Saturday, 17 May 2008

Happy Birthday, Israel

May 2008 (the 14th, to be precise), is the 60th anniversary of the creation of the modern State of Israel. Let's start with the Declaration of Establishment:

WE DECLARE that, with effect from the moment of the termination of the Mandate being tonight, the eve of Sabbath, the 6th Iyar, 5708 (15th May, 1948), until the establishment of the elected, regular authorities of the State in accordance with the Constitution which shall be adopted by the Elected Constituent Assembly not later than the 1st October 1948, the People's Council shall act as a Provisional Council of State, and its executive organ, the People's Administration, shall be the Provisional Government of the Jewish State, to be called "Israel".

THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

THE STATE OF ISRAEL is prepared to cooperate with the agencies and representatives of the United Nations in implementing the resolution of the General Assembly of the 29th November, 1947, and will take steps to bring about the economic union of the whole of Eretz-Israel.

WE APPEAL to the United Nations to assist the Jewish people in the building-up of its State and to receive the State of Israel into the comity of nations.

WE APPEAL - in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months - to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.

WE EXTEND our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighbourliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The State of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.

WE APPEAL to the Jewish people throughout the Diaspora to rally round the Jews of Eretz-Israel in the tasks of immigration and upbuilding and to stand by them in the great struggle for the realization of the age-old dream - the redemption of Israel.
PLACING OUR TRUST IN THE "ROCK OF ISRAEL", WE AFFIX OUR SIGNATURES TO THIS PROCLAMATION AT THIS SESSION OF THE PROVISIONAL COUNCIL OF STATE, ON THE SOIL OF THE HOMELAND, IN THE CITY OF TEL-AVIV, ON THIS SABBATH EVE, THE 5TH DAY OF IYAR, 5708 (14TH MAY 1948).

David Ben-Gurion
Daniel Auster
Mordekhai Bentov
Yitzchak Ben Zvi
Eliyahu Berligne
Fritz Bernstein
Rabbi Wolf Gold
Meir Grabovsky
Yitzchak Gruenbaum
Dr. Abraham Granovsky
Eliyahu Dobkin
Meir Wilner-Kovner
Zerach Wahrhaftig
Herzl Vardi Rachel Cohen
Rabbi Kalman Kahana
Saadia Kobashi
Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Levin
Meir David Loewenstein
Zvi Luria
Golda Myerson
Nachum Nir
Zvi Segal
Rabbi Yehuda Leib Hacohen Fishman David Zvi Pinkas
Aharon Zisling
Moshe Kolodny
Eliezer Kaplan
Abraham Katznelson
Felix Rosenblueth
David Remez
Berl Repetur
Mordekhai Shattner
Ben Zion Sternberg
Bekhor Shitreet
Moshe Shapira
Moshe Shertok


The following section is reproduced from www.anglicanfriendsofisrael.com, and is from a commemorative booklet which Anglican Friends of Israel have produced. As is often the case, I was alerted to this by the blog of an infinitely superior blogger to me, Archbishop Cranmer.

“I am delighted to have been asked to contribute a foreword to this pamphlet, written to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Israel, the Jewish State. There is a long and honourable history of Anglican involvement in the Zionist project. From the 17th to the 20th centuries, English advocates of the Jews' restoration in the Holy Land worked tirelessly to realise Jewish dreams – often, in more practical ways than by the Jews themselves. It became their mission to restore the land to its lawful owners, and thereby assist in fulfilling Biblical prophecy. The pamphlet, in its own sober and factual way, is but the most recent instance of this centuries-long endeavour. I welcome it.”

Anthony Julius
2 April 2008


Introduction

Israel celebrates its 60th Birthday in 2008. In May 1948, the tiny piece of land, focus of Jewish prayer and aspirations for over 3,000 years, was restored to them. To many, including Jews whose communities had lived continuously in the Holy Land, Israel’s rebirth was a joyous event. To some it represented a safe haven to be Jewish in a Jewish land without fear of persecution. To others, the sovereign hand of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob fulfilling promises from the Torah and the Prophets was clear to see. Much of the world rejoiced with them.

