State Department beneficiary, MEMRI, is dedicated to bringing Israeli ideas about Arab world and Iran into U.S. establishment

Yesterday’s $200,000 grant from the State Department to the Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI, whose boards are loaded with Bush-era neocons, including Elliott Abrams, John Bolton and Bernard Lewis, is shocking news. Some developments:

The shop is is run by Yigal Carmon, who had a long career in Israeli intelligence. Ali Gharib at Think Progress adds this information:

The organization was founded as a U.S. tax-exempt non-profit in 1998 by now-Hudson Institute Mideast policy chief Meyrav Wurmser, an Israeli-American [married to former Bush adviser David Wurmser], and current MEMRI president, Israeli Yigal Carmon, a 20-year veteran of the Israel Defense Forces (where he spent five years running Israel’s occupation of the West Bank) and top adviser to two Likud governments. An early archived version of the “about page” of MEMRI’s website lists five staff members, three of whom (including Carmon) have backgrounds in Israeli military intelligence. The same page lists one of MEMRI’s missions as “emphasiz(ing) the continuing relevance of Zionism to the Jewish people and to the state of Israel” — though the line has since disappeared from the website.

The grant is one more step toward what a friend calls “the Israelification of US govt information and intelligence.” See this from MEMRI’s Anti-Terrorism page, emphasizing the Arab world and Iran…


MEMRI’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM) scrutinizes Islamist terrorism worldwide, with a special focus on the Arab world, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. …

Or this unreconstructed neoconservative cant:

MEMRI’s work directly supports fighting the U.S. War on Terror. Highly trained staff thoroughly translate and analyze open-source materials that include television programming, radio, newspapers, textbooks, and websites.

Every single day, MEMRI receives requests from members of the U.S. government, military, and legislature. Since September 11, 2001, the demand for this material has significantly increased – providing thousands of pages of translated documents of Arab, Iranian, Urdu, Pashtu, Hindi, Dari, and Turkish print media, terrorist websites, school books, and tens of thousands of hours of translated footage from Arab and Iranian television.

The grant is a political gesture. It cannot be separated from the large role of conservative Jewish money in our political process and the necessity of signalling to those donors that the Obama administration is down with the pro-Israel program.

As Scott McConnell wrote last year, the “special relationship” between Israel and the U.S.

is at bottom a transmission belt, conveying Israeli ideas on how the United States should conduct itself in a contested and volatile part of the world. To a great extent, a receptive American political class now views the Middle East and their country’s role in it through Israel’s eyes.

Thus the grant is of a piece with: 1, 20 percent of Congress is going to Israel for the summer recess, 2, the leading Middle East policy-maker in the Obama administration is Dennis Ross, who lately headed a Jerusalem thinktank dedicated to the future of the Jewish people, 3, the leader of our Iran policy under Obama was a neocon holdover from the Bush administration who was a friend of AIPAC, and his replacement is his former law partner.

All these facts are stunning. Yet they are not really touched by the mainstream media, which goes to show that the Israel lobby is still a live force inside the establishment, though it faces inevitable collapse given the grassroots and historical forces working to undermine it.

Oh and Gharib hits the anti-semitism focus.

Finding examples of anti-Semitism is already a robust MEMRI project and one wonders why exactly they needed the cash: According to publicly available tax filings, MEMRI had nearly $5 million in revenue in 2007 and more than $4.5 million in revenue in 2008.

What’s more troubling, MEMRI has faced accusations of mistranslating items and cherry-picking incendiary sources to portray regional media and attitudes in an overly-negative fashion. ….MEMRI has been accused of twisting translations to portray criticisms of Israel and its driving ideology, Zionism, as anti-Semitic. In 2006, Rima Barakat, a Palestinian and Muslim activist and one-time Republican candidate for the Colorado state assembly, wrote in the Rocky Mountain News:

“Halim Barakat (no relation), a professor at Georgetown University, published an article in Al-Hayat Daily of London titled ‘The wild beast that Zionism created: Self-destruction.’ By the time MEMRI ‘translated’ it, the title was distorted to ‘Jews have lost their humanity.’ Barakat objected, ‘Every time I wrote Zionism, MEMRI replaced the word by Jew or Judaism. They want to give the impression that I’m not criticizing Israeli policy, but that what I’m saying is anti-Semitic.’ It seems obvious that MEMRI is adamant on stigmatizing anyone who criticizes Israel and/or Zionism as being anti Jewish.

In a 2002 article, then-Middle East editor of the British Guardian newspaper Brian Whitaker criticized MEMRI for inaccuracies that reflected an agenda:

“As far as relations between the west and the Arab world are concerned, language is a barrier that perpetuates ignorance and can easily foster misunderstanding.

“All it takes is a small but active group of Israelis to exploit that barrier for their own ends and start changing western perceptions of Arabs for the worse.”

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 88 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. chayma100 says:

    Good work Phil, thank you.

  2. BradAllen says:

    “the Israelification of US govt information and intelligence.”

    This is a priceless quote. It refelects what has been a concerted effort by AIPAC and other major right wing Jewish groups have been investing in for decades. This cancer has taken over the body and will not be easy to treat. Of course as we know, this means the body is weak and the cancer will kill it, sooner or later.

    • annie says:

      oh look, Israelification is a word in use already. how did i miss that?

    • Miura says:

      Israel persists in dragging the West back to the nightmarish history from which it is trying to awaken:

      Israel and Australia are like sisters in Asia. We are in Asia without the characteristics of Asians. We don’t have yellow skin and slanted eyes. Asia is basically the yellow race. Australia and Israel are not–we are basically the white race. We are on the western side of Asia and they are on the southeastern side.

      • annie says:

        miura, your link goes to haaretz’s home page. i googled the text and came up w/this 06 text:

        Foreign Ministry sources said Tuesday that Israel’s ambassador to Australia will have his term cut short in the wake of an interview to Haaretz, in which he called Australia and Israel white sisters amid “the yellow race.”

        Naftali Tamir was on his way back to Canberra on Tuesday following a two-week review process in Jerusalem where he denied having made the comments attributed to him, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said.

        “Israel and Australia are like sisters in Asia,” Tamir told Haaretz during a visit to Israel three weeks ago. “We are in Asia without the characteristics of Asians. We don’t have yellow skin and slanted eyes. Asia is basically the yellow race. Australia and Israel are not – we are basically the white race. We are on the western side of Asia and they are on the southeastern side.”

        Following the publication of the interview on October 13, Tamir was immediately recalled to Israel to explain his comments. The ministry swiftly condemned the reported remarks as “grave and unacceptable,” adding that it would not return to business as usual if its internal review confirmed the ambassador had indeed made the statements.

        i think the mother jones article citing the Toronto Star might be a more apt description of what the word means describes the 6-layer security protocol Israel uses

      • Walid says:

        Miura, the “sisters” and skin colour scheme gimmick used by Israel is not new, it was used a couple of decades back to make the same parallel with South Africa only that time the colours in question were “black” and “dark”. Excerpts from a great 2006 Guardian article on Israel’s hanky-panky with South Africa when almost the whole world was boycotting South Africa, with exception to Israel, of course:

        … the South African government’s yearbook characterised the two countries as confronting a single problem: “Israel and South Africa have one thing above all else in common: they are both situated in a predominantly hostile world inhabited by dark peoples.

        … White South Africa and Israel painted themselves as enclaves of democratic civilisation on the front line in defending western values, yet both governments often demanded to be judged by the standards of the neighbours they claimed to be protecting the free world from.

        “The whites [in South Africa] always saw their fate in a way related to the fate of the Israelis because the Israelis were a white minority surrounded by 200 million fanatic Muslims assisted by communism,” says Liel. “Also, there was this analysis that said Israel is a civilised western island in the midst of these 200 million barbaric Arabs and it’s the same as the Afrikaners; five million Afrikaners surrounded by hundreds of millions of blacks who are also assisted by communism.”

        link to guardian.co.uk

        • Miura says:

          Yes, but after the 50s, the racist depiction of black Africans was no longer acceptable in polite company in the West. Apartheid South Africa’s song and dance about holding the line against “barbarians” (as J.M. Coetzee memorably phrased it in his novel Waiting for the Barbarians) was not tenable, even with Cold War paranoia about Russian influence in Africa. Israel, as Ilan Pappe has shown has always tried to control the “story” coming out of that region–with success it might be claimed–and it’s propaganda arm has a long history of poisoning the well when it comes to relations between, say, Americans and Egyptians–or Arabs in general. The idiotic “Clash of Civilizations” idea which Bernard Lewis has been trying to pawn off since 1958, but which really took off after the Soviet Union fell into the dustbin of history comes out that same effort to keep the air acrimonious when it comes to public perception of the Middle East and its inhabitants in the West:

          The contempt toward Asia and basically anyone who’s not European dates back to Herzl who wanted his Europeanized state to be a “wall against Asiatic barbarism”. Ella Shohat has written well about the self-hatred and disavowal of culture that Mizrahi Jews suffer in Israel:

          link to bintjbeil.com

        • Mikhael says:

          Ella Shohat has written well about the self-hatred and disavowal of culture that Mizrahi Jews suffer in Israel:

          Aside from her coincidental Iraqi-Jewish heritage, Ella Shohat fits the profile of an ashamed Ashkenazi Jewish liberal. Israeli Jews of Mizrahi descent do not typically regard ourselves or our culture with self-hatred, we are proud Jews and proud Israeli Hebrew patriots who love the Jewish nation and our country.

        • James North says:

          Shift change at Harbara Central.

        • annie says:

          ah the good ol days when darkies were savages.

        • Walid says:

          Miura you and Mikhael erroneously think that Ella’s Arabness is a coincidental accident de parcours, misread her message; there was no self-hatred and no disavowal of culture on her part or on the part of any other Arab Jews. In the Bint Jbail linked essay, Ella says:

          “… “As an Arab Jew, I am often obliged to explain the “mysteries” of this oxymoronic entity. That we have spoken Arabic, not Yiddish; that for millennia our cultural creativity, secular and religious, had been largely articulated in Arabic (Maimonides being one of the few intellectuals to “make it” into the consciousness of the West); and that even the most religious of our communities in the Middle East and North Africa never expressed themselves in Yiddish-accented Hebrew prayers, nor did they practice liturgical-gestural norms and sartorial codes favoring the dark colors of centuries-ago Poland. Middle Eastern women similarly never wore wigs; their hair covers, if worn, consisted of different variations on regional clothing (and in the wake of British and French imperialism, many wore Western-style clothes). If you go to our synagogues, even in New York, Montreal, Paris or London, you’ll be amazed to hear the winding quarter tones of our music which the uninitiated might imagine to be coming from a mosque.”

          Ella is a proud Arab Jew. I love to hear someone describing himself or herself, like Ella does above. I’m also happy that this term upsets other black-hearted Jews that could never stand hearing it. Israel undertook a massive campaign to de-Arabise them as Ben-Gurion ordered to cover up the lie that they had ALL been expelled from Arab countries simply because they were Jews and to propagate the myth that they were all part of one homogeneous nation.

        • Walid says:

          “Shift change at Harbara Central”

          James, they do it without the benefit of a clutch; that’s where the awful grinding noise is coming from.

        • Mikhael says:

          Walid August 13, 2011 at 2:03 am

          Re: Ella is a proud Arab Jew.

