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Akiva Orr on J14: 'The longest journey starts with one small step'

Over the years of writing and wrestling with Israel/Palestine, Akiva Orr has become a supportive figure. Born in 1930’s Berlin, Orr has lived the entirety of Israel’s existence. From Eric Fried to Joe Slovo, Akiva can speak for days about his personal relationships with some of the most interesting revolutionary leaders of the late twentieth century.

It is not Akiva’s circle of friends rather his work on the ground in Israel/Palestine as a founding member of Matzpen which is most fascinating. Orr wrote Max Blumenthal and me an email this morning in reference to our latest piece about Israel’s tent protests. It is reprinted in full along with an interview Blumenthal and I did with Orr last summer regarding Israel’s wars as well as a youtube link to a full length documentary about Orr’s political party in Israel, Matzpen.

By Joseph Dana

Author and activist Akiva Orr on Israel’s wars from Max Blumenthal on Vimeo.

Your article on the “social-protest” is excellent. Full of factual data and ideological insights. I found it excellent and learnt facts I did not know. I fully agree with its content but I still consider this protest unique and politically important in Israeli politics. This is so due to my own political development. Let me explain.

I was politicized by my participation in the great Israeli seamen’s strike in 1951. By the way,  a film about that strike was shown in Rothschild tents recently and I was asked to comment.

Until the seamen’s strike I was just an ordinary Israeli kid imbibing all the Zionist education without questioning it.  I grew up in a non-political home,  as a Tel Aviv ‘Beach Boy.’ I joined the “Hagannah” in 1945 when I entered High School. So did 25 of my other class mates out of which three joined Begin’s ETZEL and one joined the Stern Gang. The remaining six class mates joined nothing.  Keep in mind that this was typical to all Jewish high schools at that time. In the “Hagannah” we did military training in summer holidays and fly-posted Tel Aviv streets with weekly at nights. We also participated in anti-British demos. We never did anything anti-Arab. I participated in “Hagannah” activity as a cog participates in a machine. I became platoon commander at 16 and trained 30 kids in drill and use of fire arms but we never fired a bullet (too expensive). All this sounds very political but I was totally a-political. I knew nothing about Marx, Lenin, or the USSR and could not tell the difference between the various Jewish political parties in Palestine. I detested all politics.  It reeked of emotional blackmail.

I visited neighbouring Jaffa often as a kid and though it was 100% Arab it never occurred to me that the Arabs might oppose Jewish independence in Palestine. To me – and to most of my generation – the Arabs were part of the physical landscape like the mountains and the vegetation. We did not hate – or fear – them. It never occured to us that a lengthy military/political conflict with them is inevitable. It was simple: our enemy were the British who ruled us,  not the “natives”.

Only during the 1951 seamen’s strike did I become politically critical because I read the various press reports about the strike. At that time most Israeli newspapers belonged to political parties.  I read them and saw that most press reports were biased against the seamen, and distorted the real facts of the strike. Only one paper gave a factually accurate reporting – and supported the seamen.

It was the paper of the Communist Party (CP). So I joined that party knowing nothing about Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, or the USSR. It took another 2 years of CP membership before I became an anti-Zionist. In the CP, I met Palestinian comrades who were not “Uncle Tom’s” and when I sold the CP paper in Jerusalem (every Friday for 6 years), I encountered violent hostility and opposition that forced me to learn the facts about Capitalism and the Zionist-Palestinian conflict. The 1950s were the peak of the “Cold War” and anti-communism was rough and rampant. I acquired my political education not by books but by political confrontations. I firmly believe that political confrontations with adversaries is the best political education.

Now back to Rothschild tents. Most young people in the tents face their first political confrontation in those tents. Before July 14 they were just fodder in politics. Now they are becoming politically critical – and aware. Whatever the outcome of this unique protest – their minds and attitudes are changed and will stay so. They will not be political fodder again. Give them time and many will become anti-Zionist. One cannot be weaned in a week from what one embraced uncritically for many years at home, in nursery and school. This confrontation/protest changes their minds – and lives. Nothing similar ever happened in Israel before. Moreover,  thanks to the mobile phones, Facebook, and the Internet, this protest is completely self-managed. No external organization hatched it or runs it. Massive Citizens’ self-organizing activity never existed in Israel before. This makes all political parties tremble. They know that this protest changed the rules of the political game in Israel. Israeli citizens cannot be treated as “election fodder” in the future. Whoever will treat them so will pay dearly at the ballot box.

My political activity aims to make the ballot box obsolete by direct participation of all citizens in all political decisions.

