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History

Israel is regarded as a National Home for the world's Jews.

Jews
The Jews are a people who emerged from the Middle East as a distinctive cultural and religious group. Their origins appear to have been as a wandering Beduin Arab group (Ancestor: Abraham), confirmed by genetic research on modern Sephardic Jews. Their experiences in Egypt (perhaps in the time of the monotheist revolution of Akhenaten) may have given them a distinct religion of monotheism. Their early history may be described in the books of Genesis and Exodus; their later in Judges, Chronicles and Kings. Their religion and culture have been interpreted as a synthesis of the traditions of the Babylonians or Chaldeans (Abraham) and the Egyptians (Moses). Abraham is described as having come from the Sumerian city of Ur, now in southern Iraq. While led by Abraham they wandered as Beduin in part of what is now Palestine, though sharing it with other peoples. (Arab traditions suggest Abraham's people roamed also over the area of the western parts of modern Saudi Arabia, including Makkah. As the world of those times had a tiny fraction of the modern population this could also be true). The Arabs also regard themselves as being descended from Abraham through Ismail the son of Abraham's slave Hagar.

After a period in Egypt, possibly as slaves of the post Akhnaten regime, the Sons of Abraham left again for Palestine, by then a much larger people, perhaps including a mixed group of revolting slaves escaping from the Pharaoh. (It has been suggested they were led by the dissident priests of the Akhnaten monotheist faction - Moses would appear to be an Egyptian name.) They became known as the Habiru (?wanderers). This is commemorated in the ceremonies of the Jewish Passover and described in the book of Exodus.(See Speculations.) In Palestine they formed the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah. However, even in the time of David and Solomon, the kings of a large united kingdom, many other peoples lived in the same area: theirs was not a modern homogeneous nation state.

The area was for periods part of the Egyptian Empire and later the people were conquered at different times by their neighbors: the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians and Greeks. Until the time of the Roman Empire they lived mainly in Palestine but there were also large communities in other places, especially Babylon (modern Iraq) and Egypt, following deportations of Jews by their non-Jewish rulers. They spread throughout the Roman Empire as traders, much as several modern peoples do today.

Their main religious center was the Temple at Jerusalem. From 70 AD their rulers were dispersed by the Romans throughout the Roman Empire and Middle East (the Diaspora) and the Temple destroyed, bringing to an end the Temple ceremonies and beginning modern Judaism, based on the Synagogues rather than the Temple. It is believed however that many of the peasants probably remained in Palestine, later to be converted to Christianity and Islam.

Another center of similar practice was located in southern Egypt at the temple on the island of Elephantine. From here a form of Judaism extended into Ethiopia.

Are the Jews a nation or a religion?
Communities of Jews always resemble the non-Jews around them. This suggests that they are a religious or cultural group rather than a genetic community and that there has always been a good deal of intermarriage with non-Jews. (That is, the idea of a Jewish race is unfounded).

The religion has also spread by conversion of other peoples.

The most notable of these conversions was a Turkish tribe, the Khazars, which converted to Judaism in 740 and built an important state in the area of the Black Sea and Caucasus. However, it is possible that only the ruling group around the kings actually converted. Their descendants are believed to be some of the Jews of eastern Europe and Russia and joined with the Ashkenazim whose traditional language has become a Creole of German and Hebrew known as Yiddish (Jewish).

(It must be said that although the evidence for the Khazars is good, there are dissenters to this view. Extensive controversy on the topic can be found on the internet for example)

In the early Christian era there were Jewish kingdoms in Arabia and Ethiopia. One of the first acts of the early Muslims was to massacre a community of Jews living in Madinah, the oasis to which Mohammed and his followers fled when he was expelled from Makkah. Their language was probably Arabic. (But Islam shows the influence of Jewish culture in several important ways and Jews have usually lived peacefully in Muslim countries, such as Spain and Morocco).

The other main stream of Jews derives from those of the Mediterranean and especially of Spain during the pre-Conquest period when they co-existed with Muslims. They are the Sephardim (Hebrew for Spaniards) and are almost certainly the descendants of the Jews expelled from their original homeland by the Romans. Their traditional language was a version of Spanish known as Ladino. They were expelled from Spain in an early instance of ethnic cleansing (1502). Both Yiddish and Ladino are still spoken in Israel as minority languages and are written with the Hebrew alphabet.

