Palestinians ever commit crimes or aggression in this class of film.[63]

This film is extremely problematic on several grounds.  It is a consciously inverted film noir Wizard of Oz that markets its message subliminally. The evil of Nazism is reduced to psychopathology.  Zionist ideologues prefer such an understanding of Nazism because genuine analysis of the phenomenon of Nazism would find too many similarities to Zionism. As history, the movie embodies the serious failures of Zionist historiography to which Hobsbawm referred.  The movie describes the Holocaust of Zionist myth not the historical שואה (or catastrophe). The Soviet officer makes the pitch of a שליח (a Zionist emissary that recruits new immigrants).

One must wonder how a Palestinian would view the conclusion.  It shows the Schindler Jews, who mostly did not migrate to Palestine, as they step into a rebirth of color and into Jerusalem to the sound in the background of זהב של ירושלים, a song that celebrates the culmination of a series of dispossession, tragedies and expulsions of the native population and that is generally associated now with the extreme right in Israeli politics.[65] 

Spielberg is indoctrinating the audience with the following propaganda.

a.        The State of Israel is an appropriate monument to murdered European Jews even though the vast majority were either non-Zionist or anti-Zionist, and

b.       making Palestine a Jewish state was proper recompense for persecution of European Jews despite the wishes of the majority native population (who in a sinister foreshadowing of planned expulsion or mass extermination are absent as the theme of the 1967 conquest is played).

I am not surprised that the Egyptian and many other governments had some serious issues with subjecting their populations to this sort of blatant Zionist propaganda.

There are a lot of ethical problems associated with the UN recommendation to partition Palestine along völkisch principles that violated the UN charter and that wronged the native population. Universal Studies should have given the film a voluntary NC-17 rating, for it is certainly wrong to indoctrinate young people and children with the idea that two wrongs make a right.

This ending was so close to the Likud formula for “national ritual assertion of Israel state identity and superiority” and conformed so exactly to the “central item of the official system of national beliefs” as promulgated by the Likud party that the ending had to be modified for Israeli audiences. USA popular culture has an even higher tolerance of the most extremist Zionist myth and propaganda than Israeli Jews do.  One must wonder whether the success of such clever Likud propaganda at the box office presaged the failure of the Oslo Process?[xxix]

The frequency of the appearance of Zionized Hollywood films definitely increases over the period from 1950 to the present, but Americans were not necessarily exposed to less Zionist propaganda in the earlier period, for Israeli film makers made up for the lack of Zionized American cinema.  Nowadays they do not have to bother because Hollywood routinely incorporates Zionist themes, propaganda and myths.  The legitimization narrative has changed since the early period to depend more on the Holocaust than on Zionist ideology or primordialist myth.

 

Conclusion

The offhand appearance of Zionist attitudes in ordinary non-ideological movies is in some regards even more disturbing than the lies and misrepresentations of the consciously Zionist films.  Obviously, the penetration of Zionism throughout American society is so deep and all pervasive that Americans express Zionist attitudes reflexively and unconsciously.  The amount of effort required to counteract the Zionist indoctrination is simply daunting.

Zionist Intimidation and McCarthyism: Anti-Semitism, Judeophobia and Justified Hostility

The moment one expresses concern about the Zionist domination of American attitudes and discourse one is accused of anti-Semitism. Yosef Gorny in his preface provides a useful comment on this issue even though his perspective is tainted by Zionist primordialist mythology.

 

During the last hundred years the Zionist movement has changed the course of Jewish history in several respects.  One of them is in the protracted problem of Jews vis-à-vis non-Jews.  By this I am implying that the relations, which have evolved in Palestine between the two peoples over the past century, are totally different from those of the Jewish people with any other nation throughout its lengthy history.

 In other words, a term like anti-Semitism refers to a reality of the past not the present, is anachronistic and simply does not apply to the conflict over Palestine (viz Figure 6).  It is a Pavlov trigger used to cause a reflex response instead of rational thought.  On hearing the accusation of anti-Semitism the listener is supposed to think of poor oppressed Jews, who are being threatened with machine guns, instead of the current reality in which "Jewish" citizens of an ideologically racist "Jewish" state are engaged in ongoing oppression, plunder and genocide against the native population of Palestine.   When a university president like Lawrence Summers of Harvard uses such tendentious, propagandistic and inappropriate terminology in a discussion of academic policy, one must question his fitness to lead an institution of higher learning.  A person that uses the term anti-Semitism in a debate about Palestine is simply intellectually dishonest.  Such a person should be denied any position of political or educational responsibility.

Genuine scholars avoid the use of the term anti-Semitism except in association with late 19th and early 20th century political ideologies that justified hatred or fear of Jews on the basis of pseudoscientific social Darwinist or biological determinist ideas. This form of hostility toward Jews was usually associated with important and often powerful Central or Eastern European political parties. The preferred academic term for generic hatred or fear of Judeans or Jews is Judeophobia.  Many scholars, like Peter Schäfer in Judeophobia: Attitudes Toward the Jews in the Ancient World, have often tried to find a common principle that links all instances of hostility towards Judeans or Jews from the conflicts between Judeans and non-Judeans in Greco-Roman times to today’s worldwide hatred of Zionism, Israel and their supporters.  Yet, the claim of a universal “anti-Semitic” phenomenon seems intellectually dishonest, delusional or paranoid because the historical conditions, alleged reasons for hostility, probable reasons for hatred and actions of the antagonists are for the most part very different in each supposed instance of anti-Semitism while the actual frequency of anti-Judean or anti-Jewish incidents in a specific area on careful study invariably proves to be quite small even in “historic” alleged “anti-Semitic” “hotspots.”

In antiquity, citizens of a polis might have taken issue with Judean refusal to pay taxes to support the temple services to the gods that protected the cities while the Judean Rebellions probably inspired sporadic hostility toward Judeans as Roman imperial enemies, but such negative feelings seem hardly different from similar emotions directed at other times toward ancient Celts, Teutons, Persians, Carthaginians or Greeks.  During the Crusades attacks on German Jewish communities seem to be a side effect of the Church’s war against Catharism and other heresies, whose adherents, in contrast to the Jews, were completely obliterated.  After the wars of the Reconquista, the Spanish monarchs had no tolerance for religious diversity although they definitely wanted the Iberian Jews to remain in Spain and Portugal after conversion to Christianity.  Central and Eastern European anti-Semitism seems to have grown out of a confessional form of extremist organic nationalism that did not target Jews specifically but has fomented attempts at the genocide of several populations in Central and Eastern Europe.  Hatred of Zionism, the Zionist State of Israel and their supporters by Palestinians and anyone sympathetic to the Palestinian cause is hardly different from the hatred that Poles felt toward Germans and Nazis after Nazi Germany invaded Poland and acted to incorporate its territory into Nazi Mitteleuropa.[xxx]

Figure 6 The Meaninglessness of Anti-Semitism in Current Usage

The Evil That Zionism has created

Concentration on a theory of universal anti-Semitism to establish a grand unification of such totally different phenomena tends to serve as a distraction from the evil that Zionists planned and committed in murdering Arab Palestine and in driving out the native population.  Such Zionist behavior is clearly comparable to Nazi goals for Eastern Europe.  The evil is less well-known that Zionism created in forcing DPs (Displaced Persons) to settle against their will in the State of Israel after WW2 and in inciting Arab Muslim hostility toward Arab Jewish communities, which were ultimately destroyed as a result of Zionist crimes in Palestine.  But the most insidious evil of Zionism from the standpoint of America lies in inspiring the alliance of American Zionists, Neoconservatives and Neoconfederates.  These political factions have joined together in a commitment to maintain a racist Jewish colony in Palestine by means of the brutal oppression and suppression of the native population.

American Zionists are mostly inspired by misguided feelings of guilt and a confused need for atonement.  But they have chosen an incorrect method of satisfying this need because giving Zionists a license to commit the sorts of crimes against native Palestinians that Nazis committed against European Jews is a completely mistaken form of expiation.  American Zionists only succeed in supporting Zionist crimes against humanity in Palestine and in becoming a major driving force for anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim prejudice in the USA.

Neoconservatives are intellectual descendants and often the blue-stripe diaper babies of American Revisionists or Jabotinskians.  They argue for a muscular American Empire so that Israel can serve as a middleman or colonial surrogate for the USA in the Middle East just as their forbears claimed a Jewish colony in Palestine could serve the British Empire.  Neoconservatives thrive on the disorder that the presence of Israel creates, for they want the USA to treat the symptom by interfering with Arab governments, invading Arab countries and by stationing troops in the Middle East.  Neoconservatives absolutely reject any idea of doing away with one of the major causes of Middle East turbulence by forcing the State of Israel to renounce Zionist racism and to make full restitution for Zionist crimes against the native population.

Neoconfederates are white Apocalyptic Evangelical Fundamentalists.  They are the most bizarre block of the supporters for Israel and really require a separate study.  Intellectually they are the descendants of racist unrepentant and unreconstructed Southern Confederates, who turned to religion with the defeat of the Confederacy.  They found spiritual solace in Premillennial Dispensationalism particularly in the form espoused by the Moody Bible Institute and Cyrus Ingerson Scofield.  They believe that the creation of Israel in the 1947-8 murder of Arab Palestine is a genuine sign of the beginning of the End of Time.  Because they believe they have a realized eschatology, they are completely irrational and think mythographically.  They are extremely dangerous.[xxxi]

This unholy political union that is centered on the State of Israel brings together ideologies of racism, racist colonialism, prejudice, bigotry, social intolerance, religious intolerance, social Darwinism, biological determinism, imperialism, millennialism, extremist nationalism, contempt for democracy and contempt for human rights.  Never has there been anything closer in the USA to a genuine American Nazism.  Defeating this sort of politics is absolutely necessary for the salvation of American democracy and will require a long-term effort with careful planning.

What is to Be Done?

The battle starts at the most basic levels of popular and academic culture.  Zionist ideas are so embedded in American thinking that discussing major political issues in the USA without accepting Zionist assumptions is practically impossible. The damage that this Zionist control of discourse does is practically all encompassing.  It starts with the miswriting of history in academia and spreads outwards.  In America, the field of Jewish studies begs practically all questions of history and ethics on subjects even only remotely connected with Zionism.  Zionist professors and academics like Harvards President, Lawrence Summers, have practically ruined the whole concept of a free and open academic environment in the USA.

The field of Judaica or Jewish Studies is the archetype of Zionized academia and the model for the future.  Only subservience to Zionist interests remains. If genuine Jewish studies existed in the USA instead of a Zionist propaganda machine, the Palestine question would be a no-brainer. The USA would probably have kissed Israel goodbye long ago or bombed Israel into submission as it did Milošević. A US alliance with Zionism is a betrayal of ideals to which Americans are supposed to cling.  To advocate or to support such an alliance is a betrayal of America.  An American that supports or advocates this alliance is a traitor to fundamental American ideals whether he is the President, who holds office by a judicial coup, or an ordinary citizen. The foreign policy course for the USA is obvious and presents one of the few cases where ethics, ideology and pragmatism are congruent.  To switch sides and treat Israel as an enemy would win many friends and no significant enemies. Regime change first in Palestine first to overthrow Zionism and then to bring to justice Zionist war criminals or perpetrators of crimes against humanity would probably have eliminated most opposition to military action against Saddam Hussein.

At the Local Level

Obviously, most of us do not have the resources to combat Zionism either at the national or university level, but parents in particular can play an important rôle.  They have to be involved in politics at the community level because American Zionists are already there disseminating propaganda and falsehood. 

Parents must force textbooks like World History, Patterns of Interaction out of the school systems and coerce the publishers to present history that has some connection to reality.  But parents cannot stop there.  In many states Holocaust instruction is mandated.  These courses are very bad.  Usually, the course materials are prepared directly or indirectly by the State of Israel so that no genuine history is taught, and the classes focus on legitimization myths for Zionism.  Such courses distract from the crimes that have been committed in the USA like slavery and the genocide of the Native American population.  Even the name is bad.  Wiesel used the word holocaust to refer to the Nazi murders of Jews to suggest that the deaths were burnt offerings to God to sanctify the creation of the State of Israel.  As the vast majority of the murdered were non-Zionist or anti-Zionist, Wiesel’s nomenclature is offensive and insipid to say the least.  The Yiddish word, חורבן (khurban), and the Hebrew word, שואה (sho’ah) are more appropriate, for they simply mean catastrophe like the نكبه (nakbah).[66]  All Holocaust studies must be coupled with study of the Nakbah and of the crimes of Zionism because according the normal pattern in human history, which we probably wish to teach children to avoid, victims turn into victimizers at the drop of a hat.  The שואה and Zionism provide an illustrative example.

Anti-Zionist activism must go beyond the public schools.  Arab Americans and any American committed to justice must punish local politicians whenever they espouse Zionism.  Then maybe national politicians will get the message.  I know that some Muslims have religious problems with political participation.  When someone argues that a true Muslim should not participate in an infidel government, I respond that the US government is no more an infidel than a tank or a fighter plane.  The government is just a big machine that can be put to any use if one is willing to make the effort to control or influence it.  Anyone that is unwilling to vote or to participate simply concedes the power of that government machine to Zionists or other bad guys that are willing to put their money and attention to working the political system.  To concede such power to such forces is un-Islamic, for it is a service to injustice.  We must all work to make anti-Zionism as reflexive in the USA tomorrow as Zionism is today.

 

What People Of Jewish or Ashkenazi Ancestry Can Do

Zionism and the State of Israel present people of Jewish or Ashkenazi ancestry with a severe ethical problem because Zionists claim to represent all Jewish people and Israel is self-defined as the state of the Jewish people.  As long as Jews or Ashkenazim are silent, they give consent.  There are four obvious models that they can use in acting against Zionism.

1.       Doctor Seuss (Theodore Geisel) albeit an American of German ancestry took an avant-garde position to propagandize against everything for which Nazism stood and to advocate early entry of the USA into a war against Nazi Germany.  American Jews and Ashkenazim have no excuse not to imitate Geisel with similar opposition to Zionism and the State of Israel.[67]

2.       Marlene Dietrich took the position that if Nazis define what it means to be German, then she was not German.  She left Germany and never hesitated to condemn Nazism and Nazi Germany.  Israeli Jews could take exactly the same position, renounce their Jewishness as defined by the Israeli government, emigrate from Israel and denounce Zionism and the State of Israel at every possible chance.

3.       Nataśa Kandić albeit a Serb never missed a chance to condemn Serb racism, to thwart Serb anti-Albanian action and to advise NATO to attack Serbia.  Concerned Jews should condemn Zionist racism, work to thwart Zionist anti-Palestinian action and should demand that NATO attack the State of Israel on the same grounds that NATO took action against Serbia.

4.       German anti-Nazi resistance groups like the White Rose undertook sabotage against Nazi Germany.  Israeli Jewish groups should likewise undertake campaigns of sabotage against the State of Israel.  In a sense, when Allegra Pacheco took Israeli citizenship to fight Zionism she was following the example of the White Rose.

As long as the effects of the last 50 years of Zionist indoctrination of the American population can be overcome, combined efforts of Jews and non-Jews of good will should be able swiftly to end the US-Israel alliance, to eliminate Zionism as a living political ideology and to obtain justice with restitution for the Palestinian people.


Palestine, Israel or Zionism Related American film

It is a screen representation of the Zionist propaganda that national liberation of the Jews (i.e., stealing Palestine from the Palestinians) will bring liberation of the Arabs albeit as subordinates to the Jews.  This movie sets the standard for very subtle and very effective Zionist indoctrination.[70]

Anachronism is pervasive in this film.  The Star of David was completely unknown as an ancient "Israelite," Judean or even Jewish symbol until the last few hundred years.  As a Jewish symbol, before Zionism the hexagram is associated mostly with Sabbatian and perhaps Frankist heresies.  Yet, the troops of King David and King Solomon wear Stars of David on their uniforms, and it serves as a decoration throughout the film.

King Solomon, who is played by Yul Brynner, repeats all sorts of Zionist slogans throughout the movie, and the geopolitical situation described in the movie is obviously constructed to reflect the situation of the State of Israel in the 1950s.

Nevertheless, it is intriguing that the director, whose conceptualization of story the movie ultimately reflects, was King Vidor.  King Vidor was one of the most talented of Hollywood directors.  He directed the Wizard of Oz.  He also had strong connection to Premillennial Dispensationalist Christianity.  He grew up in Vidor, Texas, which was founded by his father C.S. Vidor.  This town is still noted for irredentist unreconstructed Confederate attitudes, apocalyptic evangelical fundamentalism, KKK connections and extreme racism.  It is also very typical bedrock Texas community of the sort the supports George Bush.

Solomon and Sheba was not a blockbuster, but it did make money and was perhaps symptomatic of things yet to come.

Both the director Otto Preminger and the author Leon Uris had many revisionist associations. Therefore, it is not too surprising that Exodus contains a Jabotinskian or Revisionist justification of Zionist terrorism that in 2002 underscores the hypocrisy of the Israeli and American Ashkenazi reactions to legitimate terrorism against the State of Israel.  Like most Hollywood movies that contain the theme of nation creation, the movie ends with a poignant sacrifice for the sake of the nation.  Exodus is particularly creative in this regard because one of the martyrs on behalf of Zionism is a Zionist Arab.  Exodus is exceptionally explicit in sending the message that the USA should get in bed with Israel.

Michael Lander is a disgraced US Air Force pilot that plots with the help of Black September to kill 80,000 people and the president of the United States at a Superbowl football game by crashing an explosive laden blimp into the stadium.  Because of the similarity of the movies terrorist operation to the WTC attack, it is worth mention that that no Palestinian group was involved in the September 11 atrocity and that the perpetrators were members of an extremist group loosely associated with the Egyptian Muslim brotherhood (المسلمون الإخوان), which has its own distinct and often legitimate grievances against the USA.  Such complaints, as Palestinians and other Arabs can make against the USA, do not interest Harris, who focuses mostly on the psychopathology of the killer.  Palestinians, the Middle East conflict and Black September are mostly props in his book.  Harris suggested a possible connection of Black September to Vietnamese communists by means of a videotape of Landers confession to war crimes while he was a POW during the Vietnam war.  The screenwriter made the connection to international anti-Americanism by explicitly portraying collaboration with Japanese terrorists.

Both the movie and the book are somewhat unique in that they begin with murders of Arabs by an Israeli death squad in Lebanon. Normally, Israeli terror squads are portrayed as retaliating for some on-screen act of violence, but Harris lack of interest in Middle East issues may have immunized him to some extent to the common Zionist attitudes that most Americans have adopted.[71] Nevertheless, the terrorist act itself corresponds far more to Zionist mythology than to actual Palestinian operations at the time, which generally confined themselves to the seizure of hostages or airplanes to secure the release of prisoners that were held by Israelis under torture and the threat of execution at any time. 

The director and the scriptwriter went beyond the book to explore motivations and the cause of the conflict.  In the movie Major Kabokov, the Israeli protagonist, suffers from the usual whack em and weep syndrome.  Harris and the screenwriter portray such as qualms as explicitly negative in conformance with the Neoconservative ideology that is developing at the time.  If Kabokov had not shown mercy toward Dahlia Iyad in Beirut, the Black September attack would have been stopped before it could even stop. 

Kabokovs self-doubts belong to the films subtheme of recovering masculinity.  The US agents are paralyzed by procedures and rules that prevent them from taking the necessary action to stop the terrorists.  Landers masculinity has been permanently damaged by his imprisonment in Vietnam.  The paralysis of US intelligence agents and Landers impotence serve as fairly obvious metaphors for the Vietnam syndrome.  Lander shows us the wrong way to overcome his impairment when Iyad helps us to overcome his impairment in a not too subtle reference to the power of Arab sexuality and seduction.  When Kabokov overcomes his self-doubts in response to the killing of his partner and thwarts the terror attack, he becomes in conformance with Neoconservative ideology the forceful Israeli that teaches Americans how to deal with foreign and in particular Arab threats.

The scenes of the auditing of the Black September post-attack tape and of the identification of the Dahlia Iyad by Egyptian security are worth reviewing.  The message that Iyad reads is far more powerful in the movie than in the book while the identification scene was created for the movie. 

One can only speculate why it was necessary in the movie to identify Iyad as an Arab of German Palestinian extraction. Perhaps after showing some sympathy with Palestinian suffering, the director might have felt an obligation to pander Zionist myth of the Arab German link in the opposition to Zionism. Or perhaps, the director just needed explain the portrayal of a Palestinian woman by an actress of German extraction.

I also have to wonder whether the director was reluctant from the start to portray Arabs as relentlessly negative as Harris wrote in the book.  While there could have been some last minute editing of the film in response to Sadats peace initiative, there might be a subtle indoctrination that the validity of Arab or Palestinian grievance is irrelevant.  Arabs and Palestinians are too dangerous, and the coalition of Americans and Israelis must crush them without mercy in all their schemes.

The movies ending differs significantly from that of the book.   While Harris book is on the whole rather flawed, his denouement in which Kabokov sacrifices himself to stop Iyad and Lander would have created a far superior climax for the movie. A powerful cinematic ending seems to have been sacrificed to the desire to provide a triumphalist Neoconservative conclusion to the film.

In the 1932 election the Nazi party significantly toned down its anti-Semitism because this aspect of the Nazi program was not popular with the German population.  There really was no significant demographic distinction between those that supported Hindenberg like Heinrich Palitz, Joseph Weiss’s father-in-law, and those that supported Hitler except perhaps for Jewish religion, and there is some question even whether religion was much of predictor for a voter’s choice between Hitler and Hindenberg. 

The series should have pointed out the collaboration between Labor Zionists and Nazis up until 1939 as well as the problems that Zionist policy made for anyone trying to rescue Jews in Europe. The synagogue burned during the Nazi invasion of Poland has a hexagram (Star of David).  That improbable adornment looks like subtle propaganda to tie Polish Ashkenazim, who were in the vast majority non-Zionist or anti-Zionist, to the Zionist movement.  The anti-Zionist Bund was completely written out of the story even though most of the leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising were Bundists.

When Helena Slomova (a Czech Zionist Ashkenazi) tells Rudi Weiss (a Jewish German who fled Germany to Eastern Europe) that after the Germans are defeated they will go to Palestine and build a Jewish state, he could have said, "Oh, then we will go to Palestine and do to the poor Arabs what the Germans are doing to us."  Such dialogue would have the virtue of verisimilitude if one has studied the true history and not Zionist propaganda history of the time period.[72] 

The ending in which Rudi Weiss agrees to take Jewish Greek orphans to Palestine provides the usual offensive Zionist propaganda ending to suggest that the theft of Palestine from the native population is some sort of secular redemption.  A more ambiguous ending that showed the revenge that Jews and other Eastern European populations took on Eastern European German populations and that underscored the vicious racist genocidal nature of Zionism in Palestine would have been superior, more true to life, for it would have elucidated the simple truth of human existence that victims almost immediately become victimizers as soon as they get the opportunity.

I like insipid political parody as much as the next guy, and Mel Brooks has successfully produced a Hollywood film and a Broadway musical on the premise that dishonest greedy Jews would collaborate with a former Nazi to commit fraud and to profiteer on Hitler and Nazism, but the movie version first appeared 23 years after the end of WW2.  I have to wonder how American Jews would have reacted in 1938 if someone produced a political satire of President Roosevelt in which European Jews and Nazis united to form Judeonazia on the premise of world domination and a basic predilection to use and then dump Slavic women.

Because the film concedes the possibility that aspects of Zionism might have morally problematic effects, major public controversy accompanied general distribution.  The clip shows Hanna, the prosecutor and the judge as they attempt to find an extra-juridical solution to the problem that the defendant presents.  Note how the judge makes the usual irrational and unethical Zionist arguments to justify Zionism while he uses the usual psychological triggers about the Nazi persecutions to intimidate Hanna into accepting his viewpoint.

Hanna K. like Torn Apart[77] (1990, Warner Studios) and Double Edge[78] (1991, Faye Milano Limited Partnership) represents a sort of Liberal Israeli or Ashkenazi American fantasy, in which the Zionist heroes really are moral people that strive to overcome obstacles and do right in difficult situations.  Such movies do not address the possibility that Zionism might be fundamentally ethically questionable.  The depiction of Palestinians in these films corresponds to fantasies about Palestinians from Zionist narratives or propaganda and not to any sort of discernible reality.  While individual Israeli settler colonists may be obnoxious or defend themselves violently in the course of the plot, only Palestinians ever commit crimes or aggression in this class of film.[79]

This film is extremely problematic on several grounds.  It is a consciously inverted film noir Wizard of Oz that markets its message subliminally. The evil of Nazism is reduced to psychopathology.  Zionist ideologues prefer such an understanding of Nazism because genuine analysis of the phenomenon of Nazism would find too many similarities to Zionism. As history, the movie embodies the serious failures of Zionist historiography to which Hobsbawm referred.  The movie describes the Holocaust of Zionist myth not the historical שואה (or catastrophe). The Soviet officer makes the pitch of a שליח (a Zionist emissary that recruits new immigrants).

One must wonder how a Palestinian would view the conclusion.  It shows the Schindler Jews, who mostly did not migrate to Palestine, as they step into a rebirth of color and into Jerusalem to the sound in the background of זהב של ירושלים, a song that celebrates the culmination of a series of dispossession, tragedies and expulsions of the native population and that is generally associated now with the extreme right in Israeli politics.[81] 

Spielberg is indoctrinating the audience with the following propaganda.

a.        The State of Israel is an appropriate monument to murdered European Jews even though the vast majority were either non-Zionist or anti-Zionist, and

b.       making Palestine a Jewish state was proper recompense for persecution of European Jews despite the wishes of the majority native population (who in a sinister foreshadowing of planned expulsion or mass extermination are absent as the theme of the 1967 conquest is played).

I am not surprised that the Egyptian and many other governments had some serious issues with subjecting their populations to this sort of blatant Zionist propaganda.

There are a lot of ethical problems associated with the UN recommendation to partition Palestine along völkisch principles that violated the UN charter and that wronged the native population. Universal Studies should have given the film a voluntary NC-17 rating, for it is certainly wrong to indoctrinate young people and children with the idea that two wrongs make a right.

This ending was so close to the Likud formula for “national ritual assertion of Israel state identity and superiority” and conformed so exactly to the “central item of the official system of national beliefs” as promulgated by the Likud party that the ending had to be modified for Israeli audiences. USA popular culture has an even higher tolerance of the most extremist Zionist myth and propaganda than Israeli Jews do.  One must wonder whether the success of such clever Likud propaganda at the box office presaged the failure of the Oslo Process?[xxxiii]

Recommended Reading or Viewing[82]

Zionism and the Fin de Siècle: Cosmopolitanism and Nationalism from Nordau to Jabotinsky
by Michael Stanislawski

 

A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names: Their Origins, Structure, Pronunciations, and Migrations
by Alexander Beider

 

Facts on the Ground: Archeological Practice and Terminal Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society
by Nadia Abu El-Haj

 

[The Founding Myths of Israel
by Zeev Sternhell, David Maisel (Translator) or

Aux origines d'Israël: Entre nationalisme et socialisme
de Zeev Sternhell (There are some intriguing differences between the French and English versions). and

Neither Right nor Left
by Zeev Sternhell, David Maisel (Translator)]

 

[Cities of Salt
by Abdelrahman Munif, Abd Al-Rahman Munif, Erroll McDonald (Editor)

The Trench (The Cities of Salt Trilology, Vol 2)
by Abdelrahman Munif, Abd Al-Rahman Munif, Erroll McDonald (Editor)

Variations on Night and Day
by Abd Al-Rahman Munif, Peter Theroux (Translator), Abdelrahman Munif]

STEEL AND IRON
by I. J. Singer

The Invention and Decline of Israeliness: State, Society, and the Military
by Baruch Kimmerling

Palestinian Identity
by Rashid Khalidi

The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World
by Avi Shlaim

The War for Palestine: Rewriting the History of 1948
by Eugene L. Rogan (Editor), Avi Shlaim (Editor)

The Politics of Yiddish: Studies in Language, Literature, and Society (Winter Studies in Yiddish, V. 4)
by Dov-Ber Kerler (Editor), Oxford Winter Symposium in Yiddish Language, Literature and Society

Jewish Socialist Movements, 1871-1917: While Messiah Tarried (Littman Library of Jewish Civilization)
by Nora Levin

The Destruction of the European Jews (Third Edition)
by Raul Hilberg

[Selling the Holocaust: From Auschwitz to Schindler; How History is Bought, Packaged and Sold
by Tim Cole

The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering
by Norman G. Finkelstein

The Holocaust in American Life
by Peter Novick]

Prolegomena to the Qur'an
by Abu Al-Qasim Ibn Ali Akbar Khui, Abdulaziz A. Sachedina (Translator), Al-Sayyid Abu Al-Qasim Al-Musaw Al-Khui [There are many introductions to the Qur’an from a Sunni viewpoint.  This book provides a Shiite version.]

Jewish Socialists in the United States: The Cahan Debate, 1925-1926
by Yaacov N. Goldstein (Editor), Abraham Cahan, Jacob Goldstein

Degeneration
by Max Simon Nordau, George L. Mosse (Designer)

 [Fima
by Amos Oz, Nicholas De Lange (Translator) or

השלישי המצב :עוז עמוס]

The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe.
by Patrick J. Geary

The Mythic Past: Biblical Archaeology and the Myth of Israel
by Thomas L. Thompson

Zionism and the Arabs, 1882-1948: A Study of Ideology
by Yosef Gorny

Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism
by Benedict Anderson

נופש עיר ,באדנהיים אפלפלד׃ אהרן

The Terrorist[xxxiv]
by Caroline B. Cooney

The Changing Agenda of Israeli Sociology: Theory, Ideology, and Identity (Suny Series in Israeli Studies)
by Uri Ram

Nations and Nationalism since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality
by E. J. Hobsbawm (Author)

Fire in the Minds of Men: Origins of the Revolutionary Faith
by James H. Billington

[Jewish State or Israeli Nation?
by Boas Evron, James Diamond or

הלאומי החשבון עברון׃ בעז (The Hebrew version has more detail)]

The Masada Myth: Collective Memory and Mythmaking in Israel
by Nachman Ben-Yehuda

The Wilkomirski Affair: A Study in Biographical Truth
by Stefan Maechler, John E. Woods (Translator), Stefan Maechler, Wilkomirski

John Brown (Modern Library Classics)
by W. E. B. Du Bois, David R. Roediger (Editor)

Hitler's Professors: The Part of Scholarship in Germany's Crimes Against the Jewish People
by Max Weinreich [There is some irony in this book because it contains some gratuitous anti-Palestinian propaganda.  Thus, Weinreich himself is an academic conspirator in crimes against the Palestinian people.]