This protest is a “first small step” in that direction, and as Mao used to say: ”The longest journey starts with one small step.” Though I am not – and never was – a Maoist,  I agree with him. That is why I support this protest despite all its drawbacks.

Keeping up the struggle – and enjoying it

Aki

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  • COMMENTS

    1. I’ve admired Akiva for decades. This is a very thoughtful contribution to the discussion here. I found this admission about his pre-1948 views particularly interesting: “To me – and to most of my generation – the Arabs were part of the physical landscape like the mountains and the vegetation… ” Of course, he’s come a huge distance since those days!But the honesty in describing his views is v. refreshing. It seems like the ultimate in dehumanization, no? Not even like “animals” (who have some presumed intelligence), but like the (intellectually quite inert) mountains and vegetation… Has he anywhere written a fuller account of how his views on Palestinians as such came to change?

      Reply to Comment
      • That line caught my eye as well Helena. I will ask him and see if he has written a fuller account of this experience anywhere. Be sure to watch parts of the interview that Max and I did with him. It is equally as interesting.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Good point, but: how many young Israelis were radicalized by the 1951 strike? and, for all its significance, how big was Matzpen, the natural vessel that came to contain such disillusioned folks?

      Reply to Comment
    3. Sirene Mekky

      Amazing! thx for sharing!

      Reply to Comment
    4. Joseph Dana: READ THIS AND ERASE IT:

      “Orr wrote Max Blumenthal and I an email” should say (remember you teach English whenever you publish it)
      “Orr wrote Max Blumenthal and me an email”. He wrote it TO you.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Afaf Ackall

      Watch the videos as well. Especially the second.
      Both are just as informative. It is truly heartening to know that in Israel today there are morally inclined voices.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Danny

      Fascinating stuff. Orr tells it like it is and doesn’t mince any words (“that piece of shit Peres”). I have three observations:
      1. David Ben Gurion was a war criminal, pure and simple. Had he been alive today he might have been brought to trial at the Hague alongside Milosovic and company.
      2. Some people today lament how Israel had lost its morality in 1967. Israel was NEVER a moral state. From the very beginning we thought about ways to expel (and if necessary kill) as many Arabs as we could for the benefit of the Jewish people.
      3. Conquest and expansion is hardwired into the Zionist DNA, and this is why peace is an impossibility. Before Israel truly makes peace with the Arab world, Zionism will have to be done away with and discarded, in much the same way that Germany needed to discard Nazism and Russia communism before they became peaceful nations. Effectively, this means that we will need to teach our children that we DID NOT arrive to a “land without a people”, as every schoolchild learns from first grade onward. We came, we saw, we conquered – and we continue to do so to this very day.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Palestinian

      It was simple: our enemy were the British who ruled us, not the “natives”. Yaaaaaah , this is the best word I’ve ever heard of a Jew who witnessed the Nakba.

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    8. Bosko

      @Danny – ” Zionism will have to be done away with and discarded”
      Can you please expand on this? What do you mean by that statement? Give us sufficient detail so we can understand what you mean by it.
      Also, if Zionism is to be discarded, what do you propose to do with the people who are Zionists?
      Really, it would be nice to know. As it is, your above statement just sounds like a slogan without actual meaning :)

      Reply to Comment
    9. Danny

      @Bosko, Zionism is just another 20th century ideology whose time has long passed. To base a modern state’s policies on an archaic, semi-messianic ideology is pure madness, and Orr and others (Avnery) saw this back in the 60′s. Today, we are witnessing the slow and painful death of this ideology which has outlived is purpose by about 60 years. This is partly why Israel can no longer win wars (who wants to die for a bunch of rocks anyway?), and why there is no longer any real national unity. In years to come, we will continue to see Israel’s decline until its ancient 19th century ideology will have to be shed for good. This will be a natural process in much the same way that segregation was done away with in the American south and South Africa was transformed into a state of all its people.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Bosko

      @Danny – whew, I am a Zionist and I am relieved that based on your answer, I don’t have to write out my will yet. It even looks like I won’t have to be sent to a Pol Pot style reeducation camp. I and millions like me will just have to quitely fade away to please you.
      But never fear, if you are right (which you are not) and we would fade away, all you’d get in our place is another form of nationalism which by the way already exists in most of the Middle East and North Africa. You would get Arab nationalism in Palestine too.
      I can’t say that I wish you good luck because I see only injustice inherent in your wish. You are wishing away self determination for the Jewish people in a tiny portion of the Middle East. Conversely, you wish to extend the supremacism of Arabs to the rest of the Middle East.
      I won’t say any more because anything else that I might say would go against the rules of this blog and I don’t want to break any rules, do I?

