Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Truth About Palestinian Immigration. By Evelyn Gordon.

The Truth About Palestinian Immigration. By Evelyn Gordon. Commentary, December 14, 2011. Also here.

Arab Immigration to Historic Palestine: A Survey. By Richard Mather. Jewish Media Agency, May 31, 2015.

Egyptian Émigrés in the Levant in the 19th and 20th Centuries. By Gideon M. Kressel and Reuven Aharoni. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, February 11, 2013. Also here.

Fouad Ajami: “My great-grandfather had come from Tabriz in Iran to our ancestral village sometime in the mid-1850s.” The Dream Palace of the Arabs, p. 14.

Who are the Palestinians? By Yoram Ettinger. Israel Hayom, December 13, 2011. Also at The Ettinger Report.


Writing in Israel Hayom yesterday, Yoram Ettinger supported Newt Gingrich’s statement that Palestinians are an “invented” people by offering statistics to show that far from having lived in the Holy Land for millennia, most Palestinians descend from immigrants who came from throughout the Muslim world between 1845 and 1947. Simon Sebag Montefiore provides similar data in his new book, Jerusalem: The Biography, as a New York Times reviewer noted: From 1919-38, for instance, 343,000 Jews and 419,000 Arabs immigrated to the area, meaning Arab Johnny-come-latelies significantly outnumbered the Jewish ones.

One might ask why this should matter: Regardless of when either Jews or Palestinians arrived, millions of both live east of the Jordan River today, and that’s the reality policymakers must deal with. But in truth, it matters greatly – because Western support for Palestinian negotiating positions stems largely from the widespread view that Palestinians are an indigenous people whose land was stolen by Western (Jewish) interlopers.

Current demographic realities would probably suffice to convince most Westerners that a Palestinian state should exist. But the same can’t be said of Western insistence that its border must be the 1967 lines, with adjustments possible only via one-to-one territorial swaps and only if the Palestinians consent. Indeed, just 44 years ago, UN Resolution 242 was carefully crafted to reflect a Western consensus that the 1967 lines shouldn’t be the permanent border. So what changed?

The answer lies in the phrase routinely used to describe the West Bank and Gaza today, but which almost nobody used back in 1967, when Israel captured these areas from Jordan and Egypt, respectively: “occupied Palestinian territory.” This phrase implies that the land belongs to the Palestinians and always has. And if so, why shouldn’t Israel be required to give back every last inch?

But if the land hasn’t belonged to the Palestinians “from time immemorial” – if instead, both Palestinians and Jews comprise small indigenous populations augmented by massive immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries, with the West Bank and Gaza becoming fully Judenrein only after Jordan and Egypt occupied them in 1948 – then there’s no inherent reason why the border must necessarily be in one place rather than another. To create two states, a border must be drawn somewhere, but that “somewhere” should depend only on the parties’ current needs – just as the drafters of Resolution 242 envisioned. Indeed, that resolution explicitly called for “secure” boundaries precisely because the 1967 lines were “notably insecure,” to quote then U.S. Ambassador to the UN Arthur Goldberg, and Western statesmen believed the permanent border must be relocated to make it defensible.

Moreover, if Palestinians aren’t the land’s indigenous owners, it becomes possible to implement another important principle: that 64 years of refusing repeated Jewish offers of statehood should entail a territorial price. For if decades of making war rather than peace doesn’t entail a territorial price, that encourages aggressors to keep trying to gain the whole loaf through military action, secure in the knowledge that half a loaf will always still be available if they ever decide otherwise.

On immigration, as in so many other aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it turns out that history matters, and by ignoring it, Israel and its supporters have badly undermined their own cause. Reversing direction at this late date won’t be easy. But if the conflict is ever to be resolved, correcting the historical record is vital.

Arab-Muslim Waves of Immigration to Palestine. By Rivka Shpak Lissak. Rivka Shpak Lissak.com. Also here.

The Ethnic-Religious Composition of the Population During the Mamluk Period, 1260-1516. By Rivka Shpak Lissak. Rivka Shpak Lissak.com.

Acculturation Without Islamization Under Arab-Muslim Occupation (640-1099). By Rivka Shpak Lissak. Rivka Shpak Lissak.com.

