Catalog of all Link issues Since 1968

Link Issues by Author
Link Issues by Subject

The Link archive constitutes a body of informed commentary, fact, and anecdotal evidence valuable for writers, researchers, and historians.

The Time for Pious Words is Over

June 25, 2024 | Rev. Ashlee Wiest-Laird | Current Issue

Against the unrelenting backdrop of Gaza, The Link issue 57.2 asks, "Where are the voices of the American churches...?" Baptists, Catholics, Evangelicals and Anglicans have all been challenged by the horror of Gaza. We sample from those pulpits and join people of good will everywhere for an end to violence and for the justice that will breed peace. This issue's pages are graced by Sliman Mansour's iconic art, and close by saying goodbye to Fr. Ed Dillon, who was one of a kind. (Authors: Ashlee Wiest-Laird, Gary Burge, Bruce Fisk, David Crump, Wendell Griffen, Allan Aubrey Boesak, and H.E. Michel Sabbah)

Ceasefire Now…Silence = Death

February 24, 2024 | AMEU | The Link

We solicited past Link authors (among others) for abbreviated reflections on the "Day After" the assault on Gaza ends. Contributions come from academics, clerics, former US military, concert musicians, MDs. Collectively, they grieve and cringe and resist. The issue includes notes from a Jewish Liberation theological tradition, in response to Gaza. We remember our friend and colleague and past President Robert Norberg.

Woman, Life, Freedom

January 29, 2024 | George Mason University Expert Panel | The Link

Woman, Life, Freedom: Resistance in Iran one year after the murder in custody of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini. George Mason scholars frame the issue. Sumud and devastation in Gaza, from Georgetown University's Professor Laurie King. Second Annual AMEU Mahoney Awardee named: Just Vision's Julia Bacha. Cover art by Iranian Canadian artist Hajar Moradi.

AIPAC, Dark Money, and the Assault on Democracy

November 22, 2023 | Allan C. Brownfeld | The Link

From the Editor American conversations about the Middle East too often get short-circuited by the simple, seemingly casual admonition, “It’s complicated…” Lobbed in through the transom, this friendly advice squelches debate, implicitly challenging who does and doesn’t have standing to speak. Given AMEU’s mission, which is to improve American understanding […]

The Politics of Archaeology – Christian Zionism and the Creation of Facts Underground

October 2, 2022 | Mimi Kirk | The Link

Labeling Israel's occupation as "apartheid" has been much debated in recent times. Now, with the detailed reports from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, the matter would appear to be settled. Chris McGreal, a seasoned frontline journalist, provides a comprehensive review of the history of the appellation, and the legal ramifications in 2022.

Apartheid…Israel’s Inconvenient Truth

February 2, 2022 | Chris McGreal | The Link

Labeling Israel's occupation as "apartheid" has been much debated in recent times. Now, with the detailed reports from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, the matter would appear to be settled. Chris McGreal, a seasoned frontline journalist, provides a comprehensive review of the history of the appellation, and the legal ramifications in 2022.

Israel’s Weaponization of Time

December 12, 2021 | Omar Aziz | The Link

Labeling Israel's occupation as "apartheid" has been much debated in recent times. Now, with the detailed reports from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, the matter would appear to be settled. Chris McGreal, a seasoned frontline journalist, provides a comprehensive review of the history of the appellation, and the legal ramifications in 2022.

Our Archive

September 12, 2021 | John Mahoney | The Link

In early 1967, six Americans met to form an organization they called Americans for Middle East Understanding. In August of this year, AMEU’s Board of Directors selected Nicholas Griffin to be the organization’s fourth Executive Director in 54 years. In this issue of The Link, our bimonthly publication, retiring Executive Director, John Mahoney, welcomes Nicholas to the job and invites all of us, as we look to the future, to take a few minutes to visit our half-century old archive, where the past has something important to tell us.

On A RANT

July 20, 2021 | Sam Bahour | The Link

The dictionary describes rant as a noisy jollification. If you've never been on one, now's a good time to start.

How Long Will Israel Get Away With It

April 9, 2021 | Haim Bresheeth-Zabner | The Link

A former officer in the Israeli army takes a critical look at the Israel Defense Forces and asks how long will this colonial state get away with it?

The Decolonizing of Palestine Towards a One-State Solution

January 9, 2021 | Jeff Halper | The Link

The times, they are a-changin’, even when it comes to the interminable Israeli-Palestinian “conflict.” On January 5, 2018, The New York Times ran a piece entitled: “As the 2-State Solution Loses Steam, a 1-State Solution Gains Traction.”

Israelizing the American Police, Palestinianizing the American People

November 26, 2020 | Jeff Halper | The Link

Let’s begin with a cautionary tale. When suicide bombers connected to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) set off bombs in the Brussels airport in March 2016, the Israeli government did not convey its condolences as most other governments did.

The ONE-STATE REALITY and the REAL MEANING of ANNEXATION

August 23, 2020 | Ian Lustick | The Link

Ian Lustick holds the Bess Hayman Chair in the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. His latest book is Paradigm Lost: From Two-State Solution to One-State Reality, on which his article for The Link is based.

Palestinian Christians

June 6, 2020 | Jonathan Cook | The Link

In 1947, 85% of Bethlehem's population was Christian, with 15% Muslim. Today 85% of Bethlehem is Muslim and 15% Christian. Why the dramatic reversal? That is the subject of our July-August Link.

UPDATED: The Latest on the Suspected Murderers of Alex Odeh

April 12, 2020 | David Sheen | The Link

Whatever happened to the suspected murderers of Alex Odeh? Our April-May issue of The Link investigates.

The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine

February 29, 2020 | Rashid Khalidi | The Link

Rashid Khalidi is the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University and the author of the newly released book "The Hundred Years' War on Palestine." We invited Professor Khalidi to write a feature article for The Link based on his book. Here, with gratitude, is our March 2020 issue, likewise entitled "The Hundred Years' War on Palestine."

Fact and Fiction in Palestine

December 15, 2019 | Gil Maguire | The Link

Have you read a good novel lately? How about "The Exodus Betrayal" by Gilbert Maguire. And who is this little known novelist? And what is his novel about? All this is explained in our December Link, including how to obtain the novel.

Once Upon a Time in Gaza

November 10, 2019 | Rawan Yaghi | The Link

In this issue we turn to a short story writer to convey the terrible truth of what has been called the world’s largest maximum security prison. Rawan Yaghi is a young Gazan who graduated from the University of Oxford. How she managed the checkpoints to get in and out of Gaza was the subject of her January-March 2018 Link. Here she lets her characters tell what hell is really like.

Uninhabitable: Gaza Faces Moment of Truth

October 5, 2019 | Jonathan Cook | The Link

The only way Israelis can be made to sit up and take note of the disaster unfolding next door in Gaza, it seems, is when they fear the fallout may spill out of the tiny coastal enclave and engulf them too.

What in God’s Name is going on?

April 14, 2019 | Edward Dillon | The Link

Recently U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speculated that President Trump may have been sent by God to save Israel." To which our May-June Link author Ed Dillon asks "What in God's name is going on?"

Jews Step Forward

January 31, 2019 | Marjorie Wright | The Link

At a time when 26 states have passed some form of pro-Israel legislation requiring a loyalty oaths to Israel in order to receive aid, get contracts or apply for state jobs, it is more urgent than ever for American Jews to stand up and affirm that being anti-Zionist is not anti-Semitic --- which is what 24 Americans do in the video that is the subject of our January-March Link.

Palestinian Children in Israeli Military Detention

December 15, 2018 | Brad Parker | The Link

Over the past several decades, activists, grassroots organizations, and institutions generally deemed congressional advocacy focused on Palestinian rights as a completely futile exercise. Many avoided direct engagement with lawmakers, often expressing it would be a waste of time.

The Judaization of Jerusalem Al-Quds

September 9, 2018 | Basem L. Ra'ad | The Link

So, why the title “Judaization of Jerusalem / Al-Quds”? For one thing, says Basem Ra'ad, author of our Sept.-Oct. 2018 Link issue, the taking of land from one people and giving it to another based on an exclusive blood line is, simply put, racist and the worst form of apartheid.

Apartheid West Bank

June 6, 2018 | Jonathan Kuttab | The Link

In 2006, former president Jimmy Carter wrote a book which he entitled "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. In our June-July issue of The Link, Palestinian lawyer Jonathan Kuttab tells why, 12 years later, the president's worst premonition has come to pass.

Apartheid Israel

March 12, 2018 | Jonathan Cook | The Link

The Link is doing a series of issues on how the concept of apartheid in international law applies to the different situations in which Palestinians find themselves: citizens of Israel, occupied West Bankers, imprisoned Gazans, and residents of Jerusalem. This issue examines the status of Palestinian citizens of Israel. Our writer is Jonathan Cook, a freelance journalist who lives with his family in Nazareth, Israel.

The Checkpoints

January 13, 2018 | Rawan Yaghi | The Link

The world's focus is now on Jerusalem. But, as Rowan Yaghi narrates in our January-March Link, it should be on the West Bank and Gaza.

Anti-Zionism Is Not Anti-Semitism, And Never Was

November 29, 2017 | Allan C. Brownfeld | The Link

Recently, French President Emmanuel Macron called anti-Zionism a form of anti-Semitism. Not true, says Allan Brownfeld, editor of ISSUES, the quarterly journal of the American Council for Judaism. Indeed, as he shows in our Dec. issue of The Link, there is a long and well articulated history of Jewish anti-Zionism.

The Cult of the Zionists – An Historical Enigma

August 20, 2017 | Thomas Suárez | The Link

Our feature writer, Tom Suarez, spent long hours in The National Archives in England "connecting the dots," as he puts it, between Zionism and fascism, including Nazism, and between what British intelligence knew about the true intent of Zionism and when it knew it. Much of his research has never seen the light of day.

Marwan Barghouti and the Battle of the Empty Stomachs

July 1, 2017 | Jonathan Cook | The Link

Perhaps it was fitting that the most significant act of organized mass resistance by Palestinians to the occupation in many years was launched from behind bars. In April of this year more than 1,500 political prisoners began an indefinite hunger strike against their increasingly degrading treatment by the Israeli authorities. Some called it a prison “intifada,” the word Palestinians use for their serial efforts to “shake off” Israeli oppression.

Al-Tamimi et al v. Adelson et al

April 1, 2017 | Fred Jerome | The Link

On March 7, 2016, Washington D.C. litigator Martin F. McMahon filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Washington, DC seeking $34.5 billion in damages from eight U.S. billionaires. The plaintiffs were 37 Palestinians (increased to 62, as of this writing) who accuse the billionaires of civil conspiracy, war crimes against humanity, and genocide; aiding and abetting the commission of war crimes; and aggravated and ongoing trespass.

In The Beginning…

January 22, 2017 | John Mahoney | The Link

This is not a celebration. How does one celebrate 50 years of a brutal military occupation? This is a singling out of a few Americans who, over a span of 50 years, had the guts to say “No”. “No” to our country’s enabling the theft of another people’s land. “No” to our tax dollars fueling that injustice.

Wheels of Justice

December 3, 2016 | Steven Jungkeit | The Link

What do Native Americans, African Americans, and Palestinians living under occupation have in common? That is the subject of our December Link, "The Wheels of Justice," by Steven Jungkeit.

Agro-Resistance

August 14, 2016 | Jonathan Cook | The Link

The Palestinians' struggle to shake off their 50-year military occupation has given the world such neologisms as intifada. Now, as veteran journalist Jonathan Cook reports in our Sept.-Oct. issue of The Link, comes agro-resistance. As it turns out, it's one that the reader can actually buy into.

The Murder of Alex Odeh

June 4, 2016 | Richard Habib | The Link

A terrorist attack occurred in Southern California. 30 years ago. But, the murderers have yet to be named, questioned, or indicted. Our June-July issue of The Link asks Why.

Protestantism’s Liberal/Mainline Embrace of Zionism

April 3, 2016 | Donald Wagner | The Link

What makes a president of the United States shun the advice of his State Department and embrace the colonization of another people’s land? More astoundingly, yet, what makes leading intellectuals of their day do the same? The answer, in part, is mainstream Protestantism. Ironically, though, as our feature writer notes in our May-June issue of The Link, it is today’s mainstream Protestant churches that are publicly voicing opposition to the ongoing colonization of Palestinian land.

The Second Gaza

January 10, 2016 | Atef Abu Saif | The Link

There are two Gazas. One is the Gaza you get when you Google Gaza. The other is the Gaza you will discover in our January-March issue of The Link.

Between Two Blue Lines

October 31, 2015 | Tom Hayes | The Link

In 1997, Tom Hayes authored our Nov.-Dec. Link article “People and The Land,” a behind-the-scenes look at his documentary by the same name. That issue turned out to be one of our most requested; more significantly, his DVD People and the Land has easily been our best selling video. In 2014, Tom and his film crew returned to Palestine. The documentary that survived his cutting room floor was not the one he expected. How his latest documentary, Two Blue Lines, came to be is the subject of this issue.

A Special Kind of Exile

August 15, 2015 | Alice Rothchild M.D. | The Link

The author begins with these words: “I was once on track to be a nice Jewish girl, growing up in the small New England town of Sharon, Massachusetts, with liberal minded parents who fled the narrow confines of shetl Brooklyn for the dreams of 1950s exurbia, a sparkling lake, and a moderately out-of-tune though touchingly aspirational civic orchestra. I played the cymbals, perhaps a warning of crashes to come.

Kill Bernadotte

June 13, 2015 | Fred Jerome | The Link

“Kill Bernadotte” is a story enfolding several stories, beginning during the last years of World War II and continuing through into the 1947-48 war in Palestine. Time and space do not permit a discussion here of the history of Zionism from the late 19th century, the Zionist attempts at collaboration with a variety of colonialist powers from Cecil Rhodes to the Turks, French and Russians—none of which worked until the British Balfour Declaration in 1917—and the next quarter century of Palestine as a British “Mandate” (a post World-War I term for colony). Our focus will be on one man.

The Art of Resistance

March 7, 2015 | Jonathan Cook | The Link

Morbid thoughts—both predictable and unexpected—fill my mind as I arrive at the Freedom Theater in Jenin’s refugee camp. The large steel gates at the entrance are familiar from the photographs that widely circulated four years ago of the spot where a masked gunman executed the theater’s founder, Juliano Mer Khamis, in broad daylight.

The Window Dressers: The Signatories of Israel’s Proclamation of Independence

January 3, 2015 | Ilan Pappe | The Link

There is a word in our Link issue that needs explaining. It’s prosopographic. Google tells us it comes from prosopography, and it turns out to be a fancy word for investigating the common characteristics of an historical group. This particular group signed Israel’s 1948 Declaration of Independence.

The Immorality Of It All

October 25, 2014 | Dr. Daniel C. Maguire | The Link

Daniel Maguire, our feature writer, is professor of religious ethics at Marquette University, where he specializes on issues of social justice and medical and ecological ethics. He is the author of 11 books, including “The Horrors We Bless: Rethinking the Just-War Legacy” and “The Moral Core of Judaism and Christianity.”

Can Palestine Bring Israeli Officials before the International Criminal Court?

August 16, 2014 | John B. Quigley | The Link

The International Criminal Court opened its doors on July 1, 2002. It is the first treaty-based international court set up to prosecute individuals for the worst acts known to man: genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Currently, 122 countries are parties to the Statute of the Court, 31 others have signed the Statute but have not yet ratified it.

In Search of King Solomon’s Temple

June 9, 2014 | George Wesley Buchanan | The Link

Tradition has it that Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque were built upon the ruins of King Solomon’s Temple, destroyed by the Romans in 70AD. But what if the ruins aren’t there?

Quo Vadis?

March 2, 2014 | Charles Villa-Vicencio | The Link

According to Dr. Charles Villa-Vicencio, the author of our April-May Link, the church is in a constant struggle between being a church in captivity to the dominant powers of its time and an alternative church that seeks to be obedient to one who resisted the occupation of first-century Palestine by choosing to be on the side of the poor and the oppressed. This May, Pope Francis goes to the Holy Land. Which prompts the obvious question that underlies our issue: Which tradition will this unpredictable pope represent?

In Search of Grace Halsell

January 17, 2014 | Robin Kelley | The Link

Grace Halsell is a familiar name to most readers of The Link. During the 1980s and ‘90s, her essays on the politics of Christian Zionism, the dispossession of Palestinian Christians, violence against Muslim women in Bosnia, Macedonia and Kosovo, and her illuminating portrait of Yasser Arafat, were among the most widely circulated articles to appear in these pages.

Farewell, Figleaf

November 3, 2013 | Pamela Olson | The Link

The New York Times of November 1, 2013 reported that the Palestinian negotiators engaged in peace talks with Israel offered their resignations. A senior American official, however, insisted that the negotiators would remain committed to the nine-month negotiations. Pamela Olson, in her December 2013 Link feature article, unmasks this disconnect we call the "peace process."

What Israel’s Best Friend Should Know

August 24, 2013 | Miko Peled | The Link

The photographs on pages 3, 5, 6, and 7 (PDF version) come courtesy of our author, Miko Peled; they are pictures of four individuals who caused him to think twice about what he had been taught as a boy about his country. His hope is that they will cause his country’s best friends, us Americans, to think twice as well. Miko’s article is based on his book “The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” published in 2012 by Just World Books. Permission to reproduce excerpts contained in the article must be obtained from the publisher (rights@justworld books.com). The Pulitzer Prize winning author, Alice Walker, has granted AMEU permission to reprint her poem (page 2 of PDF), as well as excerpts from her Foreword to Miko’s book; see pg. 14 (PDF). Copies of Miko’s book are available from the publisher (www.justworldbooks.com) and from AMEU; see pg. 15 (PDF). Also on pg. 15, our video selections include the Oscar-nominated documentary “Five Broken Cameras,” recommended by Miko Peled in his article. It is a snapshot of Israel’s ongoing colonization.

Dimona—(Shhh! It’s A Secret.)

June 23, 2013 | John Mahoney | The Link

Its name comes from the biblical town, mentioned in Joshua 15:21-22, that was one of the Caananite cities said to be totally annihilated by the Israelites. Today's Dimona, the third largest city in the Negev, knows something about total annihilation—something even Joshua would have had a hard time imagining.

The Brotherhood

April 7, 2013 | Charles A. Kimball | The Link

For many Americans, the Muslim Brotherhood has become a catch phrase, a convenient category for encapsulating a wide range of images and fears swirling ominously in the post-9/11 world. On many occasions during Q and A following a public lecture, in media interviews, or in private conversations with interested non-specialists during the past decade, a surprising array of people have confidently summarized their perspective with a declarative sentence or rhetorical question: “The Muslim Brotherhood is the problem.” “It is really all about the Muslim Brotherhood, isn’t it?”

Like a Picture, A Map is Worth A Thousand Words

January 28, 2013 | Rod Driver | The Link

The Link has never had a centerfold lay-out — until our current January-March issue. We decided this was the most dramatic way to lay bare the naked truth in a way that words alone could never convey.

When War Criminals Walk Free

November 18, 2012 | Dr. Mads Gilbert | The Link

Our December, 2012, issue of The Link is about two young girls, an army that hurt them, a physician who healed them, and an unprecedented letter from 15 religious leaders to every member of of the U.S. Congress.

Welcome to Nazareth

July 30, 2012 | Jonathan Cook | The Link

In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI visited Nazareth. Palestinian Christians living there were excited. Their revered leader would come and, through his eyes, the world would see their plight. But after waiting for hours along Nazareth's main street, the police urged the crowds to go home; the Pope had been advised that it was not safe for him to meet the residents. In this issue, journalist Jonathan Cook tells us what the Pontiff would have learned, had he met the area descendants of the boy Jesus.

The Neocons… They’re Back

May 27, 2012 | John Mahoney | The Link

The names of those pictured on our front cover are, on the left, from top to bottom: Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, I. Lewis Libby, and Douglas Feith; and on the right, from top to bottom: David Wurmser, William Kristol, John Bolton, and Michael Ledeen. Each of the above played a prominent role in the buildup to the U.S. war in Iraq, as detailed in our Sept.-Oct. 2004 Link “Timeline for War.” Eight years later, Americans are again being told that another Middle East country is threatening us — and Israel.

Is the Two-State Solution Dead?

March 28, 2012 | Jeff Halper | The Link

Let’s say it clearly and categorically: the two-state solution is dead. If the possibility ever genuinely existed—a subject historians are welcome to debate—it is gone as a political option. We should even stop talking about it because constant reference to an irrelevant “solution” only confuses the discussion.

Mirror, Mirror

January 8, 2012 | Maysoon Zayid | The Link

My name is Maysoon Zayid. I am a Palestinian- American, comedian, actress, writer and producer. The following is my story in three chapters! Please keep in mind I am a comedian first, foremost, and for life. Some facts have been been changed to protect the innocent.

Who Are the “Canaanites”? Why Ask?

November 19, 2011 | Basem L. Ra'ad | The Link

Basem L. Ra’ad, the writer of this Link issue, is a professor at Al-Quds University, Jerusalem, and the author of “Hidden Histories: Palestine and the Eastern Mediterranean.”

Palestine and the Season of Arab Discontent

September 1, 2011 | Lawrence R. Davidson | The Link

On the surface it would appear that the only two populations unaffected by the recent upheaval in the Eastern Mediterranean are the Israelis and the Palestinians. In our September-October issue of The Link, West Chester University professor Dr. Lawrence Davidson looks beneath the surface and concludes that the Palestinians and Israelis may have to go through another winter before their springtime arrives.

An Open Letter to Church Leaders

June 20, 2011 | David W. Good | 2011

Question #1: How many Palestinian olive trees have been destroyed by Israelis during their recent 22-day invasion of Gaza?: (a) 5,000; (b) 9,000; (c) 13,000. Question #2: How many Palestinian olive trees have been destroyed by Israelis since 1948?: (a) 100,000; (b) 500,000; (c) over 1,000,000. Question #3: Why?  The answers follow.

Drone Diplomacy

May 1, 2011 | Geoff Simons | 2011

In his more than 40-year career, our feature writer, Geoff Simons, has authored nearly 60 books focusing on international politics, history and philosophy. His latest book is “Pakistan: A Failing Nuclear State?”  This is Geoff’s third article for us, and we are pleased to welcome him back to the pages of The Link.

What Price Israel?

January 9, 2011 | Chris Hedges | 2011

What do a Pulitzer Prize winner, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and two former U.S. Ambassadors have in common? They are all featured in our January-March issue of The Link. Chris Hedges is the author of our main article “What Price Israel?” Jeff Halper is interviewed about his organization’s website. And Ambassador Robert Keeley reviews the latest book by Ambassador Chas Freeman.

Publish It Not

December 20, 2010 | Jonathan Cook | 2010

Author is a former British journalist for The Guardian who now resides in Israel. In this issue he tells of the difficulties in reporting on Israel’s brutal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Shuhada Street

September 4, 2010 | Khalid Amayreh | 2010

Palestinian journalist Khalid Amayreh takes the reader down the main thoroughfare of Hebron, the second most populated West Bank city after Jerusalem—and by far its cruelest.

Where Is The Palestinian Gandhi?

July 18, 2010 | Mazin Qumsiyeh | 2010

U2 singer Bono recently expressed his hope that “the people in places filled with rage and despair, places like the Palestinian Territories, will in the days ahead find among them their Gandhi . . . ” We urge Bono to go to the Territories and to meet with Palestinians such as our feature writer, Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, a former Yale University scientist, author of “Popular Resistance in Palestine,” and a nonviolent human rights activist.

A Doctor’s Prescription for Peace with Justice

May 20, 2010 | Steven Feldman M.D. | 2010

What does putting a computer chip on the top of a prescription bottle have to do with peace between Palestinians and Israelis? Dr. Steven Feldman explains.

The Olive Trees of Palestine

January 8, 2010 | Edward Dillon | 2010

Question #1: How many Palestinian olive trees have been destroyed by Israelis during their recent 22-day invasion of Gaza?: (a) 5,000; (b) 9,000; (c) 13,000. Question #2: How many Palestinian olive trees have been destroyed by Israelis since 1948?: (a) 100,000; (b) 500,000; (c) over 1,000,000. Question #3: Why?  The answers follow.

Spinning Cast Lead

December 9, 2009 | Jane Adas | 2009

Hasbara is a Hebrew word. Its root meaning is "explanation." But, as Jane Adas explains, there's much more to the word than that.

Ending Israel’s Occupation

September 23, 2009 | John Mahoney | 2009

If you ride the Tri Rail in Miami, the RTA in New Orleans, the Sprinter in San Diego, the Metrolink in Los Angeles, or any of the Blue-Van SuperShuttles serving 32 major airports, your transportation is being managed by Veolia Transport. Why is that significant? This Link has the answer.

L’Affaire Freeman

July 28, 2009 | James M. Wall | 2009

Discrimination against Jews—anti-Semitism—teaches us why hatred of any people is so insidious. But what about philo-Semitism? Is it possible to love Jews too much? That is one of the questions that Jim Wall, former editor of Christian Century, addresses in this issue.

Righteous

April 2, 2009 | John Mahoney | 2009

They include a businesswoman, journalist, member of the British Parliament, international lawyer, university professor, rabbi, and Nobel Peace Prize nominee. And, as this issue of The Link will reveal, they all have two things in common.

Overcoming Impunity

January 26, 2009 | Joel Kovel | 2009

Joel Kovel believes that no state has an inherent right to exist. This principle is not original with him. He finds it enshrined by Thomas Jefferson in our Declaration of Independence. In this Link issue, Dr. Kovel, who is Jewish, asks the question-that-must-never-be-asked: Does the Zionist state of Israel have an inherent right to exist?

Captive Audiences: Performing in Palestine

December 18, 2008 | Thomas Suárez | 2008

Musicians have long sensed that their music can pretty much transcend whatever it is that separates us humans. Beethoven called it “the wine which inspires one to new generative processes,” and added: “I am Bacchus who presses out this glorious wine for mankind.” Billy Joel saw music as healing, an explosive expression of humanity, “something we are all touched by.” These verities are discovered anew in our December issue of The Link by a violinist from New York and his two colleagues from the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Israeli Palestinians: The Unwanted Who Stayed

October 5, 2008 | Jonathan Cook | 2008

It’s been called the 80-20 solution: the percentage of Palestinian citizens of Israel that must never exceed 20 per cent of the population. So how does a government keep a minority population from passing a precise mathematical number? British journalist Jonathan Cook lists the ways in this issue.

The Grief Counselor of Gaza

July 10, 2008 | Eyad Sarraj | 2008

Two types of trauma are generally recognized: One-time trauma, such as a natural disaster, rape, robbery, or life-threatening accident; and prolonged trauma, such as physical or sexual abuse as a child, war, or life in a prison camp, a concentration camp, or a refugee camp. But what happens when prolonged trauma is prolonged from one generation to another? Then, as psychologist Eyad Sarraj reports, you are in Gaza.

State of Denial: Israel, 1948-2008

April 22, 2008 | Ilan Pappe | 2008

Many political analysts, including Zbigniew Brzezinski, have advised that peace between Israelis and Palestinians is not possible without the participation of the democratically elected Hamas organization. Israeli historian Ilan Pappe goes further. With our without Hamas, he writes, Israel has to do one indispensable thing for any peace agreement to be effective.

Hamas

January 6, 2008 | Khalid Amayreh | 2008

The U.S. invited more than 40 countries to attend the Middle East peace conference held in December, 2007, in Annapolis, Maryland. Just about everyone of any importance was there, everyone, that is, except the elected representatives of the Palestinian people. This Link examines the background, activities and philosophy of the Islamic organization known as Hamas.

Collateral Damage

December 30, 2007 | Kathy Kelly | 2007

It has been said that the murder of one person is a tragedy, while that of millions of persons is a sanitation problem. So, too, the uprooting of one family can be grasped as a particular calamity, while that of thousands of families is seen as a logistical challenge. This Link puts a human face on the million-plus Iraqis who have had to flee their homeland in fear of their lives.

Avraham Burg: Apostate or Avatar?

October 4, 2007 | John Mahoney | 2007

Avraham Burg is the author of a new book, “Defeating Hitler,” and the subject of a July 30, 2007 New Yorker Magazine profile. In these publications Burg announces the end of the Zionist enterprise. Want to know, he asks fellow Israelis, why Palestinians blow themselves up in our restaurants? Look at how we treat them. Think our dependence on U.S. dollars and weapons is good? Think again. Want to keep a Jewish majority in our country? No problem. Expel the Arabs or wall them up into Bantustans. These pronouncements have triggered condemnation all across the Israeli political spectrum and have stirred controversy in the American-Jewish media. While his critique represents something new, this Link issue quotes similar viewpoints expressed through the years by other Jews, Israeli and American.

Witness for the Defenseless

August 20, 2007 | Anna Baltzer | 2007

Anna Baltzer writes that it was on a trip to southern Lebanon where, for the first time, “I heard a narrative about the state of Israel altogether different from the one I had learned growing up as a Jewish American.” To see the situation for herself, she traveled to Palestine in late 2003 as a volunteer with the International Women’s Peace Service (IWPS), a grassroots solidarity organization dedicated to documenting and nonviolently intervening in human rights abuses in the West Bank. “In spite of my research,” she continues, “nothing could have prepared me for witnessing firsthand the injustices that characterize Israeli rule in the West Bank, including the expansion of Jewish-only colonies on Palestinian land, the virtually unchecked brutality of soldiers and settlers against Palestinian civilians, and Israel’s Apartheid Wall, separating hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their land, jobs, hospitals, schools, and each other.”

About That Word Apartheid

April 24, 2007 | John Mahoney | 2007

President Carter’s book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” unleashed a firestorm of controversy. To suggest that white, racist South Africa’s treatment of its indigenous inhabitants is in any way similar to Israel’s treatment of its indigenous inhabitants, for some, smacks of anti-Semitism. And yet, a Google search of “Israel + Apartheid” brings up 5.5 million references. To help clarify the relationship between Israel and apartheid South Africa, Mahoney, Adas and Norberg put together a timeline, beginning with June 1917, when Dr. Chaim Weizmann and Gen. Jan Christian Smuts met in London to lobby for their respective causes.

