The Birth Of Israel: Wrong At The Right Time


IN ANY DISCUSSION about the morality of Israel’s conduct, the most important question is: “When did you start your clock?” Meaning? In assessing the ethics of the Israeli state, exactly when, historically-speaking, do you begin?

Many critics of Israel start their clocks in 1948, the year of Israel’s birth. Others prefer 1917 – the year in which Lord Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary, declared his government in favour of establishing a “national home” for the Jewish people in what was then the Ottoman province of Palestine. A few even start their clocks in 1897, when Theodore Herzl’s international Zionist movement held its first conference in Basle, Switzerland.

Israel’s most fervent supporters, by contrast, generally prefer to start much further back. Setting their clocks ticking in Biblical times, they cite the kingdoms of David and Solomon as proof that, in the words of the Exodus movie’s theme-song: “This land is mine.” The majority of Israel’s backers, however, start their clocks in 1933 – the year Adolf Hitler and his Nazis took over Germany – setting in motion the dreadful sequence of events that culminated in the horrors of the Holocaust.

Setting the clock ticking in 1933 makes perfect sense. What happened in Germany, and then throughout Europe, between 1933 and 1945, provided incontrovertible proof of the Zionists’ contention that Jews could never be safe in other peoples’ countries. Those who had argued that the national laws emancipating and conferring citizenship upon European Jewry offered sufficient protection against the continent’s endemic antisemitism had been proved tragically mistaken. In a world shocked and stunned by the Nazi death-camps, the argument that only under the protection of their own nation-state could the Jews of the world be safe resonated strongly.

For Israel’s critics, however, the year 1948 offers the most telling evidence of the moral deficiency built into the Israeli state. 1948 was a year of Jewish outrages and massacres: of terrible crimes committed against the Arab population of Palestine by armed Jewish terrorists. The purpose of these attacks was to facilitate what would later be called “ethnic cleansing”. A viable “State of Israel” required the expulsion and dispossession of as many Palestinian Arabs as possible. 1948, the year of the Palestinian “catastrophe”, is thus presented as the source from which flows all the other wrongs committed by Israel over the subsequent 70 years.

TDB Recommends

What Israel’s critics fail to acknowledge about the years immediately following the end of World War II, however, is that, throughout Europe, the displacement of millions of human-beings – most of them ethnic Germans – had been sanctioned and facilitated by the victorious allies.

Ethnic cleansing did not begin in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, it began in the newly liberated countries of Eastern Europe in the 1940s. The victorious powers had witnessed the malign consequences of leaving large ethnic minorities in the midst of other people’s countries. They remembered the trouble caused by the Sudeten Germans. How Hitler’s Germany had exploited their nationalist grievances to break up Czechoslovakia in the late-1930s. Accordingly, it became the official policy of the Allies to eliminate ethnic German enclaves completely from Eastern Europe. Whole communities: families who had lived in Poland, Hungary, Romania and Russia for centuries; were ruthlessly uprooted and “repatriated” to Germany.

Few objected to this brutal exercise. In the minds of most people living in the war’s aftermath, Germany and the Germans had it coming. To secure a peaceful future “inconvenient” communities simply had to be moved on. What strikes us, at the remove of 75 years, as a deeply immoral policy, struck the people of the immediate post-war world as a tough but fair solution. After all, they had just spent 6 years proving the proposition that when reason and persuasion fail, and all-out war becomes the only option, then the over-riding priority is to do whatever is necessary to end it – as quickly as possible.

This was the moral environment in which the State of Israel took shape and was declared. Starting your clock in 1948, as if everything that happened in the preceding 15 years had no bearing on the behaviour of those determined to establish a secure national home for the Jewish people, is not a strategy with high prospects of success. The grim shadow of 1933, and all that followed, will always obscure the foundational sins – if sins they be – of the Israeli state.

For as long as the vast and unprecedented immorality of the Holocaust weighs upon the conscience of the World, the unethical conduct of the Israeli state will continue to be, if not forgiven, then unresisted.




  1. What a wrongheaded post. Not even contraryism, rather, seemingly a genuinely held reactionary view.

    Go to the back of the class Trotter!

      • “For as long as the vast and unprecedented immorality of the Holocaust weighs upon the conscience of the World, the unethical conduct of the Israeli state will continue to be, if not forgiven, then unresisted.”

