Posts Tagged ‘Bedouin’

Racially, the Palestinians May Be the Real Jews

December 6, 2020

In his piece critiquing the article by Catherine Heszer, professor of Jewish Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in the Jewish Chronicle, Tony Greenstein argues very strongly that biologically it is the Palestinians, not the Israelis, who are descended from the people of ancient Israel. Heszer had claimed that Israel isn’t a colonialist state and that it is simply the return of the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland. Greenstein disputes this, citing Israeli historian Shlomo Sand, who believes that European Jews are really the descendants of converts to Judaism. He also cites studies, including articles published in extreme right-wing settler magazines, that the Palestinians are descended from the peoples of ancient Israel and Judea. Greenstein writes

Let us leave aside the fact, as Tel Aviv University Professor Shlomo Sand has shown in The Myth of the Jewish Nation that there never was a Jewish exile from Palestine. The idea that rights deriving from where one’s ancestors lived 3,000 years ago trumping those who live there today is a product of Western Colonialism and Orientalism. The same myths of a 1,000 year Reich justified Hitler’s colonisation of  Eastern Europe and the expulsion of its inhabitants.

But in reality not even this is true. Jews from Europe and America had no physical connection whatsoever with Palestine or Israel.  Their only claim is that they profess a religion whose centre is Jerusalem. That does not confer any material rights over those living there.

The Jews who left Judea and Palestine over 2,000 years ago did so because the land would not support them. Palestine saw many peoples, among whom were the Hebrews, wander over the area. The idea that this gives people who are Jewish and living in London the right to displace the indigenous population is a fascist idea.  SOAS should not be in the business of propagating racial myths.

2,000 years ago a million Jews were living in Alexandria alone as well as other Hellenised cities such as Antioch and Seleucia. According to Jewish historian Salo Baron there was an explosion of Jews in the Middle East at the time owing to massive proselytising. He suggests there were 8 million Jews living in the Middle East. Sand suggests half that number. The Jews, like the Phoenicians before them, became a trading people.

The pastoralist Jews who remained in Palestine after the destruction of the second temple either converted to Christianity or remained speaking Aramaic. With the Arab invasion they largely converted to Islam whilst continuing to speak Aramaic, a biblical form of Hebrew.

The irony, as Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion and its second President Yitzhak ben Zvi accepted, is that the Palestinians, not the Jewish settlers, are the descendants of the ancient Hebrews. [see e.g. Dov Ivri’s Most Palestinians Are Descendants Of Jews]. Ben Gurion even sent Moshe Dayan with a rabbi to convert the Bedouin!

In Jewish-Roots Arabs in Israel in the far-Right settler news agency Arutz Sheva, Tzvi MiSinai claimed that ‘Up to 85 percent of Arabs in greater Israel stem from Jewish ancestors, it is estimated’. The article describes how

‘One Arab says his father told him the secret of his family’s Jewishness on his deathbed, while another one, on the backdrop of a photo of the saintly Cabalistic sage Rabbi Abuchatzeira on his wall, says their roots have been known in his family for generations. Wrapping what apparently used to be kosher tefillin on his arm, he says, “My father used to do this, and he taught us to do it whenever someone was sick or in trouble.”

The myth of a Jewish ‘exile’ from Palestine and the idea of their ‘return’ is a Christian racial myth born of colonialism’s desire to establish a friendly settler state adjacent to the Suez Canal. That is why the first western Zionists were Evangelical Christians like Lord Palmerstone and Shaftesbury and also why the vast majority of western Jews were hostile to Zionism when it began.  Because if Jews belonged in Palestine they didn’t belong in England.

See: If SOAS Cares For Its Reputation It Should Send Racist Professor Heszer, Head of the Jewish Studies Centre, on an Unpaid Vacation to learn what Zionism means for the Palestinians – Tony Greenstein

Sand’s is an extreme view. I’ve also come across the argument that European Jews were the descendants of Jewish merchants rather than political exiles. The impression I had of Israelite history was that after the failure of the Bar Kochba revolt in the 2nd century AD, the Jews were forcibly expelled from Jerusalem. This became a Roman colonial city and the Temple desecrated and dedicated to Zeus. The Jewish religious leadership moved to Galilee, which thus became the centre of the Jewish faith. However, there were still Jewish communities in Israel. I believe that there was conflict between Jews and Christians and Jewish revolts against Roman imperial persecution when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.

