Ben-Dror Yemini: What about the Jewish Nakba?
Let's set the record straight. The disintegration of the empires, beginning with the Ottoman, through to the Austro-Hungarian, and on to the British, intensified the demand on the part of various peoples for self-determination – no more multi-ethnic states under imperial rule, but nations with a sense of independent identity instead. Some would call it an imaginary heritage, but that's not important.When the Mayflower docked in Haifa
The result was huge waves of population transfers, beginning in 1912 and through to the years following World War II. Around 52 million people underwent the experience, including tens of millions in the period after the war.
Millions of Germans, Hungarians, Poles, Ukrainians, Turks, Greeks, Bulgarians, Romanians, Indians, Pakistanis and more and more were forced to leave their birthplaces to make way for national entities, old and new. One would be hard pressed to find a single conflict during the period in question that did not end without a population exchange.
The population exchanges between Greece and Turkey also served as a backdrop for the commission's decision. At the time, this was the position held by statesmen, scholars and intellectuals. Furthermore, in 1930, the Permanent Court of International Justice, the highest international judicial instance at the time, approved population transfers by force when it ruled that the purpose of mass population transfers was to "more effectively aid the process of pacification of the Near East."(h/t Elder of Lobby)
Nineteen-year-old Brooklyn, New York, native Philip Levine had the same ecstatic reaction as countless other American Jews on November 29, 1947. That was the day the United Nations voted to partition British Mandatory Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state — the Jewish leadership accepting and surrounding Arab countries rejecting the decision.Talking ‘Turkey’ to President Obama
“It was shortly after the Jewish holidays and we were all glued to the television listening one by one as they counted the votes,” Levine, now 86, recalled from his home in Jerusalem.
“When it was finalized we all exploded with joy and began contacting former US servicemen asking for binoculars, uniforms, and even guns that could be collected and sent to Palestine because we knew war was imminent,” he said.
Weeks later Levine realized he had to do more and volunteered his services to a Jewish organization called Land and Labor for Palestine.
Land and Labor’s mission was ostensibly to send American Jews to kibbutzim where they would replace the local workforce who were called up to the army. However, from the moment Levine signed up he wasn’t trying to fool anyone.
In my Thanksgiving dream, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered to visit St. Louis and the local community of Ferguson to try to help restore calm.The Truth About Israel’s Jewish State Law
“We call on both sides to show restraint,” said Netanyahu, sending a copy of his message to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.
“We hope that America can live up to its democratic ideals,” said the Israeli foreign ministry spokesman (in my dream). It was clear he was enjoying the irony of throwing the State Department’s words back at it.
“We hope that American security officials will use minimum force and not commit any hate crimes or war crimes,” declared (in my dream) Labor Party leader Yitzhak Herzog, perhaps remembering how Barack Obama spoke about Israel’s use of force against terrorists firing rockets at Israeli cities a few months ago.
“We call on U.S. law enforcement to institute a full and open investigation of the use of deadly force,” wrote Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett in a separate letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
But this was only a dream.
The law is often bashed from an American standpoint as being out of tune with Western values. Former Israeli Education Minister Yuli Tamir claimed it was the opposite of the U.S. Constitution, while Avital Burg at The Forward mocked the bill by noting that if it existed in the U.S. it would read “Protestant values will serve as inspiration to lawmakers and judges.”
But what these voices miss is that many states in the world enshrine in law various aspects of their national and religious identity. Michael Freund writes at The Jerusalem Post, that “in Great Britain the Queen is required to be a member of the Anglican Church” and in Denmark the Lutheran Church is guaranteed state support. Israel’s nation state law, and Israel’s existing character as an overwhelmingly Jewish state with Jewish symbols, are similar to most other countries, such as Greece, Bulgaria, Ireland, Croatia, Iran, Japan, or Malaysia. Israel may be out of step with American conceptions of liberal democracy but not necessarily with the rest of the world.
There is a cartoon going around the web showing David Ben-Gurion reading the Declaration of Independence and someone shouting “fascist” at him, mocking how people are calling the nation state bill “fascist.” Israel’s Declaration of Independence, that critics of the law claim strikes a “balance” between Jewish and democratic, actually uses the word “Jew” twenty-four times. It never uses the word democratic. It does speak of the “natural right of the Jews to be masters of their own fate” and”right of the Jewish people to a national rebirth” and “right of the Jewish people to rebuild its national home.” The declaration’s has one paragraph devoted to the “complete equality of all its inhabitants” and says that the state will provide those inhabitants freedom “as envisioned by the prophets of Israel.” Those criticizing the Jewish nation state bill as out of step with Israel’s declaration of independence or original view of Zionism evidently didn’t read the declaration.