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Not the only ‘proud Palestinian’ in the family–Gigi Hadid’s father details refugee history in Syria

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Last week supermodel Gigi Hadid (née Jelena Noura Hadid) posted to Instagram a photo of her hands decorated with henna, a traditional natural ink used by women in the Middle East and South Asia with a note about her Palestinian heritage. Her picture grabbed fashion magazine headlines, praising the ingenue for highlighting her cultural background—“check out the last name. Hadid. Half Palestinian & proud of it.”

Gigi Hadid is half-Palestinian and "proud." (Photo: Instagram/Gigi Hadid)

Gigi Hadid is half-Palestinian and “proud.” (Photo: Instagram/Gigi Hadid)

Half-Palestinian and half-Dutch, Hadid is the daughter of real estate mogul Mohamed Hadid and former supermodel turned reality star on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Yolanda Foster.

Model Gigi Hadid wears a Chanel designed coat inspired by the Palestinian keufiyyah. (Photo: Instagram/Gigi Hadid)

Model Gigi Hadid wears a Chanel designed coat inspired by the Palestinian keufiyyah. (Photo: Instagram/Gigi Hadid)

But Hadid is not the only one in her celebrity family (her younger sister Bella Hadid is also a famed model and will compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio for horseback riding). Her father Mohamed Hadid has posted a series of images of the past few weeks of his Nazareth-born family as refugees in Syria following the 1948 war.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 10.14.52 PMNext to a photograph of a baby Mohamed Hadid with his family, the model’s father wrote:

“I was only about 18 month old. After we were expelled from our beloved #Palastine into the Syrian refugee camps .. My dad got a brief job at the university of Damascus in #Syria .. This was our family pictures for a Palestinian Refugee Card. The Hadid Family, my beautiful mother Kharia Daher Hadid. My father Anwar Mohamed Hadid. My sisters Ghada,Raida, Sana, and me. Thank you #Syria for taking us in. And thank you America for allowing All of us to realize our dreams …”

Mohamed Hadid and family in Syria. (Photo: Mohamed Hadid/Instagram)

Mohamed Hadid and family in Syria. (Photo: Mohamed Hadid/Instagram)


A young Mohamed Hadid. (Photo: Instagram/Mohamed Hadid)

A young Mohamed Hadid. (Photo: Instagram/Mohamed Hadid)

In another post, Mohamed Hadid revealed his family is descended from the Ottoman governor of the Nazareth district noted for supporting inter-faith cooperation between Muslims, Christians and Jews.

“Love this picture. Momma and all of her 8 kids … 4 were born in Nazareth Palestine and 4 in Damascus Syria. Photo circa 1956/8 or some where close. My beautiful Momma …her Great-Grand Father and my G-G grand father, Ruled and was the Sheik of Palestine and Galilee and I was the Amir of Nazareth in 18th century. Google.. Daher El Omer To read more about this amazing ruler. That gave our cousins the Jews, a safe and peaceful stay under his rule .. A mandate in writing. The first ruler that did that in our ancient or Modern history. Let’s keep peace alive. And love in the hearts”

On Tuesday Mohamed Hadid added to his family’s historical narrative, explaining they sheltered a Jewish refugee family from Poland at their home in Safed (today Tzfat in northern Israel) who later “kicked us out of our own home.”

“Thats how we became refugees to Syria and we lost our home in Safad to a Jewish family that we sheltered when they were refugees from Poland on the ship that was sailing from country to country and no one would take them… they were our guest for 2 years till they made us refugees and they kicked us out of our own home. That my history.. Strange thing. That I and my family would do it again.”

Weeks ago Mohamed Hadid returned to his hometown for visit, making stops in Jerusalem and Old Jaffa. On social media he showed his followers a picture of the house where he was born, and the many meals he ate while in the holy land.