Germans into Nazis
by Peter Fritzsche

The Postzionism Debates: Knowledge and Power in Israeli Culture
by Laurence J. Silberstein

[Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad

Apocalypse Now (1979) (movie)]

Traumnovelle
von Arthur Schnitzler, Hilde Spiel (Mitarbeiter), Egon Schiele (Illustrator)

A Psychohistory of Zionism
by Jay Y. Gonen

ערבסקות שמאס׃ אנטון

Unequal Conflict: The Palestinians & Israel
by John Gee

The Secret Agent
by Joseph Conrad

The Invention of Tradition
by Terence Ranger (Editor)

De la colonie en Algérie
de A. de Tocqueville

J'accuse
de Emile Zola

Men in the Sun and Other Palestinian Stories
by Ghassan Kanafani, Hilary Kilpatrick (Translator)

[Mahomet et Charlemagne
de Henri Pirenne, Quadrige and Mohammed, Charlemagne and the Origins of Europe
by Richard Hodges, David Whitehouse (Photographer), Charlemagne Mohammed (Photographer)]

Danzig, Between East and West: Aspects of Modern Jewish History (Harvard Judaic Texts and Studies, Vol 4)
by Isadore Twersky (Editor)

[Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust
by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen and A Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen Thesis and Historical Truth
by Norman G. Finkelstein, Ruth Bettina Birn]

The Birth of the Modern: World Society, 1815-1830
by Paul Johnson

The Greek Myths
by Robert Graves

Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis by Robert Graves
by Robert Graves, R. Patai

Elemente und Ursprünge totaler Herrschaft. Antisemitismus. Imperialismus. Totale Herrschaft  von Hannah Arendt

Wenn ihr wollt, ist es kein Märchen. Altneuland / Der Judenstaat
von Theodor Herzl

Exile's Return: The Making of a Palestinian American
by Fawaz Turki

The Qur'an and Its Interpreters
by Mahmoud Ayoub

The Qur'an and Its Interpreters: The House of 'Imran
by Mahmoud M. Ayoub

Jews of Arab Lands a History and Source Book
by Norman A. Stillman

The Jews of Arab Lands in Modern Times
by Norman A. Stillman

Bibelausgaben, Novum Testamentum Graece et Latine (Nr.5401)  von Eberhard Nestle (Mitarbeiter), u. a.
Deutsche Bibelges., St (1999)

LTI (Lingua Tertii Imperii). Notizbuch eines Philologen
von Victor Klemperer

Curriculum vitae. Erinnerungen 1881 - 1918
von Victor Klemperer, Walter. Nowojski (Herausgeber)

Leben sammeln, nicht fragen wozu und warum. Tagebücher 1918 - 1932
von Victor Klemperer, Walter Nowojski (Herausgeber), Christian Löser (Herausgeber)

Ich will Zeugnis ablegen bis zum letzten, Tagebücher 1933 - 1945. 2 Bd.
von Victor Klemperer, Hedwig Klemperer (Mitarbeiter), Walter Nowojski (Herausgeber)

Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations
by Michael Sells (Translator)

Bibelausgaben, Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (Nr.5218)

The Septuagint with Apocrypha
by Lancelot C. Brenton (Editor)

Victims of a Map: A Bilingual Anthology of Arabic Poetry
by Mahmud Darwish

Frieden ohne Gerechtigkeit? Israel und die Menschenrechte der Palästinenser
von Ludwig Watzal

Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe

Bible and Colonialism
by Michael Prior

Zionism and the State of Israel: A Moral Inquiry
by Michael Prior

The Jews in the Greek Age
by Elias J. Bickerman [I object to the use of the term Jews during the Greco-Roman period.  It is a topic on which there is much scholarly dispute, but Bickerman is probably a reasonable place to start]

The Modern Jewish Canon: A Journey Through Language and Culture
by Ruth R. Wisse [A fairly vicious racist and generally insipid person, but hard to find an appropriate introduction]

The Book of Beliefs and Opinions (Yale Judaica Series, Vol 1)
by Saadia Gaon, Samuel Rosenblatt (Translator)

Orientalism
by Edward W. Said

Orientalism
by A. L. MacFie

Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland
by Jan Tomasz Gross

Nationalism, Marxism, and Modern Central Europe: A Biography of Kazimierz Kelles-Krauz (1872-1905) (Harvard Papers in Ukrainian Studies)
by Timothy D. Snyder

Réflexions sur la violence
de Georges Sorel, Jacques Julliard (Préface), Michel Prat (Sous la direction de)

Virgil: Eclogues-Georgics-Aeneid Books I-VI (Loeb Classical Library, 63-64)
by Virgil, Fairclough, H. R. Fairclough (Translator)

The Ugly American
by Eugene Burdick, William J. Lederer

Basic Concepts of Probability and Statistics
by Joseph Lawson Hodges, E.L. Lehmann

Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil
by Hannah Arendt

Judaism in Islam: Biblical and Talmudic Backgrounds of the Koran and Its Commentaries
by Abraham Isaac Katsh

[The Odyssey (The Loeb Classical Library, No 104 & 105)
by Homer, George E. Dimock, A. T. Murray (Translator)

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) (movie)]

The Iliad (Loeb Classical Library, No. 170)
by Homer, A. T. Murray (Translator)

Josephus: All Volumes (Loeb Classical Library)
by Josephus

Philo: All Volumes (Loeb Classical Library)
by Philo

Ovid III Metamorphoses, Book One Thru Eight, No#42 (Loeb Classical Library)
by Ovid, Frank J. Miller (Translator)

Ovid: Metamorphoses Books 9-15 (Ovid, Volume 4 - Loeb Classical Library)
by Ovid, A. Miller, Grant Showerman, G. P. Goold, Frank J. Miller (Translator)

Homeric Hymns Epic Cycle Homerica
by Hesiod, Hugh G. Evelyn-White (Translator)

Pindar: All Volumes (Loeb Classical Library)
by Pindar, William H. Race (Editor)

Apollodorus: All Volumes (Loeb Classical Library)
by Apollodorus, J.G. Sir Frazer (Translator)

The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition
by Florentino Garcia Martinez (Editor), Eibert Tigchelaar (Editor), Martinez, Florentino Garcia Martinez

Ein Land und zwei Völker. Zur jüdisch-arabischen Frage
von Martin Buber

Late Marriage
Starring: Lior AshkenaziRonit Elkabetz, et al.
Director: Dover Koshashvili
Rated: Unrated
Opening Date: May 17, 2002 (limited release)

The Days: His Autobiography in Three Parts (Modern Arabic Writing)
by Taha Hussein, E. H. Paxton, Hilary Wayment, Kenneth Cragg

Gesammelte Werke, 5 Bde. in 6 Tl.-Bdn., Bd.4, August 1914 bis Januar 1919
von Rosa Luxemburg

Zionism and the Arabs: An American Jewish Dilemma, 1898-1948
by Rafael Medoff

Militant Zionism in America: The Rise and Impact of the Jabotinsky Movement in the United States, 1926-1948 (Judaic Studies Series)
by Rafael Medoff

Jabotinsky and Arlosoroff writings in the original – translations are unreliable.

The Making of Israeli Militarism
by Uri Ben-Eliezer

Identity Politics on the Israeli Screen
by Yosefa Loshitzky

A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East
by David Fromkin

Pan Slavism Its History and Ideology
by Hans Kohn

Heidegger's Children: Hannah Arendt, Karl Lowith, Hans Jonas, and Herbert Marcuse.
by Richard Wolin

Language Courses

Annenberg/CPB
Fokus Deutsch

Introduction to Biblical Hebrew
by Thomas Oden Lambdin

 

RUS': A Comprehensive Course in Russian
by Sarah Smyth (Author), Elena V. Crosbie (Author)

 

Alif Baa: Introduction to Arabic Letters and Sounds
by Kristen Brustad, Mahmoud Al-Batal, Abbas Al-Tonsi

 

Al-Kitaab Fii Tacallum Al- cArabiyya: A Textbook for Beginning Arabic
by Kristen Brustad, Mahmoud Al-Batal (Contributor), Abbas Al-Tonsi (Editor)

 

Al-Kitaab Fii Tacallum Al--cArabiyya /a Textbook for Arabic
by Kristen Brustad, Mahmoud Al-Batal (Contributor), Abbas Al-Tonsi (Contributor)

 

Al-Kitaab Fii Tacallum Al-cArabiyya: A Textbook for Arabic, Part 2
by Kristen Brustad, Abbas Al-Tonsi (Contributor), Mahmoud Al-Batal (Contributor)

 

Al-Kitaab Fii Tacallum Al-cArabiyya: A Textbook for Arabic, Part Three
by Kristen Brustad, Mahmoud Al-Batal, Abbas Al-Tonsi

Textbook of Israeli Hebrew With an Introduction to the Classical Language
by Haiim B. Rosen [linguistics oriented and idiomatically dated] or

[Modern Hebrew for Beginners
A Multimedia Program for Students at the Beginning and Intermediate Levels
By Esther Raizen
With contributions by Yaron Shemer

Modern Hebrew for Intermediate Students
A Multimedia Program
By Esther Raizen]

An Introductory Grammar of Rabbinic Hebrew
by Miguel Perez Fernandez, John Elwolde (Translator)

Writing Arabic: A Practical Introduction to Ruq'ah Script
by T. F. Mitchell

An Introduction to Koranic and Classical Arabic: An Elementary Grammar of the Language
by Wheeler M. Thackston

An Introduction to Koranic and Classical Arabic: An Elementary Grammar of the Language Key to Exercise
by Wheeler M. Thackston

Homeric Greek: A Book for Beginners
by Clyde Pharr, Wright, John Henry Wright (Photographer)

Introduction to Attic Greek
by Donald J. Mastronarde, Donald J. Matronarde

A Biblical Greek grammar

An Introduction to Aramaic (Resources for Biblical Study, No 38)
by Frederick E. Greenspahn

Wheelock's Latin
by Frederic M. Wheelock, Richard A. Lafleur [The whole course]

French in Action: A Beginning Course in Language and Culture, the Capretz Method
by Pierre J. Capretz, Beatrice Abetti (Contributor), Marie-Odile Germain, Laurence Wylie (Contributor)

Intermediate Polish
by Oscar E. Swan [I am not sure what would be a good introduction or advance book nowadays]

College Yiddish: An Introduction to the Yiddish Language and to Jewish Life and Culture
by Uriel Weinreich

Yiddish II: A Textbook for Intermediate Courses
by Mordkhe Schaechter


 



[1] Noel Malcolm points out in Kosovo: A Short History that the specifics of this battle are far less clear than Hobsbawm suggests.  Likewise, the basic facts of the history of Greco-Roman Palestine as well as the origins of Jewish communities in Central and Eastern Europe are for the most part even more obscure than events in 14th century Kosovo.  Many established facts of ancient Palestine and modern Ashkenazi communities directly contradict common beliefs.

[2]  Zionists have frequently made a similar attempt to deny the existence of a genuine Palestinian ethnic identity.

[3] It is just as much nonsense to assert that modern Jews have any more or any different substantial connection to Palestine than modern non-Palestinian Christians or Muslims.  In contrast, Palestinian Christians, Muslims and Samaritans are the native population of all of Palestine.  Native Palestinian Arab Jews also formed a part of the native population, but these Arab Jews constituted a permanent community distinct from the resident alien Ashkenazi and Sephardi populations that took temporary residence in Palestine for religious reasons.

[4] Zionists have likewise insisted on a sanitized propaganda history of the modern settlement and colonization of Palestine and of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine during the Israeli War of Independence, which Palestinians and most of the world call the نكبه (nakbah or catastrophe).  Zionists often accuse Arabic high school textbooks of incitement when they include maps and tables of the demographic changes that European colonists made in Palestine over the period from 1880 1948.

[5] From On History by Eric Hobsbawm, pp. 6 -- 9.  I have left out Hobsbawm’s summary. “Yet this very story gives us ground for hope. For here we have mythological or nationalist history being criticized from within. I note that the history of the establishment of Israel ceased to be written in Israel essentially as national propaganda or Zionist polemic about forty years after the state came into being.”   The change to which Hobsbawm refers has proven only a temporary phenomenon associated with the Israeli Labor Party’s loss of control of the Israeli government when Begin became Prime Minister.  See The Fabrication of Israeli History by Ephraim Karsh and recent works by Benny Morris.  Note that Zionist historians like Karsh still represent the preponderance of the Israeli Jewish and Diaspora Ashkenazi historical writing in areas related to the State of Israel and Zionism while Morris has shown himself to be a Zionist historian that concedes issues only when denial would cause a loss of credibility.

[6]Zeev Sternhell notes the lack of intellectual diversity or creativity among Zionists in The Founding Myths of Israel, p. 332.

 

After 1967 everything continued as before.  Social and national ideologies were unchanged.  Not everyone benefited from rapid economic growth; on the contrary, growth accentuated social differences.  Moreover, the nationalism of “socialist” Zionism remained as it had been when Mapai was founded four decades earlier:  radical, tribal, [völkisch], steeped in the cult of the heroic past, and convinced of the justice of its claims to the entirety of the ancient land, which was formerly the scene of national independence and greatness.  This nationalism, together with symbols, had always been a common enterprise of the Left and the Right.  Katznelson described “socialist” Zionism as an enterprise of conquest; Revisionist Zionism never had any other objective.  The two forms of Zionism differed only in their methods.

[7] Central and Eastern Europe has been in the forefront of the development of modern racism.  Ashkenazim participated in full measure in the racism of these regions.  Anyone that understands Yiddish or is even mildly familiar with some Yiddish idioms is aware of the phrase קאָפ גוייִשער (goisher kop), which indicates some common racist attitudes among Ashkenazim.  I am not aware of similar expressions in Hebrew and Aramaic scripture, Judeo-Arabic, Dzhudezmo, Karaite (Judeo-Kipchak) or Judeo-Persian.

[8] Otherwise the ignorant, inarticulate, unethical moron, who stole the 2000 election and who holds office by a judicial coup, would neither call Ariel Sharon a man of peace nor babble incoherently about the need for democratic reform in Palestine in order to develop a reasonable modus vivendi between the settler colonist population and the native Palestinians. The arrogance of Bush’s aides in demanding regime change in Germany is quite astounding because unlike Bush Chancellor Schröder was genuinely elected to office by the will and vote of the German citizenry.  The title of this section is a reference to the Tilden-Hayes election, but the circumstances of the 2000 election were far more sinister.

[9] Arabs and Muslims when reviewing American policy, popular culture and media of the last 55 years often wonder why Americans have so much hatred for everything and everyone Arabic or Islamic.

[10] Both movable property (e.g. bank accounts) and immovable property (e.g. land) were stolen.

[11] The settler colonists have frequently attacked the native population at least since the founding of the שומרים [Shomrim] in the teens of 20th century.  The Shomrim (the Guardians) were a terrorist militia established to prevent the native population from exercising non-title rights (analogous to easements) that Zionists had not purchased.

[12] The PBS series Heritage is a particularly egregious example of propaganda masquerading as documentary.  Episodes of The Sopranos show both the idea of Jews as a religion as well as more primordialist conceptions of Jewish peoplehood.

[13] This usage was very common.  The Romans of a city in Egypt would be the worshippers of Roman gods and goddesses.  The usage is preserved today in the term Roman Catholic while Greek-speaking Orthodox Christians in the territories of the former Byzantine Empire as well as Greek-speaking Byzantine Catholics in Southern Italy invariably called themselves Romans until modern times because Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th century.

[14] In a minimal sense Shaye Cohen argues in The Beginnings of Jewishness that practicing Judean religion might simply have meant worshipping the God El, considering Jerusalem an import cultic location and performing ritual male circumcision.  It is quite probable that worshippers of El in his Greek incarnation as Kronos, in his Roman incarnation as Saturn and in his Germanic near incarnation as Odin were viewed as practicing an associated religion if male worshipers were not required to undergo circumcision.  Such worshipers of El, Kronos or Saturn probably came to be perceived as Judeans if they made circumcision a requirement for taking part in services.

[15] The Book of Suzanna, found in the Greek Bible makes an interesting distinction between Judeans and Israelites.  It takes place on the shores of the Black sea.  Palestine is a place where significant spiritual events took place, but there is no sense of exile in the text.

[16] The Islamic approach is the most modern and in some sense avoids most of the problems of the conflict between religion and history.  The Qur’an is uncreated and has existed for all time.  It is meaningless to argue whether specific historical events that occurred in real secular time conflict with it. Judaism and Christianity have philosophical problems with concepts of predestination because revelation must take place in real-time in genuine historical events. Likewise, from the standpoint of the Believer the Arabic of the Qur’an has existed for all time even if the Arabic of the real time secular world evolved to that Arabic and continued to evolve afterward. 

[17] Note this hypothesis neatly explains the confusion whether the Khazar Turks converted to modern Rabbinic or modern Karaite Judaism, for they converted to a pre-modern form of Judean religion and then helped to craft modern Rabbinic Judaism.  The conversion of large numbers of Khazar Turks and other Balkan or Southern Russian populations helps explain why Arabic did not become a language of Judean or Jewish religious scholarship as Aramaic did.  During the first few centuries of Islam, Arabic certainly made inroads on Hebrew and Aramaic, but a large proselyte population outside the region of Arabic linguistic dominance negated the value of Arabic as a common medium of communication.

[18] The examples of Judean ritual and law that we find in Greco-Roman texts generally look far more like the earliest forms of Karaitism than like modern Rabbinical Judaism.  Nevertheless, the religion of the Ethiopian Beita Israel is probably far closer to the Greek language form of Judean practice during the Greco-Roman period than any other religion that exists today.  Axum in Ethiopia created a unique form of Hellenistic culture translated into Ge`ez. Ethiopian Judean religion probably is a result of that cultural efflorescence.  Because it is not studied by students of Hellenistic Judean religion, who typically do not have the necessary linguistic skill set, a lot of important information is being lost as Israeli rabbinical authorities force the Ethiopians to assimilate to modern Rabbinical Jewish practices. 

[19] For example, evidence is completely lacking that the ancestors of modern European Jewish communities ever spoke a form of Aramaic or Hebrew.  The linguistic history of Ashkenazim should be contrasted with that of the Roma (Gypsies), who are a genuine migrant population that preserved an Indic language over a period of almost a thousand years.

[20] There was a similar redefinition in the use of the adjective French to describe practically all the people of France now that the old distinction between French and Gaul has mostly vanished from memory and common usage.

[21] Slavic areas known as Canaan in Hebrew-Aramaic texts as well as the adjoining Turkic speaking regions have been exporting people both slave and free throughout Europe, N. Africa and Mesopotamia since late antiquity.

[22] Probably some of the people counted as Polish Roman Catholic casualties of the Chmielnicki Rebellion were actually Lithuanian or Polish Ruthenians, also known as Greek Catholics.

[23] In Yugoslavia small refugee Iberian or Iberoberber communities continued to speak Dzhudezmo (Judeospanish) into the 20th century.  Most Jews of Bulgaria were either of refugee Iberian origin or from ancient Byzantine communities that assimilated to refugee Iberian culture.  Some ethnic Tatar communities in Eastern Europe practiced Karaite or Rabbinic Judaism.  In Poland and Lithuania, ethnic Tatar Jews were only Karaites.  Polish and Lithuanian ethnic Tatar Rabbinic Jews probably assimilated into the Ashkenazi community without leaving an historical record.  Yiddish and some Ashkenazi naming practices may show some traces of the absorption these ethnic Tatar Rabbinic Jews, but interpreting the linguistic and onomastic data is difficult.

[24] A good analysis of the demonization of Palestinians and other propaganda techniques used by Herzl in Altneuland can be found in “A Reading of Herzl’s Altneuland,” by Muhammad Ali Khalidi, Journal of Palestine Studies, Volume XXX, Number 4, Summer 2001, pp. 55-67.

[25] The various Eastern European Ashkenazi communities did not have much sense of an ethnonational identity until after the 1870s and sought integration and assimilation. Especially during the 1870s, many young educated Russian Ashkenazim became involved in народничетво (narodnichestvo -- populism), a movement that idealized peasants and peasant life. The associated ideology was probably a major influence on the Zionism of Russian Ashkenazim.

[26] Some mid-century German nationalists and linguists like Boeckh explicitly identified Yiddish speaking Eastern European Ashkenazim as Germans sometimes in support of German claims to rule in Eastern Europe.

[27] While the pogroms of 1881-82 lead to more demands for assimilation, they gave inspiration or at least added impetus to the political and cultural Yiddishist movement, which was an indication of the beginnings of Yiddish (Ashkenazi) ethnonational consciousness. 

The first Yiddishist political party was the בּונד אַרבּעטער יִידישׁער אַלגעמיינער (Bund).  It was secular and Marxist socialist.  The Bund sought cultural autonomy.  An opposition party, ישראל אגודת (Agudas Yisroel), which was religious and anti-socialist, later acted as a Yiddishist opposition to the Bund’s political program especially in interbellum Poland.  The Russian government encouraged the formation of a secular pro-Czarist Yiddishist party.

[28] Fire in the Minds of Men, p. 162, contains the following passage.

Already in the 1830s the Poles had assumed a certain leadership in internationalizing revolutionary nationalism.  Arriving in Paris in great numbers after the failure of the Polish Revolution in 1831 they organized innumerable protest meetings and petitions against repression by the German as well as the Russian government.  Mickiewicz and others expected a German revolution throughout 1832-33 that might lead to guerilla uprisings and the liberation of Poland.  On November 3, 1832, many Poles addressed a proclamation of solidarity to the Jews as another persecuted nation in exile.  Mickiewicz died in Istanbul in November 1855, in the arms of a Jewish friend who had his own proto-Zionist dream of liberating Jerusalem.

[29] This exclusion might have resulted from the heightened religious tensions associated with the Kleindeutschland Grossdeutschland debates and with the Kulturkampf that Bismarck instituted during the 1870s between German Catholics and Protestants in response to the declaration of papal infallibility, which itself developed out of the affair of the kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara.

[30] Sholem Abramovitsch (Mendele Moykher Sforim), regarded as the founder of secular Yiddish literature, published in Yiddish and Haskalah Hebrew from 1857 – 1899.  Eventually, he renounced Hebrew to the eternal animosity of Zionists like Usishkin.

[31] This idea that people of Jewish confession constituted a pan-Judaic ethnonational group made little headway among Ashkenazim or any other Jews until after the creation of the State of Israel.  The Israeli sociologist Uri Ram traces the increasing acceptance of this idea to the program of education and indoctrination created by Ben-Zion Dinur and his associates during the 50s.  Zionists merely followed a course already laid out by Italian nationalists before them.  The Italian nationalist leader Massimo D’Azeglio once quipped, “Now that we have made Italy, we must make the Italians.”

[32] Herzl showed tremendous marketing genius in his use of the Dreyfus Affair to argue that there was one common Jewish condition throughout Eastern Europe.  Michael Stanislawski demonstrates conclusively that covering the Dreyfus Affair was not a transforming experience for Herzl as he later claimed.  The Dreyfus Affair was an example of obstinate refusal to admit error rather like the later affair of the Winslow Boy in the UK.  When the failure of military justice became public, religious prejudice contaminated the public debate, but French Jews like all Western Jews did not comprise a separate ethnic group on which extremist organic nationalists could focus hostility.  Possibly as a result of the Dreyfus affair, the French left came to scorn all anti-Jewish politics while anti-Semitic politics on the Eastern European model made very little progress on the French right.  In contrast, in Eastern Europe ethnic or confessional anti-Semitic politics directed against Eastern European Ashkenazim was common among all extremist organic nationalists both of the left and of the right.

[33] The conceptualization of “Prussian” Israelite monarchy that was formulated by German Protestant theologians to bolster the Hohenzollerns was ready made for Zionist myth creation.

[34] Not only is the attempt to provide a genuine “Jewish” lineage for Zionist thought a questionable effort, but also the history of proto-Zionist Rabbis (Hakhamim) like Alkalai is noticeably sanitized, for the Sabbatian connections of Alkalai and his community are either omitted or concealed in the standard Zionist propaganda histories.  Note that the Sabbatean heresy may be the only “Jewish” input in the development of Zionist ideology.

[35] Nordau developed the concept of Muskeljudentum, which means tough, power or muscular Judaism or Jewry.  He admired the German dueling culture.  Jabotinsky turned such ideas into a full-blown Sorelian worship of violence as well as a paean to militarism and force directed primarily against non-Jews but even more viciously against Jews that disagreed with Jabotinsky’s or Revisionist ideas.  Today, this cult of violence suffuses modern Israeli Jewish culture and has spread via neo-con chickenhawks, who are often the blue stripe diaper babies of American Revisionists, to the political culture of the USA.

[36] Zionist intimacy with possible or known Judeophobes is a recurrent theme in the history of Zionism.  Herzl and Jabotinsky had close relations with several notorious European anti-Semites while Arlosoroff and Goebbels apparently shared Magda Quandt, who later became Goebbels wife.  Today, Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu both receive much support from the American Christian right, whose leaders often express traditional Christian anti-Jewish ideas.  European Ashkenazi supporters of Likud are reported to have close ties to both Le Pen, leader of the National Front in France, and Haider leader of the Freedom Party, but to be honest it is far from clear that either Le Pen or Haider is particularly Judeophobic even if they are rather xenophobic.

[37] Jabotinsky’s point is important.  He makes a blood and soil argument and not a religious claim to Palestine.  This aspect of Zionist logic or illogic often confuses Muslim scholars. Abdulaziz A. Sachedina embarrasses himself when he writes the following (p. 12) in the Translator’s introduction to The Prolegomena to the Qur’an (القرآن تفسير في البيان) by al-Khu’i (الخوئي).

 

The Shi`ite rights to Iran, then, would be on the same principles that allowed the Jews in the Diaspora to claim a divinely ordained right to migrate to Palestine.

[38] Michael Stanislawski’s Zionism and the Fin de Siècle provides perhaps the frankest discussion of Jabotinsky’s ideas in English.  Stanislawski argues that Jabotinsky was not a fascist.  I concur even though Stanislawski does not show a full understanding of fascism, but I agree because a close reading of Jabotinsky in Russian shows that his ideas are far closer to those of Hitler in Mein Kampf than to fascism as described in La doctrina du fascisme by Mussolini. Stanislawski’s description of Jabotinsky’s thinking on p. 210 would serve equally well to characterize Hitler’s developing thought during the 1920s.

[39] I argue later in this document that Labor Zionism is a form of fascism. Americans, who often have difficulty distinguishing fascists and Nazis, might then wonder why Labor Zionists and Revisionist Zionists were so hostile to one another.  If Americans actually studied the respective ideologies, they would find that the nationalist socialism of fascism and the social Darwinism of Nazism are not particularly compatible.  In the middle 1930s there was some fear in Europe that Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy would make war on each other.

[40] It is not surprising that German and Austrian professors that later became Nazis were favorites among Ashkenazi students in the early 20th century (viz Heidegger's Children: Hannah Arendt, Karl Lowith, Hans Jonas and Herbert Marcuse by Richard Wolin).

[41] Sternhell uses the word völkisch instead of the plain English word racist. The French version is cowardly in exactly the same way.

[42] In August 1985, the Knesset passed an amendment to the Basic Law: The Knesset, in accordance with the High Court's comment in the Kach case. The amendment added incitement to racism as grounds for barring a party from participating in elections. The law now states as follows:  'A candidates' list shall not participate in elections to the Knesset if its objects or actions, expressly or by implication, include one of the following:

1)       negation of the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people;

2)       negation of the democratic character of the State;

3)       incitement to racism.

One must ask how Zionism is anything other than an incitement to racism.  The rest of the law is simply oxymoronic and is generally interpreted by the Israeli political elite to mean anything they do not like.

[43] The issue is probably not related to the topic of Gorny’s book, but one can make a good case that Zionist program to make Palestine the site of the “Jewish” nation-state may have occasioned the deaths of far more Jews during the Nazi persecutions than might have occurred if Zionism had never managed to obtain the patronage of the British in the aftermath of WW1.

[44] Gorny correctly points out that Ahad Haam (Ginzburg) was no less racist than other Zionist leaders, for he believed that Jewish historical rights to Palestine took precedence over the human rights of the native population.  He merely wanted Zionists to be more circumspect in stealing Palestine and to refrain from overt public displays of racism.  Gorny does not clearly show the development of Ginzburg’s thought from the 1890s to the 1920s.  In the early period worried that settler behavior put the whole movement at risk.  Later, Ginzburg was not so worried about mistreating Arabs because the settlers were more numerous and the British undertook to protect the Ashkenazi colonists in the 1920s.

[45] The involvement of Ashkenazim in revolutionary violence may have been proportionately larger than that of other ethnic groups because of the relatively high percentage of Ashkenazim in attendance at universities, which provided an important venue for radicalism in Czarist Russia.

[46] Was and is נשק טוהר (purity of arms) anything but a propaganda slogan?  Historical and contemporary records witness the complete vacuousness of Zionist claims.

[47] Lev Kopelev in To Be Preserved Forever identifies Ashkenazim as some of the most violent, murderous and cruel of Soviet leaders.  The “Jewish” character of the Bolshevik party provides an interesting example of perceptual disconnect.  While Ashkenazim were in the pre-revolutionary and early revolutionary period a major ethnic component of the Bolshevik party, Ashkenazim perceived the Bolsheviks as a non-Ashkenazi/non-Jewish or even anti-Ashkenazi/anti-Jewish party. In contrast, non-Ashkenazim/non-Jews generally with justification perceived the Bolshevik party as very Jewish/Ashkenazi. [Note that Russian like Polish uses one term for ethnic Jews (Ashkenazim) and another term for religious Jews.  Usually the distinction is lost in translation into English.] 

[48] The Zionist argument for British support in the creation of a Zionist colony included an offer to serve as local intermediaries to the Arab population or as colonial surrogates on behalf of the UK.

[49] German Orientalist discourse had a popular form. Georg Ebergs Eine aegyptische Koenigstochter war das Kultbuch im Deutschland des späten 19. Jahrhunderts.  He also wrote Uarda, die Aegypterin, and had many imitators. 

[50] The Heidelberg Myth by Steven Remy is a more recent study of the Nazification and de-Nazification of German universities.

[51] Both Facts on the Ground Archeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society by Nadia Abu El-Haj and Sacred Landscape:  Buried History of the Holy Land Since 1948 by Meron Benvenisti identify the steps in the Zionist conquest and theft of Palestine but do not make explicit connection with Nazi Umvolkung on which the Zionist program is probably modeled   The Nazis had no reluctance with publicizing Umvolkung as a program of historic justice. If archeology in Israel were really an academic discipline and not often a tool of Zionist legitimization, propaganda and indoctrination, some Israeli archeologists would investigate the alleged migration of Jewish Palestinians into Europe during the Greco-Roman and early medieval period.

 

[52] There is a lot of Zionist primordialist trash out there, e.g., Ancient Zionism, The Biblical Origins of the National Idea by Avi Ehrlich, Restoring the Jews to their Homeland, Nineteen Centuries in the Quest for Zion by Joseph Adler, Letters to Auntie Fori, The 5,000-Year History of the Jewish People and Their Faith, by Martin Gilbert.  Hyam Maccoby’s misrepresentations of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism serve similar purposes of disinformation, propaganda and indoctrination.

[53] Likewise, Palestinians are supposed to forget about their real claims against Zionism and the State of Israel while we must take Zionist demands seriously even though they are founded in mythology.  Any to the Palestine problem solution that demands Palestinians must as permanent the loss of real residence and property rights of 50 years ago while Jews can claim residence and property rights on the basis of mythological claims from 2000 years ago cannot possibly work.  If mythological refugees from 2000 years ago can claim rights, why should not refugees from a mere 50 years ago be able to claim their rights.  If Jews did not forget after 2000 years ago, why should Palestinians forget after 50 years?  Common sense tells us that the common wisdom is simply a common fallacy.

Proposals to resettle the native population of Palestine in surrounding Palestine while Israel maintains open immigration to populations from Europe and the Americas are particularly offensive.  The neighboring Arab countries are poor and unstable and could not easily assimilate the refugee Palestinian population.  There are estimates that 70-80% of the Israeli Jewish citizens have the right to citizenship in European or North American countries.  If any people should be resettled as citizens of other countries, members of the Israeli Jewish population are the right choice.  Israeli Jewish identity is so intertwined with genocide and ethnic cleansing that the vanishing of this nationality from the planet would be no great loss.  Baruch Kimmerling argues correctly in The Invention and Decline of Israeliness that Israeliness has failed as a national identity.  Only about 30% of the Israeli population is capable of functioning at any sophisticated level in Modern Israeli Hebrew.  If Israeli Jews were willing to negotiate in good faith with the native population of Palestine, a secular constitution could easily be developed that would protect the cultural status of Hebrew and Hebrew language educational institutions.

[54] In case the graphic is not clearly visible the following is the text of Connect to Today: The State of Israel.

On May 14, 1948, Jews and many non-Jews around the world celebrated the birth of the modern state of Israel.  Israel owes its existence in part to the idea of the Promised Land.  Jewish tradition kept that idea alive for almost 18 centuries after Jewish rule had ended in Palestine.  By the 1800s, persecution of Jews in Europe led many to believe that Jews should return to the land give to them by God – to Palestine.

In the late 1800s, a movement called Zionism called for “a (Jewish) home in Palestine secured by law.”  In 1947, after the horrors of Nazism, the United Nations answered that call.  It established Israel as the Jewish homeland.  Jews had regained their Promised Land.

[55] By definition a feature film is at least one hour in length.  I have left out of the list the three TV docudramas and reenactments Rescue at Entebbe:  How They Saved the Hostages (CBS), Victory at Entebbe (ABC) and Raid on Entebbe (NBC) because they do not qualify as the sort of film that I was studying even though the amount of coverage this Israeli operation received is interesting in itself.  One Day in September as a documentary is also off topic, but Cast a Giant Shadow and Schindler’s List are on topic because they are fiction based on historical events and real persons.

I am not discussing Israeli produced and directed films that are often partially funded by the Israeli government and that target the American market.  There are far more of these films, and they are in the main crude propaganda, e.g., the Golan-Globus (also known as Cannon) trash.  The receptiveness of the American market to such films is disturbing in itself, but the transformation of the American film industry into a source of independent Zionist indoctrination is a more interesting and telling phenomenon of the Zionization of America culture.

[56] Note that I could not even find an example of a similar type of American feature film that portrayed any aspect of the Palestinian narrative.  Eyewitness (1981, Twentieth Century Fox) poses some questions about the true loyalties of Zionist American Ashkenazim, describes some fears of the American white lower classes as the USA becomes more multiracial and multicultural and addresses some other issues of wealth and poverty in the USA, but it was somewhat unfocused and any discomfort that this film expressed with Zionism was completely unrelated to the crimes committed by Zionists against the native population of Palestine. 

One can generally learn far more about the facts and the nature of the conflict from Israeli and Palestinian films.  If I understand Late Marriage (Hebrew & Georgian), it savages Israeli Zionist culture, but a particularly explicit sex scene early in the film distracted most viewers from the underlying allegory of the State of Israel.  Perhaps, the best film on the issues in the Palestine conflict was made in 1943.  It is called This Land Is Mine and dramatizes the Nazi occupation of an unnamed Western European country.  Other films that might illuminate the conflict from the point of view of Palestinians are Mrs. Miniver and the Planet of the Apes remake.  Apocalypse Now, which updates Conrad’s Heart of Darkness to modern times, illuminates the psychological dimension as well as the naked and brutal fist of Western colonialist imperialism.  It is helpful in understanding the nature of the conflict over Palestine.

[57] Any movie that uses the term "Jew" instead of "Judean" in the representation of events before the 10th century is anachronistic and may be including Zionist primordialist propaganda.  Ben-Hur prominently features the hexagram (the Star of David) even though it is never used by Judeans as far as I know and Jews hardly ever use it before the 17th century when it becomes associated with the Sabbatian heresy.

Judeans would have been far more likely to use a swastika (the ancient symbol of cherubim) or a candelabrum or a cluster of grapes.  Is it not interesting that movies with Zionist propaganda potential invariably get such details wrong even though the studios employ lots of people just for the purpose of avoiding such historical incorrectness?

[58] Reel Bad Arabs, How Hollywood Vilifies a People, by Jack G. Shaheen recommends Ben-Hur.  Shaheen’s estimation of the film simply baffles me.

[59] An excellent case can be made that Palestinians from the beginning of Zionist aggression in the late 19th century through the فدعيون (fida`iyuuna) attacks of the 50s through the Munich Olympics attacks and מעלות (Maalot) until today have been mostly reacting to on-going Zionist genocidal acts, murder and torture.

[60] Jack Shaheen in Reel Bad Arabs considers Hanna K. one of the best Hollywood films in addressing the Israel-Palestine question.  He may have been distracted by the controversy associated with release and distribution.  I find the misrepresentation of the treatment of Palestinians by the IDF and the Israeli legal system perhaps even more disturbing than unmitigated Zionist propaganda would be.

[61] Torn Apart is a sort of Israeli Jewish male fantasy of a pliant Arab maiden.  It is loosely based on Romeo and Juliet.  Cynthia Peck, the daughter of Gregory Peck, plays the Palestinian Juliet.

