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In my childhood kibbutz, I reflect on the absence of Palestinians

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This is the first of several posts based on journal entries from the author’s recent family visit to Israel-Palestine.

Birthday in Zion

It’s my birthday (April 14). I am travelling today with family, for a week of family visit and holiday in Israel. I’m going back to the place where I was born 47 years ago – specifically, kibbutz Givat Haim Ichud.

This photo is from the airport, saying “parliament shapes Israeli society”. Indeed – and vice versa, and what an outstandingly sad reality. No further statement.

Placard at the Israeli airport celebrating the parliament.

Most of my family lives on the kibbutz. This is a photo of the kindergarten I went to, “Gan Dekel”. It didn’t have that fence at the time. Reminded me of Yoni Rechter’s old song in Hebrew, “It’s not so pleasant to see a closed kindergarten”.

Jonathan Ofir in kibbutz kindergarten. April 2019.

At the time, we were sleeping collectively in those kindergartens. Actually, also in the nursery, from when we were only few months old. It was that socialist society of labor Zionism, where the parents had to get max work time. By the time I was 9, the system changed here, and young children slept at home and only slept collectively at high school age.

The third photo is of the tiny hut, where there were two night guard parents on rota, who had speakers connected to the three kindergartens and about 10 nurseries (over 100 children), who could hear if a child was crying – so they went over, pacified them and came back.

I have few memories from the time. One of them is joining my mom who was on rota for a short while. There was this ritual of making French fries late in the night, and I remember that – I was probably 5. I hardly remember any of the rest – that experience was somehow remarkable.

The guardhouse where rota duty was performed.

Kibbutz society is not that big a portion of Israeli society – it’s always been about 5%. But it was a decisively influential society within the Labor Zionist movement which led Israel for its first three decades. David Ben-Gurion was a kibbutznik, kibbutzim represented the Zionist settlement (many built atop Palestinian ruins and lands, as Moshe Dayan, also a kibbutznik, pointed out). And the kibbutz Zionist ethos was generally very militant. Kibbutzniks historically featured at double their societal ratio in combat units, as well as in combat deaths. My uncle died in the 1973 October war in the occupied Egyptian Sinai peninsula. He was one of eight of the kibbutz men who died in that war, out of about 180 who were called up to fight.

This is the societal background which I was born into, and which I come from. Although it has formed me with its own thrust, reflections upon it have also formed me, often through the negation of certain aspects I was brought up with.

One aspect was rather completely and utterly absent from my awareness in my childhood – one that is still a major aspect of Israeli denial in general – Palestinians. It was only in much later life that I began to build an awareness about this, and about how central this denial is to the continuance of Israeli settler-colonialism (where the latter, too, is subject to mass societal denial).

This is where I began to reflect upon how I was brought up, and where I came to look upon everything I had experienced earlier in a new light.


Qaqun and the cacti

I was passing with my family near the ethnically cleansed and demolished Palestinian town of Qaqun. The cacti in that area show very clear markings of the town’s perimeters. I pointed them out to my children – “look at the cacti – that is marking the borders of Qaqun”…

Before I could conclude my explanation, a person who was with us was saying, “Yes, tell them about ‘Sabras'” (a term Israelis use to describe Jewish Israelis who were born in Palestine). I did not give in to the disruption, and went on: “This is one of the hundreds of Palestinian villages that were destroyed in 1948, but their cacti remained”.

Then the person added: “What I wanted you to tell, was about the ‘Sabras'”. And the explanation went: “We who were born in Israel are called ‘Sabras’, like the cacti, because we have thorns on the outside but are soft and sweet on the inside” (these cacti have sweet fruits).

I mentioned that these cacti are actually not indigenous to Palestine, and came here around the 16th century from South America.

Everything I said seemed to be dismaying to the person.

But you see, it’s all ironic. The ‘Sabras’ notion is supposed to mark a sense of being ‘indigenous’. Yet the Hebew ‘Tzabar’ (phonetically) is actually a cultural appropriation of the Arabic Sabr, the name Palestinians applied to these plants. Such was the case with so many “Hebraicizations” of the names of Palestinian villages, as part of the colonialist erasure of Palestine, as former Defense Minister Moshe Dayan also noted:

You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist, not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahlal arose in the place of Mahlul; Kibbutz Gvat in the place of Jibta; Kibbutz Sarid in the place of Huneifis; and Kefar Yehushu’a in the place of Tal al-Shuman. There is not one single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.

And beyond that, the Sabr is not even indigenous to Palestine. But that doesn’t really matter, because Palestinians used it, and Zionists used the name they gave it and its notion to rewrite history, robbing the Palestinians of their indigenous belonging, and marking the ‘new Jew’ (the Zionist colonialist) as a deeply rooted indigenous person who has ‘returned’ and planted new roots in Eretz Israel, supposedly connected to time immemorial.

(Eitan Bronstein Aparicio and Eléonore Marza Bronstein have written about Qaqun in their book Nakba in Hebrew (now in Hebrew and French, hopefully soon in English).


Lifta – a story of dispossession and denial

Today, as part of a visit to Jerusalem with the family, we decided to stop and visit Lifta – the ethnically cleansed (1948) Palestinian town, located on the hills at the Western outskirts of Jerusalem – al-Quds.

This is the first time I have actually visited Lifta, although I have surveyed it closely by 360-degree photography. I would have wanted to visit there with descendants of its residents – but for Palestinians, it is often a question and a fear of whether they would be let through by Israel at the border, even with a foreign passport. So I felt as if I was, in some mystical way, visiting for and with these people.

You have to understand how strange it is to even get to this place. GoogleMaps knows the location – but you can’t get there directly with a road as such. The highway doesn’t provide a stop, you need to turn to another highway, drive past the village location, do a u-turn back, enter a side road with a tiny inconspicuous sign saying Lifta, stop on a narrow unpaved road that has no actual parking, and go down paths to reach the village.

When you do this, you get the distinct sense that Israel has no interest in this place being visited.

But this place is gorgeous, and it’s hidden just under the main highway. See the photos of how the many remaining houses blend with the hills, and see the spring with the pool – where a group of Arabic speaking young visitors were also bathing.

This place casts a spell. And you can imagine why and how these people and their descendants want to return there. I walked about reconstructing the past of this wondrous village in my mind, before it came to its abrupt end in 1948.

And enlightened colonists the like of Amos Oz lecture me about the ‘illness’ of ‘reconstritis’ (see reference here). In one of his last lectures before his death last year, Oz described how he had engaged with a Palestinian scholar in France, a descendant of refugees from Lifta. Oz recalls:

You are ill, I told the man. And I also diagnosed the illness. Those who have medical or paramedical education, take out the notebook and write: You are ill with Reconstritis. You are seeking in space, what you have lost in time.

