Jo Roberts on Jewish trauma, the Nakba, and the olive tree

Israel/Palestine
on 37 Comments

One of the most fascinating books I’ve read about the conflict in the last year was Contested Land, Contested Memory: Israel’s Jews and Arabs and the Ghosts of Catastrophe, an exploration of Israel and its Jewish and Palestinian citizens by the English-Canadian writer Jo Roberts, in which she deploys her training as an anthropologist to explore collective memories in the to communities. “Palestinian citizens of Israel find themselves torn between the past and present, trying at different times to remember or to deny the history that continues to mould their world,” she writes. “The Nakba lives on in them: in their conflicted political ideology, in their second-class citizenship, in their awkward place as a minority in an ethnically conceived state, and in all the ways these play out in their daily lives.” The book shows equal respect for Jewish collective memory, and placed second for the 2014 nonfiction Dayton Literary Peace Prize. I recently sent Roberts a list of questions that she answered by email.

Weiss: You describe the racialization of Israel. What do you mean by this?

Jo Roberts: The most obvious racial divide, of course, is between Israel’s Jews and Palestinians. Since the state’s inception, Palestinian Israelis have very much been second-class citizens (just one example: while 15% of Jewish Israelis live under the poverty line, for the Palestinian Israeli community that figure is over 50%). Until 1966, Palestinian Israelis were held under martial law, their communities isolated from Jewish Israelis and from each other. Education during that time was minimal. This left a huge scar, both in terms of economic development and political organizing. Even after martial law had ended, Arab areas received very little funding. One man told me of growing up on a street in Jaffa that ran with open sewage, not realizing until he first visited Jewish neighborhoods in his early twenties that this was not a normal state of affairs. For many years, a number of Palestinians Arab villages were “unrecognized,” which meant no provision of municipal services: no water, sewage, electricity, roads, or schools. Community leaders faced a grueling, decades-long battle to change that, and while all the villages outside the Negev have now formally been recognized, they still face huge bureaucratic hurdles to any new development. (Thirty-five Bedouin villages in the Negev are still unrecognized, and are harried by the government: the village of al Araqib has been demolished and rebuilt 79 times.)

Nevertheless, as long as Israel saw itself as both a Jewish and a democratic state, there was room for both Jewish and Palestinian Israelis, however unequal their citizenship. (A significant majority of Palestinian Israelis see themselves as citizens of Israel; they have no desire to become part of the Palestinian Authority.) Now, if the right-wing parties have their way and Israel is defined first and foremost as a Jewish state, Palestinian Israelis will be seen even more as the intruding outsider. Already there are plans to remove Arabic as Israel’s second language, to make Palestinian-Israeli MKs swear allegiance to Israel as a Jewish state, even to pay Palestinian Israelis to leave. All these are ways of excluding Palestinian Israelis from the Israeli polity.

There are other racial stratifications in Israel. As well as the discrimination faced by foreign-national migrant workers, Israel’s Mizrahi Jews – descendants of Jewish communities in predominantly Muslim countries – have also historically experienced inequality. Within what Oren Yiftachel describes as an “ethnocracy,” they have found themselves in an ambivalent position. Mizrahis generally make up the lower economic classes of Jewish Israelis. Many live in development towns, with high unemployment, and vie with Palestinian Israelis for jobs. Close to 50% of Israel’s electorate is Mizrahi, and political groups such as Shas that equate Israeli national identity with being Jewish have often received Mizrahi support. This understanding of what it means to be Israeli offers Mizrahis a place at the table, but sidelines Palestinian Israelis even further.

You suggest Palestinians are open to anti-Semitism. You mention the Protocols, Mein Kampf. Is there any explanation for this vulnerability? Have they confused anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism?

Asmi Bishara suggested that Arab anti-Semitism “is not the cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but its outcome.” This is borne out by some interesting poll results. The Index of Arab-Jewish Relations in Israel for 2008 reported that “The proportion of Arabs not believing that ‘there was Shoah [sic] in which millions of Jews were murdered by the Nazis’ increased from 28.0% in 2006 to 40.5% in 2008.” (Factors influencing that shift would include Israel’s 2006 attack on Lebanon, its blockade of Gaza, and the shelving of the Or Commission’s proposals.) The author, Sammy Smooha, commented: “In Arab eyes disbelief in the very happening of the Shoah is not hate of Jews (embedded in the denial of the Shoah in the West) but rather a form of protest. Arabs not believing in the event of Shoah intend to express strong objection to the portrayal of the Jews as the ultimate victim and to the underrating of the Palestinians as a victim.” I’d agree with that. I don’t think anti-Semitism is indigenous to Arab culture. Before the 20th century, Jews living in Arab lands were generally tolerated, at least by the standards of the day. Arab anti-Semitism was largely a response to Zionist migration into Mandate Palestine. Palestinian anti-Semitic images reflect the old tropes of Christian prejudice: the hook-nosed, greedy Jew. It’s interesting that the first Arab translation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was made by Arab Christians, in the 1920s as tensions were beginning to rise between Arab and Jews in Mandate Palestine.

