Friday, August 26, 2016

Citizenship Invention or Creation?

I went this past week to the Kenyon Institute in Jerusalem

to attend the book launch 

and discussion of this book:

By the way, that photograph is of Abu Ghosh Arabs taking the oath of allegiance to the Arab cause to fight Jewish immigration.

A previous doctorate to eventually become book was also published on the subject by Mutaz M. Qafisheh.

The author, Dr. Lauren Banko

participated along with Salim Tamari:

The book 
"explores the colonial, social and political history of the creation of citizenship in mandate Palestine...situates the evolution of citizenship at the centre of state formation under the quasi-colonial mandate administration in Palestine. It emphasises the ways in which British officials crafted citizenship to be separate from nationality based on prior colonial legislation elsewhere, a view of the territory as divided communally, and the need to offer Jewish immigrants the easiest path to acquisition of Palestinian citizenship in order to uphold the mandate’s policy. In parallel, the book examines the reactions of the Arab population to their new status. It argues that the Arabs relied heavily on their pre-war experience as nationals of the Ottoman Empire to negotiate the definitions and meanings of mandate citizenship.

A 2012 summary of her research is here.

Some of the points during the presentations made included:

a) The British actively pursued Jewish women in the 1930s, suspected by them of illegal entry or overstay and deported them and, of course, this was the fictitious 'marriage' arrangement by chalutzim.  I knew someone who did this three times.  And the problems that developed with the Rabbinate recognizing the divorces is another story.

What wasn't mentioned was that as a result of the 1929 riots, the British instituted a regime of heavily restricted Jewish immigration, termed the 'schedule', which eventually resulted in the 1939 White Paper limitations as reported, for example, here:

As a cumulative result of those restrictions, millions of Jews were left behind in Europe and killed by Hitler.  They weren't stranded in Chile. Their right of return was denied by murder, starvation, ghettos and concentration camps not a continued diaspora existence.

b) Since Arab emigration began prior to the Mandate being instituted and mostly before World War I, starting in circa 1890, thousands of Arabs from the area of what was to become 'Palestine' found themselves deprived of the future Palestinian citizenship. Tamari claimed this was perhaps the original 'right of return' and noted that today, perhaps 30,000 returnees, third or fourth generation progeny, are illegally here in Israel, most from Chile, El Salvador and Brazil.

c) One point very much glossed over was that the whole concept of a Palestinian nationality only came about due to the Zionists.  Prior to the 1925 Citizenship Order

there was no true geo-political entity of Palestine,  It was a region, with no fixed borders and over many years divided, at various times, into very different and changing districts (and see below my eventual question of Southern Syria).  Banko did mention that it was Chaim Weizmann in 1918 who initiated discussions on citizenship but did not go into whether that idea was shared by local Arabs at the time (I have not read her book) until outsiders, and by that I mean Christians, introduced it into local politics.

d) The whole eventual citizenship construct with all its regulations was more based on Britain's previous colonial experience and was directed by religion and community paradigms rather than what we now know as nationality.  Indeed, it was recalled that the 1947 Partition recommendation called into being an Arab and a Jewish state.

e) I learned that many Jews, required by those regulations (it was not clear to me at a specific time or throughout the Mandate period) to pledge allegiance to the Mandate Government, refused to do so.

f) The actual use of the passport was basically for protection while traveling abroad as there were no elections or such in the Mandate except intra-communal ones, the Arabs having lost an opportunity to truly become the dominate section of the population by refusing the proposal of the Legislative Council in 1924.

I did not ask a question but did send one afterwards:

You write of a "Palestinian national movement" but at that time and well into the 1930s and more, the Arabs of Mandate Palestine sought to have the Mandate dissolved and instead, recognize their nationality status as Southern Syrians and to unite what they referred to as Palestine with Greater Syria.  Even diaspora Arabs from the territory, as in the US, viewed themselves as such. (see my previous posts here, here and here)

Irregardless of what "Palestine", as a geopolitical was/is, how do you see that impacting on the question of citizenship?