The ritual language of the Torah, Hebrew, was continued and used for scholarly purposes, even though in the Roman period Jews actually spoke Aramaic and Greek. Hebrew has been revived and developed as the official and domestic language of Israel. Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic have a common origin.

Other groups lived in Ethiopia, the Yemen and other Arab countries. The Falasha of Ethiopia have been brought to Israel and have customs which show they split off in Solomonic times, before the abolition of animal sacrifice. Some anthropologists believe there are people whose origin was Jewish as far south as the Lemba in Southern Africa (Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe) who claim to have migrated from the Yemen before Islam began and have some Jewish customs. Some other African peoples as far apart as the Yoruba of Nigeria and the Luhya of Kenya claim as their origin the Jews of the Middle East. The Muslim Pashtuns of Afghanistan also claim plausibly to be the Beni Israel, descendants of those Jews who were carried off by the Babylonians.

Jews in Africa

Persecution
The Jews have a long history of being persecuted by non-Jews, dating back in Europe at least as far as the Crusades, and in the late Roman Empire, ordered by Constantine. One of the first acts of the crusaders on their way east to reconquer Palestine was to massacre Jews they found on the way through Europe. The Jews living in western Europe represented the civilized east in a very undeveloped country. They were used as bankers (Christians were not supposed to lend money at interest; Jews were not allowed to own land). The various kings felt no inhibition to taking money from the Jews when they needed it, nor reluctance to expel them when they couldn't repay their debts. Casual lynchings and massacres were common. Jews in England were expelled in 1290 and were only officially allowed back in the time of Oliver Cromwell in 1650. In eastern Europe Jews were compelled to live in certain quarters of towns: the Judengasse or Ghetto (after the Borghetto in Venice). All this can be called anti-semitism.

Zionism
In the late 19th century Jews in Russia and Poland were being persecuted and killed during government supported Pogroms (massacres). Many of them fled to western Europe and the United States. Theodore Herzl (1860-1904) proposed a Jewish state in 1896. He founded the World Zionist Organization in 1897. The British government offered him land in what was then called Uganda - the highlands of Kenya - in 1903 but he rejected it. Herzl formulated the idea that Jews had better find a national home like all other nations - first asserting that Jews were a Nation. (He lived at a time when various linguistic groups in Europe, especially those in the Hapsburg Empire, were experiencing nationalist movements. Probably he was influenced by these. The outcome of many of these new "nations" such as those in Yugoslavia and the Balkans has not always been happy.) He proposed that they should return to their "original home" from which they had been dispersed by Titus during the reign of the Emperor Vespasian (70 CE).

Some Jews began to move to Palestine, then administered by the Ottoman Empire as part of the province of Syria (Esh Sham), and bought land mostly from the absentee landlords who had acquired title to it from the Ottomans. The actual occupiers of the land were often evicted. (The Arab population was much smaller then than now).

Balfour Declaration

The British foreign minister A.J.Balfour announced during the first world war that the British government favored the creation of "a national home for the Jews" in Palestine. He did not define the meaning of "home" but the intention seems to have been to set up a British dominion or colony over the whole Arab area of the Ottoman Empire so that the Jewish area would then have been a corner of the Empire. The text was approved by the other allies. It required the interests of the existing inhabitants to be safeguarded. The purpose of the Declaration seems to have been to attract the help of American and other Jews in the war against Germany but also to weaken the Ottoman Turks who were allied with Germany. British troops fighting the Ottomans during the first world war occupied the land and captured Jerusalem after advancing from Egypt.

Mandate period
When the British were awarded the land by the League of Nations as a Mandate more Jews moved there and formed co-operative settlements (Kibbutzim). As their numbers increased the Arabs began to be concerned that their land was coming into the hands of immigrants. The Common Land was declared State Land by the British and then sold to Jews who built settlements on it.