You interviewed Benny Morris. What are the implications of his work and his political position?

Benny Morris’ political trajectory reflects the political shifts within Israel over the last decade or so. He used to be a solid Labour Zionist – he went to jail for refusing to serve in the West Bank. His 1988 book The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem detailed the minutiae of how the Nakba unfolded on the ground. It was the foundational work of Israel’s new historiography, which itself was a significant driver behind the 1990s post-Zionist movement within Israel.

But in the early 2000s, after the collapse of the Oslo Peace Process and the suicide bombings in Israel, Morris turned rightward. Many other liberal Israelis did the same.

Learning of ethnic cleansing practiced by the founding fathers of the State can force you to question your allegiance to the founding fathers’ ideals. Or, it can lead you to justify that ethnic cleansing, because that was what the founding fathers deemed necessary at the time. I think this is what has happened for Benny Morris. In a Haaretz interview, he told Ari Shavit: “… maybe he [David Ben-Gurion] should have done a complete job… If he had carried out a full expulsion – rather than a partial one – he would have stabilized the State of Israel for generations.”

When I questioned him about this, he told me: “I think the whole Middle East would have been a happier place since ’48 if that had happened. That’s my view. It would have been much less complicated. The fact that we’re still intermixed – and Israel’s conquest and settlement of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip made the intermixing even worse – intermixing is one of the reasons for the continued tension.”

Many Jewish Israelis would agree with that. And, if transfer of Palestinians out of Israel is seen as having a justified historical precedent, there’s a greater risk that it could happen again.

Have Israelis normalized the concept of transfer?

I don’t think it’s likely that Palestinian Israelis would be forcibly transferred out of their country. Ilan Pappe commented to me:

“I think Israelis would use other means before resorting to that one, such as escalating the basic policies toward the Palestinian minority, curbing their rights even more, and in turn there could be an intensified nationalization of the Palestinians, maybe a more active part in the struggle against Israel. … My worry, my big worry, is that nobody rules it out morally or ethically. The whole debate in Israel is on practical terms. So from a practical point of view it seems that the political elite in Israel doesn’t think that it’s feasible now; but that doesn’t mean that they won’t think that way in the future.”

But transfer can be achieved in different ways. Polls of Jewish Israelis in recent years consistently show a widespread antipathy towards Palestinian Israelis. Sizeable majorities now favour Palestinian Israelis being transferred to a future Palestinian state. The most likely way that would happen would be by a land swap, in exchange for larger West Bank settlements becoming part of Israel. Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party, a significant power in the current government, has campaigned on this platform, and it’s been openly discussed in peace negotiations by Israel, the PA, and the US. Palestinian Israelis living in densely concentrated areas close to the Green Line, such as the Triangle, could wake up and find themselves part of a Palestinian state.

Palestinian Israelis have always been second-class citizens, but the level of antipathy against them in recent years is new. It’s part of the tightening of state boundaries, both physical and ethnic. Israel’s Jewishness is now celebrated as the primary characteristic of the state, even if that trumps its democratic nature. Within that national concept, the presence in Israel of Palestinian Israelis can be seen as both a contradiction and an existential threat.

Israel’s rightward shift dates, at least in part, to the failure of the Oslo Peace Process, which was a massive blow to Israelis. Israel is a small country, and the waves of suicide bombings during the Second Intifada caused a very real sense of fear and insecurity. This is a people who, only a few decades earlier, experienced a genocidal and partially successful attempt to wipe them out: traumatic collective memory plays a huge role in why Jewish Israelis are so focused on their own identity and on a very insular sense of their own security. It’s complex: certainly the Holocaust has been manipulated by some for political gain, but at the same time, that fear is very genuine. In that climate, the desire to expel the perceived Other becomes more compelling.

Your approach and concerns, while anthropological, also prompt dismal sense on my part that Israel is rooted in expulsion, as the anti-colonialist theorists of the conflict would say. Am I being too reductive or unfair to your book?