Dr. Banko kindly gave me permission to quote from her response which included this:

...the question definitely is one that needs asking and one which I, and others, have given thought to before.  

It's true that in writings and discussions in print and letters and in nationalist clubs and organisations and political parties of Palestinian Arabs into the 1930s there was a very real wish and effort for unity with Syria and a shared nationality status with the Syrian Arabs.  However, in my opinion and from research on this and related historical themes, I would argue that the best way to even begin to approach how these Arabs saw themselves is by understanding that identity then (and now) for the Arabs (and Jewish immigrants, and non-Arabs in Palestine, too) was very flexible.  

There were several layers to identity, and so it's impossible to generalise too much or even to pinpoint when particular nationalists realised that a common nationality and overthrowing the mandate was no longer attainable.  I think that although the nationalist movement posited itself even into the 1930s as pro-unity with Syria, individuals inside and outside the movement saw themselves alternately as Palestinian, Syrian Arab, etc.  Even into the 1920s there was still an identification with an Ottoman identity among some.  

... I think identity was flexible and layered in Palestine for the Arabs and for the Jewish immigrants during the Mandate.  During the 1930s, even though some ideas of a pan-Arab state were put forth to the British, this had a lot to do with anti-colonialism and a wider anti-Mandate movement and anti-colonial movement in the Middle East, India, North Africa.  However, many Arabs in Palestine also believed that their situation was unique, and thus felt that the only way to end the Mandate was to emphasise a specifically-Palestinian territorial identity and struggle, just as in Syria there was a very strong pro-Syrian movement that emphasised a Syrian end to the French Mandate.

I do not think citizenship was invented.

It was created, fashioned and conceived, at least on the Jewish side, which over many centuries, viewed themselves as belonging to a very specific country, whose boundaries are delineated in Biblical and Talmudic texts scores of centuries earlier.  And these texts were not some ancient dead letter but they were studied, at least weekly, all throughout the Diaspora existence and Jews were very much aware of this element of what we call 'identity'.

The international legal process - via the Balfour Declaration, the Versailles Peace Conference deliberations, the San Remo Conference decisions and those of the League of Nations between 1917-1922,  - all declined, studiously, to mention Arabs in the context of the country called Palestine.  They were included in a group called "non-Jews".

This was very unfortunate for the local Arabs.  In one sense, however, the did gain one benefit.  The residency requirement for Mandate Palestinian citizenship was two years for most of the time.  Perhaps parallel, the residency requirement of UNRWA for refugee status was two years as well.  So all those Arabs who came to the Mandate to work and make money, especially during World War II, and then fled, or returned to their lands of origin (I have no real stats at hand although work has been done), gained not only the title of 'refugee' but, in the cases they did return to home villages in Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iraq or Jordan, they obtained the right to receive UNRWA handouts.  But that is more an economic matter.

I hope to read the book.


Fictitious Fiction

My letter in today's Jerusalem Post Magazine:

I was surprised that the review of Stewart O'Nan's City of Secrets ("Duplicity and intrigue in Jerusalem", Aug. 12) was taken from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. A book that deals with the post-1945 period of the underground struggle for liberation from British rule in Jerusalem, I would think, requires knowledge of that time including what actually happened so that a novel purporting to portray that era could be judged also on how reliable it is.

For example, according to the NYTimes review, the Haganah employs the protagonist as a Jerusalem taxi driver allowing him to deliver "parcels or ferrying bomb-laden saboteurs through the crumbling alleys of midnight Jerusalem." The Hagana never actually operated in Jerusalem then and the sole military anti-British operation by the Palmach in the city was the assassination of Captain W.H. Bruce on October 17, 1946. Incidentally, the Pittsburgh-Gazatte has him as a member of the Irgun while the Boston Globe also has him in the Hagana.  A cell member, judged a traitor, has his cut throat and tongue sliced off.  Could that have happened?  How does he describe the blowing up of the King David Hotel's southern wing?

