Corpus Separatum?

Mouin Rabbani · Trump and Jerusalem

Late yesterday evening, ‘a senior administration official’ confirmed that the United States will today recognise Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem. Given that the policy is to be announced by Donald Trump, a volatile airhead presiding over a highly fractious government, it’s still far from clear how – or even whether – Washington will put forward a new position. But if, as expected, the US does proceed with this measure, the physical relocation of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will be the least of it.

For seventy years, the US has, at least formally, aligned its position on Jerusalem with that of the international community and international law. According to UN Resolution 181 recommending the partition of Palestine, passed by the General Assembly on 29 November 1947, the Holy City was ‘established as a corpus separatum under a special international regime’. Israel’s conquest of West Jerusalem during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and Jordan’s annexation of East Jerusalem in 1950 were never recognised. Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967; in 1980 the Knesset passed a law claiming that ‘Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.’ Security Council Resolution 478 declared the measure ‘null and void’.

In other words, pending the establishment of either an international administration as specified in the partition resolution or an alternative arrangement (such as a peace agreement) endorsed by the UN, it has been a foundational principle of the international community’s approach to Jerusalem since 1947 not to recognise any claim to sovereignty over the city, in whole or in part. The principle has been endorsed and applied by every US administration since 1948. It’s the reason that most states, including the US, established their embassies to Israel in Tel Aviv rather than West Jerusalem.

US presidential candidates in recent decades have habitually proclaimed their intention to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Holy City and relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem, but such displays of political correctness have until now failed to survive contact with reality. Such a dramatic break with seven decades of US and indeed global policy, seeking to unilaterally rewrite international law and predetermine the outcome of eventual Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, would constitute an act of premeditated political pyromania with unforeseen local, regional and global consequences.

There’s an additional twist: in 1989, Israel leased a plot of land to the US on which to build its Jerusalem embassy. Extensive research by Walid Khalidi demonstrated not only that at least 70 per cent of the land is confiscated Palestinian refugee property, but also that many of the heirs of the original owners are today US citizens.

The US Congress in 1995 passed legislation recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and requiring the government to move the US embassy there. Urged on by Binyamin Netanyahu (then Israel’s opposition leader) and AIPAC, both of whom were determined to scuttle the Oslo process, the measure passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. The current crisis exists only because the White House is required to sign a waiver every six months postponing the relocation of the embassy, and this time Trump hasn’t done it.

Given the current level of chaos and conflict in the Middle East, it isn’t easy to predict how the various Arab and regional states will respond, and what the consequences for their rulers will be if – as widely expected – they fail, individually and collectively, to provide an immediate, forceful and energetic response. The frantic appeals to Trump by his closest Arab allies indicate they are genuinely frightened.

American recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem would send an unmistakable signal that Washington rejects not only the two-state settlement paradigm but also the Palestinian right to national self-determination in favour of permanent Israeli domination and Palestinian dispossession. It would also indicate that Washington endorses only Jewish and rejects Christian and Muslim rights to the Holy City. The silver lining is that it may lead to the final termination of fruitless Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy under American auspices, which has served only to consolidate Israeli control over the occupied territories.

As for the Palestinian response, at the popular level Palestinians will presumably want their leadership, at the very least, to annul the Oslo Accords, withdraw its 1993 recognition of Israel, and sever both relations with Washington and security collaboration with Israel. Should Mahmoud Abbas seek to avoid political confrontation, or order his security forces to prevent Palestinians from taking matters into their own hands, it could cost him dearly. Yet few people expect him to break meaningfully with either the US or Israel.

The impact on the ‘peace process’, however, will be negligible, for the simple reason that it has long ceased to exist and there are no serious indications of its revival. Trump’s answer to Metternich, his son-in-law and czar of everything Jared Kushner, has so far achieved precisely nothing. It perhaps says all you need to know about them that he and his team – all active supporters of Israel’s settlement enterprise in the occupied Palestinian territories – appear to believe this change of policy will contribute to a Middle Eastern version of the Concert of Europe.


  • 6 December 2017 at 2:12pm
    Stu Bry says:
    It is worth noting that this - like the disastrous Tax Plan - is not an example of Trump acting outside established norms. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer both support this policy as do many other Democrats.

    The rapturous applause for Netanyahu’s speech to the US Congress which undermined Obama's policy toward Iran exposed US lawmakers who were delighted to collude with a foreign power against their own country.

  • 6 December 2017 at 7:45pm
    stettiner says:
    UN Resolution 181 is not international law.

    Corpus seperatum has been effectively annulled by Arab assault on Israel 1948. Funny enough, Bethlehem was also a part of this "international zone", but nobody seems to question the Arab claim to this holy city...

    Earlier this year, Russia recognized West Jerusalem as capital of Israel.

    • 7 December 2017 at 10:26pm
      pdiveris says: @ stettiner
      Understood. Since both parties are at fault we should endorse more vandalism, even by those outside the city. You are putting forward a very reasonable and balanced proposition, carry on.

    • 8 December 2017 at 11:09am
      stettiner says: @ pdiveris
      Both parties are at fault? Do you mean that the Arabs are at fault here as well? Balanced proposition? You have yet to show me at least one piece here on LRB blog criticizing Arabs for something else than being too soft on Jews...