Israel was founded on expulsion – so were the US, Canada, and Australia. But I think the situation of Israel is a lot more complicated than that of many settler societies. Palestinian Arabs were expelled by Jews who had effectively been expelled from Europe.

In the 1880s, the first Zionist settlers were fleeing systematic, murderous pogroms in the Russian Empire. Fifty years later, Jewish settlers were fleeing the genocidal anti-Semitism of Nazi-occupied Europe. Two-thirds of European Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, and the Allies showed little enthusiasm for sheltering Jewish refugees, during or after the war. The UN’s vote for Partition was not only “Western civilization’s gesture of repentance for the Holocaust,” as David Ben-Gurion called it – it also gave Western nations an out, it meant that they wouldn’t have to absorb large numbers of Jewish refugees.
I would say that Zionism was simultaneously a colonizing settler movement that dispossessed the Palestinians and a liberating movement for persecuted Jews. Edward Said makes a similar point in The Question of Palestine. To focus exclusively on one aspect of historical suffering without acknowledging the other is to miss seeing the full picture.

The acknowlegment of the Nakba seems central to your view of how the conflict will ultimately be resolved. Why do you see it as important? Why is it so difficult for Israel to acknowledge?

Although the history of the Nakba may be something of a wild card in Israeli public discourse, acknowledging it is a precondition to any genuine reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians. An acknowledgment of Palestinian suffering would signify a willingness to re-negotiate Israeli collective memory. Without that shift, there will be too little common ground on which to build something new.

After the 1948 War, the founding story of the state that took shape in Jewish Israeli collective memory did not include the disquieting narrative of the Palestinian Arabs and their removal. There were few Israelis who had not lost friends or family members in the Holocaust or the War, or been damaged themselves. Their new state was shelter from that traumatic past and security against a similar future, and there was no room for anything that might threaten that — no space for a story that challenged their sole claim to the land. Or, indeed, for a history of suffering that could destabilize the Jewish experience of trauma by superimposing the unimaginable identity of perpetrator. Destroying the collective memory of the Nakba is thus an aspect of the construction of Israeli national identity.

Commemoration of the past, and especially the traumatic past, is very important to Israelis. Ignoring the traumatic history of Palestinian Israelis, some 20% of the population, in effect downgrades their citizenship. The refusal to acknowledge the Palestinian Catastrophe isn’t simply about not mentioning the Nakba in textbooks; Palestinian Israelis aren’t allowed to commemorate it either. Under the so-called Nakba Law, passed in 2011, organizations face fines if they mark Nakba Day and are not eligible for government funding if they “deny Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state.”

So the tide is flowing the other way in Israel at present. But there have been times when this kind of acknowledgement seemed almost within reach. It was a demand of Palestinian negotiators in the peace talks at Taba in 2001, and Israeli negotiators agreed. But then Ariel Sharon came to power, and things swerved in a very different direction. Both Palestinian and Israeli diplomats have said that Taba was the closest the two sides have ever come to a peace deal.

You speak of the collective memory of Zionism being challenged by Zochrot, with a different ideal. Can the myth change? Can Zochrot win?

Zochrot is a small, predominantly Jewish-Israeli NGO. Their mission is to teach Jewish Israelis about the history of the Nakba: they organize commemorative tours, collect testimonies from Nakba survivors, and have made a map of destroyed villages.
Given the political climate in Israel today, Zochrot and its fellow travelers face a mammoth task. But that climate could change, and if it does, Zochrot’s work, indeed, its very existence, will be a part of that change. I also think it’s vital that groups like Zochrot exist, so that Palestinian Israelis, and Palestinians generally, can see that the Israeli government doesn’t speak for all Israeli Jews.

You seem to suggest that Jewish Israelis aren’t keen on olive trees?

The olive tree has a Biblical heritage, but for 20th century Jewish inhabitants of Mandate Palestine it was strongly associated with Palestinian Arabs. Olive trees were central to the economy of Arab Palestine; they were the source of its chief exports, soap and oil. In the early years of the Israeli state, uprooting olive groves was a practical tactic, to discourage the refugees from returning, and was also driven by more intangible fears: the olive “signified the ‘otherness’ of the Arab: the alien, the enemy,” to quote Arnon Golan. Forests of the more familiar European pine were often planted in their stead. Also at work were the forces of modernity; the European agricultural practices embraced by the Yishuv overthrew the whole traditional pattern of land use, and the landscape that it had formed.

You seem hopeful at times that the two narratives of Israel’s creation can be reconciled and a larger sense of national identity can be created. Does this mean that Jews must give up the idea of self-determination, and Palestinians too, for a common idea of Israeli-Palestinian mutual interest?

