A recent Bay Area letter illustrated some of the misinformation being circulated regarding Israel and the Palestinians.
Israel— the state of the Jewish people who have returned to their indigenous homeland — is a state with equal civil and political rights for all its citizens, Jewish, Christian and Muslim. There is not a single right held by an Israeli Jew not also held by an Israeli Arab. The situation with the Palestinian Arabs — a population that has quintupled since 1967 — is indeed different, as they are not citizens of Israel. Half of them are ruled by Hamas; most of the rest are governed by the Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, who is now in the 18th year of his four-year term, while 300,000 live in areas under Israeli military occupation.
The long-term solution to this situation would be peace between the Jewish state of Israel and a future Arab state of Palestine that would agree to live beside it in peace. Unfortunately, this is what Palestinian leaders turned down in 1947, 2000 and 2008. Sadly, they have made it clear that their main concern is not creating a Palestinian state, but rather eliminating the Jewish one.
Michael Harris, Bodega Bay
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JEFF BLANKFORT REPLIES: Michael Harris’ letter reminded me of a word in Hebrew that was invented 15 years after Israel became a state that does not appear in any other language, the existence of which is virtually unknown outside the organized Jewish community. It was introduced by Meir Amit, the third director of Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad in 1963 and when one learns what it means it becomes obvious why the latter is anxious to keep it that way.
That word is sayan and its plural is sayanim. As Wikipedia defines it:
Sayanim, (Hebrew: סייענים, lit. Helpers, Assistants) singular Sayan, are Jews located in the diaspora who assist Mossad agents in their operations.
One can appreciate the word’s significance when one realizes that those to whom the term describes largely adhere to the world view of Chaim Weizmann, the Russian-born chemist who headed the world Zionist movement through both world wars and became Israel’s first president.
“There are no English, French, German or American Jews,” opined Weizmann, “but only Jews living in England, France, Germany or America.”
Weizmann’s declaration was and remains the very foundation of Zionism. That the majority of the world’s Jews would, I suspect, be uncomfortable if not in passionate disagreement with Weizmann’s verdict, it has been clear for some time that a significant minority have embraced it.
While the sayanim has assisted and continue to assist Mossad in intelligence operations, including assassinations, as the CIA infamously became known for during the Cold War, it can be assumed that providing disinformation to the public of a target nation about Israel would come within Mossad’s purview. In Hebrew, that term is hasbara, which literally means explaining Israel to the world, and like sayanim, it has no foreign counterpart.
Michael Harris of Bodega Bay presents an ideal vision of the state of Israel in his letter with its usual litany of the Palestinians’ refusal to make peace with Israel, as if he just a concerned American citizen wishing to correct what he believes were damaging assertions about the Jewish state contained in a letter that the AVA ran last week which called out Israel for declaring that six critical, long standing Palestinian civic organizations were linked to a “terrorist” organization and then invading and shutting down their offices and stealing all their equipment and records. That these organizations had been recognized as legitimate for years by the world community and that all of Israel’s major allies, including the US, albeit to a lesser extent, questioned Israel’s decision and the evidence behind, before the office invasions was something that Harris’s letter simply dismisses, without referring to what it said as “misinformation.” That effort, on his part, more than qualifies him as such a sayan.
So Dr. Michael Harris, a San Rafael pediatrician, is not just your average American citizen but one of the founders and leaders of San Francisco Voice for Israel — now the Bay Area chapter of StandWithUs, described by the NY Jewish Forward, as “a major player in the pro-Israel world, with 15 branches in the United States, Israel and Europe, close relations with Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and a constantly growing budget.” In 2018, he produced a short volume, “Winning a Debate with an Israel-Hater: How to Effectively Challenge Anti-Israel Extremists in Your Neighborhood,” but he would have to do better than he did with his letter to the AVA in contesting anyone who knows the subject.
His letter is pure hasbara beginning with the claim that“Israel is the state of the Jewish people who have returned to their indigenous homeland — is a state with equal civil and political rights for all its citizens, Jewish, Christian and Muslim. There is not a single right held by an Israeli Jew not also held by an Israeli Arab.”