Oz does not condemn the man for longing or missing Lifta. His suggestion is simply to write a book:

If you miss Lifta so much, write a book. Make a film. Write a play. Write up a research. Seek what you have lost in time, not in space… You miss your childhood? That’s OK, but if you start behaving like a 5-year old child [Oz is literally shouting here] because of your childhood longings, you need to be hospitalized!

But Oz understood very little, really. What I saw today in Lifta meant more than anything I have seen in modern Israel – no chauvinist colonialist architecture can beat this. And it is beyond the stones and the houses. I could hear the goat bells, I could hear the spring, like the Palestinian scholar that Amos Oz was talking to, and deriding for being ‘ill’. And Oz warned the scholar that if all the people returned, there would be a huge traffic jam and parking lots ruining the scene. How pathetic.

I tell you, if Lifta truly served a Zionist interest (rather than being a reminder of crimes), you can bet there would be a nice parking lot at the top, a nice paved road with access from the highway, nice big signs and all the rest of it. But Lifta is something Zionists want to forget, and they want Palestinians to forget it too.



Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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53 Responses

  1. annie on April 28, 2019, 5:47 pm

    I mentioned that these cacti are actually not indigenous to Palestine, and came here around the 16th century from South America.

    Everything I said seemed to be dismaying to the person.

    But you see, it’s all ironic. The ‘Sabras’ notion is supposed to mark a sense of being ‘indigenous’.

    ah the founding myths. someone told me on twitter the other day that referencing jews as colonists in israel was antisemitic. everything is antisemitic now.

    • eljay on April 28, 2019, 7:57 pm

      || annie: … everything is antisemitic now. ||

      By incessantly…
      – conflating Zionism and Israel with all Jews and all Jews with Zionism and Israel;
      – advocating, committing, supporting and/or defending (war) crimes in the name of all Jews; and
      – using destructive accusations of anti-Semitism to shield themselves from repercussions relating to their (war) criminal activities,
      …Zionists continue to do their best to entirely devalue the meaning of – and the legal and moral protection afforded by the term – anti-Semitism.

      I continue to be unable to comprehend why Zionists hate Jews so much.

    • Jackdaw on April 29, 2019, 10:50 am

      Denying the Jews historic ties their homeland, Eretz Yisroel, is anti-Semitic.

      When approached by a student who attacked Zionism, Dr. King responded: “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism.”

      • Mooser on April 29, 2019, 12:00 pm

        “Denying the Jews historic ties their homeland, Eretz Yisroel, is anti-Semitic.”

        And wouldn’t you say that out-marriage is just another form of denying “Jews (sic) historic ties to their homeland”?

      • eljay on April 29, 2019, 12:01 pm

        || Jackdaw: Denying the Jews historic ties their homeland, Eretz Yisroel, is anti-Semitic. … ||

        There’s nothing remotely anti-Semitic about the undeniable fact that geographic Palestine is not the historic, ancient, eternal or one true homeland of every person in the world – of every citizen of every homeland throughout the world – who has chosen to embrace the religion-based identity of Jewish.

        There is, however, much that is anti-Semitic about Zionists claiming that the evil they do is done in the name of and on behalf of all Jews. Why do you Zionists insist on hating Jews so much?!

      • Misterioso on April 29, 2019, 1:01 pm


        “Denying the Jews historic ties their homeland, Eretz Yisroel, is anti-Semitic.”

        It seems you are not aware that the “historic…homeland” of the vast majority of Jews is Russia, Poland, and Europe, not Palestine, which is in fact the “homeland” of the indigenous Palestinian Arabs who including their ancestors, have lived there continuously for over 15,000 years.

      • DaBakr on April 29, 2019, 4:44 pm

        ofir seems the kind of bleeding heart so-called progressive that would see (or tolerate as an act of ‘true democracy’ ) one state where hamas and Fatah would form a coalition govt (look at any legitimate arab polling in Judea or Gaza) and then, well, we all get the rest of the story. dreamers, idiots, ideologues and fools. we’ve seen it all before and not just with jews. and people question why netanyahu [admittedly, the man without a visionary plan for peace and the end-of-conflict] was elected by the centrist Israelis (with the far right blocks) that anti-zionist israel haters refer to as right wing racists. what a joke. redefining racism to fit ones narrative and make an exception for arabs that identify as palestinian since the early 60s. in fact, soon, with the constant accusations of so-called racism will be as devoid of meaning as is nazi-another term flung around with reckless and ignorant abandon. ofir will be ensconced in denmark either way to continue commentary.

      • eljay on April 29, 2019, 5:29 pm

        || @Daa: ofir seems the kind of bleeding heart so-called progressive that would see (or tolerate as an act of ‘true democracy’ ) one state where hamas and Fatah would form a coalition govt (look at any legitimate arab polling in Judea or Gaza) and then, well, we all get the rest of the story. … ||

        It’s funny how you Zionists abhor the idea of a single state and yet you’ve remained unable…no, unwilling to curb your greed to expand your colonialist, (war) criminal and religion-supremacist state to encompass as much as possible of geographic Palestine, all at the expense of its indigenous population (i.e., the people living in and up to n-generations removed from the region).

        || … redefining racism to fit ones narrative and make an exception for arabs that identify as palestinian since the early 60s. … ||

        You Zionists have redefined many terms to fit your hateful and immoral ideological belief that your religion-based identity somehow grants those who choose to embrace it the right…
        – to be supremacists;
        – to have a supremacist state; and
        – to do unto others acts of injustice and immorality they would not have others do unto them.

        || … in fact, soon, with the constant accusations of so-called racism will be as devoid of meaning as is nazi-another term flung around with reckless and ignorant abandon. … ||

        The way you Zionists fling around with reckless and ignorant abandon – and with calculated and destructive malice – the constant accusations of anti-Semitism, you may very well beat the term racism to the punch of being as devoid of meaning as is Nazi.

      • annie on April 30, 2019, 10:13 pm

        Dr. King responded: “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism.”

        that’s absolutely fabricated hearsay that emerged after his death. it’s been debunked thousands of times. phff

      • wondering jew on May 1, 2019, 10:16 pm

        Annie- MLK’s statement.

        Hardly fabricated. Hardly hearsay. For forty years the testimony of Martin Lipset regarding MLK’s statement was part of the public record and only after Lipset was felled by a stroke and unable to defend himself, did people who were not at the dinner assert that the dinner had never taken place.
        It has not been debunked. Some Palestinians who didn’t like the statement have cast shadows on the statement by saying that King couldn’t have spoken it, because he wasn’t in Cambridge. but that’s just phony.
        From Martin Kramer:

        But the assertion that King couldn’t possibly have spoken it, because
        he wasn’t in or near Cambridge when he was supposed to have said it,
        is baseless. Lipset: “Shortly before he was assassinated, Martin Luther
        King, Jr. was in Boston on a fund-raising mission, and I had the good
        fortune to attend a dinner which was given for him in Cambridge.”
        Every particular of this statement is corroborated by a wealth of detail.
        There is a date, an approximate time of day, and a street address for
        the Cambridge dinner, all attested by contemporary correspondence
        in King’s papers.