The first British governor of Jerusalem, Sir Richard Storrs, wrote of British support for Zionism that Palestine would be for "for England a 'little loyal Jewish Ulster' in a sea of potentially hostile Arabism." (quoted by Tom Paulin in the London Guardian 8 Jan 2003.)

Fighting between Arabs and Jews began during the 1930s when the country was still under British rule. The British administration disarmed the Arabs but ignored the Jews who were acquiring weapons.

Holocaust
In Europe the large Jewish communities were threatened by the Nazis in Germany. After Hitler's armies had conquered most of western and eastern Europe he held a meeting at Wannsee near Berlin on 20 January 1942 at which the decision was made to kill all the Jews in the parts of Europe the Germans controlled. The result was the death of about 6 million of the Jews of Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria, France, Netherlands, Greece and other countries. Some survivors made their way to British controlled Palestine. A few who had foreseen Hitler's intentions (stated in his autobiography Mein Kampf) had reached Palestine before the war began. Others had fled to Britain and America, but immigration rules deterred many who wished to move.

Holocaust deniers
These events are as well established in history as any event, backed by tonnes of evidence in the form of Nazi internal memos, railway timetables, films and personal testimonies both from those who escaped the extermination camps (few) and those who worked in them. The so-called Revisionist historians who deny they happened are all of them Nazi apologists, and overt or covert Nazis themselves with an attitude of antisemitism. In December 2005 the extremist President of Iran repeated these denials.

It seems likely that this event will continue to be as important in Jewish history as the Egyptian Captivity, Exodus and other events described in the Torah (Old Testament).

The Jewish settlers in Palestine formed defense organizations - Irgun - which fought against both the Arabs and the British. After the second world war finished the fighting intensified, especially as the British tried to prevent the arrival of Jews from Europe who had been released from the Nazi camps. Some of these had fought the Nazis. (See Eva Figes and her suggestion that many of these may not have wished to go to Palestine - as it then was.)

Israel
The State of Israel was declared in 1948 on the territory of Falestin/Palestine after withdrawal of the British from the Palestine Mandate. The British withdrew on the grounds that they could no longer maintain the peace and asked the United Nations to make new arrangements.

The UN ordered the land to be divided between Jews and Arabs. Israel then occupied the part awarded to Jews in the Palestine Partition plan; then in the 1948 war occupied some of the Arab area after being attacked by Egypt, Jordan and Syria. In 1967 Israel occupied the West Bank - the whole of the UN designated Arab area - and Sinai and the Gaza strip from Egypt as well as the Golan Heights of Syria. Later withdrawal from Sinai left Israel in occupation of the area to the west of Jordan (the West Bank), the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. Israel also controlled through proxies and military occupation part of southern Lebanon.

In 1956 Britain, France and Israel agreed secretly to attempt to reoccupy the Suez Canal after it had been nationalised by Gamel Abdul Nasser. The resulting war was brought to an end by the order of President Eisenhower.

Israel was admitted to the United Nations in 1948 with the support of all the permanent members of the Security Council. However, for the duration of the Cold War the Soviet Union supported the Arab states and broke off diplomatic relations with Israel.

A UN resolution 242 ordered Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories of the West Bank of Jordan, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights but Israel, believing itself to be backed by the United States, has refused to comply and the Security Council has never ordered measures to make Israel comply (which weakens UN prestige in the Arab world).

Israel has been opposed by all the Arab states but since the Camp David agreement in 1979 has had diplomatic relations with Egypt after returning the occupied Sinai peninsula to Egypt.

According to the Israeli constitution (the Law of Return) every Jew in the world is automatically entitled to be a citizen. If they all came there would be serious problems of overcrowding and unemployment, not to mention increased Arab hostility. Recently many came from the former Soviet Union. (Who is a Jew? then becomes an important question as some of them may have been ordinary Russians escaping from a collapsing system. Some of these may already be returning to Russia.)