One Man’s Hope

January 7, 2007 | Fahim Qubain | 2007

This issue begins in a West Bank refugee camp. It is December 1987 and the first intifada has begun. A Wall Street Journal reporter, Geraldine Brooks, profiles a “stone-throwing Palestinian,” 15-year-old Ra΄ed. He tells her that he’d like to be a doctor, but is fated to be a terrorist. Her article in the Journal inspires a Texas ophthalmologist to offer to pay for Ra’ed’s studies to become a doctor. By the time that offer can be relayed to the young Palestinian, he is serving a five-year sentence in an Israeli jail for throwing a Molotov cocktail at an Israeli soldier, and before he is released the Texas physician has perished in the crash of a small plane. Enter journalist Brooks in a private capacity, and subsequently Fahim Qubain, a Palestinian-American living in Virginia.

Beyond the Minor Second

December 5, 2006 | Simon Shaheen | 2006

Simon Shaheen, one of the most significant Arab musicians, performers and composers of our time, explains what it felt like when he first picked up the 'oud, what he experienced as a Palestinian growing up in Israel, and what he is doing today to bridge the cultures and conflicts in the world and to encourage other Palestinian musicians to reach their potential.

For Charlie

October 9, 2006 | Barbara Lubin | 2006

Barbara Lubin, a Jewish-American activist, begins her Link with these words: “Israel’s recent invasion of Lebanon brought back painful memories to me of its 1982 invasion for more reasons than one. While Israel’s actions in 2006 were similar to 1982—widespread bombing of civilians and civilian infrastructure, the destruction of entire neighborhoods, and the indiscriminate killing of women and children—my reactions then and now were very different. These opposite reactions tell the story of who I was and who I have become.”

Why Divestment? Why Now?

August 20, 2006 | David Wildman | 2006

The author was active in the South African anti-Apartheid movement. Since 2001, he has served on the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation steering committee. Currently he serves as Executive Secretary, Human Rights & Racial Justice, with the General Board of Ministries, United Methodist Church. He examines divestiture as a nonviolent, moral strategy, and the struggle to bring divestiture to bear on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Inside the Anti-Occupation Camp

April 17, 2006 | Michel Warschawski | 2006

In 1984, along with Palestinian and Israeli activists, Michel Warschawski co-founded the Alternative Information Center, which combines grassroots activism with research, analysis, dialogue and the dissemination of information on Palestine-Israel. He was arrested by Shin Bet in 1987 and refused, during 15 days of interrogation, to reveal the names of Palestinian counterparts and others active in opposing the occupation. The author is a Polish Frenchman and a rabbi’s son who went to Israel to study the Talmud and ultimately chose to risk his personal security in the cause of peace with justice for Palestinians.

Middle East Studies Under Siege

January 14, 2006 | Joan W. Scott | 2006

In 2001, shortly after the terrorist attacks on the trade towers in New York, the American Association of University Professors set up a special committee to report on Academic Freedom in a Time of National Emergency. Joan W. Scott, professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., was a member of that committee and, at the time, chair of A.A.U.P.’s committee on academic freedom and tenure. The author describes the “well-organized lobby that, on campus and off, has been systematically attacking Middle East studies programs under various guises” in an effort to limit expression on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to pro-occupation viewpoints.

A Polish Boy in Palestine

December 20, 2005 | David Neunuebel | 2005

Frequently the path to discovering the plight of the Palestinians begins with acts of conscience with respect to racism, discrimination and civil rights in the U.S. And so it was with David Neunuebel, who recalls the pejoratives and ill treatment meted out to his mother solely for being Polish and poor, and the segregation visited upon blacks simply because of skin color. When Neuneubel returned from visiting Palestine for the first time, he felt compelled to tell other Americans about what he had learned. In addition to producing two film documentaries on life for the Palestinians under occupation, he also created an organization, Americans for a Just Peace in the Middle East.

The Israeli Factor

October 19, 2005 | John Cooley | 2005

John Cooley, former correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor and ABC News, writes that President Bush, Prime Minister Blair and their real or nominal allies had the active or tacit cooperation of many in the media in the run-up to the “war of choice” with Iraq. Cooley adds: “For this writer, after covering Arab and Muslim regions for nearly half a century, there is another issue. Our mainstream media, almost without exception, tip-toe around the role played by Israel in influencing the Bushites toward war in March 2003.”

The Coverage—and Non-Coverage—of Israel-Palestine

July 20, 2005 | Allison Weir | 2005

The New York Times is called “the newspaper of record,” in part because hundreds of other newspapers across the country and around the world subscribe to its New York Times News Service. So, if The Times skewers the news, it’s skewered worldwide. Which is exactly what is happening with its coverage of Palestine/Israel, according to Alison Weir, executive director of If Americans Knew.

The Day FDR Met Saudi Arabia’s Ibn Saud

April 23, 2005 | Thomas W. Lippman | 2005

Former Washington Post Middle East Bureau Chief Thomas Lippman provides a fascinating, anecdote-laced account of the 1945 meeting of President Franklin D. Roosevelt with Saudi Arabia’s legendary King Ibn Saud. Roosevelt’s probing of Ibn Saud’s views on Jewish settlement in Palestine elicited the King’s response that Germany, being the perpetrator of the Holocaust, should be made to pay the price with appropriated land within Germany. Col. William Eddy, translator between the two principals, is relied upon for the substance of what was discussed, and the Eddy book, “F.D.R. Meets Ibn Saud,” can be accessed on the AMEU website.

Iran

January 29, 2005 | Geoff Simons | 2005

A comprehensive survey of Iran, beginning in antiquity. From World War II onward, there are many familiar American names and U.S.-influenced events embedded in this account: John Foster Dulles; the C.I.A. and Iranian Prime Minister Mossadegh; Kermit Roosevelt; the Rockefellers; Jimmy Carter and the Americans taken hostage during his presidency, President Ronald Reagan, Oliver North, and Iran-Contra.

When Legend Becomes Fact

December 21, 2004 | James M. Wall | 2004

James M. Wall, Senior Contributing Editor of Christian Century magazine, explains that Americans have been deprived of a valid and compelling alternative to the Israeli version of the basic elements of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel’s mythic descriptions of why millions of Palestinians were condemned to expulsion and lives under occupation are accepted wholesale, while facts that confront the legend are ignored by the media. The book and movie “Exodus” are cases in point.

Timeline for War

September 20, 2004 | John Mahoney | 2004

A date-by-date account of how the war with Iraq came about. Beginning in 1992 and running through August, 2004, the chronology is drawn from books by Bob Woodward, James Bamford, James Mann, and Richard Clarke. A Reader’s Guide on pages 8 & 9 provides background information on persons who figure prominently in the timeline. The Guide is based on two articles, “The Men from JINSA and CSP,” by Jason Vest in The Nation, and “Serving Two Flags: Neocons, Israel and the Bush Administration,” by Stephen Green in The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

The CPT Report

June 16, 2004 | Peggy Gish | 2004

Once the digital photos surfaced, the mainstream media suddenly became interested in a December 2003 report on prisoner abuse in Iraq prepared by the Christian Peacemaker Teams. Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh mentioned CPT in interviews he gave, and CNN interviewed a CPT member in Baghdad. Meanwhile, Peggy Gish, a member of CPT’s Iraq delegation, was preparing this issue of The Link. CPT documented abuse not only in the Abu Ghraib prison but in prisons throughout U.S.-occupied Iraq.

Mordechai Vanunu

April 22, 2004 | Mary Eoloff | 2004

On April 21 of this year Dr. Mordechai Vanunu will have served out a prison sentence of 18 years for having publicly exposed Israel’s nuclear weapons program. More than 11 of those years were spent in solitary confinement. Waiting for his release at the gate of Ashkelon prison will be a couple from St. Paul, Minnesota, Mary and Nick Eoloff. Nick is a retired lawyer and Mary taught Spanish before raising six children. Through adoption, Mordechai Vanunu has become the Eoloffs’ seventh child.

Beyond Road Maps & Walls

January 1, 2004 | Jeff Halper | 2004

Jeff Halper believes the time for a two-state solution has run out. If he’s right, the question is, What do we do now? And, is a genuine Middle East peace possible? For if time is running out on the two-state option, that means time is running out on seriously considering the other options. In this issue, Dr. Halper looks at those options.

Rachel

December 5, 2003 | Cindy Corrie | 2003

Rachel Corrie went to the Occupied Territories believing in (1) the right to freedom of the Palestinian people based on the relevant United Nations resolutions and international law; and (2) exclusive reliance on non-violent methods of resistance. On March 16, 2003, Rachel was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer while trying to prevent the demolition of the home of a Palestinian pharmacist, his wife and three young children near the Egyptian border. She was 23 years old. Her mother wrote this issue of The Link.

Why Do They Hate US?

October 25, 2003 | John Zogby | 2003

Practically all polls show that Americans are less esteemed by the world community today than ever before. Is it because, as many U.S. commentators suggest, non-Americans envy our power, or our way of life, or our technology? Or perhaps they revile our culture as they see it filtered through our movies and television? John Zogby, president of the international polling firm of Zogby International, looks at all these possibilities and concludes that none of them is right. So what is the answer? While Zogby's polling results may surprise many Americans, they will not come as a surprise to the rest of the world, and certainly not to the people of the Middle East.

In the Beginning, There Was Terrorism

July 5, 2003 | Ronald Bleier | 2003

“Blowing up a bus, a train, a ship, a café, or a hotel; assassinating a diplomat or a peace negotiator; killing hostages, sending letter bombs; massacring defenseless villagers — this is terrorism, as we know it. In the modern Middle East it began with the Zionists who founded the Jewish state. “ Author Ronald Bleier’s meticulous documentation includes Livia Rokach’s “Israel’s Sacred Terrorism,” which is based in large part on former Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Sharett’s diary.

Political Zionism

April 20, 2003 | John Mahoney | 2003

AMEU Executive Director John Mahoney surveys political Zionism’s origins under Theodor Herzl, traces its evolution from the early 1900s, describes its successful strategy of finding a world power patron, and documents its influence over U.S. foreign policy. The issue is dedicated to Alfred Lilienthal and Fayez Sayegh, whose seminal writings have had a sustained influence on the literature of the Palestine-Israeli conflict.

Veto

January 20, 2003 | Phyllis Bennis | 2003

Thirty-four times over the past 30 years the United States has vetoed United Nations Security Council resolutions critical of Israel. Efforts by the vast majority of the world’s nations to halt Israel’s occupation of Arab lands, expropriation of Palestinian property, and violation of the human rights of a civilian population under military rule have been repeatedly thwarted by Washington’s intervention. While U.S. dollars fuel Israel’s colonization, U.S. vetoes shield Israel from international censure. The history behind these vetoes is the topic of this issue. Our author, Phyllis Bennis, has been a Middle East affairs analyst for over 20 years.

The Making of Iraq

December 6, 2002 | Geoff Simons | 2002

Geoff Simons has written four books on Iraq, his most recent being “Targeting Iraq: Sanctions and Bombing in US Policy,” published this year. Denis Halliday, former U.N. Assistant Secretary-General and head of the U.N. Humanitarian Program in Iraq, says of this work, “There is no doubt this is an important book.” And The Times of London added: “Books either written or edited by Simons can be bought with confidence.” If ever Americans had a need to know the history of Iraq—“from Sumer to Saddam,” as the title of one of Geoff’s books puts it—that time is at hand. Two of Simons’ books on Iraq, along with other new entries, are available from our web site catalog.

A Most UnGenerous Offer

September 27, 2002 | Jeff Halper | 2002

If you look at the blueprint of a prison, it looks like the prisoners own the place. They have 95 percent of the territory. The prisoners have the living areas. They have the cafeteria, the visiting area, the exercise yard. All the prison authorities have is 5 percent: the surrounding walls, the cell bars, a few points of control, the keys to the door. When you consider Israeli Prime Minister’s “generous offer” to the Palestinians at Camp David, keep that prison blueprint in mind.

The Crusades, Then and Now

July 5, 2002 | Robert Ashmore | 2002

Crusading is a concept that applies to successive campaigns against the East and even against foes in the West during medieval times, as well as to actions of the imperial powers in the 19th and 20th centuries. A clear understanding of crusading reveals that it characterizes much that is occurring today, from U.S.-headed economic sanctions on Iraq to Israel’s expansionist settlement policy in Arab territory to Russia’s devastating campaign in Chechnya.

A Style Sheet on the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

April 2, 2002 | J. Martin Bailey | 2002

J. Martin Bailey has compiled and defined 117 terms whose use, misuse and non-use by the media contribute mightily to what newspaper readers, radio listeners and TV watchers perceive as “the truth” about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the religious, cultural and ethnic ingredients of that conflict. The AMEU web site has made the lexicon into a permanent feature (see Resources) so that it can be expanded and amended as needed.

Law & Disorder in the Middle East

January 15, 2002 | Francis A. Boyle | 2002

Francis Boyle served as legal adviser to the Palestinian delegation to the Middle East peace negotiations from 1991-1993 and worked closely with the head of that delegation, Dr. Haider Abdel Shafi. Part of his responsibilities was to review all preceding peace proposals put forward by Israel with respect to the Palestinians, going back to the Camp David Accords. This is his account.

Reflections on September 11, 2001

November 20, 2001 | James M. Wall | 2001

Post-911 commentaries by James M. Wall, Christian Century magazine; Dr. Ilan Pappe, Haifa University; Dr. Norman Finkelstein, DePaul University; Sen. James Abourezk; Muhammad Hallaj, political analyst; Rabbi Marc Ellis, Baylor University; and Ali Abunimah, media analyst.

Inside H-2 [Hebron]

September 12, 2001 | Jane Adas | 2001

The most populated West Bank city after Jerusalem, Hebron today is a city cut in two. In 1997, following 30 years of Israeli occupation, 80 percent of Hebron came under Palestinian control—though Israel still controls the main access routes. This is H1. H2, the remaining 20 percent, remains under Israeli military control. It counts an estimated 30,000-35,000 Palestinians and approximately 400 Jewish settlers, protected by 1,200 Israeli soldiers.

Americans Tortured in Israeli Jails

June 8, 2001 | Jerri Bird | 2001

Forty-five thousand United States citizens of Palestinian origin are living in or visiting the West Bank, according to U.S. officials. Some of these citizens are imprisoned by Israel—without ever being charged with a crime; some have their U.S. passports taken from them—without ever being charged with a crime; all report that they were tortured. Jerri Bird profiles several cases in this issue, relying on the sworn affidavits of the tortured.

Today’s Via Dolorosa

April 20, 2001 | Edward Dillon | 2001

In Ed Dillon’s country parish in upstate New York, church members reenact the Stations of the Cross on the Friday before Holy Week. Tracing the Stations of the Cross has been a pious custom, especially for Latin Catholics, since the time of the Crusades. The Link asked Pastor Dillon to go to Jerusalem and to construct a modern parable while following the course of the original Via Dolorosa and reflecting on the figures who found themselves there 2,000 years ago. Who could be cast today as Jesus, Dillon asked himself. “For those who come to the Holy Land with eyes to see and ears to hear,” he writes, “the answer is the Palestinian people.”

Israel’s Anti-Civilian Weapons

January 1, 2001 | John Mahoney | 2001

Because they are the targets, Palestinian youngsters have become authorities of sorts on rubber-coated steel bullets. They collect them much like American kids collect baseball cards. And they’ve learned to discern what’s coming at them.

Confronting the Bible’s Ethnic Cleansing in Palestine

December 17, 2000 | Michael Prior, C.M. | 2000

Is Yahweh the Great Ethnic-Cleanser? Did He not instruct the Israelites to rid their Promised Land of its indigenous people? Few biblical scholars want to wrestle with these questions. Rev. Michael Prior needs to wrestle with them. He’s been to today’s Holy Land and has seen today’s variation on biblically sanctioned genocide. Dr. Prior is Professor of Biblical Studies in the University of Surrey, England, and visiting professor in Bethlehem University, Palestine. He is a biblical scholar and author of “Zionism and the State of Israel: A Moral Inquiry” and “The Bible and Colonialism: A Moral Critique.”

On the Jericho Road

September 5, 2000 | AMEU | 2000

In 1973, upon assuming the editorship of Christian Century, Jim Wall received an invitation from the American Jewish Committee to take an all-expenses paid trip to Israel. He began his journey a solid, pro-Israel supporter, a position his AJC host had hoped to reinforce. But, then—in a twist of fate not planned by his host—he met LeRoy Friesen, a Mennonite, who convinced him to spend a day with him in the Israeli-occupied, Palestinian West Bank. Now, 23 years later, the editor-politician-minister looks back upon an event that happened that day as a turning point in his understanding of Palestinians and their history.

The Lydda Death March

July 13, 2000 | Audeh Rantisi | 2000

On July 12 [1948] Ramle and Lydda were occupied by Zionist forces and a curfew was imposed. At 11:30 a.m., many Lydda inhabitants, shut up in their houses, took fright at the sudden outbreak of shooting outside.… Some rushed into the streets, only to be cut down by Israeli fire...In the confusion, many unarmed detainees in the detention areas in the center of town–in the mosque and church compounds – were shot and killed.… At 13:30 hours, July 12, before the shooting had completely died down, Operation Dani HQ issued the following order to Yiftah Brigade: “The inhabitants of Lydda must be expelled quickly without attention to age.”—Israeli historian Benny Morris, “The Middle East Journal,” vol. 40, No. 1, Winter 1986, pp. 86-87

The Syrian Community on the Golan Heights

April 27, 2000 | Bashar Tarabieh | 2000

The author of this issue, Bashar Tarabieh, is a member of the Arab Academic Association for Development of the Golan. Bashar presently lives in Atlanta, Georgia. The story he tells in these pages is indeed the untold story of his people’s oppression under foreign occupation. Much has been reported in the U.S. media of what the 17,000 Israeli colonizers on the Golan might lose should negotiations with Syria succeed. But what of the 140,000 Syrians expelled by Israel in 1967, or the 17,000 who remain there today? What about their 33 years of lost freedoms. This is their story.

Muslim Americans in Mainstream America

February 20, 2000 | Nihad Awad | 2000

Between six and eight million Muslims live in the U.S. African-Americans represent 43%, Asian-Americans 26%, Arab-Americans 14%, Iranian-Americans 4%, Turkish-Americans 3%, European-Americans 3%, with 7% unspecified. Until recently, most lived in well defined Muslim communities. Today, however, Muslims are moving into the mainstream and, like minorities before them, many are facing discrimination, intolerance, even violence. To counter this bias, Nihad Awad helped to found CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Native Americans and Palestinians

December 20, 1999 | Norman Finkelstein | 1999

In 1998, a delegation of Palestinians visited the Lakota Indians on their Pine Ridge Reservation. Soon after, a delegation of Native Americans visited Palestine. What they found is the subject of this issue.

Iraq: Who’s To Blame?

October 3, 1999 | Geoff Simons | 1999

Many — most? — Americans believe that while the effects of economic sanctions on the Iraqi people are cruel, “we” are not to blame. Time and again it is said: “Saddam could end it today if he wanted to.” When Geoff Simons agreed to write about the situation, we specifically asked him to address the question of culpability.

Secret Evidence

July 20, 1999 | John Sugg | 1999

This issue focuses on a country whose Supreme Court recently ruled that its government, for political reasons, can target particular groups within its non-citizen population for deportation. While deportation is being pursued, the aliens can be jailed indefinitely on the basis of evidence that neither they nor their lawyers are permitted to see. It focuses on a university professor forcibly taken in handcuffs from his home where for years he had lived peaceably with his wife and three young daughters. There are two authors for this issue of The Link. John Sugg is a reporter in Florida, where a Palestinian professor is spending his third year in jail for no known reason. Kit Gage of the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom monitors other cases of prisoners of Middle Eastern origin languishing in our prisons for reasons known neither to them nor to their lawyers.

The Camp

May 20, 1999 | Muna Hamzeh-Muhaisen | 1999

What is it like to be on the receiving end of the longest military occupation in modern history? Muna Hamzeh-Muhaisen lived in Dheisheh, a refugee camp on the outskirts of Bethlehem, for more than a decade, including the period of the first intifada. This is her account of the people who have lived in Dheisheh all of their lives. As she notes, there is hardly a refugee in The Camp, young or old, who doesn’t remember the names of the camp’s victims and even the years of their untimely deaths.

Sahmatah

February 20, 1999 | Edward Mast | 1999

This is the story of one American playwright's willingness to question the world according to the U.S. media. And it is the story of a Palestinian-American’s search for a past that had eluded him. Central to both stories is a village in the Upper Galilee, where horses and cows now graze. “Sahmatah” is a one-act play for two actors. It debuted in the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada in 1996. In 1998, it was produced in Arabic in the Masrah al-Midan theater in Haifa, and on the ruins of the village of Sahmatah in the Upper Galilee.

Dear NPR News

December 18, 1998 | Ali Abunimah | 1998

Ali Abunimah, widely known today for his association with the Electronic Intifada website, confronted National Public Radio in 1997-98 with a stream of e-mails about its Middle East coverage, using plain facts, humor and irony to call attention to historical inaccuracies, the use of Israeli euphemisms (i.e., “rubber bullets”), and failures to report on settlement growth, Palestinian deaths, home demolitions and collective punishments. Several of Abunimah’s most compelling letters to NPR are reprinted in this issue.

Israel’s Bedouin: The End of Poetry

September 22, 1998 | Ron Kelley | 1998

A cable TV programmer in Manhattan called me to ask if I’d like to see a documentary on the Bedouin of Israel. It’s rather extraordinary, he said. The day after viewing Ron Kelley’s documentary, I phoned him at his home in Michigan and invited him to tell his story to our Link readers. He agreed in the hope that “the article can draw a little attention to the problem at hand.” The problem at hand is the destruction of a people.

Politics Not As Usual

July 8, 1998 | Rod Driver | 1998

Rod Driver is running for the United States Congress from Rhode Island’s second district. No stranger to politics—he was elected four times to Rhode Island’s state legislature—Driver is now doing something no other candidate for federal office has ever done. He’s telling his constituents how their tax dollars are being used to dispossess and torture Palestinians. And he’s doing it by showing on television graphic film of Palestinian parents and their children being dragged kicking and screaming from their home as a bulldozer moves in to turn it all to rubble. (Channel 12 in Rhode Island prefaces Driver’s TV ad with the disclaimer: “The following political advertisement contains scenes which may be disturbing to children. Viewer discretion is advised.”) Why, at 65, spend thousands of your own dollars on behalf of Palestinians? That’s what we asked Professor Driver to explain in this issue.

Israeli Historians Ask: What Really Happened 50 Years Ago?

January 8, 1998 | Ilan Pappe | 1998

This issue’s feature article by Ilan Pappe, an historian at Haifa University, challenges Israel’s official account of what happened 50 years ago in Palestine. Dr. Pappe is one of a growing number of Israeli historians whose analyses of newly released documents by the U. S., England and Israel have led them to conclude that what really happened back then is far closer to what Palestinians have been saying all along.

The Jews of Iraq

January 8, 1998 | Naeim Giladi | 1998

In our previous Link, Israeli historian Ilan Pappe looked at the hundreds of thousands of indigenous Palestinians whose lives were uprooted to make room for foreigners who would come to populate confiscated land. Most were Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe. But over half a million other Jews came from Islamic lands. Zionist propagandists claim that Israel “rescued” these Jews from their anti-Jewish, Muslim neighbors. One of those “rescued” Jews—Naeim Giladi—knows otherwise.

“People and the Land’: Coming to a PBS Station Near You?

November 12, 1997 | Tom Hayes | 1997

Filming the Israeli occupation is to risk death or serious injury, but then just try and get the resulting documentary on U. S. television. Filmmaker Tom Hayes tells both parts of the story in “People and the Land.”

U. S. Aid to Israel: The Subject No One Mentions

September 1, 1997 | Richard Curtiss | 1997

The United States has leverage over Israel—annual grants and loans in the billions of dollars—if it ever chooses to exercise it. In addition to the familiar figure of $3 billion or so that is handed over every year to Israel, the true cost to the American taxpayer is far more. From 1949 through October, 1997, benefits to Israel from U.S. aid totaled nearly $85-billion, including grants, loans, “non-foreign aid,” and interest Israel accrued by receiving its foreign aid as a lump sum early in the fiscal year (rather than quarterly as is the case with all other foreign aid recipients). It cost American taxpayers $50-billion in interest costs to provide that aid. In that time period, Israelis received nearly $15,000 per citizen from the U.S. alone, and more than $20,000 when German assistance is included.

Remember the [USS] Liberty

July 24, 1997 | John Borne | 1997

This issue includes a memorandum by Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “I have never believed that [Israel’s] attack on the USS Liberty was a case of mistaken identity,” Moorer writes. “[It was] a wanton sneak attack that left 34 American sailors dead and 171 seriously injured. . . . I have to conclude that it was Israel’s intent to sink the Liberty and leave as few survivors as possible.”

AMEU’s 30th Anniversary Issue

April 8, 1997 | AMEU | 1997

For the 30th anniversary issue of The Link, eight authors were invited to update readers on their earlier articles. Contributors are Lynda Brayer, Norman Finkelstein, James Graff, Grace Halsell, Rosina Hassoun, Kathleen Kern, Daniel McGowan, and Donald Wagner.

The Children of Iraq: 1990-1997

January 22, 1997 | Kathy Kelly | 1997

More Iraqi children have died as a result of our sanctions on Iraq than the combined toll of two atomic bombs on Japan and the recent scourge of ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia. Kathy Kelly, it should be noted, is a pacifist She's against all wars. But her article is about these children. And the legitimate question for all peoples of good will, pacifist or not, American or not, is whether the preventable deaths of over 600,000 children under 5 years of age is an appropriate sanction to levy on any country, anywhere, any time?

Slouching Toward Bethlehem 2000

December 16, 1996 | J. Martin Bailey | 1996

Ever been to the Holy Land? Ever think of going? Chances are you’ll get on a tourist bus, get off at Manger Square, see the traditional site of Jesus’ birth, buy a few souvenirs, whisked back on the bus, and move on to the next holy place. In this issue, the authors suggest that, while you may see the site of Jesus’ birth, but you have not walked in the footsteps of Jesus.

Deir Yassin Remembered

September 2, 1996 | Dan McGowan | 1996

For McGowan, a professor of economics, it was a matter of parity: If his college was going to pull its investments out of South Africa because of its apartheid, why not pull them out of Israel for the same reason? The question led him to Deir Yassin.

Palestinians and Their Days in Court: Unequal Before the Law

July 22, 1996 | Linda Brayer | 1996

Linda Brayer was born in South Africa to a Jewish family. Her parents were from Palestine and her grandfather was one of the founders of the first Jewish modern settlement, Petah Tikvah. She went to Israel on “aliya” in 1965. After obtaining her liberal arts degree (cum laude) from the Hebrew University, she continued on for her law degree and entered private practice in 1986. The following year the first intifada broke out. “My world was shattered,” she writes. “I found myself facing the void of the lie of Zionism.”

Meanwhile in Lebanon

April 8, 1996 | George Irani | 1996

The target was a school bus. Twenty-five children, returning from school, with flowers. It was Mother’s Day 1994. Had the explosion occurred in Israel, it would have made news. As it was, it happened in South Lebanon. Part of South Lebanon still bleeds under Israel’s military occupation, while 450,000 refugees in Lebanon, most of them clustered in 12 camps, struggle not to despair. As the world focuses on Gaza and the West Bank, Lebanon, it seems, has been forgotten.

Hebron’s Theater of the Absurd

January 8, 1996 | Kathleen Kern | 1996

“ . . . some broke ranks and attacked a line of Christian women peace activists who regularly placed themselves between the Jews and Palestinians, knocking two of them down and dragging them by their hair” was how The New York Times described a group of Jews led by Yigal Amir, the confessed assassin of Prime Minister Rabin, as he swaggered into Hebron. We thought that the U.S. media would have descended upon these women to get their eyewitness account, the assassination being, after all, a major story. One of the women, Kathleen Kern, was even back in the country for a few weeks. But when we tracked her down, she said we were the only publication to ask for her story.

Epiphany at Beit Jala

November 24, 1995 | Donald Neff | 1995

Donald Neff served as Time magazine’s Jerusalem Bureau Chief from 1975-78. He had never worked in the Middle East before going to Israel in 1975. “My attitude toward the region [at that time] reflected pretty much the pro-Israel biases of the media and of Americans in general, unleavened by history or sophistication about Zionism,” he writes in this issue. What he saw of the Israeli occupation began to change his attitude. His epiphany came at a two-story Palestinian middle school in Beit Jala in 1978.

Teaching About the Middle East

September 19, 1995 | Elizabeth Barlow | 1995

Teachers, libraries and students comprise about 25 percent of our readership. The Link is also listed in various educational directories that offer teachers free and inexpensive curricular materials. And teachers do write to us. What we never could send them — because, as far as we know, none existed — was a concise up-to-date survey of the best resources available for teaching about the culture, history, and current events in the Middle East. Now we can, thanks to Elizabeth Barlow.

Jerusalem’s Final Status

July 8, 1995 | Michael Dumper | 1995

Since its military take-over of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has confiscated over 18,000 acres of Palestinian land. On it the Jewish State has built 38,500 housing units, all of which are exclusively for Jews. Prior to 1967, when the Holy City was divided, West Jerusalem was 100 percent Jewish while East Jerusalem was 100 percent Arab. Today West Jerusalem is still 100 percent Jewish while East Jerusalem is 48 percent Arab. Israel's plan to judaicize the Holy City is working. Dr. Dumper concludes that there will be little to negotiate if Israel continues in this fashion.

A Survivor for Whom Never Again Means Never Again [An Interview with Israel Shahak]

May 1, 1995 | Mark Dow | 1995

Israel Shahak is a Nazi concentration camp survivor, a renowned chemist, and Israeli citizen. He has been called a prophet, a Renaissance man, and a self-hating Jew. However, he’d rather be known for his thoughts on democracy, fascism, ethnicity and human rights — which is what he focuses on in this issue.