      Reply to Comment
    11. weinstein henry

      Thanks for sharing, food for thought & extraordinary interview on Vimeo.
      What a history-teller!
      I address to you the same request than Helena Cobban, Joseph Dana!
      I mean, considering that in his interview Akiva Orr says he was at that time – i.e when he was a teenager in 1945-1947 – already very critical about Youth movements & political brainwashing, I was wondering and curious to know what he thinks today about his pre-1951 views on the Palestinians, and if what he writes next was a common belief in his generation, “it never occured to me that the Arabs might oppose Jewish independence in Palestine” & “it never occured to us that a lenghty military / political conflict (was) inevitable”.
      It’s just a request, genuine intellectual curiosity.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Mike Hatherstone

      The linked Wikpedia article on the Lehi is astoundingly bad. Surprisingly, the French Wikipedia article on the Lehi is really good:

      http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lehi

      Run it through translate (if you can’t read French) and play spot the difference.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Danny

      @Bosko, you can call me whatever you want, I give you permission :-)
      Going back to our debate about Zionism – when your only true friend in the world is called Glenn Beck & Co, you know you are in serious trouble. I weep for Israel for getting to this sorry state. But this is a state of affairs entirely of Israel’s making. Israel could have been a real paradise on Earth, if only Ben Gurion and his cronies had had an ounce of respect and good will towards our neighbors. They didn’t, and today we and they are locked in a boxer’s embrace with no end to the fight in sight. What do you think will happen in a decade’s time? Two decades? Do you really think you will continue to occupy and deny rights to another people while world sits idly by?

      Reply to Comment
    14. 28/8/2011

      Dear all talkback writers:

      Being 80 its too much work for me to comment
      on comments.

      However, if you ask clearly formulated questions I shall do my best to answer all of them factually, without scorn or abuse.

      No need to be polite, I’ll reply factually
      to all questions, including rude and insulting

      I’ve been spat on by Jews and Israelis for my
      views ever since 1951. I’m used to it. I know its not rain and always carry a towel.

      I enjoy the fray – and learn from it.

      Expecting an enlightening confrontation

      AKI

      Reply to Comment
    15. Ben Israel

      Danny=
      How could Ben-Gurion have made Israel palatable to the Arab states in the 1950′s?

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    16. Bosko

      @Danny – “@Bosko, you can call me whatever you want, I give you permission”
      Thank you but no thanks. It would only satisfy a short childish emotional urge without accomplishing anything, so I pass …
      Now getting back to our debate. You say …
      “… if only Ben Gurion and his cronies had had an ounce of respect and good will towards our neighbors”
      What do you mean by that? Please explain, what should they have done that they didn’t do? And what shouldn’t they have done that they did do?
      Just for interest, the way I see it, our neighbours didn’t exhibit too much good will towards us either. As early as in 1929 they massacred the Jews of Hebron and expelled the survivors. Although I must say, not all the Arabs condoned that act. Some of them hid some of the Jews who otherwise would not have survived. See? Us Zionists are capable of seeing and appreciating both good and evil. Nothing of course is black and white. We don’t live a cartoon world.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Ben Israel

      My understanding is that the expression that the longest journey begins with a single step is an old Chinese proverb. Mao didn’t invent it, but it is interesting that Orr decided to attribute it to him. Although he denies he is a Maoist, there still seems to be that sneaking appreciation for a man who uses mass repression against millions of people under the red flag in the name of various “progressive” slogans and cliches.
      It is interesting to note that in spite of Orr’s efforts, Zionism is still around but the USSR and its Communist Bloc has collapsed and China chucked out all its Communist ideology.

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    18. To Ben-Israel

      The UN General Assembly endorsed the partition of Palestine into TWO states on N0v.29.1947 – one state for the local Jews and one for the Palestinian Arabs.

      The prime looser were the British who lost their rule over Palestine. The secondary looser were the Palestinian Arabs who lost half a country to immigrants who arrived in it since in a mere 50 years.

      As Ben-Gurion expected, the Arabs rejected the UN partition of the country they inhabited continously over a thousand years.

      The British, who were still the sole imperial ruler in the area, organized an “Arab” war against UN partition and against Israel.

      They hoped the UN will call them to save the Jews and ask them to re-possess Palestine.

