Video: What if you built a refuge for a persecuted people in a place where another people already lived?

on 27 Comments

Jewish Voice for Peace video seeks to explain the conflict in 6 minutes. Pass it along. “What would happen if you built a refuge for a persecuted people in a place where another people already lived?” Persecuted Jewish refugees from Europe found a home; another group of refugees was created. Israeli expansion has created “Jewish only cities” in an occupation that is “permanent and entirely unjust.” And Israel has bombed a captive population in Gaza. “All to gain maximum land.”

Peace talks have actually made things worse. “Peace talks are good if they’re real, but not if they’re theater, to cover a landgrab.” Against the US superpower that funds Israel, another superpower can make a difference: You. Boycott. “Now it’s the Palestinians’ turn for freedom and justice.” The narration (superb) is by Marilyn Neimark.

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27 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    November 29, 2012, 10:23 am

    What an absolutely marvelous video. Thanks, JVP!

  2. seafoid
    November 29, 2012, 1:30 pm

    What if the persecuted adopted war as their default diplomatic strategy and it was successful for 2 generations ?

    From a distance, you might well think nothing’s changed. From a distance of 6,000 miles or so, it might elude notice that every single war destroys Israel. Every one, every time. Each war here is a watershed. It leaves an entirely different Israel and different Israelis in its wake.
    You can’t see it, but this war changed everyone here. Out of view, deep inside, something shifted. For some, it may have been the horrifying sense that this is what we can expect – from the other side and from ourselves as well – every couple of years. Forever. Like hurricanes in Haiti. Bombs, rockets, a new cohort of children with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And every single time, it comes closer to your own home. Wherever you are.

  3. German Lefty
    November 29, 2012, 2:50 pm

    Great video. Thanks.

  4. joemowrey
    November 29, 2012, 3:18 pm

    Very well done, with one important exception. When it says, “…several Arab states invaded the new state of Israel,” this fails to acknowledge that one of the reasons the Arab states intervened was because the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, the erasure of “over 400 villages and towns,” had begun in earnest in December of 1947 and was well under way before any Arab country “invaded.”

    Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians had already been driven off their lands by a campaign of violence and terror on the part of the Zionist militias (not yet soldiers of what was at that point the undeclared state of Israel). The British troops who were obligated to “maintain order” during the partition process stood by and watched as helpless men, women and children were being murdered and/or driven out of their homeland.

    Note that the massacre at Deir Yassin, just one of many such events, took place on April 9, 1948. The end of the British mandate and the unilateral declaration of statehood by the Zionists occurred a month later.

    • yonah fredman
      November 29, 2012, 3:53 pm

      joemowrey- I have not seen the video, but your explanation does not include the fact that violence erupted in November of 1947 with hundreds killed on both sides, before the ethnic cleansing began in earnest, which was in March. The statements of the leaders of the Palestinians might be relevant as well, but the major facts were the eruption of violence, which was from both sides and the fact that the roads between cities were cut off to Jewish traffic. The Jewish attack which included ethnic cleansing was a logical military move given the military situation on the ground. It is not uncommon for populations to be moved in the midst of war. What was wrong was not figuring out a way of letting them back after the war was over. (Of course in the latter phases of the war in Ramle and Lod, the ethnic cleansing was part and parcel of the military goals.)

      (I’m not saying that the attitude of the Zionist leaders were innocuous when they engaged in the early stages of ethnic cleansing. They were pleased to have a territory with few nonJews. But if the war was “in the cards”, ethnic cleansing as a temporary move was probably militarily indicated.)

      • Woody Tanaka
        November 30, 2012, 9:04 am

        Yonah Fredman,

        I wonder whether, if I check your comment history, you are as blasé about rockets from Gaza shot “toward” “israeli civilians” or suicide bombings or the other things which the zionists regularly call “terrorism,” as in each case, “if resistance is ‘in the cards'” then such acts would be “militarily indicated.”

        Something tells me you were less than nonchalant about them…

      • Mooser
        December 1, 2012, 12:26 pm

        Woody, Yonah was at one time I believe, registered under the nym “Wondering Jew” so you would have two archives to go through. DWYT. Yonah’s real big on “creativity” and “imagination” to solve the IP issues, but as far as I can see, the only thing he can imagine or create is a situation where Israel basically gets away with everything.