In the Land of Christ Christianity Is Dying

January 24, 1995 | Grace Halsell | 1995

In this Link, Halsell explains the reasons for the precipitous decline in the proportion of Christians—the “Living Stones”—in the land of their origin. She also comments on how Christian visitors to the Holy Land are systematically routed around their co-religionists. As one of 630 Christians who flew to Israel in 1983 on a Holy Land tour sponsored by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, Halsell observed that during her tour by bus, not one Christian guide was provided, nor was time allocated to meet Christian Palestinians or attend a Christian services. She writes: “On the day we approached Nazareth, where Jesus grew up and had his ministry, our guide said, ‘There is Nazareth.’ He added we would not stop. ‘No time,’ he said. Minutes later, he changed his mind, announcing: ‘We will stop in Nazareth. To use the toilet facilities.’” Thus, the only site the Christians saw in all of Nazareth were the toilets.

Refusing to Curse the Darkness

December 8, 1994 | Geoffrey Aronson | 1994

Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark once said that “The truest test of any individual’s commitment to human rights in our society...lies in the commitment to human rights for Palestinians.” This issue profiles eight Americans who embody that commitment.

Humphrey Gets the Inside Dope

September 29, 1994 | John Law | 1994

Another attempt to educate an American “Everyman” on the basics behind the ongoing struggle in the Middle East.

The Post-Handshake Landscape

July 19, 1994 | Frank Collins | 1994

Have the Israelis left Gaza? Have they stopped expropriating Palestinian lands? A year after “the” handshake on the White House Lawn, journalist Frank Collins looks at how the situation has changed for Palestinians on the ground.

Bosnia: A Genocide of Muslims

May 8, 1994 | Grace Halsell | 1994

She forded the Rio Grande with Mexican illegals, worked as a Navajo Indian in California, a black woman in Harlem and a speech writer for President Johnson. Now this veteran journalist — and AMEU board member — reports on the rape of some 50,000 Muslim women as part of the slaughter and expulsion of Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia.

Will ’94 Be ’49 All Over Again?

January 22, 1994 | Rabbi Elmer Berger | 1994

This was Dr. Berger’s last major writing before his death. For 26 years he served as president of American Jewish Alternatives to Zionism (AJAZ), and for over 50 years he lectured and wrote on Judaism and Jewish nationalism as a rabbi of American Reform Judaism. In this issue Dr. Berger lists three “problems” that must be faced before any meaningful peace will come to Palestinians and Israelis: the biblical account of the Hebrew/Israelitist tribes; the Balfour Declaration; and the 1948-49 Armistice.

The Exiles

December 18, 1993 | Ann Lesch | 1993

Fifteen years ago, Ann Lesch, writing in the Journal of Palestine Studies, compiled a list of 1,151 Palestinians who had been deported by Israel between 1967 and 1978. Now, in this issue, Ms Lesch updates her list to include the names of 547 Palestinians expelled from their homeland between the years 1980 and 1992. The issue also includes a 1988 letter by Umar Abd al-Jawad describing the midnight arrest and deportation of his father, al-Birah mayor Abd al-Jawad Salem, 14 years earlier.

Save the Musht

October 8, 1993 | Rosina Hassoun | 1993

Rosina Hassoun delivered the first of four papers on “The State of Palestine,” a panel sponsored by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee at its National Convention, last April, in Alexandria, Virginia. The other three presenters talked about politics—everything from Israeli annexation of the Territories to Palestinian sovereignty over them. When the time came for questions, the 500-plus audience directed all their queries to the political analysts. Then something unexpected happened. The session ended and the three analysts gradually made their way out of the room. But not Rosina. She literally was surrounded by reporters and interviewers (one from the Arabic version of the BBC), as well as other participants just fascinated by what she had to say; they wanted to hear more.

Censored

August 8, 1993 | Colin Edwards | 1993

On April 14, 1993, 19 people filed a class action suit against the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, et al. The plaintiffs, represented by former U.S. Congressman, Paul N. “Pete” McCloskey, are seeking damages for invasion of privacy. Colin Edwards is one of the class action plaintiffs. Here he writes about the law suit and about the wider issue of censorship of Middle East news in the United States.

An Open Letter to Mrs. Clinton

May 8, 1993 | James Graff | 1993

Mrs. Clinton has voiced concern about the rights and well-being of children around the world. Now as First Lady she can accomplish even more on behalf of children. That’s what prompted James Graff to write to her about Palestinian children. He writes to ask her help in ending a foreign government’s practice of shooting, beating, terrorizing, and de-educating an entire generation of youngsters — a government, moreover, that is doing it with our tax money.

Islam and the US National Interest

February 8, 1993 | Shaw Dallal | 1993

In its 1992 monograph entitled “Islam in America,” the American Jewish Committee acknowledges attempts by “some Western commentators” to stimulate what has been termed “the threat which Islam poses to western civilization.” What it fails to do, however, is to say who these commentators are, why they are turning Islam into a global villain, and how such a worldwide view affects U.S. national interests. For answers to these questions, we have turned to Professor Shaw Dallal of Utica College. He holds a degree in International Law from Cornell University, and is a frequent writer and lecturer on the Middle East.

A Reply to Henry Kissinger and Fouad Ajami

December 16, 1992 | Norman Finkelstein | 1992

As a graduate student at Princeton University Norman Finkelstein challenged the accuracy of Joan Peters’s “From Time Immemorial,” which claimed that the Palestinians never did constitute an indigenous majority in those areas of Palestine that became Israel in 1948. [See The Link, Jan.-March 1985.] Since then, at considerable detriment to his own career, Norman continues to challenge those myths that suggest that Palestinians deserve what they got and, moreover, are even blessed that they ended up with such benevolent occupiers.

Beyond Armageddon

October 8, 1992 | Don Wagner | 1992

Some Evangelical Christians believe that the return of Jews to the Promised Land is the sign of the imminent Second Coming of Christ, when ‘true’ Christians will be raptured into the upper air, and the rest of humankind will be slaughtered. 144,000 Jews will bow down before Christ and be saved, but the rest of Jewry will perish in this mother of all holocausts. This issue looks at who these Evangelicals are (some prominent TV personalities), why they are wooed by Israeli officials, and what their impact is on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. It also looks at a growing number of Evangelicals who are concerned about what happens to the indigenous Palestinians when hundreds of thousands of Jews colonize their land. The Commandment, Thou Shalt Not Steal, comes to mind.

Covert Operations: The Human Factor

August 8, 1992 | Jane Hunter | 1992

U.S.-Israeli covert operations have sealed the fate of millions of people worldwide. This issue looks at some of these operations that range from selling illegal arms to Third World dictators, to training these dictators’ security forces, to cocaine trafficking, to multimillion dollar money laundering, to assassination squads.

AMEU’s 25th Anniversary Issue

May 19, 1992 | John Mahoney | 1992

In this 25th anniversary issue, authors of previous Links revisit their subjects, including Muhammad Hallaj, Grace Halsell, Edward Dillon, Cheryl Rubenberg, James Ennes, John Law, Jane Hunter, George Irani, John Quigley, Mohamed Rabie and L. Humphrey Walz.

Facing the Charge of Anti-Semitism

January 20, 1992 | Paul Hopkins | 1992

In 1980, Paul Hopkins became the Presbyterian Church’s Overseas Mission Secretary to the Middle East. His first visit to the West Bank and Gaza brought him face to face with hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees languishing under Israel’s military rule. When he came home to report what he had seen, his criticism of Israel brought him face to face with something else he didn’t expect: the charge of anti-Semitism. Paul’s experience is not unique. Nor is that of the Presbyterian Church. Many Americans, Protestants and Catholics, have sought justice for the Palestinians, as have Americans of no religious affiliation. And many Jews, risking the charges of “self-hating Jew” have also said No to Israel’s brutal occupation. This issue is dedicated to all those who have looked beyond the polls, beyond politics and, perhaps most difficult of all, beyond the fear of being smeared, to speak out on behalf of a people in pain.

The Comic Book Arab

December 12, 1991 | Jack Shaheen | 1991

Jack Shaheen, a Fulbright scholar, is Professor of Mass Communications at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville. His 1980 Link issue, “The Arab Stereotype on Television,” became the basis for his book “The TV Arab.” In this issue Professor Shaheen presents his research into Arab stereotyping in comic books, a preview of his book, “The Comic Book Arab.”

Visitation at Yad Vashem

September 3, 1991 | James Burtchaell | 1991

This September the U.S. Congress will consider Israel’s request for an extra $10 billion for resettling hundreds of thousands of Russian Jews into Palestine. Pro-Israel supporters will profess the humanitarian need of ingathering persecuted Jews. But who will speak for the persecuted Palestinians as they face the threat of yet another displacement? Father James Burtchaell does in this issue.

A New Literary Look at the Middle East

August 25, 1991 | John Mahoney | 1991

Books are reviewed which over the years have become our “bestsellers” in addition to recent books that are popular with teachers and those which are often requested by church groups.

Beyond the Jewish-Christian Dialogue: Solidarity with the Palestinian People

February 8, 1991 | Marc Ellis | 1991

Marc Ellis is a Jewish theologian who direct the Justice and Peace Program at the Catholic School of Theology in Maryknoll, N.Y. In his writings and lectures Marc regularly proposes that Christians and Jews break their longstanding “gentlemen’s agreement” of not talking publicly about the one matter that has come to define their relationship: how each group views the Palestinian people.

The Post-War Middle East

January 2, 1991 | Rami Khouri | 1991

Four weeks after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour featured an extensive interview with Rami Khouri, a highly regarded Jordanian journalist. The interview generated so many calls the NewsHour had to engage additional operators. Subsequently, the interview led to a book contract, an op-ed piece in The New York Times, and to this issue of The Link.

Arab Defamation in the Media

December 21, 1990 | Casey Kasem | 1990

After Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, hate crimes and threats against Arab-Americans were reported across the United States. “America’s DJ,” Casey Kasem, writes about how anti-Arab stereotypes on television and in movies create a climate for such violence.

What Happened to Palestine?: The Revisionists Revisited

September 17, 1990 | Michael Palumbo | 1990

Michael Palumbo is an American researcher who has spent much of his professional life poring over long classified documents dealing with the immediate post-World War II period. Many of these documents from American, British and United Nations archives deal with the Israeli/Palestinian war of 1948. In this issue Dr. Palumbo invites us to look more critically at what the Israeli revisionists are saying in light of the new facts that they either did not have at their disposal or else opted not to use.

Protestants and Catholics Show New Support for Palestinians

July 26, 1990 | Charles A. Kimball | 1990

In May of this year, Mayor Elias Freij of Bethlehem predicted that the military occupation of his land will continue as long as the U.S. Congress continues to finance Israel’s expansionist policies which, in turn, will continue until the churches in the United States exert their moral influence more vigorously — a prospect he did not anticipate.

My Conversation with Humphrey

April 2, 1990 | John Law | 1990

Last time Humphrey visited John Law in the pages of The Link was back in December 1985. That issue proved popular, particularly with teachers. True to his threat, the inquisitive Humphrey has shown up again on John Law’s literary doorstep.

American Victims of Israeli Abuses

January 17, 1990 | Albert Mokhiber | 1990

An alarming number of Americans visiting Israel and Palestine have had to contact the U.S. consulate because they have been harassed, illegally arrested, even tortured. When these Americans return home, they have filed affidavits describing their ordeals. Those affidavits form the basis of this feature article.

Diary of an American in Occupied Palestine

November 8, 1989 | Mary Mary | 1989

A young American woman in occupied Palestine shares her diary entries from October 24, 1988 to June 17, 1989, during the height of the first intifada.

The International Crimes of Israeli Officials

September 23, 1989 | John B. Quigley | 1989

This issue goes beyond Israel’s human rights violations to the more significant question: Are Israeli officials—specifically Menachem Begin, Shimon Peres, Ariel Sharon, Yitzhak Shamir —guilty of war crimes against the Palestinian people?

An Interview with Ellen Nassab

July 8, 1989 | Hisham Ahmed | 1989

Ellen Nassab gave this interview to Hisham Ahmed on Feb. 18, 1989. On June 9 she died of cancer. She was a wife, mother, nurse and, as this issue makes so poignantly clear, she was much, much more.

US Aid to Israel

May 23, 1989 | Mohamed Rabie | 1989

Reacting to the U.S. State Department’s 1988 Human Rights Report charging Israel with “a substantial increase in human rights violations,” both chairmen of the Congressional panels that appropriate foreign aid, Rep. David Obey of California and Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, have advised Israel it could no longer count on the billions it receives each year if it continues to shoot at Palestinian demonstrators, deport them, detain them without trial, and blow up their houses. How many billions Israel gets each year is the subject of this issue.

Cocaine, Cutouts: Israel’s Unseen Diplomacy

January 14, 1989 | Jane Hunter | 1989

When a government needs large sums of quick cash for questionable adventures, narcotrafficking offers a lucrative avenue. For this an ally is required, one who has the international networks of contacts and cutouts, i.e., a cover that can provide his or her government with public deniability, should the deal go sour. Israel, according to Jane Hunter, editor of Israeli Foreign Affairs, provides such service to various governments, including the United States.

The Shi’i Muslims of the Arab World

December 8, 1988 | Augustus Norton | 1988

For most Americans the emergence of Ayatollah Khomeini and the subsequent holding of U.S. hostages in Iran provided the first media exposure to Shi’i Muslims. This issue looks more closely at this religiously and politically important community.

Israel and South Africa

October 3, 1988 | Robert Ashmore | 1988

n this 1988 issue, Ashmore describes in depth the mutual affinity and cooperation between Israel and South Africa, including production of nuclear weapons, the training by Israel of South African white soldiers, and the transfer by Israel to South Africa of U.S. technology for Israel’s Lavi aircraft. The latter issue was raised by Rep. George Crockett of the Congressional Black Caucus with Prime Minister Shamir on March 16, 1988. Crockett described the Lavi deal with South Africa as an “unconscionable” use of U.S. aid. He went on to question the Israeli Prime Minister on “his government’s brutal response to the Palestinian uprising” and asked when “the curfews, the closed military zones, the beatings, the house raids, the gunshots, the rubber bullets, the tear-gassing and mass deportations would end.”

Zionist Violence Against Palestinians

September 8, 1988 | Mohammad Hallaj | 1988

Why are Palestinians revolting against the occupation? Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said it happened when a lone Palestinian from southern Lebanon, using a hang-glider, assaulted an Israeli army post and, single-handedly, killed several Israeli soldiers. He broke the barrier of fear, explained Shamir, adding that all Israel had to do to put down the uprising was to “reestablish the barrier of fear.” To that end, he warned that any Palestinian challenging Israel’s rule “will have his head smashed against the boulders and walls of these fortresses.” His quote prompted this Link issue.

Dateline: Palestine

June 25, 1988 | George Weller | 1988

George Weller is a prize-winning war correspondent whose professional work in the Middle East spans 45 years. Here he recounts events he covered and leaders he interviewed for the Chicago Daily News.

The US Press and the Middle East

January 8, 1988 | Mitchell Kaidy | 1988

Mitch Kaidy worked 20 years as a reporter and editor of three daily newspapers and one television channel. He was part of a team of reporters who won a Pulitzer Prize for the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle. As an Arab American, Mitch is not always pleased with the way our media portrays Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular. Yet, as a newspaper man, he’s not without a few suggestions.

The US Role in Israel’s Arms Industry

December 8, 1987 | Bishara Bahbah | 1987

A December 1986 article in The New York Times said that Israel has become one of the world’s top ten arms exporters. Bishara Bahbah is author of “Israel and Latin America: The Military Connection.” In this issue he looks at Israel’s worldwide arms industry.

The Shadow Government

October 24, 1987 | Jane Hunter | 1987

Tom Dine, executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, said earlier this year that Secretary of State George Shultz privately had told him of a desire “to build institutional arrangements so that...if there is a [future] secretary of state who is not positive about Israel, he will not be able to overcome the bureaucratic relationship between Israel and the U.S. that we have established.” This issue suggests that that institutional arrangement is already well established.

Public Opinion and the Middle East Conflict

September 8, 1987 | Fouad Moughrabi | 1987

Looks at U.S. public opinion in the aftermath of Israel’s 1982 of Lebanon and the Jonathan Pollard espionage case. Some of the findings are unexpected.

England And The US in Palestine: A Comparison

May 22, 1987 | W. F. Aboushi | 1987

The recent Tower Commission Report, in analyzing causes of the Iran-Contra debacle, cited the failure by U.S. officials to realize that Israel’s foreign policy goals at times stand in direct opposition to those of the United States. As this issue points out, it’s a lesson we could have learned from the British.

Archaeology Politics in Palestine

January 11, 1987 | Leslie Hoppe | 1987

In the Holy Land, where praying at a particular shrine can be construed as a political act and where disputes over ownership and control of land are supercharged with religious and nationalistic overtones, archaeologists are beset with problems that challenge the skill of the most tactful diplomat. Leslie Hoppe, author of “What Are They Saying About Biblical Archaeology?, explains.

The Demographic War for Palestine

December 21, 1986 | Janet Abu-Lughod | 1986

What is the current and projected ratio of Jews leaving Israel to those migrating to Israel? What is the current and projected ratio of Palestinians born in historic Palestine to those who either die, emigrate, or are forcibly expelled? What role does the United States play in this demographic chess match? And, finally, what does all this mean for the political future of Arabs and Jews in the Middle East? The conclusion reached by Professor Abu-Lughod may surprise many for whom demography is the classical stratagem for checkmating the opponent. Suppose, however, the latest data suggests not checkmate but stalemate, what then? This issue looks at all these questions.

Misguided Alliance

October 21, 1986 | Cheryl Rubenberg | 1986

Writes author Cheryl A. Rubenberg: “The once open debate of the 1940s on whether the U.S. should support a state for the Jews in the Arab heartland has evolved into a political orthodoxy of the 1980s that considers the U.S.-Israel ties the most important— and unquestionable— cornerstone of American Middle East policy. How did the transformation occur?” This issue explores the question in depth.

The Vatican, US Catholics, and the Middle East

August 5, 1986 | George Irani | 1986

Why has the Vatican never officially recognized the state of Israel? Why did Pope John Paul II agree to meet with P.L.O. Chairman Yasser Arafat? Why do 81 percent of U.S. Catholics support an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza? George Irani, author of “The Papacy and the Middle East: The Role of the Holy See in the Arab-Israeli Conflict,” explains.

The Making of a Non-Person

May 2, 1986 | Jan Abu Shakrah | 1986

This issue is about a people without passports—four million people, dispossessed of their land, intimidated, tortured, massacred, facing an uncertain future. Sociologist Jan Abu Shakrah traces the dehumanization of the Palestinian and dissects with clinical precision the matter of their statelessness.

The Israeli-South African-US Alliance

January 17, 1986 | Jane Hunter | 1986

In March 1985, Denis Goldberg, a Jewish South African sentenced in 1964 to life imprisonment for “conspiring to overthrow the apartheid regime,” was released through the intercession of his daughter, an Israeli, and top Israeli officials, including Israel’s president. Arriving in Israel, Goldberg said that he saw “many similarities in the oppression of blacks in South Africa and of Palestinians,” and he called for a total economic boycott of South Africa, singling out Israel as a major ally of the apartheid regime. Pledging not to stay in a country that is a major supporter of South African apartheid, Dennis Goldberg moved to London. Just how big a supporter Israel is, is the subject of this issue.

Humphrey Goes to the Middle East

December 4, 1985 | John Law | 1985

Humphrey, a well-meaning but aggressively obtuse and monumentally uninformed fellow, drops by John Law’s office from time to time to pick his brains on the Middle East.

US-Israeli-Central American Connection

November 23, 1985 | Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi | 1985

According to the author, a professor of psychology at Haifa University who wrote a book on Israel’s relations with the third world, “Only once, in 1981, has the United States admitted to a direct and explicit request to Israel to help a Central American country; that request came from Secretary of State Alexander Haig and the country in question was Guatemala. Otherwise, U.S. officials admit to 'a convergence of interests.”

The Palestine-Israel Conflict in the US Courtroom

September 1, 1985 | Rex Wingerter | 1985

The attachment between the United States and Israel has been described most often as a “special relationship.” As Rex Wingerter points out in this issue, that attachment has found expression in the United States courtroom.

The Middle East on the US Campus

May 24, 1985 | Naseer Aruri | 1985

The first Middle East study center in the U.S. was founded in 1946 at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. Since then, at least 17 major Middle East centers have been established, including centers at Princeton, Harvard and Columbia, with more than 115 colleges and universities now offering Middle East area courses. With growth, however — as Naseer Aruri points out — has come a disturbing awareness.

From Time Immemorial: The Resurrection of a Myth

January 12, 1985 | Mohammad Hallaj | 1985

Last year an American writer, Joan Peters, produced a book that claimed that Palestinians never did constitute an indigenous majority in those areas of Palestine which became Israel in 1948. Ms. Peters recently promoted her book, cross country, on radio, television and in newspaper interviews. Dr. Muhammad Hallaj’s purpose in this issue is to locate the Peters book in the context of 20th century Zionist writings on the Arab-Israeli conflict. What does the Peters book add to previous Zionist claims? Hallaj’s conclusion may surprise Ms. Peters, who tells us it took her seven years to reach her new findings.

The Lasting Gift of Christmas

December 29, 1984 | Hassan Haddad | 1984

For historian Hassan Haddad this issue is not only a return to his childhood memories of Christmas in northern Lebanon as the son of a Protestant minister, it is also a return of 1,400 years to the Qu’ran and its beautiful retelling of the Annunciation and virgin birth, of 2,000 years to the Gospel stories of Matthew and Luke, of centuries earlier to the Sumerians and Egyptians, the Nabateans and Zoroastrians, and beyond the Middle East, to Asia and the birth of Buddha. Along the way, Professor Haddad, who teaches at St. Xavier College in Chicago, is not uncritical of the ways Christmas has been exploited by one group or another. Still, he finds in the Christmas story, a universal longing.

Israel’s Drive for Water

November 25, 1984 | Leslie Schmida | 1984

In October 1953, [then President] Eisenhower’s Science Advisory Committee responded to Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion’s call for the settlement in Israel of an additional two million European Jews by warning that “this unrealistic approach can only lead to further economic and financial difficulties, and will probably result in additional pressure to expand Israel’s frontiers into the rich lands of the Tigris and Euphrates Valley, and northward into the settled lands of Syria.” Writes author Leslie Schmida in this 1984 issue: “Israel’s appropriation, time after time, of Arab property and water resources in abrogation of all commonly accepted international standards seems well on the way to realizing this dismal prospect.”

Shrine Under Siege

August 21, 1984 | Grace Halsell | 1984

According to author Grace Halsell, efforts to rebuild the Jewish Temple on the site of the earliest remaining Islamic monument in the world are championed by a significant number of Christian Zionists in this country and by a well-organized group of Jewish Zionists in Israel, many of whom hold dual U.S.-Israeli citizenship. This issue tells who they are, how they are financed, what their motives are and how they have already attempted to realize their aims.

The USS Liberty Affair

May 6, 1984 | James Ennes Jr. | 1984

Survivors of Israel’s 1967 attack on the USS Liberty, an unarmed intelligence ship sailing in international waters, wonder to this day why rescue planes from the Sixth Fleet were called back by Washington, why Congress has never investigated the incident, and why they were forbidden to discuss the attack—even with their own families. Thirty-four American servicemen were killed and 171 wounded—but it remains a miracle that there is even one survivor left to tell what happened that day.

The Middle East Lobbies

January 21, 1984 | Cheryl Rubenberg | 1984

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is the most powerful pro-Israel lobby in the United States. Its Arab-American counterpart is the National Association of Arab-Americans. In addition to these registered lobbyist groups, there are, at last count, 33 pro-Israel Political Action Committees and two pro-Arab ones. How these and other pro-Arab and pro-Israel groups operate, how they influence our national elections and foreign policy decisions, and what their objectives are for 1984, are some of the questions examined here by Dr. Cheryl Rubenberg, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Florida International University.

US Aid to Israel

December 23, 1983 | Samir Abed-Rabbo | 1983

In 1982, the U.S. General Accounting Office (GOA) began a study of U.S. aid to Israel. In March 1983, the completed study was submitted to Secretary of State George Shultz. Three months later a highly censored version was released to the public. Shortly thereafter, a copy of all but six pages of the GOA report was leaked to the press. This issue analyses that uncensored report.

Christian Zionism

November 18, 1983 | O. Kelly Ingram | 1983

Christian Zionism seeks the return of Jews to Palestine as a necessary prelude to the Second Coming of Christ and expects the wholesale conversion of Israel to belief in Jesus as the true Messiah. It is part of a movement begun in 17th-century England which Jewish historian Cecil Roth calls “philo-semitism.”

Prisoners of Israel

August 22, 1983 | Edward Dillon | 1983

For the past 15 years, Father Edward Dillon has worked with prisoners in the Philadelphia area. In this issue, Fr. Dillon reports on the plight of prisoners inside Israeli-run prisons in south Lebanon and the Occupied Territories.

The Land of Palestine

May 11, 1983 | L. Dean Brown | 1983

President Reagan’s recent call for a Palestinian “homeland” on the West Bank elicited from Moshe Arens, Israel’s Defense Minister, the response that “a Palestinian homeland and state exists — Jordan.” In this issue, former U.S. Ambassador to Jordan, L. Dean Brown, responds.

Military Peacekeeping in the Middle East

January 5, 1983 | William Mulligan | 1983

Individual commandeers of U.N. peacekeeping forces have written of their experiences in the Middle East. A compilation of their experiences has yet to appear in English, and practically all of the individual accounts are now out of print. William Mulligan, who has spent most of his 35 years in the Middle East in the area of Government Relations for the Arabian American Oil Company, was able to contact some of the major participants. Their reflections add relevancy to a history from which the United States and the multinational force now in Lebanon can learn a great deal.

US-Israeli Relations: A Reassessment

December 20, 1982 | Allan Kellum | 1982

Reassessment is one of those catchall words that implies anything from substantial change to a slight variation on an old theme. In the lexicon of U.S.-Middle East diplomacy, notes Allan Kellum, publisher of The Mideast Observer, it has lineage all its own.

The Islamic Alternative

September 5, 1982 | Yvonne Haddad | 1982

Article is based on author’s eight years of research of Islamic literature, particularly that coming from the Arab world, and on numerous conversations with those who take their primary identity in Islamic nationalism.

Yasser Arafat: The Man and His People

July 9, 1982 | Grace Halsell | 1982

Despite his worldwide recognition as Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, little is known of Yasser Arafat’s early life, his education, his politics, his religion, his living habits, etc. To fill in some of these blanks, Grace Halsell went twice to Beirut, once in December 1981, and again in April 1982. Halsell is the author of 11 books, including “A Biography of Charles Evers,” “Bessie Yellowhair,” “Soul Sister,” and “Journey to Jerusalem.”

Tourism in the Holy Land

May 5, 1982 | Larry Ekin | 1982

Tourism is the world’s biggest industry. For many world capitals it represents over 40 percent of their total revenues. Far less appreciated, however, are the political and ethical dimensions of the industry. That is particularly true of tourism in the Holy Land.

Palestine: The Suppression of an Idea

January 18, 1982 | Mohammad Hallaj | 1982

In this issue, two questions which go to the core of Dr. Hallaj’s life are examined: how an indigenous Palestinian culture is faring today under Israeli occupation, and why Zionism is bent on erasing it.

The Disabled in the Arab World

December 14, 1981 | Audrey Shabbas | 1981

The United Nations resolution to designate this year as the International Year for Disabled Persons was first put forth in 1976 by the Libyan Arab Republic out of concern for the world’s estimated 450 million physically and mentally disabled persons, most of whom live in developing countries. Audrey Shabbas looks at the situation of the disabled in the Arab World.

Arms Buildup in the Middle East

September 26, 1981 | Greg Orfalea | 1981

The United States in 1980 sold $15.3 billion worth of military equipment abroad, of which 53 percent or $8.1 billion went to the Middle East. Should we be concerned? The distinguished diplomat George Kennan gave his answer recently when he compared us to lemmings racing to the sea. Col. Yoram Hamuzrahi, Chief Officer of the Israeli Defense Forces, gave his answer when he told a group of visiting Americans, “We will not concede an inch to the Arabs, even if it means atomic flames in New York.” Greg Orfalea, editor of the National Association of Arab Americans political action report, explains why we should be concerned.

The Palestinians in America

July 5, 1981 | Elias Tuma | 1981

An estimated 4.4 million Palestinians now live in the diaspora that followed the 1947-48 and 1967 Middle East wars. Approximately 100,000 of these Palestinians are American citizens today. This issue look at how they view the situation in the Middle East.

A Human Rights Odyssey: In Search of Academic Freedom

April 23, 1981 | Michael Griffin | 1981

When the Israel Teachers’ Union announced that it was organizing a November 1980 International Teachers Conference to Combat Racism, Anti-Semitism and Violations of Human Rights to be held in Tel Aviv, Michael Griffin applied to AMEU for a travel grant. We gave it to him. We also asked him to visit academic institutions on the West Bank to see how they were faring. Then we invited him to report his findings in this issue of The Link.

Europe and the Arabs: A Developing Relationship

January 12, 1981 | John Richardson | 1981

Traces the historical contacts between Europe and the Middle East and looks at how Europe’s independent dialogue with the Arab countries evolved and what effect it might have on U.S. foreign policy.

National Council of Churches Adopts New Statement on the Middle East

December 20, 1980 | Allison Rock | 1980

When the 266-member governing board of a national organization, representing 32 Christian denominations with more than 40 million members, reaches unanimous agreement on a policy statement pertaining to the Middle East, that statement at once becomes noteworthy, as this issue points out.

Kuwait: Prosperity From A Sea of Oil

September 7, 1980 | Alan Klaum | 1980

Examines Kuwait’s history, culture, economy, and political role in the Middle East landscape.

American Jews and the Middle East: Fears, Frustration and Hope

July 24, 1980 | Allan Solomonow | 1980

Allan Solomonow was the first Program Director for the Jewish Peace Fellowship, a national inter-religious effort to bring together resources and programs to stimulate a national dialogue on peaceful alternatives for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict, all of which he describes in this issue.