        I do not think that using MLK’s statement in October of 67 less than half a year after the 6 day war is sufficient to make arguments in 2019 about how he would react to the history of the last 50 years. But the statement attributed to him stands and journalists, real journalists, would not use the word debunked in regards to that statement. Propagandists on the other hand would not even hesitate.

      • annie on May 1, 2019, 11:05 pm

        anybody can make up anything after someone’s dead and claim they said it. it’s fabricated.

      • RoHa on May 2, 2019, 1:52 am

        It isn’t important, anyway. We aren’t required to agree with, or even care about, MLK.

      • Mooser on May 2, 2019, 4:24 pm

        Since we never get to hear what the student said to MLK, the quote is meaningless.
        The student may have said something which called for that vague response.
        It’s not unknown for students to say extravagant or wrong-headed things.

      • wondering jew on May 2, 2019, 5:06 pm

        Annie- there were witnesses at the dinner at Martin Peretz’s house that backed up what MLK said. I don’t know who was at that dinner aside from Martin Lipset and marty Peretz. if you were a journalist trying to establish the credibility of Iipset’s report, you would research it. but you are not wearing your journalist hat at the moment. You are wearing your propagandist chapeau.

        I don’t think that antizionism and antisemitism are always identical. I think in the case of SNCC in 1967 that MLK was accurate. I think when the Commies executed Slansky for being a Zionist that was a code word for Jew and had nothing to do with Zionism. I think Isaac Deutscher could be described as an antiZionist and although he could also be described as an enemy to the Jewish religion I would not call him an antiSemite. So in various situations the MLK statement was accurate and in other situations it is not accurate. But I find it credible that MLK said it. To assert it as a fabrication without research is propaganda and not journalism.

      • Mooser on May 2, 2019, 6:35 pm

        What did the ‘student’ say to MLK which elicited the alleged response? Without that, the quote is meaningless.

  2. Nathan on April 28, 2019, 8:51 pm

    Jonathan – One goes down on foot to Lifta simply because (as you saw for yourself) the village was built on a very, very steep slope. There is no way that a road (for cars) could be made, and therefore there really isn’t much of a reason for there to be a stop on the highway to turn off to Lifta. You just have to go by foot from central bus station in Jerusalem.

    Since you are speaking to an audience that doesn’t have a clue about the geography of the country or the social reality thereof, you can present any picture that you like. However, everyone visits Lifta (despite your absurd claim that “you get the distinct sense that Israel has no interest in this place being visited”). There’s no reason to assume that your “distinct sense” is commonplace. Quite the contrary. You have an anti-Israel agenda, and therefore your observations are a function of your prejudices. Anyway, no one is hiding Lifta, and no one wants to forget Lifta. Highway no. 1 is probably the busiest road in the country, and so literally everyone notices the village (and is curious to see it).

    Speaking of observations that are function of your prejudices, I suppose that one has to be obsessively hostile to Israel in order to understand what exactly bothered you about the sign in the airport (celebrating the Knesset’s 70th year). I’m not anti-Israel, so your “no further statement” went right by me. I suppose that if you think there shouldn’t be a State of Israel, then you think that there shouldn’t be a Knesset. However, it might surprise you to find out that there are millions of people who think that it’s okay that there is a State of Israel, and quite amazingly they think that it’s fine that there is a parliament therein. Moreover, they might think it’s nice to find out that the Knesset is 70 years old.

    By the way, the name Lifta is the Arabic rendering of the Biblical town of Neftoah (see Joshua 15). Actually, hundreds of Arab villages and towns preserve Hebrew names from antiquity. You mentioned the Arabic name of Jerusalem (al-Quds), but you forgot to tell the readers that al-Quds is the Arabic rendering of ha-Qodesh (as in ‘ir-ha-qodesh, the holy city in Hebrew). Actually, the original Arabic name of Jerusalem is Beit-al-Maqdas, and everyone knows that this is taken from the Hebrew term “beit ha-miqdash”, the Temple (of the ancient Jews). In the pamphlets given out to tourists in the 1920’s, the Waqf bragged that Haram al-Sharif is the site of the ancient Jewish Temple. Today, the pamphlets deny that there was ever a temple. So, actually, the issue of denial is really part of the Palestinian narrative.

    • Misterioso on April 29, 2019, 8:54 am


      “You have an anti-Israel agenda,…”

      Actually Nathan, anyone with an IQ over room temperature who is reasonably familiar with international law, the origins of the racist/fascistic/expansionist entity known as “Israel” and its ongoing accelerating monstrous crimes committed against the essentially defenseless indigenous Christian and Muslim Palestinians has “an anti-Israel agenda.”

      • DaBakr on April 29, 2019, 5:14 pm


        I think before you continue with “racist” and ‘fascist’ in reference to ones low IQ you should probably check your standard high school dictionary. I believe fascism tolerates no oppositional views or influence and concentrates all power with the state. anybody believing israel has no tolerance for differences of political opinion shouldn’t be making IQ comments.

        also hard for Israel to be racist when arab (and black, brown, gay and trans) have full suffrage and civil rights. bigoted or prejudiced would be better.

        and “expansionist” is highly questionable since the amounts of territory ceded exceed the smaller territory won in war. in fact, the territories of this so-called ‘expansion’ can be absolutely confirmed as strategic military geography that no nation would cede without a guaranteed enforceable end-of-conflict.

      • oldgeezer on April 30, 2019, 9:38 am


        Lol spare us the bs. Israel only tolerates a diversity of opinion within a very arc. What does get tolerated also varies depending on where one sits with the racist framework of the state. Actions are taken against those who deviate, particularly non Jews and we frequently see laws passed to penalize people who deviate when they fail to make current laws stick.

        You’re full of it.

        On a diff post your distinction between racism bigotry and prejudice is a red herring. The are all equally repugnant on a moral basis.

        That said Israel is both racist and bigoted. Arabs, even Mizrahi, are not treated as 1st class citizens. Non Jewish citizens are treated even worse.

        There is no equality. Where laws do not discriminate outright they are not applied equally.

        Racism and bigotry is the core element of Israel bybthe design of it’s founders. It’s supporters enjoy it that way and feel it is their due and right.

        I am surprised you’re attempting to wash the image of Israel yet again. The achievements of the few are not to the credit of the state. The actions of the state especially it’s criminal acts against innocent victims cannot conceivably be washed away.

        If Bundy had achieved some scientific discovery no doubt you’d suggest that overrides the deaths of his victims. Perverted and not going to happen for Israel.

        The thousands and 10s of thousands it has murdered in cold blood for vile objectives demand and deserve justice.

    • Daedalus on April 29, 2019, 1:16 pm

      Try to focus on the cacti.

