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The Forgotten Refugees – Part II From the Jewish Refugee to the Free Israeli Citizen

ב“ה

In the middle of the Twentieth Century, the situation of Jews in Arab countries markedly deteriorated. Upon publication of the UN partition plan in 1947, dramatic pogroms started – first in Yemen. Following those pogroms, the Jewish community in Yemen, Aden, Eritrea and Djibouti practically lost its livelihood. Under the name „Operation Flying Carpet“, around 50,000 displaced persons were brought to Israel between 1949 and 1950. In order to make those transports possible, secret negotiations took place, and Britain and America supplied transport planes.

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Operation Flying Carpet

On May 16, 1948, Mallory Brown published a stirring article in the NY Times: „Jews in grave danger in all Muslim lands“. The fears could not have been more evident. Not only could prevailing tensions turn into a wave of violence against Jews at any time, it speaks also of the payment of security bonds, of leaving all property behind. A total of almost 900,000 Jews were sitting in a trap on the day the State of Israel was founded. And they went on their way, alone and without prospects. Nothing had helped; the apparent integration into Muslim society had only been a short-lived interlude. They left on foot, or if they were lucky, by boat or airplane.

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Jews from Jemen on their way to Israel

In any case, it was the way to an uncertain future.

And the Exodus is not yet over. Between 2003 and 2016, in a secret operation, some 220 Jews were brought from Yemen to Israel. With the exception of 40 people residing in a special protected area belonging to the US Embassy in the capital city Saana, there are no longer any Jews there. With the last flight in March 2015, the community rabbi came as well, carrying a Tora Scroll over 500 years old.

In Iran however, the country that time and again threatens that it will destroy Israel, between 10,000 and 25,000 Jews are still living. The number depends on who prepared the statistic. They live under the Regime’s protection, enjoy religious freedom and are a recognized minority. Nevertheless, they are second-class citizens. Climbing to upper echelons in public service is closed to them. During elections they can vote for Jews or Muslims whereas Muslims may not vote for Jewish candidates. Iran on the one hand needs them as proof for its pretended liberal policy, and on the other hand also as a bargaining chip. Should Israel at any time attack the theocracy, these Jewish citizens would certainly be the first victims. The modern form of Dhimmitude.

Today, when the forgotten refugees of the Middle East are mentioned, it is the Palestinian refugees that are spoken of, those who had left their homes, for the main part on instructions from their own clan chiefs. They left, hoping that after a short time they would come back as victors. Their hope proved to be false. They became the victims of misguided propaganda.

The UN has adopted over 600 resolutions on the subject of „Israel-Palestine“, 101 of which deal with „Palestinian refugees“. However, there is not even one resolution dealing with Jewish refugees from Arab countries, although their number is almost twice that of the Palestinians. The estimated value of the assets left behind when they fled is meaningful as well.

During the early 1950s, Sir John Measham Berncastle, who for a long time had been assessing the value of real property in Palestine, was asked by the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP) to prepare an estimate of the assets left by Arab refugees when they fled. He concluded that the total value of land, houses, jewelry, cash and last, but not least, the bank accounts frozen in Israeli banks, would be about 4,4 billion US$ (value 2012). Those amounts were the result of the waves of flights around the time of the State’s foundation and the period after the Six Days War. That sounds dramatic.

However, let us not forget that through the UN’s pampering force, UNWRA, which was especially and uniquely created for a certain group of refugees, never-ending amounts of money are being collected. A small compensation. The more is the pity that the simple Palestinian does not get to enjoy any of it.

The Jewish refugees either had to sell their possessions for ridiculously low prices, or they fled with only the clothes on their backs. Their losses are estimated to amount to 6,7 billion US$. Lost for all eternity since there is no one, no NGO, no UN coddling entity, to defend those people’s interests. They fled leaving everything behind and reached Israel with nothing.

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http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jewish-refugees-from-arab-countries

The young, only recently established State of Israel, was soon burdened to its limits by the enormous waves of refugees. Within a short time, its population was doubled; sometimes it seemed that it would be impossible to supply sufficient food for everyone. But the miracle succeeded, the refugees – who often had to spend years in transit camps – were eventually integrated into Israeli society.