        Many, including myself, support BDS and Palestinian Solidarity–there is resistance–lots of it. The land grab and marginalisation of Palestinians by the Israeli state and military is one of the longer running political obscenities of the 20th and now 21st century. I say reactionary because your article essentially endorses same. Or are you just making an observation?

        • I support Palestinian solidarity and BDS too, but I’m open to being reminded of the broader historical context of the foundation of the state of Israel without feeling the need to shriek “Wrongheaded reactionary!”

        • How on earth are you going to regulate The State of Israel from your bedroom? My problem with Israel isn’t that Israel controls Palestinians it’s that they can be contradictory and inconsistent but most of all I don’t want to give Palestinians false hope.

          I don’t believe in a 2 state solution, I believe that would also be inconsistent and confused and so on. For a lot of lefties a 1 state solution is very problematic. I don’t want to live in a society where I have to accumulate social capital in order to use social media freely and unmolested. We should be able to rationalise life as harsh and dangerous which can be a different type alienation from Israel.

          Chris Trotter is not simply saying we live in this fantasy world where Palestine can defeat Israel in open war and other lefty delusions divorced from reality. We ought to be well aware that the true mysteries that control us are apart of our own system and reality to. The fetish is that peace is this simply thing we can accumulate on Twitter.

          With out an analysis of the theologian parts of the blog peace appears so obvious to the truest-lefty-that-is-more-left-than-Chris-Trotter. Chris Trotter is saying we do not need to construct some idealistic version of reality and why more and more recently his message seems to fall on deaf-ears and make politics about returning to the bosom of Mother Nature. I just to get how Chris Trotter and others can be constantly attacked by Metoo and feminism and anti-feminism all at once. What is attractive to the realist-lefty-you-can-ever-see is simply unattractive to me and for that I, like Chris Trotter can not be the realist-lefty-you-can-ever-see because we are not radical enough.

          The irony is the MeToo and feminists and anti feminist like the pro Palestinians are the ones who are not radical enough. You, like MeToo can not even acknowledge the true horrors of exploitation of woman and Palestinians and so on. My obsession isn’t about big movie stars who had to sleep with a producer to secure a role or the usual story. My obsession is just go back one to all the makeup artists, PA’s and hairdressers and ask if they are being exploited. The question I ask is why the truest-lefties are so captured by the one night stand problems. To bring it back to Palestinians what about the true misery of living in an open air prison. I mean this is what has to be addressed, this massive misery and poverty. It seems disingenuous to address Chris Trotters lack of social capital or available credit.

          Lastly this optimism from the-realist-lefties-you’ll-ever-see is that dictators and fascist ideologies, the patriarchy and heterosexual logic can simply be replaced. As if we could replace real logic with anime logic will produce freedoms and we can all fully enjoy ourselves. Here I think we can learn from Fuad that sexuality is destructive and we have to admit it and learn to deal with our personal view of reality in a different way.

          If you follow this consensual political reconstruction of Israel and Palestine it gets uncannily close to sadomasochists. What appears to be peaceful means requires profound analysis of Chris Trotters blog that peace is not enough. We can also have coercion and domination with in peaceful means especially for sexuality, ironically referred to as a theologian division. What id the husband doesn’t even beat the wife and just ignores her and she can’t get out, that is true misery also.

          So this notion that if we just get rid of Bibi or the patriarchy or what ever we will get this wonderfully peaceful means and Palestinians will live in this wonderful world. Here’s where I disagree. Here is where we can learn something from Chris’s Trotter. Palestinians will produce as many contradictions and inconsistencies as Isrsel. Let’s admit this incredible ambiguous grey zone. Let’s not play the game where a free Palestine remains the ultimate ambition for peaceful means.

          I’m not optimistic about connecting this theoretical version of the world with Palestinian and Israel even though they do connect. My confusion comes from this idea that Palestine is this great epoch which I disagree with. In fact it was WW1 which was the original disaster. WW1 and WW2 in a lot of ways held back Palestinian and middle eastern rights and Israel is just a cheap copy. In a way we are approaching a similar catastrophe and we have moderate concerns that should adopt a rational but reasonable panic.