It also would not surprise me in the slightest if genetics showed that the majority of Palestinians were descended from the ancient Israelites. Archaeologists and geneticists have been studying the genetic makeup of the British people since the 1980s. This has overturned some of the traditional views about the origin of the English. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the English are descended from Germanic invaders, the Angles, Saxon and Jutes, who conquered the country from across the North Sea in the 5th-7th centuries AD. But genetic studies of the modern English doesn’t show a comprehensive replacement of the existing Romano-British population. Furthermore, recent archaeological studies of migration period human remains have shown that the vast majority of the skeletons of people buried with Anglo-Saxon grave goods were from people, who had been brought up in this country. There were very few continental invaders. It now appears that instead of a full-scale invasion and replacement of the indigenous population, the conquest simply consisted of the Romano-Brits and their leaders adopting continental Germanic customs and language in a rejection of Roman identity as Roman rule collapsed.

Genetic studies also show that there was no replacement of the indigenous British population. It now appears that the British, including the English, are largely descended from the Bronze Age population of the British Isles and Ireland. At the level, the English are genetically the same as the Irish. When this was revealed to one Irish personality on TV a few years ago, he remarked that it must be galling for the English to find that they’re the same as the peeps of the Emerald Isle. Well, at one time, when the Irish really were looked down upon and there were crazy racial hierarchies being devised to show how they and the Blacks were at the bottom of human evolution, perhaps. But not now, when so much British popular culture comes from Ireland.

My guess is that the racial history of Palestine is pretty similar. I doubt that there was any replacement of the indigenous Jewish population. Many of them would have converted to Christianity. I’ve seen it estimated that about a third of the Jewish people would have converted to Christianity during the late Roman Empire. These were Greek-speaking Jews, whose conversion was assisted through theirs and the Christians’ use of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament/ Hebrew Bible. The remaining Jews probably did speak Aramaic. It was the popular language of the Jewish people at the time of Christ. It’s the language of the Targums, paraphrases of the Hebrew scriptures to help people, who couldn’t understand Hebrew, and the Talmud, the compilation of the rabbinical oral law and the debates and opinions of the sages. I also think that Aramaic would have been the language of some Christians as well. Syriac, the language of some eastern Orthodox Christians in Lebanon and Syria, developed from the form of Aramaic spoken by those communities in the fourth century AD.

As for the Arab conquest and the adoption of Arab culture, this seems to be the result of a conscious policy by the caliph Mu’awiya in the 8th century AD. The Arabs were a tiny minority amongst the subject peoples of the new Islamic empire, who had retained their languages and customs. Greek continued to be used as the language of the imperial civil service in the western half of the empire. Mu’awiya was afraid that the Muslim Arabs would lose their ethnic identity through being absorbed by the non-Muslim population, so that their only distinction between them and the peoples they ruled would be their Islamic faith. He therefore passed a series of legislation designed to strengthen Arab ethnic identity, such as changing the language of the civil service to Arabic. This set in motion the process of Arabization which saw the majority of the population of that part of the Roman Empire adopt the Arabic language, culture and Islam.

I’m not sure about Sand’s argument that European Jews are descendants of proselytes and aren’t racially Jewish. That’s an extreme view. But Greenstein’s right about the size of the Jewish population of the Roman Empire. It may have been as large as 8 per cent and there were huge synagogues in places like Alexandria and Sardinia.

I therefore consider it highly likely that the vast majority of Palestinians are descended from the Jewish people of ancient Israel and Judea. I’m also not surprised that many Muslim Palestinians have more recent Jewish ancestry. There were large Jewish communities in Palestine before the establishment of the state of Israel, and many Jews preferred to live under Muslim rule as there wasn’t the restrictions there they faced in Christendom.

From the genetic perspective, they’re probably as Jewish as the Israelis, and so from that perspective also have an absolute right to remain on their ancestral lands against the attempts to expel and cleanse them by the Israeli state.