However, not everyone was pleased. Many Arabs, including those whose own nations were formed in the same period, call Israel’s national rebirth ‘The Naqba’ or ‘catastrophe’. The formation of a Jewish state in the region, they claimed, robbed
Palestinians of their land; the Jews were portrayed as interlopers. The region’s problems were – and are – blamed on Israel by many people. Criticism has gone beyond Israel’s actions. Even the legitimacy of Israel’s existence has been questioned.

Anglicans are engaged in the debate for Anglican Palestinians are caught up in the conflict. We at Anglican Friends of Israel recognize that Israel should not be immune from criticism; but we are dismayed that so much of it is rooted in error, misrepresentation and even racism. We hope this booklet will contribute to a fuller understanding of the foundation of modern Israel and dispel some of the hostile myths which have grown up around the events during and prior to May 1948.

What is Zionism?‘Zionism’ is the desire of the Jewish people for self-governance in the Holy Land. The term refers to Mount Zion in Jerusalem, the ‘mountain of God’. Zionists support Jewish rights to national self-determination and Statehood, just as, say, Poles or Pakistanis have.

What are Christian Zionists?
Christian Zionists insist that Jewish desire for self-determination is as legitimate as that of any other ethnic group. They recognise the restoration of the Jews to the land of Israel as a fulfilment of an overarching prophetic theme in both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.

They refute Replacement Theology which suggests that God has rejected the Jewish people and replaced them with the Church, believing that it contradicts both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. They affirm God’s love for Palestinians and often
support projects which benefit Palestinians by addressing educational or social needs, or work to bring a greater understanding between Jew and Arab.

Is Zionism racist?
The UN defines racism as ‘the belief in the genetic/inherent superiority of one group over others.’ Such vile notions are utterly different to the wholly legitimate desire for national renewal. To brand the Jewish desire for self-determination as distinctively racist – as some do – is in itself racist. Ironically, many who smear Zionism as racist are the shrillest in their insistence that Palestinians have an absolute right to the very same self-determination which they would deny to Jews.

Why create a Jewish state in the Middle East?
- Because this territory is central to Jewish religious and national identity – the place
where Jews are closest to God.
- Because this is the one piece of land historically promised to the Jewish people as recorded in Genesis.
- Because this is the only land where the Jewish nation has ever experienced self rule.

In contrast, there has never been an autonomous Palestinian state in the area. It was ruled by a succession of empires until the Ottoman Empire fell in 1917 and the League of Nations granted the British a Mandate in 1920.

Jews are indigenous to Israel
Israel’s critics claim that only Palestinians are indigenous to the Near East. This is patently false, as is the claim that Jews are a religious and not an ethnic, group.
Archaeology confirms the Bible record: Jews spoke and wrote Hebrew, and worshipped Israel’s God in what is now Israel at least 1,000 years before Jesus was born. Jews are the only people who have ever had an autonomous state on this tiny piece of land.

They governed themselves as a national entity, producing kings, visionary prophets and writers from whose pens flowed some of the most treasured writings in the history of the world.

Archaeological support for these claims includes:
- an ancient Hebrew alphabet, from 10th century BCE discovered at Tel Zayit in 2005;
- Israel is named in ancient Hebrew on the 9th Century BCE ‘Moabite Stone’;
- An inscription at Tel Dan dating from the time of King Ahab names the ‘House of
David’ and ‘Israel’.

Jews have inhabited the Holy Land continuously for 3000 years
Despite attempts by successive occupying powersto expel them, communities of Jews have lived in the Holy Land continuously since the time of Abraham until the present in, for example, Safed, Tiberias and Hebron. Jews returned to the Holy Land throughout the
Diaspora period, notably from Spain and other Mediterranean countries in the late 13th and 14th Century.

In Jerusalem Jews have been the largest ethnic group since the 1840s. During the Mandate many Jewish communities in Arab towns such as Nazareth and Gaza were forced out by Arab neighbours and their members joined kibbutzim or moved to predominantly Jewish towns. Since the Babylonian exile, the Jewish diaspora
has spread as far as South America, China and Australia. But Jewish ethnic identity, recognised by the countries in which they lived as minority communities, was based on Jewish affinity with the land of Israel and the Jews living there.