      • DaBakr on April 29, 2019, 5:16 pm

        tomatoes came to Italy from the ‘new world’. so I guess their use of tomato sauce is racist and inauthentic unless thoroughly attributed.

    • annie on April 29, 2019, 6:44 pm

      nathan, it says in wiki:

      According to the Hebrew Bible, the Jebusites (/ˈdʒɛbjəˌsaɪts/; Hebrew: יְבוּסִי, Modern: Yevusi, Tiberian: Yəḇûsî ISO 259-3 Ybusi) were a Canaanite tribe who inhabited Jerusalem prior to the conquest initiated by Joshua (11:3 and 12:10) and completed by King David (2 Samuel 5:6-10). ……..every non-biblical mention of Jerusalem found in the ancient Near East refers to the city as ‘Jerusalem’. An example of these records are the Amarna letters, several of which were written by the chieftain of Jerusalem Abdi-Heba and call Jerusalem either Urusalim (URU ú-ru-sa-lim) or Urušalim (URU ú-ru-ša10-lim) (1330s BCE)

      so this Abdi-Heba

      Abdi-Heba (Abdi-Kheba, Abdi-Hepat, or Abdi-Hebat) was a local chieftain of Jerusalem during the Amarna period (mid-1330s BC). Abdi-Heba’s name can be translated as “servant of Hebat”, a Hurrian goddess. Whether Abdi-Heba was himself of Hurrian descent is unknown, as is the relationship between the general populace of pre-Israelite Jerusalem

      i guess what i am curious about is, if pre-Israelite Jerusalem was called Urusalim (by non jews, Amarna letters), doesn’t it make sense that is where the name came from?

      it says here

      Shalim (Shalem, Salem, and Salim) is a god in the Canaanite religion pantheon, mentioned in inscriptions found in Ugarit (Ras Shamra) in Syria.[1][2] William F. Albright identified Shalim as the god of dusk, and Shahar as god of the dawn.[3] In the Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, Shalim is also identified as the deity representing Venus or the “Evening Star”, and Shahar, the “Morning Star”.[1] His name derives from the triconsonantal Semitic root S-L-M. The city of Jerusalem was named after him, and the biblical King Solomon may also have been.[4]

      ….Shalim is also mentioned separately in the Ugaritic god lists and forms of his name also appear in personal names, perhaps as a divine name or epithet.[1]

      Many scholars believe that the name of Shalim is preserved in the name of the city Jerusalem.[1][6][7][8] The god Shalim may have been associated with dusk and the evening star in the etymological senses of a ‘completion’ of the day, ‘sunset’ and ‘peace’.[9]

      it makes sense jerusalem is the hebrew translation of Urusalim, which preceded it. or maybe it’s just a coincidence? if that’s the case, then the area was considered holy or divine earlier than the establishment of a jewish city, hence al-Quds the Arabic rendering of Qedesha, Qudshu or Qetesh qds holy.

      Qudšu was later used in Jewish Aramaic to refer to God,[4] and qudš is the proto-form of the Hebrew word qadōš, meaning “holy”.

      • Nathan on April 29, 2019, 8:45 pm

        Annie – The Arabs conquered Jerusalem in 638, and they called the city “beit al-maqdas”. They knew that the Jewish Temple had been there (in Hebrew “beit ha-miqdash”), and the city was named after the Temple. You’re right that Jerusalem is a city mentioned in the al-Amarna tablets from the 14th century BC, but there wasn’t a human being on planet earth who knew about such things in the 7th century (more than 2000 years later). Your hint that the Arabic name might have been derived from a pre-Israelite holiness must assume that the archeological discoveries since the 19th century, the deciphering of cuneiform and hieroglyphics and the scholarly research of the ancient Middle East of the 20th century were common knowledge in the Middle Ages. They weren’t. The point of reference regarding the holiness of Jerusalem was obviously the Biblical heritage (of the Jews).

      • annie on April 30, 2019, 8:58 pm

        The point of reference regarding the holiness of Jerusalem was obviously the Biblical heritage (of the Jews).

        there are several references in my earlier post demonstrating the area was already considered holy prior to the arrival of jews. they named it such. Urusalim (URU ú-ru-sa-lim) or Urušalim (URU ú-ru-ša10-lim) (1330s BCE). i merely found it interesting in your lesson on the names of Jerusalem you skipped over the very one that preceded it! the one it sounds just like. the one “Many scholars believe that the name of Shalim is preserved in the name of the city Jerusalem.[1][6][7][8] “. so if you think “point of reference regarding the holiness of Jerusalem is the bible” all i can say is point of reference regarding the holiness of Urusalim came first, before the bible. the land is considered holy, and that didn’t begin with judaism, and won’t end there either. get used to it. see that big gold dome in the middle of the city? it’s not jewish.
        it’s holy to lots of people.

        Your hint that the Arabic name might have been derived from a pre-Israelite holiness must assume that the archeological discoveries since the 19th century

        no, it doesn’t. the land wasn’t uninhabited when the israelites showed up. it probably already had a name and just like today, with settlements sitting on top of arab villages alter the name a little, someone just probably altered the name of Urusalim a little. no biggie and didn’t require any archeological discoveries.

      • Nathan on April 30, 2019, 9:48 pm

        Annie – There is no doubt that Jerusalem was a holy city before the Israelite period. However, from the point of view of the Arabs in the early Middle Ages (with the rise of Islam), Jerusalem was a holy city because of the Jewish Temple that had stood there. Moreover, they built the Dome of the Rock exactly on the site of the Temple as an expression of their belief that Islam has inherited the glory of the previous civilization. Inside the Dome of the Rock is a quote from the Quran, saying that God has no need for a son. So, the building was presented to the Jews as the fulfilment of their aspiration to restore the Temple (through Islam), while at the same time the Christians were being told that Islam is correcting their false beliefs. In short, the Arabs were entirely focused on the two monotheistic religions that preceded Islam. So, indeed, there is a long history of holiness in Jerusalem, and this holiness precedes the rise of Israel and the House of David. However, from the perspective of the Arabic civilization, the issue is the new religion that has come to replace Judaism (and Christianity). “Al-Quds” is the Arabic rendering of “ir-ha-qodesh”, the holy city (of the Jews), and the original name of Jerusalem in Arabic (beit al-maqdas) is simply “beit ha-miqdash”, the Temple (of the Jews).

        When reading the Quran, it’s obvious that the author is familiar with the Biblical stories, including Moses and the children of Israel coming into the Land. There aren’t in the Quran any Canaanite deities such as Shalem, nor are there any Hurrian kings ruling Jerusalem and corresponding with the pharoahs. The point of reference in the seventh century AD is the Biblical narrative. You don’t have to feel uncomfortable that the Jewish tradition is the point of reference of western civilization (and this includes the Arabs). That’s just how it is (even your name is derived from the Hebrew tradition).