Mohamed Hadid on a recent vacation in Jerusalem (Photo: Instagram/Mohamed Hadid)

Mohamed Hadid on a recent vacation in Jerusalem (Photo: Instagram/Mohamed Hadid)


House in Nazareth where Mohamed Hadid was born. (Photo: Instagram/Mohamed Hadid)

House in Nazareth where Mohamed Hadid was born. (Photo: Instagram/Mohamed Hadid)


Picture of Mohamed Hadid's grandfather's home. (Photo: Instagram/Mohamed Hadid)

Picture of Mohamed Hadid’s grandfather’s home. (Photo: Instagram/Mohamed Hadid)


Mohamed Hadid dining in Nazareth. (Photo: Instagram/Mohamed Hadid)

Mohamed Hadid dining in Nazareth. (Photo: Instagram/Mohamed Hadid)


Mohamed Hadid's great-unlces. (Photo: Instagram/Mohamed Hadid)

Mohamed Hadid’s great-unlces. (Photo: Instagram/Mohamed Hadid)

(Photo: Instagram/Mohamed Hadid)

(Photo: Instagram/Mohamed Hadid)

According to Mohamed Hadid’s Instagram account his family emigrated to Syria during the 1948 war where Israel declared its independence and a wave of nearly 800,000 Palestinians were forcibly expelled or fled from their homes, called the nakba, or “catastrophe.” In a 1989 profile of the acclaimed businessman the Washington Post reported of the move into exile, “His father, Anwar Hadid, said he did not want the family ‘to live under the Israeli occupation.’ The parents walked for two nights to reach the Lebanese border — with Hadid’s mother carrying her oldest son.”

Today Palestinian refugees and their heirs make up more than 44 percent of all Palestinians reported the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, with the Hadid’s as perhaps one of the most well-known families.

Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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39 Responses

  1. zaid on December 31, 2015, 12:33 pm

    “Thats how we became refugees to Syria and we lost our home in Safad to a Jewish family that we sheltered when they were refugees from Poland on the ship that was sailing from country to country and no one would take them… they were our guest for 2 years till they made us refugees and they kicked us out of our own home. That my history.. Strange thing. That I and my family would do it again.”

    Same thing with my family,in west Jerusalem.

    We helped them and welcomed them , then they kicked us out and stole the house until this very day.

    In Arabic we say إتقي شر من أحسنت إليه

    • Kris on December 31, 2015, 1:31 pm

      @zaid: “In Arabic we say إتقي شر من أحسنت إليه

      Please translate for us, zaid.

      • diasp0ra on December 31, 2015, 1:53 pm


        I hope Zaid doesn’t mind if I jump in:

        It basically translates to “Be wary of the evils of those you are kind to”.

        There is also a very popular poetry verse by tenth century poet Al-Mutanabbi:

        إذا أنت أكرمت الكريم ملكته
        وإن أنت أكرمت اللئيم تمردا

        Which basically translates to: If you are generous (of heart) to a generous person (of heart), you will win him over, If you are generous (of heart) to a mean person (of heart), he will rebel against you.

        Basically, some people will always be out to harm you even if you are kind to them and help them. So be wary of those you are kind to, as their betrayal could be unseen and more harmful.

        Edit: It sounds very clunky in English but in Arabic it actually flows pretty well. Al-Mutanabbi in general is very hard to translate. I would argue here that much of the meaning would be lost in translation.

      • Kris on December 31, 2015, 5:03 pm

        Many thanks, Diaspora, much appreciated!

        Ingratitude hurts, whatever the language. Are there words for ingratitude and backstabbing/betrayal in modern Hebrew?

        If there are no Hebrew words, the concepts may not even exist in Israeli Jewish culture, which would explain why none of our resident Zionists is likely to comment on this article.

      • gamal on January 2, 2016, 12:04 am

        thank you

        al mutanabi was a panegyricist and all round bad boy who got himself and his son killed brawling but his equivalent today? say Qabbani no panegyrics nowadays he writes in an intensely critical mood

        Nizar Qabbani from his famous “Bread, Hashish and Moonlight”

        “In my land,
        In the land of the simple,
        where we slowly chew on our unending songs-
        A form of consumption destroying the east-
        Our east chewing on its history,
        its lethargic dreams,
        Its empty legends,
        Our east that sees the sum of all heroism
        In Picaresque Abu Zayd al Hilali.

        (saga of Banu Hilal is like an Arab Iliad according to Abnudi, swashbuckling in Iraq etc, but interestingly Abu Zayd was a black boy born to two white parents, there was friction)

        Khalil Mutran was convinced Shakespeare must have read translations of Al-Mutanabi,

        “In Shakespeare, there is doubtless something Arabic, and it is more evident than in, say, Victor Hugo. Has he read our language or was it transmitted to him in some accurate translation?