          Pfft. She’s a glorified movie reviewer whose grandparents found refuge, after fleeing an Arabic dictatorship that was a hostile place for Jews. She knows a few words of Arabic and has adopted an Arabic identity because it is fashionable identity politics. But since Israel (and the US) are free countries, if she wants to identify with an alien culture, that’s her prerogative.

          That we have spoken Arabic, not Yiddish;

          Among various other languages. Those Mizrahi Jews who lived in Arab lands, adopted the language of their host countries, just as Ashkenazi Jews adopted the languages of the host countries in Europe. What Ashkenazi, Sephardi and and Mizrahi Jews have in common is retaining a sense of belonging to the Jewish nation and maintaining a separate and distinct identity apart from the culture of the host nation that expressed itself through language just as much as through religion. Take Iraq, for example,. Before Arabic became the lingua franca of the Mesopotamian Jews (where dear Ella’s ancestors lived in Exile) Aramaic was the language of the Jews there. Until the late 19th/early 20th centuries and the assimilation of Jews into a modernizing nascent Iraqi state, most Jews in Mesopotamia (excluding Jews in the Kurdish regions, who spoke lishna didan, an Aramic dialect) spoke their own unique Judeao-Arabic dialect, which was significantly Hebrew-influenced (just as Yiddish is a Germanic dialect with heavy Hebrew influence) and which was written in Hebrew characters. Calling Arabized Jews “Arabs” is like calling Ashkenazi Jews “Germans”, and is disrespectful to both.
          Ella is a proud Arab Jew. I love to hear someone describing himself or herself, like Ella does above. I’m also happy that this term upsets other black-hearted Jews that could never stand hearing it.
          My paternal family tree is composed of Jews some of whom traced their ancestry in Jerusalem, Sefat and Tiberias (and other places in Galillee) going back at least 600 years, as well as relatives who arrived more “recently” to Israel between the 1880s and 1920s from what is now known as Syria and Iraq. Arabic was the most commonly spoken language at family gatherings, in my paternal grandparents’ generation, but I can assure you they never thought of themselves as “Arabs”. This has nothing to do with Ben Gurion and the Zionists “de-Arabizing” them or feeling shame of the beauties of the Arabic language. When my father’s Uncle Nissim was slashed by an Arab during the 1929 riots, they always said “an Arab slashed Nissim,” not ” he was slashed by a fellow Arab.” Arabic is a fine language that is useful for any Israeli Jew to know, and we “Mizrahi” (aka “Mashriqi”) Jews of Israel whose ancestors have lived amongst Arabs take pride in the religious, cultural and national traditions that were developed in those lands. Having a strong commitment to Zionism, which recognizes the national connection of the entirety of the Jewish people Ashkenazi, Sepharadi, or Mizrahi alike is the opposite of “self-hate” and the fact that for the most part Israeli Jews of Mizrahi background, whose ancestors once lived in foreign lands under Arab regimes do not identify or consider ourselves to be “Arab” does not render us “blackhearted” per your formula–and it is only “upsetting” to be so misidentified. We know what we are, and you can’t impose your culture imperialism on us.

        • Mikhael says:

          RE: Walid August 13, 2011 at 2:03 am

          Mikhael erroneously think[s] that Ella’s Arabness is a coincidental accident de parcours,misread[s] her message; there was no self-hatred and no disavowal of culture on her part or on the part of any other Arab Jews.

          No, Shohat disavows and holds in disdain her Israeli Hebrew culture, her native language and the culture of her country. She disavows any connection to her fellow Jews who are not so-called “Arab” Jews, but has adopted pan-Arabic watanniyeh.

          Like many Israelis, I am of mixed Mizrahi/Ashkenazi background. Shohat’s declaration that she belongs to some purported Arab nation would be like me declaring myself to be part of the Magyar nation, because my mother’s family were Jews who once lived in a Hungarian-speaking part of what is now Slovakia and they spoke Hungarian for a generation or two after they abandoned speaking Yiddish (like many Jews in that region) in a futile attempt to ingratiate themselves with the Hungarian authorities.

        • Walid says:

          Mikhael, you seem somewhat disturbed by your partial oriental roots and don’t see anything wrong with the way Arab Jews were treated by Israel starting with spraying them with DDT to leaving them for years in tent cities and treating them as a lesser people. You are getting into the argument on whether Jews are really a nation as you’re saying or simply a religion as I’m saying and we won’t get anywhere discussing it. I don’t see Shohat disdaining or disparaging Israeli and Hebrew culture as much as she is clinging to her orientalism and to her Iraqi heritage which goes against your idea of a good Israeli.

        • Shmuel says:

          Calling Arabized Jews “Arabs” is like calling Ashkenazi Jews “Germans”

          Ashkenazi means German.

        • Mikhael says:

          RE:
          Walid August 13, 2011 at 6:28 am
          Mikhael, you seem somewhat disturbed by your partial oriental roots

          Nope. Just as I wrote, I am no different from most Mizrahi Jews in Israel; Israelis of Mizrahi-Jewish heritage are proud of their long history and maintaining their distinct Jewish cultural and national identity, their religious traditions and prayers (which said prayers and liturgical traditions expressed an identical hope to the traditional liturgy of Ashkenazi Jewry, i.e., an ingathering of Jewish exiles in Zion). That’s why I say people like Ella Shohat, despite her declaring herself “an Arab Jew” are much more akin to Ashkenazi Jews in denying their heritage, after all, it was the Reform Jewish movement in Germany which began by excising all the prayers for a Jewish national renaissance and a return to Zion from the traditional Jewish liturgy–Jews living in Exile in Arab lands never did that. Moreover, I am not of “partial” Oriental heritage. Ashkenazi Jews, just like Mizrahi Jews are descended from people who once lived in Israel and are thus just as “Oriental” in that sense, and they were often regarded as alien Orientals by the Europeans amongst who they lived.

          [you]don’t see anything wrong with the way Arab Jews were treated by Israel starting with spraying them with DDT to leaving them for years in tent cities and treating them as a lesser people.

          Sure, it was deliberate policy to shave the heads of Moroccan Jews and spray them with DDT in the 1950s simply because it was a way for the evil Ashkenazi Zionists who dominated the Labour Party, which was in power at the time because they wanted to humiliate them because they were Moroccan “Arab Jews” and to show them who was boss, right? It had nothing to do with the fact that there were infestations of lice, mosquitoes and other vermin on the immigrant ships from Marseilles and that Israel had only recently beat back malaria and didn’t want further further outbreaks; it had nothing to do with the fact that DDT spraying was perceived as an effective way of dealing with that problem (back in the early 1950s, when this practice was common for a a year or two in Israel, the toxic effects of DDT were not well known). Ashkenazi immigrants were also sprayed with DDT in many instances. So were American soldiers in WW2.

          leaving them for years in tent cities and treating them as a lesser people

          Jews arriving in Israel from Arab lands (refugees from Arab riots and pogroms), as well as Jews from Europe (Holocaust refugees) alike were housed in the ma’abarot (transit camps, some of which initially only had tents) in the early 1950s because there was a lack of adequate housing at the time. There was no deliberate policy of keeping “Arab Jews” there because they were a “lesser people”, but certain socioeconomic factors among some groups of some of the immigrants (particularly Moroccans) caused them to stay there in relative poverty longer than other groups. Ashkenazi Jews and Iraqi Jews in ma’abarot were usually out after a couple of years, while many Moroccan Jews stayed much longer. The era of ma’abarot occurred when Israel was a desperately poor country whose population basically doubled in the space of a few years–most of the ma’abarot were closed by the mid-1950s.

          You are getting into the argument on whether Jews are really a nation as you’re saying or simply a religion as I’m saying and we won’t get anywhere discussing it.

          One reason we won’t get anywhere is because as a non-Jew, you really have no valid input on this and it would be arrogant of you to declare otherwise.

        • Mikhael says:

          RE: Shmuel August 13, 2011 at 7:17 am

          Ashkenazi means German.

          “Eretz Ashkenaz” was a geographic term of convenience used by medieval Jews to describe the Germanic dialect-speaking territories they found themselves in –the name was adapted from a Biblical place name found in the Tanakh which, if it ever existed, was probably in today’s modern Turkey. The traditional Jewish names for Spain and France (Sefarad and Sarfat)were similarly acquired from place names mentioned in the Tanakh.

          If Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazi Jews are “Germans”, how come when Hitler invaded Poland he wasn’t pleased at all the fellow German-speakers of Jewish faith he found there?

          When Arab rioters in Jerusalem chanted “filastin baladna wa al yahud kalabna“, was my father’s uncle Nissim who was slashed supposed to have realized they weren’t talking about him, because he was a “fellow Arab”, an “Arab Jew”?

        • Chaos4700 says:

          Sigh. And yet again, basic semantics proves to be the bane of Zionism.

        • annie says:

          mikhael, aren’t there millions of mizrahi jews? why do you think you can speak for them all? you know who Yehouda Shenhav is don’t you?

        • annie says:

          One reason we won’t get anywhere is because as a non-Jew, you really have no valid input on this and it would be arrogant of you to declare otherwise.

          lol, who’s arrogant?

        • Shmuel says:

          If Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazi Jews are “Germans”, how come when Hitler invaded Poland he wasn’t pleased at all the fellow German-speakers of Jewish faith he found there?

          Irrelevant. Your analogy was incorrect. Ashkenazi Jews do refer to themselves as “German” (possibly a matter of wishful thinking, as Sand suggests) in a supranational rather than modern nation-state sense, and that is how they are referred to by others.

          I think the question of whether Jews of Arab lands have ever considered themselves Arabs – traditionally, or in the modern era – is an interesting one, specifically because the designation Arab has included members of various ethnicities and religions.

          Another element that should be considered, at least in some regions, if one wishes to avoid anachronisms, is that of colonialism. In North Africa for example, both French and Italian colonial powers actively sought to Europeanise and separate the indigenous Jewish minorities from the remainder of the population – with the help of their own native Jewish communities. The Libyan Jews in my family generally refer to themselves as Tripolitans, and make a clear distinction between themselves and “the Arabs” (e.g. “We make couscous this way, but the Arabs make it another way.”) This certainly has to do with their being Jewish (and Zionist), but also with the fact that they were Italianised, and identified more with the colonial community than with their fellow indigenous Libyans. I wonder whether their forebears, a couple of generations back (who had Arab names, like Masoud and Johara – later generations were given Italian names), would have referred to themselves as “Arab Jews”. I also wonder whether ethnographers would consider their culture (names, dialect, food, costume, etc.) a variant of Arab culture .

          In terms of liturgy, the Jews of Tripoli consider themselves Sefaradim (although the community itself predates the exile from Spain by many centuries). The Libyan prayer book I have states that it follows the traditions of “the holy Sefardic communities of Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Turkey, Eretz Yisrael and others” – a geographical area that extends beyond the Arab world, but excludes countries such as Yemen.

        • Mikhael says:

          RE:
          annie August 14, 2011 at 3:09 am

          mikhael, aren’t there millions of mizrahi jews? why do you think you can speak for them all?