The Arab Stereotype on Television

April 22, 1980 | Jack Shaheen | 1980

Article is based on author’s research for an upcoming book intended to make television producers and executives more aware of the media’s responsibility to reflect a wide range of positive roles for all people.

The Presidential Candidates: How They View the Middle East

January 13, 1980 | Allan Kellum | 1980

A look at the men who would be president and what they say about the Middle East.

The West Bank and Gaza: The Emerging Political Consensus

December 16, 1979 | Ann Lesch | 1979

Draws upon the research of Dr. Ann Lesch, who was the Associate Middle East representative in Jerusalem for the American Friends Service Committee from 1974 to 1977.

The Muslim Experience in the US

September 5, 1979 | Yvonne Haddad | 1979

Muslim contact with America occurred quite early. It was revealed at the quin-centennial celebration of Columbus’s birth in 1955 that the explorer’s private library contained a copy of the work of the Arab geographer, al-Idrisi. This book, which describes the East coast discovery of the “new continent” by eight Muslim explorers, is said to have inspired Columbus’s own expedition. Arab involvement in the discovery of America also rested with Columbus’s interpreter, Louis Torres, a Spaniard of Arab descent who had converted to Christianity after the reconquista. This issue goes on to discuss Islamic Centers in the United States, Islam and American blacks, Islamic practice in America, and Islam’s future in America.

Jordan Steps Forward

July 22, 1979 | Alan Klaum | 1979

Article examines the: history of Jordan; the West Bank’s annexation; Jordan’s Constitution; political parties; military; educational system; role of women; economic climate; and tourism.

The Child in the Arab Family

May 30, 1979 | Audrey Shabbas | 1979

Audrey Shabbas looks at roles in the Arab family: choosing a child’s name; early child care and development; educational patterns; styles of dress; simple toys; nursery rhymes and riddles; Arab songs; children’s games and stories. There is a special section on “Iraq: Pacesetter in Children’s Services.”

Palestinian Nationhood

January 12, 1979 | John Mahoney | 1979

Issue includes interview with U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Andrew Young on the need for a new Palestinian policy; an address by John Reddaway, director of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding on “International Recognition of Palestinian Nationhood,” and an article from The Arab Report, “Trauma and Triumph of a Nation in Exile.”

The Sorrow of Lebanon

December 22, 1978 | Youssef Ibrahim | 1978

Issue focuses on the uprooted people of Lebanon and a list of donor organizations that are helping them.

The Arab World: A New Economic Order

October 5, 1978 | Youssef Ibrahim | 1978

This survey of the business environment in the Middle East is by Youssef Ibrahim, a business reporter for The New York Times, who has been covering the region since 1973.

The Yemen Arab Republic: From Behind the Veil

May 20, 1978 | Alan Klaum | 1978

Alan Klaum, an international consultant on the Middle East and Asia, looks at the history, culture, and politics of Yemen, and the problems it faces.

The New Israeli Law: Will It Doom the Christian Mission in the Holy Land?

April 24, 1978 | Humphrey Walz | 1978

Presbyterian leader and AMEU director L. Humphrey Walz examines the new Israeli “Anti-Missionary Law” passed by the Israeli Parliament on December 27, 1977. It makes it an offense—punishable by five years in prison or a 50,000-pound fine—to offer material inducement to an Israeli to change his religion. (For those who convert under such circumstances, the penalty is three years imprisonment or a 30,000-pound fine.)

The Palestinians

January 14, 1978 | John Sutton, ed. | 1978

Includes: “A People Scattered, Bewildered and Divided,” by James Markham; “Looking at Reality,” by Anthony Lewis; “Palestinians Cling to a Vision of a Homeland,” by John Darnton, and “The P.L.O. Is Palestinians’ Only Voice.”

War Plan Ready If Peace Effort Fails

December 19, 1977 | Jim Hoagland | 1977

Author writes that Israel "is actively preparing to fight a war of annihilation against the Egyptian and Syrian armies if the Carter Administration’s new Middle East peace effort fails.”

Concern Grows in U.S. Over Israeli Policies

September 25, 1977 | Allan C. Brownfeld | 1977

Author describes the split in U.S. Administration over the proper handling of Israel’s flouting of the U.S. on the settlements question.

Prophecy and Modern Israel

June 5, 1977 | Calvin Keene | 1977

A critique of the Biblical arguments offered by Christians who believe that the reestablishment of Israel today is part of God’s apocalyptic plan.

Literary Look at the Middle East

April 16, 1977 | Djelloul Marbrook | 1977

A comprehensive look at the most current and relevant books and periodicals on the Middle East plus a brief look at films that are available.

Carter Administration & the Middle East

January 8, 1977 | Norton Mezvinski | 1977

A professor of history at Central Connecticut State College offers a scenario for changes in U.S. policy towards the Middle East that are anticipated in the incoming Carter Administration.

Unity Out of Diversity: United Arab Emirates

December 19, 1976 | John Sutton, ed. | 1976

A profile of the seven states that comprise the United Arab Emirates.

New Leader for Troubled Lebanon

October 5, 1976 | Minor Yanis | 1976

On September 23, 1976, Lebanon’s sixth president was sworn in. This issue looks at Elias Sarkis and the decimated country he now heads.

Egypt: Rediscovered Destiny – A Survey

July 5, 1976 | Alan Klaum | 1976

A look at Egypt, its past, present and future.

America’s Stake in the Middle East

June 5, 1976 | John Davis | 1976

A speech by AMEU director and former Commissioner General of UNRWA given at a Washington Islamic Center Symposium on February 5, 1976.

Islamic/Christian Dialogue

January 12, 1976 | Patricia Morris, ed. | 1976

Summary of an international conference held in Tripoli in February 1976.

Zionism? Racism? What Do You Mean?

December 21, 1975 | Humphrey Walz | 1975

Title article by L. Humphrey Walz. Other articles and their authors include: “The UN, Zionism and Racism,” by Donald Will; “The Racist Nature of Zionism and of the Zionistic State of Israel,” by Prof. Israel Shahak; “A letter from an American Rabbi to an Arab Ambassador,” by Rabbi Elmer Berger; and a review of Jakob J. Petuchowski’s book, “Zion Reconsidered,” by Rabbi Berger.

Syria

October 8, 1975 | Marcella Kerr, ed. | 1975

Includes: history of Syria; social data; Syrian economy; government; foreign policy; Syrian Jews; education; and the women’s movement in Syria.

Saudi Arabia

June 20, 1975 | Ray Cleveland | 1975

In the wake of the recent murder of King Faisal, Prof. Ray Cleveland, author of “The Middle East and South Asia,” looks at the foreign policy of the kingdom under King Khalid.

The West Bank and Gaza

April 16, 1975 | John Richardson | 1975

John Richardson, President of American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA), focuses on the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967.

Crisis in Lebanon

January 8, 1975 | Jack Forsyth | 1975

Author documents Israel’s increasing military intervention inside Lebanon and concludes that Lebanon has quietly turned the corner towards full involvement in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Issue contains a chronology of the victims of Israeli attacks on Lebanon from 1968-1975.

The Arab-Israeli Arms Race

December 14, 1974 | Fuad Jabber | 1974

Author traces the arms race between Israel and its neighbors and warns that, if diplomacy proves sterile, the race will presage an increase in both the tempo and the scale of armed violence.

The Palestinians Speak. Listen!

October 12, 1974 | Frank Epp | 1974

Interviews with 28 Palestinians.

Holy Father Speaks on Palestine

May 26, 1974 | Pope Paul VI | 1974

The official text of Pope Paul’s apostolic exhortation “concerning the increased needs of the Church in the Holy Land.”

History of the Middle East Conflict

March 18, 1974 | Sen. James Abourezk | 1974

One of the most frequent requests that AMEU receives is for a “brief history of the Middle East Conflict.” This article by Senator James Abourezk answers this need.

Arab Oil and the Zionist Connection

January 21, 1974 | Jack Forsyth | 1974

Analyzes how and why the Rogers Plan for peace in the Middle East failed, and why the Mobil Oil Company ad in The New York Times titled “The U.S. Stake in Middle East Peace” backfired.

Christians in the Arab East

December 8, 1973 | Humphrey Walz | 1973

In 1973, it was estimated that there were some 9-million Christians in the “Arab East.” Author Humphrey Walz noted: “To many Christians in the West ... it’s downright startling that [there is] so much as a single co-religionist left in the lands that cradled their faith and exported it to the world ... ”

American Jewry and the Zionist Jewish State Concept

September 30, 1973 | Norton Mezvinski | 1973

Author traces American Jewry’s support for the Zionist Jewish State since 1948.

US Middle East Involvement

May 8, 1973 | John Richardson | 1973

A survey of U.S. voluntary organizations involved in relief and rehabilitation for Palestinian refugees and other needy individuals in the Middle East.

A Prophet Speaks in Israel

March 8, 1973 | Norton Mezvinski | 1973

Profile of Dr. Israel Shahak, founder of the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights.

The Arab Market: Opportunities for U.S. Business

January 21, 1973 | Humphrey Walz | 1973

Examines present supply and demand for energy fuels; the challenge and opportunity for Arab economic development; and what this means for U.S. businesses.

Toward a More Open Middle East Debate

December 2, 1972 | Humphrey Walz | 1972

Includes profiles of various sources of information on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Some Thoughts on Jerusalem

September 15, 1972 | Joseph Ryan | 1972

Archbishop Ryan speaks on: The gravity of the present situation, the expansion of Zionism, the Vatican’s position.

Foreign Policy Report: Nixon Gives Massive Aid But Reaps No Political Harvest

May 13, 1972 | Andrew Glass | 1972

Examines U.S. policy towards the Middle East: how it is determined and what forces influence it.

A Look at Gaza

March 2, 1972 | Humphrey Walz | 1972

Includes reports on Gaza from American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) and United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA).

Religion Used to Promote Hatred in Israel

January 2, 1972 | Humphrey Walz | 1972

Summary of article by B. Shefi: “Israel: The Jewish Religion Abused.”

Computer Age Answers to M. E. Problems

December 18, 1971 | Humphrey Walz | 1971

A look at ways computer-age techniques can speed the solving of problems even as complex as those in the Holy Land.

Peace and the Holy City

September 5, 1971 | Humphrey Walz | 1971

Religious factors affecting problems and hopes of Jerusalem.

Invitation to the Holy Land

July 1, 1971 | Humphrey Walz | 1971

A sequel to issue 3 (Why Visit the Middle East)

Why Visit the Middle East?

May 15, 1971 | Humphrey Walz | 1971

Suggested pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Arab-Israeli Encounter in Jaffa

March 12, 1971 | Humphrey Walz | 1971

Palestinian refugee visits his family home in Jaffa that is now occupied by a Jewish family from Beirut.

At Stake in UNRWA’s 1971 Budget

January 1, 1971 | Humphrey Walz | 1971

UNWRA’s financial squeeze.

Is the Modern State, Israel, A Fulfillment of Prophecy?

December 6, 1970 | Bradley Watkins | 1970

Frequently we confront the contention that the land belongs to the Jews “because God promised it to them.” The author sets forth his refutation of this claim.

Council of Churches Acts on Middle East Crisis

September 26, 1970 | Humphrey Walz | 1970

Includes statements by Metropolitan Philip Saliba and Raymond Wilson of the American Friends.

Mayhew Reports on Arab-Israeli Facts

May 24, 1970 | Christopher Mayhew | 1970

Text of lecture by British Member of Parliament Christopher Mayhew given during his U.S. tour.

Sequel Offered Free to Refugee Agencies

March 22, 1970 | Humphrey Walz | 1970

A review of upcoming conferences, U.N. reports, recent books, and church editorials.

Responses to Palestine Information Proposal

January 3, 1970 | Humphrey Walz | 1970

Report on World Council of Churches determination to raise over $1-million for Palestinians. Lectures by Simha Flapan, Elmer Berger, John Davis and Ruth Knowles.

Churches Plan for Refugees and Peace

December 15, 1969 | Humphrey Walz | 1969

Report on World Council of Churches upcoming consultation between Christians and followers of other faiths next March in Beirut.

End UNRWA Deficit for Refugee Aid

September 28, 1969 | Humphrey Walz | 1969

Analysis of report by UNRWA Commissioner-General Laurence Michelmore.

Church Statement Stresses Mideast Needs

May 3, 1969 | Humphrey Walz | 1969

Summary of “Policy Statement on the Middle East” submitted to the General Board of the National Council of Churches at its meeting in New York City.

Mosque to Add Minaret to NYC Skyline

March 9, 1969 | Humphrey Walz | 1969

Announcement of new mosque in Manhattan.

Black Bids New Administration Face Facts

January 3, 1969 | Humphrey Walz | 1969

Features excerpts from speech by past president of the World Bank, Eugene R. Black.

UN Struggles for Mideast Peace

November 3, 1968 | Humphrey Walz | 1968

U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk's demands prompt action on U.N. Resolution of November 22, 1967 calling for withdrawal of Israeli troops from recently occupied territories, and justice for the refugees.

How The Link Was Born and Can Grow

September 1, 1968 | AMEU | 1968

This, the first issue of The Link, sets forth its goals and programs.

By Rashid Khalidi

For a few years during the early 1990s, I lived in Jerusalem for several months at a time, doing research in the private libraries of some of the city’s oldest families, including my own.  With my wife and children, I stayed in an apartment belonging to a Khalidi family waqf, or religious endowment, in the heart of the cramped, noisy Old City.  From the roof of this building, there was a view of two of the greatest masterpieces of early Islamic architecture: the shining golden Dome of the Rock was just over 300 feet away on the Haram al-Sharif.  Beyond it lay the smaller silver-gray cupola of the al-Aqsa Mosque, with the Mount of Olives in the background.  In other directions one could see the Old City’s churches and synagogues.

Just down Bab al-Silsila Street was the main building of the Khalidi Library, which was founded in 1899 by my grandfather, Hajj Raghib al-Khalidi, with a bequest from his mother, Khadija al-Khalidi.   The library houses more than 1,200 manuscripts, mainly in Arabic (some in Persian and Ottoman Turkish), the oldest dating back to the early eleventh century.  Including some 2,000 nineteenth-century Arabic books and miscellaneous family papers, the collection is one of the most extensive in all of Palestine that is still in the hands of its original owners. (Private Palestinian libraries were systematically looted in the spring of 1948 by specialized teams operating in the wake of advancing Zionist forces as they occupied the Arab-inhabited cities and towns, notably Jaffa, Haifa and the Arab neighborhoods of West Jerusalem. The stolen manuscripts and books were deposited in the Hebrew University Library, now the Israel National Library, under the heading “AP” for “abandoned property,” a typically Orwellian description of a process of cultural appropriation in the wake of conquest and dispossession. See Gish Amit, “Salvage or Plunder? Israel’s ‘Collection’ of Palestinian Private Libraries in West Jerusalem,” Journal of Palestinian Studies, 40, 4 (Summer 2011) pp. 6-23.)

At the time of my stay, the main library structure, which dates from around the thirteenth century, was undergoing restoration, so the contents were being stored temporarily in large cardboard boxes in a Mameluke-era building connected to our apartment by a narrow stairway. I spent over a year among those boxes, going through dusty, worm-eaten books, documents, and letters belonging to generations of Khalidis, among them my great-great-great uncle, Yusuf Diya al-Din Pasha al-Khalidi.  Through his papers, I discovered a worldly man with a broad education acquired in Jerusalem, Malta, Istanbul,  and Vienna, a man who was deeply interested in comparative religion, especially in Judaism, and who owned a number of books in European languages on this and other subjects.

Yusuf Diya was heir to a long line of Jerusalemite Islamic scholars and legal functionaries: his father, al-Sayyid Mohammad ‘Ali al-Khalidi, had served for some 50 years as deputy qadi and chief of the Jerusalem Shari’a court secretariat. But at a young age Yusuf Diya sought a different path for himself.  After absorbing the fundamentals of a traditional Islamic education, he left Palestine at the age of 18  — without his father’s approval, we are told — to spend two years at a British Church Mission Society school in Malta.  From there he went to study at the Imperial Medical School in Istanbul, after which he attended the city’s Robert College, founded by American Protestant missionaries.  For five years during the 1860s, Yusuf Diya attended some of the first institutions in the region that provided a Western-style education, learning English, French, German, and much else.  It was an unusual trajectory for a young man from a family of Muslim religious scholars in the mid-nineteenth century.

Having obtained this broad training, Yusuf Diya filled different roles as an Ottoman government official:  translator in the Foreign Ministry; consul in the Russian port of Poti; governor of districts in Kurdistan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria; and mayor of Jerusalem for nearly a decade — with stints teaching at the Royal Imperial University in Vienna.  He was also elected as the deputy from Jerusalem to the short-lived Ottoman parliament established in 1876 under the empire’s new constitution, earning Sultan ‘Abd al-Hamid’s enmity because he supported parliamentary prerogatives over executive power.

In line with family tradition and his Islamic and Western education, al-Khalidi became an accomplished scholar as well.  The Khalidi Library contains many books of his in French, German, and English, as well as correspondence with learned figures in Europe and the Middle East.  Additionally, old newspapers in the library from Austria, France, and Britain show that Yusuf Diya regularly read the overseas press.  There is evidence that he received these materials via the Austrian post office in Istanbul, which was not subject to the draconian Ottoman laws of censorship.

As a result of his wide reading, as well as his time in Vienna and other European countries, and from his encounters with Christian missionaries, Yusuf Diya was fully conscious of the pervasiveness of Western anti-Semitism.  He had also gained impressive knowledge of the intellectual origins of Zionism, specifically its nature as a response to Christian Europe’s virulent anti-Semitism.  He was undoubtedly familiar with “Der Judenstaat” by the Viennese journalist Theodor Herzl, published in 1896, and was aware of the first two Zionist congresses in Basel, Switzerland, in 1897 and 1898. Indeed, it seems clear that Yusuf Diya knew of Herzl from his own time in Vienna.  He knew of the debates and the views of the different Zionist leaders and tendencies, including Herzl’s explicit call for a state for the Jews, with the “sovereign right” to control immigration. Moreover, as mayor of Jerusalem he had witnessed the friction with the local population prompted by the first years of proto-Zionist activity, starting with the arrival of the earliest European Jewish settlers in the late 1870s and early 1880s.

Herzl, the acknowledged leader of the growing movement he had founded, paid his sole visit to Palestine in 1898, timing it to coincide with that of the German Kaiser Wilhelm II.  He had already begun to give thought to some of the issues involved in the colonization of Palestine, writing in his diary in 1895:

“We must expropriate gently the private property on the estates assigned to us.  We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it employment in our own country.  The property owners will come over to our side.  Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly.”

Thus Yusuf Diya would have been more aware than most of his compatriots in Palestine of the ambition of the nascent Zionist movement, as well as its strength, resources, and appeal.  He knew perfectly well that there was no way to reconcile Zionism’s claims on Palestine and its explicit aim of Jewish statehood and sovereignty there with the rights and well-being of the country’s indigenous inhabitants.  It is for these reasons, presumably, that on March 1, 1899, Yusuf Diya sent a prescient seven-page letter to the French chief rabbi, Zadoc Kahn, with the intention that it be passed on to the founder of modern Zionism.

The letter began with an expression of Yusuf Diya’s admiration for Herzl, whom he esteemed “as a man, as a writer of talent, and as a true Jewish patriot,” and of his respect for Judaism and for Jews, who he said were “our cousins,” referring to the Patriarch Abraham, revered as their common forefather by both Jews and Muslims. He understood the motivations for Zionism, just as he deplored the persecution to which Jews were subject in Europe.  In light of this, he wrote, Zionism in principle was “natural, beautiful and just,” and “who could contest the rights of the Jews in Palestine?  My God, historically it is your country!”

This sentence is sometimes cited, in isolation from the rest of the letter, to represent Yusuf Diya’s enthusiastic acceptance of the entire Zionist program in Palestine.  However, the former mayor and deputy of Jerusalem went on to warn of the dangers he foresaw as a consequence of the implementation of the Zionist project for a sovereign Jewish state in Palestine.  The idea would sow dissension among Christians, Muslims and Jews there.  It would imperil the status and security that Jews had always enjoyed throughout the Ottoman domains.  Coming to his main purpose, Yusuf Diya said soberly that whatever the merits of Zionism, the “brutal force of circumstances had to be taken into account.”  The most important of them were that “Palestine is an integral part of the Ottoman Empire, and more gravely, it is inhabited by others.” Palestine already had an indigenous population that would never accept being superseded.  He spoke “with full knowledge of the facts,” asserting that it was “pure folly” for Zionism to plan to take over Palestine.  “Nothing could be more just and equitable” than for “the unhappy Jewish nation” to find a refuge elsewhere.  But, he concluded with a heartfelt plea, “in the name of God, let Palestine be left alone.”

Herzl’s reply to Yusuf Diya came quickly, on March 19, 1899.  His letter was probably the first response by a leader of the Zionist movement to a cogent Palestinian objection to its embryonic plans for Palestine.  In it, Herzl established what was to become a pattern of dismissing as insignificant the interests, and sometimes the very existence, of the indigenous population of Palestine.  The Zionist founder simply ignored the letter’s basic thesis that Palestine was already inhabited by a population that would not agree to be supplanted.  Although he had visited the country once, like most early European Zionists, Herzl had not much knowledge of or contact with its native inhabitants.  He also failed to address al-Khalidi’s well-founded concerns about the danger the Zionist program would pose to the large Jewish communities all over the Middle East.

Glossing over the fact that Zionism was ultimately meant to lead to Jewish domination of Palestine, Herzl employed a justification that was a touchstone for colonialists at all times and in all places and that would become a staple argument of the Zionist movement: Jewish immigration would benefit the indigenous people of Palestine. “It is their well-being, their individual wealth, which we will increase by bringing in our own.”  Echoing the language he had used in “Der Judenstaat,” Herzl added: “In allowing immigration to a number of Jews bringing their intelligence, their financial acumen and their means of enterprise to the country, no one can doubt that the well-being of the entire country would be the happy result.”  (Herzl’s letter is reprinted in “From Haven to Conquest: Readings in Zionism and the Palestine Problem,” Walid Khalidi, ed., Beirut, Institute for Palestine Studies, 1971.)

Most revealingly, the letter addresses a consideration that Yusuf Diya had not even raised. “You see another difficulty, Excellency, in the existence of the non-Jewish population in Palestine. But who would think of sending them away?”  With his assurance in response to al-Khalidi ‘s unasked question, Herzl alludes to the desire recorded in his diary to “spirit” the country’s poor population across the borders.  It is clear from this chilling quotation that Herzl grasped the importance of “disappearing” the native population of Palestine in order for Zionism to succeed.  Moreover, the 1901 charter, which he co-drafted for a Jewish-Ottoman Land Company, includes the same principle of the removal of inhabitants of Palestine to “other provinces and territories of the Ottoman Empire.” (The text of this charter can be found in Walid Khalidi’s “The Jewish-Ottoman Land Company,” in the Journal of Palestine Studies, Winter 1993, pp. 30-47.)   Although Herzl stressed in his writings that his project was based on “the highest tolerance” with full rights for all, what was meant was no more than toleration of any minorities that might remain after the rest had been moved elsewhere. (See Muhammad Ali Khalidi, “Utopian Zionism or Zionist Proselytism.”) Herzl’s almost utopian 1902 novel “Altneuland” (“Old New Land”) described a Palestine of the future which had all these attractive characteristics.

Herzl underestimated his correspondent.  From al-Khalidi’s letter it is clear that he understood perfectly well that what was at issue was not the immigration of a limited “number of Jews” to Palestine, but rather the transformation of the entire land into  a Jewish state.  Given Herzl’s reply to him, Yusuf Diya could only have come to one or two conclusions.  Either the Zionist leader meant to deceive him by concealing the true aims of the Zionist movement, or Herzl did not see Yusuf Diya and the Arabs of Palestine as worthy of being taken seriously.

Instead, with the smug self-assurance so common to nineteenth-century Europeans, Herzl offered the preposterous inducement that the colonization, and ultimately the usurpation, of their land by strangers would benefit the people of that country.  Herzl’s thinking and his reply to Yusuf Diya appear to have been based on the assumption that the Arabs could ultimately be bribed or fooled into ignoring what the Zionist movement actually intended for Palestine.  This condescending attitude toward the intelligence, not to speak of the rights, of the Arab population of Palestine was to be serially repeated by Zionist, British, European and American leaders in the decades that followed, down to the present day.  As for the Jewish state that was ultimately created by the movement Herzl founded, as Yusuf Diya foresaw, there was to be room there for only one people, the Jewish people: others would indeed be “spirited away,” or at best tolerated.

Yusuf Diya’s letter and Herzl’s response are well known to historians, but most of them do not seem to have reflected carefully on what was perhaps the first meaningful exchange between a leading Palestinian figure and a founder of the Zionist movement.  They have not reckoned fully with Herzl’s rationalizations, which laid out, quite plainly, the essentially colonial nature of the century-long conflict in Palestine.  Nor have they acknowledged al-Khalidi’s arguments, which have been borne out in full since 1899.

Starting after World War I, the dismantling of indigenous Palestinian society was set in motion by the large-scale immigration of European Jewish settlers supported by the newly established British Mandate authorities, who helped them build the autonomous structure of a Zionist para-state.  Additionally, a separate Jewish-controlled sector of the economy was created through the exclusion of Arab labor from Jewish-owned firms under the slogan of avoda ivrit, Hebrew labor, and the injection of what were truly massive amounts of capital from abroad. By the middle of the 1930s, although Jews were still a minority of the population, this largely autonomous sector was bigger than the Arab-owned part of the economy. According to the Israeli scholar Zeev Sternhell, during the entire decade of the 1920s “the annual inflow of Jewish capital was on average 41.5% larger than the Jewish net domestic product (NDP)…its ratio to NDP did not fall below 33% in any of the pre-World War II years…”  See Sternhell’s “The Founding Myths of Israel,” Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998, p.217.  The consequence of this remarkable inflow of capital was a growth rate of 13.2% annually for the Jewish economy of Palestine from 1922-1947; for details see Rashid Khalidi, “The Iron Cage,” pp. 13-14.

The indigenous population was further diminished by the crushing repression of the Great 1936-39 Arab Revolt against British rule, during which 10 percent of the adult male population was killed, wounded, imprisoned, or exiled, as the British employed 100,000 troops and air power to master Palestinian resistance. Meanwhile, a massive wave of Jewish immigration as a result of persecution by the Nazi regime in Germany raised the Jewish population in Palestine from just under 18 percent of the total in 1932 to over 31 percent in 1939.  This provided the demographic critical mass and military manpower that were necessary for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948.  The expulsion then of over half the Arab population of the country, first by Zionist militias and then by the Israeli army, completed the military and political triumph of Zionism.

Zionism: A Colonial Settler Movement

Such radical social engineering at the expense of the indigenous population is the way of all colonial settler movements.  In Palestine, it was a necessary precondition for transforming most of an overwhelming Arab country into a predominantly Jewish state. As I argue in my recent book, “The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine,” the modern history of Palestine can best be understood in these terms: as a colonial war waged against an indigenous population, by a variety of parties, to force them to relinquish their homeland to another people against their will.

Although this war shares many of the typical characteristics of other colonial campaigns, it also possesses very specific characteristics, as it was fought by and on behalf of the Zionist movement, which itself was and is a very particular colonial project. Further complicating this understanding is the fact that this colonial conflict, conducted with massive support from external powers, became over time a national confrontation between two new national entities, two peoples.

Underlying this feature, and amplifying it, was the profound resonance for Jews, and also many Christians, of their Biblical connection to the historic land of Israel.  Expertly woven into modern political Zionism, this resonance has become integral to it.  A nineteenth-century colonial-national movement thus adorned itself with a Biblical coat that was powerfully attractive to Bible-reading Protestants in Great Britain and the United States, blinding them to the modernity of Zionism and to its colonial nature: for how could Jews be “colonizing” the land where their religion began?

Given this blindness, the conflict at best is portrayed as a straight-forward, if tragic, national clash between two peoples with rights in the same land.  At worst, it is described as the result of the fanatical, inveterate hatred of Arabs and Muslims for the Jewish people as they assert their inalienable right to their eternal, God-given homeland.  In fact, there is no reason that what has happened in Palestine for over a century cannot be understood as both a colonial and a national conflict.  But our concern here is its colonial nature, as this aspect has been as underappreciated as it is central, even though those qualities typical of other colonial campaigns are everywhere in evidence in the modern history of Palestine.

Characteristically, European colonizers seeking to supplant or dominate indigenous peoples, whether in the Americas, Africa, Asia or Australasia (or in Ireland), have always described them in pejorative terms.  They also always claim that they will leave the native population better off as a result of their rule: the “civilizing” and “progressive” nature of their colonial projects serve to justify whatever enormities are perpetrated against the indigenous people to fulfill their objectives.  One need only refer to the rhetoric of French administrators in North Africa or of British viceroys in India.  Of the British Raj, Lord Curzon said: “To feel that somewhere among these millions you have left a little justice or happiness or prosperity, a sense of manliness or moral dignity, a spring of patriotism, a dawn of intellectual enlightenment, or a stirring of duty, where it did not before exist — that is enough, that is the Englishman’s justification in India.” (See “Lord Curzon in India, Being A Selection from His Speeches as Viceroy & Governor-General of India 1898-1905,” London: Macmillan, 1906, pp. 589-590.)

Those words “where it did not exist before” bear repeating.  For Curzon and others of his colonial class, the natives did not know what was best for them and could not achieve these things on their own.  “You cannot do without us,” Curzon said in another speech, cited on page 489 of the above mentioned book.

For over a century, the Palestinians have been depicted in precisely the same language by their colonizers as have been other indigenous peoples.  The condescending rhetoric of Theodor Herzl and other Zionist leaders was no different from that of their European peers.  The Jewish state, Herzl wrote, would “form a part of a wall of defense for Europe in Asia, an outpost of civilization against barbarism.” (See “Der Judenstaat,” translated and excerpted in Arthur Hertzberg, ed., “The Zionist Idea: A Historical Analysis and Reader,” New York: Atheneum, 1970, p. 222.)

