Sunday, May 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Israel

The great Blogger crash of earlier this week delayed my posting of this little greeting to Israel.

I am a big fan of Israel and wish that country all the best. I am sorry to say that I have visited Israel only once, in 1974, and, although, I vowed over the years to return, and tried throughout my Foreign Service career to be assigned there, it never worked out--one of my big regrets.

Israel came into being on May 14, 1948, with all the odds against it. It was at war against an invading and vastly superior enemy within less than 24 hours, and won. It has been in the forefront of the fight against terror and Islamic jihadism ever since.  Despite the wars and the terror directed against it, Israel is a thriving democracy with a booming high-tech sector. It is also a close ally of the United States and our friend. We can count on Israel and until the Obama administration, Israel could count on the United States.

Contrast  Israel with Pakistan, which came into existence not quite one year before on August 14, 1947, and which, incidentally, voted against creation of the State of Israel during the vote at the UN.  For the Muslims, it was OK to have a Muslim homeland in the Indian subcontinent, where Islam was introduced from the outside and via the sword, but not a Jewish one in the birthplace of Judaism. By the way, I can't help but notice that the West Bank only became Occupied Palestine once Israel took it from Jordan.  Prior to 1967, the West Bank was just Jordan; now it's Palestine, and the people who used to be Jordanians, are now Palestinians.

Anyhow, Israel is a prosperous and free success; Pakistan is the typical Islamic repressive mess, and getting worse.  We have so-called Palestinian refugees after 60 years still being feted and fed by the UN (in large part by the US taxpayer) and supplying a steady stream of bombers and killers. I don't see the same concern for the millions of Hindu, Sikh, Bahai, Zoroastrian, and Christian refugees who fled Pakistan, or for that matter for the Jews and Christians who have had to flee the Muslim world.  But, that is the world in which we live.

Happy birthday Israel, and many more in the future.


  1. One reason why a "Palestinian" nation exists is because the Arab states to which the uprooted Arabs of the former British Palestine mandate fled in 1948 have refused to naturalize those people or their offspring, even down to what is now becoming a fourth generation of stateless "refugees".

    Take it from an old codger who can remember the 1967 Six-Day War. The non-Jewish, non-Armenian, non-Samaritan, and non-Circassian inhabitants of the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean were called "Arabs" back then, along with the majority populations of Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, what's now the UAE, Oman, Yemen, Aden, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria,and Morocco. The great political ideal of that quarter of the world was not a separate "Palestinian" nation, but "Arab unity", for which Israel was the great obstacle.

    But, now, you tell me, what do you make of Israel taking in several hundreds of thousands of Jews from the Maghreb, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, who arrived with just the clothes on their backs, and making them, their children, grandchildren, and so on into no-questions asked Israelis, while the Arab states to this day refuse to naturalize even the descendants of "an-Nakbar"?

  2. And, it isn't as if all these ex-Iraqi and ex-Maghrebi Israelis were settled from Britain, France, Germany, and Russia between the wars. The Jewish population of Iraq numbered around 150,000-plus back in the 1940's (when there were roughly 800,000 people of all sorts in British mandated Palestine at the same time), and their roots went all the way back to the days of the Assyrian Empire, back in the 7th century B.C. linguistically, their divisions were between Mustaribs, descendants of people who had adopted the Arabic language and culture, and Jewish neo-Aramaic up in Kurdistan. Indeed, Iraq was where some of the biblical prophets were buried, where the Babylonian Talmud was written, and where much of later Jewish culture was worked out. Arabic was not even heard in that country until the 600's A.D.! But, in retaliation for "an-Nakba", the millennia-old Iraqi Jewish community was completely uprooted, until it dwindled to 35 souls in 2008, most of whom have since moved.

    In the Maghreb, Jews were present from at least Roman times, if not earlier. There were communities in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and Algeria whose home languages were Amazigh dialects rather than the Arabic immposed after ca. 700 A.D. or the Ladino introduced to the cities following the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. Again, the Maghrebi Jewish communities that predated the arrival of the Spanish expellees were there long before the Arabs. While I will grant that the Moroccan monarchs have been decent to the remaining Jews in their country, independent Algeria's record is appalling, while as we discuss the matter here, the remnant of Tunisian Jewry is under pressure from the "democratic" Muslim rebels of that land. All of these very ancient Jewish communities have dwindled precipitously, most of their members migrating to Israel (Jews of Moroccan origin are the single largest group among the Israelis, not Russians, Poles, or Germans).

  3. The Jews of Egypt were largely expelled by Nasser, even though this community dates back to the days of Jeremiah the prophet (read the 40's of that biblical book), again, long before Arabic was ever heard in Egypt. Egyptian Jewry's records left in the Genizah of Cairo provided documents so old they testified to a time before Talmudic Judaism was widespread. Egyptian Jewry also gave us the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament, which was the Bible of the early Christians and remains the official Old Testament text for the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church. And think of where Western civilization would be without the tradition of Bible translation which the ancient Jews of Ptolemaic times pioneered! Yet this pre-Arab population was also expelled.

    Syria and Libya are other countries with ancient, pre-Arab Jewish histories which are now all but Judenrein. The last several dozen Yemenite Jews, whose roots are also pre-Talmudic as well as pre-Islamic, are also in danger of disappearing, following the much larger part of their once-numerous community which emigrated to Israel both before and after 1948.

    So, why is the plight of the post-1948 Palestinian refugees so special that it merits the blanket condemnation of Israel, and merits the refusal of the Arab states to naturalize their own religious and linguistic kin?

    While we're at it, how many of us Americans descend from people run out of Old World countries, yet we are no-questions-asked Americans? How many Huguenot-descended South Carolinians or New Yorkers running around tearfully demanding that the US nuke France? How many Na-Dene or Siouan people are there demanding that America punish the Evenks and Yakuts of Siberia for running their ancestors off back in the days of cooperative mammoth-hunting? How many descendants of German '48'ers (1848, that is), are calling for the US to finish the job Eisenhower barely started in 1944? None.

    This is an age which has seen a Delhi-born Muslim named Pervez Musharaf sitting down with a Lahore-born Sikh named Manmohan Singh in an attempt to iron out Indo-Pakistani difficulties (both men being children of another refugee crisis of the late 1940's). Lots of Greeks descend from Turkophone Orthodox Christians uprooted in the '20's, while many Turks descend from Hellenophone Muslims from Thessaly or Crete uprooted in the same period.

    While we're at it, the Arab street screams wildly about evil, evil, evil America and cheers for Bin Laden because of what happened to the poor, poor, poor Palestinians. yet our fifty-times-daily accursed America has given passport-holding, voting rights, public office-eligible citizenship (and let's not forget property-holding rights, too!) to more Falastin Arab refugees and their offspring than any 10 Arabic-speaking countries exclusive of Jordan, the PA, and Israel itself.

    I think that this is why some of us think it is high time that the Arab states get asked to naturalize their "Palestinian" populations (the vast majority of whom are too young to remember anything about the lands between the Jordan and the Med) rather than use them to try to provoke another war.

  4. O, Diplomad, you have not addressed the endemic bias against all things Israeli found in academia, and, of course, inculcated in the young minds in their charge. Israel may have its virtues, but in the face of a determined cadre of 'Cong' hard core planted across the fruited plains of the States, what chance does Israel have in looking to the US for friendship, let alone an unbiased neutrality.