A History of Palestine, 634-1099. By Moshe Gil. Translated from the Hebrew by Ethel Broido. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Debunking the “Palestinians as Native Americans” Myth. By Rachel Avraham. The Jewish Press, April 29, 2013.

Review of Joan Peters, From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict Over Palestine. By Daniel Pipes. DanielPipes.org.

The Peters Principle on the Middle East Conflict. By Michael Curtis. American Thinker, January 9, 2015.

The Smoking Gun: Arab Immigration into Palestine, 1922-1931. By Fred M. Gottheil. The Middle East Quarterly, Vol. 10, No. 1 (Winter 2003). Also here.

Arab Immigration into Pre-State Israel: 1922-1931. By Fred M. Gottheil. Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 9, No. 3 (October 1973).

Arab Immigration into Palestine, 1922-1931. The Elder of Ziyon, November 22, 2007.

Pages mentioning Ibrahim Pasha from The Claim of Dispossession: Jewish Land-Settlement and the Arabs, 1878-1948. By Aryeh L. Avneri. Piscataway, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1984.

Hamas Minister of the Interior and of National Security Fathi Hammad Slams Egypt over Fuel Shortage in Gaza Strip, and Says: “Half of the Palestinians Are Egyptians and the Other Half Are Saudis.” MEMRI TV, Video Clip No. 3389, March 23, 2012. Transcript. YouTube. YouTubeIsrael Matzav. Israel Today.

Hamas Senior Official: Palestinians Don’t Come from Palestine. By Aryeh Savir. The Jewish Press, May 7, 2012.

Hamas top dog Fathi Hammad: “Palestinians Are Not From Palestine!” Sheik Yer’ Mami. Winds of Jihad, May 30, 2012.

Hamas: Palestinians Actually Are Egyptians, Saudis. By Bob Unruh. WND, September 27, 2012.


Allah be praised, we all have Arab roots, and every Palestinian, in Gaza and throughout Palestine, can prove his Arab roots – whether from Saudi Arabia, from Yemen, or anywhere. We have blood ties. So where is your affection and mercy?


Personally, half my family is Egyptian. We are all like that. More than 30 families in the Gaza Strip are called Al-Masri [“Egyptian”]. Brothers, half of the Palestinians are Egyptians and the other half are Saudis.

Who are the Palestinians? We have many families called Al-Masri, whose roots are Egyptian. Egyptian! They may be from Alexandria, from Cairo, from Dumietta, from the North, from Aswan, from Upper Egypt. We are Egyptians. We are Arabs. We are Muslims. We are a part of you.

What a Real Peace Process Would Look Like. By Evelyn Gordon.

What a Real Peace Process Would Look Like. By Evelyn Gordon. Commentary, September 10, 2013.

What More Must PA Do to Show Its Lack of Interest in Peace? By Evelyn Gordon. Commentary, September 2, 2013.

Sectarian Identities in Syria: Pushed to the Brink? By Genevieve Theodorakis.

Sectarian identities in Syria: pushed to the brink? By Genevieve Theodorakis. openDemocracy, September 8, 2013.

The Sectarian Map of Syria. By Eyad Abu Shakra. Asharq Al-Awsat, September 1, 2013.

Egypt: The Misunderstood Agony. By Yasmine El Rashidi.

Egypt: The Misunderstood Agony. By Yasmine El Rashidi. New York Review of Books, September 26, 2013. Also here.

Threaten to Threaten. By Thomas L. Friedman.

Threaten to Threaten. By Thomas L. Friedman. New York Times, September 10, 2013.