Whether peace comes through two states or one, both peoples will inhabit a common landscape. They live side by side in a small piece of territory, with no obvious natural internal boundaries, and share a profound attachment to that land. They are geographically interlinked – they share the same aquifer, the same coastline. Without a very great deal of violence, and mass expulsion, neither can permanently dominate the other. I don’t see a viable future for Israelis or Palestinians that doesn’t involve some kind of reworking of collective memory for each people, one that allows for – not a common narrative, but a space that can hold both people’s histories, that gives room for both peoples to live in the land. As one of the people I interviewed said to me: “I was born here, he was born here. I have no place to go, he has no place to go. We have to make good plans for the future, together.” That may sound utopian; the chances of it happening in the current political climate are slim. But, really, the alternatives are dire.

The divide between sides has gotten worse since your book was published, no? Does that make you despair? Every time I go out there, I feel grim. This can only end with violence. Do you share my bleak vision?

If things continue on their current trajectory, I think the future could be grim. I do find sparks of hope in the Jewish-Israeli voices speaking out against the currents of ethnic nationalism that threaten to overwhelm their society. My hope is that at some point a majority of Israelis will realize that walls and settlement expansion and tightening the boundaries of citizenship don’t provide the security of a durable peace.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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37 Responses

  1. Boomer
    January 10, 2015, 11:21 am

    I see that some people here recommend the elimination of the PA. I wonder if that would return things to the situation she describes. I doubt that our President and Congress would object:

    “Until 1966, Palestinian Israelis were held under martial law, their communities isolated from Jewish Israelis and from each other. Education during that time was minimal. This left a huge scar, both in terms of economic development and political organizing. Even after martial law had ended, Arab areas received very little funding. One man told me of growing up on a street in Jaffa that ran with open sewage, not realizing until he first visited Jewish neighborhoods in his early twenties that this was not a normal state of affairs. For many years, a number of Palestinians Arab villages were “unrecognized,” which meant no provision of municipal services: no water, sewage, electricity, roads, or schools. Community leaders faced a grueling, decades-long battle to change that, and while all the villages outside the Negev have now formally been recognized, they still face huge bureaucratic hurdles to any new development. (Thirty-five Bedouin villages in the Negev are still unrecognized, and are harried by the government: the village of al Araqib has been demolished and rebuilt 79 times.)”

    • Giles
      January 10, 2015, 5:47 pm

      Jewish collective memory is delusionary.

      An abiding belief that “their people” have been the victim of the “Other” for 2,000 or 4,000 years.

      It is ridiculous. Jews are, in America, white people, and get all the privileges that go with it.

      They faced a far easier time of it when they first arrived than did the Irish or the Italians, never mind the horror that was visited upon black and brown peoples.

      And, whether they will admit it out loud or not, they long ago replaced the WASPs as the ruling elite in America and in many other Western nations.

      They expect — and receive — special privileges above all others. We see this time and time again.

      I don’t think we do anyone a favor by going along with their delusions. They need to stop being so damned ethnocentric and focus on the brotherhood of all mankind.

    • Kathleen
      January 11, 2015, 9:57 am

      This is a description of an apartheid state..Jo just refuses to call it what it is.

      • ckg
        January 11, 2015, 9:22 pm

        Jo just refuses to call it what it is.

        That word hurts some people’s feelings. They say it’s not, ahem, civil.

  2. seafoid
    January 10, 2015, 11:56 am

    Jewish trauma has been top dog and untreated for SO long but Muslim trauma is rising up fast and who has the right to deny Muslims their trauma ?
    It looks like a real clusterfuck to be honest.

    I was reading Freedland yesterday – those people did nothing to move Israel and Zionism to a more sustainable footing.

    • Mooser
      January 10, 2015, 12:08 pm

      “those people did nothing to move Israel and Zionism to a more sustainable footing.”

      C’mon Seafoid, cut it out. You will make me start doubting the bedrock concept of “tribal unity”!

      Are you saying that Zionist leaders didn’t do their best, and because of who they are, the best that could be done, in every situation?
      But that would mean they didn’t really care about all those poor Jews seeking refuge in Palestine. And that simply isn’t possible, tribal unity forbids it.

    • Kathleen
      January 11, 2015, 9:59 am

      Palestinian trauma has been there for decades finally a growing number of Jews are willing to recognize. Been a long time coming.

  3. American
    January 10, 2015, 1:26 pm

    ” Arab anti-Semitism was largely a response to Zionist migration into Mandate Palestine – ”

    Obviously agree.