At this stage, I dare to use an accounting example. The original number of around 700,000 Palestinian refugees increased to become 5 million by the year 2017, i.e. seven-fold. That is not the case with Jewish refugees. Their „refugee status“ was cancelled immediately upon their registration as immigrants in Israel.

On the occasion of the New Year 5778, statistics mention 6,5 million Jewish Israelis. About 50% of them are descendants of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries, i.e. 3,25 million, 3 times as many, which is rather realistic over a period of 70 years.

So why now the forgotten refugees?

The film „The Forgotten Refugees“, regrettably available only in English, sheds light on the subject of the million forgotten refugees by means of reports by sons and daughters of those who fled, but also by means of historic documents. When asked why they call themselves „forgotten refugees“, one woman answers: „We have been completely cut out of the history of the Near East“, confidently adding: „We are the image of Israel“. Another says: „Nobody took any notice of us, we were not even seen. We felt the big injustice to which we were exposed. But what could we have done? So we swallowed our sufferings and went on with our lives. Today I believe that this also helped our faster integration into Israeli society. The Egyptian government took away everything we owned. We shall never go back. But we shall never give up fighting for justice“. There must be a fight against forgetfulness: „We want to speak, we want to tell our stories. We do not want our history, our rich heritage, older than three thousand years, to be forgotten“.

The Knesset adopted a small though significant step in this direction in the summer of 2015. November 30 is to be National Remembrance Day for Jews who fled Arab countries. The date marks the day on which the UN Division plan was made public in 1947. The day representing the birth date of the Jewish State of Israel.

On November 30th 1947, „spontaneous“ attacks and aggressions against Jewish communities took place in many Arab countries, causing the start of the big Exodus.

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The Great Synagogue of Aden, destroyed in 1947

It is infinitely hard for any person to become a refugee or to have to live with the stigma of refugee status. Therefore, it is amoral to compare one misery with that of another group of refugees. As I said before, there is only one group, the Palestinian refugees, who are well cared for and „marketed“ not only by the UN. The media focus is repeatedly turned to them, the exaggerated numbers are published time and again so as to justify the enormous media, political and economic efforts invested around them.

One of the basic tenets of Roman law, „audiatur et altera pars“ (let the other side be heard), is not being applied by the UN where Jewish refugees are concerned. Their existence is simply being ignored there.

It is my intention to focus on the group of refugees that is so seldom mentioned – the Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

 

©esther scheiner, Israel

©Translated by: Translations International, Herzliya

 

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The Forgotten Refugees – Part I From the Jewish Kingdom to Dhimmitude

 

ב“ה

Forgotten refugees? Where are they supposed to be? The UN Office of the High Commissary for Refugees (UNHCR), founded in 1951 by the UN General Assembly, does not forget anyone! Nevertheless, between 750,000 and 900,000 (some statistics even state one million) Jewish refugees who had to leave their Arab homelands between 1948 and the 1970s, are hardly ever mentioned. A certain number of Jewish refugees from Yemen and Egypt from before 1948 should also be added to them.

Let us take a deep look back into history.

In the year 70 CE Jerusalem is burning. Titus, Vespasian’s son, destroys the second temple, and the Jews‘ spiritual, religious and emotional center no longer exists.

The drama had been heralded shortly before the new era. The Romans had annexed Judea, Jerusalem was in danger of sinking into insignificance, and Caesarea was getting more important and was becoming the seat of the Roman occupiers. The relationship between Romans and Jews was characterized by greed, corruption and legal vacuum. Any rebels were immediately killed without any legal proceedings.

When procurator Gessius Florus misappropriated the temple funds in order fill the empty State treasury, the anger of Jerusalem’s citizens erupted. The reaction of Florus was a massacre of the population.    Josephus Flavius writes about him:

„In his cruelty he knew no pity, in his nefariousness no shame, and never has anyone more than him turned truth into lie or invented cleverer means to achieve his criminal intentions“. (The first Jewish-Roman War 2, 14.2).

Josephus Flavius identifies the start of the first Jewish-Roman war, which only ended in 73CE with the fall of the Masada Fortress. 960 resistant fighters led by the Zealot Eleazar Ben Ya’ir chose suicide so as to escape capture and enslavement by the Romans. It is not for nothing that Masada even today is the symbol of our desire to be free.

