Saturday, October 31, 2009

Out with the Occupiers!
Out With The Occupiers!
By: Steven Plaut

Date: Wednesday, October 28 2009

Anti-Zionists say the Jewish claim to Israel is illegitimate because,
before 1948, it had been nearly 1,900 years since Jews exercised
sovereignty there - and it is absurd to argue that any group still has
rights to land they last governed such a long time ago.

But on what basis do they say the Arabs have a legitimate claim to that
same land? On the basis of the claim that the Arabs last exercised
sovereignty over that land 1,000 years ago. So, while 1,900
year-old-claims are inadmissible, thousand-year-old claims are

It must be emphasized here that even the thousand-year Arab claim is not
the same thing as a claim on behalf of "Palestinian Arabs." After all, the
last time Palestinian Arabs held sovereignty over Palestine was ... never.

It is true that Arabs once exercised sovereignty over parts or all of
historic Palestine. There were small Arab kingdoms in the south of
Palestine already in late biblical days; they were important military and
political allies of the Jews, who exercised sovereignty back then in the
Land of Israel.

After the rise of Islam, Palestine was indeed part of a larger Arab
kingdom or caliphate. But that ended in 1071, when Palestine came under
the rule of the Suljuk Turks. And that was the last time Palestine had an
Arab ruler.

In any case, why does the fact that Palestine once belonged to a larger
Arab empire make it "Arab" when it has also been part of larger Roman,
Greek, Persian, Turkish and British empires?

Why do anti-Zionists insist a thousand-year claim by Arabs who
were never ruled by Palestinian Arabs has legitimacy while a 1,900-year
claim by Jews should be rejected outright, even though the United Nations
granted Israel sovereignty in 1947? The anti-Zionists say it is because
the thousand-year Arab claim is more recent than the older Jewish claim.

But that argument can of course be turned around on
anti-Zionists, because if national claims to land become more legitimate
the more recent they are, then surely the most legitimate claim of all is
that of the Jews to Israel, because the modern Jewish state of Israel is a
mere 62 years old!

The other claim by anti-Zionists is that Jews have no rights to the land
of Israel because they moved there from other places. Never mind that
there always was a Jewish minority living in the land of Israel, even when
it was under the sovereignty of Romans, Greeks, Arabs, Crusaders, Turks or
British. Does the fact that Jews moved to the land of Israel from other
places disqualify them from exercising sovereignty there?

The claim would be nonsensical even if we were to ignore that fact that
most Palestinian Arabs also moved to Palestine from neighboring countries,
starting in the late nineteenth century. But more generally, does the fact
that a people moves from one locality to another deprive it of its claims
to legitimate sovereignty in its new abode? Does this necessitate the
conclusion that they need to pack up and leave, as anti-Zionists insist?

If it does, then it goes without saying that the Americans and Canadians
must lead the way by returning to their original owners all lands seized
from the Indians and the Mexicans and going back whence they came.

For that matter, Mexicans of Spanish ancestry also need to leave. The
Anglo-Saxons, meaning the English, will be invited to turn the British
isles over to their original Celtic and Druid owners while they return to
their own ancestral Saxon homeland in northern Germany and Denmark. The
Danes will be asked to move back to their Norwegian and Swedish homelands
to make room for the returning Anglo-Saxons.

But that is just a beginning. The Spanish will be called on to leave the
Iberian Peninsula they wrongfully occupy and return it to the
Celtiberians. Similarly the Portuguese occupiers will leave their lands
and return them to the Lusitanians. The Magyars will go back where they
came from and leave Hungary to its true owners.

The Australians and New Zealanders will have to end their occupations of
lands that do not belong to them. The Thais will leave Thailand. The
Bulgarians will return to their Volga homeland and abandon occupied
Bulgaria. Anyone speaking Spanish will be expected to end the forced
occupation of Latin America.

It goes without saying the French will lose almost all their lands to
their rightful owners. The Turks will go back to Mongolia and leave
Anatolia altogether, returning it to the Greeks. The Germans will go back
to Gotland. The Italians will return the boot to the Etruscans and Greeks.