The League of Nations Mandate

At the 1920 San Remo conference, the League of Nations granted Britain a Mandate over
Palestine. It committed Britain to the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine west of the Jordan River. Recognition of ancient Jewish links with the land was foundational to the Mandate. A Palestinian state was to be established east of the Jordan River (present day Jordan). Jews could not settle or buy land there.

The Jewish homeland was stolen from Palestinians

This claim is false. In the early 19th century more than 10,000 Jews lived throughout what is today Israel. In 1880 Jews made up about 6% of Palestine’s population. The land was then a run-down colonial outpost of the Ottoman Empire. Jews purchased much land from Arab owners legally during the late 19th and early 20th century and by dint of huge effort, turned it from rocky hillsides and malarial swamps into productive and profitable land. By World War One, the Jewish population of Palestine was around 85,000 out of 700,000 (roughly 12%). It rapidly became the most dynamic economic centre in the Middle East attracting people from all over the region eager for a share in the growing prosperity of Palestine. In contrast, no independent Palestinian entity or identity has existed until the 20th Century.

The British Mandate

In the opinion of many observers, Britain failed to honour the Mandate to facilitate the creation of a Jewish Homeland in Palestine. In the 30 years of British colonial rule, tensions between Arabs and Jews grew inexorably. In desperation at the rising levels of inter-communal violence, Britain handed the whole issue over to the UN.

The War of Independence 1948

On 29 November 1947, the United Nations voted to create an Arab and a Jewish State alongside each other in what is now Israel and the West Bank. It was accepted that Israel would have a sizeable Arab minority. The Jewish State was allotted 56% of Mandate Palestine, since the UN correctly predicted heavy Jewish immigration from Europe after the creation of the Jewish State. Perhaps they also guessed that large numbers of Jewish refugees from Arab nations would also need a home.

The Jewish Agency, led by David Ben Gurion, accepted the plan. Arab leaders rejected it, and Arab attacks on Jewish communities began at once. Britain announced that her troops would be withdrawn from Palestine on 15 May 1948. Aware that Arab countries had vowed to destroy any Jewish state, David Ben Gurion declared the independence of the State of Israel on 14 May 1948, with borders as stipulated in the UN Partition Plan.

Significantly, the Declaration of Independence stated ‘We appeal ... to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions..’

Within days of the British withdrawal, 35,000 Iraqi, Lebanese, Syrian and Egyptian troops (led by British officers) invaded Israel. Despite overwhelming odds, and the loss of 1% of the population of Israel, Israeli forces decisively defeated the Arab armies. Israel took territory beyond the UN allocated borders because their territory could not be defended against further Arab attacks.

Jews were preparing to attack Arabs prior to 1948

False. Jewish communities were routinely attacked by raiding parties from Arab villages. The Haganah – defence units of Jewish farmers – was formed to warn Jewish communities about planned Arab assaults and to afford some protection against them.
The attacks became more frequent after the UN Partition plan of November 1947: intelligence about proposed raids upon Jewish people and property had to become much more efficient – and it did.

Myth: Jews had a plan ‘D’ to expel all Arabs from Israel in 1948

This claim is false. As Professor Benny Morris wrote: ‘Plan Dalet (Plan D), of March 10th, 1948… was the master plan of the Haganah – the Jewish military force that became the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) – to counter the expected pan-Arab assault on
the emergent Jewish state.’

The presence of 147,000 Arabs in the new State of Israel after hostilities ceased shows that claims of a planned ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Arabs are absurd. In contrast no Jew was permitted to remain in territory occupied by Jordan after the 1948 war.

Jews drove Palestinians out of Israel in 1948.