AJ+ Video on the Bedouin Village the Israelis Wish to Demolish

November 24, 2018

This is a video that the Blairites, the Israel lobby, the Tories and the lamestream media really don’t want you to see. It’s the kind of video that would have Marlon Solomon, Maggie Cousins and the entire Board of Deputies of British Jews screaming ‘anti-Semitism!’ Not because it is – it isn’t – but simply because it shows the reality of what’s happening in Israel to the indigenous people. They’re having their homes demolished.

The video’s just less than five minutes long, and features host Dena Takruri walking through the Bedouin village of al-Zarnoug in the Negev desert, talking to one of its people, Basma Abo Qwedir. The village has existed since before Israel was founded in 1948, but the Israeli authorities don’t consider that it legitimately exists, and so have attempted to demolish it and forcibly relocate its people many times. And although its people are considered Israeli citizens, Abo Qwedir makes it very clear that she doesn’t believe this is remotely true. If she’s an Israeli, she says, then she’s a second- or third class one. The country doesn’t treat her as other citizens, such as Jews, for example.

The video states that al-Zarnoug is one of 35 unrecognized Arab villages in the desert with a total population of 70,000 people. They’ve been under threat of eviction since the Nakba of Palestine’s destruction through the foundation of Israel in 1948. In 2013 a bill was proposed for the villages’ demolition and the removal of its people to government-built townships. In some cases, the villages would be replaced by Jewish settlements. The Israeli authorities said they would shelve the plan after widespread protests, but the home demolitions have continued, including in al-Zarnoug.

As shown, it appears to be a village of grim, breeze-block and concrete housing. If the residents need to build new buildings, they have to be hidden behind corrugated iron sheeting, because if they go to the authorities for a building permit, it won’t be issued. The roads and thoroughfares are simply the bare soil. And before AJ+ visited the village, the Israelis demolished houses in the nearby village of El Araqid for the 90th time. Abo Qwedir explains that as the village doesn’t officially exist, it means that they don’t have electricity, infracture, playgrounds, sewage and roads as they should. She shows Takruri how the villagers get electricity from solar panels on their houses, which they can move to follow the sun. But in winter and rainy days when there is no sun, they have to rely on batteries.

Takruri states that Israel regards the development of the Negev desert as one of its most important goals, and the ministry of foreign affairs says that the country seeks to integrate villagers into its development plans. But residents like Ab Qwedir read between the lines that the government wishes to replacement them with Jews, because Arabs, Palestinians, ‘are not welcome here’.

The video concludes with Abo Qwedir saying that simply staying there is a form of resistance against the Israeli state. Everyone does it, she says. ‘Sometimes it’s against the wind, other times it’s against the state.’

The demolition of Arab homes has been a major issue for decades now, and many Israelis support the Arabs in the determination to stay in their homes. Jews, including rabbis, have campaigned against the house demolitions. From what I’ve read, the Israeli colonization of the Negev presents the Israeli state with a problem. As it stands at the moment, the desert’s very largely Arab in population, so that some Israelis have said that they feel the territory is ‘lost’. For Israel to settle the region with Jews, it will have to withdraw or abandon some Jewish settlements elsewhere, such as the Occupied Territories. Which will enrage the settlers there, who believe that as part of Eretz Israel, the West Bank should be firmly part of Israel and its indigenous people cleansed.

And this is probably part of the explanation why Israel is so keen to tell western Diaspora Jews that they’re not safe in Europe and America, and exploit every terrorist outrage, like the Pittsburgh shooting two weeks ago, to spread fear and encourage Jewish Americans and Europeans to move to Israel for their own safety. In Britain this led to the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism making the absurd and odious claim that Jews were facing the biggest rise in anti-Semitism since the 1930s. Hardly. This statement was so obviously wrong, that even one of the Jewish papers or organisations had to step in to show that it was utterly false.

It’s for sticking up for the people of Palestine against the destruction of their homes and their treatment as second-class citizens, that decent people like Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Martin Odoni, Ken Livingstone and Mike, as well as Jeremy Corbyn himself, have been vilified as anti-Semites and worse by the Blairites, the Israel lobby and a corrupt, Tory media.