    For the rest of it….there needs to be an expiration date for Jewish trauma. The world needs a law giving all victims perhaps one generation or maybe 50 years of recognized victim hood and then its officially over for any political status purposes.

    • Kathleen
      January 11, 2015, 10:07 am

      Collective Jewish trauma is clearly based on horrific facts. However the recognition of that trauma, putting Nazi’s on trial for brutally causing the majority of that trauma was, is a part of the healing that can potentially take place. This has not happened to those who knowingly killed Palestinians, stole their land, destroyed their agricultural base, imprisoned and torture those who stand up to these crimes committed….and these crimes are still being committed today.

      Palestinians are not in control of an apartheid state…Israeli’s are. And the U.S. congress supports that apartheid state

      • American
        January 11, 2015, 6:49 pm

        I am not advocating victims be ‘de listed’ and forgotten .
        I am saying that after they receive as much justice and compensation as possible and have had a generation or some years to ‘normalize’ their lives, then the victim hood status should end for practical purposes.
        I don’t say they have to ‘forget it’.

    • JeffB
      January 12, 2015, 7:39 am

      @American

      . The world needs a law giving all victims perhaps one generation or maybe 50 years of recognized victim hood and then its officially over for any political status purposes

      I agree. So in 2017 agree to stop whining about the Palestinians being native. Then the whole country has been an Israel for 50 years.

      • eljay
        January 12, 2015, 10:37 am

        >> JeffBeee: So in 2017 agree to stop whining about the Palestinians being native. Then the whole country has been an Israel for 50 years.

        And you can stop whining about the Jewish being native, since the whole country has been an Israel – a state of and for all of its Israeli citizens, immigrants, ex-pats and refugees, equally – for 50 years.

  4. Stephen Shenfield
    January 10, 2015, 2:03 pm

    Ultimately, given the dense intermixture and interdependence of the two peoples in a single territory, I don’t see how they can manage without a common narrative. Certainly a single democratic secular nation would require such a narrative in order to avoid the Lebanese scenario. Allowing space for two narratives is a step toward their integration into a single narrative. Ilan Pappe has made a first attempt at combining the narratives in his History of Palestine. The main prerequisite is for people to see themselves first and foremost as human beings and only after that as Jews, Arabs, and whatnot.

    • Kathleen
      January 11, 2015, 10:13 am

      The main prerequisite is for Israeli’s to recognize and sincerely apologize for the Nakba. Halt the apartheid methods. This is not going to happen without international pressure. Not going to happen…due to what I believe is a learned ethno-centric narrative embedded in Jewish culture (and others) and extremely embedded in Israel’s leaders. A fair and just solution is only going to happen through serious and sustained international pressure.

  5. yonah fredman
    January 10, 2015, 3:18 pm

    On the topic of Arab antiSemitism raised in the interview, here’s my theory regarding the big “what if?”. what if there had been no zionism what would have been the state of relations between the Arabs and the Jews. and i think it would be fair to say that it would be far better than the state given zionism’s existence, but it wouldn’t be so great. the history of the christian communities in arab countries over the past 100 years has not been on the upswing, so there really is no reason to imagine that the relation with the jews would have been any better. Arab Muslim hospitality towards the peoples of the book(s) might have been the ideal, but this ideal was only suited to those time periods when Islam was on top. on the other hand in times of stress that tolerance was dumped in favor of the emotionally and the politically expedient. there is no question that the relation of the west between 1918 and 2015 with the Arab middle east would have been thorny given colonialism, resource of oil, and the predominance of the west and western values and western schools and western economies in the global world. the tension with the west was bound to create a tension in the societies of the Muslim Arab world and they would have responded with intolerance towards the Jewish population in their midst. In good times Islam was tolerant. In bad times, which the past century was bound to be in any case, Arab Islam is not so tolerant. (not regarding the hearts of the majority of Arab Muslims but the polities of those in political control.)

    • Mooser
      January 10, 2015, 8:09 pm

      Gosh, Yonah, since there is absolutely no possibility of any of us reading or hearing for ourselves actual Arab and/or Muslim voices, it’s very good of you to fill us in. Thanks to you, I know exactly how much tolerance to give them credit for.
      I mean, if we can’t get the real thing, you have to be the next best. And you won’t lie to us, like some people, out of self-interest. You don’t even have a dog in the fight.