Some 6-800,000 Palestinian Arabs were displaced as a result of the Arab war on Israel in 1948. Some were compelled to leave their homes by IDF forces. But many left voluntarily before the 1948 war because local and national leaders advised or compelled them to do so. Prof. Morris comments ‘… in dozens of localities around Palestine, Arab leaders advised or ordered the evacuation of women and children or whole communities, as occurred in Haifa in late April, 1948.’

Palestinians, who heeded this advice, could not return to their homes after the Arabs lost the war. Unsurprisingly, given repeated Arab threats to annihilate Israel, Israeli leaders feared an Arab ‘fifth column’. However, most Arabs who hadremained in Israel became Israeli citizens.

Jews were also expelled from their homes by Arab forces, for example from Gush Etzion and K’far Darom in Gaza, all built on land purchased legally. And of course Jews were expelled from the Old City of Jerusalem. In addition, 800,000 Jews were forced to abandon homes and businesses in Arab countries. They arrived in Israel with nothing.

These are the forgotten refugees of 1948. Both sides committed atrocities. Women and
children were murdered by Jewish fighters of the Stern gang and Irgun in the peaceful Arab village of Deir Yassin. Arab fighters took revenge by murdering Jewish women and children in K’far Etzion and members of a convoy taking medical supplies to Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital.

Is modern Israel is a western colonial project?

With 3000 years of continuous presence in the Holy Land, how can Jews be characterised as interlopers in the region? After World War II, Palestine was the only place that many European Jews, robbed of their homes and families, could go. A further 800,000 Jews from Arab countries fled or were expelled in pogroms and were absorbed into the Jewish state in the years following Israel’s Independence. Later, Jews from all over the world – Africa, India, China, the old USSR, as well as the USA and Europe, made aliyah to Israel.

Modern Israel combines the best ideals of the west – democracy, openness to debate and criticism as well as new ideas in technology and the arts. Such ideals are much needed in the region. Given the ferocity of comment in the Israeli press and the intensity of debate and moral self-criticism which so characterises discussion in Israel – so rare in public life today – the attacks on Israel are profoundly depressing and disturbing.

Conclusion

This May, while Israel and her friends celebrate her 60th anniversary, others will mourn the Palestinian ‘Naqba’. As they do so, they might reflect on the crucial contribution of Palestinian and Arab actions to the absence of their longed for state. Had they accepted the UN Partition plan and welcomed their Jewish neighbours into the tiny piece of land allotted to them, 60 years of bloodshed and misery could have been averted.

As Prof. Benny Morris wrote recently ‘In defiance of the will of the international community, as embodied in the UN General Assembly Resolution of November 29th, 1947 (No. 181), (Palestinian Arabs) launched hostilities against the Jewish community
in Palestine in the hope of aborting the emergence of the Jewish state and perhaps destroying that community. But they lost; and one of the results was the displacement
of 700,000 of them from their homes.’

God promised Abraham that his descendents would have a land, and would be a blessing to all the nations of the earth. We at Anglican Friends of Israel believe that modern Israel is a fulfilment of that promise: we rejoice unashamedly at this, Israel’s 60th birthday, thanking the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for the restoration of the Jewish people to their land. And we pray for a just peace for all the people of the region, Jew and Arab – a peace which we believe that ultimately, only God himself can bring.

2 comments:

Jaakonpoika said...

Who has heard that in the 1930's Bagdad every 3rd citizen was a native Jew? The Sefardi (Safrati) Jews have a 400 year old history and the Mizrahi Jews over 2,500 year old history in the Middle East - outside the location of the state of Israel (Palestine).

Here's the statistics regarding not ONLY the expelsion of Jews from various Moslim countries in the last 60 years that Israel has been an independent state, but also numbers expelled from the Europe in a longer time interval. The Jews are no settlers of colonialism:
http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Expelled-Jews-statistics.htm

Statistics, not Zionism. 60 years of survival. When the military means have lacked the power, it is now a time of a media war to spit on the Jews and curse the Jewish Scriptures. Both the Old and New Testament were written by Jews. Although Jasser Arafat in his books claimed that there never was any Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and that Jesus was not a Jew, he could not deceive the honest spectator