[62] Double Edge is a sort of remake of Hanna K.  An American female reporter replaces the Israeli female lawyer. Double Edge eliminates practically any suggestion that aspects of Zionism or the State of Israel might be questionable while Palestinians become unequivocally the bad guys.  Double Edge eliminates the distracting subplots the confused the main issues of Hanna K. I almost wonder if the distractions in the story of Hanna K. were purposefully designed to blur any serious issues.  In contrast, Double Edge required no similar obfuscation because it was much more straight Zionist propaganda.

[63] I did not include Torn Apart or Double Edge in the list of films because the directors, screenwriters, production venue and most of the actors were Israeli.  These movies count more as Israeli than as American.

[64] Selling the Holocaust, From Auschwitz to Schindler, How History is Bought, Packaged and Sold, by Time Cole has a worthwhile discussion of Schindler’s List.

The ending only compares the survivorship of Schindler and Polish Jews.  It says nothing about Yiddish culture, and one would be hard pressed to glean from Schindler’s List that an independent Yiddish society and culture had been murdered in Eastern Europe. A great movie would have shown more ethical complexity.  Hero was ethically a far more sophisticated film. Schindler was far sleazier than portrayed.  Making the chief Nazi villain a psychopath lets a lot of Germans escape their guilt.  Compare The Nasty Girl.  For more serious ethical complexity you might wish to check out Lili Marlene.

In the real world many victims of the Nazi persecutions made an easy transition to victimizing of Palestinians.

[65] The movie made Art Spiegelman (viz “Schindler’s List: Myth, Movie, and Memory,” Village Voice 39, no. 13 [March 29, 1994], p.26) extremely uncomfortable even before it reached the ending.  Art Spiegelman incorrectly criticized Spielberg for a gentrification of “Julius Streicher’s Der Stürmer caricatures.” The negative characterization of Jews within the film most likely result from the effort Spielberg made to produce an orthodox Zionist Holocaust drama.  As a consequence, he probably inadvertently reproduced classic Zionist anti-Diasporatist ideology, which is actually very close to Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda.

[66] In Hebrew there is an important issue of nuance.  The use of שואה instead of חורבן implicitly denigrates Eastern European Yiddish culture and society because שואה is only a catastrophe.  Using חורבן puts the Nazi mass murder in the same class as the destruction of the first or second temple and implies that the spiritual loss is at least as great.  Zionists invariably work hard to suppress such an idea because Zionist anti-Diasporatist ideology denies any value in the Judean or Jewish Diaspora.

[67] Gilad Atzmon in A Guide to the Perplexed provides an Israeli example similar to Doctor Seuss, but in general German Americans and even Germans in Germany were more willing to criticize Nazi policies during the Nazi period than the settler colonists in Palestine and American Ashkenazim have ever been ready to criticize Zionist policy since the end of 1945.

[68] A movie title absent a comment means either that I could not obtain it, that I have not had a chance to review it or that I am unsure that it specifically refers to Israel, Israelis, Palestine or Palestinians.  Jack Shaheen discusses most of the listed films in Reel Bad Arabs.  He does not discuss films that use or portray the Holocaust as a justification of Zionism, genocide, ethnic cleansing or the theft of Palestine from the native population.  Note that it is completely possible to mention or use Holocaust themes in a film without mention of Zionism or the State of Israel.  An American Werewolf in London provides one example.

[69] Any movie that uses the term "Jew" instead of "Judean" in the representation of events before the 10th century is anachronistic and may be including Zionist primordialist propaganda.  Ben-Hur prominently features the hexagram (the Star of David) even though it is never used by Judeans as far as I know and Jews hardly ever use it before the 17th century when it becomes associated with the Sabbatian heresy.

Judeans would have been far more likely to use a swastika (the ancient symbol of cherubim) or a candelabrum or a cluster of grapes.  Is it not interesting that movies with Zionist propaganda potential invariably get such details wrong even though the studios employ lots of people just for the purpose of avoiding such historical incorrectness?

[70] Reel Bad Arabs, How Hollywood Vilifies a People, by Jack G. Shaheen recommends Ben-Hur.  Shaheen’s estimation of the film simply baffles me.

[71] An excellent case can be made that Palestinians from the beginning of Zionist aggression in the late 19th century through the فدعيون (fida`iyuuna) attacks of the 50s through the Munich Olympics attacks and מעלות (Maalot) until today have been mostly reacting to on-going Zionist genocidal acts, murder and torture.

[72] The history of Ashkenazi pre-Sho’ah anti-Zionism is being lost.  Books like The Zionist Idea: A Historical Analysis and Reader by Arthur Hertzberg (Editor) or Essential Papers on Zionism (Essential Papers on Jewish Studies)
by Jehuda Reinharz (Editor) and Anita Shapira (Editor) provide (often inaccurate) translations of primary German, Russian, Yiddish and Hebrew Zionist literature as well as questionable analysis and commentaries while the copious anti-Zionist literature in German, Russian, Yiddish, Polish and Hebrew crumbles to dust.  There is a desperate need for comparable sourcebooks that provide translations of important anti-Zionist papers in English.

[73] The director was clearly asleep at the wheel.  Sean Connery simply is not credible as a male version of Faye Dunaway.

[74] Richard Brooks was the director of noteworthy films like Looking for Mr. Goodbar, Lord Jim, Elmer Gantry, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Blackboard Jungle, and In Cold Blood.  He was the screenwriter for Key Largo and The Killers.  He never had any connection with any other movie whose storyline included the Middle East, Arabs, Palestinians, or Israel.

[75] Wrong is Right is one of the many Hollywood movies filmed in Israel.

[76] Jack Shaheen in Reel Bad Arabs considers Hanna K. one of the best Hollywood films in addressing the Israel-Palestine question.  He may have been distracted by the controversy associated with release and distribution.  I find the misrepresentation of the treatment of Palestinians by the IDF and the Israeli legal system perhaps even more disturbing than unmitigated Zionist propaganda would be.

[77] Torn Apart is a sort of Israeli Jewish male fantasy of a pliant Arab maiden.  It is loosely based on Romeo and Juliet.  Cynthia Peck, the daughter of Gregory Peck, plays the Palestinian Juliet.

[78] Double Edge is a sort of remake of Hanna K.  An American female reporter replaces the Israeli female lawyer. Double Edge eliminates practically any suggestion that aspects of Zionism or the State of Israel might be questionable while Palestinians become unequivocally the bad guys.  Double Edge eliminates the distracting subplots the confused the main issues of Hanna K. I almost wonder if the distractions in the story of Hanna K. were purposefully designed to blur any serious issues.  In contrast, Double Edge required no similar obfuscation because it was much more straight Zionist propaganda.

[79] I did not include Torn Apart or Double Edge in the list of films because the directors, screenwriters, production venue and most of the actors were Israeli.  These movies count more as Israeli than as American.

[80] Selling the Holocaust, From Auschwitz to Schindler, How History is Bought, Packaged and Sold, by Time Cole has a worthwhile discussion of Schindler’s List.

The ending only compares the survivorship of Schindler and Polish Jews.  It says nothing about Yiddish culture, and one would be hard pressed to glean from Schindler’s List that an independent Yiddish society and culture had been murdered in Eastern Europe. A great movie would have shown more ethical complexity.  Hero was ethically a far more sophisticated film. Schindler was far sleazier than portrayed.  Making the chief Nazi villain a psychopath lets a lot of Germans escape their guilt.  Compare The Nasty Girl.  For more serious ethical complexity you might wish to check out Lili Marlene.

In the real world many victims of the Nazi persecutions made an easy transition to victimizing of Palestinians.

[81] The movie made Art Spiegelman (viz “Schindler’s List: Myth, Movie, and Memory,” Village Voice 39, no. 13 [March 29, 1994], p.26) extremely uncomfortable even before it reached the ending.  Art Spiegelman incorrectly criticized Spielberg for a gentrification of “Julius Streicher’s Der Stürmer caricatures.” The negative characterization of Jews within the film most likely result from the effort Spielberg made to produce an orthodox Zionist Holocaust drama.  As a consequence, he probably inadvertently reproduced classic Zionist anti-Diasporatist ideology, which is actually very close to Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda.

[82] Bracketed works should be read or viewed together, or one work is a translation or derivative of the other.



[i] The title is suggested by Martin Kramer’s somewhat delusional polemic, Ivory Towers on Sand, The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America.  Kramer is hardly the only extremist racist delusional Zionist posing as an expert on Middle East Studies.

NYTimes.com Review A Pro-American Forum

October 3, 2002, Thursday
EDITORIAL DESK
A Pro-American Forum

To the Editor:

Re ''Web Site Fuels Debate on Campus Anti-Semitism'' (news article, Sept. 27):

The Web site Campus-Watch.org, a project of the Middle East Forum, is not primarily about anti-Semitism but about the poor record, extremism, intolerance and abuse of power by Middle East specialists. One consequence of this, to be sure, has been the outbreak of anti-Semitism that Lawrence H. Summers, the president of Harvard, described, but this is not our primary concern.

You describe the Middle East Forum, of which I am the director, as ''a pro-Israel research and policy group.'' In fact, the Middle East forum has as its slogan ''Promoting American Interests.'' The forum believes in strong ties with Israel, Turkey and other democracies in the Middle East as they emerge. It is not pro-Israel; it is pro-American.

DANIEL PIPES
Philadelphia, Sept. 28, 2002

Published: 10 - 03 - 2002 , Late Edition - Final , Section A , Column 4 , Page 26

Such Zionist McCarthyism is spawning an opposition: Campus-Watch WATCH!

[ii] They are not even particularly logical as Boaz Evron (הלאומי החשבון) and Omer Bar-Tov (Mirrors Of Destruction) imply.

In the Zionist view, increasing popular anti-Semitism would cause the state to assist the Zionist program in order to prevent disorder.  Nazis did not conform to Zionist model.  But Labor Zionists refused to see it and made all the wrong choices so that far more Jews died during WW2 than was inevitable.  If the world really hates or intends to destroy the Jews as Zionists believe, does it make sense to gather in one place, where they can be destroyed in one fell swoop? 

[iii] Ha’aretz, Oct. 1, 2002 contains the following op. ed. article.

The scent of the pines

By Aviad Kleinberg

Besiege the Muqata, don't besiege the Muqata; invade Nablus, don't invade Nablus - these are all sterile debates taking place instead of the real discussion that should be underway in Israeli society. It's not true to say the prime minister has no political horizon. He certainly does have one: It just does not include what many people mean when they use that worn-out expression.

The political horizon for Sharon and his gang is clear. It is based on a somewhat primitive interpretation of Ze'ev Jabotinsky's "Iron Wall." The Arabs want to destroy us. They regard every sign of Israeli weakness as a crack in the door through which they can shove a foot or two. Israel, therefore, must never allow any such crack; no window of opportunity can be allowed to be opened. The only language spoken in the Middle East is the language of force. Israel must constantly use force, lest it lose its "deterrent capabilities." Deterrence does not serve any specific goal; it's an autonomous essence, a Moloch demanding endless sacrifices.

Imposing fear, humiliating, lording it over the other - these are not character flaws, but carefully thought-out, deterministic instruments for survival. The attacks on Yasser Arafat, for example, are not meant to achieve any concrete goal, but to humiliate him, and through him, humiliate the Palestinian people. He should not be expelled because he still has symbolic value. When he is completely meaningless, when the Palestinian nation understands that the effort to bring forth an independent leadership and their opposition to Israel has totally failed, only then can Arafat be thrown out with the garbage.

Palestinian dreams are dangerous because, as weak as they may be right now, their dreams could give them strength. So Israel has to make sure the Palestinians give up their dreams, that they reach total despair. Only then can Israel feel safe, according to Sharon.

Their complete surrender of any ambition is more important than tanks or territories. It means that the Palestinians finally have accepted Israeli mastery. Then they can love their masters, because we will be good masters. When they give up their national ambitions - because we hit them, because we dice up their land with thousands of settlements, because we kill off their leaders, and because they will be absolutely dependent on us - then we can show our humanitarian side, renovating their schools and water wells, and granting them passes to work in our cities.

It is surprising how deeply this view of the political horizon has taken root in Israeli society. It goes with the ingrained notion that being victimized is part of our essence, that in every generation "they" rise up to destroy us. That prophecy is self-fulfilling, of course. Policies of exploitation, repression and violence lead to violent reactions that justify counter-violence and strengthen our paranoia. The advantage of the policy is that it does not need documents and detailed plans. We have to continue doing what we - and Sharon plays an important role in that "we" - have been doing for years: unnecessary retaliatory raids, pinpoint assassinations, energetically settling everywhere, apologizing for operational "accidents," and go on, identifying compromise with weakness and lack of patriotism, planning and implementing Big Pines and Small Pines (Sharon's plans preceding the Lebanon War) - entire forests.

There are two basic failures inherent in this political view. First, it totally ignores the changes in the world. Even after the Americans strike (or don't strike) Iraq, the course of history won't change. Those who want to be part of the democratic bloc will not be allowed to continue being colonialists. True, the Europeans were much worse colonialists than we are. But that was then. In history, as Spiro Agnew once said, "they changed the rules and didn't tell anyone."

If we become a state after Sharon's liking, we may be of some use to the Americans, but it's worth noting what happened to some of America's dubious allies of the past: when they finished their jobs, they were declared unfit to dine with respectable guests, and sent home. I wouldn't count on the Bush family's love of Israel.

The second failure is the illusion that Israel's social fabric will hold up when the traditional image of the state and its economic circumstances deteriorate further. Currently, the illusion is maintained by Israel's tough stand against terror. External terror won't break us. But when the democratic world, to which we want to belong, shoves us out, we will collapse. Don't be surprised. With Sharon it always works that way - you start with pine forests and end up in a thicket of thorns.

[iv] The Modern Jewish Canon by Ruth Wisse (Harvard University) provides a particularly good example of using Jewish Studies as a soapbox to serve Zionist racism and to demonize Palestinians or Arabs in general.  She writes on p. 98.

The logic of language imposed itself on the kindred writers, Kafka and Brenner, to spectacularly different ends.  Brenner's hero Hefetz went mad within the security of Hebrew while his author was murdered by Arab assailants who imported the pogrom politics of Europe into the Middle East.

We all know that there were problems between the native Palestinian population and the Ashkenazi colonists, but to claim that the Palestinians were importing pogrom politics from Europe is over the top, corresponds to the most extreme Revisionist demonization of the native population and was not the opinion of most of the Zionist leadership.  She could simply have stated that Arab assailants killed Hefetz during the violence of 1929.  Anything more crosses the boundary into propaganda, and one has to question the decision to inject Zionist anti-Palestinian politics into a book that is supposed to be a semi-scholarly survey of modern Jewish literature.

Her comment also shows the typical Zionist lack of imagination. Her racist anti-Arab nonsense in The Modern Jewish Canon hardly differs from that in Hitler’s Professors, which Max Weinreich unfortunately and irrelevantly incorporated into his rather useful book. He probably unconsciously absorbed these ideas from the standard 1930s Zionist anti-Palestinian propaganda.

Wisse’s race hate is not confined merely to typical Zionist demonization of Palestinians or Arabs in general.  In November 1997, she authored a Commentary article entitled Yiddish: Past, Present and Imperfect.  She writes the following.

I have described that trip before, and it was actually as a consequence of my article about it in these pages ("Poland's Jewish Ghosts," January 1987) that Khone's manner toward me cooled. I, too, was thrilled by the rise of Polish liberalism, and drawn by powerful emotions to the Polish home of my parents and ancestors. It was stirring to explore the physical landscape where so much of Yiddish literature had been created. But in my article I also noted the presence of what I called "the phantom limb" an anti-Semitism that continued to make its presence felt in Poland long after the Jews had been physically excised from the country. While it was important that Jews protect the visible memory of their past, and promote scholarly exchanges as Shmeruk was doing, I believed they should not ignore the anti-Jewish cast of modern Polish nationalism, including its present-day variety.

Khone did not appreciate my cautionary approach, any more than a lover wants to hear about his sweetheart's failings. His critical attention was shifting, from the internal contacts between Yiddish and Hebrew to relations between Jewish and non-Jewish literatures, Polish in particular. I did not understand the import of his growing interest, or recognize its every facet. One of them was this: he had fallen in love with a Polish Christian woman, Krystyna Bevis, who shot the documentary film of our trip, and shortly after the death of his wife in 1989 he married her, and she bore him a son. He named the boy Avigdor, after his father.

 

WHEN SHMERUK officially retired from the Hebrew University in 1989, he began to divide his time between Warsaw and Jerusalem, teaching and guiding research in both places but with the stronger pull coming from Europe. How many reasons, in addition to the fact of his new family, one might offer for his attraction to Poland! He would certainly not have been the first Israeli to chafe at the constrictions of a tight society, or to leap at the opportunity to spend time abroad. Cut off for so many years, he now had access to Poland's archives and its scholars. A lifelong teacher, he welcomed the chance to pioneer Yiddish studies in a new country: he could do as much, if not more, to protect the Jewish past in Poland by training Polish students in Jewish research as by preparing students for the task in Israel. Jews habitually visit keyver oves, ancestral graves; is it not understandable that Khone Shmeruk, who left his family one day in 1939, should have wanted to forge a link with his martyred parents in Poland? But I think it was also the enticement of life, not death, that drew Khone so powerfully to Poland: the allure of his interrupted youth, when he was just starting out as a historian with all his years ahead of him. One night during our 1986 trip I returned with Khone from a performance at the Yiddish theater. We were strolling along a tree-lined street (Grzybowska, I believe), and Khone said, "This is where I used to walk with girls in the evening when I was a student." Before there was a professor of Yiddish there had been a young man who felt the promise of romance and the prospect of greatness and who adored the complications of his city. Now that Poland was free again, what was to prevent that man from starting all over, in the city of his youth, in the university that had once humiliated him; what was to prevent him from creating a new Polish-Jewish symbiosis in his own person?

One of Shmeruk's most interesting and far-reaching studies concerns the legend of Esterke, which exists in both Polish and Yiddish versions. Obviously based on the biblical book of Esther, the story tells how the Polish king Casimir the Great (1310-70) fell in love with a Jewish maiden and took her for his mistress. This tale has served as a litmus test for perceptions of Polish-Jewish relations. To Polish anti-Semites, the king's out-of-wedlock liaison with a Jewish concubine has long been a reminder of the perils lurking in their country's hospitality to the Jews. To philo-Semites, especially in the 19th century, it seemed to confirm the generosity of native Polish impulses.

What interested Shmeruk was something else: the unequal way the story developed in Polish and Yiddish literature. Whereas modern Yiddish writers were aware of and responded to the various Polish versions of the legend, Polish writers in general paid scant attention to the Yiddish. Shmeruk's study interprets this as still another paradigm for the inequality at the heart of Polish-Jewish relations. But his study itself, simply by virtue of existing, establishes a connection between the two cultures that the cultures had failed to make, and consummates a kind of union between two peoples otherwise doomed to remain apart.

Khone must have felt uniquely qualified to help bring about a new rapprochement between Poles and Jews. While Poland was still under Soviet occupation, he had extended many invitations to Polish academics to attend conferences in Jerusalem, making "the West" available under the auspices of Jewish studies. Now that Israel was strong and free, the Jew could return to Poland not as a supplicant but as a benefactor, bringing Western know-how to a society that had stagnated under Communism. Perhaps he even wanted to play out the Esterke romance in reverse, as the munificent Jew coming to the rescue of the Polish maiden.

If so, however, this is not how it felt to those he left behind. During the last stages of his illness, when he deliberately flew from Jerusalem to Poland because that is where he wished to be buried, he imprinted a wound on the hearts of his countrymen. I cannot speak for his daughters, his colleagues, or his students, but I know how his attraction to Poland affected our own relations over the past decade, and how a sense of rejection has compounded my grief. In effect, everything that his postwar life, the land of Israel, and scholarly achievement had brought him could not replace what he had lost in Warsaw. His life also reminds us that, even in the newly constituted Jewish commonwealth, Jewish dreams of exogamy, in both the personal and cultural sense, are not soon likely to fade.

 

Not only is the nasty sarcasm and a not too subtle criticism of miscegenation somewhat offensive albeit unsurprising in the context of the garbage that Commentary has published about Edward Said, but Wisse in this article has reached a whole new level of insipidity for Commentary with the implication that the preeminent scholar in her field was thinking with his dick because he did not happen to share her anti-Polish prejudice.   Even though her phraseology is rather less direct than mine, I found it truly amazing that a full Harvard professor would publish such a comment in a national journal.  Harvard seems to have relocated to the twilight zone sometime recently.

Wisse’s hatreds also cloud her scholarly judgment.  Her analysis of the Esterke literature is questionable.  Polish anti-Jewish prejudice typically took the form of a demand that Jews convert to Catholicism and intermarry with other Catholics.  Wisse is projecting a Nazi prejudice onto Poles.

The debacle in the former Yugoslavia has provided graphic illustration that ethnic hostility is and was more or less the norm in Eastern Europe and the Balkans.  The hatred has been completely mutual among all the groups since modern völkisch nationalism fused with Eastern European confessionalism, and there is no reason for someone of Eastern European Ashkenazi background to take a pose of ethical superiority over other Eastern European ethnic groups. 

I can understand why Shmeruk might have cooled in his relations with Wisse, and I feel very sorry for the Arab, the Pole or the member of a Jewish non-Jewish couple that takes an interest in Yiddish literature at Harvard.

[v] The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language Fourth Edition provides the following definitions.

racism Syllabication: rac·ism.

Noun: 1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others. 2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.

OTHER forms: rac ist —ADJECTIVE & NOUN.

race1

NOUN:   1. A local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics. 2. A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution: the German race. 3. A genealogical line; a lineage. 4. Humans considered as a group. 5. Biology a. An interbreeding, usually geographically isolated population of organisms differing from other populations of the same species in the frequency of hereditary traits. A race that has been given formal taxonomic recognition is known as a subspecies. b. A breed or strain, as of domestic animals. 6. A distinguishing or characteristic quality, such as the flavor of a wine.

ETYMOLOGY:  French, from Old French, from Old Italian razza, race, lineage.

USAGE NOTE:  The notion of race is nearly as problematic from a scientific point of view as it is from a social one. European physical anthropologists of the 17th and 18th centuries proposed various systems of racial classifications based on such observable characteristics as skin color, hair type, body proportions, and skull measurements, essentially codifying the perceived differences among broad geographic populations of humans. The traditional terms for these populations—Caucasoid (or Caucasian), Mongoloid, Negroid, and in some systems Australoid—are now controversial in both technical and nontechnical usage, and in some cases they may well be considered offensive. (Caucasian does retain a certain currency in American English, but it is used almost exclusively to mean “white” or “European” rather than “belonging to the Caucasian race,” a group that includes a variety of peoples generally categorized as nonwhite.) The biological aspect of race is described today not in observable physical features but rather in such genetic characteristics as blood groups and metabolic processes, and the groupings indicated by these factors seldom coincide very neatly with those put forward by earlier physical anthropologists. Citing this and other points—such as the fact that a person who is considered black in one society might be nonblack in another—many cultural anthropologists now consider race to be more a social or mental construct than an objective biological fact.

The new definition is considerably more detailed, but the new definition applies equally well because the abilities in question are the ability to claim Palestine as a homeland and the ability to exercise property rights, residential rights and the right to democratic self-determination.

[vi] The curse of the infidel:  A century ago Muslim intellectuals admired the west. Why did we lose their goodwill?

Karen Armstrong

Thursday June 20, 2002

The Guardian

On July 15 1099, the crusaders from Western Europe conquered Jerusalem, falling upon its Jewish and Muslim inhabitants like the avenging angels from the Apocalypse. In a massacre that makes September 11 look puny in comparison, some 40,000 people were slaughtered in two days. A thriving, populous city had been transformed into a stinking charnel house. Yet in Europe scholar monks hailed this crime against humanity as the greatest event in world history since the crucifixion of Christ.

The crusades destabilised the Near East, but made little impression on the Islamic world as a whole. In the West, however, they were crucial and formative. This was the period when western Christendom was beginning to recover from the long period of barbarism known as the Dark Ages, and the crusades were the first cooperative act of the new Europe as she struggled back on to the international scene. We continue to talk about "crusades" for justice and peace, and praise a "crusading journalist" who is bravely uncovering some salutary truth, showing that at some unexamined level, crusading is still acceptable to the western soul. One of its most enduring legacies is a profound hatred of Islam.

Before the crusades, Europeans knew very little about Muslims. But after the conquest of Jerusalem, scholars began to cultivate a highly distorted portrait of Islam, and this Islamophobia, entwined with a chronic anti-Semitism, would become one of the received ideas of Europe. Christians must have been aware that their crusades violated the spirit of the gospels: Jesus had told his followers to love their enemies, not to exterminate them. This may be the reason why Christian scholars projected their anxiety on to the very people they had damaged.

Thus it was, at a time when Christians were fighting brutal holy wars against Muslims in the Near East, that Islam became known in Europe as an inherently violent and intolerant faith, a religion of the sword. At a time when the popes were trying to impose celibacy on the reluctant clergy, western biographies of the prophet Mohammed, written by priests and monks, depict him, with ill-concealed envy, as a sexual pervert and lecher, who encouraged Muslims to indulge their basest instincts.

At a time when feudal Europe was riddled with hierarchy, Islam was presented as an anarchic religion that gave too much respect and freedom to menials, such as slaves and women. Christians could not see Islam as separate from themselves; it had become, as it were, their shadow-self, the opposite of everything that they thought they were or hoped they were not.

In fact, the reality was very different. Islam, for example, is not the intolerant or violent religion of western fantasy. Mohammed was forced to fight against the city of Mecca, which had vowed to exterminate the new Muslim community, but the Koran, the inspired scripture that he brought to the Arabs, condemns aggressive warfare and permits only a war of self-defence. After five years of warfare, Mohammed turned to more peaceful methods and finally conquered Mecca by an ingenious campaign of non-violence. After the prophet's death, the Muslims established a vast empire that stretched from the Pyrenees to the Himalayas, but these wars of conquest were secular, and were only given a religious interpretation after the event.

In the Islamic empire, Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians enjoyed religious freedom. This reflected the teaching of the Koran, which is a pluralistic scripture, affirmative of other traditions. Muslims are commanded by God to respect the "people of the book", and reminded that they share the same beliefs and the same God. Mohammed had not intended to found a new religion; he was simply bringing the old religion of the Jews and the Christians to the Arabs, who had never had a prophet before. Constantly the Koran explains that Mohammed has not come to cancel out the revelations brought by Adam, Abraham, Moses or Jesus. Today, Muslim scholars have argued that had Mohammed known about the Buddhists and Hindus, the native Americans or the Australian Aborigines, the Koran would have endorsed their sages and shamans too, because all rightly guided religion comes from God.

But so entrenched are the old medieval ideas that western people find it difficult to believe this. We continue to view Islam through the filter of our own needs and confusions. The question of women is a case in point. None of the major world faiths has been good to women but, like Christianity, Islam began with a fairly positive message, and it was only later that the religion was hijacked by old patriarchal attitudes. The Koran gives women legal rights of inheritance and divorce, which western women would not receive until the 19th century. The Koran does permit men to take four wives, but this was not intended to pander to male lust, it was a matter of social welfare: it enabled widows and orphans to find a protector, without whom it was impossible for them to survive in the harsh conditions of 7th-century Arabia.

There is nothing in the Koran about obligatory veiling for all women or their seclusion in harems. This only came into Islam about three generations after the prophet's death, under the influence of the Greeks of Christian Byzantium, who had long veiled and secluded their women in this way. Veiling was neither a central nor a universal practice; it was usually only upper-class women who wore the veil. But this changed during the colonial period.

Colonialists such as Lord Cromer, the consul general of Egypt from 1883 to 1907, like the Christian missionaries who came in their wake, professed a horror of veiling. Until Muslims abandoned this barbarous practice, Cromer argued in his monumental Modern Egypt, they could never advance in the modern world and needed the supervision of the west. But Lord Cromer was a founder member in London of the Men's League for Opposing Women's Suffrage. Yet again, westerners were viewing Islam through their own muddled preconceptions, but this cynicism damaged the cause of feminism in the Muslim world and gave the veil new importance as a symbol of Islamic and cultural integrity.

We can no longer afford this unbalanced view of Islam, which is damaging to ourselves as well as to Muslims. We should recall that during the 12th century, Muslim scholars and scientists of Spain restored to the west the classical learning it had lost during the Dark Ages. We should also remember that until 1492, Jews and Christians lived peaceably and productively together in Muslim Spain - a co-existence that was impossible elsewhere in Europe.

At the beginning of the 20th century, nearly every single Muslim intellectual was in love with the west, admired its modern society, and campaigned for democracy and constitutional government in their own countries. Instead of seeing the west as their enemy, they recognised it as compatible with their own traditions. We should ask ourselves why we have lost this goodwill.

- Karen Armstrong is the author of Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet (Weidenfeld); The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam (HarperCollins), and Islam: A Short History (Weidenfeld).

Karen Armstrong on "Islamic Terrorism"

This perception is not due to any intrinsic resentment of Islam by the American people. It is understood that the mainstream of Muslims, the vast majority of them, like in every other faith, is peaceful and pay their taxes, trying to make America a better society, trying to improve relations with neighbors and colleagues.

But images and terminology influence public opinion, and a bitter taste is left when Islam is reported in the daily headlines. The term "Islamic fundamentalism", whatever it means, has been repeated enough times in relation to violent incidents that naturally, any thinking human being has to be uncomfortable with the fact that America is home to a vibrant Muslim community. The problem stems from negative images about Islam. In the court of public opinion, Islam is guilty until proven innocent.

Even though the Middle East was home to fewer terrorist incidents than Latin America and Europe, for example, it is still regarded as the region where terrorism is rooted. According to a recent US State Department report, Patterns of Global Terrorism, issued earlier this year, 272 terrorist events occurred in Europe, 92 in Latin America and 45 in the Middle East. Sixty-two anti-US attacks occurred in Latin America last year, 21 in Europe and 6 in the Middle East. These numbers represent the terrorist trend and not an anomaly, whereby the majority of perpetrators are not linked to the Middle East or Islam. The Red Army Faction in Germany, the Basque Separatists in Spain, the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, the Shining Path in Peru and the National Liberation Army in Columbia are not viewed with the same horror as terrorist groups of Muslim background.

There is no moral justification for terrorism regardless of the ethnic or religious background of the perpetrator or the victim, but the factual basis of terrorism has been either hidden or twisted in the public's perception of this policy problem, especially in congressional hearings on terrorism. The countries with the worst terrorist records in the world are not in the Middle East either. They are not even Muslim countries outside the Middle East. They are Columbia and Germany, havens for drug lords and neo-Nazis.

The negative association of Islam with terrorism exists, but no one has ever asked "Why?". Could it be that American society cannot overcome the Khomeini phobia, even though he is dead? The US Congress found it necessary to push $20 million towards covert operations in toppling the Iranian government even at the dissent of people in the CIA. The Arab countries, both friend and foe, are run by tyrants who kill more of their own people than those outside their countries. The presumption that these countries represent a threat to American interests or that any one of them can dominate the region or even rival the only remaining superpower is indeed generous. So the issue is not these countries' hegemony in their region or the world, but about who can dominate their people and exploit their resources.

The perception in the Middle East is that US policy does not serve the peoples interests; it protects Israel and friendly Arab dictators even then they violate human rights, while it slaps sanctions on and takes military actions against countries whose dictators misbehave, resulting in suffering, starvation and even slaughter, all in the name of teaching the tyrants a lesson. The priorities in the Middle East for the US are not human rights and democracy, but rather oil and Israeli superiority. Consequently, anti-American sentiment increases. This mood of the general public is then characterized as "Islamic fundamentalism", even though the resentment is not rooted in religion. When it turns violent, it is termed "radical Islamic fundamentalism" or "Islamic terrorism." The various "terrorism experts" promote linkage to the Middle East before any other possibility every time terrorism is speculated. They exploit the human suffering of the victims, their families, and the fears of the American public.

Indeed, extremists of Muslim backgrounds are violating the norms of Islamic justice and should be held accountable for their criminal behavior, but we in America should not be held hostage to the politics of the Middle East or biased reporting.

An Israeli journalist, Yo'av Karny, reporting on the events in Chechnya made a striking observation about this development: "The West will be told--and will be inclined to believe--that the oppression of the Chechens is part and parcel of a cosmic struggle against 'Islamic extremism' that rages from Gaza to Algeria, from Tehran to Khartoum. Russians will seek Western sympathy. They should not be given it." The issue is not Chechnya, and it is not even about Islam and the West. Debates about religious wars and cultural clashes only distract us from the real issue: the powerful want to continue dominating the powerless, manipulating facts to influence public opinion, hence maintaining the status quo.

For a negative opinion of Karen Armstrong, viz

Karen Armstrong’s Unscholarly Prejudices

by Andrea Levin.  During a reading of Levin’s column, it is worthwhile to keep in mind that Armstrong teaches at the Leo Baeck College for the Study of Judaism in England. 

 March 19, 2001

Karen Armstrong’s Unscholarly Prejudices
by Andrea Levin

Among the stable of extreme pro-Palestinian advocates, count a new media favorite. Karen Armstrong, author of articles and books, including a strikingly anti-Jewish volume entitled Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths, is a British ex-nun who defines herself as a “freelance monotheist.” Her Op-Eds are published widely, including in the New York Times, and she is a frequent guest on National Public Radio.

While her writings on Jerusalem reflect detailed knowledge of religious history, they also underscore the potent effects of personal bias on scholarship. Armstrong is both an unwavering advocate for the Arab view of the political contest underway in the Middle East and an effusive promoter of Islam and its peoples’ historical conduct.

