Judaism - Israel - Palestine - Part I

Link to Prologue


Being Jewish is a major part of my identity.   While I am also:  white, male, cis-hetish, upper-middle class, autistic, eclectic-radical politically, 72 ½ years old, 32 inch waistline (down significantly through diet primarily recently), 5’ 9 1/2” tall (down from 5’10), have two stents coping with a formerly nearly 100% blocked artery, fatty liver, have recently become (hopefully no longer) almost diabetic, in incredibly good physical shape,

my Jewish Identity is quite important to me.   

Moses Marx, my grandfather, lower left corner and

his siblings - 1893 - Koenigsberg, Germany

I’m not “religious-religious”.  I’m Never ashamed of being Jewish.  Although I’ve experienced Anti-Semitism, it’s not been a frequent occurrence, nor has it deeply affected me.

Some years ago my partner and I were enjoying ourselves at an (outdoors) bar on an island perhaps 50 miles from Seattle.  My spouse and the bartender were chatting about a local women’s used apparel and/or consignment store.  She told B that they had some nice things there.   Then she said:

“You don’t need to accept the asking prices.   You can Jew her down”.

We both were stunned – gut punched.   We asked for the bill and left the bar within two minutes.

The bartender probably never knew that anything was wrong.  Her words likely weren’t intended to be Anti-Semitic.    Anti-Semitism though relates to the impact of the spoken words, not the intentions of the speaker.

Many years ago, my step-father, an engineer, worked in Northern Alabama.  His boss told a “Catholic joke”.   The boss then realized that while he knew all the long-term fellow employees were Protestant,  he didn’t know Ira’s religion.    He said something like:

“Ira, you’re not Catholic are you?”  - Ira, shook his head and calmly said:


The boss relaxed for a brief period of time, and then then thought to question Ira again saying something like:

“What religion are you?”

Ira replied:


There was then a long silence.   Clearly, being Jewish was “not okay”.

White nationalists chanting: “The Jews will not replace us” is quite threatening evidence of Anti-Semitism.  Their common possession of weapons intended to kill multiple people relates significantly to our fears. Shootings at Jewish synagogues and temples are threatening.   Defacing of Jewish houses of workshop is further evidence of Anti-Semitic behavior.

Anti-Semitism is also evident with words like: “The Jews own the world” or “Jewish Bankers have all the power”.   Hearing such words, one can be triggered, obviously.   In such cases it is helpful to listen and pay attention to the other words of the speaker(s).  The words themselves are probably not “threatening”.


Israel is a country.  While Israel’s identity is heavily tied to Judaism, it is not a word one should “equate” with the Jewish religion.   Close to a fifth of Israeli citizens are not Jews.  

Israel does not allow marriages between individuals of different religions.   Where a Jewish or Islamic citizen wishes to, for example, marry a Roman Catholic individual, they, of necessity, go to Cyprus, or Europe or elsewhere to wed.   They can then return to Israel as a married couple.


The Zionist Movement began in the late 19th century.  Prior to then, a discussion about “Israel” would have referred to the ancient land that had ceased to be when Jews were exiled after being defeated by the army of the Roman Empire.  This was well before the expansion and  colonizing of empires such as the Ottoman/Turkish British, and Portuguese empires.  Until then end of World War I, Palestine was a part of the Ottoman/Turkish Empire where Islam was the state religion.

A significant statement in the expansion of the Zionist Movement camee when Lord Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary issued a significant statement that is referred to as The Balfour Declaration.

Foreign Office
November 2nd, 1917

Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you. on behalf of His Majesty's Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet

His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.


Arthur James Balfour


Another summary of promises made to Jews and the Native Paletinian population includes:

§  1915 McMahon-Hussein correspondence – Britain offered Sharif Hussein of Mecca support for an Arab State including Palestine

§  1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement – Britain, France and Russia made a secret agreement to divide up the Middle East between them

§  1917 Balfour Declaration – Britain, in promising support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine also promised to safeguard the rights of the Arab population

§  1918 Anglo-French Declaration – Britain and France promised independence to the former subjects of the Ottoman Turks, including Palestine

§  1922 Palestine Mandate – In Article 22 Britain promised the League of Nations that it would prepare Palestine for independence, but failed to do so.

§  1939 White Paper – Jewish opinion condemned the White Paper as a retreat from the promise in the Balfour Declaration to create a Jewish National Home.

§  1948 Mandate Surrendered  – Britain abandoned its pledge to protect Palestinian rights by withdrawing its forces leading to 750,000 Palestinians becoming refugees, 250 -300,000 before the British left.


Jews, Christians, and people with other religions were treated unequally in a sense from the Moslems of Palestine within the pre-1918 Ottoman Empire.    They were largely “left alone”.   Most of the Jews of Palestine were very religious.   They mostly lived proximate to Jewish holy sites.

The Jews of Palestine were hardly a local political force.  They lived a relatively primitive (economically) existence. 

The other residents of Palestine prior to the end of World War I included native Moslem, Russian/Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Druze and other people.    A significant majority of these people had no “home country” outside of Palestine.  Their families had lived in Palestine for at least hundreds of years.

A large number of these people lived in small towns and rural areas, tending animals and farming the land.   Within their world(s), a “Nation-State” did not exist.   Lands were often communal or rented from non-resident (wealthy) landlords.

Within each religion which has ties to Palestine, there are local holy sites.   The site of the (Jewish) “Wailing Wall” is directly adjacent to two mosques that are extremely important to Moslems of multiple sects.   Roman Catholicism has holy sites in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Nazareth.   Nablus contains sites holy to Muslims and Jews.

Behind the idea of the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine were often a combination of Jews, as well as Western Europeans of wealth/ power.   Some of the powerful leadership of Western Europe resented the educated/ middle-class local Jewish citizens, and saw Palestine as a convenient opportunity to rid themselves of Jews.   Their Anti-Semitism was self-evident.

The Russian Revolution of 1917 and the intersection of “Communism”,  “counter-revolutionaries”, and Jews - with significant Anti-Semitism further complicated things.

Palestine and adjacent areas had native Palestinian and/or Arab people and/or Moslem people.   These people had relatively little influence in Europe.  The wealthy elites of Palestine such as the Husseini Family often competed more with the other notable families, rather than building allegiances in Europe.  The elite Jews or Europe such as Rothschild had far more influence than the notables of Palestine.

Additionally, Egypt and Iran were distinct from the Palestinian People in important ways.   The Iranians are not “Arabs” and their native language is often Farsi, not Arabic.   Egypt is part of Africa.  While it is adjacent to Palestine, it is the northeastern part of a different continent.

Rashid Khalidi - a Palestinian American Historian - an Esteemed Scholar - Professor - and a prolific writer far more effectively stated:

All of these profound material shocks heightened the impact of the wrenching postwar political changes, which obliged people to rethink long-standing senses of identity.  By the end of the fighting, people in Palestine and in much of the Arab world found themselves under occupation by European armies.  After four hundred years, they were confronted by the disconcerting prospect of alien rule an the swift disappearance of Ottoman control, which had been the only system of government known for over twenty generations.  It was in the midst of this great trauma, as one era ended and another began, against a grim background of suffering, loss, and deprivation, that Palestinians learned, in a fragmentary fashion, of the Balfour Declaration.

( The Hundred Years' War on PALESTINE: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917-2017 - Rashid Khalidi, page 23 )


Part II of this writing will continue discussing the period beginning with 1918.


Part III


Part IV


Part V


Part VI


Part VII




Part IX





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