As a matter of fact, the population of Arabs (my beloved friends and brothers, just like the Jews, our common fathers) under the Israeli government was increased ten-fold (10X) in only 57 years. This is close to the world record for any tribe, nation, tongue or culture on the whole planet at the same time interval. The Sefardi Jews were expelled from Spain in the very date when Christoffer Colombo lifted up his anchors and sailed away from Spain. The Jews had to leave and their possessions were stolen. In the case of the Mizrahi, the Jews have lived for millennia all around the Middle East since the first exile of Israel 500 B.C., in what are now Muslim-dominated countries. While much has been made of the 700,000 Palestinians having been made homeless with the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, it's peculiar that there is no official recognition of their Jewish counterparts. A greater number of Jews - some 856,000 - were forcefully expelled from Arab countries after the creation of the State of Israel, their homes forfeited, their belongings seized. They became refugees, migrating to Israel, mainly. But they did not spoke any Hebrew but Arabic and Farsi (Persian).

The Second Intifada is called the Oslo War. Israel has been forced to damage the very infrastructure she has constructed and administrated while hunting the weapons from the milittant "freedom fighters". Between 1967-1993 roads, system of siewers (gutters, ditches), electricity supply, water supply, schools, health care system, and social welfare system to the West Bank and Gaza. Even for the Arab citizens of Israel, ideal was that everyody gets the same salar for the same job, with the same social benefits. This is stated in the law, officially. In contrast, even the official law in Jordan which has the peace treaty with Israel, it is forbidden for a Jew to live in the country. The health care services have been free for the Arab population, only a portion of the price of the drugs must have been paid by the patients. Under the administrations of Great Britain (1920-1947) or Jordan (1948-1967), no universities were established for the Arabs in the country. According to The Association of Arab Universitiesin mukaan (http://www.aaru.edu.jo/), in contrast, under the Israeli administration altogether six universities appeared during the time (of course by the force of the local Arab people, though). Also, since 1969 an independent newspaper has appeared in Jerusalem, which has NEVER been put under a censorship.

The Palestinian life expectancy increased from 48 to 72 years in 1967-1995. The death rate decreased by over 2/3 in 1970-1090 and the Israeli medical campaigns decreased the child deat rate from a level of 60 per 1000 in 1968 to 15 per 1000 in 2000. (An analogous figure was 64 in Iraq, 40 in Egypt, 23 in Jordan, and 22 in Syria in 2000). During 1967-1988 the amount of comprehensive schoold and second level polytechnic institutes for the Arabs was increased by 35%. During 1970-1986 the proportion of Palestinian women at the West Bank and Gaza not having gone to school decreased from 67 % to 32 %. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in West Bank and Gaza increased in 1968-1991 BKT from 165 US dollars to 1715 dollars (compare with 1630$ in Turkey, 1440$ in Tunis, 1050$ in Jordan, 800$ in Syria, 600$ in Egypt. and 400$ in Yemen).

One-fourth of the judgements of the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations strike Israel. Out of the incidences dealt in the Security Counsil one-third is having to do with Israel. I think this resembles the hysteria seen in the Black Plague in Europe, when the European Jews were accused of the pandemia and burnt alive. (As an example, one the biggest Jewish populations in the continent was in Basel, Switzerland, and all the 4000 souls were burnt in one Rhein island.)

PLO was founded in 1964 - three years before the 6-day failed attack and occupation. The PLO articles openly state that it was not a project of the Palestinians but a project TO the Palestinians. They were commanded to literally sacrifice for them in the name of a greater war:
http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/mideast/plocov.htm

Pauli.Ojala@gmail.com
Helsinki, Finland

Ojalanpoika said...

Jeru-salaam, -shalom & -salem,

Indeed, could you kindly comment, whether my details are correct in a dissident essay concerning the recent scaling up of production in the Israeli high Tech companies in:
http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Expelled-Jews-statistics.htm ?

Recovering from hemorrhage in the left hemisphere of the brain,
Pauli Ojala, evolutionary critic
Biochemist, drop-out (MSci-Master of Sciing)
Helsinki, Finland