Especially for a newspaper named the Jerusalem Post, it would have been more self-respectful that a reviewer who is familiar with the period and the place to have reviewed the book.  Even a work of fiction need not be totally historically fictitious. 

The grey-colored sentence was edited out.

But Who Is Counting?

According to Ofer Zalzberg, a senior analyst at the Middle East and North Africa program of the International Crisis Group, 

the November 2014 understanding between Abdullah and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still largely respected. The understanding focuses on permission for Muslims of all ages to visit and pray at the mosque, and it also allows for a limited number of Jews to visit at agreed-upon times without praying.
“These commitments, which preserved relative calm at the site, are still standing...and Jews are allowed restricted visiting rights on condition that they just visit and not pray,” Zalzberg said.
Although the general features of the agreement are well-known to all parties, some specifics, such as the exact number of Jews to be allowed to visit, are a source of disagreement.
...Zalzberg conceded that on Aug. 14, on which Tisha B’Av, the day of the Jewish fast in remembrance of the destruction of Jewish temples, fell, Israel apparently exceeded the limit of Jewish visitors. Press reports indicate that as many as 200 Jews were allowed into the compound on Aug. 14.

Actually, there were over 400.

But who is counting?


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The BBC and the First Temple

If you go here, you can read this which was published in September 2014, the transcript of a program on Questions and answers about the discovery of King Solomon's Tablet of Stone:

What evidence is there that the Temple of Solomon existed?

The only evidence is the Bible. There are no other records describing it, and to date there has been no archaeological evidence of the Temple at all. What's more, other archaeological sites associated with King Solomon - palaces, fortresses and walled cities that seemed to match places and cities from the Bible - are also now in doubt.

There is a growing sense among scholars that most of these archaeological sites are actually later than previously believed. Some now believe there may be little or no archaeological evidence of King Solomon's time at all, and doubt that he ruled the vast empire which is described in the Bible.


From 2005:

A First-Temple period seal has been discovered amidst piles of rubble from Jerusalem's Temple Mount, an Israeli archaeologist said Tuesday, in what could prove to be an historic find.The small - less than 1 cm - seal impression, or bulla, discovered Tuesday by Bar-Ilan University archaeologist Dr. Gabriel Barkay amidst piles of rubble from the Temple Mount would mark the first time that an written artifact was found from the Temple Mount dating back to the First Temple period.The 2,600 year old artifact, with three lines in ancient Hebrew, was discovered amidst piles of rubble discarded by the Islamic Wakf...The seal, which predates the destruction of the First Jewish temple in 586 BCE, was presented Tuesday night to the press at an archaeological conference

Time passes and

A rare 3,000-year-old seal, from the time of King David in the 10th century BCE, was recently discovered by a 10-year-old Russian volunteer at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount Sifting Project.  Dr. Gabriel Barkay, co-founder and director of the project – which sifts through thousands of tons of illegally removed earth from the contested holy site in 1999 by the Wakf religious trust to build a mosque – said that the finding is unprecedented.

“The seal is the first of its kind to be found in Jerusalem,” said Barkay, a world-renowned archaeologist and Israel Prize laureate, who has led the project for more than 10 years.

The dating of the seal corresponds to the historical period of the Jebusites and the conquest of Jerusalem by King David, as well as the construction of the Temple and the royal official compound by his son, King Solomon.”

“What makes this discovery particularly significant,” Barkay continued, “is that it originated from upon the Temple Mount itself.”

The find:

And coincidentally:

A rare amulet bearing the name of the Egyptian ruler Thutmose III, Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty who reigned from 1479 – 1425 BCE, was discovered at the Temple Mount Sifting Project located in Jerusalem’s Tzurim Valley National Park.

