The Jews of the Australian Military

In his recent book Jewish Anzacs, Mark Dapin recounts the history of Australian Jews’ participation in their country’s armed forces from the 19th century through the war in Afghanistan. Deborah Rechter writes in her review:

Dapin connects a surge in Jews’ military participation at the end of the 19th century with the relatively low incidence of anti-Semitism in Australia, Australian Jews’ British allegiance, and [their] desire to “prove themselves worthy of the empire that had granted them equal rights wherever English was spoken.” . . .

At Gallipoli, the experiences of Jewish Australians include the commanders, such as the valiant Lieutenant Colonel Eliazar Margolin and the triumphant General John Monash. . .
[The book’s readers] also feel the lived experience of the trenches through the eyes of the muddied and bloodied lower ranks. Like other Anzacs, the Jews came from all strata of society. The pre-war occupations of some of those who died in France included jockey, sign writer, cigar-maker, [and] ship’s steward. . . .

Dapin shows there was sometimes a potent, certainly different, significance to events for Jews. These moments include times when soldiers stationed in Egypt and Palestine during both world wars observed religious rituals near the setting of their biblical stories; concerns about Jew fighting against Jew in belligerent armies; . . . Jews motivated [in World War II] to fight Nazis because the lives of their family and coreligionists were at stake; the [Wrold War I] assault on Beersheva, which led to the Balfour Declaration supporting the establishment of the state of Israel.

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Read more at The Australian

More about: Australia, Balfour Declaration, History & Ideas, Jews in the military, World War I, World War II

Palestinian Acceptance of Israel as the Jewish State Must Be a Prerequisite to Further Negotiations

Oct. 19 2018

In 1993, in the early days of the Oslo peace process, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) under Yasir Arafat accepted the “right of the state of Israel to exist in peace and security.” But neither it nor its heir, the Palestinians Authority, has ever accepted Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, or the right of the Jewish people to self-determination. Robert Barnidge explains why this distinction matters:

A Jewish state for the Jewish people, after all, was exactly what the [UN] General Assembly intended in November 1947 when it called for the partition of the Palestine Mandate into “the Arab state, the Jewish state, and the city of Jerusalem.”

Although the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state does not stand or fall on this resolution—in declaring the independence of Israel on the eve of the Sabbath on May 14, 1948, the Jewish People’s Council, [the precursor to the Israeli government], also stressed the Jewish people’s natural and historic rights—it reaffirms the legitimacy of Jewish national rights in (what was to become) the state of Israel.

The Palestinians have steadfastly refused to recognize Jewish self-determination. [Instead], the PLO [has been] playing a double game. . . . It is not simply that the PLO supported the General Assembly’s determination in 1975, rescinded in 1991, that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” It is that that the PLO leadership continues to speak of Jews as a religious community rather than a people, and of Zionism as a colonial usurper rather than the national liberation movement that it is.

The U.S. government, Barnidge concludes, “should demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace and security as a Jewish state” and refuse to “press Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians unless and until that happens.”

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Peace Process, PLO, US-Israel relations, Yasir Arafat