Pervasive negative characterizations of Judaism – and Christianity to a lesser extent – also color much of her argument and narrative. For example, while she warmly describes what she calls the “inclusive notion of holiness” in Islam, the humane attitudes of the Qur’an and the benign expansion of the religion, she deplores the so-called “separations and exclusions” of Judaism, as exemplified by dietary laws, Shabbat and regulations regarding who could and could not enter the ancient Temple.

Armstrong routinely omits or obscures contradictory information, such as the total “exclusion” of all non-Muslims from Islam’s holiest city of Mecca.

Similarly, she omits or obscures information that points to unique Jewish attachment to Jerusalem. Thus the millennia-old daily expressions of devotion to Jerusalem by religious Jews, the holidays revering Jerusalem and the more than 600 references to the city in the Bible are unmentioned. Yet evidently seeking to rebut such unassailable measures of attachment she writes in an article in the Journal of Palestine Studies that, “The city is not mentioned explicitly in the Torah, the first five most sacred books of the Bible. The first time the city is specifically mentioned in the Bible, it appears as enemy territory. Jerusalem did not figure in Israelite religion until King David conquered it from the Jebusites some three thousand years ago.”

Armstrong is particularly popular with Arab-American groups promoting harshly anti-Israel agendas. The Muslim Public Affairs Council of Los Angeles gave her an award for “fairness.” Typical of the assertions that endear her to such groups is her criticism of Israel in the same Journal essay, in which she wrote:

A city cannot be holy if it is not ruled with justice. Expropriating land, torturing, destroying property, threatening other people’s holy places, ejecting people from their ancestral homes, and depriving them of essential human rights cannot be justified...

No, this is not a characterization of the Arab occupation of East Jerusalem from 1948 to 1967, its dispossession of the Jews and destruction of their property and holy places. It is an Orwellian gloss on the Israeli presence in the city as a reign of inequity which “cannot be justified in Jewish tradition by the overriding sanctity of Jerusalem, because holiness is also and inescapably a moral imperative to justice.”

Armstrong’s Jerusalem book too is filled with such manipulative, biased and inaccurate claims, its chapters on the founding of modern Israel being especially strident. The early years of Zionism are described almost entirely from the vantage of the Arabs, with a constant defense of Arab actions and a minimizing of Arab violence against the Jews. Thus the Arab riots of 1929 include a cryptic line about Jewish casualties without any specifics about the slaughter of Jews in their homes and the widespread burning and looting of Jewish property in the city and suburbs. Armstrong omits entirely the Arab massacre of Hebron’s Jews.

In her account of the late 1930’s, the author is openly sympathetic to the Arabs wanting to keep Jews fleeing Hitler’s death camps out of Palestine. She writes: “[The Arabs] asked why they should suffer the loss of their country because of the anti-Semitic crimes of Europe. It was an entirely valid and unanswerable question.”

Errors litter the account. Armstrong writes that, “On 13 April the Arabs attacked a convoy carrying Irgun terrorists, who had been wounded at Deir Yassin, to the Mount Scopus Medical Center, killing forty innocent Jewish medical staff.” In fact, the convoy included just one man from the Irgun injured at Deir Yassin, and seventy-eight Jewish medical staff were killed.

Later she writes that “On 16 March 1949, Israel and Jordan signed a formal agreement accepting the armistice lines as the legitimate borders between their two states.” On the contrary, Jordan, like all the Arab states, refused to recognize any cease-fire lines with Israel as legitimate borders.

The author writes that UN Resolution 242 required Israel to “withdraw from the territories it had occupied during the Six Day War...But most of the Israelis and many Jews in the Diaspora had been caught up in their new passion for sacred space and could not recognize the validity of these resolutions.”

Resolution 242 does not, of course, require Israel to withdraw from “the” territories. The extent of withdrawal was undetermined, and to be settled in negotiation.

In contrast to Armstrong’s omitting entirely any sympathetic reference to the 1948 Arab siege of Jerusalem in which the Jews fought heroically, she writes that in 1967 the Jordanians – then occupying the eastern portion of the city – “did their best [against Israel] – two hundred died in defense of the Holy City...”

The author’s hostility toward Israel and Jews is unabashed in innumerable pejorative statements. She asserts that “Israel’s claim to [Jerusalem] is dubious.” She repeatedly refers to Jewish attachment to Jerusalem resting on “myths and legends” and “cult.” She reiterates throughout her writings the theme that the Jews, victims of European bigotry, had, “in their desperate quest for survival, fatally injured another people.”

Of Moshe Dayan’s extraordinary move after the Six Day War of 1967 in permitting Muslim control to continue on the Temple Mount, the Islamic Haram al-Sharif, Armstrong writes: “The Israeli government has never retreated from this policy, which shows that the Zionist conquerors were not entirely without respect for the sacred rights of their predecessors in Jerusalem.”

Needless to say, Armstrong does not contrast Israel’s action to Palestinian officials and clerics, who disparage entirely the sacred rights of the Jews in Jerusalem.

It is impossible to know whether Armstrong’s animus against Judaism led to her pro-Palestinian sympathies or her enthusiasm for Islam led to her anti-Jewish and anti-Israel biases. In any case, the virulence of her writing clearly demonstrates Martin Luther King’s equation of anti-Zionism and anti-Jewish bias. It is a sad commentary that her work is given a respect withheld from purveyors of other prejudices.

Home|On CAMERA Index

Andrea Levin is President of CAMERA - PO Box 428, Boston, MA, 02456-0428.

Copyright © 2001 by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. All rights reserved. This column may be reprinted without prior permission.

 

[vii] Ancient Israel is probably a construct of the Hellenistic period.  The earliest pentateuchal texts found date to the 4th century BCE.  Earliest more or less complete Greek and Hebrew texts date to the period of the Hasmoneans. The Hebrew Bible text is a Hellenistic work composed long after the events recounted are supposed to have taken place. Modern people cannot possibly read these works as a Hellenistic reader would.  The texts tell us a lot about the Hasmonean period and practically nothing about earlier times. The Bible could well be a response to Homer.

·          Iliad: Faithless, impious, sleazy Greeks defeat pious and noble Trojans. Victory belongs to the cunning, who return home to wealth and glory.

·          Bible: Saul is the Homeric hero, who does what he believes is right and is deprived of kingship. The Biblical hero, e.g., David as every man, strives for perfect faith. Ancient Israel fails the test of faith.  A surviving pious remnant, transformed in the crucible of גלות, creates a new Israel in Judea on new terms to succeed where Ancient Israel failed.

 

[viii] Biblical history is an oxymoron, but from the archeological record and extent contemporaneous texts we can establish a basic history that is relevant to this lecture and that encompasses Europe, N. Africa, the Mediterranean, the Levant and Mesopotamia.

Very Ancient History of the Mediterranean (10,000-6000 BCE)

Mediterranean culture begins to develop in the rich forests and savannahs of the Sahara.  The population speaks Nostratic, which is the ancestor language of proto-Indo-European, proto-Semitic, proto-Egyptian, proto-Chadic, and they worship the Great Goddess.

The period concludes with major climactic change when the Sahara becomes a desert.  The North African culture migrates south and west and probably north across Gibralter.  Then it circles back at the Dardanelles into Europe.  The migrants found Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations.  There is a common culture sphere around North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Egypt, Sicily, Crete, Europe, the Balkans, Albion, Hibernia, Mesopotamia, Anatolia and the Levant.

Continuing History 6000 – 2300 BCE

During this period the earliest forms of the cult of קַנָּא אֵל (El-Qanna’) or El-Kon-Arz or Κρόνος (Kronos) develop within the system of Titan Worship (14 gods, 2 per day, Sabbath or Saturday is the Day of Kronos, who is Saturn).  Kronos is a raven god whose attributes are assumed in a later time period by Wotan, a Wednesday God.  The Tower of London may be built on a site sacred to a Celtic version of the Kronos cult.  This cult extends from Albion through Mesopotamia. Variants of Kronos worship exist in sub-Saharan Africa. El-Kronos was explicitly worshipped in Phoenicia during the Hellenistic period. Immigrant “sea” peoples settle Palestine.  They become such a numerous proportion of the population that Bronze Age (pre-Patriarchal period) Egyptian texts refer to Palestine as the land of Peleset immigrants. 

Continuing History (2300 – 1000 BCE)

The migrations of the sea peoples continue along with Hellenic migrations into Greece while Egypt falls into disorder. The Zeus (or Baal) Olympian (or Bull) cult spreads and begins to displace the Titan cult around the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia. Egyptian Armarna letters (14th and 13th centuries) contain correspondence between Egyptian Pharaoh and Palestinian chieftains including “king” Abdi-Hepa of Urusalim that may have been located where modern Jerusalem/al-Quds is. Merneptah Stele (circa 1230 BCE) mentions Israel and Canaan as family eponyms, but the usage does not have the same meaning as found in the Hebrew Bible, any more than the pre-Columbian American use of the name Yankee has any major relationship to current usage.  Hill and valley cultures begin to differentiate in Palestine as pezzonovante chiefdoms develop.

Continuing History (1000 – Persian Imperial Period)

The Pezzonovante chiefdoms coalesce into Palestinian city-states and then into Northern and Southern chiefdoms.  The historicity of the Biblical unified kingdom is dubious. The Mesha stele (Shishaq/Shoshenq) may describe a victory over Rehob’am but the interpretation is disputed. Samaria falls to Sargon II (722), and according to the Annals of Sargon II, he deports 27,290 inhabitants.

Jerusalem falls to Nebuchadnezar (586) as described in deportation texts and Lachish relief.  Archeologists have only found evidence of battle around Jerusalem.  Probably only Jerusalem was affected by battle and deportation.  The Elephantine texts, 6th century describe an Israelite community probably composed of descendants of Judeans, Samarians and assimilated native Egyptians.  Meanwhile, large communities of Yehudim develop in Mesopotamia.  One must suspect that the term “Judean” refers more to membership in a cultic or cultural community than to geographic origin rather like the terms “Roman” or “Greek” in a later period.

In 539 BCE Cyrus decrees the establishment of the Persian province of Yehud as recorded in the Kurash Prism.

I am Kurash ["Cyrus"], King of the World, Great King, Legitimate King, King of Babilani, King of Kiengir and Akkade, King of the four rims of the earth, Son of Kanbujiya, Great King, King of Hakhamanish, Grandson of Kurash, Great king, King of Hakhamanish, descendant of Chishpish, Great king, King of Hakhamanish, of a family which always exercised kingship; whose rule Bel and Nebo love, whom they want as king to please their hearts. When I entered Babilani as a friend and when I established the seat of the government in the palace of the ruler under jubilation and rejoicing, Marduk, the great lord, induced the magnanimous inhabitants of Babilani to love me, and I was daily endeavoring to worship him.... As to the region from as far as Assura and Susa, Akkade, Eshnunna, the towns Zamban, Me-turnu, Der as well as the region of the Gutians, I returned to these sacred cities on the other side of the Tigris the sanctuaries of which have been ruins for a long time, the images which used to live therein and established for them permanent sanctuaries. I also gathered all their former inhabitants and returned them to their habitations. Furthermore, I resettled upon the command of Marduk, the great lord, all the gods of Kiengir and Akkade whom Nabonidus had brought into Babilani to the anger of the lord of the gods, unharmed, in their former temples, the places which make them happy.

We have no particular reason to believe that the people sent to colonize Yehud were actually descendants of former inhabitants.  Relocating populations that then become dependent on the central imperial authority was a technique by which the Persians stabilized their kingdom.  The earliest texts that are later worked in the Pentateuch sections of the Hebrew and Greek bibles are probably written shortly after Mesopotamian colonists are dispatched to Palestine.

The Hebrew Bible, Ezra 1:1-8 in a text that probably dates to Hasmonean Judea, the 2nd century BCE records the decree of Cyrus as follows.

In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord inspired King Cyrus of Persia to issue this proclamation throughout his kingdom, both by word of mouth and in writing: "Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: "All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord, the God of heaven, has given to me, and he has also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever, therefore, among you belongs to any part of his people, let him go up, and may his God be with him! Let everyone who has survived, in whatever place he may have dwelt, be assisted by the people of that place with silver, gold, and goods, together with free will offerings for the house of God in Jerusalem.' Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and Levites---everyone, that is, whom God had inspired to do so---prepared to go up to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. All their neighbors gave them help in every way, with silver, gold, goods, and cattle, and with many precious gifts besides all their free-will offerings. King Cyrus, too, had the utensils of the house of the Lord brought forth, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken away from Jerusalem and placed in the house of his god. Cyrus, king of Persia, had them brought forth by the treasurer Mithredath, and counted out to Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah.

 

Hellenistic Period

Alexander conquers Persian Empire (336-323).  Palestinians of all religious practices begin to learn Greek culture and Homer. The Pentateuch text and portions of other Biblical scripture seem to date to the earliest phase of the Hellenistic period.  Later, Hasmoneans displace the Persian-Hellenistic elite.  They seem to identify with Spartans among whom Kronos cult practices were common, and indeed the fictional relationship between Israelites and Canaanites seems consciously modeled on the subjugation of the Laconians by the Spartans. The Hasmoneans seem to have remodeled the Jerusalem temple on the pattern of Delphi, and the Hasmonean kingdom tries to associate itself with the Yahweh cult in the manner that the Athena cult was connected to the Athenian league.  About this time period the Samaritans, who to this very day are loyal to the cultic site on Mount Gerizim, split with the Judeans. Early complete Greek and Hebrew Biblical texts seem to date to this period, and the conflict with the Samaritans described therein probably reflects the politics of Hasmonean Judea and not early Persian Yehud.

Roman Period 63 BCE – 325 CE

Herodians displace Hasmoneans 37 BCE.  Distinct communities of adherents to the Yahweh cult develop in Palestine.  Examples include Judeans, Galileans, Idumeans, Samaritans, Sadducees, Pharisees and Essenes. Sectarians write and hide the Dead Sea Scrolls. Greek-speaking Judaism, whose primary intellectual representative was Philo, becomes the numerically dominant form of Judaism within the Roman Empire.  Around 30 CE Jesus of Nazareth leads a movement that synthesizes aspects of Attic philosophy and Judean religious concepts.  Some Judean and Galilean followers of Jesus became the Judean sect of Ebionites, who never completely separated from Judean religion.  Other groups of followers eventually came to constitute the founders of various gentile Christian churches that also attracted many Aramaic and Greek speaking people of Judean religion.  The Romans destroyed the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE, but there was no expulsion of the Judean population.  The Romans defeated the Bar Kochba Rebellion in 135 CE.  While there was no expulsion of the Judean population, approximately 10,000 people were sold as slaves to defray the cost of the rebellion. By the end of the first century or the early part of the second century, complete texts of the books New Testament were circulating although canonization took place much later.  The final Mishna text was probably complete by the end of the second century CE.

A major theme of the New Testament is the failure of the Judean religious community from which a small subsection separates itself to form a new Israel in the Church.  Thus, the New Testament reiterates a major theme of the Hebrew Bible, in which Ancient Israel fails only to be reconstituted as a New Israel with the return of the Babylonian exiles.  The theme is common throughout classical literary works, as anyone that is familiar with Virgil’s Aeniad must realize.  The Mishna in its own way may have addressed the same theme, for the Hebrew and Greek Bibles describe the establishment of the New Israel in Judea (Persian Yehud) three generations after the destruction of the first temple while the Mishna may implicitly address the question posed by the failure to rebuild the Herodian Temple three generations after its destruction.

The 2nd till 4th centuries is apparently a period of proselytization of various Eastern religions including various forms of Christianity and Judean religion within and without the territory of the Roman Empire. There is some evidence of the Samaritanization of some formerly mostly Judean towns and villages.  In the 324 CE Constantine became the first Christian emperor of the Empire.  Thereafter, Christianity is favored while paganism and Judean religion (including its Samaritan variant goes into decline).  This Christianization of the Empire may have precipitated the rather hasty completion of the Palestinian Talmud sometime during the 5th century while redaction of the Babylonian Talmud continues outside the reach of Rome probably until sometime during the 7th century.  The completion of Babylonian Talmud was necessary for the transformation of Judean religion into modern Rabbinical Judaism, but textual evidence suggest that even for a period after the completion of both Talmuds, Talmudic ur-Rabbinical Judaism was confined to a relatively small community or sect associated with the Gaonic academies in Palestine and in Mesopotamia.  The commonly practiced Judean religion at the time of Muhammad was probably closer to older Kara’itism and modern Samaritanism, but currents of Hellenistic Judaism such as found among Ethiopian Beita Israel were probably still quite strong.

[ix] Implicit in the claim of primordialism as the first or original inhabitants is an assertion of ownership. This belief in ownership of Palestine underlies the Zionist assumption that Eastern European Ashkenazim could colonize Palestine despite the wishes of the people that lived there and turn it into a Jewish state whatever the native inhabitants thought.  Left or Labor Zionists also used the usual European colonialist argument that the natives were savages, who were profligate and misused the land, whose development therefore must be entrusted to modern civilized Europeans.


How does that differ from any other form of racist European colonialism, which invariably assumes that Europeans can come to some poor non-European land and do whatever they want despite the wishes of the native population?

Racist Zionists were perhaps a little more creative in their use of scripture than Afrikaners or Spanish colonialists because they combined the primordialist völkisch nationalist ideas of German racists with scriptural legitimation, but such a combination only makes Zionists even more dangerous and despicable than the typical Eastern or Central European racist.

According to völkisch racist German nationalist theory, true Germans were the descendants of ancient Teutons who owned Central and Eastern Europe by right of conquest.  They believed that every land where the blood of ancient Teutons was shed belong by right to their descendants, the modern German people, while Slavs, Jews and other Eastern European population were just interlopers and vagrant that wandered into rightfully German regions much later. The conquest of Eastern Europe, the removal of the non-Germanic population therefrom and the colonization thereof was of utmost ideological importance to völkisch racist German nationalists.

Does this little schema not sound familiar?  Let me give you a hint. Replace ancient Teuton by ancient Israelite, German by Jew, Germanic by Jewish, and Slav by Palestinian or Arab.  I am not making any particularly wild equation. You can read the writings of early Zionist ideologists like Herzl or Nordau.  They explain how they consciously copied the nonsense of German nationalists in order to recast the Jewish religion as a nation in the völkisch racist sense.

Just to clarify how stupid primordialist German nonsense is, I point out that every German school child in Germany in the 1890s learned about the Völkerwanderungen of the 4th-6th centuries during which small Eastern populations (including German speaking tribes) entered Europe to dominate the already present Celtic populations.  Later, larger Slavic speaking populations migrated westward and pushed the population in the process of linguistic Germanization even further westward.  A large part of the older Celtic populations and more recent Slavic populations of Europe came to speak Germanic languages. Most Ethnographers would identify today's German speaking population to be mostly of Celtic and Slavic origin with a much smaller component that has origins in ancient Teutonic tribes.

As I have already discussed in this document, a similar analysis applies to modern Jewish populations.

There is no modern Rabbinic Judaism until there is a Babylonian Talmud, which is completed in the late 7th or early 8th century. Before the final redaction, we can identify communities that practice various forms of Judean religion or ritual.  From the 8th century onward, we can identify the religion practiced by the educated elite associated with the Gaonic academies as modern Rabbinic Judaism.  Before this time period the religion of the academies is an elite form of pre- or proto-Rabbinic Judean religion.

For various reasons, from the Persian imperial period through the Early Middle Ages populations throughout Europe, North Africa, Southern Russia and the Middle East began to worship according to the Judean rites for some reason or another.  While these communities consider Jerusalem the site of an important shrine, except for the indigenous Palestinian community, they have no ancestral connection to Palestine even though the members of all these communities are typically called Judeans in classical texts.  Outside of Palestine, Judean and later Jewish communities comprise the Judean and later Jewish Diaspora.  The Judean Diaspora is comparable to the Greek Diaspora.  Just as most members of the Greek Diaspora had no ancestry in Greece, likewise most members of the Judean Diaspora (probably an even higher percentage) had no ancestry in Judea or Palestine.  It was not unusual for a person to consider himself both a member of the Greek and Judean Diasporas.  In Roman times, such a person might also hold Roman citizenship, speak Latin and therefore effectively have membership in the Roman Diaspora even though this latter term is much less used.

Zionist propagandists often try to conflate the Diaspora (Tfutsah) with the Judean Captivity or Exile (Galut), but they are distinct.  Cyrus ended the Babylonian Exile was ended in the 6th century BCE.  The Assyrian Exile never ended and has become part of Jewish religious myth.  When the sages of the Mishna and the Talmuds, as well as later Rabbinic and Karaite Jew thinkers, refer to Exile or Galut, they do not refer to an actual historical Exile (Galut Rum) but a spiritual exile or alienation of man from God.  The sages of the Mishna and the Jerusalem Talmud were actually in Palestine when they assert that they are in Exile spiritually.

In secular history, the Judeans of Palestine, including the descendants of the sages that redact the Hebrew Bible, the Mishna, the Jerusalem Talmud and the Tosefta, were from the 4th century onward gradually Christianized in accord with the policy of the Roman and Byzantine empires.  After the Muslim conquest, the Palestinian population is gradually Islamized.  Meanwhile from the 9th century onward the Geonim are working hard to Judaize the Judean populations (especially those outside of Christian or Muslim dominated regions) to modern Rabbinic Judaism.  In this Judaization we find the origins of the Germanic, Slavic, Romanic and Turkic populations whose descendants came to be known as Ashkenazim.

Ashkenazim are an indigenous Eastern European and Southern Russian population with no more ancestral connection to Palestine than any other Eastern European or Southern Russian.  Let me be blunt.  There is no ancestral connection of Ashkenazim to Palestine.  Eastern European Ashkenazi Zionists of the late 19th and the 20th century are racist thieves and interlopers like all European colonialists of the time period.

[x] The primordialism of Zionism is a Gesamtkunstwerk in the Wagnerian sense.  One can view the claim that Eastern European Ashkenazi settlers revived Hebrew in a Modern Israeli version as evidence of the thoroughness and planning in Zionist primordialism.  Paul Wexler elucidates the politics behind the assertion in Two-tiered Relexification in Yiddish on p.3.

In the late nineteenth century, some East European Jewish nationalists, led by a Belarusian Jew, Eliezer ben Jehuda, proposed replacing almost the entire lexical component of their native Yiddish by Classical Hebrew phonetic strings, while a far smaller group of Yiddish speakers, likewise headed by a Belarusian Jew, Ludwik Zamenhof, simultaneously advocated the replacement of the Yiddish lexicon by a Latinoid lexicon of their own creation.  The result of the former act of relexification (now spoken as a first or second language by over seven million Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs) is known universally as “Modern Hebrew”; the Jewish revivalists’ choice of name for this type of “relexified Yiddish” was intended to foster the link with Classical Hebrew (which died out as a native language in approximately 200 A.D.) and thereby to strengthen a claim (which, otherwise, had almost no historical basis) to control Ottoman-British Palestine.  The result of the second relexification act was Esperanto (on the Slavic or Yiddish grammar of the latter, see Goninaz 1974; Gold 1980; Piron 1982); Esperanto is the only “variant of Yiddish” to be spoken by a predominantly non-Jewish population.

[xi] While no textual, archeological or historical evidence indicates any migration of Judean populations from Palestine to Central or Eastern Europe, fairly detailed knowledge of the migrations of Ashkenazim within Central and Eastern Europe can be obtained from onomastic studies and similar techniques (viz below).  None of the genomic studies of modern Ashkenazim that have appeared over the past few years makes any use of such information in identifying reasonable comparison populations.

The migrations of Ashkenazim in Central and Eastern Europe.

[xii] The Khazar Empire (650-1016), in which some form Judean religion was dominant, for a time extended from Dacia (Bessarabia, formerly in Romania, now mostly in Moldava) through the Ukraine (viz below).  Relationship of Turkic Khazars to Turkic Khabar and Avar communities that may have adopted some form of Judaism is obscure.  Note that the Khazar Empire straddles the transition from Greco-Roman Judean religion to modern Rabbinic Judaism.

Khazaria at its greatest extent

[xiii] There are questions about the portrayal of the Chmielnicki Rebellion in the USA by Jewish historians.  Most accounts tend to focus on attacks on Jews.  Some of the figures for casualties sound impossibly high.  Lucy Dawidowicz in The Golden Tradition claims on page 10 that Chmielnicki’s forces killed over 100,000 Ashkenazim during the fighting.  A figure of 10,000-20,000 victims is probably closer to reality.  According to common Jewish histories, in the final stage Ukrainian Cossacks and Polish peasants are supposed to have joined together to slaughter Jews.  I am not sure to what extent Ukrainian rebels distinguished Polish Ashkenazim and their Polish overlords, and I am not sure to what extent Ashkenazim distinguished between Polish and Ukrainian peasantry.  I know that Western Ukrainians generally do not consider Chmielnicki a hero.

There is a pattern of false memories among Ashkenazim (or at least a tendency to increase the victimization of Jews and the culpability or enmity of non-Jews).  This pattern is not restricted to Ashkenazim in Eastern Europe and may be a general human tendency.  All scholars must rethink the value of Ashkenazi anecdotal (and much written) evidence.  Note that Israeli historians, who are often more correctly identified as Zionist propagandists, invariably dismiss Palestinian anecdotal history.

The New York Times July 14, 2002, Sunday Magazine story What Happened to Uncle Shmiel? By Daniel Mendelsohn provides an example of a sort of false memory syndrome surrounding the Nazi persecution of Jews in which the report of the murder of the author’s family in the Ukraine after betrayal by a Ukrainian Christian traitor was an extremely garbled version of the true story of the betrayal of the local partisans (including the author’s relatives) by a Ukrainian Jew under threats and torture by the Nazis.

MAGAZINE DESK

What Happened to Uncle Shmiel?

By Daniel Mendelsohn (NYT) 8297 words

Why We Went

We went, my brothers and sister and I, because we wanted to get as close as possible to a terrible crime -- to a terrible betrayal. In some of the stories of how our relatives had been killed, after all, they died because they had been betrayed. If you are the grandchild of people who were touched by the Holocaust, if you grew up sneaking furtive glances at the tattoos on your older relatives' forearms, you grew up hearing these stories, and even when I was a child, it seemed clear to me that the betrayal was more terrible, and also more distinctive, than the deaths. (Everyone had died; not everyone had been betrayed.)

It is true that the stories had variations, which, in my private catalog of them, sounded like the names of obscure chess moves: the Israeli variation (they had been killed right away, according to our Israeli cousins), the Jewish neighbor variation (it was the naïve Jewish neighbor who turned them in -- did he really expect to get off himself?), the Polish maid variation (it was their own Polish maid who turned them in).  

But what all the variations had in common was this: that in the summer of 1941, which was the summer when the Germans rolled into the very small town in what is now Ukraine where most of this story takes place, a town where my mother's family, whose name was Jaeger, had lived since the early 17th century and where her uncle and aunt and four young cousins continued to live long after everyone else had emigrated to the States, which is why I am here to tell the story -- in that summer, when the Germans came to Bolechow, the uncle and aunt and cousins were hiding in a cellar, and the location of this hiding place was revealed by someone close to them. I heard this story so often when I was growing up that I don't actually recall which bits I got from which relative, but I do remember the summer day on which my grandfather told me that the cellar was in the castle of the princes who used to own the town. I remember it because I remember the way he said the word ''castle'': kessle. Very few people I know anymore talk that way. Anyway, that is where they were supposed to have been hiding when they were betrayed, and of course they all died: my grandfather's brother Sam -- we knew him by his Yiddish name, Shmiel -- and his wife, Ester, and their four girls, Lorka, Frydka, Rochele and Bronia, the oldest 22, the youngest 13.

It was in the hope of learning which variation might be the truth that we went.

We went because we wanted facts rather than legends, details instead of generalizations. Even without the crime, without the war, we would probably have gone back: to have details of sight and smell and sound to flesh out the hard contours of the family stories we had been raised on. But the details we wanted most were those that would help us to imagine the circumstances of the deaths. When I was a teenager, the phrase ''killed by the Nazis'' became, for me, a kind of Homeric epithet for this uncle and aunt and cousins, summing up everything that needed to be known about them. All my grandfather's relatives came with a tag line. There was the tragic older sister, who Died a Week Before Her Wedding; there were my great-grandmother's mean stepchildren, who Hid Dirty Socks Under the Bed; and there were Sam and Ester and the girls, Killed by the Nazis. This was their official designation. In junior high school, we were asked to bring photographs of family members who had fought in wars, and I brought a picture of Sam in 1916, when he was a private in the Austro-Hungarian Imperial Army. My teacher admired the photograph and turned it over, and on the back I saw that my grandfather had written, in his loping, vaguely foreign script, ''Uncle Shmiel, Killed by the Nazis.'' My teacher clucked her tongue sympathetically and handed it back.

That we could learn anything new about them at all was a recent development. A few years ago, I had made contact, through the Jewish Genealogy Web site, with a young researcher living in L'viv, the nearest big city to Bolechow. (He called the town, which had at different times in its history been claimed by Poland or Ukraine or Germany or the Soviet Union, by its Ukrainian name, Bolekhiv, which is how it's spelled today, although we, like our grandfather, use the Polish spelling and pronunciation: bo-LEH-khov). During the course of an increasingly warm exchange of e-mail messages, I had hired this Ukrainian, Alex Dunai, to search the local archives for records of the Jaegers. A few months later, I received an elaborately postmarked package containing records of more than 100 certificates of births and deaths, all of Jaegers, all neatly translated on meticulously typed sheets. Until that point, the furthest back I had been able to extrapolate my family's history was to 1867, the year my grandfather's father was born. Alex's researches catapulted us back another century and a half, to 1746.

It occurred to me, then, that other relatives I had given up for ''lost'' might be retrievable too. I e-mailed Alex, asking if there might be anyone left in Bolechow old enough to have known my family. (This wasn't a given: after virtually all of the town's Jews were killed by Hitler, many of its Ukrainians had been killed by Stalin.) He wrote me back to say he had talked to the mayor of the town, and the answer was yes. The town was tiny, he said; if we came to visit, all we would have to do was walk around and talk to a few people in order to find those who had known them, who might know what really happened.

We went because we, in our 30's and 40's, are of the generation of the grandchildren -- the last generation that will be touched personally by the Holocaust, the last for whom it will be more than a matter of intellectual or historical interest or of moral inquiry. There is, in our relationship to the event, a strange interweaving of tantalizing proximity and unbridgeable distance. We are the last generation to whom the dead are close enough to touch, yet frustratingly out of reach.

Proximity and distance: my older brother, Andrew, whose Hebrew name is Shmiel, was born 12 years after the end of the war. I can remember meals I had 12 years ago: that is how close they were, Sam and Ester and the girls. Yet that is how far they were too. Once a person has died, it doesn't matter if the space that separates us from knowing them is 12 years or 12 minutes, a second or a century. The closest we can get is to know those, like my grandfather, who were close to them. Then those who were close to them start to die, and we get that much further. Although passing time can sometimes bring us closer too. In the weeks leading up to our departure, the papers were suddenly full of items from Europe about Jewish people being attacked, synagogues destroyed, gravestones defaced. Along with the e-mail messages from travel agents and hotels, there were notes from friends, and sometimes from total strangers, about incidents in England, in France, in Greece and in Eastern Europe too. As we readied ourselves to retrieve the past, it seemed the past was catching up with us of its own accord.

And so we went. Last August, my sister, Jennifer, my brothers Andrew and Matt (my third brother, busy with work and not so interested in family history, stayed behind) and I boarded a LOT Polish Airlines 767, exactly 60 years after the terrible betrayal supposedly took place, and flew to Poland and met Alex and visited Auschwitz and drove six hours east through what used to be Galicia and came, finally, to the tiny village in Ukraine, the town where my family had lived continuously, in the same house, from the late 17th century, when the Jews first arrived, until 1941, when the Germans came.

Whose Terrible Crime?

We went, too, because of the letters, because I feared we might share in the guilt.

Apart from a handful of photographs of Sam and his family, what we have of him is a series of letters that he wrote to various family members in 1939. At some point, these letters were collected by my grandfather, who carried them around with him, folded in a large billfold in his breast pocket, until he died in 1980. It would be difficult to say that these letters shed light on the everyday life of Sam and his family, since they are, basically, all concerned with escaping death. But they provided enough information to make me worry whether the betrayal at the heart of this family story wasn't more terrible than had been acknowledged.

The first letter is dated Jan. 16, 1939, a Monday; the last is from August of that year. They can't have been easy to write. In the earlier letters, it is clear that the family business -- a meat-shipping concern that he proudly built up after inheriting the butcher shop that had been in his family for 200 years -- is in trouble. One of his trucks has been vandalized; he is subject to anti-Jewish business restrictions; he no longer has easy access to his own money. He asks for money to fix one truck and to pay the exorbitant cost of a permit for another. In subsequent letters, my grandfather's brother wants money not for trucks or repairs but for papers, affidavits and emigration papers for the four daughters, then for two daughters and finally for his eldest daughter, ''the dear Lorka.'' ''If it were only possible,'' he wrote, ''to manage an affidavit for the dear Lorka, then this would all be a little easier for me.'' What makes the letters so particularly difficult to read is, I realize, the second-person address: since every letter is talking to ''you'' -- as in, ''I bid you farewell and kiss you from the bottom of my heart,'' Sam's favorite valediction -- you always feel implicated, always vaguely responsible.

As the requests for money get more agitated, so do the references to the political situation. A letter to my grandfather: ''Businesses are frozen, it's a crisis, no one has any business, everything is tense. God grant that Hitler should be torn to bits! Then we'd finally breathe again, after all we've been through.'' A little later on, in a letter to his younger sister Jeanette and her husband: ''From reading the papers you know a little about what the Jews are going through here; but what you know is just one one-hundredth of it: when you go out into the street or drive on the road you're barely 10 percent sure that you'll come back with a whole head or your legs in one piece. Work permits have all been taken away from the Jews, etc. . . .'' And this was before the Germans got there; this is just what German hatred had made possible in the Poles, under whose government these Jews of Bolechow were then living, and the Ukrainians, who had forever been their neighbors. The neighbors: ''The Germans were bad,'' my grandfather used to tell me, ''the Poles were worse. But the Ukrainians were the worst of all.'' A month before our journey, I waited for a visa in the stifling lobby of the Ukrainian Consulate on East 49th Street, and as I looked around at the people standing next to me, the line the Ukrainians were the worst went through my mind, again and again.