          Yup, there are millions of Mizrahi Jews, and fortunately for them, the vast majority of them live in Israel (with smaller concentrations in Western Europe and the USA), The native language of most Israeli-born Mizrahi Jews younger than 45 is Hebrew, not Arabic. If you read my comment above, I said that people like Shohat are entitled to delude themselves that they are Arabs if they wish, as Israel is a free country (she currently lives in the US, and the US is a free country too). She can call herself Mongolian if she wishes too, but that wouldn’t make it any more true. Assimilated Jews living in the remnants of the Austro-Hungarian Empire also convinced themselves that they were Magyars of Jewish faith. They eagerly adopted that language, took Hungarian names and became sworn Hungarian patriots at the beginning of the last century. Many in my mother’s family made this foolish mistake. As I said above, Jews wholeheartedly identifying with the host culture (a kind of Stockholm syndrome) has historically been an Ashkenazi trait. Ivory-tower Israelis of Mizrahi background who declare themselves “Arab Jews” are committing the same foolishness that deluded German and Hungarian Jews committed a century ago (albeit for different reasons). However, luckily for this elite of Mizrahi Israelis, they get to say this nonsense from the comfort of their own country, Israel, so they won’t have to deal with being as harshly disabused from that fantasy like the stupid Jews in Hungary were by their “fellow Hungarians”.

        • Mikhael says:

          Shmuel August 14, 2011 at 4:49 am

          Ashkenazi Jews do refer to themselves as “German” (possibly a matter of wishful thinking, as Sand suggests) in a supranational rather than modern nation-state sense, and that is how they are referred to by others.

          Jews whose families spoke German rather than Yiddish, and the Orthodox among them who follow certain minhhagim (like waiting only 3 hours before eating dairy after consuming meat) are typically referred to as “Yekkes”, and occasionally as “Germans” (to designate the country they immigrated from), but Ashkenazim in general do not perceive themselves to be Germans, either in a supranational sense of being part of a broader German nation (Volk)–like the Volga Germans or the Germans in East Prussia, for example nor in a nation-state sense. For example, Jews living in Tsarist Russia and the USSR were classified as a separate nationality by both regimes, whereas Volga Germans constituted their own nationality in the Russian and Soviet system. Ashkenazi Jews, whose Yiddish language was somewhat related to the Volga Germans who settled in Russia, were never lumped together with them. It’s true that assimilated Jews in Germany proper did embrace German nationalism for a time, but this feeling of love for Deutschland was not requited. Mizrahi Jews who declare their fealty to the Arab watan would be repeating the same mistake that their Ashkenazi brethren made generations ago.

          Libyan Jews in my family generally refer to themselves as Tripolitans to make a clear distinction between themselves and “the Arabs”

          Libyan Jews in Israel who generally refer to themselves as Tripoli’taim to distinguish themselves from the Cyrenian Jews, or the Benghazi Jews or the Jews living in the interior of the culture, who were closer to the Berber way of living. Tripoli had its own distinct culture.
          This certainly has to do with their being Jewish (and Zionist), but also with the fact that they were Italianised,

          Historically, when Diaspora Jews assimilated, they typically adopted the culture of the dominant political power. Moroccan, Tunisian and Algerian Jews wholeheartedly adopted French culture; in the case of Algerian Jews, they were awarded French citizenship en masse. The same goes for Ashkenazi Jews. My mother’s family came from what is now Slovakia, which was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. 150 years ago, most Jews in Slovakia spoke Yiddish and lived mostly in their own insular communities, as they assimilated and left the ghettoes and shtetls at the end of the 19th century, they aspired to speak proper German, then when the influence of Vienna waned, they migrated over to Hungarian. It never occurred to most Jews living there that they should identify with the language and culture of the Slovakian peasants who were the majority population in the region, because there was little benefit to be derived for a Jew from being a Slovakian patriot in what was known as “Pressburg” German and Yiddish and “Pozsony” in Hungarian (and today is known as “Bratislava” in Slovakian. Same goes for Quebec. Most immigrant Yiddish-speaking Jews settling in Montreal in the 20th century saw no reason to send their kids to French-language schools, it’s remained true until Bill 101 forced them to send their kids to French schools.

          I wonder whether their forebears, a couple of generations back (who had Arab names, like Masoud and Johara – later generations were given Italian names), would have referred to themselves as “Arab Jews”.

          Most Jews in what was then Tripolitania and Cyrenaica (it only acquired the name Libya through Italian colonialism) lived as an impoverished community until Italian colonialism, so I think Arab nationalism was the furthest thing from their minds (as it was for most Arabs as well). I am not justifying the Italian conquest, but it’s a fact that the Jews in Libya directly benefited from it, at first. (Naturally, when Mussolini started implementing the race laws in Italy during WW2, in which some Libyan Jews were even deported to European concentration camps, it was a different story.) But I really doubt that there was much of a place for the Jews of Libya in the Grand Senoussi’s legions, just as there was none for them amongst sincere Qadhafyyites.

          In terms of liturgy, the Jews of Tripoli consider themselves Sefaradim (although the community itself predates the exile from Spain by many centuries).

          The Tripolitanian and Cyrenaican Jewish communities are among the oldest Diaspora Jewish communities, predating the formation of Jewish communities in Spain, but they follow Sefaradi nusakh because many of the expelled Spanish Jews settled amongst them in the 16th century (most came via Tunis and Algiers) . That migration included many rabbinical scholars. Prior to the arrival of the Sefardic Jews, the Jewish scholarly level in Tripoli and Cyrenaica was low for many centuries. By the same token, there were Arabic-speaking Jews in Eretz Yisrael and Syria (most of my father’s ancestry comes from these communities) who were revitalized by Sefaradic immigrants.
          The Libyan prayer book I have states that it follows the traditions of “the holy Sefardic communities of Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Turkey, Eretz Yisrael and others” – a geographical area that extends beyond the Arab world, but excludes countries such as Yemen.

          Those are countries in that had significant influxes (to varying degrees) of Spanish Jewish refugees and their descendants that were absorbed by the previously existing Jewish communities, and the Sefaradim exerted a strong influence on the local Jews. Babylonian, Persian and Yemenite Jewry never had significant Sephardic immigration, so their nuskhaot were not influenced by those traditions. Still, lazy people (often Ashkenazim) sometimes call Yemenite or Iraqi Jews “Sephardim”, which is completely inaccurate, but in the case of Syrian Jews, Moroccan Jews, Libyan Jews, etc… there is more of an overlap.

        • Mikhael says:

          RE: annie August 14, 2011 at 3:24 am
          lol, who’s arrogant?

          I would say that non-Jews who boldly declare that Jews don’t constitute a nationality (ignore thousands of years of evidence that Jews have traditionally considered themselves as such) are arrogant, lumping Israeli Jews of Mizrahi background with “Arabs”, simply because some of their ancestors spoke Arabic once upon a time, whilst ignoring the fact that the vast majority of them regard themselves as proud, Zionist Israeli Jews and not as “Arabs” and have no wish to identify as “Arabs” is arrogant .

          It’s the same kind of arrogance that regimes in Turkey displayed when they denied that there was such a thing as a Kurdish national minority, just “mountain Turks”.

        • Mikhael says:

          RE:annie August 14, 2011 at 3:09 am
          you know who Yehouda Shenhav is don’t you?

          Shenhav is one of a handful of ivory tower academics in Israel of Mizrahi Jewish background who says stupid things like “I am an Arab Jew” because in identity politics it’s cooler to embrace what is perceived as belonging to a victimized people. People like Yehuda Shenhav have influence with people like you, but go ask the average Israeli of Iraqi-, Egyptian-, or Yemenite-Jewish ancestry if they’ve heard of the guy and you’ll get a blank stare. Then explain who he is and ask if they agree with his formulation that they are “Arabs”. Very few will agree.

        • Shmuel says:

          Mikhael,

          My reference was not to “Arab nationalism” (although in the modern era there have been Jews who have subscribed to that as well), but to Arab cultural identity – to the extent that such an identity existed in the places and periods in question.

          With regard to Ashkenazim, you are mistaken. The name Ashkenazi means German, and Yiddish is referred to in Yiddish as “Teitch” – a variation of Deutsch. It is a Jewish-Germanic identity for sure, but its Germanic point of reference is clear.

          Historically, when Diaspora Jews assimilated, they typically adopted the culture of the dominant political power.

          I was not talking about assimilation, but about cultural frame of reference. My Libyan relatives were no more assimilated into Italian culture than they had been into Arab culture. They preserved their Jewish identity and religion, within the context of a larger culture. There was certainly an element of identification with the dominant political power in the Europeanisation of the Jews of the Maghreb (and elsewhere), but that is far from the whole story. There were concerted efforts on the part of the colonial powers, specifically to Europeanise Jews, including interference in religious affairs, the dismissal of local rabbis and appointment of European rabbis, and various administrative measures intended to separate them from the rest of the population – partially to their benefit, but also to their detriment, as they came to be identified with the colonisers and oppressors. The subject is addressed, inter alia, by Frantz Fanon, in A Dying Colonialism

          You can’t simply boil everything down to anti-Semitism, persecution and supposedly doomed attempts at assimilation. History, culture, identity and politics are far more complex than that. And as Hannah Arendt stresses, Jewish history no exception.

        • eljay says:

          Mikhael, would you please provide some clarification of statements made by Tal and Michael W.? Despite the fact that they are both Jews, their statements appear contradictory and conflict even with your recent comments. I’ve asked them for clarification but, so far, they haven’t bothered to reply. I would appreciate any input you may have.

          Thank you.

          ——————————————-
          Tal has stated:
          >> Should the Jewish people become extinct like is happening in america because of intermarriages and atheism?

          Michael W. has stated:
          >> …when someone converts to Judaism … [t]hey are not simply joining a religion, they are joining a people.
          - and, here:
          >> Even if you are the descendant of Moses, if your family has been Christian for several generations, you still have to convert to Judaism under even the most liberal interpretation by any of the major denominations.
          ——————————————-

          1. Is Tal correct to say that intermarriage and atheism can cause a nation/people to become extinct?

          2. If he is correct, how does that work? For example:
          - How many generations of intermarriage are required for someone of the Jewish “people” to stop being Jewish?
          - How does one stop being part of a “people” simply by foregoing religious beliefs and practices?
          (I’m pretty sure eee – self-professed Jewish atheist – will be interested to know more about this, too.)

          3. How does a religious conversion (I say “religious conversion” because there is no such thing as a “secular conversion”) make one part of a “people”, and not just of a religion?

          4. And if one is undeniably and eternally part of a “people”, why would one have to undergo a religious conversion to “become again” one of that “people”?

        • Walid says:

          “One reason we won’t get anywhere is because as a non-Jew, you really have no valid input on this and it would be arrogant of you to declare otherwise.”

          You are 100% correct on this, Mikhael, I shouldn’t stick my nose into something I know very little about.

          On the other hand, when the arguent is thrown at me that the Jews of Israel have had to do the things they did to the Palestinians for the survival of their “nation” and that the land belongs to their nation, even if it includes Russians that converted simply to get a free ticket out of the USSR, I feel I have to put the “nation” thing into question and that’s when I stick my nose in it. When you try to convince me that a Jewish guy in Santiago and another Jew with slanted eyes in Shanghai are part of the same nation and not simply part of the same religion, it gives me a reason to question it and arrogance has nothing to do with it. There are even Jews that are now questioning the concept of the nation of Jews and saying there is no such thing.

        • Walid says:

          I’d like to add to the ongoing discussion between Mikhael, Shmuel and others about Arab Jews, from my experience with several Lebanese Arab-Jews, these were all very much Arab in their looks, culture, and so on but with the only difference being that their religion was Jewish. When I read what Shohat wrote, Shenhav and other Iraqi Arab Jews now in Israel, they more or less expressed what I saw of Lebanese Arab Jews.