    • Counter-factual’s can change units on a symbolic level retroactively looking at when humanity was betrayed and so on. In a subtle way the limits of speculation would settle on Nazi Germany. So I think 1933 is as good a place as any to start the clock.

      All the mystery of the bible and the whole point of it was not to create some stupid national pride with boarders. The true tragedy when using historical references is the implication that events are predetermined, destined to repeat. We shouldn’t take this literally. We must change the past factually.

  2. Well the International Definition of Antisemitism comes from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

    And Jamie Stern-Weiner argues that the (UK based) The Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) is shifting the goal posts to portray that antisemitism is higher on the left (polling done via You Gov), and not the right (based around questions about Israel).

    Jamie Stern-Weiner is a PhD candidate at the University of Oxford and the editor of Antisemitism and the Labour Party (Verso, 2019).

    So it seems that Israel and its supporters are intent on exploiting the holocaust – one crime against humanity as a cover for the corruption within state of Israeli nationalism. Which is in the first instance that it defines itself as a Jewish state and yet refuse to allow its Arab citizens of Israel any place in the governance of their state (no coalition requiring Arab List MK support). And corruption by state of Israel nationalism in annexing territory. The original Balfour Declarations hope that enabling a Jewish national homeland could be done without harm to the local Arab Palestinians seems faintly quaint and otherworldly in its innocence (presuming those involved believed it was possible …).

  3. “Others prefer 1917 – the year in which Lord Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary, declared his government in favour of establishing a “national home” for the Jewish people in what was then the Ottoman province of Palestine.”

    Oh the presumptuousness of the British Empire, arrogating to itself the right to make pronouncements of this sort, upon which the Zionists would later rely!

    In the violence which preceded the establishment of the state of Israel, Palestinians asked – reasonably enough – why they should be paying the price of the Holocaust, when they’d had nothing whatever to do with it. Why, they asked, cannot the surviving Jews return to their homes in Europe? Why indeed.

    However. Those surviving Jews who attempted to return to their original homes in various parts of Europe found that local peoples’ hatred for them hadn’t diminished since the Holocaust. Some did return to Europe, however, despite the difficulties.

  4. @ Tiger Mountain?
    Please? Enlighten us? Go to the head of the class.
    Tell us what you believe are to be the facts?

    • The objective facts from the Balfour Declaration onwards, are reasonably well known, if interpreted differently by various people.

      My point as a committed supporter of the Palestinians all my adult life, is that Mr Trotter appears to come across as “soft” on Israel.

  5. Perhaps it is called modern day human Darwinism, what Zionist Israel does? The fittest will win and survive, never mind the losers. The ‘fittest’ is the better financed and better armed lot, I suppose.

    It signals to others, do the same, hence Iran and others, perhaps take the Zionists on now, and drive them into the Mediterranean?

  6. A sage commentary Mr Trotter! It’s good to see some sanity presented on TDB re this topic.

    I would like to add three snippets of history you forgot to include, not to contradict but to flesh out a very complicated history:

    After the fall of the Ottoman empire it became possible for Jews to buy land in Palestine, and they did. In some cases they purchased land from absentee landlords and evicted the tenant Arabs. In other cases they purchased small lots from local farmers. There is a lot of information in this regard here:
    Ironically most of today’s ‘Palestinians’ are the descendants of Arab migrants who came to the land drawn by employment opportunities the newly established Jewish business created. In fact Yasser Arafat himself was born in Cairo, held an Egyptian passport and his ancestors were Egyptian.

    The 1920 Battle of Tel Ha and subsequent Nebi Musa riots, where the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, stirred up animosity among the Arab population against Jews, resulting in attacks on Jews with deaths on both side. Al-Husseini was a prominent ally of Hitler and if you do a quick search of his name you will find lots of images with him with Hitler. These attacks convinced the Israeli settlers that they needed a competent means of defence. It was true then and it is true today. Note the date.

    After the formation of the state of Israel, Arab states expelled approximately 850,000 Jews from countries in the region and their land and other assets were confiscated. The size of this confiscation is many times the size of any claims Palestinians could make about Israel confiscating their land.