In the later letters, panic erupts; the tension between Sam's vigorous instructions and naïve desperation is terrible. ''As long as there's some possibility of getting me out of here, do what you can,'' he wrote to his younger sister. ''You should make inquiries, you should write that I'm the only one in your family still in Europe and that I have training as an auto mechanic and that I've already been to America from 1912 to 1913, perhaps that might work. . . . For my part, I am going to post a letter, written in English, to Washington, addressed to President Roosevelt'' -- he spells it ''Rosiwelt,'' which always brings tears to my eyes -- ''and will write that all my siblings and my entire family are in America . . . perhaps that will work.''

We have no way of knowing, of course, how those to whom Sam wrote responded: the only letters that survived are the ones from, not to, Poland. I have read Sam's letters many times, enjoying, each time, their beautifully slanting, slightly old-fashioned script, the archaic turns of phrase, the inserted Yiddishisms, the bold, even aggressive signature, with its gigantic serpentine ''S,'' and even as I get a curious enjoyment out of all these things, I worry whether the letters' recipients bore some responsibility for the terrible story. Not because of malice, but because of -- well, it really wasn't hard to imagine. I was on this trip, after all, with only three of my four siblings. In the 1920's, Sam's six siblings had decided to leave their hometown for either America or Palestine, but Sam decided to stay. ''He wanted to be a big fish in a little pond,'' my grandfather would tell me, with what I once thought was amusement but, I now realize, may have been resentment. My grandfather was vain, too. I think about this, and I wonder whether it was a terrible guilt that drove my grandfather to carry those letters around with him all his life.

The month before my siblings and I left for Ukraine, I convened a conference of my mother and her cousins -- the surviving children of Sam's siblings -- to ask them what memories they had of that time, when Sam's letters would have been arriving. We sat on my mother's cousin's patio in Chicago, and they reminisced. But they had all been too young at the time to know anything specific. All they could say was that everyone had adored Sam and that everything possible was done for him. ''I remember when the news came, after the war, that they'd died,'' Jeanette's daughter, Marilyn, says in the surprisingly deep Southern accent that she acquired during her years away from the Bronx. ''There wasn't just crying -- there was screaming.'' I passed around some Xeroxed translations I had made of Sam's letters, letters to their parents. ''No, no, no,'' my mother said, pushing her copy across the table. ''I don't want to read them. It's too sad.'' Then she made the slightly sibilant, sad clucking noise that she always makes when she's about to utter the Yiddish word nebech, which means something like ''what a terrible pity.''

What We Found

We flew into Cracow and met Alex. We started there because I was eager to travel through what had been Galicia, the province from which so many American Jews spring. Cracow was its westernmost big city; L'viv -- or as it was then called, Lemberg -- its easternmost. We would be staying in L'viv; Bolechow has no hotels.

We also started there because from Cracow it is only an hour or so to Auschwitz. I had mixed feelings about going. Auschwitz is the gigantic symbol, the gross generalization, the shorthand, for what happened to Europe's Jews; but it had been to rescue my relatives from generalities, symbols, abbreviations, to restore to them their particularity and distinctiveness, that I had come on this trip. Killed by the Nazis -- yes; but by whom exactly? The horrible paradox of Auschwitz is that the extent of what it shows you -- the rooms full of shaven hair and eyeglasses and artificial limbs taken from victims, the luggage filled with clothes packed for imaginary sojourns -- is so great that the corporate and anonymous are constantly asserted at the expense of any sense of individual life. My one personal connection to the place was frustratingly shadowy: my grandfather, something of a roué, married three more times after my grandmother died, and his last wife had been in Auschwitz, where her husband and only daughter were killed. But she never talked about it. It was her new husband, himself the father of an only daughter, who was the teller of stories.

We spent an afternoon there and then headed east to L'viv. Two days later, we drove to Bolechow.

From the top of the little hill just outside the town, Bolechow doesn't look like much: a cluster of houses and streets around a little square, nestled in a depression among some hills. As we stopped to let my brother Matt, a photographer, take pictures, I thought of how vulnerable it looked -- how isolated, how easy to enter. We got back in the car and went down and found a handful of people there, each of whom took us a bit closer.

We found Nina first. Alex had parked on the rynek, the town square, diagonally across from the onion-domed church, where we could hear services going on, and right in front of the house that stands on what was once my family's property. On the same side of the square as the church was the old town hall, next to which my family's store once stood. Opposite the town hall was the synagogue where my grandfather had been bar mitzvahed; now it was a social club. With everyone in church, the rynek seemed pretty desolate, if peaceful. You wouldn't guess what had happened there.

Suddenly a jolly-looking thickset woman of about 50 passed by, and with a mixture of small-town curiosity and something else, something lighter -- the local person's generalized amusement about out-of-towners -- asked who we were and what we were doing. Alex explained that we were American Jews who had come back to the town of our origin. While he went on and on, in my mind I kept hearing the phrase the Ukrainians were the worst.

The woman cracked a huge smile, and some rapid-fire Ukrainian ensued. ''This is Nina,'' Alex explained. ''She is inviting us into her house. She herself was born after the war'' -- distance, I thought to myself; this is going to go nowhere -- ''but her neighbor Maria is much older, and she thinks maybe this Maria will remember your family.'' And so we followed Nina to her cramped flat, in a drab concrete group of buildings behind the old synagogue. As the five of us -- four Mendelsohns and Alex -- squeezed onto the tiny sofa, Nina uncorked a bottle of champagne bearing a comically ornate label, fetched dusty glasses from a credenza and also made each of us a cup of Nescafé -- clearly a great treat. ''It is a big honor,'' Alex told us, smiling.

I wondered what Alex himself was thinking. Alex is a gregarious blond in his mid-30's with a broad, ready smile, and since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, he has made a career of taking American Jews around the old shtetls of Eastern Europe. Alex was the first Ukrainian I had ever had extensive dealings with, and when we finally met, his warmth and ebullience carried me through the inevitable awkwardnesses of meeting someone in person whom you've only known via e-mail. On the plane to Poland, my siblings and I passed around an excerpt from Jonathan Safran Foer's then-forthcoming novel, ''Everything Is Illuminated,'' about an American Jew who goes to Ukraine to find out what happened to his relatives; the fictional guide is named Alex. ''Great!'' our real-life Alex laughed, when we told him. ''This will be good for business!'' That was in Cracow; during the trip back to L'viv, he had said, a bit guardedly: ''I don't tell all friends what it is I do. I don't think they'd understand.''

Now Alex was clearly delighted that Nina was rolling out the red carpet. As she did so, my brothers and sister and I exchanged glances, all of us clearly thinking, Some Ukrainians aren't so bad. Nina's husband, an affable man who was wearing a bathing suit and flip-flops, banged out tunes on a decrepit piano. ''Feelings'' was followed swiftly by ''Hava Nagilah.'' We looked at each other again. Then he played ''Yesterday.''

Maria showed up. She nodded slowly when we mentioned the name Jaeger, and I thought perhaps this would be it -- the explosion out of generalities into something specific, some hard piece of knowledge. ''Yes, yes,'' Alex told us, translating, ''she knows the name. She knows it.'' I felt, right then, very close to them. This 70-year-old woman would have been a teenager during the war, and I had a strange impulse to touch her. Then Alex went on. ''But she didn't really know them.''

Still hoping for something -- and sensing, suddenly, how absurd this whole expedition was, how mightily time and space and history were against us -- I took out the sheaf of photographs I had brought and showed them to her. Photographs of Sam in his 30's and early 40's, wearing a fur-collared overcoat; a studio picture of three of the girls in lace dresses; a photo of the third girl, Rochele, with a broad smile and the same kinky hair that I had as a teenager. Maria shook her head with an apologetic little smile -- the kind of smile you can do with your lips framing a frown, as my grandmother used to do. ''She doesn't remember them,'' Alex told us. ''She was young, just a child, during the war. She didn't know them herself. It's too bad, because her husband's mother was 100 years old -- she died only three years ago -- she would have known.''

Proximity, distance.

But Alex added that Maria's sister-in-law, Olga, and her husband, Petro, the oldest people in town, still lived just down the road. Off we went, with Nina in tow; clearly she had adopted us and our cause. As we walked, we asked Maria how the Jews and Ukrainians had got along before the war. ''Everyone got along, for the most part,'' she replied. The children played together; people were friendly. Sure, some people were happy when the Jews were taken away. ''There were Ukrainians who helped the Nazis; there were Ukrainians who helped Jews to hide,'' she said. My ears perked up, and I asked Alex to ask her if there were an old castle nearby, where they might have hidden. Again, the apologetic little smile. Maria turned back, and we continued walking.

At Olga's house, tucked in a sharp curve on the road that leads from the center of town to the old Jewish cemetery, a plump old woman opened the door, peering over Alex's shoulder and looking at us warily through narrowed eyes. Everything about her made me think about food: her face as round as a loaf of bread, her two bright blue eyes peering out between fat cheeks like raisins stuck in dough. Alex started his little speech, and she motioned us in.

Again we filed into a strange living room; again chairs were fetched. Alex was talking, and again I heard the name Jaeger, and Olga said something twice. Even before Alex translated, I knew this time would be different, because she was saying, very emphatically, ''Znayu, znayu'': ''I know them; I know them.'' That much Ukrainian I had picked up. She nodded vigorously and said it again and then started talking animatedly to Alex, who was trying to keep up. ''She knew these Jaegers very well,'' he said. ''It's not just that she's heard the last name, but she knew this family very well. They had a butchery.'' She had provided that detail without prompting, he assured us. ''She knows,'' he went on. ''She remembers.''

My sister and I began to cry. This is how close you can come to the dead: you can be sitting in a living room on a fine summer afternoon, 60 years after they have died, and talk to a doughy old woman who, you realize, is exactly as old now as Sam's oldest daughter would have been, and this old woman can be this far away from you, a yard away, that's how close she is. In that moment, the 60 years didn't seem bigger than the three feet that separated me from the quivering arm of the old woman. I suddenly felt, very intensely, the presence of my grandfather, who before this moment had been the last living person I had talked to who knew them, and suddenly the 20 years since he died seemed to shrink too. And so I sat there, blotting my eyes, thankful that Jennifer was crying as well, and listened to Olga talk. She said the name again and looked at my pictures and kept nodding. Alex went on. ''She said that they were very nice, very cultural people. Very nice people.''

And then, again, the inevitable distance. ''She doesn't know what happened to them, to this particular family. She knows that they, like others, other Jews, they suffered very much.''

It is, of course, possible to learn about the sufferings of the Jews of Bolechow without having to go there and track down old women who knew them. You can, for instance, check in the Encyclopedia Judaica and learn that the Germans entered the town on July 2, 1941, and that the first Aktion, or mass liquidation, took place in October, when a thousand Jews were rounded up and, after being tortured for a day, were brought to a mass grave and shot. You can read that the Jewish population of the town, which had been about 3,000 at the beginning of the decade, swelled by thousands who were brought in from neighboring villages. You will learn further that the second Aktion took place a year later, when a few thousand Jews were herded into the town square. Of those, 500 were murdered on the spot, with the remaining 2,000 being deported on freight trains to the camp at Belzec. According to the Encyclopedia Judaica, moreover, the majority of the remaining Jews were killed in December 1942, leaving about a thousand by 1943, of whom ''only a few'' escaped into the nearby forests to join the partisans.

But none of that will satisfy your hunger for details, the hunger I felt 24 years ago, when, in my senior year of high school, I wrote to Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust museum, and received that photocopied encyclopedia entry. A Xerox can't tell you what Olga told us that day. I had wondered, for instance, when I was 18, what ''after being tortured for 24 hours'' might mean. Olga told us that the Jews had been herded into a community center, where the Germans forced them to stand on one another's shoulders, with the old rabbi on the top, then knocked him down. Apparently this went on for a good many hours.

''Brought to a mass grave and shot''? Olga told us that the sound of the machine-gun fire coming from just up the road was so terrible that her mother finally took down an old sewing machine and ran the treadle continuously, hoping to blot out the horror with innocuous domestic noise. Whenever she described some particularly awful incident, Olga would squeeze her eyes shut and make a downward-thrusting motion with her fat hands, a gesture my mother might have made while saying nebech.

Twenty minutes into our talk, Olga's husband, Petro, arrived home from church. A small muscular man of nearly 90, he, too, immediately recognized the family name. He also told us things: that anyone who tried to help the Jews would be shot, for instance, which we knew -- Nina had told us, and Maria had, and Nina had made sure to remind Olga as well, apparently, as we began talking to her. ''Some Jews were employed in the local tanneries,'' the encyclopedia had said. ''Later, Jews were employed in lumber work at a special labor camp.'' What Petro told us was that he had worked at the lumber mill, and that when he tried to fill a wartime quota for new workers with Jews, the Germans threatened him. ''Do you really need Jews?'' he remembered them saying. ''Do you really want trouble?''

As he said this, I was torn between wanting to believe him -- wanting to believe that the openness and friendliness that we had experienced on this trip would have been evident in the past as well -- and trying to be dispassionate, trying to take with more than a grain of salt everything we heard, since even as we sat across from these people, who had welcomed us so easily into their houses, we remembered what we had been told about the Ukrainians.

Our conversation was coming to a close. Was there a castle nearby? I had asked, and the inevitable answer came again, as I knew it would: that there was no castle, no place to hide. And then, as I realized we would get no closer, we heard a final detail. Brought to a mass grave and shot: Petro recalled very well the Aktion when the Jews were marched to the cemetery and shot in a mass grave.

''Where was the road they walked on?'' my brother asked, and Olga jumped up and pointed toward the window and said, ''Here!'' as Nina clapped a hand to her mouth in, I suppose, horror, as if they were passing by right then. It was that close. According to Petro, as their neighbors the Jews of Bolechow were being marched, nearly naked, on this road, walking two by two, they called out to their neighbors -- that is, to Olga, who was still standing and pointing out the window, and to the others -- ''Stay well,'' ''So long, we will not see each other any more,'' ''We'll not meet any more.''

The anguished farewells stuck in my mind, but it was only later, after I had returned home, that I realized why: it was the sole detail that connected what we had heard that day to something I remembered from Sam's letters: the self-conscious leave-taking, the unthinkable goodbye entrusted to the air. I bid you farewell and kiss you from the bottom of my heart.

This was as close as we would get. We had seen the town we had come from, and we agreed, my brothers and sister and I, that this alone was worth the trip. But as for the other details we wanted, we were too far away. We had found no single piece of information that corroborated the stories we had heard, nor would more be forthcoming: Maria had told us that there was no one left who had been an adult before the war. It seemed clear by now that there had never been a castle; the old couple who had known my family had only the vaguest things to tell us about their lives and couldn't tell us how they had died, couldn't rescue them from killed by the Nazis. And in a different way, we hadn't found what we had been looking for in the Ukrainians, either. The Ukrainians were the worst. We knew it was true; we had read the books and seen the documentaries. But we found it hard to reconcile with the people we kept meeting. Where was the truth? Which variation was it? The only point of contact between what I already knew and what I learned when we went was a tiny detail that could, only if you wanted it to very much, provide a connection -- the detail of the long, terrible farewells, a surface resemblance that was, anyway, wholly accidental.

And then they had nothing more to tell us, and so we said our own goodbyes, and we went. I knew we would not be seeing one another again. As we walked back toward the square, we stopped groups of old people coming back from church. No one remembered the Jaegers; none claimed to know anyone who might.

Houses of the Living and the Dead

Just before we left, we stopped in front of the house that stands on the site of Sam's house -- our family's house -- to take pictures. As we posed, a tall young Ukrainian in his mid-20's, with the blond crewcut and the long icon's face that so many young Ukrainians have, emerged and asked us, not without a faintly aggressive suspiciousness, what we were doing. Alex answered again, to the same effect: the boy's face split into a bright smile, and he motioned us all inside. ''He says it's a big honor,'' Alex said once more.

And so again we filed into a stranger's house, and the young Ukrainian, whose name was Stefan, begged us to sit in the living room, whose only adornment was a reproduction of ''The Last Supper,'' and then disappeared into the kitchen for a furious, whispered conversation with his pretty blond wife, Ulyana. ''He's inviting you all for a drink,'' Alex explained, and we all made polite noises of refusal until we saw that to refuse would be rude. So we let him fill our glasses, and we drank. We drank toasts to my grandfather, who was born on the spot we were sitting on; we drank toasts to America and to Ukraine. The high emotion and extreme improbability of the long day was beginning to take its toll: we were all a bit silly. Ulyana bustled in the kitchen, and before long Stefan emerged holding two dried whitefish by the tails, explaining to Alex that he wanted us to take them home with us. He insisted on another round. Stefan said we all looked alike; I told him this would certainly reflect well on the honor of our mother. Laughter, more toasts.

The Ukrainians were the worst. How would Stefan and Ulyana have treated us during the war? It was impossible not to wonder about it. And how would they treat us now, if given a chance -- the chance, as we couldn't help thinking, that seemed to be lurking yet again in the resurgence across the continent of the old hatreds? The Ukrainians of Bolechow had lived once before in harmony with the town's Jews, before turning on them. Or before some of them did.

I thought about the long and spacious property outside, which had, just as my grandfather had said, orchards of apple and plum and quince trees, and I asked Alex to ask Stefan how they had come to live in this particular house. I asked because sitting here, enjoying this rather surreal scene, the toasts and jokes and ''The Last Supper,'' I suddenly felt that I wanted one of these very pleasant local people to be responsible for the fact that it was they, and not us, who were living here. Stefan said the house had belonged to his wife's father, who acquired it after the war. From whom? He spread his hands and smiled the same frowny smile that Maria had given us earlier. ''He doesn't know,'' Alex said.

Well, how would he know? Why should he be responsible for knowing? As we walked outside toward the car, Stefan suddenly rushed up to us with a basket. It was filled with apples, tiny green unripe apples, that he had shaken from one of the trees. ''For your mother,'' he told us through Alex. So she might have fruit from the house that would have been hers.

And then, finally, we went to the cemetery. This wasn't so much to see the mass grave -- would we even be able to tell where it was? -- but rather the place where members of my family had been buried for 300 years. The headstones, we knew from Alex's earlier visit, would all be in Hebrew, and there were hundreds and hundreds of them. Another haystack; more needles.

Still, we went. And here again, the unexpected nearness when everything seemed so hopelessly far. As we pulled up alongside the little creek that runs by one side of the ancient cemetery, my brother Matthew started shouting for Alex to stop. ''Sima Jaeger -- Sima Jaeger!'' he kept saying, and as we looked at where he was pointing, we saw that one solitary headstone, there at the top of the hill, had Roman characters, and on it was written Sima Jaeger, the name of my grandfather's great-aunt. ''A beloved mother, she was not forgotten by her sons,'' the inscription said in Hebrew. I did what Jews do when they visit graves and placed a small stone on Sima's headstone and took some rocks from this place to put on the graves of my grandfather and his siblings back home -- the least a good grandchild could do.

She was not forgotten: As I stood looking at the forlorn little rock on Sima's huge headstone, I felt, again, what it means to be of the generation of the grandchildren. The rock for Sima -- symbolically, a rock for all the Jaegers whose headstones I could not find that day or who never got headstones -- I placed out of duty: a ritual abstraction. The rock for my grandfather I would place for the sake of love: I knew him. But to my children, the next generation, it is my grandfather who will represent mere duty, who will be too far away.

Over by the edge of the cemetery where the procession of listing stones came suddenly to a halt, blond Ukrainian children were swinging in a rubber tire from the arm of a great old oak. The largish patch of earth over which the tire arced back and forth with its squealing cargo was subtly discolored and very hard, as if it had been tamped down on purpose, long ago.

We went back to Bolechow the next day to take more pictures, but there was no one else to talk to. And then, the day after that, we went back home.

Zeno's Paradox

What we later learned was this:

Rochele Jaeger, the third daughter of Sam and Ester Jaeger, was arrested in Bolechow during a roundup on Sept. 28, 1941, and shot the next day in the mass grave in the cemetery where her great-great-aunt had been so much more decorously buried. She was 16. Her parents, handsome Sam, ''the king of the town,'' as he was called, and his once-beautiful wife, Ester, and their youngest girl, Bronia, were taken in the second Aktion and perished then, although whether they were among the 500 who perished in the town square or the 2,000 gassed at Belzec, we cannot know. Rochele's older sister Frydka kept the accounts in the lumber factory where Petro had worked; she and the oldest, Lorka, the dear Lorka, escaped in 1943 and joined a group of partisans led by a pair of Ukrainian brothers named Babij. By 1943 the ranks of these partisans had swollen to nearly 1,000, and fearing that the Ukrainian group would eventually make contact with the Russians, the Germans launched a huge assault, with tanks, artillery and air cover, on the forest where the partisans hid out. There were said to be four survivors.

It was only after we returned home that we learned all of this, learned as much as we now know, learned what had happened to them. Six months after our journey, the telephone rang. ''Mr. Mendelsohn?'' a deep Central European voice said. The line crackled: very long distance. ''My name is Jack Greene, and I hear on the grapevine that you're looking for people who knew your Jaeger family in Bolechow. You should know that I dated one of Sam's girls, and I'd be happy to talk to you.''

And so it was, months later and continents away, that we finally got close to them.

When we returned from Bolechow, we made copies of the videos we had taken there, including those of our interviews with Nina and Maria and Olga, and sent these copies to the remaining Jaeger cousins. The two who live in Israel, in turn, had shown the tape to some former Bolechowers they knew. One of them was Shlomo Adler, the leader of the ex-Bolechower community in Israel, who during a flurry of subsequent e-mail messages told us not to believe Petro -- he may have convinced himself that he had tried to help the Jews, Adler said, but most likely he did not -- and told us not to bother trying to erect a memorial in the mass grave, as we had contemplated doing, because the stones would be vandalized and the construction materials stolen. Most important, he mentioned our trip to Jack Greene, who now lives in Sydney and who dated Rochele Jaeger and who knew them and who survived.

I talked to Jack Greene for a long time, and he told me about my family -- not only how they died but how they lived. There is no reason to repeat everything he said: after all, how interesting is it that young sweethearts in a small Eastern European shtetl would have watched, say, Wallace Beery movies in the community entertainment center, except perhaps that it was in the same entertainment center that some of those teenagers would, only a few years later, be forced to entertain their tormentors before being killed?

Jack told me a great many things, specific things. He told me about the meetings of the Zionist organization that he attended in order to see Rochele and about Sam's business (''in Bolechow there were two cars, and one of them belonged to Shmiel Jaeger'') and about how Bronia ''looked like her mother, exactly'' and that a friend of his had made his first-ever telephone call on the phone in Sam's house and that the boys and girls would take walks in the park in the evening and that none of Sam's daughters had his showy personality. (''Yeah, he looked it, and he acted the part,'' Jack said when I told him Sam had always been considered a prince. A big fish in a little pond: Sam had got his wish at a terrible price.) He told me about the soccer games that they would go to after the Soviets took over that part of Galicia in 1939 -- the Jews there had two years of relative security, thanks to the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact -- and how moviegoing had become unpopular after the theater started showing nothing but Soviet propaganda films. I asked him, at the end of our first interview, to tell me in detail what Rochele had been like. He paused, and then he said, ''She was a beautiful, wonderful girl.''

And he talked, of course, about the war years: about the way that after Sam had been killed and his oldest daughters were making their precarious existences in the little while they still had left to live, Frydka, the second girl, about whose employment prospects Sam had worried in a letter to my grandfather, a letter that I have open before me as I write this -- it is that close -- had managed to get a job doing accounts in the lumber factory, because the idea was to get yourself into forced labor. ''To get yourself a job for the war effort. And that gave you some feeling of security -- that they won't take you tomorrow. They might take you in three months, but not tomorrow.'' It was this girl, he said a little later on, and her older sister, who had escaped in 1943, when it was clear that the end was coming, into the forest with the partisans.

The Babij group, he added, was eventually betrayed by spies. Jews, in fact, who were being blackmailed by the Germans into helping them. That, at any rate, was what he had heard.

It was then that I understood how the stories my family had handed down, the different theories about the betrayal, the chess moves, had come to be. It seemed clear to me, at that moment, that the betrayal of the Babij partisans had got garbled in translation, somewhere between the event itself and the point at which it had been described to my grandfather and his siblings. And in the confusion, the betrayal of many hundreds of people (if indeed it was as Jack Greene had heard) had come to be retold as the betrayal of Sam and his wife and four daughters -- and thereafter adopted as my family's narrative, the story my brothers and sister and I had traveled halfway across the world to confirm, because a narrative of greed and naïveté and bad judgment was better than the alternative, which was no narrative at all.

And I saw, then, that my own private suspicions about a closer, more terrible betrayal by my American relatives of their family in Europe was the product of the same desire for a story. I had always thought that my grandfather felt a terrible guilt, but it hadn't occurred to me that what he felt guilty about wasn't that he had betrayed them but that he had no story for them -- no way to account for how they had died.

Jack told me something else that night: that, like Sam, his own parents had been hoping to send their children away to safety, but that in 1939 the wait was six years ''and by then everyone was already dead.'' (Jack survived by hiding out in the forest.) It is impossible to say for certain that my grandfather and his siblings did everything they could for Sam and his family, although I now think that they did. What is certain is that nothing they could have done would have saved them.

All during our trip, I had been disappointed because we didn't find anything to confirm the stories I had been told; I had wanted the gripping tales to be true. It was only when I listened to Jack Greene that I realized I had been after the wrong story -- the story of how they had died rather than the one of how they had lived. If our instinct is to forsake the everyday and focus on vivid stories when we speak of the dead, it is because of a great distance: from a couple of generations away, you grasp at the legends' broad outlines, because the details are lost -- or have been destroyed. The particulars of the lives they led were, inevitably, bland: the kinds of unmemorable things that make up everyone's day-to-day existence. It is only when everyday existence ceases to exist, when knowing that you'll die in three months rather than tomorrow seems like ''security,'' that such lost details seem rare and beautiful.

When we went back, we saw that time is still the terrible enemy: each year, the details get further away. But we also realized, by going, that we are still just close enough to recover a few more details -- to recover something of their lives, as well as of their deaths. At a time when great distance has, paradoxically, brought us very close to the past, when fewer and fewer people think the Holocaust has any remaining relevance yet Jewish gravestones are once again unsafe from vandals, the search for such details may well make a better monument to the lost than the one we had thought about building.

This is why, when Jack Greene told me that what I should really do, instead of talking on the phone for so long, is come to Sydney, I knew that I would go, just as I knew I would probably go wherever my conversations with him might send me: to Long Island to talk to the woman who was one of the four Babij partisans to survive and to Israel, where I can find the old woman who was Lorka's friend, and to wherever else I might find more mundane details. I will go because I see now that there was much more there than I had realized, and although I know that we will never get them back, never quite reach them, there is much of them still out there, enough to tell a little story that could just come close to the truth, and however far away and with every year that passes, I feel I am getting closer.

[xiv] The following passage appears in Altneuland, which Herzl published in 1902.

Kingscourt und Friedrich beeilten sich auch fortzukommen.  Sie fuhren auf der schlechten Eisenbahn nach Jerusalem.  Auch auf diesem Wege Bilder tiefster Verkommenheit.  Das flache Land fast nur Sand und Sumpf.  Die mageren Äcker wie verbrannt.  Schwärzliche Dörfer von Arabern.  Die Bewohner hatten ein räuberhaftes Aussehen.  Die Kinder spielten nackt in Strassenstaube.

 

Kingscourt and Friedrich hurried to get away.  They traveled on the miserable railroad to Jerusalem.  Even on this route scenes of the deepest depravity.  Flat land almost only sand and swamp.  The spare cultivated fields as if scorched.  Colorless villages of Arabs.  The inhabitants looked like robbers.  The children played naked in the street dust.

 

 

While I am fluent in German, I am not a native speaker.  Just to be sure of my translation, I checked with Julia Droebner, who is a native speaker.

Here is her comment.

"Verkommenheit" also describes something that is rotten, neglected or ruined; "sand und sumpf" is the description of absolute infertile, hostile land, not cultivated by "civilized" people; and, of course, scorched fields and the neglected, primitive, colorless villages of the "natives" reminds us of a country that had been devastated by a war; the inhabitants are either second class human beings or not human beings at all, as they are described as criminals, homeless, dishonest, not trustworthy people, as "räuberhaft" implies.  Their children don't even have clothes to dress.  Altneuland is no different from any other racist colonialist literature, which serves the purpose of justifying the rule of the colonizers over those savage people.

[xv] The distortion of the history of Ashkenazim in Russia or Poland does not result only from the activities of Zionist propagandists.  The pogrom and persecution version of Ashkenazi history probably served Ashkenazi community leaders in suppressing class conflict and maintaining control for the purpose of eliminating deviance. The class conflict within Jewish communities reached such a level during the early 19th century that wealthy Ashkenazim would pay for the kidnapping of children from poor families to meet the community’s military enlistment quotas. Sumptuary laws serve as a good example of creating fear among community members in order to maintain control.  Such rules were typically imposed with the claim that the Ashkenazi community would be expelled or otherwise abused if it showed too much wealth. 

When scholars investigate the archives of Polish nobles like the Potockis, the Czartoryskis or the Radziwills, they find that the Polish aristocracy never for a moment had any thought of harming Ashkenazim in any way.  Ashkenazim widely believe that from 1881 onward that the Czarist government organized pogroms against Ashkenazim.  Fiddler on the Roof disseminated this idea to American audiences, but the Czarist archives show no evidence of any such policy whatsoever.  In analyzing the pogroms of 1881, the Czarist minister Pobedonostsev concluded that one third of Ashkenazim would convert to Russian Orthodoxy, one third would lead and one third would die.  Even though Ashkenazi and Zionist historians generally portray this analysis as prescriptive, it was descriptive.  The Czarist government never used Pobednostsev’s ideas, which were generally hostile toward all non-Russians, as the basis of policy toward any ethnic group in the Russian Empire. 

The persecution and pogrom version of Ashkenazi history has severe negative consequences.  The common belief that the Polish and Russian governments abused Ashkenazim leads was taught as fact in the Hebrew curriculum of Mandatory and is still taught as fact in the Hebrew curriculum of the State of Israel.  As a consequence, Israeli citizens believe abusing populations not identified with the state is perfectly acceptable and normal.  Since the Nakba, Israeli treatment of Palestinians has been completely consistent with this idea.

[xvi] From Pan-Slavism, Its History and Ideology, by Hans Kohn.

Pan-Slavism, a movement in which nationalist elements were mingled with supra-national and often imperialist trends, was a product of the political awakening of the intellectuals in central and eastern Europe, which was brought about by the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars.  But even more potent was the influence of German romanticism and of a linguistic Pan-Germanism as represented by Arndt and Fichte.  Pan-Slavism proclaimed the affinity of various peoples, in spite of differences of political citizenship and historical background, of civilization and religion, solely on the strength of an affinity of language.  It could thus arise only at a time when under the influence of Johann Gottfried Herder the national language, the mother tongue, was regarded as a determining factor for men’s loyalty.

While the modern State of Israel is in all but name a colony of the United States of America just like French Algeria, it also maintains interesting similarities with Czarist Russia from the standpoint of Russian Pan-Slavism.  Ashkenazim play the role of the Rus’ while other Jewish groups correspond to subordinate Slavic nationalities inside the Russian Empire.  From the standpoint of Arab peoples, the State of Israel is a gunpowder empire just as the Czarist Empire was for the peoples of the Caucasus and Central Asia. 

Within the Pan-Slavic framework masquerading as Zionist Pan-Judaicism, the necessity of השפה כיבוש (conquest of language or linguistic Hebraization of modern Jewry) was unquestionable dogma while the concomitant fanatic hostility of the Zionist leadership toward Yiddish is hardly surprising.  The Politics of Yiddish by Dov-Ber Kerler (editor) provides an interesting example on pages 2-3.

It is often said that the major “consumers” of anti-Semitic literature in the former Soviet Union are either blatant (or “commited”) anti-Semites or the Russian Jews themselves.  An analogous situation can be observed with regard to those who continue the vexing notion of Yiddish as a “dying” or an altogether “dead” language.  Yiddishists, anti-Yiddishists and seemingly informed well-wishers of different walks of life continue to sustain this “thanatological” approach by either contributing to it as “intellectually honest” observers (see e.g. Shpiglblat 1990, 1991, 1993, cf. J. Fishman 1991: 328-329, 332-333) or as its passive subscribers.  One of the fairly recent gems of this genre belongs to a renowned historian of Hebrew literature who among others made the following “observation” at a conference devoted to the centennial of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1987:

Yiddish in Israel is a dead language, used mostly in homes for the elderly and as a literary language by a few Holocaust survivors.  It exists for the readership in Israel, as in America, in translation only… (Shaken 1990: 190)

Gershon Shaked has every right to his opinions.  It remains, however, incomprehensible why the Yiddish-speaking inhabitants of homes for the elderly and the allegedly few Yiddish reading and writing Holocaust survivors should be buried alive by one of the leading experts on modern Hebrew literature.

 

 

[xvii] Michael Stanislawski discusses the Zionist myth that the Dreyfus case inspired Herzl’s ideology in Zionism and the Fin de Siècle on p. 13.