    • 8 December 2017 at 3:31pm
      Misterioso says: @ stettiner
      As declared by Walter Eytan, then Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry), Jewish forces and the IDF dispossessed and expelled about 800,000 essentially defenseless Palestinian Arabs (the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine) between late 1947 and the fall of 1948. As well documented, they accomplished this by means of armed force, several massacres, mass rape and intimidation. They also destroyed over 500 of the Palestinians’ towns and villages while seizing 78% of Palestine, i.e. 22% more than the 56% the recommendatory only Partition Plan suggested. (Nor should we forget that a further 25,000 Palestinians were driven out just before and during Israel’s 1956 invasion of Egypt as well as an additional 250,000 during and after Israel launched the June 1967 war and invaded and occupied the remaining 22% of mandated Palestine)

      Israel's belligerent, brutal and illegal occupation of East Jerusalem (and other Arab lands) is in gross violation of international law, i.e.,the UN Charter, The Fourth Geneva Convention, and the Rome Statute, which are binding on all UN members. (There is no special provision in international law that enables Israel to violate it with impunity.)

      You neglected to note that Russia also recognized East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

    • 8 December 2017 at 4:28pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ Misterioso
      I see that you are really into this, with a complete I Hate Israel file. Had you mentioned the fact that the Arabs invaded the State of Israel in 1948 and that an equal number of Jews were displaced from Arab lands during the war period I might believe that you possessed a modicum of objectivity. Had you mentioned the fact that the majority of the Arabs fled and were not expelled (that at least is the view of Benny Morris, who examined the archives) I might also believe that you were being completely honest. As for the massacres and "mass" rape, Benny Morris documents a few hundred executions and a dozrn cases of rape, which is bad enough but certainly not what you are implying. You are presenting a one-sided and dishonest view of the conflict, which serves no purpose other than to get a lot of hostility off your chest.

    • 8 December 2017 at 5:00pm
      Misterioso says: @ Fred Skolnik
      Palestinians rejected the Partition Plan (UNGA Res. 181, Nov. 29/47) for entirely justified reasons based on international law. While Jews made up just 31% of the population (90% of foreign origin, only 30% had become citizens, thousands were illegal immigrants) and privately owned only between 6% and 7% of the land, the Partition Plan (recommendatory only, no legal foundation, contrary to the British Class A Mandate and the 1941 Atlantic Charter, never adopted by the UNSC) outrageously recommended they receive 56% of Palestine (including its most fertile areas) in which Palestinians made up 45% of the population. (10% of Palestine’s Jewish population consisted of native Palestinian/Arab Jews who were anti-Zionist.)

      Rubbing salt into the wound, the United States quashed a proposal based on international law put forth by Arab delegates at the UN that a referendum be conducted in Palestine to determine the wishes of the majority regarding the Partition Plan. The United States also thwarted their request to have the matter referred to the International Court of Justice.

      48% of the total land area of mandated Palestine was privately owned (‘mulk khaas’) by Palestinian Arabs. (As noted, total Jewish privately owned land was only between 6% and 7%.) About 45% of the total land area was state owned, i.e. by citizens of Palestine, and it was comprised of Communal Property (‘mashaa’), Endowment Property, (‘waqf’), and Government Property, (‘miri’.) (The British Mandate kept an extensive land registry and the UN used the registry during its early deliberations. It has in its archives 453,000 records of individual Palestinian owners defined by name, location & area.)

      Land ownership by Sub-district in all of mandated Palestine, 1947:
      Acre: 87% Palestinian Arab owned, 3% Jewish owned, 10% state owned; Safed: 68% Palestinian Arab owned, 18% Jewish owned, 14% state owned; Haifa: 42% Palestinian Arab owned, 35% Jewish owned, 23% state owned; Nazareth: 52% Palestinian Arab owned, 28% Jewish owned, 20% state owned; Tiberias: 51% Palestinian Arab owned, 38% Jewish owned, 11% state owned; Jenin: 84% Palestinian Arab owned, less than 1% Jewish owned, 16% state owned; Beisan: 44% Palestinian Arab owned, 34% Jewish owned, 22% state owned; Tulkarm: 78% Palestinian Arab owned; 17% Jewish owned, 5% state owned; Nablus: 87% Palestinian Arab owned, less than 1% Jewish owned, 13% state owned; Jaffa: 47% Palestinian Arab owned, 39% Jewish owned, 14% state owned; Ramleh: 77% Palestinian Arab owned, 14% Jewish owned, 9% state owned; Ramallah: 99% Palestinian Arab owned, less than 1% Jewish owned, less than 1% state owned; Jerusalem (West and East): 84% Palestinian Arab owned, 2% Jewish owned, 14% state owned; Gaza: 75% Palestinian Arab owned, 4% Jewish owned, 21% state owned; Hebron: 96% Palestinian Arab owned, less than 1% Jewish owned, 4% state owned; Bersheeba (Negev): 15% Palestinian Arab owned, less than 1% Jewish owned, 85% state owned. (Village Statistics, Jerusalem: Palestine Government, subsequently published as United Nations Map no. 94b, August, 1950)

      In 1947, the total population of West Jerusalem (the New City) and East Jerusalem (the Old City) and their environs was about 200,000 with a slight Arab majority. (Professor Walid Khalidi, Harvard, "Plan Dalet," Journal of Palestine Studies, Autumn, 1988, p. 17)

      The total land area of West Jerusalem (the New City) in 1947 was 19,331 dunams (about 4,833 acres) of which 40 per cent was owned by Palestinian Muslims and Christians, 26.12 per cent by Jews and 13.86 per cent by others, including Christian communities. Government and municipal land made up 2.90 per cent and roads and railways 17.12 per cent.