It’s because they’re afraid of a genuinely socialist Labour party getting into power, which really does support racial equality and dignity. As against the Blairites, the Neocons, and the Tories, who stand for imperialism, colonialism and war without end to promote Israel, western and Saudi oil interests, and the seizure of other nations’ state enterprises and oil reserves, for the benefit of the multinationals.

Secular Talk: Arab Village Bulldozed by Israelis, Illegal Settlers Given Tax Breaks

August 9, 2016

Earlier today I posted up a piece about an article Michelle had sent me a link to an article by Tony Greenstein. Mr Greenstein’s another Jewish member of the Labour party, who had been suspended as an anti-Semite because he had criticised Israel. As have so many others. And Mr Greenstein, like so many of them, was most certainly not. He was a member of the Jewish Socialist group in the Labour party, and like the others has fought against racism and Fascism. The root of these allegations is the desire of the Israel lobby in Britain, the US and elsewhere, to demonise any criticism of Israel and its 70 year old policy of ethnically cleansing the indigenous Palestinians.

This piece from Secular Talk shows what Mr Greenstein and his fellow critics are protesting against. It was posted up on the 6th August 2016, and is about the Israelis bulldozing an illegal Bedouin village. This resulted in a confrontation, in which three cops and a civilian were injured. However, the Israeli state’s own double standards are shown by the fact that at the same time they were razing this village, they were giving tax breaks to illegal Israeli settlers in the occupied territories of the West Bank.

Secular Talk’s host, Kyle Kulinski, is not an outright opponent of Israel, who wants to see the state erased. He states he is talking as a friend, and that Israeli has a right to exist as it has done since 1945. But he warns that there is no way that treating the Arabs like this will not cause more violence. He describes how the Palestinians approached the Israelis through Jordan in the UN, and said that they would recognise Israel if the pre 1967 borders were adopted. Both Israel and Palestine would share Jerusalem. Israel flatly turned the proposed peace deal down. The Palestinians then respond with violence. The Israelis meet this by saying that they won’t deal with terrorists. But when the Palestinians approach them peacefully and try to negotiate a deal that will give them their own state, Netanyahu flatly refuses. And so the cycle of violence begins again. Kulinski states that there is are alternatives to violence, such as the BDS movement – Boycott, Divest and Sanction, which campaigns to boycott all Israeli products and firms in the occupied territories. He’s not totally in favour of everything BDS does, because he says they’re against the existence of the Israeli state. But they’re an alternative to the violence that will erupt if Israel carries on treating the Palestinians as it does.

This is the reality of life for the Palestinians in their own land under Israeli occupation. And the people who are campaigning against this are not anti-Semites, but include many Jews. There are rabbis in Israel, who have laid down in front of the bulldozers coming to raze Palestinian homes. There are Jewish organisations in America against the Israeli persecution of the Palestinians. The ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians has been documented by the Jewish historians Norman Finkelstein and Ilan Pappe. The latter is an Israeli, who has been forced out of his homeland because of his forthright condemnation of this. The BDS campaign includes many Jews, and one of its vocal supporters was a young American Jewish woman, who debated the issue with Norman Finkelstein in a video I posted up a few weeks ago here. One of the critics of Israeli maltreatment of the Palestinians is our very own Miriam Margolies, who condemned the Israeli bombardment of Gaza ‘as a proud Jew, and an ashamed Jew’.

This is what the people making these spurious accusations are afraid of: not that the critics of Israel are anti-Semites, but the fact that in so very many cases they are the exact opposite. They are severely normal people, including Jews, who campaign against all forms of racism and Fascism, and who have dared to object to Israeli racism as part of their campaigning.

Danny Cohen, the BBC, and the Anti-Semitism Allegations

May 18, 2016

Mike has put up several pieces on the anti-Semitism allegations. In one of them, he particularly criticised Newsnight for its spurious debate about them. On it, Evan Davies, who has also written a book detailing his neo-liberal, right-wing views, interviewed a number of people about the allegations. All of them believed that the allegations were correct. Not one of the challenged the idea that Labour was anti-Semitic.