      • joemowrey
        December 1, 2012, 10:44 am


        So, you believe ethnic cleansing was “militarily indicated.” Does this include the slaughter of unarmed men women and children in documented massacres such at took place at Deir Yassin? I guess this tells us a lot about your moral compass. By the way, many Holocaust deniers and apologists for the Nazis claim that exterminating the Jews was “militarily indicated.”

      • andrew r
        December 1, 2012, 2:57 pm

        “It is not uncommon for populations to be moved in the midst of war”

        For example, the Jewish and Slavic populations that were moved during WWII.

    • Koshiro
      November 29, 2012, 3:59 pm

      Exactly, joemowrey. In addition, the Arab countries did not actually “invade” any territory that was designated for the Jewish state under the 1947 partition plan. By contrast, Israeli military forces were busy ethnically cleansing not only their own UN-designated territory, but also areas assigned to the future Arab state or the Jerusalem special area (such as Deir Yassin) when the state was established.

      In short words, even if one accepts the 1947 partition plan as legitimate and as a basis for Israel’s declaration of statehood, Israel has invaded and occupied territories outside of its own borders from day one of its existence and has not stopped doing so ever. The entire existence of Israel so far has been a continuous war of aggression.

      • peeesss
        November 30, 2012, 4:58 am

        Exactly Koshiro and joemowrey. That JWP recited the Zionist hasbara about being “invaded” after the partition vote made me stop viewing the rest of the video. Even before November 1947 Palestinians were bere terrorized, massacred, cleansed from their villages and cities. Their villages were burned, hundreds of them months before any Arab “Army” came into the fray. And as Koshiro pointed out, did not invade any terrotory designated to be in a future Jewish State. I will finish viewing the rest of the video when I allow myself to remember that JWP are the good guys.

    • Ellen
      November 29, 2012, 5:06 pm

      The video is quite good, but there are a number of issues with the arrative perspective and details of history.

      But that videos like this are being produced for US consumption is huge progress and would not want to quibble (yet) on setting the record straight.

    • ritzl
      November 29, 2012, 7:01 pm


    • Sumud
      November 29, 2012, 7:32 pm

      …Further – and this is also important – the arab states invaded the Palestinian partition, NOT the Israeli partition, and the UN SC issued no condemning resolution as the arab states were acting in Palestine’s defence, not aggressively towards Israel.

      As documented by Simha Flapan in The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities (an excellent primer on the subject) the bulk of Israel’s casualties in 1947/8/9 occurred during aggressive action outside the Israelis partition.

      The hasbara totally turns reality on its head and seeks to portray Israel as the victim when they were obviously the aggressor. As eljay says “aggressor-victimhood is a tough gig” – and increasingly people around the world are coming to understand what really happened during the Nakba.

    • Emma
      November 30, 2012, 6:38 am

      “The British troops who were obligated to “maintain order” during the partition process …”

      Are you referring to the ethnic cleansing of non-Jews that began in 1947 as a “partition process”?

      There was no legal “partition” of Palestine.

      • joemowrey
        December 1, 2012, 10:35 am


        My bad. I should have put ‘partition process’ in quotes to indicate it was not my language, or otherwise qualified that statement. You are correct. There was no legal partition of Palestine.

  5. yourstruly
    November 29, 2012, 3:33 pm

    it’s the people’s turn

    not only in gaza
    because now that the last chain’s broken
    everyone’s set free

  6. Klaus Bloemker
    November 29, 2012, 4:56 pm

    Great, simple lesson on the subject (that’s how a good teacher teaches).
    But here is the half-true premise of the video:

    – “a refuge for a persecuted people”
    (90% of today’s Israeli Jews are no refugees, or their descendents. When I was in Jerusalem, I met an elderly New York Jew who was visiting his son. I asked him:
    “Why did your son move to Israel?” – His answer was: “My son is a Zionist”.)

    – the messianic idea of the “return to the land of our forefathers” is not mentioned.
    This Zionist-Jewish identity is the problem – and it has to be addressed.

    • Mooser
      December 1, 2012, 12:30 pm

      “I asked him:
      “Why did your son move to Israel?” – His answer was: “My son is a Zionist”.)