      East Jerusalem (the Old City) consisted of 800 dunams (about 240 acres) of which five dunams (just over one acre) were Jewish owned and the remaining 795 dunams were owned by Palestinian Muslims and Christians. ("Assessing Palestinian Property in the City," by Dalia Habash and Terry Rempel, Jerusalem 1948: The Arab Neighbourhoods and their Fate in the War, edited by Salim Tamari, The Institute of Jerusalem Studies, 1999, map, pp. 184-85)

      Although Palestinian Arab citizens made up at least 69% of the population and to repeat, privately owned 48% of the land, the Partition Plan recommended they receive only 42% as a state. (The 2% of Palestine comprised of Jerusalem and Bethlehem was to be placed under international control, i.e, a corpus separatum.)

      No wonder Palestinians rejected the Partition Plan. Indeed, it proved so unworkable that when Polish born David Ben-Gurion (nee, David Gruen) et al. declared the “Jewish State” of Israel effective 15 May 1948 (after Jewish forces had already dispossessed and expelled 400,000 Palestinians – e.g., 30,000 from West Jerusalem in March (and a further 30,000 in May), 60,000 from Haifa in April, 75,000 from Jaffa in late April and early May), the UNGA was in the process of shelving the Partition Plan in favor of a UN Trusteeship.

      When war erupted due to necessary intervention by reluctant outnumbered/outgunned Arab state armies to stem the accelerating expulsion of Palestinians, a US proposed cease-fire was accepted by the Arab League but rejected by Israel.

      During the war Israel seized 78% of Palestine (22% more than the Partition Plan recommended, including large portions of the proposed Palestinian state, e.g., Jaffa and Acre), expelled 400,000 more Palestinians for a total of about 800,000 (as declared by Walter Eytan, then Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry) and went on to destroy over 500 of their towns and villages, including churches, mosques and cemeteries.

      It was only the beginning of the Zionist's conquest of Palestine and the expulsion of its indigenous Arab inhabitants.

      BTW, The repeated assertion by Israel’s leaders and other Zionists that Palestinians fled their homes and properties in 1948 because they were told to do so by Arab leaders to make way for incoming Arab armies has long-since been debunked. To quote John H. Davis, who served as Commission-General of UNRWA at the time: "An exhaustive examination of the minutes, resolutions, and press releases of the Arab League, of the files of leading Arabic newspapers, of day-to-day monitoring of broadcasts from Arab capitals and secret Arab radio stations, failed to reveal a single reference, direct or indirect, to an order given to the Arabs of Palestine to leave. All the evidence is to the contrary; that the Arab authorities continuously exhorted the Palestinian Arabs not to leave the country.... Panic and bewilderment played decisive parts in the flight. But the extent to which the refugees were savagely driven out by the Israelis as part of a deliberate master-plan has been insufficiently recognized." (John H. Davis, The Evasive Peace, London: Murray, 1968)


  • 7 December 2017 at 2:53am
    farthington says:
    Stettiner is right.
    UN resolution 181 is not international law because it was partial and had no legitimacy from the start.
    Indeed it only got that far because of the zionist lobbying and threats to the countries that supported it (plus the realpolitik of the Soviet Union).
    Israel was created by terrorism, and the failed Arab resistance is irrelevant.
    Israel's ongoing ethnic cleansing will continue until Jewish communities in other countries confront that their own integrity, their own humanity, is rendered null by the apartheid state of Israel.

    • 7 December 2017 at 6:36am
      Fred Skolnik says: @ farthington
      You are reciting a mantra. Here are a few comments about the apartheid fiction:

      As for the rest, the idea that Jewish threats intimidate the world is a notion held by Jew haters everywhere, so welcome to the club.

    • 7 December 2017 at 10:30pm
      pdiveris says: @ Fred Skolnik
      Could you elaborate on the concept of "Jewish threats?" Do you mean the Israeli settlements, blockades etc, or are you talking about the writings of Jewish intellectuals in papers and reviews?

    • 8 December 2017 at 5:24am
      Fred Skolnik says: @ pdiveris
      I am talking about the classic antisemitic slander that Jews control the world. That is what your farthington is saying.

    • 8 December 2017 at 3:37pm
      Misterioso says: @ Fred Skolnik

      Hendrik Verwoerd, then prime minister of South Africa and the architect of South Africa’s apartheid policies, 1961: “Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state.” (Rand Daily Mail, November 23, 1961)

      Jacobus Johannes Fouché, South African Minister of Defence during the apartheid era, compared the two states and said that Israel also practiced apartheid.
      (Gideon Shimoni (1980). Jews and Zionism: The South African Experience 1910-1967. Cape Town: Oxford UP. pp. 310–336. ISBN 0195701798.