If you’re an average American and are confused and worried about us getting embroiled in a no-win Syrian civil war, you’re right to be concerned. It means you’re paying attention. But if you’re a member of Congress or a senator who’s still wondering whether to grant President Obama the authority to use force to deter Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from again murdering hundreds of his people with poison gas, it now makes sense to take a timeout. That also means you’re paying attention.
A new situation has been created in the last two days by the Russian offer — embraced by Obama, all of our major allies and China, but still only vaguely accepted by Syria — for Syria to turn over its stockpiles of poison gas to international control. Let’s have no illusion. There’s still a real possibility that the Russians and Syrians are just stalling and will fudge in the end, and even if one or both are serious, there are formidable logistical and political obstacles to securing Syria’s chemical weapons swiftly and completely. Part of me wonders:
Part of me wonders has anybody thought this through? But all of me wants to acknowledge that if a Syrian surrender of poison gas were implemented — still a big if — it would be a good end to this near-term crisis. The global taboo on poison gas would be upheld, and America would not have to get embroiled in a shooting war in Syria.
In that context, I think it is worth Obama and Congress threatening to schedule a vote to endorse Obama’s threat of force — if the Syrians and Russians don’t act in good faith — but not schedule a vote right now. (That was essentially the president’s message in his speech last night.) By “threatening to threaten,” Obama retains leverage to keep the Syrians and Russians focused on implementing any agreement — but without having to test Congress’s real willingness to let him fulfill that threat. Because, if it failed to pass, the Russians and Syrians would have no incentive to move.
If all of this sounds incredibly messy and confusing, it is. And while Obama and his team have contributed to this mess by way too much loose talk, in fairness, there is also a deep structural reason for it. Obama is dealing with an Arab world that no modern president has had to confront. Until 2010, the Arab Middle East had been relatively stable for 35 years. The combination of the cold war, the rise of oil-funded dictators who built strong security states and the peace between Egypt and Israel imposed order.
But the convergence in the 2010s of Arab population explosions, joblessness, environmental degradation, water scarcity, falling oil revenues and the information revolution blew apart regimes that once seemed solid — Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq, Libya and Yemen — forcing us now to confront some new and very uncomfortable questions, not just the use of force.
One is this: Are some things true even if George W. Bush believed them? No one, hawk or dove, wants to see American boots on the ground in Syria, under any conditions. Count me among them. The only problem is that it is impossible to imagine a solution to the conflict in Syria without some outside force putting boots on the ground. When you get the degree of state and social breakdown that you have in such a multitribal and multisectarian society as Syria, there is no trust with which to govern and rotate power. Therefore, you need either a midwife or a Mandela or a trusted military (à la Egypt) to referee the transition to a new order. And since Syria has no Mandela and no trusted military, it is going to need an external midwife. I understand why there are no volunteers, but the United Nations Security Council will eventually have to address this reality, otherwise Syria will become Afghanistan on the Mediterranean.
There are also some uncomfortable questions we need to pose to our Arab allies. During the cold war, our fear of communism and dependence on oil made us ready to align with anyone who was with us against the Soviets. We never questioned our Arab allies about what values they were promoting at home?
Well, here is a question we need to start posing: There are reportedly thousands of Arab and Muslim youths who have come from as far away as Australia to join the jihadist militias in Syria fighting to create a Sunni Islamist state there. But how many Arab and Muslim youth have flocked to Syria to fight with the decent elements of the Free Syrian Army for a multisectarian, pluralistic, democratic Syria — that is, the kind of Syria we hope for and envisage? I have not read of any. Arms purveyors, yes, but not people putting their own lives on the line.
I am glad that Arab Gulf leaders are supporting us publicly — most of them are moderates in the Middle East context — but everyone knows that mosques and charities in those same countries are financing the jihadists. Attention: With the Soviets and the oil lines gone, Americans today are not going to expend blood and treasure to defend people and places in the Arab world that don’t share our values and are also not ready to sacrifice for them. We can’t afford it anymore, and we don’t need to.
So give Obama credit for standing up for an important principle in a chaotic region. But also give the American people some credit. They’re telling our leaders something important: It’s hard to keep facing down Middle East Hitlers when there are no Churchills on the other side.

1967 Border Is a Source of Strain in the Israeli-Palestinian Talks. By Jodi Rudoren.

1967 Border Is a Source of Strain in the Israeli-Palestinian Talks. By Jodi Rudoren. New York Times, September 9, 2013.

U.S. Says Palestinians Just Making Stuff Up. By Seth Mandel. Commentary, September 10, 2013.

Assault on Christian Town in Syria Adds to Fears Over Rebels. By Anne Barnard and Hwaida Saad.