"Thutmose III was one of the most important pharaohs in Egypt's New Kingdom and is credited with establishing the Egyptian imperial province in Canaan, conducting 17 military campaigns to Canaan and Syria and defeating a coalition of Canaanite kings at the city of Megiddo in 1457 BCE," stated Dr. Gabriel Barkay, the co-founder and director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project.

"Thutmose III referred to himself as ‘the one who has subdued a thousand cities,’ and it is known that for more than 300 years, during the Late Bronze Age, Canaan and the city state of Jerusalem were under Egyptian dominion, likely explaining the presence of this amulet in Jerusalem."

BBC needs to update its archives.


Rainbow Coalition Murder Mystery

IB brought this to my attention:

When Rania—the only female Palestinian police detective in the northern West Bank, as well as a young mother in a rural community where many believe women should not have such a dangerous career—discovers the body of a foreign woman on the edge of her village, no one seems to want her look too deeply into what’s happened. But she finds an ally in Chloe—a gay, Jewish-American peace worker with a camera and a big attitude—and together, with the help of an annoying Israeli policeman, they work to solve the murder. As they do, secrets about war crimes and Israel’s thriving sex trafficking trade begin to surface—and Rania finds everything she holds dear in jeopardy. 

Fast-paced and intricately plotted, Murder Under The Bridge offers mystery lovers an intimate view of one of the most fraught political conflicts on the planet.

And more detail:

Called out to investigate an abandoned car, Rania discovers the body of a woman on the outskirts of her village, and it’s soon obvious the victim is neither Palestinian nor Israeli. Because of the delicate situation between the Israeli and Palestinian police forces, Rania must work alongside Benny Lazar, an Israeli police officer, who seems to have much different motives when it comes to solving the crime. They determine that the deceased was Nadya Kim, an Uzbek woman who worked as nanny of sorts for Israel’s deputy defense minister. Narrating alongside Rania is Chloe, an American peace activist who’s in Palestine to advocate for nonviolence resistance. Both she and Rania work, in their own ways, to protect the innocent from easy labels like terrorist—labels that Raphael dismantles and examines in this provocative novel.

I am going to guess that Kate is Jewish but that doesn't really matter.  Nor does it matter that I can't recall a bridge near Salfit.

This does, though:

Kate Raphael is a San Francisco Bay Area writer, feminist and queer activist and radio journalist, who makes her living as a law firm word processor. She lived in Palestine for eighteen months as a member of the International Women's Peace Service, documenting human rights abuses and accompanying Palestinians as they attempted to live normal lives under occupation. At the end of her time in Palestine, she was imprisoned for over a month by the Israeli authorities and eventually deported.

No mystery there.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

No Boredom Today


John Warren Gorham, a physician and scion of an established Boston family, was appointed as the first official U.S. consul in Jerusalem in 1856, in recognition of his support of President Franklin Pierce. The most significant incident during his term of office was the attack on the small American colony of Mount Hope, near Jaffa. The consul rushed to the aid of the Americans there and attended to their needs. The rest of his stay in Jerusalem passed uneventfully. Overcome by boredom, he began drinking heavily, and was recalled in 1860 by President James Buchanan.


Monday, August 22, 2016

Let's Get the Name Correct

As reported:

The Palestinian National Council said in a press release that even after 47 years of the arson [the torching of Al-Aqsa by Australian Christian Dennis Rohan], Israel continues its attempts to change the face of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque.  The council called on both Arab and Muslim organizations to support the people of Jerusalem and their steadfastness, especially in light of settlers increasing violations.
It called on UNESCO to implement its decision which adopts the Arabic and Muslim name for Al-Aqsa Mosque and reject the Israeli name

This report adds

Hussein accused Israel of trying to turn Jerusalem into its eternal capital and cleanse out any expression of Arab and Islamic culture from it. He stressed, “It is not just Al-Aqsa and its domes which reflect the Islamic nature of the city, but each floor of the holy city, every remnant of the city, and every centimeter attest to the fact that it is an Arab and Islamic city, whose roots lie deep in history and culture.”