This was similar to the language used in the conquest of the North American frontier, which ended in the nineteenth century with the eradication or subjugation of the continent’s entire native population.  As in North America, the colonization of Palestine — similar to South Africa, Australia and Algeria and a few parts of East Africa — was meant to yield a white European settler colony.  The same tone toward the Palestinians that characterizes both Curzon’s rhetoric and Herzl’s letter is replicated in much discourse on Palestine in the United States, Europe, and Israel even today.

In line with this colonial rationale, there is a vast body of literature dedicated to proving that before the advent of European Zionist colonization, Palestine was barren, empty, and backward.  Historical Palestine has been the subject of innumerable disparaging tropes in Western popular culture, as well as academically worthless writing that purports to be scientific and scholarly, but which is riddled with historical errors, misrepresentations, and sometimes outright bigotry.  At most, this literature asserts the country was peopled by a small population of rootless and nomadic Bedouin who had no fixed identity and no attachment to the land they were passing through, essentially as transients.

The corollary of this contention is that it was only the labor and drive of the new Jewish immigrants that turned the country into the blooming garden it supposedly is today, and that only they had an identification with and love for the land, as well as a (God-given) right to it.  This attitude is summed up in the slogan “a land without a people for a people without a land,” used by Christian supporters of a Jewish Palestine, as well as by early Zionists like Israel Zangwill.  In “The Return to Palestine,” New Liberal Review, December 1901, p. 615, Zangwill wrote that “Palestine is a country without a people; the Jews are a people without a country.”  (For a recent example of the tendentious and never-ending reuse of this slogan, see Diana Muir, “A Land Without a People for a People Without a Land,” Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2008, pp. 55-62.)

Palestine was terra nullius to those who came to settle it, with those living there nameless and amorphous.  Thus Herzl’s letter to Yusuf Diya referred to Palestinian Arabs, then roughly 95 percent of the country’s inhabitants as its “non-Jewish population.”

Essentially, the point being made is that the Palestinians did not exist, or were of no account, or did not deserve to inhabit the country they so sadly neglected.   If they did not exist, then even well-founded Palestinian objections to the Zionist movement’s plans could simply be ignored.  Just as Herzl dismissed Yusuf Diya al-Khalidi’s letter, most later schemes for the disposition of Palestine were similarly cavalier.  The 1917 Balfour Declaration, issued by a British cabinet and committing Britain to the creation of a national Jewish home, never mentioned the Palestinians per se, the great majority of the country’s population at the time, even as it set the course for Palestine for the subsequent century.

The idea that the Palestinians simply do not exist, or even worse, are the malicious invention of those who wish Israel ill, is supported by such fraudulent books as Joan Peters’ “From Time Immemorial,” now universally considered by scholars to be completely without merit. On publication in 1984, however, it received a rapturous reception and it is still in print and selling discouragingly well.  The book was mercilessly eviscerated in reviews by Norman Finkelstein, Yehoshua Porath and numerous other scholars, who all but called it a fraud.  Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, who was briefly my colleague at  Columbia  University, told me that the book was produced by Peters, who had no particular Middle East expertise, at the instigation, and with the resources, of a right wing Israeli institution.  Essentially, he told me, they gave her their files “proving” that the Palestinians did not exist, and she wrote them up.  I have no way of assessing this claim.  Hertzberg died in 2006 and Peters in 2015.

Such literature, both pseudo-scholarly and popular, is largely based on European travelers’ accounts, on those of new Zionist immigrants, or on British Mandatory sources. It is often produced by people who know nothing about the indigenous society and its history and have disdain for it, or worse yet have an agenda that depends on its invisibility or disappearance.  Rarely utilizing sources produced from within Palestinian society, these representations essentially repeat the perspective, the ignorance and the biases, tinged by European arrogance, of outsiders.  Such works are numerous.  See Arnold Brumberg, “Zion before Zionism, 1838-1880,” Syracuse University Press, 1985, or in a superficially more sophisticated form, Ephraim Karsh’s characteristically polemical and tendentious “Palestine Betrayed,” Yale University Press, 2011.  This book is part of a new genre of neo-conservative “scholarship” funded by, among others, extreme right-wing hedge-fund multimillionaire Roger Hertog.  Another star in this neo-con firmament, Michael Doran of the Hudson Institute, is equally generous in his thanks to Hertog in the preface to his book “Ike’s Gamble, America’s Rise to Dominance in the Middle East,” Simon and Schuster, 2016.

The message is also well represented in popular culture in Israel and the United States, as well as in political and public life.  American public attitudes on Palestine have been shaped by the widespread disdain for Arabs and Muslims spread by Hollywood and the mass media, as  shown by Jack Shaheen in  “Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People,” and by Noga Kadmon in  “Erased from Space and Consciousness: Israel and the Depopulated Palestinian Villages of 1948,” which shows from extensive interviewing and other sources that similar attitudes have taken deep root in the minds of many Israelis.

The message has been amplified via mass market books such as Leon Uris’s novel “Exodus” and the Academy Award-winning movie that it spawned, works that have had a vast impact on an entire generation and that serve to confirm and deepen pre-existing prejudices. In her article “Zionism as Anticolonialism: The Case of Exodus” in American Literary History, 25, 4 (Winter 2013) Amy Kaplan argues that the novel and the movie played a central role in the Americanization of Zionism. See also chapter two of her book “Our American Israel: The Story of an Entangled Alliance, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2018, pp. 58-93.

Leading American political figures have explicitly denied the very existence of Palestinians, as did former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich: “I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs.”  While returning from a trip to Palestine in March 2015, Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee said “There’s really no such thing as the Palestinians.”  Similar views are strongly held by major political donors like the billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, the largest single donor to the Republican party for several years running, who has stated that “the Palestinians are an invented people.” To some degree, every U.S. administration since President Harry Truman’s has been staffed by people making policy on Palestine whose views indicate that they believe Palestinians, whether or not they exist, are lesser beings than Israelis.

Significantly, many early apostles of Zionism had been proud to embrace the colonial nature of their project.  The eminent Revisionist Zionist leader, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, godfather of the political trend that has dominated Israel since 1977, upheld by Prime Ministers Menachem Begin, Yitzhadk Shamir, and Benjamin Netanyahu, was especially clear about this. Jabotinsky wrote in 1923: “Every native population in the world resists colonists as long as it has the slightest hope of being able to rid itself of the danger of being colonized.  That is what the Arabs in Palestine are doing, and what they will persist in doing as long as there remains a solitary spark of hope that they will be able to prevent the transformation of ‘Palestine’ into  the ‘Land of Israel.’”

Such honesty was rare among other leading Zionists, who like Herzl protested the innocent purity of their aims and deceived their Western listeners, and perhaps themselves, with fairy tales about their benign intention toward the Arab inhabitants of Palestine.  Jabotinsky and his followers were among the few who admitted publicly the harsh realities that were inevitably attendant on the implantation of a colonial settler society within an existing population. Specifically, he acknowledged that the constant threat of the use of massive force against the Arab majority would be necessary to implement the Zionist program: what he called an “iron wall” of bayonets was an imperative for its success.  As Jabotinsky put it in his article “The Iron Wall: We and the Arabs,” first published in Russian under the title “O Zheleznoe Stene” in 1923: “Zionist colonization…can proceed and develop only under the protection of a power that is independent of the native population — behind an iron wall, which the native population cannot breach.”  This was still the high age of colonialism, when such things being done to native societies by Westerners were normalized and described as “progress.”

The social and economic institutions founded by the early Zionists, which were central to the success of the Zionist project, were also unquestioningly understood by all and described as colonial.  The most important of these institutions was the Jewish Colonization Association, renamed in 1924 the Palestine Jewish Colonization Association.  This body was originally established by the German Jewish philanthropist Baron Maurice de Hirsch and later combined with a similar organization founded by the British peer and financier Lord Edmund de Rothschild.  The JCA provided the massive financial support that made possible extensive land purchases and the subsidies that enabled most of the early Zionist colonies in Palestine to survive and thrive before and during the Mandate Period.

Unremarkably, once colonialism took on a bad odor in the post-World War II era of decolonization, the colonial origins and practice of Zionism and Israel were whitewashed and conveniently forgotten in Israel and the West.  In fact, Zionism — for two decades the coddled step-child of British colonialism — rebranded itself as an “anti-colonial” movement.  The occasion for this drastic makeover was a violent campaign of sabotage and terrorism launched against Great Britain after it drastically limited its support of Jewish immigration with the 1939 White paper on the eve of World War II. This falling out between erstwhile allies  (to help them fight the Palestinians in the late 1930s, Britain had armed and trained the Jewish settlers they had allowed to enter the country) encouraged the outlandish idea that the Zionist movement was itself anti-colonial.

There is no escaping the fact that Zionism initially had clung tightly to the British Empire for support, and had only successfully implanted itself in Palestine thanks to the unceasing efforts of British imperialism.  It could not be otherwise, for as Jabotinsky stressed, at the outset only the British had the means to wage the colonial war that was necessary to suppress Palestinian resistance to the takeover of their country. This war has continued since then, waged sometimes overtly, but invariably with the  approval, and often the direct involvement, of the leading powers of the day and the sanction of the international bodies they dominated, the League of Nations and the United Nations.

Today, the conflict that was engendered by this classic nineteenth-century European colonial venture in a non-European land, supported from 1917 onward by the greatest Western imperial power of its age, is rarely described in such unvarnished terms.  Indeed those who analyze not only Israeli settlement efforts in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, but the entire Zionist enterprise from the perspective of its colonial settler origins and nature are often vilified.  Many cannot accept the contradiction inherent in the idea that although Zionism undoubtedly succeeded in creating a thriving national entity in Israel, its roots are as a colonial settler project — as were those of modern countries like the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Nor can they accept that it would not have succeeded but for the support of the great imperial powers, Britain and later the United States. Zionism, therefore, could be and was both a national and colonial settler movement at one and the same time.

Why This Book?

Rather than write a comprehensive survey of Palestinian history, I have chosen in my latest book “The Hundred Years’ War” to focus on six key moments that were turning points in the struggle over Palestine. These six events, from the 1917 issuance of the Balfour Declaration, which decided the fate of Palestine, to Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip and its intermittent wars on Gaza’s population in the early 2000s, highlight the colonial nature of the hundred years’ war on Palestine, and also the indispensable role of external powers in waging it.

I have told this story partly through the experiences of Palestinians who lived through the war, many of them members of my family who were present at some of the episodes described.  I have included my own recollections of events that I witnessed as well as materials of my own and other families, and a variety of first-person narratives.  My purpose throughout has been to show that this conflict must be seen quite differently from most of the prevailing views of it.

I have written several books and numerous articles on different aspects of Palestinian history in a purely academic vein.  While this book is underpinned by academic research, it also has a first-person dimension that is usually excluded from scholarly history. Although members of my family have been involved in events in Palestine for years, as have I, as a witness or a participant, our experiences are not unique, in spite of the advantages we enjoyed because of our class and status.   One could draw on many such accounts, and much history from below and from other sectors of Palestinian society remains to be related. Nevertheless, in spite of the tensions inherent in the approach I have chosen, I believe it helps illuminate a perspective that is missing from the way in which the story of Palestine has been told in most of the literature.

I should add that this book does not correspond to a “lachrymose conception” of the past hundred years of Palestinian history, to reprise the eminent historian Salo Baron’s critique of a nineteenth-century trend in Jewish historical writing. (Baron, by the way, was the Nathan L. Miller Professor of Jewish History, Literature and Institutions at Columbia University from 1929-1963, and is regarded as the greatest Jewish historian of the twentieth century. He taught my father, Ismail Khalidi, who was a graduate student there in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Baron told me four decades later that my father had been a good student, although given his unfailing courtesy and good nature, he may simply have been trying to be kind.)

Palestinians have been accused by those who sympathize with their oppressors of wallowing in their own victimization.  It is a fact, however, that like all indigenous peoples confronting colonial wars, the Palestinians faced odds that were daunting and sometimes impossible.  It is also true that they have suffered repeated defeats and have often been divided and badly led.

None of this means that Palestinians could not sometimes defy those odds successfully, or that at other times they could not have made better choices.   But we cannot overlook the formidable international and imperial forces arrayed against them, the scale of which has often been dismissed, and in spite of which they have displayed remarkable resilience.  It is my hope that this book will help recover some of what has thus far been airbrushed out of the history by those who control all of historic Palestine and the narrative surrounding it.   □


Chapter 1: The First Declaration of War, 1917—1939 
Chapter 2: The Second Declaration of War, 1947—1948 
Chapter 3: The Third Declaration of War, 1967 
Chapter 4: The Fourth Declaration of War, 1982 
Chapter 5: The Fifth Declaration of War, 1987—1995 
Chapter 6: The Sixth Declaration of War, 2000—2014 

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“The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917—2017” will be released on Amazon on Jan. 28, 2020. Hardcover price is $30.00.

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By Gil Maguire

1948 was going to be a busy year for my family. My grandfather, Robert F. Maguire, had just been appointed to serve as a judge in the Nuremberg War Crimes trials.  My father, Robert F. Maguire, Jr., a pilot for Alaska Airlines, had just finished an assignment in the Philippines where he had organized a charter airline called Far East Air Transport which would later become Philippine Airlines. He was now headed to what soon would become the Jewish state of Israel to take charge of flying Jews from around the world to their new national home. I was four years old.

I’d always thought my focus on the history and conflict over Palestine began with my father’s role as chief pilot in Operation Magic Carpet. But I think it really began with my grandfather’s service as a judge in the Nuremberg Military Tribunal in 1948-49. He was one of three judges in the last of the trials, the so-called Ministries Case whose main focus was the crimes committed by Nazi bureaucrats during the occupation of countries they had invaded and conquered.

My grandfather’s role in the Nuremberg War Crimes trials was important to our family because it showed we were not only involved in fighting  (and dying) to defeat the Nazis but also in their trial and conviction for the war crimes they committed, including against the Jewish people in the horrors of the Holocaust.

Our role in World War II and its aftermath is a source of pride for my family. None of our many wars since has had anywhere near the same effect. That was a war to end all wars and they were our greatest generation. All of our many conflicts since have been ambiguous affairs that ended indecisively, were poorly disguised defeats, or have refused to end at all. Not the stuff of heroes and national myths.  The death of an uncle at Guadalcanal in 1942 seemed painful but worthwhile.  A nephew’s loss of a leg fighting in Iraq is equally distressing but more ambiguous.

While there is something noble about Nuremberg and even heroic about Magic Carpet, there is no little irony in these accomplishments: In 1948, my grandfather was judging and convicting German Nazis for war crimes involving its illegal occupation of foreign lands including forced deportations of Jews, unlawful destruction or seizure and appropriation of private and public property, and other crimes of occupation.

At the same time, similar crimes of occupation were being committed by Zionist Jews in Palestine, later Israel, against the indigenous Arab people of Palestine. They too suffered forced deportation or ethnic cleansing as well as destruction and seizure of their lands, homes, and personal property. Over 500 Arab villages and small towns in Palestine were leveled by Israeli forces to prevent the inhabitants from having homes to return to. Israel’s refusal to allow Palestinian war refugees to return to their homes after hostilities had ended was also a war crime. Unlike Nazi war crimes, Israel’s would go unpunished. Obviously the horrendous Nazi war crimes aimed at the extermination of European Jews have no applicability or parallel to Palestine and the conduct of Zionist Jews toward the Palestinian Arab population in 1948 or after.

To further the irony, my father’s efforts bringing deserving Jewish refugees to Israel during this period were inadvertently in furtherance of the Zionist goal of removing Palestinian Arabs from the lands captured and occupied by the Israeli army in order to replace them with non-indigenous Jews. The homes, lands, and personal property confiscated from ethnically cleansed indigenous Palestinian Arabs became the property of non-indigenous Jews flown to Israel by my father in various operations he headed including Magic Carpet and Ali Baba.

Israel in 1948 was desperate for people to build the country they desired but only Jews would suffice. Palestinian Arabs weren’t acceptable and some 90 percent were forced to leave and never allowed to return to their lands, homes, and personal property. Despite their Semitic ancestry, they were the wrong kind of people.

My father was proud of his role bringing the Jews to Palestine, but he was also well aware of the price Palestine’s indigenous Arabs would pay. The forced removal of some 750,000 from their homes and lands as tens of thousands of Jews were flown to Israel as replacements.

The myth of Magic Carpet and the Irish Moses hid some stark realities.  In some ways even my grandfather’s Nuremberg trials was also more myth than truth.  Of the 19 convicted defendants in the Ministries Case, with sentences up to 25 years, all were pardoned and released in 1950 or 1951, only a year or two after their convictions. The politics of the emerging Cold War had triumphed over meting out justice to convicted Nazi war criminals.

Later generations of my family would research and write about both Nuremberg and Magic Carpet: My nephew, Peter Maguire, a historian and war crimes investigator, wrote about the Nuremberg trials in Law and War: An American Story Columbia University Press (Revised Ed., 2010). He is often interviewed or called to testify on incidents involving war crimes and has written other books and articles on the subject including Facing Death in Cambodia Columbia University Press (2d Ed. 2005). My own focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict began with articles I wrote and published (primarily on Mondoweiss.net) starting in 2008 and culminated this year (2019) in the publication of my novel about the conflict, The Exodus Betrayal: A President Confronts Israel.

OPERATION MAGIC CARPET AND THE ROLE OF THE IRISH MOSES

In 1948, Alaska Airlines was a small charter airline operating on a shoestring by using cheaply acquired World War II surplus cargo aircraft and war veteran pilots to fly them.  Alaska and its aggressive new general manager, James Wooten, began by getting contracts to fly supplies for the Berlin Airlift, and  then for flying Jewish refugees from Germany and even China to what was about to become the state of Israel.[1]

Robert F. Maguire Jr., my father, flew in all those operations and as chief pilot managed Alaska Airline’s contracts to fly the Jewish refugees of Europe, the Middle East, and even from Shanghai, China to Israel.  In 1949, as the Communist Chinese were taking over China, he rescued a trapped Jewish community in the northern Chinese city of Tientsin by chartering a ship to take them to Hong Kong. From there they were then flown to Israel, many in a plane he piloted.

When Wooten landed a big contract to fly 50,000 Yemeni Jews to Israel, Maguire was picked to head that project which became known as Operation Magic Carpet. It was underfunded and lots of strict rules for aircraft maintenance and aircrew flying hours were repeated violated.  Eventually, the Civil Aeronautics Board watchdog agency imposed heavy fines on Alaska and forced it to give up Operation Magic Carpet.  Maguire was secretly tasked with creating a new airline called Near East Air Transport to finish the contract even though Alaska owned the planes and the new company.

The Jews of Yemen were a snapshot into ancient times and were thought to be among the lost tribes of Israel. They trekked for days through the high deserts of Yemen to arrive at the pickup point in British controlled Aden.  Many died along the way and over 80 were slaughtered in an Arab riot in Aden in 1948. Those that survived the long trek arrived with a few personal belongings but with family Hebrew bibles in hand. The elders of each village carried the Holy Torah Scrolls of their synagogues aboard the planes.   Few had ever seen an airplane so when faced with a huge silver-colored DC-4, they often refused to board.

The Old Testament came to the rescue. Maguire had eagles painted over the airplane doors and an Israeli ground crewman would read the passengers a quote from the Book of Isaiah foretelling of their journey across the desert wilderness and how the Lord would transport them on the wings of eagles. The silver planes, they were told, were the eagles complete with silver wings. Convinced that the silver birds were a fulfillment of a biblical prophecy, the Yemeni Jews then eagerly boarded the planes, their Torah scrolls in full view.

Once aboard the planes, their education continued. Unfamiliar with modern facilities,   the passengers had to be instructed on using the large, barrel-like latrine at the rear of the plane.  One stewardess recalled gesturing to a village elder how to use the latrine.  He smiled then promptly climbed into the barrel feet first.

Maguire said the urine, vomit, and bodily waste on the cabin floors from 150 passengers sitting on wooden benches for a typically eight hour flight threatened to corrode the aluminum structure of the planes, so the cabins had to be thoroughly hosed down upon arrival and then were doused with cheap perfume to help disguise the lingering smell. The resulting combined odor seemed much worse, Maguire recalled.

On one flight, Maguire smelled smoke. Fire in the cabin was the dread of every crew member.  He rushed back into the cabin and saw a stewardess angrily yelling as she frantically stamped out a fire started by some of the passengers who were very cold in the unheated cabins.  To handle the long distances, the cabins contained an extra fuel tank in the main aisle. They had started their fire between the fuel tank wall and the cabin floor.  Fortunately, there was no explosion.

Despite the many problems and frustrations incurred, those that flew in operations Magic Carpet, Ali Baba, and the China run think of their experiences as the high point of their lives. Maguire talked of the cheers and tears that would accompany his announcement that they had finally arrived in Israeli airspace.  On the ground there would be prayers and more tears even among the hardened crewmembers as Yemeni Jews descended the stairway onto the hard but welcoming ground of Eretz Yisrael.  Maguire would recount those scenes on the eve of his death, 56 years later, and still choked up at the memory.

The flying was also dangerous as the routes were over Arab territory and the Arabs were fighting a war with Israel. It was not uncommon for the planes to be shot at as the entire flight was flown along the borders between Arab countries, none of whom gave clearance for the flights. A few planes were hit although none were downed.  On one flight, Maguire was forced to land to get fuel in Port Sudan.  He feared that he, his crew, and their human cargo of 150 Yemeni Jews would be interned, imprisoned, or even worse.  When an armed jeep approached his plane, he requested that his airplane be refueled. His request was denied and he was told to evacuate his crew and passengers.  He said he would but informed the officials he would need doctors and ambulances as many of his passengers were infected with smallpox. He was ordered to leave his passengers on the plane and soon a fuel truck appeared, refueled his plane, and his armed guards demanded he immediately depart. A few hours later, he and his smallpox-free passengers arrived safely at Lod airfield near Tel Aviv.

As Operation Magic Carpet was winding down, Alaska and Wooten surreptitiously obtained a new contract to fly some 150,000 Iraqi Jews to Israel.  This project was also headed by Maguire using Near East Air Transport as the named air carrier and became popularly known as Operation Ali Baba. As with Operation Magic Carpet, the overall project was managed and funded by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee which was heavily involved in arranging transportation for Jewish refugees from around the world to Israel.

Maguire had expected to be richly rewarded once the operations concluded. He said he was told large monthly bonuses were being deposited in a Swiss bank account in his name and would be paid once the work was completed. This turned out to be a false promise as no Swiss bank account in his name existed and his requests to be paid were refused.  Upon his return to the US, he met with an expert in international law who told him he had virtually no chance of succeeding in an international lawsuit.  He was angered and devastated by the news. He now had to begin a new career in commercial real estate starting from the bottom. While he would eventually succeed, the decade of the 1950s were financially challenging for Maguire and his family.

A certain amount of chicanery was involved in Maguire’s work as he was listed as the owner of Near East Air Transport.  It was actually owned by Alaska Airlines, which had been prohibited from being involved in these charter operations by the US Civil Aeronautics Board.  I suspect the secret bonuses offered Maguire were an incentive for him to illegally operate the airline, Near East Air Transport, as a front for Alaska Airlines in violation of the orders of the US Civil Aeronautics Board the predecessor to today’s US Federal Aviation Authority.

Maguire would later be lauded for his role managing Operations Magic Carpet and Ali Baba.  David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, allegedly referred to him as “the Irish Moses” for his role in returning some 200,000 Jewish refugees to their promised land.  Despite the fame, he remained bitter about not being paid when the operation terminated.  While he spoke highly of Israel’s accomplishments in creating a state for the Jews, as the years went by, he became more and more critical of Israel’s policies and actions and felt it had taken advantage of the massive economic and political support it had received from this country.

In 1998, in preparation for Israel’s fiftieth anniversary, Maguire was offered an expense-paid trip to Israel to join in the fiftieth anniversary celebration where his role as “the Irish Moses” would be celebrated. He politely refused the offer and later said he didn’t want to be used as a propaganda tool for Israel to celebrate the return of Jewish refugees to Israel while at the same time ignoring the treatment of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs who had been forced to leave their land, homes, and property.  I also think he retained some bitterness over the funds he was promised but never paid at the conclusion of the two operations.

In 2004, a year before his death, Maguire finally received the public recognition he deserved when he was awarded the Medal of Valor by the Simon Wiesenthal Center at the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance for his role in Operation Magic Carpet flying thousands of Jews from Yemen to the new state of Israel in 1948-49.[2] It was a gala event that included a documentary movie of Magic Carpet in which Maguire described many of his experiences and how emotional it had been for him to see the joy and happiness of his Yemeni Jewish passengers as they arrived in Israel as foretold in the Old Testament. The highpoint of the evening for him and our family was meeting several Yemeni Jews who had been rescued from Yemen during Operation Magic Carpet, one of whom had been born on one of the flights.  Despite his eventual disillusionment with Israel, Maguire was proud of what he and his band of fellow brother pilots had accomplished. He felt they had played an important role in history in returning the people of a lost, small, primitive tribe of Jews to the promised land, to Israel. Although he was not a practicing Christian, he saw his and the actions of his pilots and their planes as a mystical fulfillment of a biblical prophecy.

Both operations, Magic Carpet and Ali Baba, came under some criticism in later years for mismanagement by Alaska Airlines, Near East Air Transport, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee as well as financial irregularities and corruption by various representatives in Aden and Yemen and by the Israeli government’s handling of the arriving refugees in Israel.[3] Magic Carpet and Ali Baba were not the idyllic operations they were later depicted as. These were shoestring operations that were filled with the range of human frailties, including greed, but also with ample doses of human courage and dedication.

In 1957, my father received an indirect accolade for his role in Magic Carpet when the novel Exodus was published. In Book 5, entitled, “With Wings of Eagles”, Operation Magic Carpet is described in largely accurate detail, substituting “Artic Circle Airways” for Alaska Airlines and the head of the airline as “Stretch” Thompson instead of James Wooten. Robert F. Maguire, the chief pilot for Operation Magic Carpet, is portrayed by a character named Foster J. MacWilliams. He is an overly heroic stick figure, a heavy drinker and carouser who sees little wrong in getting plastered the night before a major flight and being “carted” to the tarmac the next morning with a horrible hangover. He bears no resemblance to Maguire who would have fired any pilot exhibiting such behavior. While MacWilliams is described as “the best goddam chief pilot any goddam airline ever had”, that label more properly fit Maguire who was dedicated to his mission, courageous, and a superb pilot.

Despite his accomplishments as the fabled “Irish Moses”, Maguire was never contacted by the book’s author or publisher to help publicize the novel. This probably reflected continuing animosity between the Israelis, Alaska Airlines and Maguire over his rancorous parting from Operations Magic Carpet and Ali Baba. Uris, in his research for the novel, undoubtedly spent time with both Richard Wooten of Alaska Airlines and Harry Vitalis, who directed the American Jewish Joint Coordinating Committee in Tel Aviv. Maguire had fallen out with both by the time he left Israel.  He sued Wooten for unpaid wages after his return and was discouraged from litigating his claims against Vitalis’s group because of the uncertainty and expense of pursuing a lawsuit outside the US.  Both Wooten and Vitalis may have disparaged Maguire’s role to Uris which would explain why his role was never publicized after the book was published.

By 1998, both Wooten and Vitalis were gone and a fairer appraisal of my father’s contribution surfaced.  This resulted in the desire and offer to include him in the fiftieth anniversary celebration of the birth of Israel. My father’s role as the Irish Moses, unlike Wooten’s and Vitalis’s, was dramatic and heroic and fed directly into the Exodus myth and narrative, so publicizing and celebrating his contribution would benefit Israel and the Zionist cause.

INFLUENCING AMERICA: THE ROLE OF LEON URIS’ NOVEL, EXODUS

The novel Exodus, which was published in 1957, remained at the top of the bestseller charts for over a year. It would sell over 20 million copies in the next two decades.  To this day, it has never gone out of print and is arguably one of the most influential novels in US history, certainly rivaling Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Gone with the Wind, and, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Exodus was an intentionally political novel, commissioned and written with the purpose of introducing Israel to the American public and burnishing its image. It had been tarnished by its aggressive actions against Palestinian refugees and its Arab neighbors when it joined ex-colonial powers, Great Britain and France in a 1956 invasion to reclaim the Suez Canal from Egypt. Its independent ruler, Gamal Abdul Nasser had seized the canal as property belonging to Egypt.  When President Eisenhower demanded the three countries cease their aggression, France and Great Britain removed their forces from Egypt. However, it would take a public scolding and a threat of sanctions by Eisenhower to force the Israelis to return the captured Sinai to Egypt.

How could a work of fiction have such a major impact? Exodus worked because it told a compelling story through the eyes and experiences of engaging fictional characters that American readers could identify and empathize with. Through these characters, readers were taught and bought into an often fictional Zionist narrative.  Art, in this case fiction, persuades through emotional engagement, which can be far more effective and lasting than dry, rational/logical attempts to persuade.

Exodus came out during the era of the epic novel, the late ‘50s. It immediately became a best-seller and put Israel and the Zionist narrative myth on the map. I think back then most people didn’t know much or care about Israel. Exodus changed that.  Suddenly, the American public saw Israel as a noble David fighting off the hordes of savage Arabs. Instead of just another squabbling Middle East country, it now had a unique identity that we cared about because we had become emotionally engaged by its characters and the story or myth they told us.  And it stuck. The American public feared for and cheered for Israel in the 1967 war and then again in 1973.  It supported our massive airlift of arms and supplies to Israel and then blamed the Arabs instead of the Israelis for the immense harm caused by the oil embargo.

The movie Exodus and the Ferrante and Teicher musical theme with added lyrics sung by heart throb crooner, Pat Boone, added more emotional cement to the Israeli narrative. It was an artistic triple whammy: an engaging work of fiction, a dramatic movie, and a stirring musical theme and song. I think the myth stuck at least until the 1982 Lebanon war when Israel’s excesses began to create some doubt in the general American public.