      During the 1948 war Ben-Gurion made a secret pact with King Abdallah of TRANS-JORDAN.
      They carved up between them the area the UN allocated to the Palestinians. Each annexed half of it. THe Palestinians were left with nothing.
      Not with 50% of Palestine but with 0%.

      Had B.G. not made this pact the Palestinians could only blame the UN for their loss, but as BG and King Abdallah violated the UN partition resolution (which the Palestinians later accepted) the Palestinians fought them to regain what the UN gave them. They assasinted King Abdallah in Jerusalem in 1951 and fight Israel since 1948 to regain what the UN gave them.

      The 1948 BG-Abdallah secret pact is the main reason for the Palestinian fighting to regain independance. It is the major cause for the Zionist-Palestinian conflict since 1948.

      Had BG stuck to the UN partition resolution he could have had a state with internationally recognized borders and – eventually – peace with the Palestinians. By rejecting this option he lost both. He – not the Palestinians – is responsible for the conflict.

      AKI

      Reply to Comment
    19. Danny

      @Aki Orr:
      Your observations are fascinating to listen to, and pretty funny too (I loved your descriptions of Peres, Ben Gurion’s little poodle). Pretty incredible how he managed to stick his nose into nearly every affair of the state in the last 60 years (more often than not ending in failure).
      .
      One question: Do you think any of the damage of the last 63 years can be undone? If so, how?

      Reply to Comment
    20. Ben Israel

      Mr Orr,
      If we assume that King Abdallah and the Transjordians had NOT intervened in the 1948 War, that would have left the Mufti Husseini as the main player on the Palestinian side. As you no doubt recall, he didn’t have a very good reputation in Israel, the US and Britain for two reasons:
      (1) his collaboration with Nazi Germany
      (2) his incitement of the Arab violence in the 1920′s and 30′s against the Yishuv.
      Given this, it seems that the War of Independence would have inevitably lead to Israel conquering the entire West Bank then because he would have not agreed to any cease-fires. His aims were not as limited as King Abdallah’s was. He was committed to a complete eradication of the yishuv. Thus, I don’t see how the situation would have been any better from you point of view that what actually transpired.l

      Reply to Comment
    21. Bosko

      @Aki Orr – I agree with Ben Israel’s very pertinent comment but I would also like to add the following …
      First, it needs to be said that the supposed pact between Ben Gurion and King Abdalla is somewhat controversial. Ther are scholars who claim that King Abdalla didn’t agree to anything when Golda Meir visited him. The attack on Gush Etzion by King Abdalla’s forces and the massacre of it’s defenders after they gave themselves up, lends credence to such claims.
      But let’s for the sake of argument accept the possibility that there was such a pact. Let’s look at it in context. The Zionists accepted the two state solution, the Palestinian Arabs didn’t. So the Zionists were faced with war on a number of fronts. In such a circumstance, wouldn’t anyone in their place seek to neutralise a dangerous foe, the Arab legion, which was the strongest army in the Middle East at that time? And if so, how was the refusal of Jordan to allow the creation of a Palestinian state, after the armistice, how was it Israel’s fault? Let’s place the blame where it belongs. Firstly, on the Palestinian Arabs themselves for not accepting the partition to start with and launching riots which ended in the war. And secondly on Jordan for not allowing the creation of Palestine after they conquered the West Bank.

      Reply to Comment
    22. To Ben Israel

      Haj Amin El-Husseini who was apponted to chief Mufti of Jerusalem by Sir Herbert Samuel, the Jewish first High Commisioner of Palestine – after failing twice to get elected by Muslim clerics, collaborated with Nazi Germany against Britain’s rule of Palestine. For the same reason BEGIN’S ETZEL collaborated with Mussolini’s fascist Italy and the STERN GANG tried to ally to the Nazis (Itzhak Shamir went to Italy to negotiate an ant-British pact with the Nazis in 1940 but was rebuffed).

      After Germany’s defeat the Mufti was discredited not only in US, UK, and ISRAEL but
      also in Palestine. He spent his life in exile in Beirut and died there. He was politically dead after Germany’s defeat in 1945.

      In 1948 the Palestinians had no leadership – and no army or weapons.Their meagre resistence was local and disorganized.

      THey were no match for the HAGANNAH equipped with modern weapons supplied by Chekhoslovakia by permission of the USSR.

      After repelling the Arab armies (led and equipped by Britain)BG could have stayed within the UN Partition resolution borders thus retaining international recognition of Israel’s borders. He chose to forfeit this option expecting to gain 75% of Palestine (rather than the 50% the UN gave him) and to reach a peace agreement with King Abdallah.