    • How cunning of you, dear Andrew:
      “Arafat was born to Palestinian parents in Cairo, Egypt, where he spent most of his youth and studied at the University of King Fuad I. While a student, he embraced Arab nationalist and anti-Zionist ideas. Opposed to the 1948 creation of the State of Israel, he fought alongside the Muslim Brotherhood during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. Returning to Cairo, he served as president of the General Union of Palestinian Students from 1952 to 1956. In the latter part of the 1950s he co-founded Fatah, a paramilitary organisation seeking the disestablishment of Israel and its replacement with a Palestinian state.”

      That is what Wikipedia says, would you refute it?

      He was born of PALESTINIAN parents, so he was Palestinian after all, not ‘Egyptian’, as you describe it.

      “Arafat was born in Cairo, Egypt.[14] His father, Abdel Raouf al-Qudwa al-Husseini, was a Palestinian from Gaza City, whose mother, Yasser’s paternal grandmother, was Egyptian. Arafat’s father battled in the Egyptian courts for 25 years to claim family land in Egypt as part of his inheritance but was unsuccessful.[15] He worked as a textile merchant in Cairo’s religiously mixed Sakakini District. Arafat was the second-youngest of seven children and was, along with his younger brother Fathi, the only offspring born in Cairo. His mother, Zahwa Abul Saud, was from a Jerusalem-based family. She died from a kidney ailment in 1933, when Arafat was four years of age.[16]

      Arafat’s first visit to Jerusalem came when his father, unable to raise seven children alone, sent Yasser and his brother Fathi to their mother’s family in the Moroccan Quarter of the Old City. They lived there with their uncle Salim Abul Saud for four years. In 1937, their father recalled them to be taken care of by their older sister, Inam. Arafat had a deteriorating relationship with his father; when he died in 1952, Arafat did not attend the funeral, nor did he visit his father’s grave upon his return to Gaza. Arafat’s sister Inam stated in an interview with Arafat’s biographer, British historian Alan Hart, that Arafat was heavily beaten by his father for going to the Jewish quarter in Cairo and attending religious services. When she asked Arafat why he would not stop going, he responded by saying that he wanted to study Jewish mentality.”

      So do not present FAKE News here, Andrew.

  7. Using the Holocaust to excuse what has been done to the Palestinians for decades and continues being done TODAY is a tactic that many people, including many Jews, find offensive.
    Have you , Chris, not heard, for example, of the American NGO Jewish Voice for Peace , banned from entering Israel?
    “Unethical conduct” is a euphemism if there ever was one…for what is being done to Gazans, to East Jerusalemites, to the people of Hebron and the rest of the West Bank, to Negev Palestinian men , women and children..yes children, don’t forget the children.
    In your last sentence Chris, you have given Israel the green light to continue its cruelty.
    That’s your opinion. You are speaking for yourself.
    But not for of all of global civil society. There is strong support for the Palestinian cause, a just cause, in South Africa, in Ireland, in Malaysia , among many American Jews, among many African-Americans…among people everywhere who believe in humanity.
    December 10 is UN Human Rights Day, a day to remember the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on December 10 1948.

    Its preamble states that “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”
    You should read it, Chris.
    The ‘human family’ includes Palestinians of course.

    • Those who survived the horrors of Auschwitz may be forgiven, I believe, for preferring to put their faith in something more effective – as a means of self-defence – than the fine words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Fine words were no match for Zyklon B.

      • Come on Trottsky, human rights ring hollow all the time, even in your beloved Aotearoa NZ, ask Martyn re the bank saga. Palestinians have human rights also, do not forget.

      • Lois Griffiths has hit the nail on the head. Instead of joining in solidarity with the wider opposition against all forms of supremacism, racism and ethnic cleansing, Zionism stands apart, preferring to hold that anti-Jewish prejudice can never be overcome and that Jews will only be safe in a Zionist state. The ideology depends upon the claim of never-ending ‘anti-Semitism’ in order to divert attention from its relentless violations of Palestinian human rights. Yet Zionist Israel was founded upon terror and ethnic cleansing!
        In Jerusalem, looking north from the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, which commemorates the grim tragedy of Nazi atrocities perpetrated against Jews, can be seen the site where lie the remains of the destroyed Palestinian village of Deir Yassin. There are no signs to inform the visitor of what happened to the village, no commemoration of the victims and no mention of the village in any tour guides. Zionists hardly ever acknowledge Palestinians as a people. Instead, as the former Israeli Prime Minister, and leader of the terrorist Irgun, Menachem Begin, acknowledged, “Without what was done at Deir Yassin there would not have been a state of Israel … The Arabs began fleeing in panic, shouting ‘Deir Yassin’.” (The Revolt, 1983).