Fictional stories can have a major impact on political issues as did Exodus and Uncle Tom’s Cabin. They do so by appealing to the emotions of readers rather than the appeal to logic and reason of dry nonfiction.  If a reader becomes emotionally committed to fictional characters and their story, he or she can also become committed or at least sympathetic to the story’s narrative, whether true or untrue.

Exodus had a host of strong characters that captured readers emotionally. These same characters came alive in the epic movie: Handsome, blue-eyed Paul Newman as the heroic tough Jew, Ari Ben Canaan. Eva Marie Saint as the beautiful American nurse, Kitty Fremont, who would come to see Israel as the enactment of the biblical prophecies she was taught in her childhood Christian Sunday School classes.

Exodus was also effective because it described Israeli Jews as tough, aggressive agents of change not passive victims like Anne Frank whose famous diary recorded her passive acceptance of her inevitable betrayal, arrest, deportation, and eventual death in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. In Exodus, the Jew becomes a heroic figure fighting to create a homeland out of a wild desert inhabited by primitive Arab savages.  It is an image that resonates with the American narrative myth about conquering the west, defeating the Indian savages, then settling and farming the land.

Exodus also played on an anti-colonialist narrative as Jews in Palestine fight and ultimately defeat the British, the greatest colonial power in history, to win their freedom. This too resonates with our American colonial narrative in our revolution against British tyranny.

Finally, Exodus is effective because it links Israel and Jews to the American Christian narrative. Since the Old Testament appears to promise Palestine and modern Israel to the Jews, presumably they have every right to fight to fulfill God’s promise and are therefore worthy of our unquestioning and unlimited support. This presumes that a 3000 year old quotation from the Old Testament can function both as a deed for modern European Jews to Palestine and an eviction notice to the indigenous non-Jewish inhabitants of that land. The obvious moral and legal flaws in this presumption don’t seem to trouble America’s evangelical Christian organizations. Each of the heroic characters in Exodus reinforce these narratives which makes Exodus a distinctly American novel written to persuade an American audience that Israel is a slice of America deserving of our unquestioning support.

Exodus is certainly flawed.  Its dialogue is stilted, its plot little more than thinly disguised Zionist propaganda, its treatment of Arabs often outrageously racist. As history it is at best one-sided and often just plain false.  Uris proudly quotes the Balfour Declaration but omits the paragraph that guarantees the civil and religious rights of the non-Jewish people of Palestine.  He recounts the heart-wrenching tale of the ship Exodus in its failed attempt to bring Jewish Holocaust survivors to Palestine but substitutes a ship filled with Jewish orphans whose willingness to die of starvation creates an international furor which allows the ship to reach Palestine.  Great drama but false history.

Despite its flaws, Exodus is often a compelling read, and as a tool of persuasion it worked brilliantly in creating and maintaining American emotional commitment to Israel by strumming on our dearly held narrative myths. But times have changed.  A powerful, modern Israel can no longer be depicted as a weak David under threat of annihilation by savage Goliath-like Arab hordes. The Greater Israel its Zionist founders dreamed of and worked to create is now a reality from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea.

But that conquered territory comes with a price. There are 5 million undesirable Palestinian Arabs living in the lands conquered and occupied since the 1967 war. They live under strict military law and rule and are deprived of all the rights and benefits granted to Israeli citizens. As much as Israelis and many US Jews hate and reject the term, Israel is an apartheid state and has knowingly been one for over half a century.[4] Disguising that reality with foundational myths is no longer possible.  The power of the myth of Exodus has become a relic of the past. The question is what will replace it. Can Americans’ blind, unquestioning loyalty to Israel and its foundational narratives and myths be maintained?

EXODUS BETRAYED: THE FINAL CHAPTER

I published my novel, The Exodus Betrayal: A President Confronts Israel in April of 2019, but its origins go back to 2008. Like Leon Uris’s Exodus, it was intended as a work of political fiction aimed at persuading my readers to consider an alternative narrative of the Israel-Palestine conflict. My motives for writing it were complex. My father’s role in flying thousands of Jews to Israel in 1949-50 was part of our family history so that was always there. I also can remember the 1967 war as a key event. I was in college and that Jewish friends were going to enlist in the IDF to defend Israel made me jealous.  It seemed a far more noble cause than preventing Asian dominoes from falling in the brutal quagmire of far-off Viet Nam. Then, a few days later, the war was over, and Israel was again triumphant. What a miracle it was, except it turned out it really wasn’t. The combined Arab armies were never a match for Israel. They knew it and Israel knew it.

I think my father’s disillusionment with Israel before his death and the catastrophe of the Iraq War were turning points for me. When I began to discover how much the Neoconservatives were beholden to Israel’s US lobby and Israel and how much they had influenced US foreign policy to favor Israel’s interests and not our own, I immersed myself in the history of the conflict and of its effect on US Middle East foreign policy. I began joining in discussions on blogs devoted to the conflict, like Mondoweiss. I also began writing and publishing articles on the subject. But soon I realized I was preaching to the choir and having little or no influence in generating change or changing minds.

A few years back, my best friend from high school told me I should try writing fiction because I’d had such a weird, convoluted, interesting life.  I was skeptical but gave it a try and loved it. I loved how fiction brought out the emotional side of me, how it created and developed my characters and drove my plot in unexpected directions. That emotional side of fiction captures both writer and reader. I then enrolled in a fiction writing program at UCLA where I wrote a lot of short stories and then my first novel, all unrelated to Israel. One day it occurred to me that I could write a reverse Exodus novel that might have a lot more impact than my non-fiction efforts were having. 

I wanted to write a good story with engaging characters struggling to deal with a tiny little country with powerful domestic lobby that was doing great harm to our national interests by enticing us into wars of choice that really weren’t ours to fight. While the novel Exodus is framed on Israel/Palestine in the 1940s, my novel is centered in a present day White House struggling to prevent an intransigent Israel from attacking Iran while being under tremendous pressure from Israel’s US lobby and a Congress which provides unquestioning support for Israel even when its actions threaten US interests.

 The main myth I was trying to undo was the Israel-as-a-poor-little-David besieged by powerful savage Arab Goliath states.  This was never true, even in 1947-48. I was also trying to show how dysfunctional and harmful our relationship with Israel had become and how the so-called special relationship itself was based on a myth of Israel’s importance. Unlike Exodus, my plot wasn’t focused on Israel.  It was about the US and how an inexperienced US president tries to prevent Israel from attacking Iran. When that fails and Israel goes ahead with the attack, the president is subjected to massive pressure to support Israel militarily or risk losing the pending election.

The novel is about how US presidents are forced to compromise US interests in order to retain Israel’s support and the loyalty of Congress.  It was about how one US president tries to protect US interests while under tremendous pressure from Israel, its US lobby, and Congress which appears to prioritize Israel’s interests over even our own.

AN UNEXPECTED OUTCOME

I began the novel thinking its climax and conclusion would contain the expected solution to the conflict in which negotiation results in a two-state solution with Palestine becoming an independent state alongside Israel based roughly on the armistice lines of 1949. Alternatively, the solution could be a single state in which Palestinians would gain equal rights to those possessed by Israel’s Jewish citizens. But in my decade-long effort to write my novel, trying to frame a plot consistent with either of these hypothetical outcomes proved unrealistic and impossible.  It had become clear to me that Israel was using the negotiated settlement process as a means to avoid a permanent settlement with the Palestinians.

Despite attempts by a host of competent arbitrators or mediators, nothing of substance was ever accomplished.  Negotiations seemed to be aimed at perpetual delay and avoidance of any resolution. At the same time, the conflict and major issues were being resolved based on Israel’s unilateral actions that were clearly aimed at creating facts on the ground that made any reasonable two-state settlement unlikely if not impossible.

While negotiations stumbled along in perpetual limbo, Israel was moving hundreds of thousands of its Jewish citizens into the occupied Palestinian territories into exclusively Jewish settlements protected by Israeli army units, serviced on roads made exclusive for use by Jews.  Israel was also monopolizing the resources of the occupied territories including the major water aquifers of the West Bank and natural gas resources off the coast of Gaza.  Meanwhile, Palestinians were under a strict military rule and deprived of all the civil rights and benefits being afforded Israel Jewish settlers living next to them in all-Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

By 2016, it was clear that no Israeli government would be willing to allow an equitable two-state solution to the conflict. The dozens of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem were considered sacrosanct and would not be removed to allow a reasonable settlement. That meant that there was no possibility of creating a contiguous Palestinian state.  Instead they would have to accept a series of disconnected Bantustans across the West Bank and East Jerusalem and a permanent state of occupation under Israeli control. This outcome was of course unacceptable to the Palestinian people who expected the US to intervene and force the Israelis to negotiate and act in good faith.  This also proved unrealistic as it became more and more obvious the US was acting as Israel’s lawyer in the negotiations and not in any sense neutral.

A NEW APPROACH

The dilemma in plotting my novel became how I could create a realistic resolution to the conflict that also reflected the reality on the ground.  My first question was why the model of a negotiated settlement between the parties was being used. It clearly benefitted the stronger party, the Israelis, and left the Palestinians with no negotiating leverage.  Moreover, mediated negotiation as a form of dispute resolution is normally used to resolve good faith disputes in civil matters and as a means of avoiding the expense and delay associated with litigation. Its desired outcome typically involves a good faith compromise between the parties. It isn’t used in civil matters when one or both parties are unwilling to compromise, and it is never used in criminal matters when one side has committed a crime against the other. In those cases, the legal recourse or litigation model is used. A formal trial is conducted and a judge or jury hears and weighs the evidence and decides which party prevails or whether the accused is found guilty or acquitted.

In this case, Israel is clearly the party at fault. It is violating a host of long-established international laws protecting occupied peoples from a belligerent conqueror and occupier.  These laws are codified under the Fourth Geneva Convention on the Laws of War and their violations are characterized as war crimes.  So why had Israel been given the power to negotiate a settlement of war crimes it had committed or was committing against the Palestinians? It was as if Saddam Hussein had been allowed to negotiate how much of Kuwait he could keep after conquering and occupying that country in violation of international law. The answer was that the Palestinians were forced to accept the mediated negotiation model because the US had used its UN veto to block all their attempts to pursue their legal remedies for war crimes committed by Israel.

My next question as the author of The Exodus Betrayal was how I could create a credible scenario in which the negotiated settlement model is dropped in favor of the legal recourse model to achieve a just solution to the conflict. I decided Israel would have to do something so outrageous that it would cost it the support of the president and the US electorate and make the US unwilling to exercise its veto in order to protect Israel from sanctions. This would allow the US president to use the bully pulpit to convince the American voter to insist its congressional representatives stop their slavish support of Israel and focus instead on supporting US interests. This would also allow the Palestinians to pursue justice through the legal process model and not be forced to negotiate an outcome with Israel. A tall order to be sure. But Israel has never been shy about committing outrageous acts so basing a novel on an attack by Israel on Iran is well within the realm of possibility.

In the novel, Israel’s attack goes horribly wrong and creates a chaotic out-of-control scenario which turns the Middle East into a caldron putting the entire world at threat. International anger at Israel’s role in creating the chaos is so intense that its support evaporates, and the US and its major allies are able to fashion a solution to the conflict. Israel is suddenly subject to all the legal remedies available through the international bodies designed and created to allow adjudication of legal claims and remedies, namely, the United Nations.

Without the support of its major US benefactor and its UN veto power, Israel finds itself defenseless and is ultimately forced to accept an outcome that is fair for both the long-suffering Palestinians and for the Israelis, fair to both Arabs and Jews. Getting to that outcome is difficult and complicated and consumes a lot of pages. But get there we did, and the world becomes a better place because of it.  But that’s all fiction, and truth, unfortunately, is often stranger and far less satisfying.

My hope from the beginning of my project was that the power of my fictional tale would change enough minds to make a difference. But that will require millions of readers who are captured by the story and who insist on the legitimacy and necessity of its outcome. A tall tale to be sure. While it is still early days, the results so far are not encouraging. I have yet to find an agent and/or publisher, possibly because of the controversial nature of the topic. I’ve had some success marketing and selling the book when it’s been publicized. I’ve also received mostly positive reviews so I remain hopeful.

THE DEATH OF OPTIMISM

My family and I have come a long way since 1948. From the glory and myth of Nuremberg war crimes trials justice to the heroic tales of Magic Carpet and the Irish Moses, to the foundational myths of Exodus, and to the fictional triumphant justice of The Exodus Betrayal, Palestine forms a part of my family’s history in both truth and fiction.  I’d hoped that history would end, as did our family history after World War II, in victory and a sense of pride, accomplishment, and optimism for the future.   But the post-World War II optimism of a rule and rights-based world aided by a United Nations designed to prevent conflict, enforce the rule of law, and encourage liberal democracy proved chimerical.

Early on, faced with Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, the great powers’ UN Security Council failed to intervene to protect Palestine’s Arab population and insist on equal justice for both Jews and Arabs.  In the seven decades since, Israel’s excesses have become normalized and the original intent of the United Nations undermined and trivialized.  Israel’s many violations of the Geneva Conventions including the war crimes of ethnic cleansing, destruction and seizure of Palestinian land, homes, and property, its unlawful transfer of its own Jewish civilians into settlements on Palestinian land and its apartheid-like treatment of some 5 million Palestinians[5] has become so pervasive that it no longer elicits angry reaction.

Just recently, on November 18, the United States government declared Israel’s Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to be legal, undermining the international standards of the rule of law as set forth in the 1949 Geneva Conventions, ratified by both the US and Israel, and by various decisions of the International Court of Justice and UN resolutions. Paradoxically, in the very same public statement, Secretary of State Pompeo, pompously chided China for interfering with the civil rights of the people of Hong Kong.

Intense lobbying by Israeli organizations in Europe and the US have resulted in laws that define criticism of Israel as antisemitism and even criminalize such criticism thereby undermining the most fundamental of rights in a democracy, the freedom to speak one’s mind regardless of how unpopular or mistaken one’s views may be. Such ill-considered laws can easily become the tools of tyrants.

The US as a beacon of hope and a bastion of democratic values and partner in fostering liberal democracy throughout the world has proved laughable. Much of the world now see us as hypocritical and motivated more by greed than any real commitment to democracy and the rule of law. We are defined not by our liberal democratic values, our constitution and our bill or rights but by our ubiquitous military presence on nearly 800 bases in some 80 countries around the globe as we chase aimlessly after terrorists with drones while never achieving victory in what seems a permanent state of undeclared war.

Our reputation has been further sullied by our unquestioning support and enablement of Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians which is overwhelmingly bi-partisan. Any military action by Israel to throttle Palestinian resistance, no matter how excessive the means used, is justified by the handy bromide, “But Israel has a right to defend itself.” Since 9-11, we appear to have adopted Israel’s methods where every problem or threat has a military solution. In a real sense, we have tossed aside our foundational values in democracy and the rule of law and become more like Israel.

The halcyon days of the five-year period after the end of World War II were filled with promise and optimism.  But by 1950 it was becoming clear that promise was not being fulfilled. The bleak record in the ensuing seven decades leaves little room for optimism. I can only content myself with the fantasy that a president like Hailey Levitsky Hannagan, the protagonist of my novel, will come along, courageously confront the lobbies, solve the problems, and return us to our democratic roots and the optimistic days of 1948.


[1] See, “Alaska to the World: Alaska Airlines’ Postwar Adventure by Richard Stretton in Yesterday’s Airlines, August 22, 2017.

[2]  https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2004-jun-19-me-beliefs19-story.html

[3] See On the Wings of Eagles: Operation Magic Carpet, and Ezra and Nehemia: Operation Ali Baba, both by Richard Stretton in Yesterday’s Airlines. Also, The “Magic Carpet” Exodus of Yemenite Jewry: An Israeli Formative Myth, by Esther Meir-Glitzenstein; Sussex Academic Press, 2014, and Book Review: The Yemenite Tragedy by Seth Franzman, in Feigeleh, January 11, 2015.

[4] See, https://mondoweiss.net/2015/04/occupation-becomes-apartheid/

[5] See, https://mondoweiss.net/2015/04/occupation-becomes-apartheid/


“Senator, the White House just called,” one of my aides said. “The president would like to meet with you right away.”

“Whatever for?” I hardly knew the man. Couldn’t stand him even if he was the head of my party. Bluster and demagoguery had got him elected but his presidency had been disorganized and chaotic. The Republican brand was in tatters.

“To what do I owe the honor, Mr. President?” I asked as I was ushered into the Oval Office. President Frederick Forsythe was tall and portly, with a shock of red-orange hair; not a strand of gray.

He remained sitting at his desk, bruskly waving me to a chair. No handshake. “Senator, as you’ve probably heard, the Attorney General is about to indict the Vice President for corruption. The evidence against him is overwhelming. I’m going to demand he resign, and I intend to appoint you to replace him.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I had barely even spoken to the president before this meeting. “Why me? I can think of a dozen people who’d be a better choice.”

“The public’s going to be very angry about this,” he said, “and they’re already pissed off at me. I want someone who looks clean and independent, a bipartisan choice. I need a quick confirmation and no more controversy. I’ve got a reelection campaign to worry about.”

Excerpt from “The Exodus Betrayal: A President Confronts Israel.”

Jews Step Forward – By Marjorie J. WrightWithin every film there’s a story beyond the narrative itself and the filmmaking process.  There is a compulsion, a reason to devote the considerable resources necessary and seemingly endless hours over several years, to create that visual message.  Nowhere is this more true than with  the documentary and with this issue in particular.

For me, the genesis for Jews Step Forward traces back to 1988 with the beginning of the First Intifada and moves through a self-education regarding Jewish social justice and its current re-awakening within that community regarding Israel. 

A large proportion of American Jews today trace their roots through Ellis Island and the Yiddish speaking working class wave from 1880 to the early 1920s.  Landing in New York with few resources and in search of work, many became part of that hard fought struggle on behalf of organized labor, women’s suffrage and equal rights as a religious minority.  That is a shared solidarity, which has survived, even as religious observance has thinned — a kind of cellular memory shaping Jewish political loyalties today. 

Early Jewish organizers, like British immigrant Samuel Gompers, who in the 1880s championed craft unionism and founded the American Federation of Labor, which he led until 1924, wielded enormous influence. 

The power of Jewish leadership created and sustained a force inside that organization and as a model for others. The Socialist Labor Party, United Hebrew Trades, the Yiddish socialist press, Russian Bundists, Amalgamated Clothing Workers, International Ladies Garment Workers Union and Emma Lazarus Clubs all had Jewish leadership and played a role in labor and social justice issues. The Socialist United Hebrew Trades, a Federation of Jewish unions, numbered some 250,000 members in 1913. 

As Jews climbed the economic ladder, political engagement and educational levels increased inside the community, as did an expanding consciousness for social justice. The children and grandchildren of some of those Jewish immigrants did not abandon those roots and went on to be part of the “New Jewish Left” of the 1960s and ‘70s, the ”New Jewish Agenda” in the 1980s, as well as the  Anti-Apartheid movement supporting indigenous South Africans, and the Feminist, Gay and Civil Rights Movements nationally.

This has dovetailed with reinterpretations of Jewish liturgy, to fuse with those activist causes.  The concept of “Tikkun Olam” — do something that will repair the world — emerged from a prayer in the middle of the 20th century, to be the motto of a new generation’s self-understanding.

Shlomo Bardin advanced the idea that Tikkun Olam should move beyond a religious abstraction and into an active obligation “to work toward a more perfect world.”  While later also assuming a role in Kabbalah, Tikkun Olam brought together the synagogue with secular branches of a new generation, joined in common cause.

Jewish social justice is not a modern concept however, but one with roots in communitarian medieval Jewish society, Judaism’s value-based foundation, and the life, work and influence of Eastern European Orthodox Rabbi Salanter.

In the 19th century, Rabbi Yisrael ben Ze’ev Wolf Lipkin (1809-1883), known as Rabbi Salanter, was the founder of a new movement termed Musar.  The word Musar literally means instruction, discipline or conduct, but the Rabbi applied that concept to ethical development. Believing that ethical consciousness and actions were closely tied to spiritual enlightenment, ritual observance was empty without it.  Musar thought was and is an important foundation for Jewish social justice, and its resurgence today has brought a new generation of secular Jews closer to their religious roots.

Originally, Zionist institutions mirrored in many ways the initiatives spearheaded by the Jewish labor movement in Europe and America.  In the U.S., the Workman’s Circle network of services included health care programs, old age homes, schools, libraries, summer camps, sports teams, women’s clubs, reading circles, orchestras etc. It represented Jewish culture and values, but without religion. This was also the essence of Labor Zionism’s model at its outset.

As the communitarian kibbutz movement and the Israeli Labor Party have eroded with the rise of Israel’s hard Right, along with an increasingly violent military necessary to maintain the Occupation, Israel’s shared consciousness with American liberals has dwindled.

Today, a growing number of young Western Jews do not want to identify with Israel, irrespective of the notable cultural, academic, and intellectual achievements that Israel has developed.  Their issue is really with Zionism, by definition exclusionary and supremacist.  As  Yosef Weitz of the Jewish National Fund wrote on 20 March 1941: “The complete evacuation of the country [Palestine] from its other inhabitants and handing it over to the Jewish people is the answer.”

Today, what was termed solidarity has been expanded into political intersectionality, which recognizes Palestinians as indigenous peoples. Even Moment Magazine, co-founded by Elie Wiesel, in 2016 ran a cover story entitled: “How the Black Lives Matter and Palestinian Movements Converged.”Moment has conducted symposiums on topics which would have been untouchable before: “Can Religious Pluralism and an Official Rabbinate Coexist in Israel?”, “What Does it Mean to be Pro-Israel Today?”and “Is There Such a Thing as the Jewish People”?

So, while official American Jewish organizations still support Israel without scrutiny, an increasing number of mainstream Jews just can’t go with the old story or current PR, for which Israel pays so exorbitantly every year to manage their image and ’brand.’

In Jews Step Forward, every interviewee began as a devoted follower of the state of Israel, investing their collective hope in the idea of European Jews rising from the ashes of genocide to create a safe haven and utopian society inside the Middle East.

It is almost impossible to overstate how deeply the Jewish community internationally wanted to believe collectively in this abstract construct and how difficult and painful it is for many to relinquish a beautiful myth and see clearly the reality of Israel today.

Each interviewee reflects upon his or her own journey from that deeply socialized ‘group think’ to a ‘eureka moment,’ where they were compelled to leave hasbara [Zionist propaganda] behind. 

For some, it felt intensely painful and tragic, while others manifested anger and shame.  For still others, it was a call to action, to shed hypocrisy and define Israel with the same standards of deep commitment to human rights, social, and political justice, which defined who they are as Jews.  Dorothy Zellner said: ”I could not work to make sure that Black people in Mississippi had the right to vote and then turn around and be supportive of a state where every citizen does not have equal rights before the law…. We’re human beings, and we refuse to be stampeded by so-called group loyalty or blindness to Israel….It is not a privilege to fight to change our community.  It is a moral imperative. “

Some experienced their ‘eureka moment’ in the late ‘40s, some during the 1967 Six Day War, others in the ‘70s or ‘80s, and with two writers as late as 2006.  My own was in 1989, one year into the First Intifada.

Mixing interpretations of theology in both Jewish and Christian communities with a 19th-century ethnic nationalism that required colonialism to depopulate and repopulate its  religio-political state, this marked the beginnings of Zionism.  It was a strategy, whose presentation was carefully managed and presented in the West, but which ignored or concealed ethnic cleansing, advocacy for genocide, institutionalized theft of assets, homes and property, racism, repression, incarceration, torture and murder of the indigenous population.

The biblical term “Land of Israel” created cover to use any means necessary to drive Herzl’s “dream.”  While a number of important Jewish intellectuals resisted the idea of Zionism at its outset, the Holocaust sealed Israel’s acceptance throughout the West, both among Jews and non-Jews.  European governments had no desire to take back thousands of impoverished displaced survivors and many of those victims had no desire to return.

So, a perfect storm marked the first time, during the process of modern decolonization that a country was given, not to its indigenous inhabitants, but instead to an outside population. This kind of exceptionalism continues in Israel to the present day, exacerbated by codependent relationships with current corporate and political world powers, coupled with historic guilt.

My Journey

Regarding my own experience, I was raised a Christian Zionist and socialized much like Jewish children on the subject of Israel.  It was all about ‘God’s chosen people in their land’ with ‘all those Arabs’ as ‘amalek.’  The words Israeli and Israelite were almost interchangeable terms, which is still true today across many Christian fundamentalist congregations. 

One of the only films in a cinema that I was taken to see as a child was Exodus.  As with most American school children, nothing about this subject is taught beyond the Holocaust.  So, I coasted along in ignorance, despite going on to attend an Ivy school.

My epiphany came in the late ‘80s. I recall reading an article in a mainstream American magazine about the Israeli military policy of breaking children’s bones if they threw stones, as a punishment and disincentive.  The inherent atrocity of that idea hit me and (although not at the time) I now retrospectively realize how symbolic that is of the disproportionality between Israelis and Palestinians in this conflict. 

That moment led to more reading, the discovery of Tikkun Magazine, and a short film by Israeli filmmaker, Haim Bresheeth: State of Danger, which I sponsored on public access TV, creating a furor. As Ellen Davidson has written about that period: “The needle on this debate has moved considerably since the 1980s, when just to say the word “Palestinian” was considered inflammatory, even in some left circles.”  Norman Finkelstein was among a few leading voices deconstructing Israel’s policies and practices and he was receiving constant threats.

From that day forward, I began wading into activism.  My first real contact with Palestinians came in the mid-1990s in Dubai, followed by my first filmed interview in 2003 with Israeli activist Jeff Halper, the founder of ICAHD: Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

 As one thing led to another, I met a young European director also committed to this issue. In 2008 we produced an hour-long documentary, based on interviews with 16 Israeli Jewish peace activists, which won four awards internationally.  Some of these activists represented leadership within the movement and important key organizations: B’tselem, Yesh Din, Breaking the Silence, The Parents’ Circle, Seruviks refusing military service from New Profile, Machsom Watch, Gush Shalom Ta’ayush, ICAHD and the extraordinary Rabbi Jeremy Milgrom.  

That film is entitled Voices From Inside, Israelis Speak and from that, came the momentum for the current documentary Jews Step Forward

The latter was really set in motion by Joel Kovel, whose inspiring book: Overcoming Zionism was a catalyst and whose help was immeasurable. He was an eloquent, modest and self-effacing intellect, hugely respected inside the movement. Tremendous credit goes to my very creative co-producer and editor, Elika Rezaee, who breathed visual life, music, animation, dimension and continual movement into spoken words.  Without her, this would still be a script of talking heads. Recognition is also due our archivist Sage Brucia, composer Joe Berry, and Dan Walsh and his Palestine Poster Project of over 8,000 archived images at Columbia University.

Jews Step Forward is a confession by informed Jews who deconstruct Zionism, paired with on-the-ground stills and moving footage, which make their words undeniable.

The  American media is saturated with entertainment violence.  However, on the subject of Israel, there is a blanket blackout on showing any violence perpetrated by its Jewish citizens  or military.  Consequently, war crimes can remain conjecture, a ‘he said, she said’ with no visual evidence.  Our film moves from the safety of intellectual abstraction to visceral reality, as we don’t visually tiptoe around the institutionalized racism and atrocities discussed.

Jews Step Forward is based upon interviews with 24 American Jewish activists, spanning generations, socioeconomic divides, geographical locales, and extremely varied experiences inside religious practice and observance. 

Each of their personal stories led them to a 180-degree turn and a call to action.  Some had that epiphany through reading and research, some by first hand experience on the ground.  A number of them have written books, taught courses, founded organizations and initiatives, or led direct action organizing and disruptions or protests on this issue, bringing it to the public square.  Some approach the issue, along with assisting indigenous Palestinians, through the lens of their profession, be it law, medicine, journalism, religion or academia. All are introducing form and leadership to this growing movement across America today, like pixels shifting to change the larger picture. 

There has evolved a kind of Jewish solidarity around Palestinian rights, which binds them the way religion or Zionist loyalty formerly did.  Palestine work is a new way of expressing and developing spiritual values, the way fighting segregation or ending apartheid had been in the past.  And although in its infancy, there is a new way of worship and observance, purged of the  Israel of today and without any reference or allegiance to the Zionist state. This is instead referenced with the prophets, Rabbi Salanter, Musar, and the concept of Tikkun Olam.

Modern Judaism views Mashiach — Messiah — not as a literal savior, but as a metaphor for an age of Messianic enlightenment, with liberal Jewish belief in a world perfected through striving to reach the highest Jewish ideals of justice and compassion. Listen to Rabbi Alissa Wise: “There is no Judaism without that experience of being in exile, right?….Exile itself is a metaphor….One of the dangers of Zionism is that belief, that we’ve reached that place of redemption, of Mashiach….and I see Zionism eclipsing the spiritual and ethical work that is our heritage.” Or, as  Dorothy Zellner puts it: “They have hijacked our Jewishness, and they have made it into a place, a country—so our Jewishness became a place.”

The Interviewees
Following are summary descriptions of some of the activists in Jews Step Forward, who now define their lives in large part by working to change Jewish attitudes, influence Christian congregations, and improve the lives of Palestinians living under brutal military Occupation.

Three interviewees were in their 80s, two being German Holocaust survivors: Hedy Epstein and Silvia Tennenbaum and the third, a noted writer for The Washington Report on Middle East AffairsRachelle Marshall. These ladies have all recently died, but inspire a lasting moral legacy with the memory, work, and writing that survives them.

Born Hedwig Wachenheimer on Aug. 15, 1924 in Freiburg, Germany, Hedy Epstein grew up, an only child in Kippenheim.  During the Kristallnacht period, her father was arrested, suffered a heart attack during four weeks incarcerated in Dachau, and Hedy, like all other Jewish children, was expelled from school by edict.  In 1939, her parents arranged her escape on a Kindertransport to England, while they and almost all her extended family died in Auschwitz.

After the War, Hedy returned to Germany, worked at the Nuremberg trials and later emigrated to the U.S., working with displaced refugees in New York and Minneapolis.  After marrying and moving to St. Louis, most of her career there was devoted to fair housing and employment discrimination issues in the African American community.