          If you are interested in the Jews of Lebanon to see what I’m talking about, you can visit their Lebanese website; it has the Beirut bank account number if someone wishes to make a donation to help with the restoration of the Maghen Avraham synagogue currently underway and now almost complete in downtown Beirut.

          link to thejewsoflebanonproject.org

        • annie says:

          nice link walid. i am aware of a definite push to completely eradicate any ‘arab’ away from ‘jew’ as a defining feature. it comes up all the time in comment sections for example from today @ 972 when Dimi Reider had the audacity to reference “Feminist Arab-Jewish blogger Lihi Yona” in his post. commenter Sylvia pipes in “Please explain “Arab-Jewish”. Does that mean that one of her parents is Arab and the other Jewish?”. of course sylvia knew exactly what he meant but you can’t say arab jews anymore without some hasbrat coming into the comment section to correct you. they’ve even changed the wiki page to take ‘arab jew’ out. it’s just the latest trend of brainwashing people.

        • Mikhael says:

          RE:
          Walid August 14, 2011 at 5:20 pm
          when the arguent is thrown at me that the Jews of Israel have had to do the things they did to the Palestinians for the survival of their “nation” and that the land belongs to their nation, even if it includes Russians that converted simply to get a free ticket out of the USSR, I feel I have to put the “nation” thing into question

          I don’t think any Russians converted to Judaism simply to get out of the USSR. There are indeed a significant number of non-Jewish Russians who have immigrated to Israel, in practically every case they have done so with their Jewish or partially Jewish family members who were eligible to make aliyah under the Law of Return. I really don’t see how that’s the business of someone who is not an Israeli citizen, anymore than it would be my business as a non-Greek citizen to criticize the Greek government’s policy of granting automatic citizenship to ethnic Greeks from outside Greece. Members of the Pontian Greek ethnic minority from the former USSR can receive Greek citizenship, as the Greek government in Athens recognizes that group’s ethnic ties to Greece; their ethnic Ukrainian spouses are also eligible to receive Greek citizenship.

          When you try to convince me that a Jewish guy in Santiago and another Jew with slanted eyes in Shanghai are part of the same nation and not simply part of the same religion, it gives me a reason to question it and arrogance has nothing to do with it.

          I’ve met many black Palestinian Arabs in Jerusalem and in the Jericho region (also a lot of black Israeli Bedouin near Rahat) who look like sub-Sharan Africans (most likely of Southern Sudanese or Zanzibar descent) and I have met blonde, blue-eyed, fair-skinned Arabs who could pass for Irish or Dutch in the Galilee region. All these people are supposedly members of the same Palestinian Arab nation. According to wider pan-Arab nationalist ideology, all Arabic-speakers min al-muheet ila al-khaleej, form one indivisible Arab nation. People in Mauritania can barely understand a Kuwaiti, can they?–yet they are all Arabs. Black Arab Muslims in Khartoum look a lot different and act a lot differently than blonde, blue-eyed Christians in Beirut, yet supposedly these are all people of the same nation, and I can accept that, if that’s how they wish to define themselves. As a non-Arab, it’s not my business to tell them otherwise. And as a Jew with long roots in the region, I have the right to opt out of their big happy Arab family (assuming that it exists) and choose my own Jewish/Hebrew/Israeli national identity. And the vast majority of Mizrahi Jews* in Israel, aside from a few ideological cranks, will agree with me.

          * (By the way, it’s even more of a misnomer to blanket-label Mizrahi Jews “Arab Jews” when one considers that many Mizrahi Jews in Israel have families that lived in non-Arabic speaking places like Persia, Bukhara, Georgia, etc.)

        • Mikhael says:

          Walid August 14, 2011 at 5:56 pm

          I’d like to add to the ongoing discussion between Mikhael, Shmuel and others about Arab Jews, from my experience with several Lebanese Arab-Jews, these were all very much Arab in their looks, culture, and so on but with the only difference being that their religion was Jewish.

          Walid, people are always influenced by the culture of the place where they grow up. Despite having two Israeli parents and speaking Hebrew as my first language, the fact that I was born and educated primarily in the United States has always caused me to be labeled “American” during the periods in which I’ve lived in Israel. I was constantly berated and made fun of as “the American” during my IDF service, despite the fact that on my paternal side my roots in Israel went back probably further than anybody else in my army unit.
          My Pakistani-American friends and Arab-American friends who were raised in NY and Nebraska also always get called “Americans” by their relatives when they visit their parents’ homelands. If it happens to the first generation of immigrants, how much more so would it be expected to happen with Jews who’ve lived in Arab countries for many generations. What matters is how one defines oneself. By and large, Jews in Israel whose families came from Arab countries do not define themselves as Arabs; and no, this is not because they hate their own Arab culture or because the Ashkenazi Zionist establishment caused them to be ashamed of their roots. Although the persecution their families underwent in Arab countries has a lot to do with it, many Mizrahi Jews identified with Zionism, in its political and religious forms, well before Israeli independence. Yemenite Jews were coming to Eretz Yisrael in immigration waves from the 1880s as part of the First Aliyah. Some of my cousins came from Iraq in the 1920s. It’s a fairytale to state that Mizrahi Jews were entirely happy in their Arab homeland and had no desire to go to Israel until the Ashkenazi Zionists forced them to leave their brother and sister Arabs.

        • Mikhael says:

          annie August 14, 2011 at 6:31 pm
          i am aware of a definite push to completely eradicate any ‘arab’ away from ‘jew’ as a defining feature…it’s just the latest trend of brainwashing people.

          The brainwashing attempt (an attempt that will fail outside of the target audience of anti-Israel cultists) is being done by people like you, who are insisting on foisting an “Arab” identity on people who overwhelmingly reject it.Of course, Arab societies have done the most to make the notion of “Arab Jews” noxious to Jews whose families have always stayed in the Middle East.
          NB: Israelis with family roots in Iraq, Morocco, Tunis, Syria, Yemen, etc.. have no probably describing themselves in Hebrew as “‘Eraqim,” “Moroka’im,” “Tunisai’im,” “Surim,” and “Teimonim” etc…there is no sense denying that they have family roots in countries bearing those names. But to call themselves “Arab” is illogical. For one thing, there would have to be a country called “Arabia” for them to be from (there is a country called Saudia Arabia, which has a population of zero Jewish citizens.) Of course, there is a wider pan-Arab nationalism (on the decline with the rise of pan-Islamic fervor), however, which encompasses all the Arab countries. This ideology has largely excluded Jews, but more importantly Jews in Arab countries were largely uninterested in it, preferring Zionism over Arab nationalism if they had to choose between two nationalist ideologies. The feelings were mutually unrequited. Insisting that Israeli Jews whose families came to Israel from Arab countries are fellow Arabs is nothing but a transparent attempt to drive a wedge into Israeli society and in this case will not succeed (of course, there are other more exploitable fault lines), especially as Israelis of Mizrahi, Sefaradi and Ashkenazi descent are increasingly intermarried. In another 5o years or so, the communal distinctions in Israeli Jewish society will be largely gone, but will be preserved in various synagogue rites and customs, that’s all.

        • annie says:

          I don’t think any Russians converted to Judaism simply to get out of the USSR.

          i read there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 300,000 russian immigrants who have converted and now those conversions are coming under scrutiny. or something. but last i heard more russians are returning than coming.

        • Mikhael says:

          RE:
          annie August 14, 2011 at 8:57 pm
          i read there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 300,000 russian immigrants who have converted and now those conversions are comingg under scrutiny.

          No. There are in the neighborhood of a few hundred thousand immigrants from the former USSR in Israel who are not Jewish by the strict definition of orthodox Jewish law, which requires one to have a Jewish mother or to undergo a conversion deemed valid by the Orthodox rabbinate. Many of these immigrants came in the early 1990s and thereafter. They were eligible to receive Israeli citizenship by dint of having a Jewish father, or even only one Jewish grandparent, but the Orthodox rabbinical establishment did not regard them as Jews. In addition to these people of partial Jewish ancestry, their non-Jewish spouses or stepchildren (who often had no Jewish ancestry) were allowed to immigrate with them. Many of these people have subsequently underwent processes of conversion to Orthodox Judaism in Israel, for a variety of reasons. Some, I am sure, were exposed to Orthodox Judaism and decided they believed in it and wanted to choose its lifestyle. Many others, I am sure, simply converted to ease the process of marriage, as having a non-Jewish maternal grandmother who never converted renders them as non-Jews under Orthodox Jewish halakha and they cannot marry someone who is regarded as a Jew in Israel because there is no civil marriage in the country. A lot of these people may have regarded themselves as ethnic Jews in the former USSR and were so considered by the Gentiles amongst whom they lived. (I knew one guy who looked stereotypically Jewish, his last name was Kogan–a stereotypically Jewish name and a Russian version of the name “Cohen”, both of his father’s parents were Jewish, his mother’s father was a Jew, but his mother’s mother was not, ergo his mother was not a Jew, ergo he was not a Jew. The “5th Line” denoting nationality on his Soviet passport described him as “Yevrei”–Jew–and he was taunted for his Jewish name and looks in Kiev. He was shocked upon his immigration to Israel that he was not considered a Jew by the rabbinical authorities and he underwent conversion to Orthodox Judaism in Israel. He subsequently abandoned the practices and rituals of Orthodox Judaism after going through all the motions to satisfy the rabbis in order to get a conversion certificate, but he always regarded himself as a Jew. It’s cases like these that you speak of when you say “conversions are coming under scrutiny”. However, what you and Walid suggested, that Russians are converting merely for the chance to immigrate to Israel is false. Those Israelis from the former USSR who have converted to Judaism are already in Israel and have already obtained Israeli citizenship, like I said, either through partial Jewish ancestry or marriage to someone else who is a Jew or has partial Jewish ancestry. Those that convert do so for a variety of reasons, practical and sincere (or a mixture of both), but they’re already inside the country and already have citizenship in most cases.

        • Mikhael says:

          Shmuel August 14, 2011 at 8:57 am
          With regard to Ashkenazim, you are mistaken. The name Ashkenazi means German, and Yiddish is referred to in Yiddish as “Teitch” – a variation of Deutsch. It is a Jewish-Germanic identity for sure, but its Germanic point of reference is clear.

          By that reasoning, you may as well say that Haitians are really Frenchmen, because the Haitian Kreyol language is mostly French-derived. Or you may as well say that Bukharan Jews, who a generation or two ago mostly spoke a Persian dialect, but the younger generation of which has largely been Russified, are really “Russians.”

        • annie says:

          The brainwashing attempt (an attempt that will fail outside of the target audience of anti-Israel cultists) is being done by people like you, who are insisting on foisting an “Arab” identity on people who overwhelmingly reject it.

          right, and Shenhav is one of a handful of ivory tower academics who say stupid things like “I am an Arab Jew” because, according to you, it’s cool. did you even read the link?

          The present case shows that the transition from (Jewish) ethnicity to nationalism is neither natural nor self-evident. While naturally concerning itself with the tension between “ethnicity” and “nationalism,” this paper’s empirical description will also shed light on the manner in which Israel played an active role in the Middle Eastern arena. Throughout its analysis, the Israeli government is conceptualized as a political broker acting to construct “national interests” and “ethnic categories” in order to fulfil its own objectives (raison d’etat). State political actors formed a common Zionist identity for Jews of very different backgrounds, and simultaneously formed a common identity of opposition for all “Arabs”. This paper demonstrates that by relating to the property of each group as collective, rather than individual, the State assisted in constructing these antagonistic categories of national identity.