        The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) recognises that the Zionist project: “ . . . dishonours the persecution, displacement and genocide of European Jews by using their memory to justify and perpetuate European authoritarianism and colonialism. It is responsible for the extensive displacement and alienation of Mizrahi Jews (Jews of Sephardi, Asian and African descent) from indigenous identities, languages, histories, cultures and homelands, and attempts to reduce all of our diverse cultural, religious, ethnic and racial identities to one of national identity. As such, it implicates us in the oppression of the Palestinian people and in the debasement of our own heritages, struggles for justice and alliances with our fellow human beings. We understand Israel’s historic and current policies and practices of colonialism, and the Zionist ideology and institutions propelling them, are unjust and unconscionable.”

    • Lois Griffiths has hit the nail on the head. Zionism arrogantly commits its violations of human rights in the name of all Jews. The voices of anti-Zionist Jews have been played down and ignored ever since the days of Balfour. Zionism’s contempt for the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention reveal the ideology as one of the greatest, racist threats to international peace and stability in the modern world.

  8. It starts in 1917, with Balfour. I might get back to this, but never forget the ships of desperate Jewish families fleeing Nazi Europe, believing, “Next year in Jerusalem”, and being turned back when their ships arrived. Some did return to their homelands, to be fried.

  9. Neither here in New Zealand, in Israel or anywhere else in the world is peace going to be established by examining the entrails of the rights and wrongs of history, Ancient or modern. There are always wrongs against everyone to be sighted if you go back far enough.
    Progress toward a peaceful world is only going to be found by getting it right now , and from here on. And that is not happening.
    Israel’s dodgy establishment would be tolerated by the world if they behaved as if they were grateful for Balfour , and accepted what they were given, but no; they want more and more and more of Palestinian land and resources, and treat the Palestinians as if eventually they will kill them all bit by bit and then they won’t have to share. But when will they stop? Probably only when they find that the only rival left in the world is the USA. And the world is divided between the two . Then they will become enemies. With families split between the ruling elite in the US and the ruling elite in Israel as they are the same families, Just like the European wars of a few centuries ago were between members of the same royal families.
    The other alternative is that they will be stopped by their neighbours waking up as they are doing to just what it is they must confront for their own survival , and act accordingly. In which case it will end like the parable of the enchanted fish…”Go back to your home in the ditch”.
    @Lois Griffiths I don’t take Chris’s last sentence as condoning Israel’s behaviour , I think he is just observing how the world is reacting , not approving that reaction.
    D J S

    • David, you were doing OK until you got to the third paragraph.

      In fact the population of ‘Palestinian’ has been growing at an amazing rate ever since the inception of Israel. Their current population growth is 2.4% per annum, which is astounding for a people that claim to be suffering genocide don’t you think? 😉

    • There will be NO peaceful world and future when climate change really starts hitting, people will kill each other to get what they see fit.

  10. ‘Wrong at the right time’ sounds right. Not sinister. Every step of the way is understandable yet it amounts to wrong. They took Falestine. As simply, I’m for the innocent people of that place. As I would be for us if the Japanese took us in WW 2. And as I am for the Maori here.

  11. Granting the right of Jews to self-determination in their historical homeland in those areas in which they formed the majority of the population, as was proposed in 1948, was the least that the civilized world could do for the most persecuted people in history. The tragedy was that Israel was not recreated 1937 (Peel Plan, rejected by the Arabs) which would have saved millions of Jews from being brutally murdered. This was the real “Nakba,” or catastrophe ignored by Israel-haters. Equally appalling is the total amnesia about the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Muslim countries and the obliteration of their millenia old history and contributions. The descendents of these Jewish refugees, who now form more than half of the Jewish population of Israel have not forgotten.

    • Really?