The situation of Israel, like all the Middle East, is uncertain. America and other western powers have a strong interest in preventing Arab hostility so that they can continue to receive oil. A well-organized Jewish voting block (as well as certain Eschatological Christians) in the United States persuades politicians to vote aid for Israel. Without this aid the Israelis would have to negotiate a solution with the Arabs. During 1992 the US government under President Bush the Elder appeared to be resisting this political pressure and trying to stem the flow of money to Israel. But Clinton may have had more electoral support from the Zionist organizations. The attitude of Bush the younger is not clear (though he has supported everything done by the Israeli government, possibly from a religious point of view - that of the Apocalyptic Protestants in the US, who expect Israel to be the forerunner of the Second Coming).

Isolation and a continuous state of war or preparation for war has produced a psychological condition in which Israelis are coming to see Arabs as inferiors. A significant, small but increasing, minority wishes to expel all Arabs from the land now controlled by Israel and expresses its views in terms similar to those used by whites in South Africa and by extreme anti-Jewish groups in Europe, thus proving that Jews are not immune from politico-psychological diseases. Some wish to claim exclusive control of the area said to have been ruled by King David (but within his borders he ruled over many other peoples besides Jews).

Non-Zionist Jews
Some Orthodox and Hasidic Jews living in Jerusalem and other parts of the world do not recognize the state of Israel as they claim that only the Messiah has the right to proclaim a Jewish kingdom. Of these the Neturai Karta sect actively cooperate with Palestinians, and their leader served as a minister in Yasser Arafat's government. They believe Jews should exist in Palestine under a Palestinian government. Not all Jews living outside of Israel are Zionists.

There are some Arab citizens - those who had been living in the territory before 1948 and did not become refugees. These are Christians and Muslims.

Israel was attacked by Iraqi missiles during the 1991 Gulf war. In the period following Israel continued to resist peace talks, although the American government expressed public irritation with this attitude (but there seems to have been no pause in military assistance). The Israeli policy seemed to be to avoid talks and rely instead on their military power which in the past has always been superior to the Arabs'. Israel has an unknown number of nuclear weapons, some may have been made in South Africa.

Future
What is the long-term prospect for Israel? The uncommitted historian has to observe that Israel has much in common with the medieval Crusader states which occupied Palestine. These were surrounded by a hostile people and gained their main support from the west through constant military reinforcement by new settlers from western Europe. But they were all defeated in the end mainly because the flow of reinforcements dried up, and also because the Muslims united under strong leaders, the most famous of whom was Salah ud Din (Saladin). The Crusader states lasted nearly 200 years. The Zionists would argue that they are not safe anywhere else, given their long history of being persecuted by Christians and Muslims (though Jews have usually not been disturbed by Muslims). In today's crowded world they argue that the danger remains, especially in Russia and eastern Europe where anti-Jewish fascist parties are organizing again. Israelis also argue that Israel is their own home, promised them by God as recorded in the Hebrew Bible (Torah). This is an uncomfortable argument as most of the world's people are descendants of ancestors who have come from somewhere else. At present Israel's legitimacy rests, like other states, on the recognition by the world community as expressed through the United Nations.

(However, we should note that the UN of 1948 was very different from now. It consisted overwhelmingly of the colonial powers. The present Arab states were either not represented or only by regimes controlled by the British and French. A large number of the present membership were still colonies of Britain or France. The Cold War had not quite begun. It seems unlikely that a modern, more representative UN would vote for the 1948 settlement.)

A Peace Conference sponsored by the United States and the Soviet Union opened in Madrid in October 1991. Few observers expected there to be much progress. However, an agreement was signed with the PLO. Will it have a peaceful result? In February 1994 the process was impeded by a massacre by a Jewish extremist (whose views resembled those of fascists: racist, unhuman, nationalist) in the mosque at Hebron, the traditional burial place of Abraham, sacred to Muslims and Jews alike. Nevertheless a Palestinian political entity was created in Gaza and Jericho. In July 1994 a peace agreement was signed with Jordan.

For most of its life Israel has been dependent on the support of the United States. This support seemed to be reducing during the former Bush period. Could Israel survive without it? Some have suggested that Jews in the United States were less wholehearted in their support of Israel and the recent Likud government than in the past. There are still far more Jews outside Israel than in it. Unless a new mass anti-Jewish movement arises these are unlikely to attempt to move to Israel. There are also Israeli citizens leaving Israel.