One of the people on the panel was Danny Cohen. Now, if this is the same person I’m talking about, then it’s highly questionable whether he should have been on the programme at all, as he is hardly an unbiased, independent speaker. There was a Danny Cohen, who was formerly one of the leading managers – he may have been one of the controllers – of the BBC, before resigning and going to Israel. He also issued a statement that Britain and Europe were unsafe for Jews, and that they should also move to Israel. If that Danny Cohen, was the same Danny Cohen as the man who appeared on Davies’ programme, then he already has very strong biases, of which the viewer should be informed and which deserved to be questioned themselves.

Cohen was not alone in making these claims about the security of the Jews in Europe. They’ve been running since 2004 or so. I can remember reading a book review in the Spectator, about a novel by an American author set in the future, in which the remains of European Socialism join with the Islamists in the European parliament to bring about a new holocaust of European Jewry. If memory serves me right, Frederick Raphael was somehow involved with this, though I can’t remember whether he wrote it or just reviewed it approvingly. This is, of course, a gross smear, and comes very much from the Republican Neo-Con Right. Extreme right-wing Republicans like the very swivel-eyed Glenn Beck really do believe that Socialism is the same as Nazism, ’cause, er, the Nazis said they were. They then go on about how if Socialists like Bernie Sanders get into power, they’re going to take away America’s freedom. Beck himself has burst into tears several times on his show, wailing that they’re about to take him away. You can see the same nuttiness with Alex Jones on his Infowars programme. It’s on Youtube, so if you want to see how deranged part of the American political landscape is, you can have a look at it. There’s even a segment where he rants about Obamacare in a Reptile mask. Because Obama is part of the Reptoid alien Illuminati elite. Or something.

There have indeed been increased attacks in Jews. However, the majority of racially motivated attacks since 9/11 have been against Muslims, which disproves the allegation that Jews are more at threat in Europe than other groups. A Palestinian writer in the weekend Financial Times a decade or more ago said that in France, where the French authorities were cracking down on anti-Muslim violence more severely than anti-Semitic crime, it was not because the French state or people hated the Jews. Quite the opposite. In polls, the number of French people, who said that Jews weren’t really French, was very low: about 5%. The numbers who responded that Muslims weren’t really French was much higher, and anti-Arab sentiment in some parts of France was very marked. Yasmin Alibhai-Browne wrote a piece in the Independent several years ago describing her family’s experience of being shunned, ignored and very badly treated during a holiday in France, because she and her children were obviously Asian, despite their father being White. In fairness, she also wrote another piece several years later, saying what a wonderful time she’d had in France and how so much had changed.

In fact, the Zionist lobby has very definite demographic reasons for trying to make Jews feel unwanted and unsafe in Europe, and encouraging them to move to Israel. There’s a controversy there about the relatively higher fertility of the Arab population. Generally, Arab families have more children than Jewish Israelis, and so there’s a fear amongst some Israelis that they will soon be outbred. It’s very similar to the idea of ‘Eurabia’ in the Euro-American anti-Muslim right. In this view, Europe is under siege from Islam. Europeans have much smaller families than Muslims, and so in a few generations the Muslims will have outbred the rest of us, and we will be a minority in our own countries. It’s actually a load of rubbish, but it does have terrible emotive power.

There are other ways in which Israel is being placed in a difficult position through demographic change. The Zionist right, such as Likud, and in particular the ultra-Orthodox Haredis, wish to colonise the occupied West Bank as part of their programme, as they see it, to redeem all of Eretz Israel, the Land of Israel. They have bitterly attacked those Israelis, who have dared to suggest that it would be much better to withdraw. But this, however, means withdrawing some parts of the Israeli population from certain areas, such as the Negev, which already have a very high Arab population, mostly Bedouin. In the chapter on contemporary Israel in the book The Modern Middle East, edited by Albert Hourani, it states that there is a real possibility that if Israel continues encouraging Jewish settlement in the occupied territories, the resulting loss of population from the Negev and other areas will leave them with majority Arab populations.

This is obviously the very last thing Benjamin Netanyahu and the Zionist right want. A few years ago Netanyahu was asked whether his government would ever give the right of return to the Palestinian families who fled their homes in Israel in 1947 following the Israeli uprising and war with the Arabs. Netanyahu stated very firmly that he would not, because it would upset the fundamental ethnic character of Israel as the Jewish state.