      • annie on April 30, 2019, 10:07 pm

        i’m sorry if i made you feel i was uncomfortable nathan. not at all.

        “from the perspective of the Arabic civilization” would be appreciated.
        thanks for sharing yours.

      • RoHa on May 1, 2019, 12:04 am

        “When reading the Quran, it’s obvious that the author is familiar with the Biblical stories,”

        If the author really is the one claimed, I would expect him to be familiar with the Biblical stories. He is supposed to star in some of them.

  3. Jonathan Ofir on April 29, 2019, 2:00 am

    Right, Nathan, “everybody visits Lifta” is “curious to see it”, “no one is hiding Lifta” and “no one wants to forget Lifta” –
    That must be why the Jerusalem Municipality tried to erase it and build an upscale neighborhood there, a plan that was eventually averted by the court after some public protest:

    You bet that upscale neighborhood would have had a nice access road.

    The question is not about reaching Lifta by foot, but rather that the road by which you reach it is hardly paved, so slim that you can hardly park a car there, and yes, you wouldn’t know how to get there normally.
    It’s made a national park since 2017, you would expect it to be profiled more prominently, but it isn’t.

    Lifta is not a pride of Zionist Israel – it is a shame. And you don’t actually see it easily from that highway, unless you know where to look and stop (which you can’t) – so yes it’s hidden.

    Finally, it seems also lost on you, that the society is supposed to shape the parliament in a supposedly democratic society, not the other way around, but Israel boasts of the other way around. And you also seem proud of that parliament, which portrays that false sense of democracy – which is a ‘racial democracy’.
    You suppose I think there “shouldn’t be a state of Israel”, but I just think there shouldn’t be an Apartheid state faking to be a democracy.

    • Nathan on April 29, 2019, 9:20 pm

      Jonathan – But the Jerusalem Municipality is not going to build a neighborhood in Lifta. The public didn’t agree. Apparently, the public actually likes the place very much and wants to leave it the way it is. You tell us that you visited the village for the first time at age 47, but you should note that people who live in the area visit the site all the time. There is nothing hidden. It’s a ten minute walk from the central bus station in Jerusalem. Moreover, despite your protests, one sees Lifta very clearly from the highway and everyone notices it. On your next trip to Israel, take a bus to Jerusalem. You’ll see that everyone is looking out the window as they pass by Lifta. Everyone.

      It is absolutely impossible to make a road from highway no. 1 (near the entrance of Jerusalem) down to Lifta. It’s too steep. The wasn’t a road to Lifta in the time of the British Mandate. Maybe you would like to conclude that the English wished to hide the place, but actually the problem is that a car can’t handle the slope. And why on earth would you want an access road to Lifta? It’s an ancient site, and just leave it as it is.

      You shouldn’t assume that others see things as you do. You are anti-Israel. You think that the state shouldn’t exist, and you think that the Jews are colonists (i.e. illegitimate). However, most people are not anti-Israel. So, when you view anything in Israel, you have your strange interpretation in which a trivial poster about the Knesset at the airport has some terrible significance. For most people, it was just a poster making mention that the Knesset was founded 70 years ago. For you, Lifta is hidden and there must be some sinister reason for this. However, for most people, Lifta is right there in front of their eyes.

  4. Jackdaw on April 29, 2019, 2:10 am

    “I was passing with my family near the ethnically cleansed and demolished Palestinian town of Qaqun. ”

    Wasn’t Qaqun a headquarters of the Iraqi army in 1948?
    Weren’t Qaqun’s defenders, both Iraqi soldiers and local militiamen, routed in a pitched battle with the Jewish army?

    And in 1947, wasn’t Lifta told to evacuate its women and children in order to host a Palestinian military company, and on 4 December 1947 some Arab families voluntarily left Lifta.
    And by mid-December irregular Arab militia took up positions in Lifta to defend the site and to harass adjacent Jewish areas. Jewish Hagannah patrols engaged in firefights with the village militiamen while Irgun and Lehi were even more aggressive.

    Se la guerre, Jonathan.

    • Misterioso on April 29, 2019, 8:41 am

      @Jackdaw, et. al.

      On 6 February 1948, while addressing a meeting of the Mapai Party Council Ben-Gurion stressed the necessity of establishing Jewish settlements in the mountains around Jerusalem and the hills surrounding the coastal plains. When a member of the audience pointed out that the Partition Plan had not given those areas to the proposed Jewish state, he responded: “The war will give us the land. The concepts of ‘ours’ and ‘not ours’ are peace concepts, only, and in war they lose their whole meaning.” (Ben-Gurion, War Diary, Vol. l, entry dated 6 February 1948, pp. 210-11; cited by Masalah, EOTP, p. 180)

      Speaking to the same group the next day, Ben-Gurion expressed his pleasure at the fact the western parts of Jerusalem (Lifta and Romema) had been emptied of Arabs and replaced by Jews. He then speculated that “[w]hat had happened in Jerusalem…is likely to happen in many parts of the country…in the six, eight or ten months of the campaign there will certainly be great changes in the composition of the population in the country.” (Ben-Gurion, War Diary, Vol. l, entry dated 7 February 1948, pp. 210-11)

      On 4 April 1948, Ben-Gurion made it very clear to members of the Mapai what would happen once the Arabs had been removed: “We shall enter the vacated villages and settle in them.” (Palumbo, The Palestinian Catastrophe, p. 32)

      • Jackdaw on April 29, 2019, 9:55 am

        BG was quite right in saying, ‘The concepts of ‘ours’ and ‘not ours’ are peace concepts, only, and in war they lose their whole meaning.”

        The Partition Plan was rejected by the Arabs, who responded by declaring a Fatwa compelling all individual arabs and all Arab States to violently oppose the creation of a Jewish State, i.e, a religious war against the Jews.

        Oh…oh…oh. And which side started the war that BG was referring ?
        The Arab side, on November 29-30, 1947.

        Qaqun and Lifta were Arab military garrisons, but Jonathan Ofir white washes history and omits Arabs as armed aggressors.

      • Misterioso on April 29, 2019, 12:43 pm


        “The Partition Plan was rejected by the Arabs,..”

        Of course it was. And for good reason, including international law:

        Indigenous Palestinian Arabs, who then made up 69% of the population, rejected the Partition Plan (UNGA Res. 181, Nov. 29/47) for entirely justified reasons based on international law. While Jews made up just 31% of the population (90% were of foreign origin,* thousands were illegal immigrants) and privately owned only between 6% and 7% of the land, the Partition Plan (recommendatory only, no legal foundation, contrary to the British Class A Mandate and the 1941 Atlantic Charter, never adopted by the UNSC) outrageously recommended they receive 56% of Palestine, including its most fertile areas. (*10% of Palestine’s Jewish population consisted of native Palestinian/Arab Jews who were vehemently anti-Zionist.)