          I begin with a contextual background, which lays down the major parameters within which the drama described by the empirical material took place. This will be followed by an analysis of the emigration of Iraq’s Jews in the context of the ongoing theoretical debate over the question of nationalism. I will then present an empirical description of the actions taken by the Israeli Government vis-à-vis the Jewish property and the Palestinian property in question. Finally, I will describe the various voices raised by WOJAC members in the course of the discussion surrounding the compensation issue.

          Along these lines, this study offers a historical junction from which alternative “objective possibilities” to Zionist historiography can be examined afresh. For example, public discourse in Israel is traditionally divided into two incommensurable domains: the “ethnic question” and the “Palestinian question”. The compartmentalization of ethnic and national categories was a construct produced by the Zionist movement and its state apparatuses. As Shafir has explained, Zionism was founded “on a theory of political legitimacy, which requires that ethnic boundaries should not cross political ones.” (Shafir, 1996:8) The Zionist master narrative had place for neither Palestinians nor Mizrahim (Jews from Asia and Africa). But, while Palestinians possess a clear counter narrative, the Mizrahi story is a fractured one embedded in the history of both groups. (Shohat, 1988) The national conflict absorbed the Jews from Asia and Africa into the monolithic official memory of European Jews against their Palestinian rivals. (Shohat, 1988) The results of this study provide a vantage-point from which the two perspectives and their historical realities can be reconnected. It suggests that the so-called “Mizrahi” historiography should not necessarily be regarded as an “intra-national” ethnic discourse. Rather, it emphasizes the role of European state elites in “orientalizing” both Palestinians and Mizrahi-Jews, in using military might in order to subject one group, and in using the hegemonic mechanism of silencing and exclusion towards the other no less effectively. The story presented in this paper provides us with an opportunity to rescue the story from its Zionist biases and to offer a new historiographical perspective.

          because it’s cool? or because it explains how european jews used arab/iraqi jews for zionism’s theft.

        • annie says:

          from wiki “Ashkenaz is the medieval Hebrew name for this region and thus for Germany.” sounds a lot like The name Ashkenazi means German to me. they were german were they not? List of German Jews.

          By that reasoning, you may as well say that Haitians are really Frenchmen, because the Haitian Kreyol language is mostly French-derived.

          by your reasoning you might as well say german jews weren’t german and american jews aren’t american.

          sheesh.

        • Mikhael says:

          annie August 14, 2011 at 8:57 pm
          but last i heard more russians are returning than coming. so much for the land of

          And many of those that return to Russia are those that have no Jewish family roots, who married into Jewish families (or partially Jewish families), the marriage ends, and they go back to their homeland. Or they are people who go back and forth. Anyway, Israel is a normal country, we are not like the former USSR, which outlawed defection. Despite all of its problems, more Israelis choose to stay than leave, and many of those who leave ultimately come back. I don’t think anyone would point to the fact that people have migrated from Ireland for centuries that that means Ireland should give up the ghost. In the years of the Celtic Tiger boom in the early 2000s Irish expats in NY, London and Sydney were returning in droves, Irish Argentines who had one Irish grandparent lined up at the Irish Embassy in Buenos Aires in 2000 so they could take out Irish citizneship and move to booming Dublin. Now that the Irish economy collapsed again, all the young Irish with university degrees are leaving again to work as bartenders in Woodhaven, Queens. That’s life. It’s not the end of Ireland, and the fact that some ex-Soviets who moved to Israel 20 years ago are moving back to Moscow is not the end of Israel either.

        • Mikhael says:

          annie August 14, 2011 at 9:47 pm
          by your reasoning you might as well say german jews weren’t german and american jews aren’t american.

          German Jews are German to the extent that they lived in or had citizenship in Germany but they were not ethnic Germans, American Jews are American if they lived in or had citizenship in the USA. Ashkenazi Jewry, however, extended far beyond the borders of what is now known as Germany. For example, my mother’s Hungarian-Jewish family (actually she was born in what is today called Slovakia in an area that was once controlled by Hungary) is Ashkenazi, but they are NOT “German.” A century ago, they spoke Yiddish, which is a German/Hebrew hybrid, they subsequently changed their language to Hungarian, in Israel they spoke their ancestral Hebrew tongue.

        • annie says:

          i was referencing a different kind of russian immigrant

          Russian Orthodox in Israel strive to resurrect “Church of Zion”

          It’s no secret that myriads of Russian Christians (hundreds of thousands?) were able to “make aliyah” via Law of Return loopholes, forged documents, or simply because they have authentic Jewish credentials but secretly identified with the Russian Orthodox Church or messianic Christian groups. While the trend of messianic Russian congregations is well known, it appears that non-Jewish Jews and “Jewish believers in Jesus” are now filling the pews in what’s reported to be a spiritual revival of the Russian Orthodox Church in Israel.

          A recent article in the Jerusalem Post quotes the press secretary of Sophia – the association of Russian Orthodox Christians in northern Israel – as claiming that “there are at least 70,000 to 100,000 Russian Orthodox living in Israel today.” He feels “the time has come to revive the Orthodox Church in the Holy Land” and he expresses hope that “the ancient church of Zion might be resurrected again.”

          Now, that same representative of the Russian Orthodox church “waves off all accusations of being involved in missionary work”“our faith forbids us to lure people into it.” But not too long ago headlines out of Moscow were proclaiming that Israel was fair game for missionary activity, with Moscow Theological Academy Deacon Andrey Kuraev saying that “the Moscow Patriarchate should begin actively preaching among the Russian-speaking Jews of Israel.”

          Two months ago, Jewish Israel reported that Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, had cautioned against proselytizing and raised a red flag when asked about the messianic community in Israel. However, in that same interview he noted the growth of the Russian Orthodox Church:

          “Literally hundreds of thousands of Soviet people, who were not Jewish, came into Israel and became Israeli citizens. So much so that at one point the Israeli army was printing out the New Testament in Hebrew so that soldiers could use it to swear in because they were practicing Christians serving in the Israeli army… There are also Russian Orthodox Christians and, if you want to celebrate the Russian Orthodox Christmas, which is a little bit after the Western Christmas, their churches are packed and you can’t get anywhere near them in Israel…”

        • Mikhael says:

          annie August 14, 2011 at 9:39 pm
          because it’s cool? or because it explains how european jews used arab/iraqi jews for zionism’s theft.

          Israeli Mizrahi Jews (not Arab Jews) were not used by anyone. Mizrahi Jews are and were at the forefront of Zionism and are capable of making their own rational decisions to identify with Israel and Zionism before accepting an “Arab” identity. You asked me before if I think I represent all Mizrahi Jewish opinion in Israel. Clearly, I don’t. It’s a free country and you can always find self-styled iconoclastic misfits like Shenhav, he can think and write what he wants and gets paid handsomely for it by the Israeli taxpayer by teaching in a publicly supported university. But don’t delude yourself that opinions like his will find any resonance in the broader community of Israelis of Mizrahi-Jewish descent, outside of academe. On the whole, Mizrahi Jews in Israel will cast their lot with their fellow Israeli Jews of Ashkenazi background before they would consider themselves part of any broader Arab community. Misfits like Shenhav, Shohat et al. are the exception.

        • annie says:

          giving up the ghost? the end of israel? did i miss some transition in our previous conversation or are you taking this to some ‘natural conclusion’.

        • Mikhael says:

          annie August 14, 2011 at 10:09 pm

          i was referencing a different kind of russian immigrant

          It’s no secret that myriads of Russian Christians (hundreds of thousands?) were able to “make aliyah” via Law of Return loopholes, forged documents,

          But that’s exactly what I described…people from the former USSR who “exploited loopholes” to make aliyah to Israel–i.e., people of partial Jewish descent (one proveable Jewish grandfather suffices) can make aliyah. That’s quite different from a deliberate false conversion in order to make aliyah.In the chaos of the breakup of the USSR, there are also people who forged documents too to claim Jewish ancestry that never existed, but that probably happened a lot less often.

        • Mikhael says:

          eljay August 14, 2011 at 9:30 am

          Mikhael, would you please provide some clarification of statements made by Tal and Michael W

          Eljay, I don’t know. I have a daughter in the States through a non-Jewish woman who never converted and my daughter is not being raised by her mother with any sort of Jewish identity, so I would say yes, Jews are becoming extinct in the USA through intermarriage, I’ve been part of that process myself. They will probably hold on in the Orthodox enclaves, but outside of that, intermarriage in the USA will lead to people just being Americans of Jewish descent and that’s it.

          2. If he is correct, how does that work? For example:
          - How many generations of intermarriage are required for someone of the Jewish “people” to stop being Jewish

          It could take as little as one generation, as I’ve just illustrated above.

          - How does one stop being part of a “people” simply by foregoing religious beliefs and practices?

          The same way any any 3rd-generation immigrants lose their cultural and national identity in a country like America. It’s a natural process. You either segregate yourself in your own communities and stall the process as much as you can or you return to the country of your forebears, or you assimilate.

          3. How does a religious conversion (I say “religious conversion” because there is no such thing as a “secular conversion”) make one part of a “people”, and not just of a religion?

          I look at this way, as a secular/agnostic Jew. Conversion to Judaism (as Orthodox Jews have always understood it anyway) involves more than simply adopting a religious creed and a set of doctrines about man’s relationship to the Deity, but involves the individual’s binding his or her fate with the entirety of the Jewish people. The archetypal convert in the Jewish narrative is Ruth the Moabitess, who said to Naomi “Your people shall be my People.” I think of conversion to Judaism as a tribal initiation rite or a naturalization process.

          4. And if one is undeniably and eternally part of a “people”, why would one have to undergo a religious conversion to “become again” one of that “people”?

          I, for one, don’t think conversion to Judaism is the only valid way to become a Jew. I have no problem accepting someone of partial Jewish ancestry who chooses to identify as a Jew as such (for example, in addition to my own daughter,the Russian-speaking Jews who have moved to Israel who have Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers). However, I defer to the Orthodox rabbinate; if they wish to be accepted in Orthodox Jewish communities then they must undergo full conversion. If at some future date my American daughter, when she reaches adulthood, chooses to identify with her paternal Jewish roots, then I would consider her a Jew, and I think it’s fair that she should be entitled to Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return (technically under Israeli law she’s Israeli already through me, her Israeli citizen father). If she wants to become part of an Orthodox community at a later stage and marry within that community, she would then have to undergo the difficult process of Orthodox Jewish conversion. Right now, she’s a child, and these things are the furthest thing from her mind. I never discuss any of it with her, and I’ll be perfectly happy with her if she does not become Jewish either in a religious sense or a cultural sense, although I would be pleased if she chooses to embrace a cultural.ethnic identity as a Jew and identify with the Jewish nation and Israel, even if she would still not be Jewish according to the strict dictates of Jewish law absent conversion. But seeing as I leave her religious education (or lack thereof) with her mother, I am resigned to this not happening.

        • annie says:

          let’s see. you’re a blogger and he’s an iconoclastic misfit professor at tel aviv university. gotcha.