The name of 'Temple Mount' is Biblical.  It is Hebrew.  Isaiah 2:2:

 וְהָלְכוּ עַמִּים רַבִּים, וְאָמְרוּ לְכוּ וְנַעֲלֶה אֶל-הַר-יְה-וָה אֶל-בֵּית אֱלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב, 

And it is Jewish, not 'Israeli'.

Next, they'll describe it as 'Zionist'. 


NGOs/UN Hinder Gaza Development

In a review of post-disengagement Gaza, 11 years on, we read this about the area which was under Israeli cultivation and which is now referred to by the local Arab residents as “the liberated areas” which they had been "deprived of":_

The pertinent question, however, is how Palestinians might take advantage of and invest in these liberated areas.  When traveling to the former Israeli settlements across the Gaza Strip, one sees largely untapped areas, save for a few residential projects carried out by international institutions, even though the Israeli withdrawal took place over a decade ago.

The Palestinian Land Authority (PLA) in the Gaza Strip is the government agency concerned with the lands. Amal Shimali, the head of the PLA's public relations and media office, told Al-Monitor, “The total of the liberated areas amounts to 5,000 dunums, where some international parties such as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and the United Nations Development Program implemented housing projects, in addition to other similar projects for Palestinians funded by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Japan and Qatar.”
...Political analyst Akram Atallah told Al-Monitor...the liberated areas revealed a lack of experience on the part of the Palestinians in terms of optimizing the use of available resources. 'These lands are certainly not for distribution as they belong to the future generation of Gazans and serve as a strategic reserve,” he said.
He added, “However, these lands ought to be cultivated appropriately, especially since Gaza’s food basket

...For his part, economist Moin Rajab blames the PLA for not being able to properly manage these lands.
“These liberated areas are ostensibly public lands...Gazans ought to be taking advantage of these landscapes...However, following the Israeli withdrawal, some random and hasty projects were set up,” Rajab said.
He added, “The [available] area of the lands is gradually decreasing given the ongoing projects such as private and charitable projects. Thus, it is imperative for the concerned authority to optimize its use as they not only belong to the current generation of Gazans, but also to future ones.”

A careful reading reveals international interference in Gaza's true needs.

Another "humanitarian" failure of these human rights agencies.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Temple Mount Count is 80,355

According to an item in the QPress Islamist news web site, affiliated to the Islamic Movement/North in Israel, "more than 80 thousand Jewsish settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa and desecrated it since 2009".

Their count is 

"80,355 settlers [who] stormed and desecrated the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the last eight years, of whom 66,174 were settlers, 10,747 were intelligence personnel and soldiers in military clothes being taken on tours or exploration rounds not to mention military incursions during the events of the attacks on Al-Aqsa".

The breakdown of the count of the number of "intruders" in the last eight years has been as follows: 

2009: 5931 
2010: 5950 
2011: 5792 
2012: 10831 
2013: 13293 
2014: 14952 
2015: 14064 
2016 (until August 20): 9542

More from the report:

...the Israeli occupation carried out about 50 basic excavations in the vicinity of Al-Aqsa Mosque...a total length of up to about 3,000 meters, most notably the western tunnel down the western wall of Al-Aqsa mosque (about 450 meters) long tunnel Silwan (about 700 meters)...102 synagogue surround the Al-Aqsa Mosque...and Jewish schools, mostly in the western side of it, and in different parts of the Old City in Jerusalem, the most famous "the Hurva" and synagogue "Ohel Isaac."

They also mention "massacres".

I wonder what the statistics of the Israel Police are.

And a clip from this morning.  I see 20 there.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Aldrovani's Temple Mount

The Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Manchester is running a Research Seminar programme for 2016-17 which will take place on Thursdays at 4pm in A113 Samuel Alexander Building.  It is open to all (for free) and there is no need to book.