It was during Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon that Hedy had her eureka moment and began active opposition to Israeli actions. She helped organize chapters of the Palestine Solidarity Committee and Jewish Voice for Peace, as well as in 2001 founding a Women in Black group in St. Louis.  Nearly 80, Hedy began visiting the West Bank as a volunteer with ISM, the International Solidarity Movement, where she was tear gassed and suffered hearing loss from IDF sound bombs.

At Ben Gurion Airport in 2004, tiny Hedy was accused of being a terrorist and roughly stripped and cavity searched, a violation which viscerally took her back to her childhood responses during the Nazi era.  That indelibly engraved her definition of what Israel had become and strengthened her resolve to be a witness to effect change. 

Meeting and hearing Hedy’s story was an indescribable experience, as few times in one’s life will anyone meet someone as transcendent as Hedy Epstein.   Her 1999 memoir, written in German and published in Germany, is entitled “Erinnern Ist Nicht Genug” (“Remembering Is Not Enough”).

Writer and activist Silvia Tennenbaum was born into a wealthy family in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, in 1928. Anne Frank was her cousin. Her stepfather was a conductor for the Jewish orchestra there during the early Nazi period and subsequently in 1936, helped found the Palestine Orchestra, which became the Israeli Philharmonic. The family sailed to America in 1938, sponsored by Arturo Toscanini of the NBC Symphony.

Growing up in New Rochelle, N.Y. and attending Barnard College, in 1951 she married a young Rabbi attending Columbia, Lloyd Tennenbaum.   After a posting in Virginia, the family came to Long Island where Rabbi Tennenbaum took the pulpit at the Huntington Jewish Center. The couple shared leftist political views and were very active in anti-war and social issues.

Silvia’s controversial, semi-autobiographical exposé novel, “Rachel, the Rabbi’s Wife,” was on the N.Y. Times bestseller list. Silvia was active in Women in Black vigils well into her 80s, protesting the Occupation and writing letters to the editor, where she was considered an octogenarian radical. She discussed hearing extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane speak in N.Y. in the ‘70s, when his Kach party was banned in Israel, and his similarities with today’s Israeli Yisrael Beiteinu party, which is even more extreme than Kach during that period. In Silvia’s words: “My God, that experience  with Kahane was extremely prescient, given things that are happening in Israel now…..What was the point of giving Israel a state, if this is what was going to happen to it.”

Writer, Rachelle Lubarsky Marshall was born in New York City into an observant immigrant family in 1927.  Marrying Hubert Marshall, a Stanford academic, they spent 53 years in that community.  Both were active in civil rights, the anti-Vietnam War movement, and worked on housing issues in West Virginia.

Like others of her generation, as a young woman she felt there was “no inconsistency in working for civil rights in America and giving my full support to Israel”.  However, it was U.S. involvement in Vietnam that opened up a more objective evaluation of Israel, which she had denied or dismissed earlier.  She wrote: “The light began to dawn as I learned the Jewish haven I had welcomed, was established on the land the Palestinians have a right to claim as their own…..the more I read, the greater my sense of betrayal.” 

Rachelle’s anger turned to activism and she went on to research and write on Israel in The Progressive, Foreign Policy in Focus, and for 25 years in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.  Maintaining that all wars were inherently war crimes, she wrote: “I am compelled to speak out against acts of brutality and injustice, no matter who commits them.”

Jeffrey Blankfort was a pioneer in the movement, at a time when almost no Jew dared question Israel in any forum.  Jeff was raised as a secular leftist, whose father was a blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter during the Red Scare. After organizing the largest fundraiser in history for the newly declared Jewish state at The Hollywood Bowl in 1948, his family became very disillusioned with Israel and the corruption they saw at the outset.  Favoring a bi-national state, they never supported Zionism.
Jeffrey is a photographer, print and broadcast journalist with extensive work on the Middle East, his own radio program, a former editor of the Middle East Labor Bulletin and co-founder of the Labor Committee of the Middle East.

 As a member of the first generation of Jewish critics of Israel, Jeffrey was targeted by the ADL. Subsequently, he exposed their spying operations against Americans speaking and writing critically of Israel, winning a lawsuit in 2002 against them. His articles have appeared in CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, Mondoweiss, Pulse Media, Left Curve, TIKKUN, the Encyclopedia of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and other publications.

Phil Weiss grew up in Boston, where his father was an academic at Harvard, which he attended too.  He has written for New York Magazine, Harper’s, Esquire, and The New York Observer.
A visit to Hebron in 2006 marked his turning point, compelling him to write about Israel. He is an anti-Zionist journalist who , in 2007, after pushback from the newspaper where he was a writer, created with Adam Horovitz, the daily independent blog Mondoweiss, which they describe as “a news website devoted to covering American foreign policy in the Middle East, chiefly from a progressive Jewish perspective.”  [The newspaper Phil worked for was The New York Observer, and the pushback came from its young new owner Jared Kushner.]

It is difficult to overestimate the influence of Mondoweiss, which is probably the most widely followed English language blog and website on this topic existing today, a daily ‘go to’ read for activists internationally on this issue, as well as a platform for their voices. As Phil puts it: “We are editors and we guide the stream, but there is a large stream of people who are actively questioning these issues and who want to join us: young Jews, young Muslims, young Palestinians, young Americans.”

Psychologist and Writer: Mark Braverman, grew up in Philadelphia, attended Jewish Day Schools, was a leader in Zionist youth groups and is a fifth generation descendant of a Jerusalem Lubavicher.   With many relatives in Israel, he originally revered it as the only safe haven for Jews.  However, in stages he began to enlarge his perspective, meet Palestinians, and deeply educate himself.

Today, he works full time on this issue speaking with Christian groups to empower them to be informed and forceful in demanding accountability from Israel. He is a leader of Kairos USA, a pro-Palestinian group for American Christians.  He also authored: Fatal Embrace: Christians, Jews and the Search for Peace in the Holy Land and A Wall in Jerusalem: Hope, Healing and the Struggle for Justice in Israel and Palestine.

Mark speaks decisively against Israeli exceptionalism and ‘chosenness’ as  tribal anachronisms impeding equality and justice; as he puts it: “The role of occupier is leading Israel down a road of political disaster, and the Jewish people down a road of spiritual peril…..the greatest crisis in Jewish history since the Babylonian exile…Our task is to rescue Judaism from an ideology that has hijacked the faith, continues to fuel global conflict, and has produced one of the most systematic and longstanding violations of human rights in the world today…..I am a proud Jew. I love Israel. And I am heartsick about her.”  

Miko Peled could safely be termed Zionist royalty. His maternal grandfather, Avraham Katznelson, was a signatory to the 1948 Israeli Declaration of Independence and a member of the Provisional Council of State, which comprised the leaders of the state-in-making. Mr. Katznelson was a Labor party politician, diplomat, director of the Health Department of the Zionist Executive and a member of the Va’ad Leumi, as well as the central committee of Hashomer Hatzair and Mapai. Miko’s father was Matti Peled, who fought in the 1948 war, rose to be a Major General in the 1967 War and became an architect of the modern IDF, where Miko himself served in the Special Forces.  When Miko’s 13-year-old niece was killed in a suicide bombing, it began his path to transformation, after her parents joined Bereaved Families. 

Beginning with dialogue groups in San Diego, where he felt more at home with Palestinians offering tabbouleh and hospitality, than liberal American Jews, he abandoned the ‘2 state solution’ and began advocating for full democratic rights for all in a single secular state.  In our film he states openly: “The Zionist state is a bad thing, it was that way from the beginning.”  He has written 2 important books: The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine and Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five. He is now married to a Palestinian and is a dynamic speaker, lecturing internationally on this issue.

Rabbi Alissa Wise  (family name originally Schnautski) grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, where her grandfather was involved with kosher food distribution. She is part of the Nahalat Shiva through her Rivlin forebears, one of the original seven families from Lithuania to settle outside the wall of Jerusalem’s old city in 1809.

Raised with that pedigree in a large patriarchal, modern but Orthodox extended family, observing Shabbat, Alissa attended both Jewish day school and Zionist summer camp.  She said while growing up: “Zionism was like a cornerstone of my Jewish identity….really a centerpiece.”  Visiting Israel and the death camps in Europe, like many Jewish teens, cemented her loyalty and desire to attend university in Israel.  

Her Junior year abroad at Hebrew University led to her epiphany. From the first day on campus, with a Nakba demonstration, she began to deconstruct both her socialization and Zionism itself in what she describes as “a very painful year, realizing I had been lied to.”

Since graduating from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia in 2009, she has been an activist for justice in Israel/Palestine, first with Jews Against the Occupation in N.Y.C., on the West Bank with the International Women’s Peace Service, and as the founding co-chair of the JVP Rabbinical Council.

Rabbi Wise is now a spiritual leader within the movement, as the Director of Campaigns at Jewish Voice for Peace and serving as the National Coordinator for the We Divest Campaign

Barbara Lubin is a very unique activist. Growing up in a staunchly Zionist home, the family attended synagogue every Friday night and she remembers the joy when Israel became a state.  Her mother was president of the local  ORT, a Jewish service organization, and her father was a lawyer defending Jews during the Red Scare. When she was 16, he died. With that shock, she dropped out of high school, became a beatnik in the circle of Alan Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti, and worked actively against the Vietnam War.  Raising four children, she continued activism across various issues.

It was not until a visit to the West Bank during the First Intifada, where she was tear gassed inside a Palestinian home in 1988, that her life completely changed. With Howard Levine, she founded The Middle East Children’s Alliance, MECA immediately thereafter.  Having witnessed the grave injustice, poverty and violence of the Israeli Occupation paid for with U.S. tax dollars, Barbara and Howard decided to speak out about what was happening to Palestinian children.

The initiatives, projects, organizing and outreach of MECA would fill this publication.  Possibly in part because she did not follow a formal education, Barbara thinks outside the box and is consistently unafraid of creative solutions. With a special needs child herself, Barbara responds like a mother for all Arab children.  She steps out of Judaism and into Ahl-i-Kitab — People of the Book — and an Arab consciousness.

MECA has done projects in Iraq, donating food, medicine, school supplies for children and raising consciousness all over America of the deprivation of children there. 

In Palestine, inside the Dheisheh Refugee Camp, MECA has supported a women’s embroidery collective, computer center, and many educational workshops on health and nutrition in the camp.

In 1999, MECA brought The IBDA dance troupe of 20 children and their leaders to the United States, raising funds to build a four-story guest house with a restaurant, computer center, multipurpose hall, as well as a five-story computer  center, multipurpose hall, as well as a five-story
women’s building, which houses a kindergarten, children’s library, mental health clinic and other projects for women.

 In 2002, Israeli tanks and helicopters invaded Dheisheh Camp and soldiers took over one of the buildings. They used the roof as a sniper’s nest and critically wounded four small children. Then they destroyed most of what was inside that center. MECA, along with other partners, rebuilt it. 

MECA gives hundreds of scholarships for university education inside Palestine, as well as some for colleges in the U.S.

 In Gaza, where malnutrition is widespread and many families live on one meal a day, MECA has provided tons of powdered milk, fortified children’s cereal, an ambulance, wheelchairs, and surgical instrument—as well as art and school supplies and has partnered to buy and distribute food, blankets, and plastic sheets to cover windows in winter, broken by IDF bombing. 

In September 2009, MECA launched what I think is their most brilliant and important idea: the Maia Project, a long-term initiative to decentralize water purification in Gaza.  Its purpose is to address and circumvent the repeated IDF policy of bombing the water treatment plants, intended by Israel to increase infant mortality and spread disease inside the captive population.  MECA provided funds for clean drinking water systems in kindergartens, elementary and middle schools in Gaza, where children have filtered drinking water at school and fill containers daily to take home for family use at night. This empowers children to participate in family survival.

Since 1988, MECA has brought the reality of the suffering of Palestinian children to thousands of Americans, through public events and the media, organizing dozens of demonstrations and actions to protest Israeli bombing, occupation and sanctions against the children of Palestine.  “I’m really glad that my children and my grandchildren, that every one of them, they’re in touch with being Jewish, but they’re all anti-Zionist.”

Dorothy Miller Zellner was born in 1938 in Manhattan, the child of immigrant Jewish leftists, who supported racial equality and social justice. After graduating from Queens College and during the summer of 1960, she trained with the Congress of Racial Equality in non-violent resistance. In 1961, she worked with the Southern Regional Council in Atlanta and subsequently the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), run exclusively by young people from 1962 to 1967, and worked with Julian Bond to help build a national network. She spent Freedom Summer 1964, in Greenwood, Mississippi.

After SNCC, Zellner and her husband Bob moved to New Orleans to join the Southern Conference Educational Fund.  Having returned to New York after 22 years living in the South, a trip to Israel in 2002 galvanized her to devote herself to ending the Occupation, the same way she had worked for equal rights in the Civil Rights movement in the South.  She is a founding member of Jews Say NO and has toured with Open Hillel, making a mark on the next generation of Jewish college students.

In her own works: “I do not think that states that privilege one group over another are viable states…. I’m a Jewish activist organizing against the Israeli occupation of Palestine…the attacks on us are going to be worse. This is like a cornered animal: its fangs are out now…..  Remember, it’s not because of our failure that we’re being attacked, but because of our success….. You can see this happening already….. And as far as the established Jewish organizations are concerned, this is the beginning of the end of the hand on our throats preventing us from talking or thinking…. I’ve been in two big struggles in my life. The Civil Rights Movement, and this…… And relying on Jewish tradition, I felt that I could not stand idly by. ” 

Alice Rothchild grew up in Sharon, MA, attended Bryn Mawr, became an obstetrician-gynecologist involved in healthcare reform and women’s issues, and was a member of the Harvard Medical School faculty.  With Orthodox family roots in Brooklyn and having received a Jewish education, Alice took a more secular direction and became very active with the Boston Workman’s Circle in Brookline.

Visiting Israel as a teen charmed her, but witnessing Israel/Palestine as an adult, she felt called to activism, where she has been a leader across the last 20 years: doing pro bono medical work for women in Palestine, authoring 3 books: Broken Promises, Broken Dreams; On the Brink: Israel and Palestine on the Eve of the 2014 Gaza Invasion; and Condition Critical: Life and Death in Israel/Palestine, and directing a documentary on the Voices Across the Divide.

Now retired from medicine, she writes and travels to present screenings and speak on the Occupation across the country. “When you don’t see people as human, you do really awful things to them…And then, for the same Jews to be inflicting… massive demonization and destruction on other people is horrible, is just devastating. We really should know better.” 

Rich Forer was born in New Jersey into a family of lawyers, raised in a Reform congregation, with grandparents who were immigrants from Russia and Poland. He grew up acutely aware of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism, feeling fearful and defensive as a Jew, particularly regarding Israel.  His identical twin brother, after college, went to Israel and during a kibbutz year became an ultra-Orthodox Lubavitcher.  Rich like others believed that Israel had been a land without a people, that Arabs had fabricated the existence of the Palestinians, and that Jews there were superior to the Arabs and only benevolent. He joined AIPAC, fought with anyone criticizing Israel, attributing all criticism to anti-Semitism, which he felt was everywhere.

In 2006, during Israel’s second invasion into Lebanon, he supported the bombing as perfectly appropriate, rationalizing anything Israel did. This came to a crescendo when he read Finkelstein’s Beyond Chutzpah

From shock to anger to embarrassment to shame to sorrow for the Palestinians in one sitting, this culminated in a kind of spiritual experience for Rich. His epiphany freed him from Zionism, like a Zen transformation.

After that day, Rich authored a book, lectures nationally, writes prolifically, travels to the West Bank, and pursues activism and the truth with compassion on this issue.

His articles on the conflict include: “Lack of Self-Reflection Leads to Moral Disintegration”, “Perpetuating Distrust and Conflict: Israel’s Use of Character Assassination,” “The Root Cause of Delusion, Prejudice, Suffering and Conflict,” and “Fighting Slander and Oppression. “

The next group of activists, also often writing, are direct action, grassroots organizers working to bring visibility to the Occupation and reframe the issue in order to counter Israel’s narrative.

They bring numbers and outrage to force recognition of the problem, but as Rae Abileah states: “We have a lot of creative tactics, a lot of humor in our actions.”  These include street theater, flash mobs, disruption of speakers including Prime Minister Netanyahu, demonstrations, visits to Congressmen, billboard and boycott campaigns, marches, rallies, and attempts to break the Gaza siege by sea.

Although local and ‘in the moment,’ they build both solidarity and awareness, particularly among young people, using social media to magnify and document their ‘moment.’

Rae Abileah, whose father is Israeli, grew up in suburban California in a secular family, sought out religion at 12 and continues to be observant today, as an  ordained Kohenet.
While initially in love with Israel as a teen on her Young Judeah Hadassah trip, after visiting the West Bank with her ordained Israeli partner, they both had an epiphany, which turned them to work for Palestinian rights. 

She studied human rights at Barnard College, has written for Mondoweiss, AlterNet, Common Dreams, Tikkun, and is a direct action activist, disrupter and organizer. She served as co-director for CodePink Women for Peace for eight years and is a founding member of Young Jewish and Proud, the youth wing of Jewish Voice for Peace. Her work in the Jewish community includes past projects with American Jewish World Service, Wilderness Torah, B’nai Brith Youth Organization, Hillel, and synagogues.

In Rae’s own words: “It’s an unlearning of a brainwashing that I think needs to happen around this issue….We really got to see some of the harshest forms of Israeli cruelty…..and felt so much more empathy being there in person, so for me that’s the crystallizing experience”.

Tarak Kauff and Ellen Davidson:
Tarak is a longtime NY antiwar and social justice activist from the Vietnam War onward, after serving as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army from 1959 to 1962.  He is a member of Veterans for Peace, a founder and editor of the bimonthly Woodstock International and quarterly War Crimes Times, both Progressive papers.  Veterans for Peace was awarded the 2016 Peace Prize by The U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation “in recognition of heroic efforts to expose the causes and costs of war and to prevent and end armed conflict.”

Ellen is an activist reporter and photographer, who began her work at the New York Guardian and has written for Mondoweiss, Ma’an News, and the NY Indypendent.  As the Vietnam War radicalized Tarak, the anti-Apartheid Movement did Ellen. Moving from her childhood perception of Israel, as a victim beset by terrorists and threatened by attacking armies, she writes: “I realized that Israel was on the wrong side of all the struggles for freedom and national liberation I supported, that it backed dictatorships in Guatemala, Chile, Brazil and elsewhere.  The more I learned about Israel, the more I realized that what I had been taught growing up was a lie.”

Tarak and Ellen took part in the 2009-10 Gaza Freedom March in Cairo and were part of a nine-person Veterans For Peace Team that went to the West Bank and the Negev in 2017 to make these three demands:

An end to the Occupation.

An end to the system of apartheid, referred to by Desmond Tutu as worse even than South Africa’s.

An end to the four billion dollar U.S. military aid to Israel.

Hannah Mermelstein grew up outside of Philadelphia in a Jewish suburb and loved Hebrew, Hebrew school and synagogue, but more than anything else, the sense of Jewish community. Attending Zionist summer camp, taking a gap year at a kibbutz in Israel and attending Goucher College which had no Arab or Muslim students, Hannah states: “So, I still, throughout my life, into college had never heard a non-Zionist narrative, never heard an Arab narrative.”

It was while living in Nicaragua that her perspective on Israel began to change. Senior year in college and a trip with International Women’s Peace Service to the West Bank, followed by spending time in Dheisheh refugee camp, prompted Hannah to become anti-Zionist.

 In 2005, Hannah co-founded Birthright Unplugged, in response to Birthright Israel, which leads free 10-day Zionist trips, intended to indoctrinate and bind Jewish youth to Israel.  Birthright Unplugged trips introduce youth to the Palestinian narrative, visiting Palestinian cities, villages, and refugee camps in the West Bank and encouraging  engagement and activism.

 In Hannah’s own words: “I haven’t been to services in years. Most synagogues have the American flag and the Israeli flag hanging in their sanctuary; I don’t feel comfortable in synagogues now and so that part of Jewish community and identity and consensus I’m not part of anymore.  What inspires and sustains me now, is Palestinian people, the work and relationships with Palestinians.”  

Jane Toby, a New York academic living in Verona in the 1990s, first learned about Women in Black. The group was founded in Israel in 1988 by Jewish and Palestinian women, who stood in silent vigils wearing black, against the Occupation and for a just peace. During the Balkan war, women of varied factions there also joined ranks, to hold vigils of solidarity against the atrocities and division in their own country. Jane brought Women in Black to America to protest Israel’s Occupation and other wars. She wrote: “Our future rests on ethical behavior and personal responsibility, not on nationalistic orientation.”

The Choice
In conclusion: Judaism is not a template, despite the success over several generations of utilizing Israel as the ‘tie that binds’ disparate American Jews together into a loyal consensus. 

Dissolving the shtetl created a liberation moving outward in all directions.  Ironically, the ‘in gathering’ inherent in Zionism’s creation of its religion-based state is seen by some as a new ghetto of consciousness, beholden to militarism, racism and violence to sustain it. 

“Zionism” as Mark Braverman says  “has served to keep Jews trapped in an isolationist, exclusivist past…… yoked to a theology of territoriality and tribal privilege.” 

Or, as Miko Peled puts it: “Israel is faced with two options: Continue to exist as a Jewish state while controlling the Palestinians through military force and racist laws, or undertake a deep transformation into a real democracy where Israelis and Palestinians live as equals in a shared state, their shared homeland. For Israelis and Palestinians alike, the latter path promises a bright future.” 

There is no question that Zionism has tried to overlay itself across Judaism.  Perhaps that is changing, as we are seeing diaspora Jews across every divide free themselves and step away.  Some with indifference, others with open rejection. But this is happening in America, as the move for justice and equal rights for Palestinians is increasingly led by Jewish activists.

As Dorothy Zellner told Mondoweiss: “Look at the large number of Jews in the anti-Occupation movement. These are people who have been told since babyhood  that Israel is everything…. And the miracle of this is that so many people who were brought up like that began to see with their own eyes. Who would have thought that Jewish Voice for Peace would have 140,000 people on their list now.” 

Jews Step Forward is dedicated in memory of Hedy Epstein, whose life exemplified Jewish humanism and Ali Lallo, whose journey from Dheisheh refugee camp to Al Khaleej, has inspired all my films.

A word about Ali.  He was born in Dheisheh refugee camp, worked hard to learn English, ultimately  becoming a journalist.  I met him in Dubai at a lecture given by a British Muslim discussing Palestine.  I had raised my hand and mentioned Gideon Levy, Amira Hass and Tanya Reinhart, all writing inside Israel.  Ali approached me afterward, introduced himself and that began the friendship between our two families.  He was working for Al Khaleej in Shariah, the largest publishing house on the Gulf at the time, where among his duties, he chose the English language books to translate into Arabic.  I remember he zeroed in on Norman Finkelstein’s “The Holocaust Industry.”  It was through Ali that I met the Consul General representing Palestine and members of that Consulate in Dubai, who shared footage and photographs for my first film.  Sadly Ali passed away in 2013.

Also in this issue:
In Appreciation: Donald Neff, 1930-2015

By Basem L. Ra’ad

At last year’s Toronto Palestinian Film Festival, I attended a session     entitled “Jerusalem, We Are Here,” described as an interactive tour of 1948 West Jerusalem. It was designed by a Canadian-Israeli academic specifically as a virtual excursion into the Katamon and Baqʿa neighborhoods, inhabited by Christian and Muslim Palestinian families before the Nakba — in English, the Catastrophe.

Little did I anticipate the painful memories this session would bring. The tour starts in Katamon at an intersection that led up to the Semiramis Hotel. The hotel was blown up by the Haganah on the night of 5-6 January 1948, killing 25 civilians, and was followed by other attacks intended to vacate non-Jewish citizens from the western part of the city. Not far from the Semiramis is the house of my grandparents, a three-story building made of stone that my grandfather, a stone mason, had designed for the future growth of the family. It still stands today. I visited the location recently and found it occupied by Israelis, who never compensated my grandparents or even asked permission. My parents and their children lived nearby in Baqʿa. Then on April 9 the Irgun and Stern gangs executed the massacre at Deir Yassin which, combined with other Zionist plans for depopulation (the last Plan D or Dalet), led to the complete exodus of Palestinians from West Jerusalem and surrounding villages, as well as hundreds of towns and villages in Palestine. Our family and almost 30,000 West Jerusalem Palestinians, plus 40,000 from nearby villages, adding up to more than 726,000 from throughout Palestine (close to 900,000 according to other U.N. estimates) were forced into refugee status and not allowed to return to their homes.

 The true story of West Jerusalem is far from what Zionist propaganda portrays to justify the expulsion of its Palestinian inhabitants: an “Arab attack” against which the Jews held bravely, rich Palestinians escaping on the first sign of violence, then being overwhelmed by Jewish immigrants whom the Israelis were forced to let stay in vacated Arab houses—or other similar tales.

In 1995, I made a “return” to Palestine by virtue of a foreign passport that allowed me to enter on a three-month visa. I was obliged to leave at the end of each three-month period and to rent accommodations. It was not always easy to get the usual three months, and I wasn’t allowed to renew my stay internally, though the Ministry of Interior gives renewals to other holders of foreign passports for those not of Palestinian origin. I faced restrictions and received none of the privileges accorded to Jews, born elsewhere, who wished or were recruited to come to the country of my birth.  By this time, my grandparents and my parents had died and were buried in Jordan. East Jerusalem has been occupied since 1967, and the whole of geographic Palestine controlled by Israel.

 Before crossing, I searched the papers kept by my brother in Jordan and discovered two documents: one related to a parcel of land my parents had purchased in the early 1940s, and the other a deed to a piece of land on the way to Beth Lahm/Bethlehem my father acquired in 1954 (in “the West Bank,” then under Jordanian rule), perhaps thinking of it as a substitute for the loss in 1948. In searching for the first parcel, I was told a request for information has to go to a Tel Aviv office, though I’m pretty sure it would be found to be classified under the Absentees’ Property Law and thus already expropriated by the Israelis.

I then started looking for the second parcel. No one seemed to know about it; the Israeli municipal office said it did not exist. Months passed when by accident I raised the subject with a colleague who told me she heard about that area and that I should check with an old man who lives near New Gate. The man indeed had maps and documents for the parcels in that development. He told me that after 1967 he lost contact with some landowners who lived on the other side of the Jordan river, that the whole hillside was expropriated by the Israeli government in 1970 to build the colony of Gilo. He showed me letters that he as a representative had written to various governments, to the U.N., to the Pope, to any organization he thought could help, to no avail.

To recall such events highlights a small part of the enormity of the Palestinian Nakba. Depopulating Palestinians from West Jerusalem was part of the process of destruction and ethnic cleansing of scores of cities and towns and hundreds of villages throughout the whole of Palestine, documented in Walid Khalidi’s All That Remains and Ilan Pappe’s Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. The Arab countries were half-hearted in their interference on May 15, with ill-equipped armies and foreign-influenced governments; the Palestinians were unprepared and poorly mobilized to deal with a well-planned Zionist invasion, their resources and much of the leadership having been decimated by the British in the 1936-39 uprising. The Zionist plan has continued to operate and expand until today, pursuing its objective for control of all of Palestine, in spite of Israel having agreed to the U.N. partition plan leading to two states  and to the return of Palestinian refugees  as a condition for Israel’s acceptance as a member of the U.N.

What happened in West Jerusalem in 1948 is today sidelined by the attention given to occupied East Jerusalem, with the issues shifted in focus to make it appear as if the “dispute” is now only about the “West Bank” and “East Jerusalem.” To begin with West Jerusalem is to emphasize that any eventual solution must account for it as part of the refugee issue, which also includes other cities like Yafa and Haifa and hundreds of villages throughout the country, either destroyed (as with most of them), replaced by colonies, or kept intact as in the old homes now inhabited by Israelis without regard for the original owners (in places like ‘Ein Hawd/Ein Hod and ‘Ein Karem).

This essay analyses the claim Israel used for taking Palestinian land, and details Israel’s Judaizing actions within the city and outside in the expanded municipal boundaries where several  Jewish colonies have been built. It discusses the most blatant “laws” enacted by Israel to provide legal cover for its takeover of land and properties and its measures to control the city’s demography by applying discriminatory regulations on residency.

The Zionist Claim System

When considering historical Jerusalem, we think of the small area now called the Old City, contained within the Ottoman walls completed in 1541.  It is less than one square kilometer, compared to the city’s current self-declared Israeli boundaries, which encompass 123 square kilometers.  In the map (Figure 1) the Old City is the barely noticeable rectangle in the middle.  Before June 1967, Jordanian-controlled East Jerusalem, along with suburbs outside the wall, measured only 6 square kilometers, while West Jerusalem covered 32 square kilometers.  The  boundaries that existed until 1967 were the result of the 1949 Armistice Agreement. The “green line” then violated the stipulation in the U.N. partition resolution that Jerusalem and surrounding areas be designated as a “corpus separatum.” The city’s internationalization as a kind of Vatican, affirmed in later resolutions, still informs the special status of various consulates, and points to the specific impropriety of the recent U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The Zionist claim system, which was developed and adapted over more than a hundred years, was preceded for centuries by a somewhat similar Western claim system. The identification with biblical narratives was useful in providing a religious rationale for colonial and racial theories, starting with the discovery of the New World and expanding across the world starting in the sixteenth century. Accounts like Exodus and “the Conquest of Canaan” drove colonial projects in North America, Australia and South Africa. Colonists in what became the U.S. and Canada transferred biblical typology to construct a myth of exceptionalism—as God’s Chosen People entitled to conquer, dispossess, and exterminate millions of indigenous inhabitants. Later in the 19th century emerged a movement called “sacred geography” as a literal tracing in the “Holy Land” to salvage old religious understanding against  the discoveries that undermined biblical historicity.  It produced hundreds of travel accounts of Palestine and semi-scholarly works of “biblical archaeology” that prepared the ground for Zionism. This antiquated model for dispossession is now alive in “the Holy Land,” and has revived similar entitlements.