      “The Arabs opposed the partition plan and condemned it unanimously.[4] The Arab High Committee opposed the idea of a Jewish state[5] and called for an independent state of Palestine, “with protection of all legitimate Jewish and other minority rights and safeguarding of reasonable British interests”.[6] They also demanded cessation of all Jewish immigration and land purchase.[5] They argued that the creation of a Jewish state and lack of independent Palestine was a betrayal of the word given by Britain.[3][7] ”

      More here:

      • Thanks for reproducing the text of the 1937 Arab rejection of the partition into a tiny Jewish country that would have saved millions of humans and a much larger Arab state. It clearly demonstrates that the Arab-Israeli conflict has nothing to do with borders but with the absolute denial of the right of Jews to self-determination anywhere in their historical homeland.

        • Historical homeland, year right, what about Maori homeland rights, where were they left? What about American Indian’s homeland rights, what about Australian Aboriginal’s homeland rights? Maybe according to your logic you better pack your bags and return this land to its rightful owners, Tangata Whenua???

    • The ‘ethnic cleansing’, or rather discrimination and encouraged emigration of Jews from Arab countries only happened after the Zionists created the State of Israel as we know it, do not twist history.

      • So the Zionists are responsible for the expulsion of Jews from Arab countries! The latter just loved their status of second class citizens.

        • The Jews were respected in many Arab countries, for instance in Morocco.

          “Moroccan Jews constitute an ancient community, immigrating to the region as early as 70 CE. Until the 1950s the majority of Morocco’s Jews were still living in Morocco. In accordance with the norms of the Islamic legal system, Jewish Moroccans had separate legal courts pertaining to “personal law” under which communities (Muslim sharia, Christian Canon law and Jewish halakha law abiding) were allowed to rule themselves under their own system. After Israel’s independence in 1948, and due to domestic strife in the 1950s, the next several decades saw waves of Jewish emigration to Israel, France and Canada. Moroccan Jews emigrated for a variety of reasons. Some have emigrated to Israel for religious reasons, some faced persecution, and others left for better economic prospects than they faced in post-colonial Morocco. With every Arab-Israeli war, tensions between Arabs and Jews would rise, sparking more Jewish emigration. By the time of the Yom Kippur War in 1973, the majority of Morocco’s Jewish population had emigrated.[12]”

          It appears ‘discrimination’ only really started after the establishment of modern day Israel, strongly supported by Zionists.

      • Nonsense!

        As Princeton University historian Bernard Lewis has written: “The Golden Age of equal rights was a myth, and belief in it was a result, more than a cause, of Jewish sympathy for Islam.”(2)

        Muhammad, the founder of Islam, traveled to Medina in 622 A.D. to attract followers to his new faith. When the Jews of Medina refused to convert and rejected Muhammad, two of the major Jewish tribes were expelled; in 627, Muhammad’s followers killed between 600 and 900 of the men, and divided the surviving Jewish women and children amongst themselves.(3)

        The Muslim attitude toward Jews is reflected in various verses throughout the Koran, the holy book of the Islamic faith. “They [the Children of Israel] were consigned to humiliation and wretchedness. They brought the wrath of God upon themselves, and this because they used to deny God’s signs and kill His Prophets unjustly and because they disobeyed and were transgressors” (Sura 2:61). According to the Koran, the Jews try to introduce corruption (5:64), have always been disobedient (5:78), and are enemies of Allah, the Prophet and the angels (2:97­98).

        The Dhimmi
        Still, as “People of the Book,” Jews (and Christians) are protected under Islamic law. The traditional concept of the “dhimma” (“writ of protection”) was extended by Muslim conquerors to Christians and Jews in exchange for their subordination to the Muslims. Peoples subjected to Muslim rule usually had a choice between death and conversion, but Jews and Christians, who adhered to the Scriptures, were allowed as dhimmis (protected persons) to practice their faith. This “protection” did little, however, to insure that Jews and Christians were treated well by the Muslims. On the contrary, an integral aspect of the dhimma was that, being an infidel, he had to openly acknowledge the superiority of the true believer–the Muslim.

        In the early years of the Islamic conquest, the “tribute” (or jizya), paid as a yearly poll tax, symbolized the subordination of the dhimmi. Later, the inferior status of Jews and Christians was reinforced through a series of regulations that governed the behavior of the dhimmi. Dhimmis, on pain of death, were forbidden to mock or criticize the Koran, Islam or Muhammad, to proselytize among Muslims or to touch a Muslim woman (though a Muslim man could take a non­Muslim as a wife).

