Judaism - Israel - Palestine - Part I
NOTE: Links to Succeeding Parts of this Writing are at the Bottom of the Writing. The Writing is "Expanding" Day by Day.
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
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?”
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-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
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
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.
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:
§ Britain offered Sharif Hussein of Mecca support
for an Arab State including Palestine
§ Britain, France and Russia made
a secret agreement to divide up the Middle East between them
§ Britain, in promising support for a Jewish
homeland in Palestine also promised to safeguard the rights of the Arab
§ Britain and France promised independence to the
former subjects of the Ottoman Turks, including Palestine
§ Jewish opinion condemned the
White Paper as a retreat from the promise in the Balfour Declaration to create
a Jewish National Home.
§ – 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
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
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.