      BG always insisted on ignoring the Palestinians as a political entity desreving political independence.

      The consequences of this policy is the Zionist-Palestinian conflict ever since 1948 to this very day.

      AKI

      Reply to Comment
    23. Ben Israel

      Mr Orr-
      There was no Palestinian political entity to deal with during and after the 1948 war. The IDF expanded into the Palestinian areas in order to open up choke points like the Lod-Ramla area and the Jerusalem corridor as well as to block the Egyptian forces in the south, including the Majdal-Isdud (Ashqelon-Ashdod) area. How could Israel pull back if there was no one to hand the territory to or to sign a cease-fire agreement with? The Arabs attacked across the partition lines, why couldn’t the Jews?
      The Mufti collaborated very deeply with Nazi Germany including active participation with the Holocaust, recruitment of Muslims for the Waffen-SS and propaganda broadcasts. He lived in Berlin for an extended period. There is no comparison with what you claim Stern and Begin did. (I never heard this about Begin before). I am aware that there were Palestinians who opposed the Mufti’s collaboration with the Nazis, such as his relative Abdel-Khader Husseini, but there was much overlap in the beliefs between the Mufti and Hitler.

      Reply to Comment
    24. James

      @Aki Orr – I’d like you to justify the 1929 massacre of Jews in Hebron please.

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    25. Bosko

      “BG always insisted on ignoring the Palestinians as a political entity desreving political independence”
      But the Palestinian Arabs didn’t ignore the rights of Jewish Palestinians to seek self determination? Of course they did.
      At the least, the Palestinian Arabs too are culpable for the mess that the Middle East is today. It takes two to tango.

      Reply to Comment
    26. Palestinian

      @ Bosko , you (Zionists) always mention that massacre over and over.We are back in the 20s , Palestinians got rid of the Ottoman rule to be under the British colonization , Balfour Declared his ominous promise , Zionists plotting and trying to take over the land ,thousand of Jews flooding into Palestine, tensions between the unwanted immigrants and the natives,few Palestinian Jews collaborating with the unwanted immigrants ,clashes in Jerusalem , rumors,, people killed on both sides , what do you expect, celebrations ,love prosperity ? We are in 2011 , people may kill each other for the silliest reason.Jews lived there for centuries among “other” Palestinians (notice the word other ), what changed is Zionism.Give me one incident before 1900.
      Regarding the partition plan , why should I accept to give away 56% of my homeland to immigrants , its like you blame the house owner for not sharing his house with the burglar !!!!

      Mike , when it comes to politics wikipedia is Foxnews.They distort history and facts .

      Reply to Comment
    27. Deïr Yassin

      @ Akiva Orr
      I saw that first interview a couple of weeks ago, ending up by coincidence on the article that Joseph wrote about you in February.
      I left a message, hoping that others would see the interview too. Good to see it’s done now.
      I’ll repeat what I wrote there:
      You’re a magnificent story teller, you had me scotched for an hour.
      I was particularly touched by the remark of your late father back in ’48: “I made a mistake. I didn’t know there was another nation living here, that they wanted independence. There will be 100 years of nationalist conflict. It will be a waste of life, all the talent, all the thinking will be sucked into this …”
      What a wise man, your father.
      Best regards, hope to meet you in a free democratic State.
      Amandla :-)

      Reply to Comment
    28. Bosko

      @Palestinian – Why was it only an Arab homeland? Jews lived there too and Jews had even a longer connection with the land historically. I don’t deny your rights to part of the land but you deny mine.
      What do you mean by unwanted immigrants? Unwanted by whom? The Arabs? But the Arabs did not have sovereignity of the land, the Ottoman Turks did and later the Brits. And the Jews were wanted by them and by the native Jews of Palestine. You didn’t like that, so you had the right to massacre Jews? And you didn’t expect the Jews to fight back? C’mon man …

      Reply to Comment
    29. Palestinian

      Bosko , Arabs are Muslims , Christians and Jews , thats why I wrote “other” Palestinians , it seems you are smart .So Arab Jews are native not Russian or German Jews .Jews dont have longer connection to the land , Judaism is 3000 years old, the land was inhabited thousands of years before that , not by Jews.Unwanted immigrants by the natives , the owner of the land not the Ottoman or British colonization, you have to be accepted by the houseowner not by another burglar.If few native Jews collaborated with Zionists then they have to expect consequences of their betrayal.