      • Mooser
        January 10, 2015, 8:14 pm

        Shorter Yonah:
        ‘The only thing Arabs understand is violence, and they’re all the same’

    • pjdude
      January 11, 2015, 12:46 am

      your assuming everything else would remain the same. it wouldn’t. the fundmentalist turn in islam states might be traced to the cold war. lets not forget the arab world was more secular in the 40’s and 50’s. and rather pro us for the obvious reasons with the support of self determination. its in all likely hood that there would be increased trade and without the us abbadoning them during the cold war a very different turn of event could have happened. of course their probably a varity of factors i’m missing that’s the problem with these kind of alternate history guesses. their just to many variables but i think your overstating the likelyhood of anti jewish sentiments.

      • JeffB
        January 12, 2015, 8:52 am

        @pjdude

        You are confusing cause and effect here. The Soviets were more pro-Israel than the USA during the early years. Soviet anti-Zionism, came out of a move by the Soviets to create the “non-alighned” axis by siding with them against Israel strongly America would spend a long time dithering between its Arab allies and Israel gradually moving towards them. The Arabs hated Israel before the Soviets did and before the Americans liked it.

      • pjdude
        January 12, 2015, 8:53 pm

        @ jeffb
        I’m confusing nothing. i don’t really expect you to know anything of the history involved given your zionist education and their attempts to rewrite history. but it was the us pro Israel stance in recognizing Israel and helping arm the nascent state to continue its conquest. how ever much you like to repeat the tired lie of innate arab anti-semitism it remains a lie. while the us was nowhere near as subserviant to Israel than as it is now it was decided pro-Israel from the first. mainly so truman could prop up his presidency.

  6. Kathleen
    January 10, 2015, 9:23 pm

    Too bad Jo Roberts does not have the balls, integrity, guts, chutzpah to call, lack of access to education, martial law, systematically uprooting Palestinians olive trees, poverty what they have been for Palestinians institutionalized apartheid. Methods used by the state of Israel for decades.

    She talks about moving Palestinians in such a calm, matter of fact way. No outrage…where is her outrage?

    Who knows why the Palestinians were only given such a small piece of the coast line when the UN approved the rip off of their lands?

    • Kathleen
      January 10, 2015, 9:36 pm

      “ethnic cleansing by the founding fathers”

    • peeesss
      January 12, 2015, 3:02 am

      Yes Kathleen, ” where is the outrage” And to have Ms. Roberts somehow equate the belief of Edward Said to the destruction of his beloved Palestine by “Zionism Liberation Theology” to the Palestinian belief that Zionism was a Colonial Settler movement based on a racist ideology is absurd. Edward Said understood the horror of the holocaust and the ensuing trauma to Jewish people but always understood , thought, wrote , lived his life on the belief that the creation of the State of Israel was unjust. Zionist Liberation theology might be fine to Jews living in Europe but to extend it to the land of Palestine , inhabited since time immemorial by its Palestinian descendants, has been a horrific, brutal, cruel murderous episode these past 70 years. Yes Ms. Roberts “Where is the outrage”.

    • JeffB
      January 12, 2015, 7:34 am

      @Kathleen

      Who knows why the Palestinians were only given such a small piece of the coast line when the UN approved the rip off of their lands?

      The Jews came by water and settled. So for example in Jaffa the Jews moved in and focused heavily on expanding the ports and trade. In 1920-1 there were anti-Jewish riots which destroyed Jaffa as a Jewish trade center and pushed many Jews north of Jaffa to Tel Aviv where the trade then exploded. The Jews kept moving more and more trade north. When you get to Haifa you are looking at British development and having seen how the Jews ran Tel Aviv they were more comfortable with their administration. Jews were already in the lower management rungs so it was natural to just hand it over.

      By 1948 Jaffa was the key Arab port with Tel Aviv on North and the Southern ports being under Jewish administration. Gaza had been ethnically cleansed of Jews in earlier rioting. And that’s the coastal map. Gaza and Jaffa Palestinian, the rest Jewish.

      • Kathleen
        January 13, 2015, 3:46 pm

        Thanks for that. Every time I look at the map the small portion of the coast allotted to the Palestinians is clearly unfair. So when the UN divided the land they just went with what Jews had declared as their coast line?