        I don’t know. But between him and us there are puzzling and numerous common features. He has our audacity for metaphor and its manipulation.

        And he has the same predilection for abrupt changes without prior preparation of preliminaries, pushing you suddenly from one intention to an-other, leaving you to ponder and find the link.
        He also has our infatuation with hyperbole which is probably used and sensed by only those writers and readers who have imaginative intensity and defiance, as it is often with Orientals and especiallyArabs. On the whole, there is in the writing of Shakespeare a Bedouin spirit which is expressed in the continuous return to innate nature.”

        KHALIL MUTRAN, 1976

      • gamal on January 2, 2016, 3:26 am

        sorry thats “Bread Hashish and Moon” obviously,

        but this does give me the opportunity to memorialize Hawi, if you are not actually despairing read Lazarus 62 he cries

        “Deepen the pit, gravedigger
        Deepen it to bottomless depths
        beyond the suns orbit
        Night of ashes, remnants of a star
        Interred in the wheeling abyss”

        it is an active not debilitating despair, its the despair that will see you on the other side

        Maghut already stole Tamar

        ” I will not die like a gnat in the throat of a crocodile
        I am Tamar, the beautiful young woman of Jaffa
        The daughter of struggle the butterfly of the valley the
        Spear of revenge
        From the fragments of my distressed spirit
        I will raise up a red star that will chew up
        the darkness crush the impossible”

        kind of despair.

      • annie on December 23, 2016, 8:49 pm

        the bing translation is “True evil done to him”, not as rich as these other translations — at all.

    • Froggy on January 1, 2016, 2:27 pm

      My God!

      Was this a common occurrence?

      • annie on January 1, 2016, 2:46 pm

        likely not uncommon.

  2. Kris on December 31, 2015, 1:16 pm

    Fascinating and very moving report, many thanks!

    I wonder how many of the Palestinians who took Jewish refugees into their homes were then, like the Hadids and Zaid (see his comment at 12:33 p.m.), dispossessed by them.

    Maybe one of the religious Zionists who comments here can explain how this was justified. Maybe the Zionist Jews at least put the names of these Palestinians who sheltered Jewish refugees, and whom the Jewish refugees then kicked out of their homes, on their list of Righteous Gentiles?

    • Stephen Shenfield on January 1, 2016, 6:59 am

      Kris: I don’t think this is a matter of language. The refugees from Poland who dispossessed Zaid’s family would probably have spoken Yiddish as their first language and possibly Polish. Both those languages have a word for “betray” (aroysgeben, zdradzać). As recent arrivals in Palestine they would almost certainly have not spoken much Ivrit. But in any case Ivrit too has a word for betrayal or breach of trust: בְּגִידָה

      I would guess they betrayed your trust because (a) they were culturally narrow people who did not include Arabs among those deserving of their consideration; and in addition (b) so absorbed in their own sense of victimhood that they had no awareness of an obligation not to victimize others. But I would like to track down those who did such things and find out what they have to say about it.

      Zaid: I wonder in what language your family communicated with these refugees. I wonder how it came about that you took them in. And I wonder whether there was any warning sign in their attitude toward you (indifference? contempt?).

    • tree on January 1, 2016, 7:15 pm

      Not to justify it in any way, but by way of possible explanation, it might be relevant to remember that while Britain controlled the number of Jewish immigrants allowed into Palestine, subject to the carrying capacity of the economy, the identity of those actually given immigration permits were controlled by the Zionist agencies. They had selection criteria that were based on good health, young age (but not too young so as to be a burden), acceptance of the Zionist ideology, and ability to contribute to the building of the Jewish economy in Palestine. The immigrants were not typical Jewish refugees, which is why they were called “settlers” by the Zionists in Palestine. This selection criteria were in effect all the way up to 1950, when the Knesset passed the Law of Return. (Which was passed not to help Jews in the diaspora, but to allow the Knesset to give citizenship rights to every Jew who was in the newly created Israel at the time while delaying any conferring of citizenship on the Palestinian inhabitants of Israel..- see Shria Robinson’s “Citizen Strangers”.)