        Dhimmis were excluded from public office and armed service, and were forbidden to bear arms. They were not allowed to ride horses or camels, to build synagogues or churches taller than mosques, to construct houses higher than those of Muslims or to drink wine in public. They were not allowed to pray or mourn in loud voices-as that might offend the Muslims. The dhimmi had to show public deference toward Muslims-always yielding them the center of the road. The dhimmi was not allowed to give evidence in court against a Muslim, and his oath was unacceptable in an Islamic court. To defend himself, the dhimmi would have to purchase Muslim witnesses at great expense. This left the dhimmi with little legal recourse when harmed by a Muslim.(4)

        Dhimmis were also forced to wear distinctive clothing. In the ninth century, for example, Baghdad’s Caliph al-Mutawakkil designated a yellow badge for Jews, setting a precedent that would be followed centuries later in Nazi Germany.(5)

        Violence Against Jews
        At various times, Jews in Muslim lands were able to live in relative peace and thrive culturally and economically. The position of the Jews was never secure, however, and changes in the political or social climate would often lead to persecution, violence and death. Jews were generally viewed with contempt by their Muslim neighbors; peaceful coexistence between the two groups involved the subordination and degradation of the Jews.

        When Jews were perceived as having achieved too comfortable a position in Islamic society, anti-Semitism would surface, often with devastating results: On December 30, 1066, Joseph HaNagid, the Jewish vizier of Granada, Spain, was crucified by an Arab mob that proceeded to raze the Jewish quarter of the city and slaughter its 5,000 inhabitants. The riot was incited by Muslim preachers who had angrily objected to what they saw as inordinate Jewish political power.

        Similarly, in 1465, Arab mobs in Fez slaughtered thousands of Jews, leaving only 11 alive, after a Jewish deputy vizier treated a Muslim woman in “an offensive manner.” The killings touched off a wave of similar massacres throughout Morocco.(6)

        Other mass murders of Jews in Arab lands occurred in Morocco in the 8th century, where whole communities were wiped out by Muslim ruler Idris I; North Africa in the 12th century, where the Almohads either forcibly converted or decimated several communities; Libya in 1785, where Ali Burzi Pasha murdered hundreds of Jews; Algiers, where Jews were massacred in 1805, 1815 and 1830 and Marrakesh, Morocco, where more than 300 hundred Jews were murdered between 1864 and 1880.(7)

        Decrees ordering the destruction of synagogues were enacted in Egypt and Syria (1014, 1293-4, 1301-2), Iraq (854-859, 1344) and Yemen (1676). Despite the Koran’s prohibition, Jews were forced to convert to Islam or face death in Yemen (1165 and 1678), Morocco (1275, 1465 and 1790-92) and Baghdad (1333 and 1344).(8)

        As distinguished Orientalist G.E. von Grunebaum has written:
        It would not be difficult to put together the names of a very sizeable number of Jewish subjects or citizens of the Islamic area who have attained to high rank, to power, to great financial influence, to significant and recognized intellectual attainment; and the same could be done for Christians. But it would again not be difficult to compile a lengthy list of persecutions, arbitrary confiscations, attempted forced conversions, or pogroms.(9)

        The situation of Jews in Arab lands reached a low point in the 19th century. Jews in most of North Africa (including Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Morocco) were forced to live in ghettos. In Morocco, which contained the largest Jewish community in the Islamic Diaspora, Jews were made to walk barefoot or wear shoes of straw when outside the ghetto. Even Muslim children participated in the degradation of Jews, by throwing stones at them or harassing them in other ways. The frequency of anti-Jewish violence increased, and many Jews were executed on charges of apostasy. Ritual murder accusations against the Jews became commonplace in the Ottoman Empire.(10)

        By the twentieth century, the status of the dhimmi in Muslim lands had not significantly improved. H.E.W. Young, British Vice Consul in Mosul, wrote in 1909:
        The attitude of the Muslims toward the Christians and the Jews is that of a master towards slaves, whom he treats with a certain lordly tolerance so long as they keep their place. Any sign of pretension to equality is promptly repressed.(11)

        • So an ‘independent’ scientist, not rather feeding a biased western narrative, really?