Fixating on Old Testament narratives and exaggerated connections, Zionist claims about Palestine go something like this: followers of Judaism about 2,000 years ago are the same as Jews today, which gives today’s Jews the right to occupy Palestinian land because of promises inserted in the Bible, which they interpret as given to them by “God.” Hebrew is seen as a very ancient language that goes back to the presumed time of Moses and before him Abraham, although it did not exist in those periods but was a later appropriation of other languages and scripts such as Phoenician and Aramaic.

 Zionist arguments encompass a whole complex of assumptions and fabrications which, to be realized, have had to take over aspects of continuity available only in the people who lived on the land, the Palestinians. In Hidden Histories, under “claims” and “appropriation,” I cite more than 40 refutable claims and appropriations that cover aspects involving biblical stories, stipulated connections between present Jews and ancient Jews, or Israelites, as well as a range of fabricated or exaggerated ascriptions related to culture, foods, plants, sites, place names, languages, scripts, and other elements. These appropriations create a false nativity, magnifying Jewish connections and undermining or demonizing ancient and modern peoples.  In this  context, Palestinian existence and continuity over many millennia become invisible, camouflaged by this claim system through strategies of dismissal or justification (e.g., Palestinians are Muslims who came from the Arabian Peninsula,  so don’t have the same ancient connections.)

Discoveries since the 19th century have debunked the historicity of a host of notions underpinning this Zionist system. Epigraphic and archaeological finds show that biblical accounts, such as the story of  Nūh/Noah, were copied from more ancient  regional myths, such as the story of the Mesopotamian flood . Among scholars who have come to these conclusions are Israelis, like archaeologist Ze’ev Herzog who summarizes as follows: “The patriarchs’ acts are legendary… the Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel. Perhaps even harder to swallow is the fact that the united monarchy of David and Solomon, which is described by the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom. And it will come as an unpleasant shock to many that the God of Israel, Jehovah, had a female consort.”

Contrary to common impressions, people in Palestine were predominantly polytheistic in their religion, mostly Phoenicians, Greeks and Arab tribes. People in the region may have transitioned from one religion to the next, but they in general stayed where they were. Further, “exile” is “a myth” and the notion of a “Jewish people” is a historical fantasy, as  shown by Arthur Koestler, Shlomo Sand and others. Nor are present Jews connected in any real way to ancient Jews or to “Israelites” and “Hebrews.” For present Jews to make these ancient links is like Muslims in Afghanistan or Indonesia saying they descend from Prophet Muhammad and have ownership rights to Mecca and Arabia as their ancestral homeland.

The Stones of Others: Israeli Judaizing Actions

Plans were ready, existing “laws” in place, new “laws” conveniently enacted for how to take over the stones built by other people and to control the demographics. It is a grand strategy that appears to have been prepared well in advance.

Judaizing the city has proceeded through expropriations within and outside the walls, expansion of the Jewish Quarter, establishing enclaves elsewhere in the Old City, ringing the city with colonies within arbitrarily expanded boundaries, manipulating a Jewish majority through measures to limit or reduce the Palestinian population by excluding/including areas using the separation wall, restricting family reunification and child registration, revoking residency status (see sections below), refusing permits, demolitions, and other regulations to constrain Palestinian building and development. These measures are being taken in addition to changes to street and place names that use Hebrew above Arabic and English names, changes made by committees which, in most cases, distort the original Arabic names into Hebrew phonetics.

Only three days after the June 1967 war ended, the Israelis demolished Hāret al-Maghāriba, Maghribi (Moroccan) Quarter, which dates back to the 12th century, in order to clear the area for a plaza in front of the Western or Wailing Wall. By June 11 the quarter was totally leveled, 135 houses demolished and 650 residents evicted. Among the demolished buildings were a mosque, Sufi prayer halls, and hostels. The renowned Khanqah al-Fakhriyya, adjacent to the Western Wall, a Sufi compound, was destroyed two years later by Israeli archaeological excavations. During the destruction of the quarter some residents refused to leave and stayed until just before the building collapsed. One woman was found dead in the rubble.

In 1968, Israel started the project to settle and expand the Jewish Quarter. As Meron Benvenesti and Michael Dumper point out, prior to 1948, the Jewish Quarter was less than 20% owned by Jews since most buildings were leased from the Islamic waqf or private family waqfs. While Jewish immigrants increased outside the city walls, in the quarter the Jewish population had declined well before 1948. At the end of fighting those who had stayed were removed to Israeli-held areas, the buildings partially used to house some West Jerusalem Palestinian refugees. Zionist writers make a point of repeating that this happened, that Jews had no access to the Western Wall or Mount of Olives between 1948 and 1967, a by-product of the conflict and hostilities; they forget that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were evicted from West Jerusalem, other cities, towns and villages, their property taken, and that Israel had refused to allow any of them to return.

To implement this expansion, Israel expropriated more than 32 acres of Islamic and private Palestinian property, using the 1943 British ordinance and Absentees’ Property Law, between the Maghribi Quarter and the Armenian Convent, and from the Tarīq Bab al-Silsilah in the north to the city walls in the south. That included 700 stone buildings, of which only 105 had been owned by Jews before 1948. Palestinian property seized included 1,048 apartments and 437 workshops and commercial stores. (Even then-mayor of West Jerusalem Teddy Kollek objected, saying hundreds will lose their livelihood and thousands dispersed and, citing the expulsion of Palestinians from West Jerusalem in 1948, wondered when they would reclaim their property.)

Owners and those evicted were offered compensation, but the offer was essentially meaningless since waqf property trustees are prevented by shariʿah law from accepting any change in property status. The process took several years since most refused compensation. This resulted in litigation along with harassment and coercion. As still happens in takeovers, people who refuse have their entry blocked, surroundings demolished and are subjected to annoyances such as drilling and falling masonry.

In addition to the above, two other drastic developments occurred over the coming years: inserting enclaves in the Old City and building colonies around the city’s expanded municipal boundaries.

The enclaves within the Old City exhibit extreme ill-intention and are a constant source of tension. Other than the expanded Jewish Quarter, at least 78 properties within the walls have been seized and made into fortresses or mini-colonies. Figure 2, a partial indication with numbers, shows the extent of this cancerous infiltration. With government assistance and foreign Jewish money, extremist groups took over properties, using various pretexts and acquisition tricks, among them to locate and occupy properties previously owned or leased by Jews, remove protected Palestinian tenants, coerce tenants to sublet, and acquire by shady purchases that hide the source.

The drive by militant groups to establish a presence in the Muslim Quarter intensified after the rise of Likud and after Ariel Sharon, who was then Minister of Housing, in 1987, took hold of an apartment in a property in Al Wad Street owned by a Jewish Belarusian in the 1880s. (It is as if anything owned or leased by a Jew can be re-owned by any Jew, contrary to what is applicable to homes that were emptied of Palestinians in 1948 whose direct owners can’t claim them.) The drive for infiltration and acquisition has recently also been active in areas close to Jaffa Gate and around the periphery of the enlarged Jewish Quarter, it seems with the intention of expanding it further at the expense of the Muslim and Christian quarters.

Outside the Old City, as early as 1968, 17,300 acres were annexed to the municipal boundaries. These included the lands of 28 villages and some parts of Beit Lahm (Bethlehem), Beit Jala and Beit Sahour municipalities. Much more confiscation occurred in the West Bank, and by now in addition to all the colonies in the West Bank, in the area called Greater Jerusalem scores of Jewish-only colonies, which are increasing in number have been built of various sizes, some already cities, all the result of confiscation of mostly private land, as well as communal or public lands.

 Colonies constructed since 1968 within the Israeli-declared Jerusalem municipality itself, include: Ramat Eshkol, French Hill or Givʿat Shapira (both on  1,186 acres, expropriated mostly from Sheikh Jarrah), Sanhedria Murhevet, Givʿat HaMivtar, Gilo (on land belonging to residents of Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Beit Safafa and Sharafat), Neve Ya‘akov (using the pretext of 16 Jewish-owned acres before 1948, Israel confiscated 3,500 acres of privately owned and titled Palestinian land for “public purposes”), Givʿat Hamatos, Ramot Alon (expropriated from Beit Iksa and Beit Hanina), Ma’alot Dafna (485 dunums expropriated from East Jerusalem and no-man’s land), East Talpiot (on more than a fifth of Sur Baher land), Pisgat Ze’ev (1,112 acres, seized from villagers of Beit Hanina, Hizma and Anata), Pisgat Amir (expropriated from the Palestinian village of Hizma), Ramat Shlomo called Reches Shuʿfat earlier (expropriated from Shuʿfat), Har Homa (1,300 dunums seized from private land owners from Beit Sahour and Sur Baher), Nof Zion (extending into the heart of the Palestinian neighborhood of Jabal el Mukabber), and Mamilla.

In the early 1970s, just outside the Israeli-declared municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, colonial growth proceeded at an equally brisk pace, with Ma‘aleh Adumim on lands confiscated from the town of Abu Dees achieving city status in 1991,with about 40,000 inhabitants.

Despite the Oslo Agreement, the Israeli government in 1995 started discussion of the “Greater Jerusalem” Master Plan with an outer ring of colonies, including Ma‘aleh Adumim,  Givʿat Ze’ev (on public land, the site of a Jordanian camp), Har Adar (confiscated from Palestinian lands of Beit Surik and Qatanna), Kochav Yaʿakov and Tel Zion (on thousands of dunums confiscated from Palestinian villages of Kafr ʿAqab and Burqa), settlements east of Ramallah, Israeli buildings in Ras el-ʿAmud, Efrat, the Etzion Bloc and Beitar Illit—extending over more than 300 sq. km. of the West Bank. Such a Greater Jerusalem is aimed at strengthening Israeli domination in the central West Bank by adding 19 colonies into Jerusalem and a population of more than 150,000 Jews—for sure to finally kill any prospect for the establishment of a viable Palestinian state.

In 2017, a bill for Greater Jerusalem was introduced for a vote in the Knesset, and would likely have been approved except for some apparent U.S. and European pressure. It is clear, however, that the Israeli government and city officials are taking advantage of Trump’s policies to “push, push, push,” as one of them said, and to accelerate their building rampage and take other Judaizing measures while they have a freer hand.

Silwān has become another focus of Israeli acquisition, partly as a result of relative limitation in further expansion of enclaves within the Old City. Silwān is a town of about 35,000 Palestinian residents that borders the southern wall of the Old City. It is associated in part with what is called “the City of David.” Evidence points to continuous habitation since the fourth millennium BCE, but the fixation has been with the presumed Israelite period and the conquest by David. A Zionist archaeologist, Eilat Mazar, has claimed discovery of what remains from David’s palace, though many Israeli archaeologists say the findings contradict this claim.

The takeovers have accelerated in particular in the area called Wadi Hilweh and in al-Bustan neighborhood. Private, well-funded right-wing Zionist organizations such as Elad, as well as the Jewish National Fund, are used by the government, which hands over properties to them and protects their designs to control buildings and develop methods to settle Jews and dislocate Palestinians. Most properties in Silwān have been seized using the Absentees’ Property Law, though technically East Jerusalem had been declared by Israel to be exempt from it.

Elad has been given power by the government to run the “City of David National Park,” thus archaeological excavations are employed as another excuse to expropriate more Palestinian private land and to rewrite historical memory by misinterpreting and falsifying results.  (A Byzantine water pit becomes the pit into which Jeremiah was thrown, according to Elad guides.) Plans for an archaeological/amusement park will lead to further destruction of Palestinian neighborhoods. By creating an archaeological tourist park dominated by extremist elements, Israel is intent on maintaining an exclusivist national narrative, the inventiveness about “David” being limitless.

This “Davidization” is going apace in other parts of the city, with an apparent design to join Silwān to the Jewish Quarter and the Tower of David area. In this effort to solidify an invented narrative, there has been a shift in the visualization of Jerusalem and its perception for tourists and Israelis, re-centering the gaze on the Tower of David and wielding new architecture and memorabilia to it, as argued by Dana Hercbergs and Chaim Noy (“Beholding the Holy City: Changes in the Iconic Representation of Jerusalem in the 21th Century”).  Certainly, this narrative of making the Tower of David a museum of “Jewish history” is not only contradicted by its archaeology and history, but also by  17th-century minaret that tops the citadel and makes it a “tower”—though few tourists would raise a question. The mushrooming of Davids during the last decades has occurred with the speed and multiplication of other malignancies.

Laws

“Laws” have been issued ever since the beginning of the Israeli state in 1948 that have accumulated and intensified in their design to dispossess the Palestinian population and entrench Zionist exclusivity—a web of laws that can only be described as a parody in any sense of legality.

 It’s a one-sided process. Where convenient, Israel has employed British mandatory land regulations, such as the 1943 Land Ordinance, and even Ottoman laws, to implement its expansion by expropriation. Other than the “right of return” for any Jew, the reverse of which is no return for any Palestinian forced to leave, the most flagrant legal tool is the Absentees’ Property Law (1950), signed by David Ben-Gurion as prime minister and Chaim Weizmann as president. The other instrumental laws were the Land Acquisition Law in 1953 and the Planning and Construction Law of 1965, which more or less completed the process of expropriation, though more disinheriting laws continue to be issued until today.

The 1950 law was devised for the purpose of disinheriting Palestinians and preventing their retrieval of properties (or their return), in order to establish  Israeli control of land or houses and buildings owned by Palestinian refugees in cities, towns and destroyed or depopulated villages. It also applies to furnishings and valuables, bank accounts and other holdings, covering persons as “absentee” and property as “absentee property” even when “the identity of an absentee is unknown.”

An absentee’s dependent does not have rights if she/he happened to have stayed behind (no inheritance, as would have been normal) and any small allowance if paid to an unlikely dependent (only to one dependent in case there are more than one) is at the discretion of the appointed state custodian. The Israeli custodian has the power to liquidate businesses and annul business partnerships, to demolish buildings not authorized by the custodian, to sell or lease immovable property (through the Development Authority), and to rent buildings or allow cultivation of fertile land to a person (an Israeli Jew of course), with some income due to the custodian, but such that “his right shall have priority over any charge vested in another person theretofore.”

In one of the most incredulous sections (27), the law defines who could apply to be defined as “not an absentee”—only if that person left his residence “for fear that the enemies of Israel might cause him harm,” but excludes those who left “otherwise than by reason or for fear of military operations.” (In other words, it makes “not absentees” equivalent to Israelis who are not “absentee” anyway but beneficiaries from “absentees.”) Section 30 states that the “plea that a particular person is not an absentee … by reason only that he had no control over the causes for which he left his place of residence … shall not be heard” (presumably to apply to men who were not fighters, women and children, etc.). Thus, this “law” tries in every way to cover all the corners, to make sure that the original owners have no recourse to recover their rights under Israeli law. Israel creates such laws to say that what it is doing is legal, and to give its courts the tools to approve.

While this “law” was especially useful in the early years of the state, making possible expropriation of more than 6 million dunums of land, it is still being used today. The “law” is careful in defining “Palestinian citizens” (contrary to later Zionist denials that they exist), and in delineating for absenteeism the period 29 November 1947 to 19 May 1948 with the design to include the hundreds of thousands of properties lost in 1948. (“Present absentees” applied as well to more than 35,000 Palestinians who became Israeli citizens after 1948, and they or their descendants are still in that category.)

Since the illegal annexation of East Jerusalem, Israel has used the 1950 Absentees’ Property Law to confiscate properties from those classified by it as absentees although they are present.  Technically absentees by Israeli definition, East Jerusalem residents were mostly exempt from this status in the Law and Administration Ordinance 5730-1970, section 3, thus considered “not absentee” only if they were physically present in Jerusalem on the day of annexation. However, that section excluded Palestinians who lived outside the municipal boundaries but owned land or property inside the city limits, or those who happened to be visiting outside the country. Occasionally after 1967 and after the 1980s, Israel and settler groups have found it expedient to apply the 1950 Absentees’ Property Law in places like Silwān and Sheikh Jarrah as well as in areas to the north of Beit Sahour, Beit Jala and Beit Lahm (Bethlehem) that were incorporated into the enlarged Jerusalem municipality.

As happened with Gilo in1970, 460 acres of land were expropriated in 1991 on Jabal Abu Ghneim south of Jerusalem to build a colony called Har Homa, which now has a population of more than 25,000 Israeli Jews. The residents of Beit Sahour, who owned the land, were thus declared “absentees” (since they were prevented from reaching it) and their lands seized without compensation or legal hearing. In addition to the plan within Greater Jerusalem, an objective was clearly stated that this expansion is intended to obstruct any future expansion of Beit Sahour and Bethlehem. 

Another excuse used was that in the 1940s a Jewish group had purchased 32 acres, on the hill! The strategy is similar to some other locations such as the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem, Hebron, and “Neveh Ya‘akov” colony, where a contention of some pre-1948 ownership was used to take much more land to build huge colonies and establish enclaves.

The Abandoned Areas Ordinance was an immediate measure taken on 30 June 1948 (retroactive to 16 May) to define abandoned areas as “any area or place conquered by or surrendered to armed forces or deserted by all or part of its inhabitants, and which has been declared by order to be an abandoned area.” The Ordinance provided for “the expropriation and confiscation of movable and immovable property, within any abandoned area” and authorized the Israeli government to determine what would be done with this property.

The 1953 Land Acquisition Law was the second law enacted after the Absentees’ Property Law as another step to wrest land from Palestinians. This law immediately confiscated an additional 1.3 million dunums of Palestinian land, affecting 349 towns and villages, in addition to the “built-up areas” of about 68 villages.  This “law” completed the process of formal transfer of ownership, until then, of expropriated lands from their Palestinian Arab owners to various Israeli state institutions, and permitted the Minister of Finance to transfer ownership to the Development Authority. The authority to expropriate also resides in the Planning and Construction Law of 1965, and in a number of other legislative acts such as the Water Law, the Antiquities Law, Construction and Evacuation legislation, and others.

Several other “laws” are used to acquire Palestinian land. One is the Prescription Law, 5718-1958 enacted in 1958 and amended in 1965, which essentially repealed provisions of the 1858 Ottoman Land Code, and which also reverses some British practices of that law. It changes the criteria for Miri lands, or arable land whose cultivators were tenants of the state but entitled to pass it on to their heirs, one of the most common types in Palestine, in order to facilitate Israel’s acquisition of such land. According to the Centre on Housing Rights Evictions (COHRE) and the Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights (BADIL), the Prescription Law is one of the most critical to understanding the legal underpinnings of Israel’s acquisition of Palestinian lands, both in the period after 1948 and in the West Bank after the occupation of 1967. Although not readily apparent in the language, in conjunction with other land laws, this law enabled Israel to acquire lands in areas where Palestinians still dominated the population and could lay claims to the land.

Another is a leftover from the British Mandate, the Land Ordinance (Acquisition for Public Purposes) of 1943, which remained active for Israel because of its usefulness in enabling land expropriation, particularly in Jerusalem. After enlarging the municipal border, Israel gradually issued scores of orders expropriating several additional square kilometers for “green areas” under the provisions of this old regulation. Declared as “public parks,” the acquisitions are in fact designed not for “conservation,” but rather to prevent Palestinian development, to isolate Palestinian areas, to ensure the contiguity of Jewish areas, and to build for Israel’s purposes. Until now, four “national parks” have been declared in East Jerusalem, including on privately- owned Palestinian land and land adjacent to Palestinian neighborhoods or villages, with plans for more “parks” under way.

Israel also amends to serve its purposes. On 10 February 2010, the Knesset passed an amendment to the 1943 Land Ordinance (Acquisition for Public Purposes), with the primary aim of confirming state ownership of land confiscated from Palestinians, even where the land had not been used to serve the purpose for which it was originally confiscated. The amendment  was devised to circumvent an Israeli Supreme Court decision (in the Karsik case of 2001), whose precedent Palestinian Israelis were planning to use to retrieve property. This amendment gives the state the right not to use the confiscated land for the specific purpose for which it was confiscated. It further establishes that a citizen does not have the right to demand the return of the confiscated land in the event it has not been used for the purpose for which it was originally confiscated, if ownership of the land has been transferred to a third party or if more than 25 years have passed since its confiscation. The new amendment also expands the authority of the Minister of Finance to confiscate land for “public purposes.” It defines “public purposes” to include the establishment of new towns and expansion of existing ones. The law also allows the Minister of Finance to change the purpose of the confiscation and declare a new purpose if the initial purpose had not been realized.

Such pliability in legal application is clear in Israel’s continued use of the Defence (Emergency) Regulations enacted by the British in 1945, with some modifications (although the Zionists were vehement in their attack on these British regulations before 1948). The regulations included provisions against illegal immigration, establishing military tribunals to try civilians without granting the right of appeal, conducting sweeping searches and seizures, prohibiting publication of books and newspapers, demolishing houses, detaining individuals administratively for an indefinite period, sealing off particular territories, and imposing curfews.  In 1948, Israel incorporated the Defense Regulations, pursuant to section 11 of the Government and Law Arrangements Ordinance, except for “changes resulting from establishment of the State or its authorities.”

There was debate in the Knesset in the early 1950 about repealing the Defense Regulations for their undemocratic practices, but they were never abolished because they served the military rule imposed on the Palestinian Arabs who had remained in Israel and became citizens. After cancellation of military rule, a Ministry of Justice committee was entrusted with drawing up proposals for repeal, but the occupation of 1967 brought a stop to this process, and resulted in the Emergency Regulations (Judea and Samaria, and the Gaza Strip – Jurisdiction in Offenses and Legal Aid), whereby it was decided the Regulations were in effect as part of the status before the occupation and thus still in effect. Israel has since used these regulations to punish residents, demolish hundreds of houses, deport and detain thousands of people, impose closures and curfews, and other measures. These Regulations were amended in 2007, mainly to exclude Gaza.

In one instance the Israeli system tried to liquidate claims that could be lodged by Palestinians who lost their property, such as in an amendment in 1973 called Absentees’ Property (Compensation). This amendment devised a ghostly arrangement according to which Palestinian Arabs in “unified” East Jerusalem could receive compensation for their property elsewhere on the basis of its value in 1947. While the properties of tens of thousands of Palestinians who had left the Western sector had been transferred to the Custodian of Absentee Property, there was only a very small percentage remaining in East Jerusalem, and the majority who were no longer residents of Israel were still not entitled to claim compensation. Jews, too, were compensated for their property in the eastern part of the city where public structures were built, but here the sum was calculated according to the 1968 value. This of course resulted not only in uneven legal application, whereby Jews can make their claim and Palestinians cannot make theirs, but also a measure that could for propaganda purposes say the “Arab refugee” problem is being solved, but limits the compensation to residents of Israel, patently not refugees. In effect it is an erasure of the larger claims by hundreds of thousands of the dispossessed, ending up being a take-it-forever law since Israel could declare ownership reverted to it after the set period was over.

Demographic Control and Residency Regulation

In June 1967, Israel held a census in the annexed area. Those who were present were given the status of “permanent resident” in Israel – a legal status accorded to foreign nationals wishing to reside in Israel. Yet unlike immigrants who freely choose to live in Israel and can return to their country of origin, the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem have no other home, no legal status in any other country, and did not choose to live in Israel. It is the State of Israel that occupied and annexed the land on which they live.

Permanent residency confers fewer rights than citizenship. It entitles the holder to live and work in Israel and to receive social benefits under the National Insurance Law, as well as health insurance. But permanent residents cannot participate in national elections – either as voters or as candidates – and cannot run for the office of mayor, although they are entitled to vote in local elections or run for the municipal council (although none have done so). And this residency can be lost.

 The residency system imposes arduous requirements on Palestinians in order to maintain their status, with drastic consequences for those who don’t. If they happen to live outside the country for study or work more than seven years or if they take on another passport or take on residence in another country, or live outside the municipal boundaries, that automatically results in revocation of residency in Jerusalem. Some revocations have taken place for flimsier reasons,  invoking the 1952 Law of Entry for anyone who does not maintain “a center of life” in Jerusalem (except Jews of course, who often shuttle back and forth from business and work abroad, and keep their apartments vacant in colonies). Jewish residents of Jerusalem who are Israeli citizens do not have to prove that they maintain a “center of life” in the city in order to safeguard their legal status, and many have dual citizenships.

Between the start of Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967 and 2017, Israel has revoked the status of more than 15,000 Palestinians from East Jerusalem, according to the Interior Ministry, which means they lost the right to live there along with benefits for which residents pay taxes. The Law of Entry authorizes arrest and deportation for those found without legal status. Without legal status, Palestinians cannot formally work, move freely, renew driver’s licenses, or obtain birth certificates for children, needed to register them in school. The discriminatory system pushes many Palestinians to leave their home city in what amounts to forcible transfers, a serious violation of international law.

Permanent residents are required to submit requests for “family reunification” for spouses who are not technically residents. Since 1967, Israel has maintained a strict policy on requests of East Jerusalem Palestinians for “reunification” with spouses from the West Bank, Gaza or other countries. In July 2003, the Knesset passed a law barring these spouses from receiving permanent residency, other than extreme exceptions. The law effectively denies Palestinian East Jerusalem residents the possibility of living with spouses from Gaza or from other parts of the West Bank, and denies their children permanent residency status.

More than 10,000 children born to such “mixed” marriages are being refused registration as another measure to control the city’s Palestinian population. Israeli policy in East Jerusalem is geared toward pressuring Palestinians to leave in order to shape a geographical and demographic alternate reality.

Residency revocation is employed as well as collective punishment for the entire extended family after an attack on Israelis by a member of the family. In Jabal el Mukabber after such an attack, the mother and 12 family members, including minors, received notices from the Ministry of Interior revoking their residency. The Interior Minister stated that “anyone conspiring, planning or considering a terrorist attack will know that his family will pay dearly for his actions.”

 “Loyalty to Israel” has become a law for occupied Jerusalemites. It was first applied “illegally” in 2006 by the Interior Minister who revoked the residency of four members of Hamas elected to the Palestinian Authority’s legislative council. The case was stuck in court for over a decade. In early 2016 and before the Israeli courts ruled on the issue, Israel’s Interior Ministry again invoked this power to strip three 18 and 19-year-old Palestinians of their IDs for throwing stones.

 In September 2017, the High Court of Justice held that the Interior Ministry did not have the statutory authority to strip East Jerusalem ID holders of their legal status, but postponed the application of the decision for six months to permit the Knesset to pass a bill to provide for the statutory authority. Now a new “law” has been enacted (in March 2018) to take away the residency ID of anyone if there’s a “breach of loyalty” to Israel—that is, requiring the occupied person who has been placed in limbo (not a citizen of any country) to have loyalty to the occupier. Israel has “unified” the two parts of Jerusalem, but wants to keep Palestinian Jerusalemites outside the formula and makes all efforts to diminish their number.

With the scarcity or absence of building permits, some Palestinians improve or build without permits, and thus there have been hundreds of demolitions. Illegal settlements, however, are multiplying while Jewish building is not demolished but protected. Since 1967, there have been more than 25,000 home demolitions in the West Bank and more than 2,000 in East Jerusalem. Studies have shown that the rate of demolition for permit violators in East Jerusalem is more than twice as high as for similar Jewish violators in West Jerusalem. According to Meir Margalit, the demolitions and associated measures are part of the broader context of colonial control over land and processes similar to those implemented by white settlers in settler colonial societies worldwide.

Right of Birth vs Law of Return

Many countries have avoided holding Israel accountable under international law for its practices. Instead, in some countries like the U.S., huge amounts of tax-exempt money continue to be collected to support Israel’s colonizing activities. With U.S. recognition of “Jerusalem” as Israel’s capital, permission has been granted to the occupying power to continue to Judaize the city with impunity. The unevenness in the application of justice is abundantly flagrant.

Israel and Zionist organizations have successfully obtained reparations for Jewish suffering in WW2, not only from Germany but from other countries. The World Jewish Restitution Organization has repossessed property that belonged to people of Jewish background, sometimes with sketchy documentation. Even unidentified bank accounts and such items as jewelry and art work have been recovered. This ought to be a precedent that, under normal moral standards, applies to Palestinians who lost their homes and properties in 1948, in 1967 and later.

Being born in a place is enough in several countries for one to earn citizenship, regardless where the parents come from or their status. In the U.S., for example, this applies to children of people on temporary student or visitor’s visas, and, as in the case of the DACA issue, even those who arrived illegally as minors may eventually have a path to citizenship.

 Not so in Israel, or in Jerusalem. Any Jew not born in Palestine or Israel, upon arrival in Israel, has the right to citizenship under Israeli law, a right denied to the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians born in the country before or after 1948. In Jerusalem, isolated from its natural rhythm by artificial barriers and colonies, children now born in it can go unrecognized and unregistered, while those already born in it are either not allowed into its compass or their official belonging to it is withdrawn arbitrarily and by force. Those Palestinians who remain in it as recognized residents, not citizens, are controlled in their rights and their future, their ability to develop constricted, and efforts continue to deplete their number.

This type of mentality and resultant policies would be made to stop in a normal world, as a perversion of law and any sense of truth. Adalah’s Discriminatory Laws Database lists over 65 Israeli laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens in Israel, Palestinian residents of other occupied territories and in Jerusalem on the basis of national belonging and of being non-Jews, whether explicit or indirect in their implementation in various aspects of life. And now we have further confirmation of the apartheidist nature of the state in the “Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People,” enacted on July 19, 2018.

In view of all the above, it was particularly jarring and patently absurd to watch the gleeful faces of Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and billionaire Sheldon Adelson at the celebrations of the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Fundamentalist preacher Robert Jeffress and other evangelicals spoke at the event and gave prayers, in effect reviving the old thinking that identified the U.S. national myth with biblical Israel as a justification for colonial expansion. Clearly, it reflected a dangerous alliance between rapacious Zionist colonization and blind evangelistic mania that harks back to the worst periods of colonization and surely negates the presumed spirituality and higher values “Jerusalem” is supposed to represent.

The history of Jerusalem has been so filled with imaginaries, investments, and inventions, which were generally somewhat benign, but are now exploited with dreadful designs and deceptions. It is an unusual situation that differs from other “holy” cities where the sacred is at least stabilized into mundane religiosity. The world must know that these “Holy Land” abuses are a parody of the holy.