        In 1947, 48% of the total land area of Palestine was privately owned (‘mulk khaas’) by Palestinian Arabs. (As noted above, total Jewish privately owned land was only between 6% and 7%.) About 45% of the total land area was state owned, i.e. by citizens of Palestine and it was comprised of Communal Property (‘mashaa’), Endowment Property, (‘waqf’), and Government Property, (‘miri’.) Importantly, only 30% of the Jewish immigrants had taken out citizenship. (The British Mandate kept an extensive land registry and the UN used the registry during its early deliberations. It has in its archives 453,000 records of individual Palestinian owners defined by name, location & area.)

        Rubbing salt into the wound, the United States quashed a proposal based on international law put forth by Arab delegates at the UN that a referendum be conducted in Palestine to determine the wishes of the majority regarding the Partition Plan. The United States also thwarted their request to have the matter referred to the International Court of Justice.

        Land ownership by Sub-district in all of mandated Palestine, 1947: Acre: 87% Palestinian Arab owned, 3% Jewish owned, 10% state owned; Safed: 68% Palestinian Arab owned, 18% Jewish owned, 14% state owned; Haifa: 42% Palestinian Arab owned, 35% Jewish owned, 23% state owned; Nazareth: 52% Palestinian Arab owned, 28% Jewish owned, 20% state owned; Tiberias: 51% Palestinian Arab owned, 38% Jewish owned, 11% state owned; Jenin: 84% Palestinian Arab owned, less than 1% Jewish owned, 16% state owned; Beisan: 44% Palestinian Arab owned, 34% Jewish owned, 22% state owned; Tulkarm: 78% Palestinian Arab owned; 17% Jewish owned, 5% state owned; Nablus: 87% Palestinian Arab owned, less than 1% Jewish owned, 13% state owned; Jaffa: 47% Palestinian Arab owned, 39% Jewish owned, 14% state owned; Ramleh: 77% Palestinian Arab owned, 14% Jewish owned, 9% state owned; Ramallah: 99% Palestinian Arab owned, less than 1% Jewish owned, less than 1% state owned; Jerusalem (West and East): 84% Palestinian Arab owned, 2% Jewish owned, 14% state owned; Gaza: 75% Palestinian Arab owned, 4% Jewish owned, 21% state owned; Hebron: 96% Palestinian Arab owned, less than 1% Jewish owned, 4% state owned; Bersheeba (Negev): 15% Palestinian Arab owned, less than 1% Jewish owned, 85% state owned. (Village Statistics, Jerusalem: Palestine Government, subsequently published as United Nations Map no. 94b, August, 1950)

        No wonder Palestinians rejected the recommendatory only Partition Plan. Indeed, it proved so unworkable that when Polish born David Ben-Gurion (nee, David Gruen) et al. declared the “Jewish State” of Israel effective 15 May 1948, after Jewish forces had already dispossessed and expelled 400,000 Palestinians (e.g., 30,000 from West Jerusalem in March and a further 30,000 in May, 60,000 from Haifa in April, 75,000 from Jaffa in late April and early May), the UNGA was in the process of shelving the Partition Plan in favor of a UN Trusteeship.

        When war erupted due to necessary intervention by reluctant outnumbered/outgunned Arab state armies to stem the accelerating expulsion of Palestinians, a US proposed cease-fire was accepted by the Arab League but rejected by Israel.

        In 2004, when asked by Ha’aretz journalist, Ari Shavit, what new information his just completed revised version of The Birth of the Palestinian Problem 1947-1949 would provide, Israeli historian Benny Morris replied: “It is based on many documents that were not available to me when I wrote the original book, most of them from the Israel Defense Forces Archives. What the new material shows is that there were far more Israeli acts of massacre than I had previously thought. To my surprise, there were also many cases of rape. In the months of April-May 1948, units of the Haganah were given operational orders that stated explicitly that they were to uproot the villagers, expel them and destroy the villages themselves.” (Haaretz, January 9, 2004)

        During the war Israel seized 78% of Palestine (22% more than proposed by the recommendatory only UNGA Partition Plan, Resolution 181, including large portions of the proposed Palestinian state, e.g., Jaffa and Acre.) After driving out about 400,000 between late 1947 and 15 May 1948, Jewish Zionists of foreign origin expelled 400,000 more Palestinians for a total of about 800,000 (according to Walter Eytan, then Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry) and went on to destroy over 500 of their towns and villages, including churches, mosques and cemeteries. It was only the beginning of the Zionist’s conquest of Palestine and the expulsion of its indigenous Arab inhabitants. By June, 1967, about 1,200,000 were dispossessed and driven out.

      • Misterioso on April 29, 2019, 12:53 pm


        “Oh…oh…oh. And which side started the war that BG was referring ?
        The Arab side, on November 29-30, 1947.”


        In his December 13/47 dispatch to London, Sir Alan Cunningham, the British High Commissioner to Palestine blamed the Yishuv for the deteriorating situation and loss of life: “The initial Arab outbreaks were spontaneous and unorganized and were more demonstrations of displeasures at the UN decision than determined attacks on Jews. The weapons employed [by Palestinians] were sticks and stones and had it not been for Jewish resource to firearms, it is not impossible that the excitement would have subsided and little loss of life caused…. [T]here is reliable evidence that the Arab Higher Committee as a whole and the Mufti in particular, were not in favour of serious outbreaks.” (MEC: Cunningham Papers, box 2, file 3)

        Ben-Gurion agreed with Cunningham. In a letter dated 15 December 1947 to Moshe Sharett, head of the political department of the Jewish Agency, he stated: “The [Palestinian] peasant masses are not taking part in the riots.” (Three months later in a letter to Sharett and Golda Meir he observed: “The [Palestinian] Arabs in their great majority are not seeking war with us.”)

        Shortly after Britain’s announcement that it intended to withdraw from Palestine beginning 15 May 1948, Ben-Gurion directed the Irgunists, Sternists and Palmach to increase the ferocity of their strikes against Palestinian Arabs. He ordered that “in each attack, a decisive blow should be struck, resulting in the destruction of homes and the expulsion of the population.” (Ben-Gurion’s Diary-in Hebrew, vol. 1, 19 December 1947) The Zionists were implementing what they called Plans A, B and C or Tochnit May (Plan May), more commonly known as Plan Gimmel. Its objectives were to buy time for the mobilization of Jewish forces by seizing strategic points the British vacated and to terrorize the Palestinian population into submission. (Harvard Professor Walid Khalidi, Haven to Conquest, p.lxxix)

        On December 13, the Irgun carried out coordinated assaults in Jerusalem, Jaffa, and the village of Tireh near Haifa, killing 35 Palestinian civilians and wounding many more. The 14 December issue of the New York Times observed that “The hope for a decrease in tension, arising from Arab reaction to the United States decision on partition of Palestine, seemed destroyed by the Irgun Zvai Leumi terrorist bombings of Arabs yesterday.” (John Quigley, Palestine and Israel…, p. 41)

        On December 19, as ordered by the Jewish Agency, the Haganah’s Palmach killed ten Palestinian civilians (including five children) at the village of Khisas and “…this crime was in no sense the sudden deed of hotheads but part of a considered policy which had been preceded by debate, and was finally ordered by the highest authorities of the Jewish Agency and Haganah.” (Sykes, Crossroads to Israel, p. 337)

        The next day, the Palmach dynamited the home of one of the elders in the village of Qazaza in central Palestine, killing five children and on December 29, Irgunists murdered 17 Palestinian civilians by throwing grenades into a crowd at Herod’s Gate in Jerusalem.