Middle East Community
Before and during the first world war the British had plans for a united Middle East as a British dominion. Could this be recreated as a religiously neutral political organization covering both the Arab and Jewish states? It seems visionary even to imagine it but it might provide the only permanent security for the Jews of Israel, as well as the solution to the fragmentation of the area into powerless Arab states. In addition it would give Israel access to the oil and to the Arabs the powerful scientific and technological expertise of the Israelis. So much mutual hatred has been generated since the 1930s that it is difficult to imagine. But several other systems of hatred have been defused in the last few years. The quasi-Fascist regimes in Iraq, Iran and Syria would have to fall first. Although the Saddam Hussain regime has fallen, what has replaced it is not encouraging. Perhaps it would be helpful to recall that during the biblical period (smaller population) the Jewish states shared the land with other peoples and therefore could do so again.

If the land had really been empty, Israel would seem to be an admirable state with high level of inventiveness and the renewal of an ancient culture and a democratic political system.

In some respects Israel is similar to the settlement colonies of European powers in Africa: Algeria, Rhodesia and South Africa. These may represent the three possible outcomes of the Israel experiment.

War
By April 2002 the war with the Palestinians was escalating day by day and threatening to involve the whole Middle East. The election in 2005 by the Palestinians of a Hamas majority in parliament makes uncertain what the Palestinians will do, as this group refuses to recognise the right of Israel to exist, but they probably represent the real opinion of the voters.

In June 2006 large scale fighting broke out in Gaza after Hamas (=Zeal) fighters had kidnapped an Israeli soldier.

In July 2006 Hezbullah in Lebanon captured two soldiers, possibly hoping to bargain them for a prisoner exchange. Israel then attacked Lebanon on a large scale, opening up a new war, claiming to have the intention of disarming Hezbullah (=party of god, sponsored by Iran).

In December 2008 Israeli forces bombed Gaza from the air, followed by a ground attack. Was this urged by the Bush presidency in its last few weeks? The fighting was called off two days before the inauguration of President Obama.

The Netanyahu government has prepared to attack the Gaza Strip in November 2011 resulting in a major war in November 2011. The war is a response to rocket attacks from Gaza sponsored by Militant Muslims who have links with the government in Gaza.

Languages

Hebrew

Arabic

English

Yiddish

Ladino
 Norman Cohn - Warrant for Genocide


The Myth of the Jewish World Conspiracy and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion


Die Protokolle der Weisen von Zion. Der Mythos von der jüdischen Weltverschwörung


Histoire d'un mythe

Count Heinrich Coudenhove-Kalergi


Anti-Semitism Throughout the Ages



Antisemitismus. Von den Zeiten der Bibel bis Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts

Middle East for Dummies



Patrick Tyler-A World of Trouble



A World of Trouble: The White House and the Middle East--From the Cold War to the War on Terror

Walter Laqueur - A History of Zionism


A History of Zionism: From the French Revolution to the Establishment of the State of Israel

 History

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Politics

Israel has the most extreme proportional voting system of any state. The whole country is treated as a single voting district with parties getting seats according to their votes. This allows into parliament some very extreme parties even if they have only 1% of votes. There are calls by some groups for a revision of the voting system to raise the threshold at which parties could enter the Knesset (Parliament).

All citizens have a vote including the Arab citizens of the state before 1967. Arabs in the Occupied Territories and East Jerusalem do not have a vote.

Governments are always coalitions of parties. The small religious parties usually hold the balance of power between right and left. This gives them disproportionate power over the non-religious majority, especially in the matter of the law of marriage and divorce and subsidy for religious schools and exemption of religious students from military service. However, the June 1992 election produced a majority for Labour and its allies sufficient to reduce the religious influence (or stranglehold).

The main political question is about the treatment of the Occupied Territories (the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and Jerusalem) and peace talks with the PLO and Arab states.

When the state was founded the majority community was the Ashkenazim - Jews who had come from Europe, especially the east. Now there is a majority of Sephardim - Jews who have come from Arab countries (descended from those who once lived in Spain or who had always lived in the Middle East).