  7. Walid
    January 11, 2015, 5:54 am

    Jo Roberts answered my question of last week about why Israelis are so averse to the olive tree; she wrote:

    “The olive tree has a Biblical heritage, but for 20th century Jewish inhabitants of Mandate Palestine it was strongly associated with Palestinian Arabs. Olive trees were central to the economy of Arab Palestine; they were the source of its chief exports, soap and oil. In the early years of the Israeli state, uprooting olive groves was a practical tactic, to discourage the refugees from returning, and was also driven by more intangible fears: the olive “signified the ‘otherness’ of the Arab: the alien, the enemy,” to quote Arnon Golan. Forests of the more familiar European pine were often planted in their stead. Also at work were the forces of modernity; the European agricultural practices embraced by the Yishuv overthrew the whole traditional pattern of land use, and the landscape that it had formed. “

    • light2014
      January 15, 2015, 11:34 pm

      Link: http://www.internationaloliveoil.org/documents/viewfile/6771-israel

      In Israel olive orchards occupy the largest area of any single fruit commodity.
      Israel can be divided into six major geographical regions: the mountainous North, the coastal plain running
      North-South along the Palestinian mountains, the inland valleys, the southern plain, the desert highland and
      mountains and the East-South valley.
      (Source: Israeli delegation to the IOC)
      3.4. Varieties
      3. OLIVE INDUSTRY IN ISRAEL
      3.1. Historical background
      The domestication of the olive started in the eastern end of the Mediterranean Basin, covering the present
      region of Syria, Lebanon and Israel, and the knowledge about how to use olive products in the human diet
      spread westwards with Western civilisation. In ancient Israel, where nearly every kitchen was equipped with
      a small press for extracting oil, the olive provided food and lighting fuel as well as cooking oil. By the time
      of the Roman conquest (first century BCE), the olive had become one of the most basic dietary items, and
      the meals of the poor consisted primarily of olives, beans, figs and cheese eaten with a porridge made from
      millet. Over the centuries the extent of the olive industry has experienced many ups and downs in the area of
      Israel.
      Today, the olive remains a popular food and its golden oil is a coveted commodity which is growing rapidly
      and undergoing modernisation, particularly intensification. The use of olive oil has become more popular
      since the discovery that it lowers cholesterol and has other health benefits. Israeli olive oil has attained a
      quality so high that it can compete in quality with the best oils of Europe.
      (Source: adapted from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Israel)
      (ha=hectare= large baseball field)
      The percentage breakdown of olive orchards by age reveals that:
      – 70.8% (16 500 ha) are more than 50 years old;
      – 16.3% (3 800 ha) are between 5 and 15 years old;
      – 7.3% (1 700 ha) are between 16 and 50 years old; and
      – 5.6% (1 300 ha) are under 5 years old
      For 30 years, Israel permitted thousands of Palestinians to enter the country each day to work in construction, agriculture and other blue-collar jobs. Until the mid-1990s, up to 150,000 people—about a fifth of the Palestinian labor force—entered Israel each day. After Palestinians unleashed a wave of suicide bombings, the idea of separation from the Palestinians took root in Israel. Israel found itself starved for labor, and gradually replaced most of the Palestinians with migrants from Thailand, Romania and elsewhere.[38][39] (Wiki quoting FT)
      Pierre van Paassen is a journalist who lived and reported from Syria and Palestine in the 1920’s he describes in vivid detail the situation there. His accounts can be read in his book “Days of Our Years” ((in Chapter 8 titled “After Seven Centuries”). reprinted 22 times 1st published in 1939
      Born in Holland moved to Canada than the USA

      • Mooser
        January 16, 2015, 7:39 pm

        Wow, I see the light 50 yr old olive trees in Israel! I bet the Palestinians ain’t got nothing like that!
        Is this post supposed to be some kind of a joke “light2014”?

      • Mooser
        January 16, 2015, 7:40 pm

        “For 30 years, Israel permitted thousands of Palestinians to enter the country each day to work in construction, agriculture and other blue-collar jobs. Until the mid-1990s, up to 150,000 people—about a fifth of the Palestinian labor force—entered Israel each day. After Palestinians unleashed a wave of suicide bombings….”

        Gosh, “light2014” they let them back into their own country to work? Now, that’s magnanimous.

      • Kris
        January 16, 2015, 7:55 pm

        What is your point? That Israeli Jews have an olive oil industry using the trees that they have not yet destroyed?

        “Since 1967, the Israeli military and illegal settlers have destroyed at least 800,000 olive trees. Some of these trees are nearly 1,000 years old – they are irreplaceable.”
        http://www.theecologist.org/green_green_living/2481224/bethlehem_no_matter_how_many_olive_trees_they_destroy_will_will_plant_more.html

      • tree
        January 17, 2015, 4:33 am

        Left out of that description of the Israeli olive oil industry is the fact that over 95 percent of Israeli’s olive orchards in the 1950’s had been Palestinian owned in 1948, prior to the Nakba and the Israeli confiscation of Palestinian property. That accounts for the fact that over 70 percent of the olive trees in Israel today are older than 50 years of age.