      Also , as an additional point, there were situations where Jews in Palestine were extorted by Zionist terrorist groups to provide monetary and political support for them, and Jews who bucked the Zionist system faced possible “revenge” from fellow Jews. Its possible that these people were simply acting under pressure from other Zionist Jews. If so, these individual acts of expulsion of their benefactors were cowardly acts of course, but given the horrible overall Zionist ethnic cleansing, might have been the only act they could have taken without endangering their own lives. When push comes to shove its a rare human who will stand up for what’s right at considerable cost to themselves.

      Of course they could have just been committed Zionists who bought the ideology that all of Palestine belongs to them, and any non-Jewish others are not important.

      • Stephen Shenfield on January 2, 2016, 11:35 am

        Well, I have gone through eyewitness accounts of what happened during the Nakba in various places. There were Jews who refused to participate in expulsions or tried to protect one or another local Palestinian community. Some succeeded, some failed, but I have not come across any cases of “revenge” against them. They were not numerous enough to jeopardize the overall project of ethnic cleansing, so the easiest thing was to evade their efforts. If you didn’t want to evict your neighbors, tenants, or hosts the Haganah would do it instead. So Jewish refugees who took it upon themselves to kick out their Palestinian benefactors were not acting under irresistible pressure, they were displaying a quite unnecessary level of Zionist zeal. Perhaps they felt embarrassed by their friendship with Palestinians and wanted to make sure that other Jews did not regard them as “Arab-lovers.”

      • tree on January 2, 2016, 2:46 pm

        Interesting information to know, Stephen. Thanks.

        My post was simply a supposition about motives, based on the fact that there were a few instances prior to 1948 of Jews having their homes or lives threatened if they didn’t monetarily support the Jewish terrorists or if they were suspected of informing the British on them.

        A few examples, from a list of terrorist acts enumerated here:

        October 2, 1946, Tel Aviv. British military units and police seized 50 Jews in a Tel Aviv cafe after a Jewish home was blown up. This home belonged to a Jewish woman who had refused to pay extortion money to the Irgun terrorist gang

        March 10, 1947, Haifa. A Jew, suspected of being an informer, was murdered by Jewish terrorists.


        May 8, 1947, Tel Aviv. … three Jewish-owned Tel Aviv shops whose owners refused to contribute money to Jewish terrorist groups were burned down.

        August 18, 1947, Palestine. The shops of five Jewish merchants in Tel Aviv were destroyed by the Irgun because the owners refused to give money to that organization.

  3. diasp0ra on December 31, 2015, 1:34 pm

    Palestinians will never forget. No matter how long they need to live in diaspora, they always yearn for the land of figs and olives.

    I’m sure this was something the Zionists hoped we’d be over by now, after a few generations.

    • annie on December 31, 2015, 3:46 pm

      oh that will never happen diasp0ra. it reminded me of something the amazing Lena Ibrahim wrote here in The Young and Palestinian:

      The old will be brutalized. They will bleed, they will scream, they will claw their fingernails into the bones of the land that we will steal from underneath their hands, and we will then break their arms. They will be displaced, forcefully removed from their land, thrown into camps as if they are lifeless animals. They will die, and the young will forget.

      It is the perfect crime. “The old will die and the young will forget,” said the first Israeli Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion. The world may never know the truth because the memories will not last long enough to be attested and spread. Therefore, the oppressor will prevail, reaping off our continuous Nakba forever, slurping it up as if our demise is its nourishment.

      But our indestructible ability to remember had not been foreseen. The oppressor had foolishly assumed the young would forget, paving way to its predominant injustice. Foolishly, the oppressor did not know the strength of the memory of the young, how the memories of the Nakba and the countless other Palestinian catastrophes are passed down one by one to each generation like a hot bowl of soup.

      there’s more:

      • diasp0ra on December 31, 2015, 6:58 pm


        Thank you for bringing this to my attention! Indeed they have tried time and time again to make us forget. Poet Mahmoud Darwish has a famous poem:

        “We have on this land all of that which makes life worth living

        April’s hesitation

        The aroma of bread at dawn

        A woman’s beseeching of men

        The writings of Aeschylus

        Love’s beginning

        Moss on a stone

        Mothers standing on a flute’s thread

        And the invader’s fear of memories”

        They truly fear our memories. They know us to be native, and only by our admission can they ever feel legitimate. They will never be legitimate in our eyes until they change their ways.