That leaves the Arabs. First, all of northern Africa, from Mauritania to
Egypt and Sudan, will be immediately abandoned by the illegal Arab
occupiers and returned to its lawful original Berber, Punic, Greek, and
Vandal owners. Occupied Syria and Lebanon must be released at once from
the cruel occupation of the Arab imperialists.

Iraq will be returned to the Assyrians and Chaldeans. Southern Arabia will
be handed back to the Abyssinians. The Arabs may retain control of the
central portion of the Arabian peninsula as their homeland - but not the
oil fields.

The Palestinian Arabs will of course have to return the lands they are
occupying, turning them over to their legal and rightful owners (the

And right after all this, Israel will be most happy to implement the road
map in full.

2. Assimilationism in Zion: Israel's anti-Jewish "Canaanites"

Radicals In The Land Of Canaan: Zionism's Forgotten 'Young Hebrews'
By: Seth J. Frantzman

Date: Wednesday, October 28 2009

The death of polymath Amos Kenan and recent Canaanite archeological finds
at Beit Shemesh remind us once again of the obscure movement known as
Canaanism, founded by a handful of right-wing Hebrew resistance fighters
who decades later would become fountainheads of radical post-Zionism.

The Canaanites were mostly either native-born Sabras or immigrants of the
Third Aliyah between 1919 and 1924. Except for their leader, Yonatan
Ratosh (Halperin), who was born in 1908, this was a group of men born
during and after the First World War, mostly in the early 1920s. They were
thus almost all in their twenties during Israel's war of independence.

Ratosh was an early follower of Jabotinsky and Revisionist Zionism but had
a falling out with the movement's leadership in 1937. He had befriended
Avraham ("Yair") Stern who would go on to found the Lehi in 1940. He was
also an intimate of Eliyahu Bet-Zuri, a Hebrew University student who
assassinated Britain's Lord Moyne in Egypt in 1944 and who in turn was
executed by the British.

After leaving the Irgun, Ratosh went to Paris. It was during this time
that he honed his thinking about Canaanism. He was assisted by his two
brothers, Svi Rin (Gamliel Tzvi, a.k.a. Zeev Khanun) and Uzzi Ornan. Rin
was a commander of the Irgun in Jerusalem. Ornan was arrested by the
British for membership in the Irgun and deported to Eritrea.

Canaanism was to be totally secular. The Canaanist program was for "no
distinction regarding religion, ethnic group or origin, and for the
recognition of the distinctiveness of the nation living within the State
of Israel as opposed to Judaism at large."

(This idea of separating Judaism from the Jewish state is alive and well
and can be found today in the secular left's opposition to the notion that
Israel be recognized as essentially a Jewish state.)

Most Canaanists were born in Europe, but younger members such as Ornan,
Kenan and Matti Peled tended to be Sabras born in cities. Ratosh, who had
edited the Irgun newspaper Ba-Cherev, founded a journal called Alef for
his new movement. Benjamin Tammuz, who tried to recruit a young writer
named Uri Avnery to the movement, was an editor of Haaretz's Yom Yom night
edition and it was he who hired Avnery to write dispatches from the front
during the 1948 war. Ratosh also wrote for Haaretz. Later, Avnery, by then
editing and publishing the leftist Haolam Hazeh, hired Kenan to write for

They were all radicals. Kenan, Tammuz and Peled had been Communists, then
radical right-wingers, and still later left-wing peace activists. In 1952
Kenan and a former Lehi colleague were implicated in the attempted
assassination of transportation minister David-Zvi Pinkas after Pinkas
moved to ban public transportation on Shabbat. Yitzchak Danziger, a
phenomenal sculptor, expressed his Canaanism by constructing a giant
statue of Nimrod for Hebrew University. The statue was uncircumcised.

Archeological discoveries, including that of old inscriptions, helped lay
the foundation for a Canaanite ideology. Avnery recalls the "the new
national flag proposed by Ratosh: a blue and purple flag, the royal colors
mentioned in the Bible, with golden bull's horns, emblematic of the first
letter of the ancient Hebrew alphabet."