        In fact, according to the British Survey of Palestine, written in 1945, 600.000 dunams were in olive production in Palestine, with all but 1% of them Palestinian Arab owned. Ten dunams equals one hectare. Comparing 60.000 hectares in production in 1945 with the 16,500 hectares in production today with trees greater than 50 years old, its glaringly apparent that
        the number of older olive trees in production in Israel decreased by over 70 percent, despite the fact that olive trees do not reach full productivity until they are at least 35 years of age.

        This again supports the historical fact that Israel destroyed many Palestinian olive groves over the years and continues to do so today in the West Bank.

      • tree
        January 17, 2015, 4:47 am

        Gosh, “light2014″ they let them back into their own country to work? Now, that’s magnanimous.

        But not “magnanimous” enough to let them stay over night. Israel has its own “sundown laws”, preventing West Bank Palestinians from staying overnight in Israel. And of course, West Bank Palestinians were not allowed to create their own industries in the West Bank so that their workers could find jobs locally. The West Bank under Israeli occupation is both a captive market for Israeli goods and a captive source for cheap labor in Israel.

        The closing down of the Israeli market for Palestinian workers, beginning in 1991, preceded by a decade the “wave of suicide bombings” in the later part of the Second Intifada, and in fact it also preceded Oslo, but continued during the early Oslo years as well.

  8. ckg
    January 11, 2015, 8:37 pm

    Although the history of the Nakba may be something of a wild card in Israeli public discourse, acknowledging it is a precondition to any genuine reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians.

    Considering the eulogies this week in the Israeli press to Joan Peters, “Palestinian-Myth Smasher”, any genuine reconciliation could take forever.

  9. JeffB
    January 14, 2015, 9:54 am

    @pjdude

    I’m confusing nothing. i don’t really expect you to know anything of the history involved given your zionist education and their attempts to rewrite history. but it was the us pro Israel stance in recognizing Israel and helping arm the nascent state to continue its conquest. how ever much you like to repeat the tired lie of innate arab anti-semitism it remains a lie.

    I said anti-Israeli. I didn’t introduce motives for the Arabs here. As for it being a lie, the Arabs launched a war against Israel. They funded terror attacks all through the early 1950s. They organized a massive boycott. Their actions demonstrate without question they were hostile.

    As for the United States under Eisenhower the USA cut off arms to Israel 1954-6. That’s again a fact. The USA had friendly relations with other regimes in the area. An arms cutoff is not the USA siding with Israel.

    • Mooser
      January 16, 2015, 7:45 pm

      “They organized a massive boycott. Their actions demonstrate without question they were hostile.”

      They were supposed to throw rice and candy? What’s wrong with you JeffyB? The Zionist record in Palestine is very clear. There is no reason why the people there would do anything but try to throw them out, the Zionists were murderous, bigoted, and stole everything, and a lot worse than that besides. They sure as hell didn’t mean them any good, or would you like to argue different?

    • Kris
      January 16, 2015, 8:11 pm

      JeffB, one hundred Jewish Israeli soldiers who took part in the Nakba have been interviewed, on film, about what they did to the Palestinians in 1948. Are you a Nakba denier? It seems pretty dishonest to call Arab resistance “terrorism,” considering the horrors carried out first by the Zionist Jews.

      http://palestinemonitor.org/details.php?id=3r8rr4a930y68c20gx6p
      “The testimony of Binyamin Eshet (born in 1927, filmed in Kibbutz Palmachim July 2012) who is a holocaust survivor and served in the Israeli Palmach Brigades, presents an interesting insight to the perception of how it must have been like for the Palestinians to flee from their homes.

      “He tells about the caravan of Palestinian refugees fleeing from a-Lydd (Lod) in 1948: “[Palestinians were] walking with kids in their arms, pulling wagons, wagons with horses, this was … Now I didn’t realize this [at that time] – I had been in Europe, in 1946 Europe was a lot like this… I wasn’t aware of the fact that these were people turning into refugees.”

      “Binyamin Eshet explains in his testimony and continues, “It traumatized me. To see your grandfather and then see all that [the Palestinians fleeing], when you still have memories from the Holocaust.”

      “Eshet furthermore revealed in his testimony that a mass looting and burglaries of Palestinians houses took place in Lod before the army committed massacres against the Palestinians and forced the rest to escape.

      “Some soldiers became rich overnight, rich due to looting and theft of Palestinian property,” he said.”

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