The party system of Israeli politics largely represents the division into these two communities. The Likud party or coalition represents right wing economics and the interests of the poorer oriental Jews. The Labor Party represents Socialist economics and the interests of the Ashkenazim. The new, Ashkenazim, arrivals from Russia were believed to favor Likud as they had had enough of socialism, however, in the June 1992 election they voted Labour, perhaps because they were unemployed. Labour tends to favor negotiation with the Palestinians; Likud prefers military response. The new Labour government tried harder to negotiate and halted the establishment of new settlements in Arab lands. To the Arabs, the first three months of the Labour government showed very little difference and in December 1992 the expulsion of 400 Palestinian Muslim enthusiasts showed the same attitude as Likud.

The August 1993 agreement between the PLO and the government came as a surprise. The right wing (Likud and others) opposed it. The agreement in principle allows a limited self-government for Palestinians in Gaza and Jericho. Many Israelis fear this is the beginning of a Palestinian state, but perhaps it is just a cleverer way of ruling the Arabs.

Yitzhak Rabin, the main peace advocate was assassinated 4 Nov. 1995. A rightwing Likud government headed by Benyamin Netanyahu was then elected and proceeded to authorise more settlements on confiscated Arab land.

A Labor government under Ehud Barak tried to make an agreement of the PLO and seemed near to success but an Intifada broke out - a mass resistance by Arabs in the occupied territories. He was defeated in the election of 2000 by Ariel Sharon, a former general in many past wars who advocated severe measures against Palestinians. The succeeding Likud government of Ariel Sharon then resumed repressive measures against the Arabs and a state of near war broke out in 2000-2002. As the crisis grew he formed a government of National Unity, including most parties, and especially the somewhat reluctant Labor Party. The Labor party withdrew at the end of October 2002. Ariel Sharon formed a government containing only right wing parties until elections to be called in January 2003. Is Israel now into the same cycle of politics that Rhodesia and South Africa experienced? Throughout the 20th century in those countries, no government was replaced except by a more rightwing party, until the negotiations that ended the regimes. Israelis often deny the similarities of their situation with these European settlement regimes (though in the past Israeli governments cooperated closely with the former regime in South Africa, especially for nuclear research), but the increasing military insecurity seems likely to push them in the same political direction: increasingly militaristic governments, until necessity causes radical accommodation with the Palestinians. The attempt (December 2002) by the government to ban certain Arab MPs from sitting in the Knesset or standing for election confirms this trend to the extreme right (and tends to devalue Israeli claims to being a democracy).

Barak was succeeded by Ariel Sharon with a policy of krakdadigheid (Afrikaans word for severe repression) and retaliation. In the last few years Sharon has pursued a policy of withdrawal of Jewish settlements from the Gaza strip, but consolidation of settlements in the West Bank. The death of Yasser Arafat of a mysterious illness changed the Palestinian leadership.

Ariel Sharon's government cleared all Zionist settlements from the Gaza strip in late 2005.

In January 2006 Ariel Sharon suffered a stroke (cerebral haemorrhage) from which he is unlikely to recover. Shortly before, he had formed a new, allegedly centrist, party to stand in a General Election in April 2006. His party continues in being without him, led by Ehud Olmert, a former rightwing mayor of Jerusalem, but his removal from the political scene has created uncertainty. Sharon seemed likely to be preparing to remove some of the Zionist settlements from the West Bank area. Would any successor dare to do this?

The signs (June and July 2006) are that his successor Ehud Olmert has reverted to extreme military measures. Olmert had to resign in 2008 after being charged with corruption. A general election followed.

During the election campaign Israeli forces attacked targets in the Gaza strip, killing more than 1000 Palestinians.

The election result was that the right wing parties increased their proportion of seats. A new government led by Netanyahu with, astonishingly, Labor support was formed. This perhaps is another example of how besieged settler states drift to the right, as in South Africa and Rhodesia, where each government was succeeded by even more extreme parties promising greater and greater military force, till the end. Netanyahu ignored President Obama's request not to allow more settlement building in the Occupied Territories.