Assault on Christian Town Adds to Fears Over Rebels. By Anne Barnard and Hwaida Saad. New York Times, September 10, 2013.

Maaloula is one of the last places where Aramaic, the language of Jesus, is still spoken by Christians and some Muslims. SANA via Assoicated Press

100 Years After Woodrow Wilson, Mark Levin Pens a Brilliant Response. By Peter Ferrara.

100 Years After Woodrow Wilson, Mark Levin Pens a Brilliant Response. By Peter Ferrara. Forbes, September 8, 2013.

Does the Bible Foretell the Destruction of Damascus? By Joel C. Rosenberg

Do Isaiah 17 & Jeremiah 49 foretell Damascus destruction? 23 pages of notes on this subject. By Joel C. Rosenberg. Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog, September 9, 2013. Notes here and here.

Why Some Believe These “End Time” Bible Verses Could Hold the Key to the Syrian Crisis. By Billy Hallowell. The Blaze, September 8, 2013.

Current crisis in Syria a fulfillment of end times Bible prophecy? The Right Scoop, September 9, 2013.

Joel Rosenberg: Bible prophecy, Damascus, and “utter destruction.” By Chris Woodward. One News Now, September 9, 2013.

World War 3, End of Days, Armageddon Fears: Syria Crisis Linked to Jesus Christ’s Second Coming. By Reissa Su. International Business Times, September 6, 2013.

Sorry Evangelicals, Syria Will Not Spur the Second Coming. By Candida Moss. The Daily Beast, September 5, 2013.

Some Evangelicals See Biblical Prophecy in Syrian Crises. By Elizabeth Dias. Time, August 29, 2013.

Sermon at Topeka Bible Church: What do Isaiah 17 & Jeremiah 49 foretell about the future of Damascus? By Joel C. Rosenberg. Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog, September 10, 2013. Topeka Bible ChurchVimeo.

Neil Cavuto interviews Joel Rosenberg on Isaiah 17 and “Damascus Countdown.” Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog, September 10, 2013. Video. YouTube. YouTube.

Among Syria’s Islamist Fighters. By Rania Abouzeid.

Among Syria’s Islamist Fighters. By Rania Abouzeid. The New Yorker, September 5, 2013. Also at RaniaAbouzeid.com.

Rania Abouzeid

Can Obama Afford Not to Bomb Syria? By Aaron David Miller.

Can Obama Afford Not to Bomb Syria? By Aaron David Miller. Foreign Policy, September 9, 2013. Also here.

Barack Obama’s speech won’t sell Americans on Syria. By Aaron David Miller. CNN, September 11, 2013.

“Progressive” Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism. By Alvin H. Rosenfeld.

“Progressive” Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism. By Alvin H. Rosenfeld. American Jewish Committee, December 2006. Also herehere.

Rhetorical Violence and the Jews: Critical Distance. By Alvin H. Rosenfeld. Engage, February 27, 2007. Originally published in The New Republic, February 27, 2007. Also here.

“Progressive” Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism. Wikipedia.

“Progressive” Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism. Israel Matzav, January 31, 2007.

Essay Linking Liberal Jews and Anti-Semitism Sparks a Furor. By Patricia Cohen. New York Times, January 31, 2007.

Jewish Liberalism and Its Discontents. By Benjamin Kerstein. Diary of an Anti-Chomskyite, January 31, 2007.

Jewish Hypercritics of Israel Criticized: How Dare You? By Richard Landes. The Augean Stables, February 1, 2007.

The Dialectical Scam: Why Does It Work? By Richard Landes. The Augean Stables, March 1, 2007.

Zionism, Anti-Semitism, and the Boundaries of Dissent: Round 2 of the Alvin Rosenfeld Debate. Jewcy, April 1, 2007. Also here.

Europe’s “Good Jews.” By Emanuele Ottolenghi. Commentary, December 2005.

Zionism’s Bad Conscience. By Joel Kovel. Tikkun, September/October 2002. Also here.

The Trouble with Zionism. By Joel Kovel. JoelKovel.com, February 15, 2013.

Review of Joel Kovel, Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine. By Ryvka Bar Zohar. Arab Studies Journal, Vol. 17, No. 1 (Spring 2009). Book page at Amazon.com.