First, that Hebrews lived in ancient Palestine before it was called that is accepted as fact, based on the number of artifacts that have been unearthed there over the years but for all but ardent Zionists, that fact has little relevance to today. That Jews are indigenous to what for centuries had been known as Palestine, long before the existence of the modern nation state, however, is contradicted by their own sacred texts in which religious Jews fervently believe. They point to their origins as the Chaldean city of Ur in Mesopotamia, what today is Iraq.
And then, after being in the desert for a number of years, the deity they invented told them to march to the land of Canaan and to take it by force from the true indigenous people of that portion of the earth which, according to Deuteronomy, they did, much as the modern Ashkenazi Jews, with no connection whatsoever to ancient Palestine or the Middle East, would ethically cleanse three quarters of a million Palestinian Arabs from the farms and villages where their families had lived, some for centuries to create the modern state of Israel. In the first instance, it was a case of “God made me do it!” In 1948 it was a case of out and out Jewish supremacism.
That the world allowed this crime to happen just two years after a war to rid the world of such behavior had been concluded was not an accident. It was not just a response to Hitler’s crimes against Europe’s Jews that had shocked the world. It was something the Zionists had been planning well before Hitler and the Nazis took over Germany and launched his genocidal war against the Jews, the overwhelming majority of whom were not Zionists, NOT interested in living in a Jewish state, and who, it must be emphasized, were not responsible for the fate of the Palestinian Arabs.
In fact, in 1942, when news of what had been happening in the Nazi concentration camps was already becoming known to the Zionist leadership, at an historic conference at New York’s Biltmore Hotel to plan the new Jewish state, the fate of European Jewry was nowhere on the agenda!
Israel and its propagandists, such as Harris, love to brag about all its citizens being equal, regardless of their faith, trusting that most foreigners not enamored of the Zionist cause will never visit the country and that those who do will share its prejudices, like the Christian evangelicals. I have, however, lived there, staying with native Israelis, on two occasions, for two months each time over a 20 year span and I have never seen a people as proudly racist as the majority of Israel’s Jews, and ostensible citizens as badly treated as the descendants of the Palestinian Arabs who remained in Israel after 1948.
Harris concludes the portion of his letter having to do with civil rights within Israel itself by declaring that “. There is not a single right held by an Israeli Jew not also held by an Israeli Arab.” Oh, yeah, Michael? Let’s skip the fact that no non-Jew would ever be elected prime minister but since when have Israeli Arab citizens been allowed to move to Jewish only settlements or anywhere in Area C, the 60% of the West Bank that Yasser Arafat gave away to Israel as part of the Oslo Agreement and where Israeli law prevails for its Jewish citizens? For decades, as well, there were laws that restricted where Israel’s Arabs could rent apartments within the state and if they were unlucky enough to have Jewish neighbors who objected to their presence, they would be forced to move.
Within Israel, a controversial new national law approved by the Knesset four years ago stated that “the right to exercise national self-determination” in Israel is “unique to the Jewish people,” established Hebrew as Israel’s official language, while downgrading Arabic, still spoken by 20% of Israel’s population, to a “special status” and establishing “Jewish settlement as a national value” and mandates that the state “will labor to encourage and promote its establishment and development” which, by definition, of course, excludes Israeli Arabs.
But the real and growing concern of the world has not been the status of Israel’s Arab minority but Israel’s ongoing and increasingly violent occupation of the West Bank and siege of Gaza while expanding its Jewish only settlements on confiscated Palestinian Arab land under a system which, at long last, obligated the world’s two leading human rights organizations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to conduct detailed studies of the situation. Both ultimately concluded that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians met the definition of apartheid.
The response of the Israel Lobby, in essence, the Jewish Political Establishment whose ranks are filled with sayanim, was quick and predictable. Both of these venerable organizations, despite their heralded reputations, were denounced as “Anti-Semitic” and their opinion was echoed by Jewish Secretary of State Tony Blinken who dismissed them out of hand. As could have been expected, AI and HRW’s indictment of the Israelis was largely ignored by the same mainstream media now absorbed with even the tiniest of details of Ukraine’s suffering at the hands of the Russians and, like Congress, never questions the billions of dollars in weaponry that the US sends to Israel each year without any conditions placed on their use.