Interesting reading

Obviously there are libraries of books on the Jews but this, somewhat controversial book, is interesting and controversial.
Arthur Koestler - The Thirteenth Tribe (London 1976)



The Thirteenth Tribe: The Khazar Empire and Its Heritage


Der dreizehnte Stamm. Das Reich der Khasaren und sein Erbe


La Treizième Tribu : L'Empire khazar et son héritage





The Lemon Tree



Eva Figes

Eva Figes is the daughter of a family who fled Germany in 1939 and arrived in Britain. They had a maid in Berlin who was unable to join them and somehow survived until 1945. As a displaced person at the end of the war she was in a camp and was more or less ordered to go to Palestine despite her preference for joining the Figes family in London. It seems that the US authorities insisted on these displaced Jews going to Palestine, and the Zionist authorities welcomed them to get the numbers up. In Palestine she found that the Zionist settlers there looked down on German Jews and blamed them for not having joined them before 1939. The maid said that " everyone hates everyone else" there. Eventually she was able to get to London and join the Figes family. Figes has written this story in her new book Journey to Nowhere". Perhaps this is an example of how people were "persuaded" to go to the then Zionist settlements. Why, I wonder were the US authorities so keen on getting these people to go there? Amazon Synopsis In the spring of 1939, six-year-old Eva Unger (later Figes) came to settle in London. Born in Berlin, her middle-class Jewish family managed to get out of Nazi Germany, leaving behind friends, relatives and their penniless, orphan housemaid, Edith. Ten years later, with Eva assimilated into post-war British society, word arrived from Edith in Palestine, asking for her old job back in the bosom of the only family she ever knew. At the kitchen table, Edith told the curious schoolgirl Eva of her miraculous survival in wartime Berlin, and her post-war life in the city's ruins, until she was persuaded to go to Palestine. Here she found herself treated with bitter contempt as a despised German Jew, and at the centre of another war, between Arab and Jew.Through Edith's story, Figes argues that continuing anti-Semitism at the end of the century's worst catastrophe led to the creation of Israel. Part memoir, part polemic Journey to Nowhere" is a highly charged and profoundly moving account of post-war displacement and a fierce attack on America's role in the Middle East.">
Journey to Nowhere: One Woman Looks for the Promised Land


Article about ethnic cleansing of Arabs with book reviews

Review by Martin Woolacott
See also Speculations
Israel and South Africa

 History

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Economics

Israel has a developed economy with a highly technological agriculture sector and exports citrus and other fruits to Europe. It also has a developed arms industry able to design and build advanced weapons systems. But it lacks natural resources, in particular oil.

In January 2012 it was announced that a railway would be built between Eilat and the Mediterranean coast by Chinese engineers. This would carry passenger trains to the southernmost part of the country but would also carry freight (its main purpose) and could act as a supplement or replacement for the Suez Canal, especially if that canal were to be closed again - as happened on several occasions during the 20th century. Perhaps the Chinese want to be able to carry containers without the use of the canal, just as they are planning to avoid the Panama Canal with a railway in Colombia.

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Green/Ecology

Israel is dependent on inadequate water supplies mainly from the Jordan river and ground water. The ground water is not being replenished at the rate at which it is being withdrawn. It is believed that Israel cannot leave the Occupied territories without losing control of the water supply.

The land probably cannot support the number of people likely to move there (for example from Russia) and certainly not the number who are legally able to come (all Jews).

Throughout the world water is said to be the key environmental factor. Desalination is still, and likely to remain, too expensive for agriculture. Rainfall in the Middle East is tending to decrease, probably a result of the Greenhouse Effect but possibly a result of cutting trees. Israelis have planted many trees and claim they have increased the rainfall.

Israel is known to possess nuclear weapons. See this reference for a detailed report.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Climate

Human Rights

Rights for Jews follow the European model (though there are exceptions, such as Mordecai Vanunu); rights for Arabs follow the Middle Eastern model - imprisonment without trial, beatings, shoot to kill by security forces. Similarities with apartheid.

Censorship of the local and foreign press on all matters which can be described as national security.

Climate

One degree
Increasing aridity, making the water problem more severe. Already there is a long drought.

Two degrees
Sahara-like aridity, making human settlement very difficult.

Last revised 18/11/12


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