      “Former Foreign Ministry director-general invokes South Africa comparisons. ‘Joint Israel-West Bank’ reality is an apartheid state”
      EXCERPT: “Similarities between the ‘original apartheid’ as it was practiced in South Africa and the situation in ISRAEL [my emphasis] and the West Bank today ‘scream to the heavens,’ added [Alon] Liel, who was Israel’s ambassador in Pretoria from 1992 to 1994. There can be little doubt that the suffering of Palestinians is not less intense than that of blacks during apartheid-era South Africa, he asserted.” (Times of Israel, February 21, 2013)

      Video: Israeli TV Host Implores Israelis: Wake Up and Smell the Apartheid

      In its 2015 Country Report on Human Rights Practices for Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, the U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor acknowledges the “institutional and societal discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel.” (U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor)

      “Construction, Not Destruction”
      “While Israeli Arabs constitute 20 percent of the population, Arab communities’ jurisdictions occupy just 2.5 percent of the state’s land area, and the process of approving new construction in Arab towns takes decades.” (Haaretz Editorial, April 4, 2017)

      One example of apartheid within Israel:
      “Jewish town won’t let Arab build home on his own land ”
      Excerpt: “Aadel Suad first came to the planning and construction committee of the Misgav Local Council in 1997. Suad, an educator, was seeking a construction permit to build a home on a plot of land he owns in the community of Mitzpeh Kamon. The reply he got, from a senior official on the committee, was a memorable one. ‘Don’t waste your time,’ he reportedly told Suad. ‘We’ll keep you waiting for 30 years.’” (Haaretz, 14 December 2009)

      Ronnie Kasrils, a key player in the struggle against the former South African apartheid regime, minister for intelligence and a devout Jew: "The Palestinian minority in Israel has for decades been denied basic equality in health, education, housing and land possession, solely because it is not Jewish. The fact that this minority is allowed to vote hardly redresses the rampant injustice in all other basic human rights. They are excluded from the very definition of the 'Jewish state', and have virtually no influence on the laws, or political, social and economic policies. Hence, their similarity to the black South Africans [under apartheid]." (The Guardian, 25 May 2005)

      Shlomo Gazit, retired IDF Major General: "[Israel's] legal system that enforces the law in a discriminatory way on the basis of national identity, is actually maintaining an apartheid regime." (Haaretz, July 19, 2011)

      Israel is the only country in the world that differentiates between citizenship and nationality, i.e., “Israeli” nationality does not exist, only Jews and non-Jews, and each citizen carries an appropriate identity card. While the implications of this absurdity for discrimination and racism against non-Jews are obvious, it has been upheld by Israel’s Supreme Court.

      The effect of Israel’s blatantly racist “Citizenship Law” and more than fifty other restrictions Arab citizens have to endure is well expressed by writer and Knesset member, Ahmed Tibi, “…dutifully defining the state [of Israel] as ‘Jewish and democratic,’ ignores the fact that in practice ‘democratic’ refers to Jews, and the Arabs are nothing more than citizens without citizenship.” (Ma’ariv, 1.6.2005)

    • 8 December 2017 at 4:17pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ Misterioso
      Israeli Arabs eat in the same restaurants as Jews, travel on the same buses and trains, use the same public spaces, are treated in the same hospitals as Jews, treat Jews in these hospitals as doctors and nurses, serve as lawyers and judges in Israel’s legal system, teach and study in the universities, and vote and serve in the Knesset. This is certainly not the situation or condition that the word apartheid was coined to describe. Certainly there is discrimination, and much of it can be explained by the fact that Israeli Arabs identify with an Arab world whose declared aim has been to destroy the State of Israel. This is regrettable but calling it apartheid is a perfect example of how a lesser evil ("discrimination" in this case) is transformed into a greater evil by using a "dirtier" word ("apartheid") when talking about Israel. The same holds true of your use of the word racist. The conflict is national, not racial.

    • 8 December 2017 at 5:04pm
      Misterioso says: @ Fred Skolnik
      A feeble and evasive response. Face reality: Israel, i.e., west of the green line is an apartheid entity. The evidence is overwhelming. Nor should we forget that Israel is a belligerent, illegal, brutal occupier of Palestinian and other Arab lands.

    • 8 December 2017 at 5:27pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ Misterioso
      You are not equipped with your second- and third-hand English-language sources to be anyone's guide to reality. What I described above does not fall under anyone's definition of apartheid. As for the occupation, it is as legal as the Allied occupation of Germany. You start a war, you lose a war, you get your territory occupied. You engage in terrorist acts, you get security fences, security roads, roadblocks, checkpoints, curfews and arrests.

  • 7 December 2017 at 7:06am
    farthington says:
    If it looks smells and walks like apartheid it is apartheid.
    No mantra but an accurate label for the structure erected from day one. Uri Davis' Apartheid Israel is instructive in this respect.
    Laughable really, ignominious, contemptible, that one should feel comfortable with one's own propaganda.
    Tribalism is a fearful dissolver of one's humanity, not to speak of one's claim to intelligence.
    It's not a good look.

    • 7 December 2017 at 7:38am
      Fred Skolnik says: @ farthington
      Jew hatred is a fearful dissolver of one's humanity, so you had better watch your step.

      I have replied to the apartheid fiction in the link above. I realize that you require instruction about a country you've never seen where people speak a language you don't understand but you are unfortunately unequipped to evaluate it, whether it's from Uri Davis or anyone else.

    • 7 December 2017 at 12:32pm
      mototom says: @ Fred Skolnik
      Fred, you've got to admit that Israel was a bit soft on Apartheid South Africa.