        • annie says:

          It’s no secret that myriads of Russian Christians (hundreds of thousands?) were able to “make aliyah” via Law of Return loopholes, forged documents,

          But that’s exactly what I described…people from the former USSR who “exploited loopholes” to make aliyah to Israel

          how odd, because this is what i heard (nothing about christians):

          There are in the neighborhood of a few hundred thousand immigrants from the former USSR in Israel who are not Jewish by the strict definition of orthodox Jewish law, which requires one to have a Jewish mother or to undergo a conversion deemed valid by the Orthodox rabbinate. Many of these immigrants came in the early 1990s and thereafter. They were eligible to receive Israeli citizenship by dint of having a Jewish father, or even only one Jewish grandparent, but the Orthodox rabbinical establishment did not regard them as Jews. In addition to these people of partial Jewish ancestry, their non-Jewish spouses or stepchildren (who often had no Jewish ancestry) were allowed to immigrate with them. Many of these people have subsequently underwent processes of conversion to Orthodox Judaism in Israel, for a variety of reasons.

          etc.

          i think i’ll forgo anymore conversation w/you Mikhael, you either jump the shark (w/your end of israel allegation applied to me for heavens sake), as i’ve demonstrated, ignore the argument altogether as you did w/Shenhav’s (and use the ad hominem against him to boot), pretend you already made the same point (wrt russian immigration which you certainly did not) and one way or another generally hold court dominating the discourse without actually engaging anyone.

          see ya

        • pjdude says:

          No matter how much you want to one cannot change one’s blood. if they are arab etniclly and jewish than they are an arab jew. their is no such thing as a jewish ethcity and hasn’t been for thousands of years. it is a religion and trying to pretend that your not one’s one ethncity is foolish and quite frankly unhealthy.

        • Walid says:

          “According to wider pan-Arab nationalist ideology, all Arabic-speakers min al-muheet ila al-khaleej, form one indivisible Arab nation. People in Mauritania can barely understand a Kuwaiti, can they?–”

          Mikhael, I never believed in that concept because it’s just as bogus and politically motivated as the one about the Jews being all of one cultural nation rather than of one common religion. Historically, most of the people “min al-muheet ila al-khaleej” had the language and religion rammed down their throats and the blue-eyed Christians of Lebanon that you talked about (BTW, there are more blue-eyed Shia Muslims there than blue-eyed Christians), that early in history wrote the grammar of the Arab language throw a monkey wrench at that concept. Now the Jews are pulling the same stunt with their newfound “nation” claim to help them dispossess the Palestinians.

          In your concept of Jewish nationhood, can you explain why in 1948 the majority of Jews in Lebanon refused to have anything to do with Israel and that some were even fervent anti- Zionists and can you explain why the Jewish population in Lebanon actually started increasing after 1948 and continued doing so until the civil war broke out in the early 70s and they started leaving along with other Lebanese for better economic opportunities elsewhere with most refusing to go to Israel? Where was Jewish nationhood in this?

          It is a fairy tale to say that all Jews had been happy in Arab countries but it’s also a fairy tale to say that all Jews from Arab countries left as a result of persecution. You said it yourself that Yemenis went to Israel for their aliya long before Israel was established. Most Iraqi Jews did so for the same reason after 1950 and most Tunisian Jews left their country about 15 years after the creation of Israel and half of those chose to go to France. The one place where they appear to have been unjustly kicked out in big numbers was Egypt.

        • Shmuel says:

          By that reasoning …

          Mikhael,

          I mentioned that Yiddish is referred to as Teitch, in Yiddish, because you had made a distinction between Jewish speakers of German and Yiddish.

          You keep trying to drag the conversation back to nationalism and even volkism. In the course of your argument that Jews had merely been “Arabized” but were never Arabs, you asserted that it would be incorrect to call Ashkenazim “Germans” – yet, that is in fact, precisely what they call themselves. This does not imply that they consider themselves a part of the German “volk” or feel any kind of love for or commitment to “Deutschland”. Ashkenazim may have no actual ties to Ashkenaz-Germany (beyond a certain rabbinic legacy), and Yiddish may be far more Slavic than it is German, but historically, they chose to identify themselves as Germanic Jews.

          Mutatis mutandis, a Jew – past or present – may identify as an Arab Jew, without professing any love for or loyalty to an Arab watan. Not only can Arab be a purely cultural or geographical designation, but when combined with a further qualifier (Jew), it can easily refer to a specific kind of Jewish culture. Yehouda Shenhav’s use of the term is certainly political, but by no means implies identification with a pan-Arabist ideology of any kind. Resistance to the application of such a term to Jews from Arab lands is no less political however, whether or not such a designation ever existed, before or after the advent of colonialism and Zionism.

          Your net division of the world into mutually exclusive ethnic nationalisms is very disturbing.

        • Walid says:

          Shmuel, I agree with just about everything you said, but why is the subject of Judaized Arabs seldom discussed? There is also the subject of the Arabized Jews and the various studies dear to Ben Gurion’s heart since the early 30s pointing to the Palestinians being actually Jews, having Jewish names and secretely maintaining Jewish traditions and customs like candle lighting. Israel has spent so much effort and money drumming up pseudo-Jews to pack the house when it already had all kinds of Jews living under its nose. Haaretz had an article on them a couple of years back.

          Bits and pieces from link below:

          … David Ben Gurion attributed great importance to the subject and believed that this was the key to a future solution! In his article, entitled “An Inquiry into the Origins of the Fallahin ,” published in 1917, he summarizes 4,7 :

          “In the area of the Carmel and the Sharon Valley we encounter in many Fallahin villages, blonde hair and blue eyes and the outward appearance of their faces attest to their forefathers having come here many hundreds of years ago from northern Europe . . . but despite many mixed marriages, the vast majority of Fallahin and Moslems in the western Land of Israel, presents us with another race type and a complete ethnic unit and there is no doubt that in their veins flows much Jewish blood, the blood of those Jewish farmers, the masses who, in troubled times, chose to deny their faith as long as they would not be uprooted from their lands. ”

          … In 1956, Ben Gurion appointed a task group, headed by Moshe Dayan (who later became the chief of staff of the Israeli military), to advance the idea of Judaizing the Bedouin people. The group brought in religious Jews to instruct the Bedouin peoples about Jewish traditions. However, these instructors were unused to the difficult way of life in the Bedouin tents and abandoned their task at the outset. Claiming that Judaizing the Bedouin peoples would anger the world’s Moslems, Dayan caused Ben Gurion to abandon the idea.

          … Additionally, it was found that Palestinians are genetically much closer to Ashkenazi Jews (Jews who came to Israel from European countries) than they are to the Arabs. Similarly, Palestinians are considerably genetically closer to Jews of the Eastern communities and to the Islamic Kurds than they are to the Arabs. These findings not only strengthen the insights of Ben Gurion and Ben Tsvi, but also dispel contradictory claims like those of Syria’s late President Hafez Assad that state that Ashkenazi Jewry is descended from the Kazars (a Caucasian nation that temporarily adopted Judaism, more than thousand years ago), and therefore they possess no historical claim over the Land of Israel. Furthermore, the research finds, though not in a categorical way, that the Palestinians residing in the mountains are genetically closer to the Jews than are their brothers who dwell in the plains. ”

          link to zionsake.tripod.com

          Part of what Wiki says about Judaized Arabs:

          “… In abt 400 CE, Himyarite King tubba Abu Karib As’ad Kamil (385-420 CE),[9] a convert to Sadduceean Judaism, led military expeditions into central Arabia and expanded his empire to encompass most of the Arabian Peninsula.[10] His army had marched north to battle the Aksumites who had been fighting for control of Yemen for a hundred years. The Aksumites were only expelled from the region when the newly-Jewish king rallied Jews together from all over Arabia, with pagan allies. The relationship between the Sadducee Himyarite Kings and the polytheistic Arab tribes strengthened when, under the royal permission of Tubba’ Abu Karib As’ad, Qusai ibn Kilab (400–480 CE) reconstructed the Ka’aba from a state of decay, and had the Arab al-Kahinan (Cohanim) build their houses around it.[11] Qusai ibn Kilab was the great-great- grandfather of Shaiba ibn Hashim (Abdul-Mutallib, who had a Jewish wife). Shaiba ibn Hashim was fifth in the line of descent to Muhammad, and attained supreme power at Mecca. Qusai ibn Kilab is among the ancestors of Sahaba and the progenitor of the Banu Quraish. When Qusai came of age, a man from the tribe of Banu Khuza’a named Hulail (Hillel) was the trustee of the Kaaba, and the Na’sa (Nasi)—authorized to calculate the calendar. Qusai married his daughter and, according to Hulail’s will, obtained Hulail’s rights to the Ka’aba. Hulail, according to Arabian tradition was a member of the Banu Jurhum. Banu Jurhum was a sub-group of the Banu Qahtani from whom the Himyarites originally descend.”

          link to en.wikipedia.org

        • eljay says:

          Mikhael, I sincerely thank you for your thoughtful reply. I’ve read it a couple of times and will re-read it a couple more times before I post any follow-up questions (to which, I hope, you will also offer a reply).

        • Shmuel says:

          why is the subject of Judaized Arabs seldom discussed?

          Shlomo Sand discussed it, along with some of the reasons it is seldom discussed.

          I’d like to add a couple of side remarks to the discussion.

          Mikhael mentioned the identification of biblical names such as Ashkenaz, Sefarad and Zarfat with European countries and geographical regions, in the Middle Ages. A more general biblically-derived designation for the lands of Rome/Christendom was “Edom”, while Arab/Islamic lands are often called “Qedar” (cf. Ezekiel 27:21) in Mediaeval Jewish literature (especially in the Hebrew poetry of Spain).

          On the subject of composite or “mosaic” identities, nothing beats Amin Maalouf’s On Identity.

        • Mikhael says:

          Re:annie August 14, 2011 at 11:38 pm

          let’s see. you’re a blogger and he’s an iconoclastic misfit professor at tel aviv university.

          I’m neither a “blogger” (as I understand the correct use of the term, a blogger is someone who maintains a blog, like Phillip Weiss) nor am I a professor.

          I work for a living.

        • annie says:

          bloggers are people who write on blogs. like you are doing.

        • Mikhael says:

          annie August 14, 2011 at 11:38 pm
          think i’ll forgo anymore conversation w/you Mikhael,

          Thanks!

          you either jump the shark (w/your end of israel allegation applied to me for heavens sake)
          As I said, it was very obvious where you were going with your smug little comments about the fact that some Israeli citizens who immigrated to Israel in the 1990s have returned to Russia to live. What else would you bring that up if not to make a smug insinuation about Israel’s non-viability?
          ignore the argument altogether as you did w/Shenhav’s (and use the ad hominem against him to boot),

          My calling Shenhav a misfit is not an ad hominem attack against the man. He is by definition, a “misfit” in the most literal sense, regardless of whether his scholarship is academically sound or not. Declaring himself an Arab Jew by definition makes him a misfit, as it puts him at odds with the vast majority of Israeli Jews whose families came to Israel from countries in the Arabic-speaking Diaspora.
          pretend you already made the same point (wrt russian immigration which you certainly did not)
          A point I made several times already, but that you don’t seem clever enough to to understand. In an earlier post, Walid alleged that a significant number of people immigrating to Israel from the former USSR under Israel’s “Law of Return” underwent dodgy conversions to Judaism to do so, and I replied that such was not the case and that nearly all of the immigrants from the former USSR to Israel, even if they were not Jewish by a traditional interpretation of Jewish law, were either of partial Jewish ancestry or married to a Jew or someone of partial Jewish ancestry, whereupon you brought up an article discussing cases of some Israeli citizens originating from the former USSR who practice various forms of Christianity, as if that disproved my point. I responded to you that the article you copied/pasted onto Mondoweiss about the many Russian-speaking Orthodox Christian Israeli citizens discussed people who immigrated to Israel under the scenario I outlined, i.e., people who were able obtain Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return through family connections to Jews. Whether some of these former Russian, Ukrainian, or Byelorussian (or whatever) citizens practice Christianity or not, nearly all obtained Israeli citizenship either (A)through Jewish descent or (B) marriage to someone who is of Jewish descent, which I’ve said several times already. You responded with a non sequitur that the article in question was about the prevalence of Russian-speaking Christians in Israel. Whether they practice Russian Orthodox Christianity or believe in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is irrelevant and does not negate my point that contra to Walid’s allegation, nearly all of the non-Jewish Israeli citizens from the former USSR have some Jewish ancestry or were the spouse or stepchild of someone with Jewish ancestry and are from families that immigrated from the former USSR post-1990.