      Reply to Comment
    30. To Ben Israel

      The persisting (till today) Zionist REFUSAL to
      accept that the people who inhabited the area between the river Jordan and the Meditteranean sea – CONTINOUSLY – for over 1000 years and populated – continously – over 800 villages and a dozen major towns, who have a rich literature, poetry, architecture,and religion, have a right to political independence in the country they inhabit since the crusades was a cornerstone of Zionism from its start.
      The reason was clear: To admit this right meant to challenge the demand of world Jewry to establish a Jewish State there.
      BG’s persistent refusal to accept this right was a basic principle of Zionist policy.
      The UN Partition Resolution (29/11/1947) recognized this right but limited it to 50% of the terroitory of Palestine.
      After defeating the Palestinian irregular forces and the regular armies of Egypt and Iraq (armed and commanded by Britain) BG should have stayed within the 50% of Palestine allocated by the UN to the Jewish State. Anyone annexing the rest of Palestine was violating the UN resolution and – if not Palestinian – was in conflict with the Palestinians.
      It is not the business of Israel to tell the
      Palestinians who – or how – to run their rump of Palestine.

      To James: I don’t justify massacres. Not the one in Hebron in 1929 and not the one in Hebron in 1995.
      I can however mention – not as a justification – that in 1929 the Jews in Palestine numbered 60,000 (half of them new Zionist immigrants) whereas the indigenous Palestinians numbered 600,000. Zionist extremists -Jabotinsky’s loyalists – decided to blow the ram-horn annually at the Wailing Wall (adjacent to the El-Aksa mosque)as a gesture symbolizing their claim to own this place and to re-assert Jewish independence in Palestine.
      In 1929, after the blowing of the ramhorn by Jabotinsky’s loyalists rumors spread among the Palestinians that the Zionist intend to take over the El-Aksa mosque and all of Palestine. This incited many Palestinians who resorted to violence. The violence must be denounced though the rumours were well founded.

      Aki ORR

      Reply to Comment
    31. Bosko

      @Palestinian – By the way, what about Arab immigrants from neighbouring Arab countries who immigrated to Palestine following the British takeover? Many Arabs immigrated because of the economic upturn. Were they unwanted too? Or were the Russian Jewish refugees who were fleeing from pogroms the only ones who were unwanted?
      But you know what? All this “unwanted” claims and claims that the land was an exclusively Arab land is patently false. The fact is that the Arabs were not the sovereign power so they and the Jews (both the immigrant ones and the native Jews) were fellow citizens of the Arabs (both the native ones and the immigrant Arabs).
      And please, don’t pretend that the native Jews were Arabs too because that is just patently false. Otherwise, why were the native Jews of Hebron attacked and massacred in 1929? Obviously they were perceived to be Jews by the Arabs. I wonder why? I know … Because they WERE Jews, right?

      Reply to Comment
    32. Mitchell Cohen

      @Palestinian, let’s quit the farce. The Arabs in Mandatory Palestine did NOT own all of Mandatory Palestine. They owned whatever land their villages were on, not the land in between the villages (which very often went on for scores of miles). Most of the land was crowned land, not owned by Jews, Arabs, or anyone else. It was under Ottoman and then British sovereignty. In order for the Jews to have “stolen” Palestine, there would have had to have been a sovereign Palestine, but there wasn’t. Yes, Arabs were displaced from villages and they lost the land that their villages were on, but they did not lose the barren (i.e. crowned) land that went on for endless miles between their villages.

      Reply to Comment
    33. Ben Israel

      Mr Orr-
      You didn’t answer my question. Had Israel pulled back to the partition lines, who would they have handed the territory over to if the Transjordanians had not been involved? You didn’t mention that the Palestinians rejected the partition and would not accept peaceful relations with Israel. There was no Palestinian political entity to make peace with.

      Reply to Comment
    34. Palestinian

      People always immigrate , thousands of Jews immigrated to Palestine in the 19th century and they didn’t face any problem .But when thousands of foreigners immigrate to an inhabited land with evil intentions and “declarations” then you don’t expect friendly natives.
      The land was an exclusively Arab land (from the 3 religions).You have problems with definition of Judaism and the Jews.Judaism isn’t a race , it’s a belief.Its like saying if Muslims attack Arab Christian then bcz they aren’t Arabs ? or if Shiites attacked Sunnis then bcz they aren’t Arabs ?!