        As for the “Old will die and the young will forget” it’s actually pretty common to attribute it to Ben Gurion, however, there is no evidence that he ever said that. That was indeed his mentality, but he never uttered those words. Nobody can pinpoint the actual source of this. There was a piece written about it on EI.

      • RockyMissouri on January 1, 2016, 4:29 pm

        Thank you, Annie..

      • annie on January 1, 2016, 4:42 pm

        diasp0ra, They will never be legitimate in our eyes until they change their ways.

        of course. and how interesting ben gurion didn’t say that. i’m having trouble accessing EI right now but will check the link later.

        rockyM, my pleasure.

    • Stephen Shenfield on January 1, 2016, 6:01 am

      I recall an interview in which Ghada Karmi says that the Palestinians are a fragmented people and are gradually losing their Palestinian identity and forgetting. Palestinians become Palestinian-Americans and then Americans, or Anglo-Palestinian and then British, etc. Some grow up never hearing about Palestine though later they may reclaim their heritage (like Ghana Karmi herself, or see my interview with Hala Gabriel). A gradual process of assimilation over the generations is inevitable, as it is for Jews, though the Zionists were clearly wrong in underestimating how long it will take. Perhaps it will be slow enough to give Israel a good chance of destroying itself first, showing that injustice doesn’t always triumph.

  4. annie on December 31, 2015, 3:41 pm

    for our readers up on the fashion industry Gigi Hadid was recently named Reader’s Choice Female Model of the Year in their annual Model of the Year Awards. she’s huge.

    thanks so much for covering this allison, i was thinking about writing it up when she was chosen as vogues anniversary pick a year or so ago. i had never heard of her at that time and read up on her and her dad. then last night noticing your article i went to her and her dad’s instagram page and sort of got lost there for a long time.

    • Qualtrough on January 4, 2016, 2:30 am

      Given the large numbers of very powerful/influential pro-Zionists in the glamour/show biz/media industries this is a particularly brave thing for her to do. That she had the courage to say that despite the potential for it to cause her lost opportunities is very admirable.

      • on January 4, 2016, 7:40 am

        Standing up and being proud of your ethnicity is the highest form of privilege one can possess. I doubt Gigi is that desperate for money to whitewash her own history for the sake of pro-Zionists.

      • RoHa on January 4, 2016, 6:25 pm

        “Standing up and being proud of your ethnicity is the highest form of privilege one can possess. ”

        I find this a difficult idea to grasp. I interpret “pride” as “self-praise”, so it seems inappropriate to praise oneself for something that is an accident of birth rather than an achievement.

        Nor do I see Gigi’s actions as being self-praise. Rather a refusal to hide or be ashamed. (Is that what you mean by “proud”?)

        But why is that the highest form of privilege?

      • YoniFalic on July 2, 2017, 10:46 pm

        BTW, as I have pointed out, we Slavo-Turks have reason for pride because we are among the founding peoples of Europe and made modern Europe possible even if the religion that our ancestors practiced at this point can kindly be said to have gone rancid.

        Those Slavo-Turks that assume a fake ethnic “Jewish” identity or cling to it are simply pathetic self-haters.

  5. annie on December 31, 2015, 6:18 pm

    here is an incredible movie mohamed hadid linked to on his instgram page with old footage from palestine, i highly recommend:

    • Marnie on January 1, 2016, 3:31 am

      Thanks for that link Annie. Thanks to MW for being here, thanks for all the information you provide, the discourse as a result of the many thought provoking, awe-inspiring, the horrible truths that the zionist state tries to whitewash and hide and the steadfastness of the likes of Allison and especially Kate as so much of her reporting is so sad and full of tears. God bless all the good people of MW and the many beautiful voices on these pages. I’m always inspired by all of you. Best wishes to all in 2016 and beyond –

      • annie on January 1, 2016, 1:18 pm

        i just saw your comment marnie, thank you! and thank you so much for being here and contributing so many thoughtful brave comments and being one of the beautiful voices here i look forward to everyday. have a wonderful 2016 and thanks again for everything — in sumud.