          “Lewis served as a soldier in the British Army in the Royal Armoured Corps and Intelligence Corps during the Second World War before being seconded to the Foreign Office. After the war, he returned to the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London and was appointed to the new chair in Near and Middle Eastern History.

          In 2007 and 1999, respectively, Lewis was called “the West’s leading interpreter of the Middle East”[4] and “the most influential postwar historian of Islam and the Middle East”.[3] His advice was frequently sought by neoconservative policymakers, including the Bush administration.[5] However, his support of the Iraq War and neoconservative ideals have since come under scrutiny.”

        • Master towards slaves, hah, so the Zionists simply turned it around to suit them when dealing with Arabs and particularly Palestinians.

  12. “Ethnic cleansing did not begin in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, it began in the newly liberated countries of Eastern Europe in the 1940s. The victorious powers had witnessed the malign consequences of leaving large ethnic minorities in the midst of other people’s countries. They remembered the trouble caused by the Sudeten Germans. How Hitler’s Germany had exploited their nationalist grievances to break up Czechoslovakia in the late-1930s. Accordingly, it became the official policy of the Allies to eliminate ethnic German enclaves completely from Eastern Europe. Whole communities: families who had lived in Poland, Hungary, Romania and Russia for centuries; were ruthlessly uprooted and “repatriated” to Germany.”

    So should ethnic Germans not have a right also, to RECLAIM the land that was forcefully taken off them?

    • Churchill let the whole of Poland go to another totalitarian. Encouraged Jewish Palestine. Allowed the Bengal famine in the cruelist way. Wasn’t a strawberry pop.

      Always will be for the people in Palestine. Like I’m for state housing building and benefit increases in my own country. Increases in gang numbers — dah!!

  13. Interesting to see mention of the deaths of mostly German civilians following the end of WW2 (given as approx 2 million) during their forced expulsion from eastern areas of Europe / acknowledgement that Germans were not only responsible for crimes against humanity but were also often victims as well.

  14. Let’s be careful with language. As Anna Baltzer has explained: some people identify themselves as Jews because of their religion. Some identify themselves as Jews for cultural reasons, a family tradition. Some Jews are Zionists. Some oppose Zionism. Some Zionists identify themselves as ”  Christian  Zionists”.
    As for David Stone’s remark “grateful for Balfour , and accepted what they were given,”..Palestine wasn’t Britain’s land to ‘give’ to a 3rd party.
    As Hungarian-born Jewish writer Arthur Koestler remarked,   “one nation solemnly promised to a second nation the country of a third”.

    Chris, no one has the right to generalize, stereotype, about any group of people.  For example. ‘Holocaust survivors’. One of my heroes is the late Hedy Epstein. Her parents sent her to England on a ‘Kindertransport’ at age 14. She was never to see her family  again. She settled in America and became an activist on many domestic and international social issues , but after the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre, Hedy focused on the Palestinian situation and took part in at least one of the Freedom Flotilla efforts.

    While it is important to try and understand the past, and historian Ilan Pappé, is a good source, we should be focusing on the realities of what is happening RIGHT NOW, and what NZ’s role should be. Obscene atrocities are being committed daily on the Palestinian people, not just in Gaza , described as about to be, if not already, unlivable, but in East Jerusalem, Hebron, the Jordan Valley, the Negev, ..
    Anyone, especially our NZ élite : political, religious , academic, media .. who chooses to look the other way and remain silent , is complicit. There is no innocence. New Zealand should follow South Africa’s example and recall our ambassador to Israel.

  15. Simply,it can and can be defined,who from christian biggotry blaims the jews for christs death,then we have Allah,not a anti christ but a god to his beleivers.So who could afford this wronged relligious tribe.The brits not us,the yanks,not us the russians plenty gulags for who,send them back to their place of so called origin the sand lands and their claim of birth and historical war place among those other than their relligious care.So the victors done that,and now today the victors allow these disenfranchised to exploit land and peoples humanity for their own wealth uncaring and exploit eviction,like the monsters done to them.Have they become our 21 centuary monsters,no borders here just us.

  16. I wonder if the Palestinians had a clear path — rather than having to fight — back to their land if they wouldn’t establish religious tolerance as a first principle? Hard to imagine, but when you found a state you do it on the best principles, like our Treaty of Waitangi.

Comments are closed.