    • 7 December 2017 at 2:27pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ mototom
      In the world of the Arab boycott, Israel didn't have the luxury of choosing its friends. It had nothing to do with being soft on apartheid.

    • 7 December 2017 at 10:31pm
      pdiveris says: @ Fred Skolnik
      I think you should cut down on the "Jew hatred" a little. We are talking about Israeli policies here, not about Jews.

    • 8 December 2017 at 5:26am
      Fred Skolnik says: @ pdiveris
      fathington is talking about Jews. As for the rest, I have replied to each mantra.

    • 8 December 2017 at 2:17pm
      pdiveris says: @ Fred Skolnik
      This is a bit about Israel and occupied Jerusalem. If you didn't grasp that then start by (re-) reading it.

    • 8 December 2017 at 2:17pm
      pdiveris says: @ Fred Skolnik
      I meant to say "piece," not "bit." Forgive my tablet's autosuggestions. They are as clumsy as some of the comments here.

    • 8 December 2017 at 2:18pm
      pdiveris says: @ Fred Skolnik
      Indeed, it had more to do with two isolated countries desperately needing weapons, oil and money.

    • 8 December 2017 at 2:39pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ pdiveris
      But the comment is about Jews "threatening" countries. What does that sound like?

    • 8 December 2017 at 5:05pm
      Misterioso says: @ Fred Skolnik
      More evasion. You live in a hasbara induced fantasy world.

  • 7 December 2017 at 10:00am
    Graucho says:
    Just had a déjà lu experience. Anyway, if you have a client state, then the customer is always right, so no surprises here. At least the world need not waste anymore time in the delusion that the U.S. is an honest broker. We should thank Mr. Fake University for that.

  • 7 December 2017 at 11:36am
    Stu Bry says:
    There seems to be shift to a single state solution from the PLO now. Only an spartheid state based on an ethnofantasy could deny that.

    • 7 December 2017 at 11:49am
      Fred Skolnik says: @ Stu Bry
      You're a fool to believe that Israel is going to disappear because the Arabs are unable to reconcile themselves to the existence of a sovereign non-Muslim state in the Middle East. There is nothing "ethnic" about a Jewish national state with an Arab national minority, just as there is nothing ethnic about a Turkish national state with a Kurdish national minority, or for that matter a French national state or a Panamanian national state. The only way the Palestinians are going to get a state of their own is by sitting down with Israel and negotiating an end to the conflict.

    • 7 December 2017 at 1:14pm
      Stu Bry says: @ Fred Skolnik
      The ethnofantasy is that a Jewish person from the Black Sea has a "right of return" to Palestine whilst someone born in Palestine is effectively stateless. We are seeing straight faced claims from supposedly serious politicians that Jerusalem has been Israel's "undivided capital" for thousands of years. This is nonsense on a par with a Tory politician claiming that Jesus and Joseph of Aramathia visited Glastonbury and begat a line that led to King Arthur or a Utah politican claiming that Jesus visited America. It is laughable.

      France is a secular state. Turkey is theoretically a secular state. Israel is an ethnoreligious state that discriminates not only against Arabs but also against less favoured groups of Jews.

    • 7 December 2017 at 10:34pm
      pdiveris says: @ Stu Bry
      Fred Skolnik repeatedly conflates Jews and Israel when and as it suits him. In doing so he has already proved you right. Ironically he's doing both Israel and the Jews a disservice.

    • 8 December 2017 at 8:26am
      Fred Skolnik says: @ pdiveris
      Singling out the Israel-Arab conflict as your "issue" in a world of horrendous genocides – in Rwanda, in Nigeria, in Sudan, for example, none of which elicited so much as a peep from any of you – is naturally highly suspect. Shedding crocodile tears every time s settler uproots an Arab olive tree and never opening your filthy mouths when Jewish women and children were being blown to pieces in buses and restaurants is also highly suspect. Criticize Israel in the language of criticism and I'll reply in kind. Criticize Israel in the language of hatred and I'll expose you for what you are.

    • 8 December 2017 at 2:16pm
      pdiveris says: @ Fred Skolnik
      Your response is beyond ridiculous. The Israel-Arab conflict is not my "issue," rather it one of many issues which sadden me deeply. This is a piece about that very conflict though, so exactly what do you expected me to talk about, onion bhajis? It seems to me that is you who's singling me out as singling out the Israel-Arab conflict. As I said earlier, it's high time you drop this "Jew hatred" as this is a piece about Israel and occupied Jerusalem, not the Jews. Regarding your constant invocation of the "hater" term and your weird references to crocodile tears I would strongly recommend that you revisit the story of Peter and the wolf. On another note, you have no idea as to whether I've been upset about Nigeria or Rwanda. Your attempt to deflect from the issues at the centre of this piece are clumsy to say the least. You should leave the art of squid ink spraying to the expert, your patron and arsonist in chief, Donald Trump.

    • 8 December 2017 at 2:53pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ pdiveris
      Show us then your "comments" anywhere on the Internet about Rwanda, Nigeria, Sudan Israelis blown apart by barbaric terrorists or any other of the "many issues" that "sadden you deeply."

      As I've already written: Criticize Israel in the language of criticism and I’ll reply in kind. Criticize Israel in the language of hatred and I’ll expose you for what you are. The language of farthington is the language of hatred. Accusing Jews of thinking of themselves as a "superior race" and of being crybabies about the Holocaust and all the other massacres, as farthington does, is a mantra of antisemitism.