It therefore seems very clear to me that Cohen’s comment about the rise in hostility to Jews in Europe and his recommendation that they emigrate to Israel, has little to do with the real situation, and everything to do with the need of the Israeli state to find more colonists to bolster their population against the Arabs. Cohen’s appearance with Evan Davies on Newsnight suggests that these manufactured allegations of anti-Semitism against the Labour Party and its leader, are part of this hard-Right Zionist agenda.

Women’s Lack of Freedom in ISIS

March 23, 2015

In this video, The Young Turks comment on the unofficial manifesto for women under ISIS issued by the all-female Al-Kansa brigade. Although women do fight in the Islamic state, they are only supposed to do so when there is a lack of available men. The role envisaged for women is extremely limited and strictly traditional. The manifesto declares that they should be married by nine years of age. Men should be married by twenty. They also, according to ISIS, should confine themselves to the home – the manifesto even describes it as ‘the cell of the home’. They are only to be allowed to leave the house in order to fight for the jihad, study religion, or to serve as doctors and nurses.

ISIS claims that despite these restrictions on women’s freedom, they do not stand for ‘illiteracy, ignorance or backwardness’. They do allow science to be studied, but it’s the basics only. So, as The Young Turks say, they do stand for ‘ignorance and backwardness’.

An increasingly restrictive attitude towards women has been a feature of the modern Islamic revival. In some very traditional Middle Eastern societies, women are not allowed out of the house except in the company of a close male relative. This is essentially the situation envisaged by ISIS in the manifesto issued by the al-Kansa brigade. Ethnographers researching contemporary Middle Eastern cultures have also observed and described the increasing lack of freedom granted to women. Lila Abu-Lughod, an associate professor of Anthropology at New York University, lived with a Bedouin matriarch, Migdim, between 1978 and 1980 for her research on the traditional nomadic tribes of Egypt and the changes their society was undergoing as Egypt modernised. This Bedouin lady was scandalised by the apparent lack of modesty of modern women. She and the other Bedouin women also complained of the lack of freedom they were given by their menfolk, and what they saw as the decline in the proper celebration of Arabic weddings. In traditional Bedouin society these lasted for a week, and the sexes weren’t segregated. Lila Abu-Lughod writes

When she [Migdim] gets together with other women, she often rails against the younger men of the community for being so strict about the movements and behaviour of their young sisters, cousins, and wives. “The boys are terrible now,” she began one such conversation. Her daughter agreed. “The boys are terrible. I swear by my father we have one son who’s black in word and deed. And he’s so young.” A visitor added, “Why, when we were yhoung, remember, we used to go off to herd the goats on our own. Not any more!” Migdim’s daughter continued, “Yes, that’s how things were, may God have mercy on past generations. They weren’t like this new generation … The men now are awful.”….

Yet the world she remembers is one in which behaviour that would now be considered scandalous was perfectly accepted. For example, Migdim things wedding celebrations have lost their appeal. She tells her newest daughter-in-law that they used to celebrate weddings for a week with evenings of singing and dancing. “Weddings now are like a shrunken old man,” she comments. At weddings in the past, young women, including her husband’s sisters and nieces, had danced veiled, in front of semi-circles of young men who serenaded them. Young men and women had always exchanged love songs at these weddings: “Stuff that couldn’t happen now!” they agree, thinking of the sex-segregated affairs that weddings have become since they settled into houses.

Lila Abu-Lughod, ‘Migdim: Egyptian Bedouin Matriarch’, in Edmund Burke III, ed. Struggle and Survival in the Modern Middle East (London: I.B. Tauris 1993) 271-289 (284,285).

There have been cases of western women, who married Muslim and went with them to live in their country. They then found themselves subject to the same traditional restrictions as virtually prisoners in their own homes. The three British Muslim girls, who ran away from their homes to become Jihadi brides for ISIS clearly enjoyed a great deal of personal freedom in this country. Their parents seem to have allowed them to spent a lot of time away from them, including travelling unaccompanied to London, trusting in their own common sense to ensure their safety.

It was unfortunately misplaced. And it’s also clear that, no matter what the girls thought awaited them when they joined ISIS, they’re going to get a real shock when they find that freedom of movement taken away.