On November 10, Carlo Aldrovandi of Trinity College, Dublin will be speaking on the topic of

'Holy Space, Nationalism and Undivided Sovereignty: 
The Jewish and Islamist Struggle for the Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif'

He has written a book, Apocalyptic Movements in Contemporary Politics: Christian and Jewish Zionism which  presents 

an original analysis of Israeli Religious Zionism and US Christian Zionism by focusing on the messianic and millenarian drives that form the basis of their political mobilization towards a 'Jewish colonization' of the Occupied Territories.

I learned also that

The author clearly indicates that Christian Zionism, based on a virulently anti-Islamic agenda, is a major hurdle to peace not just in West Asia but globally, too. Indeed, some Christian Zionists even ardently wish (and work for) a final global war,

Back in January 2016, Aldrovani secured further funding from the Trinity College Dublin Arts and Social Sciences Benefactions Research Scheme. The grant will assist the preliminary stages of a new interdisciplinary project addressing the overlaps between religious, cultural and nationalist drives at the basis of the struggle for the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif in the Old City of Jerusalem. The project's main goals are firstly to compare the Islamist and Jewish discourses that mobilize the claims to exclusive ownership of Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif; and secondly, to investigate alternative faith-related approaches which could be deployed to tackle that dispute and its impact on the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

If you plan on attending, I suggest you check my blog posts over the years on the subject.  To trust Aldrovani's perspective is something you do not want to do if you are interested in the historical truth and the actual reality of today.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Chronologically Mixed Up?

When I lead tours to archaeological sites, I admit that my chronology can get mixed up a bit.

You know, Iron Age, Bronze Age, and then all this:

Early Bronze Age I           (3300 BCE – 3000 BCE)
Early Bronze Age II
Early Bronze Age III
Early Bronze Age IV
Middle Bronze Age
Middle Bronze Age I
Middle Bronze Age II
Middle Bronze Age III
Late Bronze Age I
Late Bronze Age II A
Late Bronze Age II B
Iron Age I A
Iron Age I B
Iron Age II
Babylonian and Persian periods
Hellenistic period
Early Hellenistic
Late Hellenistic
Roman period
Early Roman
Late Roman          (132 CE – 324 CE)

I looked at this and thought, that's a purposeful mix-up:

The mission that has 18 members of Saudi and French scientists and experts in archeological excavation has discovered at the Yamamah site in Kharj many architectural antiquities of a huge mosque that existed in the early Islamic era in between first and fifth centuries hegira. 

Hegira was in the year 622 CE.

So, the above dating is, what, 7th-12th centuries?

Let's keep things in proportion.


Koestler as a Freak Oddity

In his "Promise and Fulfillment", Arthur Koestler, former Revisionist Zionist, former Communist and almost former Jew wrote:

The appearance of the freak-movement of Zionism on the political scene was bound to produce a series of freak-reactions. It culminated in the famous Balfour Declaration, one of the most mprobable political documents of all time. In this document one nation solemnly promised to a second nation the country of a third. 

Let's sort this out.

While the Balfour Declaration was a one-nation promise, it was discussed at the 1919 Versailles Peace Conference attended by many nations.  It was also the basis of the Weizmann-Faisal Agreement.

It was then adopted at the San Remo Conference in April 1920.  And in July 1922, 55 nations agreed to include the Declaration's text in their decision to award Great Britain the mandate over Palestine.

To compare nations, as if the Jewish history and connection to the Land of Israel is equal to that of a community of Arabs - and note: "Arabs" was never in those decisions, only "non-Jews", and for a very good reason -,  is insulting in addition to be totally in error.

The "country" was only that of the Arabs living in it by force of armed invasion, conquest and occupation and underwent the rule of Muslim Arabs (Ommayads, Abbasids, etc.), then Crusaders, then Mamelukes, then Ottomans.  Never did the Arabs establish a separate identifiable polity in the Land of Israel. 


Koestler is the oddity here.