        “On 30 December, a British intelligence observer reported that the Haganah was moving fast to exploit Palestinian weaknesses and disorganization, especially in Haifa and Jaffa, and to render them ‘completely powerless’ so as to force them into flight.” (A report by G.J. Jenkins, 30 Dec.,1947, British Embassy, Cairo, PRO,FO 371/68366,E458)

        Enough said.

      • DaBakr on April 29, 2019, 1:14 pm


        and adding the fact that no matter what you ‘think’ BG intended by bis statements about war and land the eastern half of jerusalem along with Judea and Samaria remained in Jordanian control with its indigenous jews from the jewish quarter and ts christians from their quarter where ethnically cleansed and absorbed into Israel. Then Jordan proceeded to destroy hundreds of synagogues along with homes and ancient jewish cemetaries all the while forbidding jews and Christians access to their own holy sites.
        so, while BG may have thought about the concept of war erasing the status of ‘ours’ and ‘theirs’ had egypt (also lusting after territory) not closed the straights , booted the UN and amassed its military (Nasser clearly acknowledged in speech and document that he knew this would very likely provoke a military response. so much for who technically fired first) western jerusalem and Judea and Samaria might still be under Jordanian, (hence palestinian) also lusting after more territory, control. golda was not implementing some BG plan and in reality , was flying by the seat her skirt.

      • Eva Smagacz on April 29, 2019, 3:05 pm

        DaBakr, you said:

        “Then Jordan proceeded to destroy hundreds of synagogues along with homes and ancient jewish cemetaries ”

        This part of conflict is not that familiar for me. Are there records of those destroyed jewish synagogues and cemetaries available? Could you point me in a right direction?


      • Jackdaw on April 30, 2019, 12:34 am


        Begin with ‘ha Hurva’, the ruined synagogue of Jerusalem, destroyed by the Jordanian army.

      • jon s on April 30, 2019, 2:06 am

        At the end of the War of Independence not one living Jew remained in the areas that came under Arab rule , the West Bank and Gaza (under Jordan and Egypt). the ethnic cleansing was total.
        My grandfather , of blessed memory, often talked about praying at the Hurva synagogue in the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. It was blown up by the Jordanian authorities. This is from the wikipedia entry:

        “As the Legionnaires took the “Hurva” Synagogue, the quarter’s most sacred building, they blew it up without reason[46] A huge explosion reduced the 84-year-old synagogue, together with the Etz Chaim Yeshiva attached to it, to rubble.[47]

        The building was deliberately mined after the Arabs had captured the area.[49] Together with that major synagogue, another 57 Jewish sanctuaries were purposely and systematically destroyed by the Jordanians soon after their occupation of the Old City in 1948.[50]”

      • DaBakr on April 30, 2019, 3:19 am


        Yes, there are airial photographs spanning Jerusalem from the late ’20s to 1967 that clearly identify dozens of known Jerusalem synagogues which no longer existed and mostly destroyed by ’67. There are also many photographs showing jewish cemetery stones used to build latrines and pave roads. And no, this is not Israeli propaganda.

      • Jackdaw on April 30, 2019, 11:05 am

        @jon s

        Hi Jon,

        You might be interested to know that my family were Perushim of the Vilna Gaon and helped to secure the land on which the Hurva synagogue was built

        Have a great day.

    • Jonathan Ofir on April 29, 2019, 9:54 am

      JackDaw, “Wasn’t Qaqun a headquarters of the Iraqi army in 1948?
      Weren’t Qaqun’s defenders, both Iraqi soldiers and local militiamen, routed in a pitched battle with the Jewish army?”

      From the Wikipedia entry on Qaqun, citing Walid Khalidi etc.:

      ‘Qaqun was the victim of a “hit-and-run” raid carried out by the Irgun Zvai Leumi on 6 March 1948, according to the History of the Haganah. No further details are provided by this source, but the Palestinian newspaper Filastin reported an attack on the morning of 7 March. Quoting a communiqué issued by Palestinian militia forces, the paper said that the large attacking unit failed to penetrate the village, and that it threw a number of grenades which wounded two women.[35]

      On 9 May 1948 the Alexandroni Arab affairs experts decided on a meeting in Netanya, in preparation for the declaration of Israeli statehood and the expected pan-Arab invasion, to immediately “expel or subdue” the inhabitants of the Palestinian villages of Kafr Saba, al Tira, Qaqun, Qalansuwa, and Tantura.[36] The final operational order did not say what was to be done with the inhabitants, but repeatedly spoke of “cleaning” or “clearing” the village.[37]’

      This was before that part of the war that began after May 14th. The intent was clearly ethnic cleansing.

      You say “se la guerre”, but war does not permit anything – that’s why there’s something called war crimes.
      In other words, even if civilians fled in anticipation of hostilities, they should be allowed to return, as stipulated by international law.

      But you probably knew that anyway, and as a Zionist, it is your prime interest to not allow this, for their dispossession is part of your ideology.

      • Misterioso on April 29, 2019, 10:02 am

        @Jonathan Ofir

        “You say ‘se la guerre,’ but war does not permit anything – that’s why there’s something called war crimes.

        “In other words, even if civilians fled in anticipation of hostilities, they should be allowed to return, as stipulated by international law.

        “But you probably knew that anyway, and as a Zionist, it is your prime interest to not allow this, for their dispossession is part of your ideology.”


      • Jackdaw on April 29, 2019, 11:03 am

        @Jonathan Ofir

        I don’t recall the Arabs allowing any Jews, who were ethnically cleansed from their homes in Jerusalem, Hebron and Gush Etzion, to return. War crimes!
        I do seem to remember the Arabs massacring the Jewish prisoners they captured when Gush Etzion fell.
        War crimes!

        Nor have I seen the Arab States allowing the 500,000 ‘Arab Jews’ a chance to reclaim their homes and property either.

        But as an anti-Zionist, it is your prime interest to not allow this, for their dispossession is part of your ideology.

        Last time I’ll bother asking. Was there a pitched battle fought between Jews and armed Arabs for control of Qaqun?