        • Mikhael says:

          annie August 21, 2011 at 10:20 pm
          bloggers are people who write on blogs. like you are doing.

          I’m afraid dictionary.com doesn’t agree with you, but more or less conforms to my definition:

          “Main Entry: blogger
          Part of Speech: n
          Definition: a person who keeps a Web log (blog) or publish an online diary
          Dictionary.com’s 21st Century Lexicon

          (Of course, language and usage changes with time (especially internet-related words) so this definition may not always be correct, but in my experience a “blogger” is someone like
          Phillip Weiss, i.e., someone who maintains a blog. People who merely comment on others’ blogs (such as yours truly) are merely blog commenters. My ego has never been big enough to be a blogger, and like, I said, I work for a living.

        • annie says:

          well, i’m not going to argue with you about the definition. i consider people who blog bloggers. this is a blog, we’re blogging. that is what i meant when i called you a blogger, either way my meaning was clear. whether i say you’re a person writing on a blog claiming this person you do not agree with is an iconoclastic misfit or whether i say you’re a blogger claiming he’s an iconoclastic misfit it makes no difference. it’s just an ad hominem. boring, that’s not a viable argument, it’s an argument to the man.

          A point I made several times already, but that you don’t seem clever enough to to understand.

          oh, i suppose by your logic this ad hominem is justified by saying, because you have the ptv you have you are not clever in the same way you claimed your ad hominem re shenhav was ‘proven’ by his different opinion:

          Declaring himself an Arab Jew by definition makes him a misfit

          yeah, we get it. and you are construing my comment wrt christian russians was somehow related to “the end of Israel” because like..you say so? because ..what else would my meaning be? some guy on a blog (blogger, not blogger i could care less what you call yourself) knows my meaning when i don’t? . my meaning, as you yourself have just given several examples of..is israel is gang ho to immigrate, fund to immigrate by ofering cheap affordable housing into settlements a million russians using extremely flexible criteria because they are white. it’s a racist aparthied state and those white russians are primarily rightwingers and have impacted the demographics of the country and it’s politics. that was my point, it had nothing to do with the end of israel. nothing whatsoever. here are some articles wrt israeli’s moving back to russia in case you’re interested.

          i’ll leave you with shmuel’s comment which you ignored, again:

          You keep trying to drag the conversation back to nationalism and even volkism. In the course of your argument that Jews had merely been “Arabized” but were never Arabs, you asserted that it would be incorrect to call Ashkenazim “Germans” – yet, that is in fact, precisely what they call themselves. This does not imply that they consider themselves a part of the German “volk” or feel any kind of love for or commitment to “Deutschland”. Ashkenazim may have no actual ties to Ashkenaz-Germany (beyond a certain rabbinic legacy), and Yiddish may be far more Slavic than it is German, but historically, they chose to identify themselves as Germanic Jews.

          Mutatis mutandis, a Jew – past or present – may identify as an Arab Jew, without professing any love for or loyalty to an Arab watan. Not only can Arab be a purely cultural or geographical designation, but when combined with a further qualifier (Jew), it can easily refer to a specific kind of Jewish culture. Yehouda Shenhav’s use of the term is certainly political, but by no means implies identification with a pan-Arabist ideology of any kind. Resistance to the application of such a term to Jews from Arab lands is no less political however, whether or not such a designation ever existed, before or after the advent of colonialism and Zionism.

          Your net division of the world into mutually exclusive ethnic nationalisms is very disturbing.

        • Mikhael says:

          RE: Walid August 15, 2011 at 2:50 am
          Historically, most of the people “min al-muheet ila al-khaleej” had the language and religion rammed down their throats

          Walid, if you believe that millions of Arabized Berbers, Assyrians and Phoenecians had a foreign Arab language and culture imposed on them centuries ago, then why would you insist on perpetuating this identity for Hebrew-speaking Israeli Jews whose parents and grandparents came to Israel from Arab countries decades (and in some cases, centuries) ago? Your average 25-year-old Israeli Jew whose family came from Iraq, Yemen or Egypt cannot speak Arabic and does not view himself as an Arab. In most cases, even the Arabic-speaking grandparents reject an Arab identity.
          In my own case, my father’s side of the family spoke Arabic as one of their primary languages (my father continued to be fairly fluent in spoken Arabic, but not written for his whole life, although he was more comfortable in Hebrew and English, both of his parents spoke Arabic as their first language), but I’m pretty sure they never referred to themselves as Arabs.

          it’s just as bogus and politically motivated as the one about the Jews being all of one cultural nation rather than of one common religion. Now the Jews are pulling the same stunt with their newfound “nation” claim to help them dispossess the Palestinians.

          But if you were familiar with Jewish history, you would see that the idea of Jews constituting a nation rather than merely a religion is not a new idea and existed long before the concept of modern political Zionism or of a Palestinian national identity ever arose.

          Re:the blue-eyed Christians of Lebanon that you talked about (BTW, there are more blue-eyed Shia Muslims there than blue-eyed Christians),

          I’m not aware that there has ever been a census done of whether there are more blue-eyed, fair-haired Shia than Christians, but having spent some time in southern Lebanon
          (I’m sure you can guess why a 41-year-old Israeli citizen was in Southern Lebanon in the late 1980s/early 1990s), I am quite aware of the existence of Shiites fitting this description. My point in referring to “blue-eyed Christians” was that you seemed to dismiss the idea of phenotypically dissimilar Yemenite Jews and German Jews possibly belonging to the same national community, yet Arab nationalism (which in its pure form is supposed to transcend religious and sectarian differences and bind all Arabic-speakers in one national community) has no problem including Muslim Sudanese and Lebanese Christians (and theoretically, the mysterious “Arab Jew”) in the same nation. Granted, you now claim that you reject that theory, but if they can all be part of the Arab nation, then a Yemenite Jew and a Polish Jew can be part of the same Jewish nation, all the more so since they actually do share much common history, culture and ancestry.

          In your concept of Jewish nationhood, can you explain why in 1948 the majority of Jews in Lebanon refused to have anything to do with Israel… continued doing so until the civil war broke out in the early 70s and they started leaving along with other Lebanese for better economic opportunities elsewhere with most refusing to go to Israel? Where was Jewish nationhood in this?

          Sure. Money, property and assets (not to mention physical well-being). Proclaiming loyalty to an enemy Israeli state when you have a vested economic interest in Lebanon and the physical security of you and your family depends on your neighbors seeing you as a loyal Arab Lebanese wouldn’t have been such a smart move for Lebanese Jews, would it? As for more emigre Lebanese Jews preferring New York, Montreal and Paris to Israel in the 1970s, it’s human nature to go where there is better economic opportunity and less perceived political turmoil. There’s no doubt that you could make more money opening an electronics retail shop in NY circa 1976 than you could in Israel (crime-wise, NYC in the 1970s was no piece of cake either, but that’s another story), and if you could wangle a visa to the USA, that’s what many Jewish Beirutis did. Nevertheless, if you go to the Sephardic Community Center in Gravesend, Brooklyn (which is composed mostly of Syrian, Lebanese and Egyptian Jews, many of whom have roots in Alleppo), you’ll see that these first-generation American Jews of Lebanese descent will proudly celebrate Israeli Independence Day (and the 4th of July), but not Lebanese Independence Day (nor will they celebrate Syrian or Egyptian national holidays).

          It’s always human nature to want to stay where you are unless you are forced to do otherwise. That’s why many in the American Jewish community have historically given lip service to Zionism over the past 60 years, but most who do, wouldn’t ever think of moving to Israel. Jewish history also teaches that when Cyrus the Great of Persia announced that the Jews exiled to Babylon were free to return to their homeland in 538 BCE, most preferred to stay in Babylon. By the same token, today, you can find passionate Palestinian-American nationalists who’ve lived in the US for decades and own gas stations and candy stores in Brooklyn. Most of them will also probably be staying in the USA even if their wildest fantasy comes true,and Israel vanishes forever and a maximalist “Dawlat Filastin” min al-baHr ila al-nahar takes place, with a full right of return, Jerusalem as its capital and all the Jews leave.

          It is a fairy tale to say that all Jews had been happy in Arab countries but it’s also a fairy tale to say that all Jews from Arab countries left as a result of persecution.

          Every Arab country was different and the situations for the Jewish communities in those countries were different also. On the one hand, you’ll always hear stories that there were always good personal, neighborly relations between some Jews and some Arabs in Arab countries, but that doesn’t mean everything was always well and dandy. Even in countries that had relatively stable governments that were friendly to the Jewish community (e.g., Morocco), there were instances of anti-Jewish riots against the local Jewish community in 1948. Jews who left perceived Morocco as a hostile place because it was hostile, no matter that the king was friendly to the Jews.

          most Tunisian Jews left their country about 15 years after the creation of Israel and half of those chose to go to France.

          And large numbers of French Jews (who are often the children and grandchildren of Tunisian Jews who moved to France in the 1950s-1960s) have been making aliyah from 2000.Many of them cite hostility to them from French Muslims as a principal reason.

          RE:You said it yourself that Yemenis went to Israel for their aliya long before Israel was established

          My point in stating that was to show that Mizrahi Jews were not infantile victims of European Zionism, as you seem to portray them. They were themselves often active participants in Zionism, whether it was religiously or politically motivated, but granted, there is always a push/pull element in Zionism . Most Jews who made aliyah from the Arab world post-1948 did so because because of a “push”, even if they were sympathetic to Zionism, but Jews from Arab lands (just like Jews from elsewhere) had been making aliyah for centuries because of the pull of Zion, too.

        • CigarGod says:

          Blogger definition is like Cowboy definition.

          Cowboys don’t just herd cows, they herd bulls, steers, yearlings, calves, etc.
          Sometimes they herd their cows, sometimes they herd someone else’s.

          Some cows even look like steers, bulls, etc…at least from the neck up…because they have horns.

          You can’t believe the number of couples who have leaned on my fence over the years and argued about whether Elsie was a cow or not, because she had horns.

          It doesn’t really matter all that much if she is a he or not…when you are in close quarters with her and she tosses her head in your direction. A horn in the groin is a horn in the groin.