The dismissal of the Amnesty and HRW reports by the Biden White House, continues a tradition established under Bill Clinton, in which each administration has shared with its predecessor, regardless of party affiliation, an unwillingness to call out Israel’s crimes for what they are and in the halls of Congress, despite some minor gains, it is still safer to criticize the US president than ANY Israeli prime minister or, heaven forbid, call for a reduction in US aid.
No issue may be more revealing of the power that Israel holds over the White House, Congress and our national media, than the absence of any mention of Israel’s estimated several hundred operational nukes in the debate over whether or not to reengage with Iran in a deal that would, like the JCPOA ended by Trump, delay any plans Tehran’s leaders might have to build its own nuclear bomb. And Biden, like his predecessors, has committed the US to go to war against Iran to prevent it from building a single bomb.
That’s also not an accident. To emphasize the control that Israel, a state with a smaller Jewish population than that of the greater Bay Area and recipient of at least five billions of US weaponry annually, holds over the United States, every new US president, beginning with Bill Clinton, has been obliged by Israel, on entering office, to sign a letter to the Israeli government, pledging that he will not publicly discuss Israel’s nuclear weapons nor exert any pressure on Israel to curtail its nuclear arsenal. While articles have appeared about this letter in The New Yorker and Foreign Policy, the story has been ignored by the mainstream dailies.
That raises a legitimate question: who is the occupier and who is the occupied and the answer appears fairly clear. To answer truthfully is, of course, to risk being labeled an anti-Semite or in my case, a “self-hating” Jew, as well.
Given that background and given the aggressive manner with which AIPAC’s new superPacs, spent an unprecedented $26 million in the Democratic primaries to purchase House seats for men and women who were openly and proudly, willing to become agents of a foreign government, it might be well to read the unmistakable threat contained in what the legendary Zionist leader, Chaim Weizmann, mentioned earlier, had written in the Judische Rundschau, the leading paper of German Jewry, on Nov. 4, 1920, a year and a half before the League of Nations met formally approved the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Arab Palestine:
“We will establish ourselves in Palestine whether you like it or not...You can hasten our arrival or you can equally retard it. It is however better for you to help us so as to avoid our constructive powers being turned into a destructive power which will overthrow the world.”
Which is what we may be facing at the moment with Israel’s threat to attack Iran, deal or no deal, and drag the US in to it.
With regard to Harris’s comments about Abbas and his maintaining his status as the PA’s president more than a decade after his term expired, it should be clear that he remains in office without holding elections because Israel and Washington want him there, exposing the fantasy that the Palestinians under Israeli occupation have any rights that Israel and its US benefactor are obliged to respect.
For several years, however, the English language Israeli press has been running numerous articles expressing concern about what could occur in the West Bank when the 87 year old Abbas is no longer around to do Israel’s bidding. I wish I could believe that Israel has something to worry when he departs but given the apparent submission, albeit begrudgingly, of this generation to Abbas’ rule the likelihood of him being replaced by someone not in Israel’s pocket is slim.
No liberation movement has been so badly led but it’s fair to say that no liberation movement has had to go up against as sophisticated an oppressor with such influence globally. In truth, Abbas is simply following the wording of the Oslo agreement, that the PA would suppress any further resistance to the occupation and he has done that to the extent that he had received frequent praise in Israel’s media for maintaining the PA’s ties with Israel’s security forces, a relationship that more than once he has declared to be “sacred.”
Writing this response to Michael Harris reminds me of the time back in the late Eighties when Ariel Sharon’s spokesperson, political scientist Raanan Gissin, then touring the Bay Area, was giving a lecture on Israel’s judicial system in a UC Berkeley class room. After he had told the class that Palestinians under Israeli occupation had ready access to Israeli courts, I felt obliged to interrupt him, and held up an English translation of an article in the Hebrew press which acknowledged that in 94 cases that Palestinians had brought to Israeli courts, they had yet to win a single one of them.
Gissin then jokingly replied, “I see you have done your homework,” and from that point we shared running the class until the remainder of the hour.