      Reply to Comment
    35. Bosko

      I find it fascinating the claim of anti Zionists that the combined Arab armies together with the Palestinian Arab forces were the underdogs to the “well oiled” and well equipped Jewish army many of whom were fresh off the boat concentration camp survivors who had no training.
      The fact is that the Jews were outnumbered and initially ill equipped. The Palestinian Arabs on the other hand started getting help from neighbouring Arabs quite early …
      “Early in January, the first detachments of the Arab Liberation Army began to infiltrate into Palestine from Syria. Some came through Jordan and even through Amman . . . They were in reality to strike the first blow in the ruin of the Arabs of Palestine”
      The Czech weapons started arriving only later, around April 1948.

      Reply to Comment
    36. Mitchell Cohen

      @Palestinian,
      “You have problems with definition of Judaism and the Jews.Judaism isn’t a race , it’s a belief.” [End of Palestinian]
      This is hilarious. Another non-Jew claiming to be an expert on what a Jew is. Like I told another poster a little while back, there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of atheist/agnostic Jews who would disagree with you and everyone else claims that the Jews are not a people. The Jews might not be a race (Judaism accepts converts), but the Jews are not just a religion either. Facts, history, and common sense put a dagger in this claim. The Jews are an ethnio-religious group.

      Reply to Comment
    37. Bosko

      @Palestinian – First of all please don’t tell us Jews who we are. Most of the early Zionists were secular and many were atheists, yet they still called themselves Jews because they were part of the Jewish people, as in nation. Not religion. You guys are upset at those of us who deny you as Palestinians and just call you Arabs. So please, if you don’t want US to define you, please YOU don’t define us.
      So get this … The land was shared by Arabs and Jews, there were more Arabs, I don’t deny that but there were a significant number of Jews too by 1948. That’s fact. Another fact is that neither Arabs nor Jews had sovereignity of the land before 1948. Try to assimilate those facts.

      Reply to Comment
    38. Palestinian

      @ Mitchell, lets quit that kind of a language .I didn’t claim the land was owned inch by inch by Palestinians .
      The British colonization was illegal ,so anything related to it is illegal. You can always find nobody’s land in every single country.Do you think its acceptable to settle there and declare a new state ? As you mentioned the land issue , we are talking about hundreds of villages with thousands of acres with deeds.So if you want to investigate the legal ownership of the land then literally half of Israel must be returned to the rightful owners.I have to remind you that Arab can be Jews , so the conflict is between Palestinians and Zionists (Jewish or not )

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    39. Bosko

      The British rule of Palestine was no more illegal than any other conquest of that land by a myriad of conquerors going back in history. Starting from the ancient Israelite conquest and the much later Arab conquests, the crusader conquests, the Ottoman conquest etc. Conquest is conquest is conquest. Only in your mind was the Arab conquest of the 7th century somehow more legitimate than the return of European Jews to their ancestral home land from the late 19th century onwards.
      Please explain to me Palestinian why do you think that once the Arabs conquered the land then no one else could overturn that conquest?

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    40. Mitchell Cohen

      “The British colonization was illegal ,so anything related to it is illegal. You can always find nobody’s land in every single country.Do you think its acceptable to settle there and declare a new state ?” [End of Palestinian]

      Key word – COUNTRY. Mandatory Palestine was not a country or sovereign. Hence, the no-mans land (your word, not mine) did NOT belong to the Arab or anyone else. It was under Ottoman rule and then Turkish rule.

      “As you mentioned the land issue , we are talking about hundreds of villages with thousands of acres with deeds.So if you want to investigate the legal ownership of the land then literally half of Israel must be returned to the rightful owners.” [End of Palestinian]

      Even today, much of Israel is undeveloped (most of the Negev, for example), so certainly back in 1948, much of Israel was undeveloped. Mandatory Palestine might not have been “a land without a people for a people without a land”, but is was sparsely populated. I doubt you would get even close to 50%.

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    41. Mitchell Cohen

      Oops, in my last post, I meant to say Ottoman rule and then British rule. 972 staff, I think an editing feature is beckoning….

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    42. Palestinian

      @ Mitchell, Ethno ? The black Jew , the Indian Jew, the Moroccan Jew and the German Jew share the same genes ?ah you mixed with other races but you preserved your Judo genes ?! bla bla bla ….I hope the Christian in the UK wont claim he is a descendant of Jesus …wait Jesus didn’t have kids maybe his cousins !
      Facts, history, and and esp common sense lead to that conclusion. If you were raised up since minute one to believe in that fairy tale then its not my problem.