In the face of the seeming dissolution of the cosmopolitan dream, Herzl began to obsess over the future of the Jews.  Typically, of course, he is said to have come Zionism as a result of the Dreyfus Affair, a claim he himself made repeatedly in later years.  But in an    important 1993 study, the historian Jacques Kornberg carefully analyzed Herzl's reportage on the Dreyfus Affair from the beginning of the case to its end and demonstrated that Herzl's reactions to the first stages of the Affair, well into 1897, were entirely typical of those of other writers in Die Neue Freie Presse or other liberal (and often Jewish-owned) newspapers, and indeed of most Jews in France and elsewhere.  It was only after Herzl was a convinced Zionist, and the case itself was transformed in the late 1890s into a cause célèbre, that he began to interpret it through Zionist lenses.  Nordau also went through exactly the same stages of Dreyfusardism, to the extent that he, too, would later counterfactually insist that it was the Dreyfus Affair that made him a Zionist.

[xviii] Sins of the Father by Yosef Dan
"Heidegger's Children: Hannah Arendt, Karl Lowith, Hans Jonas and Herbert Marcuse" by Richard Wolin, Princeton University Press, 276 pages, $29.95

One of the oddest and most difficult chapters in the tortured history of Jewish philosophers in the 20th century is the prolonged and determined connection between the greatest Jewish intellectuals and some of the leading Nazi and fascist thinkers in that century. It is a fact that some of the key figures in the European intellectual world who supported, in various ways, fascist and Nazi totalitarianism worked in an environment where Jewish figures were present, sometimes in a dominant way. This is especially significant with respect to figures who had a great deal of influence on European thought and competed in their support for Nazism (even if not explicitly) and neither accepted criticism nor expressed self-criticism about their support for the European fascist movements.

It is an excruciatingly painful episode, so extensive that it cannot be ignored. Several times during the period after World War II, Jewish students and associates of figures who identified - to one degree or another - with Nazism failed to disassociate themselves fully from their teachers, who were tainted by anti- Semitism and enthusiasm for cruel totalitarianism.

Among prominent examples of this phenomenon there is the still very influential school of Carl Gustav Jung, at the center of which there were and still are many Jews who did not and have not dealt with the episode of Jung's support for Hitler in the 1930s. Another example is the Romanian fascist Mircea Eliade, who became the primary spokesman of "the science of religions" from his chair at the University of Chicago, surrounded by Jews, and who never apologized for his activity in the ranks of Romanian Fascism, an ally of the Nazis, during the war. Another example is the Belgian literary scholar Paul de Man, one of the pillars of the Yale school of literary studies and deconstruction in the United States. After his death, fascist and anti-Semitic articles that he had written in Belgium during the war years, which he had concealed from his many Jewish students and friends, were published. Among those who banded together to defend him, most notable was his friend, philosopher Jacques Derrida, who tried to interpret an anti-Semitic article of his through deconstruction, as if it were full of enthusiasm for Jews. His student, philosopher Shoshana Feldman, tried to explain de Man's silence and concealment as remorse and acceptance of judgment.

It is difficult to find a more far-reaching and painful example than that of Martin Heidegger, who is almost universally described as the greatest German philosopher of the 20th century and one of the greatest of all the century's philosophers. In contrast to the three mentioned above, Heidegger's support for Hitler and Nazism was open and official. He joined the Nazi Party with great fanfare in 1933, and was appointed by the party to be the first Nazi rector of the very prestigious Freiburg University. From his platform as rector, Heidegger preached the adoption of the Nazi worldview at German universities and the expulsion of Jews from them.

He practiced what he preached. His teacher and instructor, the great philosopher Edmund Husserl, who was already retired, was expelled from the philosophy library at the university and forbidden to enter it because he was Jewish. His Jewish assistants and doctoral students could not complete their studies, and in at least one case Heidegger told a student that it was not possible for her to complete her studies because she was Jewish. He broke off his ties with a person who had been his good friend, the important philosopher Karl Jaspers, because his wife was Jewish. In 1934 he demanded that his students stop dealing with ideas and opinions and concentrate on the Fuehrer, who was the essence of everything. He continued to pay his dues as a member of the Nazi Party until the end of the war, although he resigned from his post as rector after a year and did not continue to support Nazism publicly after 1936.

After the war, a special commission determined that he should not be allowed to continue to teach at the university because of his negative influence on students, and he retired. However, he continued to write and lecture for about another 30 years after the war, until his death in 1976.

No remorse

The most outstanding thing about Heidegger, who saw himself as the most important philosopher since the pre- Socratic Heraclites (in his opinion, beginning with Plato philosophy had declined into a dead end), is that for 30 years after the war he stubbornly and consistently refused to express remorse for what he had said and done during the 1930s. He justified the horrors of Nazism by saying that "all participants in war did this," and denied the evidence of his anti-Semitic activities. Many people visited his cottage near the city of Baden and tried to convince him to express remorse, to no avail. Hence, everyone who met with Heidegger and everyone who availed himself of his ideas knew very well that this was a person who had been an active partner in the Nazi and anti-Semitic takeover of the German universities, and a person who for decades refused to express remorse or criticism of National Socialism.

Heidegger's teacher was a Jew; many of his colleagues were Jews or closely associated with Jews and his main, direct disciples were Jews. We now have before us a profound book that reopens this affair in a systematic way: "Heidegger's Children," by Richard Wolin, which discusses four of Heidegger's Jewish disciples: Hannah Arendt, Hans Jonas, Karl Lowith and Herbert Marcuse, four philosophers who wrote their first works under Heidegger's supervision and went on to develop thought systems of their own that placed them in the front ranks of philosophers in the 20th century.

Wolin, a professor at New York University, devotes his book to a detailed discussion of their personal relationships to Heidegger and his ties to Nazism, as well as their relationship to his ideas and the way these are integrated into their own philosophical works. This book is the latest in Wolin's impressive series of previous studies that dealt with various aspects of Heidegger's thought, as well as two prior books on the issue: "The Heidegger Controversy: A Critical Reader" (MIT Press, 1992), which collects and analyses the major documents about Heidegger's involvement in the world of Nazism; and a translation and analysis of a collection of Karl Lowith's articles on this issue that Wolin edited in a special volume: "Martin Heidegger and European Nihilism" (Columbia University Press, 1995).

The publication of Wolin's books at this time is important; a sort of revival of Heidegger's thought in Western culture seems to be underway, and is gaining increasing prominence, especially in the world of Jewish intellectuals in the United States, Europe and even Israel. I have even often sensed pride in a kind of super-liberalism when colleagues have spoken in praise of Heidegger and were, in effect, speaking about themselves: "We know that he was a Nazi, but we are so liberal and universalist in our worldview that we pay no attention to such trivial matters," and they reject as provincial and narrow-minded any criticism of Heidegger's insistence on not expressing reservations about Nazism (a similar tone is taken in discussions of Eliade and Jung).

Herbert Marcuse gained fame in the 1960s as the spiritual teacher of the leaders of the student revolution during that decade. He wrote his first book under Heidegger's supervision between 1928 and 1932, when Heidegger's closeness to Nazism was becoming increasingly evident, and apparently for that reason Marcuse did not receive the academic approval he had hoped for from his teacher. At the time Marcuse was attending Heidegger's seminars, he was already identified with the left in Germany; he wanted to pave a way of his own within the Marxist framework, and was especially close to the spirit of the new formulation of Marxism that was proposed by the young Gyorgy Lukacs.

In his philosophical work afterward, Marcuse tried to integrate elements of Heidegger's thought, especially concerning the rejection of the classical German philosophic tradition, with a restructuring of Marxism. Unlike Lowith and Jonas, he did not stress the line in Heidegger's thought in the 1920s that leads consistently to his identification with Nazism in the 1930s; he attempted to create a kind of "Heideggerism of the left," but did not forgive Heidegger his Nazi leanings. He saw this as a mistake, but defined it as "a mistake that a philosopher must not make," and saw in his deeds not only evil and injustice but also a betrayal of philosophy as such, a betrayal of everything philosophy represents.

Marcuse met with Heidegger in 1974, a meeting he defined as "very unpleasant," and afterward wrote to him several times and demanded that he admit his mistakes and express remorse for his deeds. Heidegger refused, and his letters to Marcuse reiterated the old saws about how in every war horrible deeds are committed by all the sides engaged in the fighting, and how the German people had known nothing about what was really going on and therefore is not guilty. With this, the connection between them came to an end.

Consistent critic

Karl Lowith, one of Heidegger's first and most veteran students (who afterward converted to Christianity), was also his most consistent and systematic critic. In a series of articles (collected by Wolin), Lowith thoroughly analyzed the roots of Heideggar's thought in German philosophy, and the stages of the growth of its affinity to Nazism. Lowith completely rejects the perception that Heideggar's attraction to Nazism at the start of its takeover of Germany was a mere coincidence. In a detailed analysis, he proves the affinities of his thought to that of Carl Schmitt, the explicit ideologist of Nazism, who as early as 1932 called for the establishment of a "total state" based on "racial hegemony," and for the elimination of "marginal elements" in the country, such as Communists and Jews. Both of them together preached a philosophy of existence at the basis of which is "decisiveness," the ability to make radical decisions in the context of the destruction of the old liberal and Romantic concepts. When the Nazis appointed him rector of the University of Freiburg, Heidegger offered Carl Schmitt a partnership in leading the Nazi revolution at the German universities and in German intellectual life.

Lowith analyzed in detail Heidegger's famous speech as rector of the university, and especially his letter to its students, in November 1933, in which he calls upon them to vote unanimously for Hitler as the ruler of Germany; he strode at their head to the voting station. In this letter, Heidegger explicitly identifies the central concept in his thought, Dasein (existence), with the command of the leader, the Fuehrer, who embodies the spirit of Germany.

The most impressive figure, as described by Wolin, is Hans Jonas. This young and enthusiastic admirer of Heidegger was once sent by his teacher to deliver a love letter from Heidegger to Hannah Arendt, and Heidegger's influence was evident in his great scientific study of gnosis in ancient times. Jonas left Germany even before the book was published and came to Jerusalem. As opposed to Heidegger's other students, who saw themselves as Germans in every respect, Hans Jonas had a background in Judaism and the Hebrew language. During the war he served as a soldier in the British army in Palestine, and participated in fierce battles in Italy. During Israel's War of Independence he enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces and fought in its ranks.

After the war Jonas immigrated to North America and wrote his philosophical works there (foremost among them "The Imperative of Responsibility," 1979). He aroused greater interest in Germany than in the United States and in his later years earned great respect in Germany. His studies in the field of gnosis influenced his historical and philosophical perceptions. Thus, for example, in dealing with the Holocaust he made use of the notion that God ceased to be omnipotent, and in the creation of the world had already limited himself and his powers (he used the kabbalistic concept of tzimtzum in order to make room for the free will of those he created.

When Heidegger was invited to but did not attend a philosophical conference in the Untied States, Jonas was asked to substitute for him in the opening lecture. He painted a broad picture of the analysis of Heidegger's thought and how it had led his teacher to adopt Nazism and place his prestige at the service of the Fuehrer. He read to the conferees Heidegger's speech at Freiburg in which he demanded that the students see the Fuehrer as the spirit and significance of philosophy.

Love of her life

The most difficult chapter in Wolin's book, difficult for the writer and difficult for the reader, is the one devoted to Hannah Arendt. The story of the relationship between the young Jewish student and the brilliant professor of philosophy has already been the subject of extensive discussions, and it seems that with respect to the basic facts there is nothing more to add. Today there is no doubt that Hannah Arendt saw Heidegger as the love of her life, and did not dissociate herself from him even after the horrors of the war became clear. She asked him to apologize for his deeds, but when he refused she did not cut off her close ties with him. She published his writings in the United States and endeavored to spread his message in every way possible. (Recently, it has come to light that at the German publishing house where Arendt's works were published in German after the war, the person who took care of her writings and was in close communication with her, Hans Rossner, had been an officer in the SS, who during the war had worked in the offices of Himmler and Eichmann - See Der Spiegel, May 6, 2002, pp.64-65. Apparently Arendt was unaware of this, but it turns out that she never inquired or tried to find out who the man was. The author of the article in the German newspaper gave it the harsh title "Second Career.")

Hannah Arendt visited Heidegger's cottage in Germany several times and corresponded with him frequently. She had no difficulty in developing a profound hostility toward Gerschom Scholem, who had been severely critical of her book on the Eichmann trial, but she found no way of overcoming her love for Martin Heidegger. Her close relations with him now serve as a kind of alibi for Jewish intellectuals who admire Heidegger's thought.

Wolin devotes the final chapter of his book to a detailed examination of three basic concepts in Heidegger's thought during the 1920s - especially in the book "Being and Time," which brought Heidegger his fame and his status - and the development of these concepts in Heidegger's thought during the 1930s, in the period of his Nazi activities at the universities, especially in his series of lectures on logic. The three concepts are "historicity," "folk" and "work." Wolin examines the roots of these concepts in the thought of Hegel and Nietzsche, the way they were adapted by Heidegger during the first period and especially the way they were integrated into the Nazi ideology he adopted and tried to instill in his students at the university.

Heidegger, who prior to that had developed the idealization of the concept of work, fitted with no difficulty into the activities of the Nazi regime aimed at sanctifying the value of work as the life elixir of "the people." One of the factors in his resignation from the post of university rector was his colleagues' opposition to his demand to impose the obligation of service in "work camps" that the Nazis had organized to "re-educate" the public, both ideologically and socially. In this concept, Heidegger relinquished his initial distaste for technology, and after the Nazis' victories by virtue of their technological superiority, he saw "technological work" as what would bring Germany control of the world. The quotations and analysis Wolin presents in this chapter are very difficult for the Jewish reader, and there is no need to expand on this. The chilling title he chose for this chapter says it all: Arbeit macht Frei.

Haaretz Review of Heidegger's Children.

[xix] Revisionist Zionism may be having a pernicious effect on American political discourse today.  American revisionists include the Netanyahu family and Baruch Korff, Nixon’s Rabbi, who may have been more important in the formulation of Nixon’s Israel policy than Kissinger.  Irving Kristol, Leo Strauss, Ruth Wisse, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle are all linked to this movement.   American Jewish Revisionism has always had a strong presence in Hollywood.

From where does the idea come that removing Saddam Hussein will make it possible to reform the Arab world on democratic pro-American models?

Rafael Medoff, who is Visiting Scholar in the Jewish Studies Program at the State University of New York--Purchase and Associate Editor of American Jewish History, outlines in Militant Zionism in America, The Rise and Impact of the Jabotinsky Movement in the United States, how American Revisionists formed alliances with Republicans and conservatives throughout the country.

Maybe there is a connection between American Revisionism and the Neoconservative movement, for the idea of that only the effendi class prevented good relations between Ashkenazi Zionists and the native population of Palestine is an old Zionist myth that seems to have been resurrected in a form pertaining to the whole Arab world and USA.

Revisionists never took seriously the idea of good relations on the basis of reform.  This idea has usually been propounded as a fig leaf for the Iron Wall logic that Sharon has always espoused.  Jabotinsky, one of the primary pre-State Zionist leaders, articulated this view from 1916 through 1923.  This idea assumes "What is impossible is voluntary agreement."  Zionists must work for "the establishment in Palestine of a force which will in no way be influenced by Arab pressure.  In other words, the only way to achieve a settlement in the future, is total avoidance of attempts to arrive at a settlement in the present."

If this concept first clearly articulated by Jabotinsky 80 years ago and reiterated by Sharon today really has been translated into the US policy for relations between the USA and the Arab world, at the very least it is completely incompatible with the goal of globalization as espoused and supported by the USA, and it is probable that it is the recipe for 100 years of Algeria-like rebellion and terrorism.

The Iron Wall logic has a very bad record even from the Israeli standpoint.  The 1967 war was followed by the 1973 war while the invasion and occupation of Lebanon turned into a quagmire.

Political scientists need to keep in mind that Algeria-like warfare in the 21st century would involve far higher numbers of casualties than it did in the 20th.  There is an assumption that the barrier to obtaining WMDs is really high even though nuclear bombs can be produced with 1940s technology and even though fissile material can be prepared from ore with almost off the shelf metallurgical technology while older simulation programs are fairly easy to obtain.

Not only does the current Bush policy presages a disastrous 100 years of relations with the Arab and Muslim world, the idea of preventive war in lieu of preemptive war is rather scary.  Right now no country could run a preventative war against the USA.  But within 25-50 years China, which seems very much to consider the USA a threat, might be able to knock out the USA with a first strike in a preventative war even if strictly by the numbers the USA were still much more powerful than China.

[xx] In Neither Right Nor Left, p. 212, Sternhell states the following.

Yet, on the other hand, the revision of socialism by the French and Belgian socialist rebels itself developed into fascism for one essential reason – the same reason that underlay the move toward the extreme right of the generation of 1910.  For the revolutionary syndicalists at the beginning of the century as for the exponents of the new socialism twenty years later, [1] the proletariat had ceased to be a revolutionary force and Marxism no longer provided a suitable answer to the problems of the modern world.  This loss of faith in the vitality and capacities of the proletariat, joined with [2] an unhesitating denunciation of the essential principles of Marxism and social democracy, [3] this desire to achieve quick results by utilizing the full force of political power but without undertaking structural changes, [4] this need to come to terms with the existing social order because one has come to regard it as natural and immutable, [5] this replacement of Marxism by a planned, organized, rationalized system of economy, led through a natural inner logic, to fascism.  Thus, in the thirties, fascism often appeared to be the only system of thought that answered to the logic of the twentieth century.

 

Only a very subtle quodlibet or pilpulistic argument could possibly explain why Labor Zionism as described in The Founding Myths does not meet the five qualifications listed above.

[xxi] Zionists even attempt to delegitimize the name Palestine with the claim that the Romans applied the name Palestine as a punishment for the Judean.  Zionist behavior parallels the Greek attempt to deny Macedonia its name.  Egyptian texts commonly referred to the region as Peleset since the 12th century B.C.E. and probably since the 14th century.  Akkadian normally uses Palashtu for the region of Southern Syria encompassing modern Palestine.  In a few rare cases one can find Egyptian and Akkadian texts that refer to Israel, but usage of the term is rare.  Palestine and Canaan are probably functional synonyms because many of the original Sea People (Peleset) immigrants to Southern Syria probably identified themselves as merchants that would provide services related to trade.  A 1st C.E. Samaritan inscription (Strugnell, “Quelque inscriptions samaritaines,” 562) locates Mount Gerizim in Palestine (פלשתים ארץ).  I often wonder about the founders of Hebron/El-Khalil.  The archeology of the region and the associated mythology suggests that the shrine was originally an oracular cave dedicated to Poseidan or Set also known locally in Canaan as Ab Rahab (Father of the Sea Monster).  Peleset settlers could easily have founded the city.  Another problem in the use of Biblical terminology for ancient peoples comes from the Egyptian use of Denyen as a synonym for Peleset.  Denyen is probably related to the Biblical Dan as well as to mythological Danaos.  The Hebrew and Greek Bibles’ nomenclature is most likely an Orwellian attempt to cast the history of the region into a mold to legitimize the authority of the Persian Judaean and then the succeeding Hellenistic Judean elites.  The techniques of political legitimization by manipulating the vocabulary have not changed very much in the past two millennia, and racist settler colonists today try to control basic terminology and definitions in order to justify their actions and claims.

[xxii] Unlike the racist Eastern European Ashkenazi colonists, who were only interested in increasing Jewish population as part of their demographic war against the native population, Palestinians aided Armenian victims of genocide.  If racist Ashkenazim had not been in the process of stealing Palestine from the native population, Arabs would probably have been more than willing to assist Jewish refugees that were fleeing Europe.  Here are some two articles from Haaretz that discuss Armenian refugees in Palestine.

The unseen village -- Haaretz May 15, 2003

Not known to many, but forever remembered by its former residents - the story of the Armenian village Sheikh Brak is one of Israeli ambivalence toward the Armenian Holocaust.

Sara Leibovich-Dar

Every few weeks, Naomi Nalbandian travels to the abandoned Armenian village of Sheikh Brak, near Atlit. As a child, she lived there for just one year, but she still misses it. "As the years go by, the abandonment of the village saddens me more and more," she says. "If I'd have been older then, I would have fought with all my might against the abandonment and tried to get other Armenians to join the struggle."

Last week, on the eve of Independence Day, Nalbandian, a nurse in the rehabilitation department of Hadassah University Hospital on Mount  Scopus, lit one of the ceremonial torches on Mount Herzl. She wanted to mention the Armenian holocaust during the ceremony. In 1915-16, about 1.5 million people were killed in the Armenian genocide carried out during the time of the Ottoman Empire. The organizer of the ceremony - the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport's "Merkaz Hahasbara" (Center of Information) - pressured Nalbandian to do no more than allude to the genocide.

Turkey continues to deny responsibility for the annihilation of the Armenians and contends that the number killed was much smaller. And, apparently, the diplomatic, economic and defense-related ties between Israel and Turkey are too important to endanger with even an indirect reference to another people's holocaust. Nalbandian gave in, and the process also sapped her energy to fight for permission to mention the other ethnic trauma: that of the abandonment of Sheikh Brak.

In 1920, a few dozen Armenians who had fled Turkey to escape the massacres settled near Atlit. A Christian Arab landowner leased them the village lands. When he fled to Lebanon in 1948, the lands were appropriated and distributed to the kibbutzim in the area.

"Your state and mine deceived them and took all the land from them," says former agriculture minister Pesach Grupper, an Atlit resident who once employed the Armenians in his fields. Not only was the land taken away from them, their village was not connected to the electricity grid and did not have proper sewage. "But they were content. That's their way," says Grupper. One after the other, the young people married and left the village. The last Armenians left Sheikh Brak in 1981, after receiving compensation from the Israel Lands Administration (ILA). Each family was given what amounts to about $40,000 in today's terms. "But to whom does the state pay big sums?" asks Grupper. "It was their fate," explains Aryeh Simhoni, head of the Hof Hacarmel regional council. "It was from heaven. If I were religious, I'd say it was with God's help. What was the name of that village again? Mubarak?"

Nalbandian's grandparents arrived in Sheikh Brak in 1948. They had fled the slaughter in Turkey in 1915 and wandered through Syria and Lebanon before settling in Kafr Yasif in the early 1920s. In 1948, they moved to Sheikh Brak. Nalbandian's mother was 16 at the time and taught the village children Armenian, English and Arabic. "There were 15 children learning in one room that was divided into six classes," her mother recalls. At age 25, she married and moved to Haifa, where her daughter Naomi was born. Naomi was sent to school in the village for one year. "I gave her to my parents for a little while so I could work at a factory in Acre," says her mother. Naomi Nalbandian became very attached to the village: "It was a wonderful place for kids, a whole world unto itself. To this day, it pains me to think about the village. Whenever I go to visit my mother in Haifa, I pass by and get all emotional remembering how we celebrated the Armenian holidays there. Even after I returned to Haifa, I went there every weekend and during every summer vacation. It's a shame that it ended the way it did. We gave up too easily. We didn't realize that we were losing the only Armenian village in Israel."

"No one forced us to leave," says Salfi Morjalian of Haifa, who was born in Sheikh Brak and lived there until she was 12. "But, politically, they tried to make it hard on us so we wouldn't be able to stay there. We didn't have electricity or running water or a sewage system. We did our business outside - each family found a far-off, hidden spot to do it in." Walking around the remains of the abandoned village, she points out a space surrounded by cacti: "That was our bathroom. We bathed in basins with water that was heated on coal ovens. If they'd provided us with the basic things, we never would have left."

"If we still lived there today, we'd be staging demonstrations and going to the press," says Eli (Yeriya) Lafajian of Jaffa, who was born and raised in Sheikh Brak and left in the 1960s after he married.

"I don't know who was supposed to have seen to it that we got electricity. The electric company wanted a lot of money and our parents didn't have the money to pay them to get attached to the grid. Our parents were timid. They were afraid to cause trouble. They also asked us, the younger ones, not to speak out. They thought that it was forbidden to make a fuss against the authorities."

Lafajian says that the younger generation had to adapt to the lifestyle whether they liked it or not: "In Haifa, I attended a Christian school where my classmates were the children of French diplomats. I never invited them to visit me at home because I didn't want them to see how I lived."

Without electricity, they couldn't keep food refrigerated. "When we bought meat in Haifa, we had to cook it that same day so it wouldn't go bad," says Lafajian. "After many years without running water, we were hooked up to the water system of Kibbutz Neveh Yam, but the water we received was salty. We got used to drinking this water, but whenever guests came, they couldn't drink it. When I got engaged and my wife, who was from Jaffa, came to visit me in the village, she brought bottles of water along with her in the car."

Yosef Katrian of Haifa, who was born in the village in 1943 and lived there until he married and moved away in the 1960s, recalls troubled ties with the surrounding kibbutzim.

"We worked just for bread," he says. "We never managed to make money. We had an arrangement with the neighboring Neveh Yam. We grew melons and watermelons on their land, but all we got from it in the end was food for the cows. They said it didn't bring in any money."

These things happen

At Kibbutz Neveh Yam, they're not pleased to hear such criticism. "We had a lot of sympathy and compassion for the Armenians," says Nurit Bruner, a kibbutz native who is also the kibbutz secretary. "As kids, we would walk over to visit there, but we couldn't get too close because the dogs were always barking." Were the kibbutzniks comfortable with the fact that they worked for you and then returned home to their village where they had no electricity?

Bruner: "Think what kind of electricity they had then on the kibbutz. Everyone was unfortunate then. Am I supposed to be responsible for who has electricity in this country? What does that have to do with us? Really - are we the state authorities? Why do you think we ought to have been bothered about whether they had electricity? Those were the rugged, early days of building the state."

In the 1970s?

"We couldn't worry about the surroundings. Maybe some kibbutzim could, but not Neveh Yam. If the people that helped them in Neveh Yam could rise up from their graves, they would slap you. If there was anything there at all, it was thanks to us." Shlomo Kahal of Neveh Yam is familiar with the water problems the Armenians faced: "In the Zionist Archives, I found a document in which the village mukhtar asked the Palestine Jewish Colonization Association [PICA] for permission to be hooked up to the water pipes. From us, they got water from the same place that we drank from. We also had salty water. They worked here in our cannery, but we didn't know about their living conditions. They were quite distant."

The short access road to the village, off of the old Tel Aviv-Haifa road, passed through a part of Kibbutz Ein Carmel, but the kibbutzniks there weren't pleased by this bit of traffic to and from the village, so they blocked the way. The villagers and their visitors then had no choice but to travel by way of Atlit, over a rough dirt road. When the highway was later paved right by their houses, a bridge was built over it so they could continue to use the dirt road from Atlit.

"Personally, as the kibbutz coordinator, I helped them," says Aryeh Simhoni. "I let them come onto our lands. We gave them hay and straw. They didn't have anything. We just gave them ma'aser [the 10th of the crop yield left as a tithe for the poor], and we did so generously. We connected them to a water line. They didn't need any more. They lived in poverty like an 18th-century village in the remote reaches of Armenia." Maybe their life could have been different with a little more help from you.

Simhoni: "Why should we have done more than we did? Do you know the State of Israel or did you just land here yesterday? How was I supposed to give them an electricity line?"

"Was our situation any better?" Pesach Grupper asks rhetorically. "Electricity only came to Atlit in 1924." The Armenians had no electricity until 1981.

Grupper: "The effendi brought them so they would work the land. They were content with their lives. That's their way. They didn't have rights because they were tenant farmers."

Freer than the kibbutzniks

On the outskirts of the village lies the grave of Sheikh Brak, for whom the village was originally named; the Armenians refer to it as "the Armenian village" or Atlit. The first settlers arrived in the early 1920s. After fleeing Turkey, the survivors of the genocide passed through Lebanon, where they met a Lebanese effendi, Anton Hamouda, who proposed that they work his lands as tenant farmers.

Osna Katrian of Haifa is from one of the first families who came to the village. She was born in Sheikh Brak in 1931 and remembers a very hard life there. "We drew water from the well. There was no road. We went everywhere with carts and donkeys. We only studied for a few years in a little school in the village with teachers who came from Cyprus to teach us Armenian. At 15, I was doing cleaning work for farmers at Atlit and at 17, I went to work in the cannery on Kibbutz Neveh Yam. I didn't have a choice."

The hardships of daily life were compounded by the grief over all those lost in Turkey. During World War I, the Ottoman rulers ordered that the Armenians be cleared away from the regions where battles were being fought with Russia, because they were supposedly collaborating with the Russians. The Ottomans paved the way for the expulsion with a mass arrest of Armenian leaders. Six hundred were killed in one day - April 24, 1915, which has been designated as the anniversary of the Armenian genocide. The mass expulsion of the Armenians was accompanied by methodical
massacres. The authorities gave the exiles no protection and allowed the Kurds, through whose territory their convoys passed, to attack them. The Armenian men who survived were conscripted into labor brigades while their families were imprisoned in concentration camps. The Turkish government denies all this: It says that the Armenians were not murdered in an organized and methodical fashion, but transferred out of war zones for the purpose of resettlement.

"My mother talked about it all the time," says Osna Katrian. "She was seven when her family escaped. She told horror stories about a relative whose hands were cut off by the Turks. They put his hand on a plate and told him to eat it."

In Salfi Morjalian's family, the mourning was less overt. "My grandfather lost his entire family," she says. "He didn't have any brothers or sisters left, not a single one, and he didn't know anything about them - what happened to them and how they died. It was very hard for him to talk about them. He wanted to start a new chapter in his life and we didn't want to disturb him. They didn't talk about it. When I hesitantly asked him to tell me what happened - I saw a tear in his eye and dropped it and went outside. They didn't want to pass the pain onto us, but it's hereditary. It hurts just to think that they went through such things. You sometimes hear their stories and then you say to yourself, my God, how could this have happened." Their childhood was special because of what happened to their people, says Morjalian. "Our parents were very caring and protective of us, maybe too much. They worked very hard but they wouldn't let us do anything, except collect eggs from the chicken coops. We didn't feel that it was hard here. They tried to provide us with everything we needed and they didn't complain, despite all the hardships. They made do with what there was and always said that having been through the worst, what they had now was enough for them. For someone who has lost his entire family, when he gets a plot of land with a garden - he thinks it's paradise. It's enough that they're still alive. For them, that's everything. Here they felt that they could finally live in peace without anyone bothering them."

Miriam Lafajian is still afraid of the Turks. She refused to have her picture taken lest the Turks identify her and harm her if she passes through Turkey on the way to a visit in Armenia. Lafajian came to Sheikh Brak with her parents in 1940, after years in which the family wandered from place to place. "Many people from my parents' village in Turkey were slaughtered," she says, sitting in her small apartment in Haifa. "My parents talked a lot about the holocaust. They described how the Turks came into the Armenians ' homes, dissected their bodies and took out their hearts. They saw Turks pour gasoline on Armenians and then clap their hands while the Armenians burned. In many villages, the Turks killed all the Armenians, and even their cats and dogs, too. In the village, at night, when they finished their work, the older people would sit around in a circle and talk about the holocaust."

In 1947, Lafajian's parents and about half of the village's residents immigrated to Armenia, then a Soviet republic. "They said that they were Armenians and that Armenia was the only place where they could feel Armenian," says the daughter, who remained behind in Sheikh Brak, married and had three children. "Despite the hardships, life here was good. We were all one big family. We put on plays in Armenian. Our parents only knew Turkish, because in Turkey they were forbidden to speak in Armenian. Here, the children learned Armenian freely. There were no thefts. Doors were always left open. We were freer than the kibbutzniks, who had to eat in the dining hall at set hours. To this day, I still dream about Atlit, about the landscape there - with the sea on one side and the Carmel on the other."

Lafajian and her husband spent seven years working Pesach Grupper's fields. "All of the Armenians worked there. The land was his and we grew vegetables," she says.

Grupper has a slightly different recollection. "We didn't have any special connection with them," he says. "They weren't regular workers. They worked and left."

Continuation of The unseen village -- Haaretz, May 16, 2003

They were tenant farmers

The Armenians remained neutral in the 1948 War of Independence. Grupper: "The Haganah [pre-state Jewish militia] asked our elders to talk to the Arab elders to convince them to surrender. There were two meetings between the Arab and Jewish elders in the Armenian village. Nothing came out of it."

In 1948, the 800 dunams (200 acres) of the effendi Hamouda were declared "abandoned property" and divided up between Kibbutz Neveh Yam and Kibbutz Ein Carmel. "They took the lands from them right away," says Grupper. "No, no - there wasn't any reason to let them keep the lands. They lived there because they were tenant farmers. What justice do you want there to be after the war? There were 17 Arab villages around Atlit and they were all evicted. They went to hell and the Arabs had registration certificates from the [land authorities]. The Armenians had nothing."

In January 1956, Haaretz reporter Ze'ev Schiff visited the Armenian village and described the residents' attempts to obtain possession of some of the lands. "The village elders sent tolerant letters of explanation to the heads of the state two years ago and, again, eight months ago," Schiff wrote. "They are still eagerly awaiting an answer that has not come. They have a natural right to demand leased land for their livelihood from the development authority. They tried to do this once, but also never got any answer. `I'd go to your government,' says George Andrikian, the village headman, `but I don't know Hebrew and anyway only important people go to the government offices. With 30 dunams [7.5 acres] for each family, we could live honorably and we'd be deeply and sincerely grateful to the State of Israel.'"

Aryeh Simhoni of Ein Carmel has no problem with the fact that his kibbutz received hundreds of dunams of land that the Armenians had worked for 30 years. "They were tenant farmers. It wasn't theirs," he says.

Dr. Sandy Kedar of the Sephardi Democratic Rainbow Coalition says that even though they were tenant farmers, the state could have given the Armenians a lease on favorable terms, even without a tender: "The situation in the field could have been legalized. This happened in sectors that were close to the centers of power, and the state could have been more egalitarian and done the same for them. Even if their rights to the land were weak, the fact that they spent so many years there should have been considered in a more just allocation. They didn't have to be discriminated against in this way. The land could have been leased to them. People who live on the land for many years can even get it without a tender and with `discounts.' It's still not too late. They could try to do something about it even now."