One might think a movement that desired nothing more than to resituate
Jews in their original Middle Eastern environment and turn them into a new
Hebrew people would have shown an interest in the Sephardi and Mizrachi
Jewish immigrants who arrived in the 1950s. Most of the Canaanists who had
been in the Irgun and Lehi served alongside Sephardim (who made up about a
quarter of the Irgun's ranks) and who, like the Canaanists, were
concentrated in the cities rather than the countryside cooperatives.

But even a potential connection between Canaanism and Sephardim had to
wait until the late 1950s. It was then that Baghdad-born writer Nissim
Rejwan, an advocate for preserving Sephardic culture, struck up a
relationship with Canaanite founding father Aharon Amir, a prolific writer
and translator (and former member of the Likud and Lehi undergrounds).

As Rejwan recalls, "the Canaanites fiercely opposed the idea of Pan-Jewish
nationalism [and] did not consider Arabs alien in culture or nationality,
and Jews coming from the Arab world were for all intents and purposes
Arab." Through his meetings with Amir, Rejwan came to realize he could not
agree with the Canaanite position that Arabs and Jews both had to be "made
into Hebrews."

In 1957 Amir began publishing Keshet, a cultural quarterly. In the 1960s
he founded a "Hebrew Thought Club" with Dr. Ezra Sohar and Adia Gurevitch
(Edya Horon). Rejwan recalls that "even that tiny band of aging Young
Hebrews was to be dismantled because of equally tiny differences of
opinion. It is, after all, in the nature of all such small and highly
ideologically-oriented groups to be torn by such differences."

Gurevitch died soon after and Sohar ran for Knesset for a tax policy
party. Today Sohar serves on the steering committee of the Ariel Center
for Policy Research. He and Amir both gravitated toward the right in
Israeli politics, with Amir arguing in favor of annexing the West Bank.
While Uri Avnery used the 1967 conquests to immediately advocate, through
a letter to Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, independence for the Palestinians,
Amir advocated annexation and Sohar wrote about the demographic problem.

To what degree is today's radical left in Israel influenced by the ideas
of Canaanism? What connects leftists to Canaanists is the Israeli
newspaper Haaretz, which employed a disproportionate number of Canaanites
and today features a disproportionate number of radical Israel bashers
(Gideon Levy, Amira Hass, Yitzhak Laor, etc.) who lose no opportunity to
write the most extreme things about their country. But they are not
Canaanists. They don't have any interest in a Hebrew nation in Palestine;
for them there is only the Palestinian Arab nation.

On a fundamental level, this evolution of Canaanism was only logical.
Deracinating the Jewish people in order to turn them into a "Hebrew
nation," seen at the time as a noble goal that would lead to the creation
of a new nation-state and a final break with the Diaspora, was in fact a
crime against Jewish peoplehood and Jewish history.

The story of Matti Peled should suffice to demonstrate the problematic
nature of Canaanism. Born in Haifa in 1923, he grew up in Jerusalem and
became a member of the Palmach in 1941. In 1967 he was one of the hawkish
generals who demanded a preemptive strike against Egypt. In the wake of
the war he completed a Ph.D. in the U.S and returned to Israel to help
found the Arabic Language and Literature department at Tel Aviv
University. In 1975 he joined the Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian

On September 4, 1997, Peled's granddaughter Smadar was blown up by a
suicide bomber on Ben Yehuda street in Jerusalem. Peled's daughter, Hebrew
University Professor Nurit Peled-Elhanan, the mother of Smadar, insisted
that "my little girl was murdered because she was an Israeli, by a young
man who was humiliated, oppressed and desperate to the point of suicide
and murder and inhumanity, just because he was a Palestinian."

She compared the terrorist to Israeli soldiers at security checkpoints and
declared, "there is no basic moral difference."

Meanwhile, Peled's son Miko, who lives in San Diego, is a supporter of the
"one state solution" and condemns the "Israeli Apartheid system."

There can be no greater testament to the failure of Canaanism than Miko
Peled's hostility to Israel and Prof. Peled-Elhanan's justification of the
murder of her own daughter.

Seth Frantzman is a columnist for the Jerusalem Post. His front-page essay
"Early Reform and Islamic Exoticism" appeared in the June 5 issue of The
Jewish Press. He can be contacted at

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