    • 8 December 2017 at 3:39pm
      dmr says: @ Fred Skolnik
      Unlike Fred I am a dim bulb so let me see if I grasp what he is saying. To criticize Israel I am in duty and good conscience bound first to reprove all other countries that mistreat their subject peoples of infringe their rights as human beings.

      This is the sine qua non - right? To show my bona fides as a critic of Israel I must launch my attack on its conduct the widest possible front at the same time as I direct my barbs at the country and, preferably, before I do so. Otherwise I am guilty of the thou shalt not of "singling out" or the crime of "hating" and am enjoined by common sense to keep my mouth shut about its barbarities.

      On this reasoning, no-one was entitled to take South Africa to task who did not - previously or simultaneously – meet the requirement of criticizing Pol Pot’s Cambodia or holding to account the behaviour of the many other states in which atrocities were being perpetrated. A rather long list, but such is life (and logic).

      Have I understood?

    • 8 December 2017 at 3:54pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ dmr
      No, you have not understood. Anyone popping up on the anti-Israel blogs and nowhere else - and in pdiveris's case and probably yours as well I imagine that the situations in South Africa and Cambodia also did not inspire you to open your mouths - is bound to have his motives questioned, and when the language of the Israel "criticism" becomes vehemently and slanderously malicious and begins to drag in gratuitous remarks about Jews as such, as is the case with a great deal of this "criticism," then there is very good reason to label it as Jew hatred pure and simple. There is still such a thing in the world, you know, and what is more natural than for Jew haters to hate Israel as well

    • 8 December 2017 at 5:14pm
      Misterioso says: @ pdiveris
      Some interesting historical facts:

      The Jebusite/Canaanites, ancestors of today’s Palestinians, who along with their ancestors have lived continuously between the River and the Sea for at least 15,000 years,** founded Jerusalem around 3000 BCE. (It is estimated that the biblical Hebrews did not arrive until circa 1800 BCE and the United Jewish Kingdom, which never controlled the coast from Jaffa to Gaza, lasted a mere 75 years, less than a blip in the history of Canaan and Palestine.)

      Originally known as Jebus, the first recorded reference to it as “Rushalimum” (or “Urussalim”) appears in Egyptian Execration Texts of the nineteenth century BCE, nearly 800 years before it is alleged King David was born.

      BTW, thus far, no archaeological evidence, or more importantly, writings of contemporaneous civilizations, have been found that prove Solomon or David actually existed. (Nor has any evidence been discovered to confirm that the Jewish exodus from Egypt ever occurred. )

      To quote renowned Jewish Israeli writer/columnist, Uri Avnery: “[David and Solomon’s] existence is disproved, inter alia, by their total absence from the voluminous correspondence of Egyptian rulers and spies in the Land of Canaan.” (“A Curious National Home,” by Uri Avnery, May 13/17 –

      Front. Genet., 21 June 2017 |

      The Origins of Ashkenaz, Ashkenazic Jews, and Yiddish.

      Recent genetic samples from bones found in Palestine dating to the Epipaleolithic (20000-10500 BCE) showed remarkable resemblance to modern day Palestinians.

      “The non-Levantine origin of AJs [Ashkenazi Jews] is further supported by an ancient DNA analysis of six Natufians and a Levantine Neolithic (Lazaridis et al., 2016), some of the most likely Judaean progenitors (Finkelstein and Silberman, 2002; Frendo, 2004). In a principle component analysis (PCA), the ancient Levantines clustered predominantly with modern-day Palestinians and Bedouins and marginally overlapped with Arabian Jews, whereas AJs clustered away from Levantine individuals and adjacent to Neolithic Anatolians and Late Neolithic and Bronze Age Europeans.”

      “Overall, the combined results are in a strong agreement with the predictions of the Irano-Turko-Slavic hypothesis (Table 1) and rule out an ancient Levantine origin for AJs, which is predominant among modern-day Levantine populations (e.g., Bedouins and Palestinians). This is not surprising since Jews differed in cultural practices and norms (Sand, 2011) and tended to adopt local customs (Falk, 2006). Very little Palestinian Jewish culture survived outside of Palestine (Sand, 2009). For example, the folklore and folkways of the Jews in northern Europe is distinctly pre-Christian German (Patai, 1983) and Slavic in origin, which disappeared among the latter (Wexler, 1993, 2012).”

  • 7 December 2017 at 1:41pm
    Fred Skolnik says:
    Jewish persons from the Black Sea are received as immigrants to the State of Israel just as Irish Americans will be happily received as immigrants in Ireland and just as dozens of countries have immigration laws favoring their own nationals. The descendants of Palestinian refugees are stateless because the Arabs initiated a war in 1948 and refused to resolve the conflict, causing by the way the displacement of an equal number of Jews from Arab lands.

    As has been pointed out more than once, Jerusalem was the capital of the Kingdom of Judea when the residents of London were still swinging from trees. It is the historical center of the Jewish nation and is today the de facto capital of the State of Israel, and incidentally the place where all foreign diplomats present their credentials without any qualms whatsoever. Whether this or that declaration by Trump helps or hinders the peace process is an entirely different matter, but one way or the other the Palestinians aren't going to get a state until they return to the negotiating table.