      Now wait a minute, Klaus, did you inform him he was answering for all Israelis, possibly Jews everywhere. Ah, but then, you ought to know what a reasonable sample size and methodology is, not me.

      • Klaus Bloemker
        December 2, 2012, 6:53 pm

        my point was (about the elderly New York Jew and his son):

        – The son didn’t move to Israel because he was persecuted in America but because he was a Zionist (according to his father).

        – From what I know, the number of Israeli Jews who are WWII refugees or camp and ghetto survivors from Europe (and their children) are just 10% of Israeli Jews.

        Here is the total number of Jewish emigrants from Germany (excluding Austria) to Palestine 1933 to 1941 (end of emigration): 55,000.
        Twice that number chose America as their refuge.
        Overall I would say that Israel isn’t a “refuge for a persecuted people”.
        It’s a refuge for ideological Jews who fear assimilation.
        – See Phil’s interview with American settler Marc Zell.

  7. eljay
    November 29, 2012, 5:30 pm


  8. ritzl
    November 29, 2012, 7:00 pm

    Great video, except for “the Arab armies invaded” bit. Doesn’t that muddle the argument? Considerably? I mean if you contend that the bad Arab armies invaded before little ole Israel barely had time to accept the partition and beg to be left alone, isn’t that similar to saying the refugees got what they asked for?

    Wasn’t Israel terrorizing and dispossessing the Palestinians well before the “Arab armies attacked”? IOW, the refugee problem had little or nothing to do with “Arab armies” doing anything. In fact they probably minimized the problem. Why put that in there? Is that myth just so entrained to be considered truth even by JVP?

  9. yourstruly
    November 29, 2012, 9:34 pm



    not A+ ?

    only after the beginning is changed so that it mentions that the settlers having begun their ethnic cleansing well before the u.n. vote on partition. how many jewish settlers (er, immigrants) did so?

    in addition the word settler should be substituted for immigrant. immigrants should ask for entry permits (visas) from the indigenous people of any land to which they hope to immigrate. how many settlers did that?

  10. Avi_G.
    November 30, 2012, 1:08 am

    There are several serious issues with this video:

    1. It claims that Palestinians rejected the partition plan.


    JVP should read what Israeli historians like Simha Flapan have written. The truth contradicts the Zionist founding myths of Israel.

    2. The video claims that “Arab armies invaded”.

    False, again.

    As an aside, by the time the war officially started in May 1948, Zionist militias had already carried out several ethnic cleansing campaigns — as early as December 1947. So the “Arab armies invaded” claim just doesn’t work on several levels.

    3. The JVP claims that persecuted Jews in Europe immigrated to Palestine as though the process happened overnight and came as a result of the Holocaust.



    The first Jewish immigration (1882) to Palestine took place even before WWI and it was a result of a concerted Zionist campaign to settle the Promised Land with Jews for the Zionist project. The historical record shows that the persecution was incidental and secondary to the Zionist enterprise.

    But the image of the poor persecuted Jew finding a refuge in Palestine helps the JVP and others like them to perpetuate the myth that Jews just had nowhere else to go. Someone HAD to take them in. Would the JVP care to explain how as early as 1917, the Balfour Declaration was signed, without even consulting the Palestinian people?

    4. The narrator states that Israeli forces “essentially erased” more than 400 Palestinian villages and towns.

    “Essentially?” Are they uncomfortable with the Ethnic Cleansing that they have to preface it with “essentially”? It either happened or did not. Why “essentially”?

    5. “To sum up, one group of refugees had a much-needed home”.

    That’s a subjective and selective reading of history, especially in reference to Jews from Arab countries.

    I’m not sure what’s more unfair about this video, the fact that the JVP is promoting Zionist myths about non-Jewish Palestinians or the fact that it is excluding Jewish immigrants from Arab countries as though they never existed.

    I realize that the “refuge” argument falls apart when one factors in the Lavon Affair and other such Zionist campaigns in Iraq to instigate mass migration of Arab Jews to Israel. Is that why JVP did not include that in this video and instead focused on the “persecuted” Jews of Europe?

    In addition, there is the token argument that in 1948 “some” Jewish parties called for equality but what ended up sprouting was a racist system that favors Jews to the detriment of everyone else. I mean, does realize that 99.9% of the Zionist leadership at the time had already drafted plans to discriminate and disenfranchise the group that later became known as the Palestinians in Israel?