        • CigarGod says:

          Blogger definition is like Cowboy definition.
          Cowboys don’t just herd cows, they herd bulls, steers, yearlings, calves, etc.
          Sometimes they herd their cows, sometimes they herd someone else’s.
          Some cows even look like steers, bulls, etc…at least from the neck up…because they have horns.
          You can’t believe the number of couples who have leaned on my fence over the years and argued about whether Elsie was a cow or not, because she had horns.
          It doesn’t really matter all that much if she is a he or not…when you are in close quarters with her and she tosses her head in your direction. A horn in the groin is a horn in the groin.

  3. annie says:

    ‘Every time I wrote Zionism, MEMRI replaced the word by Jew or Judaism. They want to give the impression that I’m not criticizing Israeli policy, but that what I’m saying is anti-Semitic.’

    all the hasbrats stay on message. they’re soooo predictable.

    • Charon says:

      Makes me wonder how often they do that. Still many people IRL who would say they are interchangeable. That’s sad.

      Wikipedia has section about criticism of Israel or criticism of Zionism as antisemitism. That Neo-Nazis and antisemites hide behind it when they really mean to criticize Jews.

      I’m sure that’s true to an extent. Bigots generally are not intelligent enough to hide their bigotry though so you can tell a difference. IMHO, it should be taken out of the article. You could make that argument anywhere. I’m going to go try editing their article on Pit-Bulls and say that criticism of Pit-Bulls is racists because they are popular among African Americans, therefore racists like to hide behind this.

  4. Kathleen says:

    Here (your link) MEMRI repeats the debunked bull Iran wants to “wipe Israel off the map”

    “”The Criminal and Terrorist Zionist Regime… Will Be Wiped Off”

    In a May 14, 2008 speech in Gorgan, northern Iran, Ahmadinejad reiterated that “Israel’s days are numbered,”[8] that “the peoples of the region would not miss the narrowest opportunity to annihilate this false regime,” and that “the nations of the region despise this false and criminal regime.”[9]

    At a conference marking the 19th anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Rohullah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Revolution Regime, Ahmadinejad stated: “Know that the criminal and terrorist Zionist regime – which has years of plundering, aggression and crime to its name – has come to the end of its road and will soon be wiped off…”[10] Addressing the late Khomeini, he added: “Our beloved Imam… the Zionist regime has lost its raison d’etre. Today, the Palestinians identify with your name, your memory, and your path. They are walking in your illuminated path, [while] the Zionist regime has reached a total dead end. With God’s grace, your wish will soon be realized, and this germ of corruption will be wiped off.”[11]

    Prof Cole debunks that claim
    link to juancole.com
    The speech in Persian is here:

    Sorry that I misremembered the exact phrase Ahmadinejad had used. He made an analogy to Khomeini’s determination and success in getting rid of the Shah’s government, which Khomeini had said “must go” (az bain bayad berad). Then Ahmadinejad defined Zionism not as an Arabi-Israeli national struggle but as a Western plot to divide the world of Islam with Israel as the pivot of this plan.

    The phrase he then used as I read it is “The Imam said that this regime occupying Jerusalem (een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods) must [vanish from] from the page of time (bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad).”

    Ahmadinejad was not making a threat, he was quoting a saying of Khomeini and urging that pro-Palestinian activists in Iran not give up hope– that the occupation of Jerusalem was no more a continued inevitability than had been the hegemony of the Shah’s government.

    Whatever this quotation from a decades-old speech of Khomeini may have meant, Ahmadinejad did not say that “Israel must be wiped off the map” with the implication that phrase has of Nazi-style extermination of a people. He said that the occupation regime over Jerusalem must be erased from the page of time.

    Again, Ariel Sharon erased the occupation regime over Gaza from the page of time.

    • Kathleen says:

      This page is where they repeat the Iran “wants to wipe Israel off the map” . This endlessly repeated interpretation was debunked by Professor Cole

      Ahmadinejad: Israel Is a “Dead Fish” and a “Stinking Corpse”; “The Zionist Regime Will Be Wiped”; “The European Governments Do Not Want the Zionists Living in Europe”
      Inquiry & Analysis Series Report – No. 447 – June 6, 2008 – By: Y. Mansharof and A. Savyon*
      link to memri.org

    • They did a number on Juan Cole for point that out. It was real nasty.

      • ToivoS says:

        They did a number on Juan Cole for point[ing] that out. It was real nasty.

        Yes it was. Looks like it cost him the job at Yale. Unfortunately, he has taken the wrong lesson from that experience. Since March he has become a zealous supporter of the Nato led war against Libya. He is beating the drums for the humanitarian warriors led by Hillary Clinton, hoping I suppose to be invited back in. Alas, he is probably wrong, the Lobby does not forgive. Poor fool Juan is destroying his reputation with us and probably getting little in return from the neoliberal elite.

        • Walid says:

          “Poor fool Juan is destroying his reputation with us and probably getting little in return from the neoliberal elite.”

          It worked for Jazeera, Toivo, why wouldn’t it work for Cole?

        • ToivoS says:

          Walid you make a point that escaped me. Does this mean that Juan Cole will become an advocate for Saudi Arabia? Now that would be a hoot. But no way that memri would ever forgive him for exposing their bogus translation of Ahmedijad’s statements.

  5. Kathleen says:

    Many believe David Wurmser was the Bush official to pass Valerie Plames name and position off to Scooter Libby
    link to rawstory.com
    Those close to the investigation say that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has been told that David Wurmser, then a Middle East adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney on loan from the office of then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs John Bolton, met with Cheney and his chief of staff I. Lewis �Scooter� Libby in June 2003 and told Libby that Plame set up the Wilson trip. He asserted that it was a boondoggle, the sources said.

    Libby then shared the information with Karl Rove, President Bush’s deputy chief of staff, the sources said. Wurmser also passed on the same information about Wilson to then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, they added.

  6. Kathleen says:

    link to aljazeerah.info

    “Meyrav Wurmser is an Israeli national, as opposed to most of the neocons, who are American-born. Her Ph.D. thesis was on the ideas that informed the Revisionist/Herut/ Likud Party, from Ze’ev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky through Menachen Begin to Yitzhak Shamir. Dr. Wurmser has taught political science at Johns Hopkins University and at the United States Naval Academy. She writes articles for such pro-Israel publications as the Weekly Standard and the Middle East Quarterly.

    A slender and bright woman, Wurmser now is director of the Center for Middle East Policy at the Indianapolis-based Hudson Institute, which bills itself as “America’s premier source of applied research on enduring policy challenges.” The ubiquitous Richard Perle, who until recently was the chairman of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board, is a newly-appointed member of Hudson’s board of trustees.

    Most notably, however, Wurmser has carved out her niche with the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), based in Jerusalem and Washington, DC. She runs it along with Col. Yigal Carmon, who spent 22 years as a member of the Israeli military intelligence service and later served as a counter-terrorism adviser to two Israeli prime ministers, Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin.

    According to its Web site, MEMRI’s purpose is to bridge the language gap between the West, where few speak Arabic, and the Middle East by “providing timely translations of Arabic, Farsi and Hebrew media.” However, as Brian Whitaker observed in an article in the Aug. 12, 2002 Guardian: “The stories selected by Memri for translation follow a familiar pattern: Either they reflect badly on the character of Arabs or they in some way further the political agenda of Israel.”

    Continued Whitaker, “All it takes is a small but active group of Israelis to exploit the (language) barrier for its own ends and start changing Western perceptions of Arabs for the worse.” He added: “to anyone who reads Arabic newspapers regularly, it should be obvious that the items highlighted by MEMRI are those that suit its agenda and are not representative of the newspaper’s content as a whole.”

  7. Kathleen says:

    So Phil would Mev consider you a “post zionist”?

    link to meforum.org
    THE POST-ZIONIST IDEOLOGY

    Israel is today in the midst of a cultural civil war in which one side would like to see their country continue to exist as a Jewish state and the other believes that Zionism, the founding idea of the state, has reached its end. For the latter group, the time has come for Israel to enter its post-Zionist stage; for this reason, it describes itself as “post-Zionist.” By their own definition, post-Zionists are anti-Zionist, meaning they believe that the Zionist enterprise has lacked moral validity since its conception and, therefore, must be undermined.2 Further, post-Zionists also question the moral bases of their religion.

    Post-Zionists seek to prove the lack of moral validity of the Zionist dream; they view the current situation in Israel as a phase in which Zionist truths about the moral purpose of Jewish nationalism have mostly collapsed without there being any sign of what will replace them. They claim to be post-modernist, meaning they subscribe to a philosophical school that views everything as relative, that seeks to deconstruct and “transcend” modern reality and values without offering any replacement. Their stated goal is the destruction of the Zionist idea on which the State of Israel is founded. Their intention is wholly negative; not to improve Zionism but to destroy it. Post-Zionist writers openly aspire not to create a new Israeli historiography free of all ideological biases, but rather seek to inject an anti-Israel bias into them.3 On occasion, they admit that their works are “guided by a post-Zionist ideology and perception.”4 In other words, they are simply replacing one ideological bias—a positive one focused on construction—with another, negative one, focused on destruction.

    Post-Zionists consist primarily of left-wing Israeli intellectuals. This way of thinking was first introduced into Israeli life through the works of Israeli academics, particularly historians and sociologists. “New historians” and “new sociologists,” as these individuals described themselves, challenged mainstream Zionist historiography as ideologically biased in employing research to prove the moral validity of the Zionist claims.5

    • American says:

      I lost long ago all patience with the Merv’s and their assine arguments
      A first year law student could rip them apart…..HOW pray tell, do you ‘change’ a ideology like zionism when it’s entire basis was and is based on the principle of separation and racism?

      You can’t. If you changed it, it wouldn’t be zionism any longer. And if put to Merv in zionism own words on race and seperation he would only try to argue that somehow it was moral to be so.

      These retarded fools write this nonsensical crap all the time.
      I can’t muster the interest to respond to their mess very often because it’s pure shit illogic….like talking to mental patient. You want to slap them up side the head to see if it’s hollow or any sparks fly out.

  8. MEMRI is the news source that couldn’t get it’s reports played on news shows because Arab translators told them that they where false. They still reported the allegations prior to fact checking it with the actual translators beforehand.

  9. MEMRI is one of the many Israeli PR fronts, and creates division, sows hatred for Israel’s benefit. If the State Dept is funding a propaganda group for Israel, then that tells you who is pulling the strings there.

  10. annie says:

    angry arab has a posts up too.

    Media watchdog MEMRI translates one caller as saying – quote – ‘We will annihilate the Jews.’ But, according to several Arabic speakers used by CNN, the caller actually says ‘The Jews are killing us.’ MEMRI told us it stood by its translation.

    • Charon says:

      That’s sickening they resort to this. Not surprising. CNN vandalized the translation of that Gaza show with Farfour (Hamas Mickey Mouse). The real translation made me realize it is an intentional parody meant to be humorous.

  11. Woody Tanaka says:

    So you can present a challenge to his scholarship on this issue?? You can show where his translation is wrong??

    If you can, put it up.

    If you can’t, STFU.

  12. yourstruly says:

    israel’s labeling its opponents antisemites (or self-hating jews) is to the middle east conflict as the klu klux klan’s calling white freedom fighters race traitors was to the civil rights struggle

    the best defense being a good offense?

    otherwise?

    having to atone for the one about a land without a people for a people without a land

  13. yourstruly says:

    & our government’s embrace of this indiscriminate wielding of the antisemite label?

    an excuse for backing israel

    the real reason?

    israel serves as empire’s outpost in the region

    stirring up the natives

    divide & conquer?

    sure to follow