Dreams of return

Ten years ago, a group of people who were born in Sheikh Brak organized in an attempt to return to the village. "It didn't work out," says Eli Lafajian. "We should have gotten all the permits at the beginning. If they'd let us go back, we all would."

In order to maintain their connection with the village, the Armenians continued to bury their dead in the small, neglected cemetery in the village.

"They came at night and buried their dead in the village and in the morning, they asked me what I thought about it," says Simhoni. "I said that it was their right, though it's not an official cemetery." But someone else did asks the Armenians not to bury their dead in a place that didn't belong to them, and they have since stopped doing it.

Morjalian visits the village every week. She knows every stone in the abandoned place. "The stones speak to me," she says, picking her way among the ruins. A few mounds of stones are all that attest to the village that once stood here. "An ordinary person couldn't understand much from these stones. I look at them and in my mind I see a vivid picture of how our house looked." She caresses one of the stones and says that it was part of the porch, "and here's the stone to which they tied my father's cow," she adds, pointing out another one.

She misses the village very much. "We still feel that it's ours. Here we had a warm family. Here we had a little Armenia. The State of Israel would have benefited too had we remained here. The village would have attracted Armenian tourists from all over the world, who would have come to see the only Armenian village in Israel. When my husband and I and our two kids want to go to the beach, we always find ourselves at the beach that was once that of the village. Someone who doesn't know the place would never find it. We come here to pick sabras and raspberries and every year we bring a priest to the cemetery to perform a memorial service at the grave of our grandfather, who died in 1971 and is buried here."

Six years ago, Morjalian restored her grandfather's grave. The 25 graves in the small cemetery are covered with such high weeds that they are practically impossible to find. "If we hadn't fixed up my grandfather's grave, no one would know that people are buried here," she says. Something keeps pulling her back to the place. "I can't tear myself away from it. Maybe it's the happy childhood memories that keep drawing me here. My sons also know every stone here."

But you didn't make any special effort to come back here to live.

Morjalian: "We learned to keep quiet. It's ingrained in us - to keep quiet and carry on. After we saw the worst that could happen, the slaughter of a million Armenians, we don't complain about anything."

Her brother, Michael Katrian, says that every time he comes back to the village, it gives him chills: "I feel as if there are still people here and someone is saying: Come back, come visit, don't forget. It hurts. It still hurts when I recall my childhood here. I smell the aroma of the bread baking in the village ovens, remember the special breakfasts in the village. In the summer, we always ate figs in a pita. We hunted rabbits and at night we hunted porcupines. I'd run around on the mountains from morning till night. I'm 40 now and I feel like my childhood in the village was the high point of my life. This childhood has been erased. They destroyed my memories when they destroyed the village. I was a young boy when we left. I didn't know that we'd been tricked, that they'd taken advantage of our parents' innocence. If I'd been older, I wouldn't have left. I would have fought to stay here."

A little Armenian autonomy

At the Armenian club in the lower section of Haifa, the young people's eyes light up when the name Sheikh Brak is mentioned. They've all been there. Some had relatives who lived there. Others used to go on club field trips there every summer. Even though decades have passed since it was abandoned, for the young Armenians in Haifa, the village is still the subject of dreams.

"It was like a little Armenia, with the Armenian language, Armenian dances, Armenian weddings and Armenian music," they say.

"If only I could perpetuate what used to be there and was stopped," says Eddy Lafajian, 24, who was born in the village and left with his family when he was just a year old. "It was like a little autonomous Armenia. We were all together. It was something that belonged to us - a positive ghetto that united us and kept us wrapped up together."

The last elderly villagers abandoned the place in 1981. Miriam Lafajian remembers how the kibbutzniks from Ein Carmel came to the village and took their wooden carts. "I don't know what they did with them. Maybe they wanted them for souvenirs."

Ori Raz of Ein Carmel remembers the Armenians' last day in the village. "They took their things and went. There was a fear that people would come to settle in the houses they left behind. The next day, tractors came and flattened the area."

Morjalian says it pained her greatly to learn that the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem gave its consent for the village church to be razed as well. She points to a row of stones not far from the small mound that was once her grandfather's house. "The church was there. The Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem used to send us a priest to baptize the babies and perform weddings. There was a small plaza next to the church where they would set up tables with refreshments for festive events. I think that such places should be preserved."

George Hintlian, a Jerusalem historian who was the secretary of the Armenian Patriarchate in the 1980s: "It was a small church made of tin. What happened with Sheikh Brak is a natural sociological development. We are not a rural population. The Armenians are urban. We live in Jaffa, Jerusalem, Haifa and Nazareth. The village was a refuge for survivors of the holocaust. When they received compensation for their houses, the were drawn to the city."

"They took the money and thought it would solve all their problems," says Michael Katrian, whose relatives were among the last to leave the village. "But it was the biggest mistake of their lives. It didn't bring them any advancement. The money was barely enough for them to get small, crowded apartments in Haifa for key money, and some even had to take a mortgage to buy apartments with key money. They'd been deceived. Instead of leaving, they should have fought to stay."

Had they tried to fight, the battle would have been against agriculture minister Ariel Sharon, who was responsible for the ILA. Sharon's close associate, Yaakov Aknin, was appointed director of the ILA in 1978. "I am absolutely certain that they received adequate compensation," says Aknin. "Who said they had to use the money to buy an apartment in Haifa? They got what they deserved according to a fair and thorough appraiser's estimate. If they'd gone to court, they would have gotten less. We were very generous. We paid cash in full for the land at the market prices of the time."

They say they were not given their due.

Aknin: "That's what the value of their property was. They received the full value. Today it might be a national problem for them, but then it was just about land. Maybe in another 50 years, they'll regret having left even more, but that's really absurd."

Ownership of the hilltop that was once a village is presently shared by the Jewish Agency, which commands the wooded area and the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority, which has turned the rest of the area into a nature reserve. The authority admits that the place doesn't contain much of exceptional interest, "just some plants that are typical of the coastal plain, like the coastal sand-lily."

"One of the problems I have with the place is that people from all around dump garbage on the hill," says Simhoni, the current head of the regional council. "There's no limit to Jewish barbarism."

`I got the message across'

Naomi Nalbandian is the first Armenian ever invited to light a torch on Independence Day eve. "I hesitated at first," she says. "I live in East Jerusalem and I didn’t know if it was safe enough for me to light a torch. I also wasn’t sure if they’d let me maintain my Armenian identity. After consulting with my husband, I agreed, but I told Merkaz Hahasbara that I wanted to say that I’m a third-generation survivor of the Armenian holocaust, just as every Jewish Holocaust survivor would talk about that."

It was agreed that at the ceremony, Nalbandian would say that she is "a third-generation survivor of the Armenian holocaust of 1915." That’s what it said by her name in the original program (of which 2,500 copies were distributed), says Nalbandian.

"But in the afternoon, during the break in rehearsals, when we were eating lunch in the Knesset, some people from the center informed me that this text was causing them problems, that they had been notified of this by the Prime Minister’s Office, the ministerial committee responsible for the ceremony and the Turkish ambassador and that if I insisted on going ahead as planned, it could cause a crisis with Turkey.

"I told them that if the word 'holocaust' causes so many problems, I wouldn't mind saying 'genocide' instead. They didn’t respond to that, but when we returned to the hotel, I saw that there was a different text by my name that did not use the words 'holocaust' or 'genocide,' and said only that my grandparents had come here in 1915. I refused to go along with that. They didn’t come here as tourists. They were holocaust survivors. I insisted that the word 'survivors' and the year 1915 be included in the text, so that even if the word 'holocaust' wasn’t mentioned, everyone would know what was being referred to."

After she made her position clear, a new text was written for Nalbandian. At the ceremony, she said that she is the daughter of the long-suffering Armenian people and that her grandmother and grandfather were "survivors of historical Armenia, 1915, who came and settled in a village near Haifa."


"I managed to get the message across," she says. "But I’m disappointed that they didn’t let me express my identity. I saw that it’s all politics."

"What’s the problem?" asks Doron Shochat, the director of Merkaz Hahasbara. "We proposed something, she proposed something, and we had a polite and civilized discussion about it. It’s a shame that people are focusing on insignificant issues."

The State of Israel caving in to Turkish pressure and becoming a "holocaust denier" is an insignificant issue?

Shochat: "We were approached by Danny Naveh, the chairman of the ministerial committee in charge of ceremonies, and by Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin. They asked us and we were glad to accede to their request. Everything was done fairly and through civilized negotiations. She didn’t have to take part in the ceremony if she didn’t want to. She is the one who chose not to give up the honor. In the end, this whole story is for the glory of the State of Israel."

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin: "Our relations with the Turks are such that we have to weigh carefully whether to challenge them on the Armenian issue right now. We faced a difficult moral dilemma. I consulted with Shimon Peres who told me to tell this woman that it was inappropriate to insert political matters into the Israeli Independence Day ceremony. We didn’t deny the Armenian holocaust, but we didn’t mention it in a clear and unequivocal manner, because this is a subject that is crucial to the Turks. But I know that I’ll be criticized no matter what answer I give."

[xxiii] Hitler’s Professors describes the rôle German scholars and academics played in legitimizing the Nazi program.  Do Zionist, Jewish and American professors recapitulate the behavior of German professors in the first half of the 20th century?  Do they work for the accommodation of completely outrageous Zionist ideas and programs by the American public?

Hans Kohn, Robert Weltsch, George Mosse, Howard Sachar, Martin Gilbert, Isaiah Berlin, Leo Strauss, Max Weinreich, Walter Laqueur, Arthur Hertzberg, Ruth Wisse, Bernard Lewis, Martin Cramer, Anita Shapira, Jehuda Reinharz, Samantha Power and many others provide numerous examples of academic falsification, misrepresentation, omission and sometimes outright racism in their scholarly work.  Weinreich includes fairly standard Zionist demonization of Arabs right in Hitler’s Professors and become an example of precisely the same sort of scholarly malfeasance that he condemns.

[xxiv] Many of the genomic studies that are referenced at Russian Jewish Genetics - DNA, genes, cohen, kohen, Jews look very much like Nazi racial science.  Given the abstract Nazi nature of Revisionist ideology and the total incorporation of the Nazi Umvolkung program into Zionism, it is not surprising that such genetic anthropology research in support of Zionist myths began to appear when archeologists began to express doubts about the existence of the patriarchs, Moses and whether the Exodus ever occurred.  Some of the data may be valid.  Comparison populations almost never are, and most of the conclusion are unwarranted or couched in language to suggest more than they say.

 

[xxv] The Polish Ashkenazi jurist and genocide survivor Raphael Lemkin created a definition of genocide as part of the attempt to found an international legal regime to criminalize genocide.


Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. [Just what Golda Meir wanted, viz the Golda videoclip.] The objectives of such a plan would be the disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups. Genocide is directed against the national group as an entity, and the actions involved are directed against individuals, not in their individual capacity but as members of a national group.


Cited in "Beyond the 1948 Convention -- Emerging principles of Genocide in Customary International Law," Maryland Journal of International Law and Trade, vol. 17, no. 2, Fall 1993, pp. 193-226.

There is no reasonable doubt that Lemkin meant to include all instances of Umvolkung whether Nazi or Zionist in his definition. Lemkin explicitly stated as Peter Novick points out in The Holocaust in American Life that this definition applies to expulsions of Ostdeutsch populations in the aftermath of WW2. 

From Definition of Democide (Genocide and Mass Murder)

In 1946 the United Nations General Assembly recognized that "genocide is a crime under international law which the civilized world condemns, and for the commission of which principles and accomplices are punishable." Then two years later the General Assembly made this concrete. It passed the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This international treaty, eventually signed by well over a majority of states, affirms that genocide is a punishable crime under international law, and stipulates the meaning of genocide to be any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: 

a.        Killing members of the group;

b.        Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

c.         Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

d.        Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

e.         Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

There is no valid reason why there is no mention of the Zionist treatment of Palestinians in A Problem from Hell, America and the Age of Genocide, by Samantha Power.

[xxvi] It would be hard to inject more false, misleading or offensive comments than the Connect to Today above has.

Zionism was a belief of only a very tiny essentially non-Jewish Ashkenazi minority in the late 1800s.  The horrors of Nazism were unrelated to the reasons the Soviets and the Americans supported the partition proposal.  The Soviets wanted the British out of the Middle East, and Truman wanted to win the 1948 election. The vast majority of Jewish DPs (Displaced Persons) had no interest in migrating to Palestine.  Most of the Ashkenazi settler colonists in Palestine had no desire to remain there. The Ashkenazim did not regain a homeland; Zionist Ashkenazim stole the homeland of another people.

All Abrahamic religions consider Palestine a place where important spiritual events happened long ago, but this belief is unrelated to modern nationalism either in the Western European civil or voluntary form or in the Central and Eastern European organic nationalist form.

Hobsbawm (one of the pre-eminent scholars of nationalism) describes the actual situation of Jewish communities right up to the Nazi persecutions on pp. 47-8 of Nations and Nationalism Since 1780 (Program, Myth, Reality).

To take only two obvious examples.  Until 1945, and vestigially to this day, speakers of German dialects whose elites used the standard written German language of culture, have been settled not only in their main region of central Europe, but as classes of rulers, as townsmen and in patches of peasant settlement all over eastern and southeastern Europe, not to mention small colonies forming a generally religious diaspora in the Americas.  They were scattered in a series of waves of conquest, migration and colonization from the eleventh to the eighteenth century as far east as the lower Volga. (We omit the rather different phenomenon of nineteenth-century migration.) All of them certainly regarded themselves as in some sense 'German' as distinct from other groups among whom they lived.  Now while there was often friction between local Germans and other ethnic groups, notably where the Germans monopolized certain crucial functions, e.g. as a landed ruling class in the Baltic area, I know of no case before the nineteenth century where a major political problem arose because these Germans found themselves living under non-German rulers.  Again, while the Jews, scattered throughout the world for some millennia, never ceased to identify themselves, wherever they were, as members of a special people quite distinct from the various brands of non-believers among whom they lived, at no stage, at least since the return from the Babylonian captivity, does this seem to have implied a serious desire for a Jewish political state, let alone a territorial state, until a Jewish nationalism was invented at the very end of the nineteenth century by analogy with the newfangled Western nationalism.  It is entirely illegitimate to identify the Jewish links with the ancestral land of Israel, the merit deriving from pilgrimages there, or the hope of return there when the Messiah came - as he so obviously had not come in the view of the Jews - with the desire to gather all Jews into a modern territorial state situated on the ancient Holy Land.  One might as well argue that good Muslims, whose highest ambition is to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, in doing so really intend to declare themselves citizens of what has now become Saudi Arabia.

For a probably genuine classical period (probably Roman Silver Age) attitude of Judean sages toward any sort of Judean identity other than religious, I cite Rabbi in So. 49b "amar rabbi beerets yisrael leshon sursi lamah o leshon haqodesh o leshon yewanit" or R. Joseph BQ 83a "amar rab yosef bevavel leshon arami lamah o leshon haqodesh o leshon parsi," i.e., Hebrew for spiritual matters but Greek or Persian for all other intellectual expression.  Thus, the neo-orthodoxy of Samson Raphael Hirsch has far more basis in Jewish intellectual tradition than Zionism.  In Hirsch’s formulation, German Jews in Germany were supposed to be Germans nationally and should renounce all cultural distinction from their fellow German citizens – there was not much -- just as German Catholics or German Protestants were supposed to be.  I believe that there is an implicit criticism of the Kulturkampf between German Catholics and German Protestants in Hirsch’s writings.

[xxvii] Bias is not confined to the movie industry.  If one watches the 1948 newsreels shown in the USA, one would never know that Zionists assassinated Volke Bernadotte, and the coverage has become consistently more biased ever since.  The international press never uncovered the true story of Zionist ethnic cleansing in 1947-8 while the Israeli propaganda about aggression by the State of Israel in 1967 against its neighbors is still reported as fact.  From today’s media commentary on the Middle East, one would not have any clue to the magnitude of the hypocrisy of Israeli Jews and non-Israeli supporters of Zionism when they rail against Palestinian terrorism even though Jabotinsky advocated suicide attacks during the 30s, Zionists romanticized suicidal attacks for 40 years from the 1920s through the 1960s by means of a profound misinterpretation of Iosephos’ description of Sicarii at Masada and Elie Wiesel wrote the novel Dawn to justify Zionist terrorism and assassination.

[xxviii] The following passage is excerpted from Reel Bad Arabs by Jack G. Shaheen. 

Exodus (1960), United Artists, Otto Preminger Productions. Paul Newman, Eva Marie Saint. Screenplay: Dalton Trumbo. Director: Preminger. Based on Leon Uris’s novel.

In the 1950s, when Americans were largely apathetic about Israel, the eminent public relations consultant Edward Gottlieb was called on "to create a more sympathetic attitude" toward the newly established state. And so, he sent Leon Uris to Israel to write a novel, which became the bestseller Exodus. Art Stevens writes, "Uris’ novel solidified America’s impressions of Israelis as heroes, of Arabs as villains; it did more to popularize Israel with the American public than any other single presentation through the media."

Exodus introduced filmgoers to the Arab-Israel conflict, and peopled it with heroic Israelis and sleazy, brutal Arabs, some of whom link up with ex-Nazis. The movie’s only "good Arab" becomes a dead Arab.

Zionist organizations such as Irgun tried to end the British occupation of Palestine through a campaign of attacks, for example, bombing the King David Hotel. Under such pressure, Britain handed the problem off to the UN, and the UN simply handed more than half of Arab-owned Palestinian land for the Zionists to establish a Jewish state. Throughout the film, Jewish nationalists are tagged "freedom fighters"—though with the tables turned today, films follow the Israeli and US governments in denying this label to Palestinian "terrorists" trying similarly to end the Israeli occupation.

Likewise, the film’s British, unlike the real British, seem more concerned about Arab than Jewish violence. A British solider tells an Israeli youth, "Don’t wander into the Arab section. Run into one of the [Jerusalem] Grand Mufti’s gangsters [and] they’ll kill you, son. They’ll slice your throat." A British General declares, "The Arabs simply won’t keep the peace... The Arabs are fanatic on the subject of Jewish immigration."

At no time does a character reveal that Jewish troops are terrorizing Palestinians, forcing them from their homes. Ari’s father Barak (Cobb) addresses Jews, saying, "[We] changed these mosquito-infested swamps into such [fertile] fields. On a quiet night you can hear the corn grow... The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem has asked you [Palestinians] to either annihilate the Jewish population or abandon your homes, and your land, and seek the weary path of exile. We [Jews] implore you, remain in your homes and we shall work together as equals in the state of Israel." Ari echoes his father’s advice, telling the crowd: "Now, we’ll be equal citizens in the free state of Israel. Why should they [the Palestinians] go anywhere. This is their home as well as ours. Don’t you see, we have to prove to the world that we can get along together?"

Never spoken in this movie are these words: "Palestinian," "Palestinian Arab," "Palestinian village," "Palestinian state." Instead, Exodus Jews, Arabs, and Westerners say: "Arab," "Arab village," and "independent Arab state." On two occasions, the phrase "Palestinian Jews" is mentioned.

In 1937, two-plus decades prior to Exodus, the Ray Film Company’s, The Holy Oath, a Yiddish language film with English subtitles advanced a similar "good" Jews and "bad" Arabs theme. Screened in New York City, The Holy Oaths objective was not so much to entertain audiences, rather to muster viewers’ support for a worldwide Jewish movement to gain and rebuild Palestine. To engage viewers, The Holy Oath shows Arabs, not Jews, at Jerusalem’s wailing wall. Throughout The Holy Oath, the Jewish protagonist declares that God gave this land [Palestine], flowing with milk and honey, to the people of Israel. To illustrate, footage selectively displays Bedouins roaming the sterile cities of Hebron and Jerusalem. Even Eleanor Roosevelt thought the Palestinians were all nomads, so she believed there would be no problems evicting Palestinians from their homes.

[xxix] Ever since Schindler’s List American movie and television audiences have been subjected to a blizzard of Holocaust films.  Many and maybe most make the point that the Holocaust provides (ex post facto and anticausal) legitimacy both for Zionism and also for the definition or consolidation of Israel as a racist Jewish state.  At this point in time, a Holocaust film need not even make the legitimization argument explicitly.  Americans have been conditioned far more strongly than Pavlov’s dogs and immediately respond with obeisance to the legitimacy of the racist Jewish state at the barest mention of the Holocaust.  Barry Gewen in the following article from the Sunday, New York Times, June 15 asks, “Why do filmmakers have such an abiding interest in the Holocaust?”  I would have investigated whether the Holocaust documentary inundation relates to the struggle of Palestinians for freedom and justice during the intifadat al-aqsa. (See for pictures from some of the latest Holocaust documentaries.)

 

Margret Riegel

 

Universal Newsreel Czechs seeing their children off in "My Knees Were Jumping."

 

 

Cinema Guild A family that rescued a Jewish girl from "Secret Lives."

 

Holocaust Documentaries: Too Much of a Bad Thing?

By BARRY GEWEN

The turning point may have come in 1985 with "Shoah," Claude Lanzmann's nine-and-a-half-hour epic of death camp survivors, Nazi officials, Polish bystanders, righteous gentiles and meticulous historians hunched over aging documents. It marked — if it did not initiate — the moment when documentary filmmakers started giving their full attention to Hitler's planned extermination of the Jews. "When I began exploring how films have grappled with the Holocaust in 1979, there were merely a few dozen titles to warrant attention," Annette Insdorf writes in her encyclopedic study "Indelible Shadows: Film and the Holocaust." But for the book's third edition, published this year, she lists, together with the fiction films, 69 documentaries made since 1990 alone — a rate of almost one every two months. Elsewhere she estimates that there are at least six completed Holocaust documentaries that do not get distribution for every one that does. And the stream has continued at flood tide into 2003. Last month "Secret Lives," Aviva Slesin's emotionally complex film about Jewish children hidden by gentile families during the Nazi era, opened in New York. Shortly after, PBS showed Charles Guggenheim's "Berga: Soldiers of Another War," about Jewish-American soldiers captured by the Germans. "Bonhoeffer," Martin Doblmeier's intellectual, spiritually suffused account of the anti-Nazi German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, is opening on June 27, two days before A & E broadcasts Liz Garbus's "Nazi Officer's Wife," the biography of a Jewish woman who survived by assuming an Aryan identity and marrying a Nazi party member.

But simply listing these new films raises a troubling question: Are too many Holocaust documentaries now being made? Has supply outstripped demand? It's a question that makes people uncomfortable. Who would want to appear callous in the face of such suffering, or, worse, anti-Semitic? Yet there are definite signs of Holocaust fatigue. Perhaps because she is a survivor, Ms. Slesin is more forthright than most. "I can't bear to see evil over and over again," she says. "Even I roll my eyes when I hear about another Holocaust documentary" — but then she quickly adds, "until I see what it's about."

Stephen Feinstein, the director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota, has sat on a selection committee for a Jewish film festival when more than 15 Holocaust documentaries were submitted. With each year bringing still more films, he says, "you can't see them all." Many of the films have become formulaic, using the same German footage, the same static interviewing techniques. "Get out of the talking-head format," Mr. Feinstein advises. Raye Farr, the director of the Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, says that filmmakers are too often taking the easy way out, showing an "increasing inclination to go for sentimentality." With an undertone of exasperation in her voice, she says, "Crying is not very edifying."

Why do filmmakers have such an abiding interest in the Holocaust? In part, they are simply reflecting the extraordinary phenomenon that the Holocaust has become in American life. Publishers churn out books on the subject in voluminous numbers, state governments legislate the teaching of the Holocaust in public schools, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington greets millions of visitors each year. It would be odd if filmmakers didn't share this general fascination. And yet many of them feel a particular urgency about their work.

As the documentarian Joseph Dorman observed in a recent interview, anyone with a relative who went through the Holocaust has a "natural desire" to tell that story. Most of these films are made not for any commercial reason, and not really with an educational intent. They are works of moral witness.

Melissa Hacker's mother was a survivor of the Kindertransport, one of thousands of Jewish children from Germany and Austria who were sent to England in the months before the start of World War II. Ms. Hacker had grown up with the story, but there were many things her mother wouldn't talk about, "forbidden stuff." It was only when she set about making a documentary, "My Knees Were Jumping: Remembering the Kindertransports" (1995), that her mother opened up to her. The film, Ms. Hacker says, "was a way of learning more about my own family."

Such personal involvement can inspire intense dedication. Ms. Slesin took three and a half years to complete her film. Ms. Hacker, a first-time documentarian when she made "My Knees Were Jumping," required seven. Funding is always a problem. Sometimes, it seems that Holocaust documentaries have a lock on all the awards: they have won five Oscars over the last eight years. But their commercial prospects are generally slim, and rare is the investor willing to back a film almost guaranteed to be a box-office loser. (Ms. Slesin likes to think of her supporters as donors rather than investors.)

Most movie audiences want to be entertained; they don't want to dwell on the sealed boxcars, extermination camps and mounds of corpses that are the staples of the Holocaust narrative. There has been a tendency of late among documentary filmmakers to concentrate on the more "positive" side — gentiles who opposed Hitler or rescued victims; Jewish resisters in the Warsaw Ghetto and elsewhere; and of course the survivors themselves. These individuals are often presented as inspirational (although, with the millions of victims who are not here to go before the camera, there is nothing inspirational about the Holocaust). Even so, their stories don't readily win financial backing.

Independent filmmakers speak of "endless hours" of fund-raising, "a tremendous amount of scrambling." Even established institutions have trouble. Major archives exist for the express purpose of capturing the survivors on film. Yale's Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies has a collection of more than 4,000 testimonies. The Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, established by Steven Spielberg in 1994 following the success of "Schindler's List," is by far the largest. It houses more than 50,000 testimonies. Both the Fortunoff Archive and the Shoah Foundation have produced films using their collections, but they, too, have had to struggle to raise money. Douglas Greenberg, the president and C.E.O. of the Shoah Foundation, describes "banging with a tin cup" for outside support. "Steven doesn't pay all the bills," Mr. Greenberg says.

There is one grand exception to this rule of penury. Rabbi Marvin Hier, the founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, speaks with the confidence and ebullience of a man who knows he sits astride a well-oiled machine. The center has its own movie division, Moriah Films, and it turns out a film about once every two years (not all of them about the Holocaust). Two, "Genocide" and "The Long Way Home," have won Oscars. Unlike everyone else involved in making Holocaust documentaries, Rabbi Hier says raising money has been "very easy," and since 1989 Moriah Films has collected about $15 million. The minimum gift the center accepts is $100,000 spread over five years, and Hollywood celebrities like Orson Welles, Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Douglas have volunteered their services as narrators for the films. The scrambling documentarians clustered on the East Coast can only stare across the continent with envy at this odd coupling of Hollywood star power and the awesome atrocity of the Holocaust.

But rich or poor, every Holocaust documentarian is working the same territory, and some critics complain that the basic plot line of the Holocaust has become too familiar by now to permit genuinely original work. We all know it: first the arrival of the Nazis, then the initial terror, then the rounding up into ghettos, then the shipment to the camps, then the gassing and death or, alternatively, the humiliation, degradation, starvation, torture, gassing and death. And at this point, it seems, just about all that documentarians can do with the history is to fill in the gaps. The recently shown "Berga" is an example. It tells of 350 G.I.'s captured during the Battle of the Bulge who were Jewish or looked Jewish, and who were shipped off to a concentration camp to be slave laborers.

No one is suggesting that documentarians stop making Holocaust films. As Ms. Farr puts it, "There'll always be more to discover and understand." But Mr. Dorman, for one, believes it is time to pay more attention to the perpetrators. Film, he says, has proved "an ideal medium" for allowing the victims to tell their stories, but where, he wonders, are the far more complex stories of the criminals? Books have been written about them — Christopher R. Browning's "Ordinary Men" (1992), for example, has become an instant classic — yet filmmakers have exhibited a greater reluctance than historians to examine this aspect of the Holocaust. Perhaps they are fearful of humanizing the inhuman. Audiences, after all, feel a natural tendency to identify with the person on the screen.

Even the archivists shy away. Mr. Greenberg argues that the perpetrators "have had their say," and sees the Shoah Foundation's work as "redressing the balance." (Among its collections are 1,000 interviews with rescuers.) Besides, Mr. Greenberg says, "perpetrators aren't lining up to be interviewed." He's surely right. And yet one of the most gripping — and disturbing — moments in the foundation's own film "The Last Days" is an interview with a former Nazi doctor who participated in the human experiments at Auschwitz.

One way out of their box is for documentarians to cease being documentarians. Among the most astute commentators on the Holocaust is Lawrence L. Langer, the author of "Holocaust Testimonies" (1991) and several other works. He believes that the standard narrative has scarcely been exhausted, but that the individual experiences of the victims can most accurately be captured through fiction films. Mr. Feinstein seconds this view, saying that fiction films will "take over" because there's only so much you can show in a documentary. However, Mr. Langer is not optimistic. It requires great courage and imagination to make honest fiction films about the Holocaust, he says.

Mr. Langer praises the "raw reality" of Tim Blake Nelson's "Grey Zone," a dramatization of the Sonderkommando, the Jewish slaves forced to work in the gas chambers and crematoria of Auschwitz. It's an unrelenting film of ubiquitous terror and arbitrary death, with no consoling message. It opened and closed in New York City last year in a matter of days.

Perhaps the most fruitful avenue for documentarians at the present time is to follow the lead of the historians and broaden their canvas. Many scholars are now reaching beyond the standard Holocaust narrative to ask questions that require wider comparative and contextual analyses. Samantha Power, for instance, writes about "the age of genocide" in her book "A Problem From Hell." Institutions devoted to the Holocaust have also enlarged their perspective. The Holocaust Museum in Washington has run exhibits and programs on Sudan, Bosnia and Rwanda. Mr. Greenberg says the Shoah Foundation is looking to expand its range because "the pace of genocides has increased." He is confident that filmmakers are already moving in the same direction. "We will have documentaries about Rwanda in reasonably short order," he predicts.

The Holocaust will no doubt remain the defining atrocity of our time — for several reasons, good and bad — and a springboard for any discussion of mass extermination. But now it coexists with the slaughter of the Armenians, the malignity of the gulag, the autogenocide in Cambodia, the ethnic cleansings in the Balkans and the sanguinary tribal wars across Africa. For filmmakers interested in examining man's inhumanity to man or bringing it to public attention or simply bearing witness, there is no shortage of material.  

Barry Gewen is an editor at The New York Times Book Review.

[xxx] Peace without Beethoven (viz below) by Amnon Rubinstein makes all the usual nonsensical claims about alleged Arab anti-Semitism.  Faris bila Jawad certainly is not an expression of anti-Semitism, and from the standpoint of Arabs the Zionist movement certainly would appear to be an evil conspiracy dedicated to stealing Palestine from the native population.  Amnon Rubinstein is ignorant and incorrectly views the history of Jews in Egypt from the narrow, parochial and prejudiced perspective of Eastern European Ashkenazim.  Egyptian history textbooks rarely mention the religion of political figures especially in the context of Arab or Egyptian national politics.  While Zionist Eastern European Ashkenazim view the Ashkenazi Jewish identity as an ethnonational identity, Egyptian and Arabic Jews tended to perceive themselves as ethnonationally Egyptian or Arab just like other Egyptians and Arabs.  Arabic history textbooks correctly follow the perspective of their subjects and not the propaganda claims of Zionist Ashkenazim like Amnon Rubinstein.

Jews and Arabs don't have any common cultural heroes like Beethoven, left.
 "Ode to Joy," right, was the anthem for a new Europe. (AP)

Peace without Beethoven

By Amnon Rubinstein

When a despairing Israeli who lives in the hell of the Middle East meets a tranquil European who lives in the new Paradise, he hears comforting words: Look at that - even sworn enemies like Germany and France now live in peace. When peace reigns between Israel and its neighbors, all of the hatred will waft away like so much smoke. Based on the same comparison, there is also talk of a New Middle East, a regional Benelux.

Yet, is there any foundation  for such a comparison? The Europeans did, indeed, have to overcome the deep hatred that inflamed two horrific world wars, in which the blood of millions was spilled. But there is a fundamental difference: In spite of the bloodshed, a common cultural foundation in Europe remained intact. Besides the shared religious faith, due to which the two peoples sang the same cantatas about Jesus while the war raged, music written by German composers was being played in blitz-bombed London.

Dame Myra Hess played Bach, soloists sang Schubert and Mozart, and the opening notes of Beethoven's Fifth became the jingle of victory. The fact that the symbol of victory was borrowed from a German composer did not bother Churchill.

When the new Europe arose from the ruins, it chose as its anthem Beethoven's "Ode to Joy," set to Schiller's words, from the Ninth Symphony. Beethoven went from the composer of victory to the composer of peace. Beethoven is, then, the common cultural denominator, a unifying symbol of liberty and peace, standing as a beacon above the fire and blood of the battlefields.

Regrettably, Jews and Arabs do not have any common cultural heroes like Beethoven. Yes, they have a substitute: a history on which it would have been possible to build a true peace. They have a common patriarch - Abraham - and a common golden age and comparable folklore, too. The trouble is that, as with the usage of the holy writings, it is the political leaders who decide what to choose and which perspective - peace or war, love or hate - to accentuate.

The leaders of the Arab states, and particularly the leaders of Egypt after the signing of the peace treaty with Israel, could have found parallels to Beethoven if they wanted to. Instead, they chose to accentuate what divides the peoples, the hatred. The conflict with the Palestinians, partly due to mistakes made by Israel, fanned the flames of opposition to it. Instead of coming to terms with the existence of the Jewish state, the Arab countries offer not only a rejection of the very idea of such a state, but frightful anti-Semitic propaganda.