    What percentage was that “some”, the JVP did not say. Was it 5% of Jews who were in favor of full equality back in 1948? Was it 15%, 40%? No. The viewer is left with “some”.

    In other words, Not every one of those colonialist Zionist Jews was an ethnic cleanser and a fascist at heart, the JVP would have one believe. You see, “some” were actually quite redeemable Jews….So goes the JVP narrative.

    Spin it anyway you want. But the Zionist colonial project will go down in history as a Zionist colonial project. All the talk about refugees, shelter and home is marginal when one factors in all the facts surrounding the historical record pertaining to the launching of the Zionist enterprise. There is no escaping that.

    Anyway, the last two minutes of the video were not bad.

    • Theo
      November 30, 2012, 12:29 pm

      Thank you, Ari, for correcting the many false statements in the video before I did it. It seems most commentators to MW just love it, however it is nothing, but a soft version of hasbarah, twisting truth to fit the situation.
      During the cold war I have seen many such mind benders.

  11. talknic
    November 30, 2012, 4:33 am

    Bravo, however here’s so much mis-information straight out of the holey olde Hasbara

    The Zionist Federation was setting up to colonize Palestine 1890’s long BEFORE the Holocaust.

    Palestine was never a British colony

    Pre immigration circa 1850 and Zionist colonization, the Jewish people of Palestine didn’t live amongst the indigenous people, they WERE also indigenous to the region.

    The UN partition plan was for a Jewish state and an Arab state. Not an Israeli state and a Palestinian state. The Jewish state was only named ‘Israel’ until a few hours before declaration.

    Arab States attacked Jewish forces OUTSIDE the State of Israel.

    Israel did define its borders in its plea for recognition, it was recognized as such ” within frontiers approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution of November 29, 1947″

    The Israeli Govt at the time acknowledged Israel’s borders May 22nd 1948 to the UNSC

    Occupation began 22nd May 1948 and or 12 Aug 1948 the Provisional Israeli Government proclaimed Jerusalem Declared Israel-Occupied City- by Israeli Government Proclamation.

  12. Woody Tanaka
    November 30, 2012, 9:33 am

    I disagree that this is a great video. It’s not. Beyond the criticisms regarding the 1948 war, it assumes for granted that because the Jews were persecuted in Europe and had a “connection” (whatever that’s supposed to mean) that these Jews’ decision to go to Palestine was somehow justified. Such a society had little ability to provide humanitarian refuge. While they should have provided relief to a small number — doing their part until the direct threat in Europe to those people subsided, at which time they could resume their lives in Europe, the majority of those Jews seeking refuge should have gone to the UK, US, and other industrial countries who could accommodate larger numbers of refugees.

    However, the only people with any legitimate claim to any part of Palestine — the Palestinians — were well within their inalienable rights to control which and how many of these “refugees” (if, indeed, they were, and many were absolutely not) were to be permitted to reach Palestine. The biggest problem, that the video does not even mention, is the fact that these Palestinians had their rights during this period, to control their land and, yes, to restrict the influx of refugees and colonial-minded European, stripped from them by outside forces — the Turks, the Brits and the UN. THAT is the core of the problem, not this “refuge for persecuted people” stuff. No one had a right to make such a “refuge” in Palestine except the Palestinians. The imposition of it on the Palestinians was one of the most immoral events in recent history.

    David Lloyd George and Arthur Balfour and the others, if they wanted such a refuge to exist, could have simply designated their own countries as such a refuge. Problem solved. Except they didn’t want their countries to host that many Jews so, instead, they imposed their will on a third-world population because, to these racists, the rights of third-world peoples meant nothing. This video accepts that racist view sub silento.

    The core of the problem with this video is the refusal to forthrightly face the fact that the Palestinians had rights which were stripped from them and those rights included the absolute right to decline to take in the Jews, refugees and colonialists alike. Since it fails to recognize the core of this conflict is nothing other than the refusal of the zionists and their supporters to respect the rights of the Palestinians in their own land and the fact that the zionists had no legitimate rights in Palestine save what the Palestinians wished to give them, it is a very flawed video.

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