How Post-Zionists Falsify the History of Middle Eastern Jewry

Oct. 28 2014

Historian Rachel Shabi and a group of other post-Zionists have tried to use historical prejudice against Mizrahim—i.e., Jews of North African and Middle Eastern origin—to undermine Zionism. In her view, Mizrahi Jews are really “Jewish Arabs” who ought to make common cause with Palestinians against the state of Israel. Although ethnic prejudice and discriminatory policies have certainly existed in Israel, Shabi exaggerates them wildly, fails to understand then in their historical context, and idealizes Jewish-Muslim coexistence in the Arab world beyond all recognition. She also, writes Lyn Julius, ignores the fact that this prejudice is largely a thing of the past:

Although it was . . . a struggling developing country, Israel took in the stateless, the destitute, the sick, and the elderly—because they were Jews. . . . . Today Mizrahim are generals, doctors, property developers, bank managers, and have held every government post except prime minister. Most importantly—a hugely significant fact that Shabi simply glosses over—intermarriage [with Ashkenazi Jews] is running at 25 per cent, and the mixed Israeli family is fast becoming the norm. Soon there will be no such thing as Mizrahi or Ashkenazi in the Israeli melting pot.

Shabi’s nostalgia trip to a world before Zionism leads her up a blind alley. She confuses the interpersonal with the political: good neighborliness with the (unequal) power relationship between Jews and Arabs. An overlap of culture and language with Arabs over 14 centuries did not protect Mizrahim from pogroms, dispossession, and expulsion, to the point where fewer than 5,000 Jews live in Arab countries today, out of a 1948 population of one million. This is a lesson lost on some who eagerly espouse Arab-Israeli coexistence projects.

Read more at Fathom

More about: Arab anti-Semitism, Matti Friedman, Mizrahi Jewry, post-Zionism

As the Situation in Syria Changes, the Risks for Israel Increase

March 27 2017

On March 17, the Israeli Air Force struck a weapons convoy near Palmyra that was most likely bringing precision missiles to Hizballah in Lebanon. Syria responded with surface-to-air missiles, in turn triggering Israeli anti-missile missiles that successfully intercepted the counterattack. Yoav Limor comments on what is becoming an increasingly volatile situation:

[A series of military] successes in Syria have led the Russians, [who are fighting to prop up the Assad regime] to expand their campaign, and there is no doubt that Raqqa, Islamic State’s “capital” in Syria, as well as Palmyra and Deir el-Zor are next on Moscow’s list. Seizing control of these strategic areas will significantly increase Russia’s scope of operations, hence the increased risk factors in the regional theater, which includes Israel.

This was most likely the reason for Russia’s ire over the Israeli strike [on the Hizballah-bound convoy] in Syria, which led the Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov to summon, very publicly, the Israeli ambassador to Russia, Gary Koren, to provide clarifications. . . . The area struck near Palmyra, northeast of Damascus, is home to a Russian base and it is possible the Russian troops felt threatened, or that someone in the Kremlin wanted to draw clear operational parameters for Israel.

To be clear: Russia has no interest in a clash with Israel or in a fresh Israeli-Syrian conflict. But if until now Moscow was conspicuously uninterested in the covert blows Israel has been dealing Hizballah and Syria, the latest signal from the Kremlin is at the very least a warning sign to remind anyone who might have forgotten that the only interest Russia cares about is its own. . . .

[T]he tensions on the northern border do not spell an inevitable Israeli-Syrian conflict, as all regional actors have a clear interest to avoid one. Assad wants to re-establish his rule and he does not want to endanger it with an unplanned escalation against Israel, the strongest regional entity; Iran and Hizballah currently prefer to expand their regional sphere of influence quietly; and Israel wants peace and quiet as long as its two main interests—preventing advanced weapons from reaching Hizballah and avoiding war on the Golan Heights—are maintained. However, . . . recent events increase the risk that the parties could find themselves in a situation that might rapidly spiral out of control and result in a full-blown conflict.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Russia, Syrian civil war