      @ Bosko ,I don’t care how you define yourself but when your definition is made up to justify crimes , land theft and distorting my identity and connection to my homeland then I have the full right to deny it.
      We are Palestinians and Arabs .Tony Blair is British and European.
      The land was shared by Arabs (Muslims , Christians and Jews), there were more Muslims and Christians ,more than 50% of the Jews were immigrants from the late 19th century. The land was occupied by the British but that doesn’t give them the right to handle it to another occupier (Zionists)

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    43. Bosko

      @Palestinian – Ok then answer this please … If the natice Jews of Palestine were Arabs then why did the Arab Palestinians slaughter them in Hebron in 1929?

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    44. Mitchell Cohen

      “@ Mitchell, Ethno ? The black Jew , the Indian Jew, the Moroccan Jew and the German Jew share the same genes ?ah you mixed with other races but you preserved your Judo genes ?! bla bla bla ….I hope the Christian in the UK wont claim he is a descendant of Jesus …wait Jesus didn’t have kids maybe his cousins” [End of Palestinian]

      Ethno does not equal “race”. I SPECIFICALLY stated the Jews are NOT a race two posts ago. However, to say the Jews are ONLY a “religion” is just as ridiculous a claim. Aside from the traditional Jewish definition that considers one a Jew who is born of a Jewish mother or who converts to Judaism, besides the millions of Jews who do not practice the Jewish religion (including no small number of members of my family), yet still consider themselves Jews, Jews have been considered a separate entity all throughout history (even when assimilating into the host countries they were in), so what is a “fairy tale” to you is pretty real to us. I realize for you to accept the concept of a Jewish people takes another link out of the chain of your anti-Zionist perspective, but that is just too bad.

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    45. James

      “The black Jew , the Indian Jew, the Moroccan Jew and the German Jew share the same genes ?ah you mixed with other races but you preserved your Judo genes ?! bla bla bla ….I hope the Christian in the UK wont claim he is a descendant of Jesus …wait Jesus didn’t have kids maybe his cousins”

      DNA evidence clearly suggests that Ashkenazi Jews share a genetic link to Sephardic Jews. In fact Ashkenazi Jews have more in common genetically with Sephardic Jews than to non-Jewish Europeans. This is fact. Science fact. Christianity and Islam are missionary religions. Judaism accepts converts, but consists more of a dispersed tribe of ancient Jews, differentiating it from the other abrahamic faiths.

      Reply to Comment
    46. Palestinian

      So according to that ,it was okay to occupy the majority of the Arab countries (weren’t sovereign entities back then ) and establish a Russian state there only because they weren’t “sovereign countries” , ignoring the nations living there !
      The vast majority of the undeveloped land in Israel is in the Negev .
      Sparsely populated.? Almost 1 million Palestinians with their farms and hundreds of villages concentrated in the North and Center and sparsely? If you go back to the archives , you will find out what you refuse to believe .
      And I cant get your point , are you trying to say that bcz part of the land wasn’t inhabited it gives Zionists the right to establish their state there ?by simply forcing out the natives ? are you justifying what the European colonizers did to the American natives ?only bcz they didn’t have a “recognized sovereign country” , I guess more than 95% of their land was inhabited at that time

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    47. Bosko

      @Mitchell Cohen – I think he knows what we are saying to him. It just does not fit his agenda. In another context though, suddenly the Jews of many other Arab countries were Jews, not Arabs. A foreign entity that were hounded out of most Arab countries precisely because they were deemed to be Jews. In his heart of heart, our Palestinian knows that he is wrong it just does not suit him to admit it.

      Reply to Comment
    48. Ben Israel

      Palestinian-You say that the British colonization was “illegal”. Does that mean you think the Ottoman Turks should still rule here? After all, it was thousands of British soldiers who gave their lives so that all the Arab states in the area could come into existence. The Arabs contributed practically nothing to their liberation.

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    49. Bosko

      @Palestinian – Actually, in 1948, there were 1.2 million Arabs in Palestine and 600,000 Jews.
      Today there are over 10 million people, Jews and Arabs living on the same land and there is room for more. Yes, based on those statistics, in the late 19th century, the land was sparsely populated. It was sparse even in 1948, compared to today …

      Reply to Comment
    50. Palestinian

      @Mitchell,So you impose your beliefs of me ? Why should I believe you not Pro.Shlomo Sand ?

      @ James , that’s exactly what I was waiting Mitchell to say , DNA testing , studies conducted by whom ? are they trustworthy ? aren’t they influenced by Jewish lobbies ? what was their criteria ? samples ?And let me ask you a question , according to your claim , then if a Jew converted to Christianity or Islam then he/she is a Jew ?

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