    Israel is a secular Jewish national state and the Arabs living there are a national minority with all that entails and certainly a lot better off than Kurds in Turkey, who couldn't even use their own language in public, and wouldn't consent to living under Palestinian sovereignty for all the money in the world, with or without the discrimination, which has not a little to do with the fact that they identify with an Arab nation whose declared aim has been to destroy the Jewish state.

    • 8 December 2017 at 5:17pm
      Misterioso says: @ Fred Skolnik

      Israel, i.e., west of the green line, is a thoroughly documented apartheid entity.**

      ** Israel is neither a state nor a country, i.e., it has yet to officially declare its borders and have them accepted as such by the international community.

    • 8 December 2017 at 5:33pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ Misterioso
      Israel was accepted into the UN as a state and received diplomatic recognition as such. That's what makes it a state or country.

  • 7 December 2017 at 7:23pm
    farthington says:
    Israel was conceived, created and maintained through ethnic cleansing. It's ABC.
    What's there to like?
    Devotion to this monster and its barbarism is a transparent pathology.
    Not least given that Israel and its fellow travellers have appropriated the Jewish holocaust and the conceptualisation of anti-Semitism. The 'jew hatred' canard is the refuge of the desperate. Jew hatred seems to be an ace in the state of Israel's strategic pack.

    Gideon Levy,a regular reporter from the West Bank for decades, asked himself how has this monstrosity been established in entrenched?
    From his observation of his own society and politics, three tenets:
    1. Jews are a superior race.
    2. Jews are the major victim in history, indeed the only victim.
    Nobody is going to tell them what to do.
    3. Palestinians are sub-human.
    Is there a better explanation for the ongoing Occupation?

    • 7 December 2017 at 9:04pm
      stettiner says: @ farthington
      Poor fart... So much hate.

    • 7 December 2017 at 9:11pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ farthington
      Yes, Gideon Levi. Good for you, farthington. You found the mother lode and now you know for sure how rotten Jews are.

      But you are a hater, aren't you? You're telling us that yourself.

  • 7 December 2017 at 8:32pm
    dmr says:
    Mr Skolnik is talking nonsense. Of course Greater Israel is an exclusionary ethnocracy and an apartheid state: everybody, that is, with the wit to see that apartheid (in a sense that is not strictly isomorphous with its defunct South African incarnation) has to do not with pigmentation or access to the ballot box but with structural disparity; phenomenologically speaking it describes a policed, rigidly demarcated, and inequitable distribution of power and resources between groups forming in effect a single polity. Vocal and passionate defenders of the Zionist project seem to have difficulty grasping that, whether designed or not, the racism intrinsic to it sits companionably enough with democratic process, parliamentary procedure, universal suffrage, the spectacle of Arab judges on the bench and Arab doctors in its hospitals, etc. In contemporary Israel/Palestine, the absence of signs in public saying "Jews Only" deceives no-one, except those for whom people with the temerity to call a spade a shovel brand themselves as liars and "Israel haters" by definition. Anyone inclined to doubt the pertinence of the term apartheid to matters as they stand between the Mediterranean and the River Jordan has but to call to mind the registration in Israeli passports of two categories of citizenship (one for Jewish Israelis, another for all the rest) accompanied by classification of their holders according to ethnic filiation. Beyond or behind this lies the declared non-existence (as per a recent ruling of Israel's Supreme Court) of a common "Israeli" nationality, one that embraces all who live in the country - it being clearly understood, though never openly stated, that those who are not Jewish are there ultimately on sufferance not by undeniable right of birth. Whatever else may be the case, such people, while being "citizens" of Israel in formal terms, are located outside the community: unlike citizens of, say, Canada or France or even Germany (more persuasive examples perhaps than Turkey and its Kurdish minority) they can hope to be part of it neither in theory nor in fact.

    But arguing with the like of Fred Skolnik is always a mistake. (See Orwell, Notes on Nationalism.)

    • 8 December 2017 at 5:48am
      Fred Skolnik says: @ dmr
      I doubt very much if you have any idea where "such people" are located in a community about which you have no direct knowledge, and I understand your eagerness to brand as apartheid, which must be the dirtiest word you know, something that does not meet the definition of apartheid.

      Turkey is certainly the example. Israeli Arabs are a national minority. Find someone to tell you what that means or look it up in a political dictionary if you're not familiar with the term.

    • 8 December 2017 at 1:08pm
      dmr says: @ Fred Skolnik
      Actually I've lived for many years in Israel and know whereof I speak. But as others here will have noticed, contending with the Fred Skolniks of this world about Israel/Palestine is an exercise in futility.

    • 8 December 2017 at 1:34pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ dmr
      No, you don't know whereof you speak, so I will spell it out for you:

      A national minority is a minority whose national identity is different from the national identity of the national majority and whose primary allegiance is to a nation other than the one they are living in.

      Even in the best of circumstances, a national minority is going to be living in a country whose national life is dominated by the national majority and whose national institutions and symbols are those of the national majority. When the two nations are at war, a very problematic situation is going to arise. Cynically and maliciously hitching a ride on the natural tensions between the two national groups within Israel in order to vent your hostility to the Jewish state says more about you than about the State of Israel.

      And if you wish to rewrite the dictionary, become a lexicographer. No one empowered you to expand or redefine commonly understood terms of opprobrium like apartheid and racism so that haters can apply them to countries they don't like.