    • Qualtrough on January 4, 2016, 2:48 am

      Thanks Annie. I couldn’t watch it on Facebook but googled it and watched what I think is the same video. The one I saw showed British troops uncovering a huge cache of weapons and explosives hidden in… a school! Just another Zionist first in Palestine, along with car bombs, shooting down civilian airliners, and so much more.

  6. Ossinev on January 4, 2016, 6:36 am

    Israeli Zionism and its history of glorious resistance/freedom fighting/liberation struggles is summed up in

    To suggest that any of this was terrorism or that any of the brave heroes who carried out the actions were terrorists is blatant anti – semitism

  7. on January 4, 2016, 7:54 am

    I hope this article helps put an end to the common talking point against Israel involving the mention of white Jews or Khazar not being true Semites, or how Ashkenazi Jews don’t belong in Israel because they look European, Polish etc. It is such a uneducated view to hold, even if the intention is highlight the European origin of the current Israeli government.

    This man could easily have been mistaken for a white English or German person, his daughter more so. But there is no doubt his roots are in Palestine, which shows that the native population of the region should not be stereotyped as having any particular physical appearances.

    • ahadhaadam on January 4, 2016, 11:05 am

      No population is homogenous but the fact that there are European looking Palestinians does not negate the fact that in general they are very much Semite. He is rather the exception. It is opposite with European Jews: while some look Semite, all in all they are white skinned, hence more likely than not, originate in Europe and are in fact European immigrants.

      • Nathan on July 2, 2017, 10:00 pm

        There is only one correct usage of the term “Semitic”: There are Semitic languages. It is total nonsense to say that someone looks (or doesn’t look) Semite. The coining of the term “antisemitism” in 1879 has everyone confused into believing that there is a Semitic race. It’s all nonsense.

      • YoniFalic on July 3, 2017, 7:14 am

        Earliest German use (1822) of adjective antisemitisch. Footnote 54. Semitic alphabets have no vowels, antisemitic no letters.(Meager humor.)

      • Mooser on July 3, 2017, 12:33 pm

        “.(Meager humor.)”

        Be careful, “Yoni”. You can’t say anything bad about my man, Shem.

        Besides inventing that great proto-language, he fathered a race of truck-drivers, the Semi-ites.

      • echinococcus on July 3, 2017, 5:33 pm


        Correct, “Semitic” only applies to language.

        “Antisemitic”, though, is generally not applied to racism but loosely to “antipathy for Jews” without ever defining either “Jews” or the basis for such antipathy, and it always, as used by antisemitism hunters, includes acquired elements, ie it is not directed at accident of birth only, ie it is not about racism.

        “It’s all nonsense” of course: the idea of a Jewish race is absurd but it is defended by Zionism, Nazism and the texts of Jewish religion.

  8. jack77 on July 1, 2017, 1:04 pm

    I guess everyone on here commenting conveniently leaves out the fact that the day after the State of Israel was declared in 1948 , the Arabs of Palestine , along with Arabs of 4 surrounding countries staged a brutal and unprovoked attack to destroy the infant Jewish state , and annihilate its Jewish citizens. What everyone on here seems to be upset about is that this time the Jews didn’t go like sheep to the slaughter , and actually fought back , and against all odds , repelled the attackers. That some Jews then attempted to expel this belligerent peoples from their state isn’t so surprising . In fact , today there are millions of Arab citizens of Israel , living a better life than Arabs in ANY other country. If Israel wanted to expel them all don’t you think they could have ?

    • Keith on July 1, 2017, 5:05 pm

      JACK77- “I guess everyone on here commenting conveniently leaves out the fact that the day after the State of Israel was declared in 1948 , the Arabs of Palestine , along with Arabs of 4 surrounding countries staged a brutal and unprovoked attack to destroy the infant Jewish state , and annihilate its Jewish citizens.”

      Utter garbage which turns reality on its head. The only question is if you actually believe this crude propaganda, the product of your totalitarian Zionist ideology.

    • Mooser on July 1, 2017, 6:25 pm

      “If Israel wanted to expel them all don’t you think they could have ?”

      No, absolutely not. Israel never had the power to do that. Why don’t you tell me how the Jewish State would go about doing that?

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