The most extreme example of this is the utter disregard for the role played by Jews in the Arab national liberation movements, in general, and in Egypt, in particular. This sort of common past could have provided a basis for fostering understanding between Israel and the Arab world. But Egypt did the complete opposite: In the Egyptian television series "Horseman Without a Horse," directed by Mohammed al-Sobhi, the Jews of Egypt are portrayed - even prior to Israel's establishment - through a Nazi perspective, as a group seeking to dominate the world, and whose punishment, except for the children, is death. The series entirely disregards the fact that six Jews, led by Felix Benzakein, were the leaders of the Egyptian Wafd party. Although Mubarak's diplomatic adviser Osama el-Baz and several Egyptian intellectuals roundly condemned the series, the leaders of the Arab state with which Israel signed a peace treaty failed to join the condemnation. They are going in the opposite direction to the European example. Even that which could have been common to Israel and the Arab world has become the pretext for a propaganda of hatred. The opposite of Beethoven, the opposite of Europe.

Does this mean there is no possibility of a settlement? No. All of the parties have a vital need for an end to the violence, and Israel needs an end to the occupation like oxygen to breathe. But the expectations should be realistic: not a European peace - at least at this stage - but a peace that would primarily be an end of the bloodshed and the start of coexistence in a Beethoven-less Middle East.

[xxxi] Because I have not had the time or resources fully to research the issues described in the following, the material below should be considered more a hypothesis of connections and relationships, but I have read a lot of the material available here in the Boston area, and I believe there is a good deal of support for the hypothesis, and the hypothesis suggests other areas of investigation (e.g., it helps explain the attitudes of people like Krauthammer toward affirmative action) and has -- I believe -- some predictive value.

I attended the following discussion at the Wellesley Hillel last semester. 

"Evangelical Christians, Jews and Israel." Speaker: Stephen Marini, religion. 12:30-1:30 pm, Hillel Lounge.   Sponsor: Hillel. Info: x4088. 

Marini makes the distinction between eschatological fundamentalists and chiliastic fundamentalists.   I call them apocalyptics and literalist fundamentalists. Apocalyptics believe that the End is immanent while literalist fundamentalists accept as a matter of intrinsic belief that the Christian millennium will arrive one day and that they must order their life accordingly.

It was quite interesting.   He tied in modern American eschatological fundamentalism to the tail end of the 2nd Great Awakening and the Millerites, a connection of which I was unaware, but which makes sense.

A good book on the Millerites is The Disappointed, edited by Butler and Numbers.

The original Millerite fundamentalist eschatology identified 1843 as the year the end would begin. Obviously, it did not happen, and then they tried again for a date in 1844, and it also did not happen at the later date.   Faced with the failure of their calculations, they developed the idea that on the 1844 date, Jesus began to construct the temple in heaven -- a claim not subject to verification.

This sort of eschatological fundamentalism continued to play an important role in American religion straight through the 19th century.   Dwight Moody's premillennialist dispensationalism is an important example.   He created the "Moody Bible Institute, which became one of the most important training grounds for evangelical pastors and trained lay people."  The 1909 Scofield Reference Bible incorporated and popularized much of Moody's theology, and "became the standard version for many evangelicals" (viz Epic Encounters by Melani McAlister). 

[You might want to check out Cyrus Ingerson Scofield, Author of the Scofield Reference Bible , which is a chapter in Stephen Sizer's doctoral thesis, Christian Zionism:  Its History, Theology and Politics.]

The Fundamentals, A Testimony to the Truth, by Torrey, A.C. Dixon and Others (1909) is a basic book of American Fundamentalist Evangelicalism.

Premillennial Dispensationalist theology appealed in particular to a subset of unreconstructed and unrepentant racist Confederates and their descendants.  They saw the destruction and the humiliation of the South as the premillennial tribulation.  Darby's premillennial dispensationalist theology identifies a dispensation of the Jews, which will take place in Palestine, and a dispensation for white American fundamentalist evangelicals.  Premillennial dispensationalists interpret evidence of truth of this Jewish dispensation as support for the "Neoconfederate" dispensation by analogy.

"In their fascination with the Holy Land as the once and future site of God's action in history, these early twentieth-century evangelicals were to become the spiritual inspiration for the fundamentalist turn to Israel nearly a century later, in the 1970s and 1980s." (Vide McAlister.)  These Neoconfederates take the Zionist conquest and suppression of the native population of Palestine as a sign by analogy that they will be able as part of their dispensation to subordinate American non-white and non-Anglo populations.

Marini explained that during the 20th century fundamentalists peaked in the 20s.  I would argue that they were coasting during the time period from Bryan's departure from Wilson's cabinet as a matter of principle until Clarence Darrow humiliated Bryan (a prairie populist not a Neoconfederate) during the Scopes Monkey Trial.

During this time period, Mencken was quite effectively scorning and deriding everything about the fundamentalist evangelical movement.

Fundamentalism came back stronger in cycles during the 50s, 70s and 90s.  George W. Bush is their poster boy because he was a 40-year-old substance abuser that had a vision of God and turned his life around (not unlike the apostle Paul).  He prays to God before every major decision.  I believe I have read that Bush still has the occasional vision or conversation with the divine. (To me it all sounds like acid flashbacks.)

Marini did not actually know the tie-in with Jabotinsky's faction of the Zionist movement, which is the predecessor of Herut (Freedom - Begin's), Gahal and then the Likud (Alliance - Sharon and Netanyahu's) Israeli parties.   (The unfamiliarity is not surprising, for Marini is a specialist in 18th and 19th century American religious history.)

I discussed it with him outside after the talk.

During the early 1900s Jabotinsky co-opted a lot of the religious Zionists to his faction.   Jabotinsky was a highly Russianized Ashkenazi from Odessa.   Because one cannot simply become Russian (Russki) but at best can only be Russianized (Rossitski) if one's ancestry is not Rus, he fell into Zionism.   Because he was so far from religion, he actually got along very well with many religious Zionists, who did not mind him as much as they did Zionists, who were closer to religious Judaism and more actively rejected it.

In his private opinion, which can be found in Jabotinsky's Russian writings, Jabotinsky considered the religious Zionists to be idiots that had lots of energy and were infinitely manipulatable.

In the 1920s Jabotinsky came to the USA to found American Revisionism, which is to a large extent the origin of the Neoconservative movement. During the late 1920s he and his followers established their fist contacts with American fundamentalists.   He considered them just as much idiots and as manipulatable as the Jewish religious Zionists.

As I noted above, the American fundamentalists were in decline at this point, and they were becoming a national joke.   Movies from this time period tend to reflect the contempt with which fundamentalist evangelicalism was treated after the Scopes Monkey Trial.

Jabotinsky and his followers, who included Benzion Netanyahu, Binyamin's father, Rabbi Korf -- later Nixon's advisor and confident -- and Bergson, a nephew of Rav Kook, who at the time was the spiritual leader of the Religious Zionist movement, helped to revitalize American fundamentalism by directing them toward Zionism with a reinterpretation of the literalist fundamentalist eschatological or chiliastic message within the framework Zionist primordialism.

The Revisionist Zionists worked the fundamentalist movement straight through the 30s under Jabotinsky's direction and then in the 40s under Netanyahu's direction.  

Under the American Revisionist reinterpretation of American Fundamentalism, the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 is the critical event that proves the truth of the eschatology. Thus Christian Zionist eschatological (and many chiliastic) fundamentalists believe they have a fully realized eschatology (something historically unprecedented).

This belief in realized eschatology makes them very fanatic and precludes most rational discussion.

The possession of a realized eschatology -- in their minds -- brought about increased interest and the beginning of a renaissance in American fundamentalism.

From the 50s onward the Israeli Revisionists continued to strengthen their ties with American fundamentalists through frequent invitations to Israel and a very politicized Biblical archeology, which also helped to create ties between the fundamentalists and other parts of the Zionist movement.   The studios began to respond with blockbuster religious films, which in turn sparked more interest in fundamentalist religion. Cecile B. de Mille's Samson and Delilah, The Ten Commandments, Quo Vadis and Ben Hur are examples.   As increased ties developed between fundamentalists and Zionist parties across the political spectrum, through the 60s & 70s we see a growing Zionization of the American fundamentalists. Hollywood seems to notice because the Biblical Blockbuster is replaced at this time period by the Zionist blockbuster.

With the ascent of fundamentalists in American politics, Zionists can count on a 25-50 million-voter block in the USA.   This voter block has tremendous linkage to Neconservatism via the movement's original incarnation as American Revisionism.

Where is H. L.  Mencken when you need him?   Unfortunately, he is dead and buried in Baltimore. But this recrudescence of religious nuttiness might even be too much for Mencken, for in comparison to the 20s the fundamentalists are probably too strong to shame back under their rocks.

I asked Marini if he thought the argument that I make to distinguish among ancient Israelites, Greco-Roman Judeans and modern Ashkenazim would be effective in dissociating American fundamentalists from Right-wing Zionism.   He rejects the idea because American fundamentalists think mythographically from their eschatology, and they believe the End has already begun.  Note that they do not merely live in a world of myth; they write (and rewrite) the myths by which they understand the world to correspond to their understanding of the End, which began in 1948 with the creation of the State of Israel.  They make very strange and bizarre connections between events.

They fit contemporary politics into their vision of the coming rapture and apocalypse and then backwards rewrite the past to conform to their vision of the future.

Thus, the facts are completely irrelevant, and they simply do not care about any injustices done or being done to Palestinians because there is a state named Israel in the ME, whose "Jewish" population can be connected to the prophesies of Daniel, Ezekiel and the Revelation of St. John.

References that you might wish to check out are:

Militant Zionism in America: The Rise and Impact of the Jabotinsky Movement in the United States, 1926-1948 (Judaic Studies Series) by Rafael Medoff and

Zionism and the Fin de Siècle: Cosmopolitanism and Nationalism from Nordau to Jabotinsky by Michael Stanislawski.

You must read both cum grano salis.  Rafael Medoff does not read Russian and does not realize that Jabotinsky is lying when he pretends devotion to democracy in English.   Michael Stanislawski does read Russian and does not make that particular error, but his world view is somewhat distorted by Zionist indoctrination, and his analysis sometimes reflects this Zionist bias and a certain ideological exceptionalism that characterizes Jewish studies.   Nevertheless, it is probably the best English language intellectual historical analysis of the beginnings of Zionism.

[xxxii] The following passage is excerpted from Reel Bad Arabs by Jack G. Shaheen. 

Exodus (1960), United Artists, Otto Preminger Productions. Paul Newman, Eva Marie Saint. Screenplay: Dalton Trumbo. Director: Preminger. Based on Leon Uris’s novel.

In the 1950s, when Americans were largely apathetic about Israel, the eminent public relations consultant Edward Gottlieb was called on "to create a more sympathetic attitude" toward the newly established state. And so, he sent Leon Uris to Israel to write a novel, which became the bestseller Exodus. Art Stevens writes, "Uris’ novel solidified America’s impressions of Israelis as heroes, of Arabs as villains; it did more to popularize Israel with the American public than any other single presentation through the media."

Exodus introduced filmgoers to the Arab-Israel conflict, and peopled it with heroic Israelis and sleazy, brutal Arabs, some of whom link up with ex-Nazis. The movie’s only "good Arab" becomes a dead Arab.

Zionist organizations such as Irgun tried to end the British occupation of Palestine through a campaign of attacks, for example, bombing the King David Hotel. Under such pressure, Britain handed the problem off to the UN, and the UN simply handed more than half of Arab-owned Palestinian land for the Zionists to establish a Jewish state. Throughout the film, Jewish nationalists are tagged "freedom fighters"—though with the tables turned today, films follow the Israeli and US governments in denying this label to Palestinian "terrorists" trying similarly to end the Israeli occupation.

Likewise, the film’s British, unlike the real British, seem more concerned about Arab than Jewish violence. A British solider tells an Israeli youth, "Don’t wander into the Arab section. Run into one of the [Jerusalem] Grand Mufti’s gangsters [and] they’ll kill you, son. They’ll slice your throat." A British General declares, "The Arabs simply won’t keep the peace... The Arabs are fanatic on the subject of Jewish immigration."

At no time does a character reveal that Jewish troops are terrorizing Palestinians, forcing them from their homes. Ari’s father Barak (Cobb) addresses Jews, saying, "[We] changed these mosquito-infested swamps into such [fertile] fields. On a quiet night you can hear the corn grow... The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem has asked you [Palestinians] to either annihilate the Jewish population or abandon your homes, and your land, and seek the weary path of exile. We [Jews] implore you, remain in your homes and we shall work together as equals in the state of Israel." Ari echoes his father’s advice, telling the crowd: "Now, we’ll be equal citizens in the free state of Israel. Why should they [the Palestinians] go anywhere? This is their home as well as ours. Don’t you see, we have to prove to the world that we can get along together?"

Never spoken in this movie are these words: "Palestinian," "Palestinian Arab," "Palestinian village," "Palestinian state." Instead, Exodus Jews, Arabs, and Westerners say: "Arab," "Arab village," and "independent Arab state." On two occasions, the phrase "Palestinian Jews" is mentioned.

In 1937, two-plus decades prior to Exodus, the Ray Film Company’s, The Holy Oath, a Yiddish language film with English subtitles advanced a similar "good" Jews and "bad" Arabs theme. Screened in New York City, The Holy Oaths objective was not so much to entertain audiences, rather to muster viewers’ support for a worldwide Jewish movement to gain and rebuild Palestine. To engage viewers, The Holy Oath shows Arabs, not Jews, at Jerusalem’s wailing wall. Throughout The Holy Oath, the Jewish protagonist declares that God gave this land [Palestine], flowing with milk and honey, to the people of Israel. To illustrate, footage selectively displays Bedouins roaming the sterile cities of Hebron and Jerusalem. Even Eleanor Roosevelt thought the Palestinians were all nomads, so she believed there would be no problems evicting Palestinians from their homes.

[xxxiii] Ever since Schindler’s List American movie and television audiences have been subjected to a blizzard of Holocaust films.  Many and maybe most make the point that the Holocaust provides (ex post facto and anticausal) legitimacy both for Zionism and also for the definition or consolidation of Israel as a racist Jewish state.  At this point in time, a Holocaust film need not even make the legitimization argument explicitly.  Americans have been conditioned far more strongly than Pavlov’s dogs and immediately respond with obeisance to the legitimacy of the racist Jewish state at the barest mention of the Holocaust.  Barry Gewen in the following article from the Sunday, New York Times, June 15 asks, “Why do filmmakers have such an abiding interest in the Holocaust?”  I would have investigated whether the Holocaust documentary inundation relates to the struggle of Palestinians for freedom and justice during the intifadat al-aqsa. (See below for pictures from some of the latest Holocaust documentaries.)

 

Margret Riegel

 

Universal Newsreel Czechs seeing their children off in "My Knees Were Jumping."

 

 

Cinema Guild A family that rescued a Jewish girl from "Secret Lives."

 

Holocaust Documentaries: Too Much of a Bad Thing?

By BARRY GEWEN

The turning point may have come in 1985 with "Shoah," Claude Lanzmann's nine-and-a-half-hour epic of death camp survivors, Nazi officials, Polish bystanders, righteous gentiles and meticulous historians hunched over aging documents. It marked — if it did not initiate — the moment when documentary filmmakers started giving their full attention to Hitler's planned extermination of the Jews. "When I began exploring how films have grappled with the Holocaust in 1979, there were merely a few dozen titles to warrant attention," Annette Insdorf writes in her encyclopedic study "Indelible Shadows: Film and the Holocaust." But for the book's third edition, published this year, she lists, together with the fiction films, 69 documentaries made since 1990 alone — a rate of almost one every two months. Elsewhere she estimates that there are at least six completed Holocaust documentaries that do not get distribution for every one that does. And the stream has continued at flood tide into 2003. Last month "Secret Lives," Aviva Slesin's emotionally complex film about Jewish children hidden by gentile families during the Nazi era, opened in New York. Shortly after, PBS showed Charles Guggenheim's "Berga: Soldiers of Another War," about Jewish-American soldiers captured by the Germans. "Bonhoeffer," Martin Doblmeier's intellectual, spiritually suffused account of the anti-Nazi German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, is opening on June 27, two days before A & E broadcasts Liz Garbus's "Nazi Officer's Wife," the biography of a Jewish woman who survived by assuming an Aryan identity and marrying a Nazi party member.

But simply listing these new films raises a troubling question: Are too many Holocaust documentaries now being made? Has supply outstripped demand? It's a question that makes people uncomfortable. Who would want to appear callous in the face of such suffering, or, worse, anti-Semitic? Yet there are definite signs of Holocaust fatigue. Perhaps because she is a survivor, Ms. Slesin is more forthright than most. "I can't bear to see evil over and over again," she says. "Even I roll my eyes when I hear about another Holocaust documentary" — but then she quickly adds, "until I see what it's about."

Stephen Feinstein, the director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota, has sat on a selection committee for a Jewish film festival when more than 15 Holocaust documentaries were submitted. With each year bringing still more films, he says, "you can't see them all." Many of the films have become formulaic, using the same German footage, the same static interviewing techniques. "Get out of the talking-head format," Mr. Feinstein advises. Raye Farr, the director of the Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, says that filmmakers are too often taking the easy way out, showing an "increasing inclination to go for sentimentality." With an undertone of exasperation in her voice, she says, "Crying is not very edifying."

Why do filmmakers have such an abiding interest in the Holocaust? In part, they are simply reflecting the extraordinary phenomenon that the Holocaust has become in American life. Publishers churn out books on the subject in voluminous numbers, state governments legislate the teaching of the Holocaust in public schools, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington greets millions of visitors each year. It would be odd if filmmakers didn't share this general fascination. And yet many of them feel a particular urgency about their work.

As the documentarian Joseph Dorman observed in a recent interview, anyone with a relative who went through the Holocaust has a "natural desire" to tell that story. Most of these films are made not for any commercial reason, and not really with an educational intent. They are works of moral witness.

Melissa Hacker's mother was a survivor of the Kindertransport, one of thousands of Jewish children from Germany and Austria who were sent to England in the months before the start of World War II. Ms. Hacker had grown up with the story, but there were many things her mother wouldn't talk about, "forbidden stuff." It was only when she set about making a documentary, "My Knees Were Jumping: Remembering the Kindertransports" (1995), that her mother opened up to her. The film, Ms. Hacker says, "was a way of learning more about my own family."

Such personal involvement can inspire intense dedication. Ms. Slesin took three and a half years to complete her film. Ms. Hacker, a first-time documentarian when she made "My Knees Were Jumping," required seven. Funding is always a problem. Sometimes, it seems that Holocaust documentaries have a lock on all the awards: they have won five Oscars over the last eight years. But their commercial prospects are generally slim, and rare is the investor willing to back a film almost guaranteed to be a box-office loser. (Ms. Slesin likes to think of her supporters as donors rather than investors.)

Most movie audiences want to be entertained; they don't want to dwell on the sealed boxcars, extermination camps and mounds of corpses that are the staples of the Holocaust narrative. There has been a tendency of late among documentary filmmakers to concentrate on the more "positive" side — gentiles who opposed Hitler or rescued victims; Jewish resisters in the Warsaw Ghetto and elsewhere; and of course the survivors themselves. These individuals are often presented as inspirational (although, with the millions of victims who are not here to go before the camera, there is nothing inspirational about the Holocaust). Even so, their stories don't readily win financial backing.

Independent filmmakers speak of "endless hours" of fund-raising, "a tremendous amount of scrambling." Even established institutions have trouble. Major archives exist for the express purpose of capturing the survivors on film. Yale's Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies has a collection of more than 4,000 testimonies. The Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, established by Steven Spielberg in 1994 following the success of "Schindler's List," is by far the largest. It houses more than 50,000 testimonies. Both the Fortunoff Archive and the Shoah Foundation have produced films using their collections, but they, too, have had to struggle to raise money. Douglas Greenberg, the president and C.E.O. of the Shoah Foundation, describes "banging with a tin cup" for outside support. "Steven doesn't pay all the bills," Mr. Greenberg says.

There is one grand exception to this rule of penury. Rabbi Marvin Hier, the founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, speaks with the confidence and ebullience of a man who knows he sits astride a well-oiled machine. The center has its own movie division, Moriah Films, and it turns out a film about once every two years (not all of them about the Holocaust). Two, "Genocide" and "The Long Way Home," have won Oscars. Unlike everyone else involved in making Holocaust documentaries, Rabbi Hier says raising money has been "very easy," and since 1989 Moriah Films has collected about $15 million. The minimum gift the center accepts is $100,000 spread over five years, and Hollywood celebrities like Orson Welles, Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Douglas have volunteered their services as narrators for the films. The scrambling documentarians clustered on the East Coast can only stare across the continent with envy at this odd coupling of Hollywood star power and the awesome atrocity of the Holocaust.

But rich or poor, every Holocaust documentarian is working the same territory, and some critics complain that the basic plot line of the Holocaust has become too familiar by now to permit genuinely original work. We all know it: first the arrival of the Nazis, then the initial terror, then the rounding up into ghettos, then the shipment to the camps, then the gassing and death or, alternatively, the humiliation, degradation, starvation, torture, gassing and death. And at this point, it seems, just about all that documentarians can do with the history is to fill in the gaps. The recently shown "Berga" is an example. It tells of 350 G.I.'s captured during the Battle of the Bulge who were Jewish or looked Jewish, and who were shipped off to a concentration camp to be slave laborers.

No one is suggesting that documentarians stop making Holocaust films. As Ms. Farr puts it, "There'll always be more to discover and understand." But Mr. Dorman, for one, believes it is time to pay more attention to the perpetrators. Film, he says, has proved "an ideal medium" for allowing the victims to tell their stories, but where, he wonders, are the far more complex stories of the criminals? Books have been written about them — Christopher R. Browning's "Ordinary Men" (1992), for example, has become an instant classic — yet filmmakers have exhibited a greater reluctance than historians to examine this aspect of the Holocaust. Perhaps they are fearful of humanizing the inhuman. Audiences, after all, feel a natural tendency to identify with the person on the screen.

Even the archivists shy away. Mr. Greenberg argues that the perpetrators "have had their say," and sees the Shoah Foundation's work as "redressing the balance." (Among its collections are 1,000 interviews with rescuers.) Besides, Mr. Greenberg says, "perpetrators aren't lining up to be interviewed." He's surely right. And yet one of the most gripping — and disturbing — moments in the foundation's own film "The Last Days" is an interview with a former Nazi doctor who participated in the human experiments at Auschwitz.

One way out of their box is for documentarians to cease being documentarians. Among the most astute commentators on the Holocaust is Lawrence L. Langer, the author of "Holocaust Testimonies" (1991) and several other works. He believes that the standard narrative has scarcely been exhausted, but that the individual experiences of the victims can most accurately be captured through fiction films. Mr. Feinstein seconds this view, saying that fiction films will "take over" because there's only so much you can show in a documentary. However, Mr. Langer is not optimistic. It requires great courage and imagination to make honest fiction films about the Holocaust, he says.

Mr. Langer praises the "raw reality" of Tim Blake Nelson's "Grey Zone," a dramatization of the Sonderkommando, the Jewish slaves forced to work in the gas chambers and crematoria of Auschwitz. It's an unrelenting film of ubiquitous terror and arbitrary death, with no consoling message. It opened and closed in New York City last year in a matter of days.

Perhaps the most fruitful avenue for documentarians at the present time is to follow the lead of the historians and broaden their canvas. Many scholars are now reaching beyond the standard Holocaust narrative to ask questions that require wider comparative and contextual analyses. Samantha Power, for instance, writes about "the age of genocide" in her book " `A Problem From Hell.' " Institutions devoted to the Holocaust have also enlarged their perspective. The Holocaust Museum in Washington has run exhibits and programs on Sudan, Bosnia and Rwanda. Mr. Greenberg says the Shoah Foundation is looking to expand its range because "the pace of genocides has increased." He is confident that filmmakers are already moving in the same direction. "We will have documentaries about Rwanda in reasonably short order," he predicts.

The Holocaust will no doubt remain the defining atrocity of our time — for several reasons, good and bad — and a springboard for any discussion of mass extermination. But now it coexists with the slaughter of the Armenians, the malignity of the gulag, the autogenocide in Cambodia, the ethnic cleansings in the Balkans and the sanguinary tribal wars across Africa. For filmmakers interested in examining man's inhumanity to man or bringing it to public attention or simply bearing witness, there is no shortage of material.  

Barry Gewen is an editor at The New York Times Book Review.

[xxxiv] This book was subject to controversy because some members of the American Muslim community misunderstood it.  Here is an email that I sent to parties to the hullabaloo.

Subj: Re: The Terrorist
Date: 3/6/00
To: cair1@ix.netcom.com
CC: JCorman@Scholastic.com

Recently, CAIR has tried to apply its usual heavy-handed tactics of
intimidation to Scholastic, Inc. with the polemical press release that
I have attached below. Lately, I have been trying to decrease my
mordancy when I write on such issues, but the responsible people at
CAIR have the literary interpretive skills of a turnip and even less
strategic sense.

Cooney is one of the hottest adolescent novelists and has written at
least 16 novel, many of which have won awards like the ALA Best Book
for Young Adults, the IRA-CBC Children's Choice, the 2000 Texas
Lonestar Award (The Terrorist), the ALA 1998 Quick Pick (The Terrorist
and others), the Booklist Editors' Choice. Scholastic, Inc. would not
pull one of her books on the imperious demand of a group with as
little credibility as CAIR.

There are some minor problems with the book, but a better approach
might have been to arrange a civilized meeting with the author, who
shows, unlike the CAIR leadership, every indication of being a
reasonable person. With some reasonable persuasion, she might
incorporate some minor corrections in later editions. Now of course
there probably is not a snowball's chance in hell of doing any such
thing.

The book is actually quite good. The main protagonist in the book is
Laura Williams, who is a sort of silly misguided person (and naive
American) and proud thereof.

From p. 71.

"I'm ignorant, thought Laura. I was proud of being ignorant. I felt
superior because I *didn't* know anything."

The most sympathetic and intelligent character, who solves the crime,
was Mohammed, a sensitive perceptive Palestinian refugee, who
unabashedly declares his longing for Palestine to Laura.

The theme of the book is the danger of preconceptions and prejudices
because to live under the thrall of bigotry and stereotypes is to live
in a dangerous fog, which might make it difficult to perceive who
one's friends and who one's enemies are.

I agree to some extent with the complaint about the passage on p. 77.
I actually had a similar discussion at Laura's age with a Jewish girl
from a sister school to the elite school that I attended. I pointed
out that she confused temporary political sovereignty with geography.
The country was Palestine when the Ottoman's ruled it as part of the

of the Ottoman Empire. The country is still Palestine even though the
Zionists now rule it. Poland provides the perfect analogy. The
country of Poland existed even after the Polish State ceased to exist
and the territory was divided among Russia, Germany and Austria.

The CAIR document seriously and somewhat dishonestly butchers the
passage by only quoting bits and pieces of it. Cooney actually makes
clear how bad Laura's judgment is even to consider the possibility
that Mohammed could be involved in terrorism.

The discussion of terrorism in the book is somewhat simplistic.
Terrorism is a tool like mustard gas. No one wants to use it, but
sometimes it might be necessary. If the Nazis had managed an invasion
of the Britain, Churchill fully intended to use mustard gas despite
the Hague Convention and other treaties that the UK had signed.

Furthermore, the characterization of terrorism is part of the
propaganda war. Israel commits terrorist acts and war crimes by the
standards of international law, and then as part of the propaganda war
characterizes responses that are acceptable under international law as
terrorism.

The complaint about Jehran's comments on page 107 and 108 just shows
how little the CAIR readers actually understood the story. Jehran was
feeding Laura all the stereotypical nonsense that Laura foolishly
believed. The story that Jehran told was a complete fabrication.

Laura's comment on p. 111 is typical of her confusion although
like most stereotypical comments there is an element of truth
when one considers the behavior of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
But Cooney shows in the character of Samira that a tiny element
of truth certainly does not justify the generalization. (Laura
actually comes to this realization later in the book.)

Laura's comment on p. 76 is just some verbal sparring with Mohammed
that is far more innocent if the complete exchange is provided.

The complete comment of Mr. Hollober on p. 119 is far less
unconditional than the excerpt portrays it. Nevertheless, there is an
element of truth Hollober's claim as Fawaz Turki attests in his
writings.

Laura's comment on p. 151 is just another symptom of the fuzziness and
silliness of her thinking.

But CAIR's last complaint just shows the complete lack of
understanding by the CAIR readers. Jehran's story was a fabrication.
She was not trying to escape a Muslim marriage. We do not know
exactly what she was trying to do, but as Mohammed correctly points
out, Jehran was just telling a story that Laura would believe in her
ignorance and in her desire to believe. The story had no basis
in fact, but was simply a tool by which Jehran was manipulating
Laura.

Once again CAIR has proven to be a complete embarrassment to
American Muslims. I recommend reading the book and sending
a letter of complaint to CAIR.

Joachim Martillo

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In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

CAIR Muslim Parent Alert
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Alert #234
453 New Jersey Avenue, S.E.
Washington, D.C., 20003
NEW Tel: 202-488-8787
Fax: 202-659-2254
E-Mail: cair1@ix.netcom.com
URL: http://www.cair-net.org

MIDDLE SCHOOL READER DEFAMES ISLAM

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 2/15/2000) - CAIR is warning Muslim parents about
a middle school reading text that contains a number of inaccurate,
offensive and stereotypical references to Muslims, Muslim women,
Arabs, and Islam.

"The Terrorist," written by Caroline B. Cooney (ISBN 0-590-63913-7)
and published by Scholastic Inc. (Nasdaq: SCHL), deals with an
American student at a private school in London who seeks revenge for
the death of her 11-year-old brother killed by a package bomb. Its
back cover carries the statement: "This edition is only available
for distribution through the school market."

The book was brought to CAIR's attention by a concerned Muslim
parent whose daughter read it based on a list provided by her
teacher.

A few examples of offensive content in "The Terrorist:" (There are
many more examples available.)

Page 77 - "'What country are you from, Mohammed?' she asked.
'Palestine.' [said Mohammed] 'That's not a country...It's Israel.
It's been Israel since before my father was born...Is Mohammed a
Palestinian who would throw a bomb?"

Pages 107 and 108 - Muslim girl named Jehran speaking: "I will not
yet be sixteen. The man chosen for me is a general in his fifties. I
will be his third wife. His is a traditional household. I will be
forced to wear a black robe like my servant, and have my face
covered by a solid veil with eye slits. I will not be permitted to
leave my house. I will not be allowed books to read or television to
watch or a radio to listen to...It is living death...My money would
be his, and I would never be permitted to touch it. I would obey my
husband always, no matter how painful or cruel or wrong. I would
have no purpose except to give birth to sons. If I had a daughter,
he would punish me and quickly get me pregnant again."

Page 111 - "Islam. You thought that religion was a pact between you
and God, but it wasn't...Men who hated women. Men who wanted women
literally locked in their clothes and their homes."

Page 76 - "Oh, you Arabs," said Laura, "you just want to push people
around."

Pages 89 and 90 - "Shiites are very, very strict. The ruler they
have now is called an ayatollah, a sort of Moslem (sic) priest. Iran
hates America."

Page 110 - "In marriage, Jehran would dress like a vampire. A black
shroud with eye slits...Nobody except her husband would ever see her
skin. The husband who was forty years older. Who already had
wives...Laura [Jehran's friend] did not like to think of the
logistics of their bedrooms."

Pages 118 and 119 - "'If a girl from an observant Moslem family were
to fall in love with a Christian,' said Mr. Hollober, 'or flirt, or
expose her face or limbs or hair in front of men except her father
and brothers, she would taint her family's honor. She would be
punished because honor of the family matters more than she
does...Mr. Hollober insisted he was telling the truth. 'Girls who
tempt men are criminals. Girls who disobey their fathers and
brothers are criminals. And criminals in Islamic countries pay with
their lives.' So if Jehran disobeyed her brother, he would not yell
at her. He would execute her."

Page 151 - "Laura was pretty sure Allah would expect Jehran to obey
her brother. That's what Moslem women did: they obeyed the men in
their family."

To top off this offensive and stereotypical material, the author
reveals that "The Terrorist" was in fact the girl who is trying to
escape the "living death" of a Muslim marriage. The girl killed the
heroine's brother just to obtain his passport. So even the "good"
Muslims are bad.

In a letter to Scholastic President Richard Robinson, CAIR asked
that the book be recalled because it is "targeted at a captive
audience of impressionable middle school students" who, unlike adult
readers, do not have a choice in what they read and absorb.

In response to CAIR's request, Scholastic's Senior Vice President of
Corporate Communication Judy Corman wrote in part: "Taking the book
as a whole, as a novel is intended to be considered, we believe the
book represents a contribution to the dialogue about commonly held
attitudes and preconceived notions." Scholastic is a $1.2 billion
global children's publishing and media company.

IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUESTED: (As always, be firm, but POLITE.)

1. Contact Scholastic to express your concerns, as a Muslim parent,
about the negative impact this type of offensive and stereotypical
material has on your children and their classmates.

Contact:

Mr. Richard Robinson
President/CEO
Scholastic Inc.
555 Broadway
New York, NY 10012

TEL: 212-343-6100
FAX: 212-343-6930
E-MAIL: JCorman@Scholastic.com
COPY TO: cair1@ix.netcom.com
URL: http://scholastic.com/

2. Find out if "The Terrorist" is on the reading list used in your
child's school. If it is, bring the stereotypical content to the
attention of school administrators. Muslim children should also
express their views about the impact this book could have on their
lives. Suggest alternate titles such "American Islam: Growing Up
Muslim in America" (ISBN 0802783430) or "Kiss the Dust" (ISBN
0140368558).

3. Obtain copies of CAIR's 16-page booklet, "An Educator's Guide to
Islamic Religious Practices," for distribution to teachers and
school administrators. ($3+S/H)

TALKING POINTS:

1. Offensive material in a book used as assigned reading for
students is not the same as similar content in a book that would be
freely, and voluntarily, accessed by adults.

2. The material concerning Islam's alleged treatment of women is
inaccurate as well as offensive.

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