    • 8 December 2017 at 2:55pm
      dmr says: @ Fred Skolnik
      Thank you, Mr Skolnik, for making my point for me. Word for word this repeats what was said in the 1930s by Nazi apologists about the “ natural tensions” between the “national minority” of German Jews and members of the majoritarian Volk.

      And as for the crime of apartheid as commonly understood, this has been defined both by the ISCPCA and the ICC and ratified by the United Nations General Assembly.

      Look it up.

    • 8 December 2017 at 3:21pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ dmr
      I have provided a link above to the apartheid fiction, which quotes the ISCPCA definition and shows how Richard Falk tries to get around it, after admitting that the situation in Israel does not meet the definition, by pretending that "race" has nothing to do with "biogenetic realities," which is as idiotic as saying that childhood has nothing to do with age and murder has nothing to do with killing people.

      And since you "live in Israel." then you know that Jews do not consider themselves as a separate race from the Arabs, even referring to them as "the cousins" (benei ha-dodim). Why don't you identify yourself. Tell us where you live in Israel and why you live there when you are so filled with hatred for the country. You are British, arem't you?

      And what difference does it make what the Nazis said about the Jews in this context? The national identity of Germany's Jews was German. They didn't identify with countries hostile to Germany. The national identity of Israli Arabs is Arab and they do identify with countries hostile to Israel. Nonetheless their condition in Israel is far better than a national minority like the Kurds in the Muslim world and, as I said, would not live under Palestinian sovereignty for all the money in the world.

    • 8 December 2017 at 3:51pm
      dmr says: @ Fred Skolnik
      Curious and curiouser! Bilingual (i.e.Hebrew-speaking) Israeli Arabs think of themselves as nationals of another country? By and and large, as you surely must know - or perhaps don't since you speak no Arabic - they think of themselves as Israeli first and foremost and desire to be thought of as such. How else to account for their bitterness about the racism, informal or otherwise, they contend with and the failure of the state to integrate them fully into its institutions?

      But what do I know? You are obviously so much cleverer and better informed than I am, Fred...

    • 8 December 2017 at 4:03pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ dmr
      No, they think of themselves as Arabs first - not nationals of another country but part of the Arab nation living as citizens in Israel, and as such they are a national minority, and as such their sympathies lie with the greater Arab nation, just as Kurds in Turkey don't think of themselves as nationals of another country but as Kurds first and foremost.
      But are you afraid to answer the questions I asked you? Why don’t you identify yourself. Tell us where you live in Israel and why you live there when you are so filled with hatred for the country. You are British, arem’t you?

    • 8 December 2017 at 4:29pm
      dmr says: @ Fred Skolnik
      And all this you know for sure, Fred? You know it for a truth universally acknowledged?

      To my ears it sounds nauseatingly racist.

      In answer to last your query: I'm not British and (God be thanked) no longer live in Israel. But "hatred for the country"? Nonsense. I'm fond of the place in so many ways (climate, people, culture, food etc), have family and friends there. But like so many other observers, Israeli and foreign (though obviously unlike its champions like yourself, whose hear-no-evil-see-no-evil does it no favours) I think the country, its armed might and current prosperity notwithstanding, is in the long run doomed. And speaking of it as it as I and others on the LRB Blog have done is an effort to explain why, not to slander it.

      That you take this as evidence of antisemitism is as predictable as it is sad.

    • 8 December 2017 at 4:42pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ dmr
      I'm sure you don't really think that my noting the fact that Arabs think of themselves as part of the larger Arab nation "sounds rascist." You have a way of using words without reference to any reality but just to score points.

    • 8 December 2017 at 5:03pm
      dmr says: @ dmr
      Mea maxima culpa: properly speaking I ought to have said that as holders of Israeli passports or ID ("te'udat zehut") they think of themselves - as indeed how can they not? - first and foremost as nationals of the country they were born and live in albeit that they are Christians or Muslims. And this, despite understandable and perfectly natural sympathies with Palestinians in the West Bank and with the Palestinian national movement.

      Are they therefore to be thought of as to think of themselves as a disloyal "national minority"? As well say that the sympathies of American Jews for Zionism render them essentially foreigners, potential traitors whose sympathies with the Jewish national movement place a question mark over their identity as Americans.

    • 8 December 2017 at 5:20pm
      Fred Skolnik says: @ dmr
      I said national minority, not disloyal national minority. This means that they are living as a national minority in a Jewish national state in the same way that the Kurds are living as a national minority in a Turkish national state and cannot challenge the Turkish character of the state.

      American Zionists do not become anti-American terrorists. Few Israeli Arabs becaome terrorists either though in certain quarters there is some sympathy and even identification with the terrorist organizations. Israel's security forces are vigilant but not oppressive. Elements in the general Jewish population (a fairly small percentage) are indeed hostile to the Israeli Arabs and this is partly against the background of the conflict, partly a reaction to how Jews were oppressed in Arab countries (among Eastern Jews)and partly bigotry. As for institutional discrimination, that too is colored by the conflict but there is recognition in the present government that the country has to invest more in the Arab population. That is the reality.

  • 7 December 2017 at 10:34pm
    Graucho says:
    The old defense that runs I'm O.K. just look at the other guys puts one in mind of what one prominent Jew is alleged to have said "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?"

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