        Last time I’ll ask this too. Were Arab civilians from Lifta evacuated in order that Arab militias could garrison the village and harry nearby Jewish settlements?

        But as an anti-Zionist, you probably knew that already.

      • Eva Smagacz on April 29, 2019, 4:24 pm


        You said:
        “Nor have I seen the Arab States allowing the 500,000 ‘Arab Jews’ a chance to reclaim their homes and property either.”

        Do these 500 000 Arab Jews are waiting to be allowed to return to their countries of origin?
        Have they registered themselves at UN as refugees, refugees that are kept from their nations of origin, property and homes by force?

        Can you shed a bit of light on those claims? 202/218

        Thank you

      • DaBakr on April 29, 2019, 5:19 pm


        arabs from the mandate are the only group of people in the world allowed to claim the unique refugee status that continues into infinity. plus, Israel accepted refugees as citizens including arab muslims and christians. the arab nations not only booted their jews but would not allow arabs from Palestine to assimilate and become citizens which is why they are still ‘refugees’ even the millions who did become citizens of other nations.

      • Jackdaw on April 29, 2019, 5:37 pm


        Well Eva.
        Wouldn’t you agree that it is a little difficult to make a property claim against a country that is at war with your adopted country, Israel?

        Eva. Here is a book you may find helpful.

        Good night, Eva.

      • oldgeezer on April 30, 2019, 8:44 am

        Folks please….

        C’est la guerre.


        What evidence exists as to how or who destroyed those synagogues so we know that they weren’t destroyed by friendly fire (to borrow a phrase).

        How many mosques did Israel destroy up to and during the same period?

      • Jackdaw on April 30, 2019, 11:26 am


        The Hurva then became the most splendid synagogue in Israel and hosted important Jewish events until the 1930s. Two days after conquering the quarter in 1948, the Jordanians bombed the synagogue and the Jordanian commander reported to headquarters: “For the first time in 1,000 years not a single Jew remains in the Jewish Quarter. Not a single building remains intact. This makes the Jews’ return here impossible.”

  5. Misterioso on April 29, 2019, 9:56 am

    @Nathan and Jackdaw.

    For your enjoyment: Just a small slice of the reality of Zionism and its adherent’s endless horrors perpetrated against indigenous Palestinian boys:

    “‘Endless Trip to Hell’: Israel Jails Hundreds of Palestinian Boys a Year. These Are Their Testimonies”

    “They’re seized in the dead of night, blindfolded and cuffed, abused and manipulated to confess to crimes they didn’t commit. Every year Israel arrests almost 1,000 Palestinian youngsters, some of them not yet 13.”

    By Netta Ahituv, Haaretz, March 16/19

    “It was a gloomy, typically chilly late-February afternoon in the West Bank village of Beit Ummar, between Bethlehem and Hebron. The weather didn’t deter the children of the Abu-Ayyash family from playing and frolicking outside. One of them, in a Spiderman costume, acted the part by jumping lithely from place to place. Suddenly they noticed a group of Israeli soldiers trudging along the dirt trail across the way. Instantly their expressions turned from joy to dread, and they rushed into the house. It’s not the first time they reacted like that, says their father. In fact, it’s become a pattern ever since 10-year-old Omar was arrested by troops this past December.

    “The 10-year-old is one of many hundreds of Palestinian children whom Israel arrests every year: The estimates range between 800 and 1,000. Some are under the age of 15; some are even preteens. A mapping of the locales where these detentions take place reveals a certain pattern: The closer a Palestinian village is to a settlement, the more likely it is that the minors residing there will find themselves in Israeli custody. For example, in the town of Azzun, west of the Karnei Shomron settlement, there’s hardly a household that hasn’t experienced an arrest. Residents say that in the past five years, more than 150 pupils from the town’s only high school have been arrested.

    “At any given moment, there are about 270 Palestinian teens in Israeli prisons. The most widespread reason for their arrest – throwing stones – does not tell the full story. Conversations with many of the youths, as well as with lawyers and human rights activists, including those from the B’Tselem human-rights organization, reveal a certain pattern, even as they leave many questions open: For example, why does the occupation require that arrests be violent and why is it necessary to threaten young people.

    “A number of Israelis, whose sensibilities are offended by the arrests of Palestinian children, have decided to mobilize and fight the phenomenon. Within the framework of an organization called Parents Against Child Detention, its approximately 100 members are active in the social networks and hold public events ‘in order to heighten awareness about the scale of the phenomenon and the violation of the rights of Palestinian minors, and in order to create a pressure group that will work for its cessation,’ as they explain. Their target audience is other parents, whom they hope will respond with empathy to the stories of these children.

    “In general, there seems to be no lack of criticism of the phenomenon. In addition to B’Tselem, which monitors the subject on a regular basis, there’s been a protest from overseas, too. In 2013, UNICEF, the United Nations agency for children, assailed ‘the ill treatment of children who come in contact with the military detention system, [which] appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized.’ A report a year earlier from British legal experts concluded that the conditions the Palestinian children are subjected to amount to torture, and just five months ago the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe deplored Israel’s policy of arresting underage children, declaring, ‘An end must be put to all forms of physical or psychological abuse of children during arrest, transit and waiting periods, and during interrogations.’

    “About half of the arrests of Palestinian adolescents are made in their homes. According to the testimonies, Israel Defense Forces soldiers typically burst into the house in the middle of the night, seize the wanted youth and whisk him away (very few girls are detained), leaving the family with a document stating where he’s being taken and on what charge. The printed document is in Arabic and Hebrew, but the commander of the force typically fills out the details in Hebrew only, then hands it to parents who may not be able to read it and don’t know why their son was taken.

    “Attorney Farah Bayadsi asks why it’s necessary to arrest children in this manner, instead of summoning them for questioning in an orderly way. (The data show that only 12 percent of the youths receive a summons to be interrogated.)

    “’I know from experience that whenever someone is asked to come in for questioning, he goes,’ Bayadsi notes. She is a lawyer working with Defense for Children International, a global NGO that deals with the detention of minors and promotion of their rights..

    “’The answer we generally get,’ she says, ‘is that, ‘It’s done this way for security reasons.’ That means it’s a deliberate method, which isn’t intended to meet the underage youth halfway, but to cause him a lifelong trauma.'”

    • Jackdaw on April 29, 2019, 11:06 am

      Since you can’t defend your argument you employ a verbose and tiresome distraction.

      Stay on point, please.

      • Misterioso on April 29, 2019, 12:36 pm


        We get it. You and your ilk cannot handle the ugly monstrous truth. Well, get used to it. The world, including ever increasing numbers of Jews, is waking up.

    • Daedalus on April 29, 2019, 1:13 pm

      Pay no attention to the jackdaw behind the curtain. Your was an excellent and informative post.

  6. Daedalus on April 29, 2019, 1:07 pm

    Thank you, Jonathan, for a beautiful story.

    I look forward to reading more of you diary.

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