More than 1 million people lost their lives in that war. Those who could, fled, as opposed to the destruction of the First Temple, when the majority of Jews were deported to Babylon, where they settled, more or less.

A short time later, the Bar Kochba Revolt followed (132-135 CE). The grounds for the revolt have not been ascertained. Was it the prohibition of circumcision, was it the foundation of the Roman city Aelia Capitolina on the territory of Jerusalem, or was it simply the Jews‘ discontent with the political circumstances? Historians are uncertain. The consequences were horrible. 580,000 Jews lost their lives, 50 cities and 985 villages were destroyed. Those numbers may be high, but they are what the historians of the times knew.

Whatever remained of Jerusalem was then destroyed; the Jewish community dispersed around the world, the Diaspora was born.

From then on Jews settled on the shores of the Mediterranean, they followed the Rhone valley to the north; they even made their way back to the country from which Abraham had once come – Mesopotamia.

However, the Jews did not achieve tranquility. Between 115 and 117 CE the „Diaspora Rebellion“ of Jews in Mesopotamia, Syria, Cyprus, Egypt and Cyrenaica (Eastern Libya) broke out. The background for this Rebellion (which is not called war / bellum, but „tumultus iudaicus“) is unknown, but it was certainly started by fanatic Jews, the atrocities were almost unsurpassable, and it claimed so many victims that Eastern Libya was practically depopulated and had to be repopulated by the Romans with their own veterans. For a long time, good neighborly coexistence remained unimaginable. An „eternal“, complete prohibition for Jews to enter and stay was ordered for Cyprus.

Nevertheless, the Jewish Community steadily increased.

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At the time of the Inquisition, in the 15th Century, a great number of Jews again emigrated from Spain. Some of them reached Germany through France and continued further into Eastern Europe. Many Jews returned to the Near East, others tried their luck in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt.

However, they were „Dhimmis“, which meant that not only did they have to pay a „protection tax“; they were also submitted to some of the Sharia regulations. The prevailing head covering for men in Islam was the turban. „Dhimmis“ were prohibited from wearing it, as they lacked honor in the eyes of the Muslims, and the turban was a symbol of honor for Arabs. Jews and Christians who had a good relationship with the Muslim rulers were sometimes able to acquire this honor by paying additional taxes. This was also true for non-Muslims who fulfilled some kind of important function.

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Maimonides (born 1135 in Cordoba, died 1204 in Cairo) is considered one of the most important Jewish scientists, and not only of his time. When given the choice to convert to Islam or flee, he chose the second option and moved to Morocco with his family. From there they first moved to Jerusalem, and later on went to Alexandria and Cairo. Maimonides wrote in Judeo-Arabic, which was the prevailing everyday language for Jews in Arab countries. He may have been one of the Jews who paid to acquire the honor of wearing a turban.

From the middle of the 7th century CE, Islam began to spread rapidly around the shores of the Mediterranean, the Balkans, Spain, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and the Arab Peninsula. Jews and Christians living there were allowed to keep their religion, and as „People of the Book“ they stood under the new rulers‘ „protection“.

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A fragment of a North African Geniza, proving the existemce of Jewish communities in the 7th century CE

The true danger however, which began since early Islam and continues to this day – even stronger – is the Muslims‘ clear intention. It is no accident that in Sura 17 one finds definite instructions on how to deal with unbelievers and their property if they do not acknowledge Islam. However, the following indication can be found as well: „If someone accepts guidance, he does so to his own advantage, and if someone errs, to his own detriment. Moreover, no one will bear another’s burden. And I would never impose a penalty (on a people) without first sending (him) a delegate“.

How soothing. But what is the delegate’s mission? Conciliation? Pressure? How does one identify delegates? Without turning to extensive research and Quranic exegesis, we may assume that two items are certain:

  1. Dhimmis have no honor, independently of their personal status; they are completely dependent on the Muslim administration of their homeland.
  2. Any region conquered and/or occupied by Muslims at any time, that region remains for all eternity an Islamic region for them and they naturally claim it as their own.

That is what leads Muslims to this day to the conclusion that they have exclusive rights, that Dhimmis may never have their own State. And, logically, that Israel may never exist as a Jewish State.

 

©esther scheiner, Israel

©translated by: Translation International, Herzliya

‚Shiluvim Koliym‘ in South Korea

 

ב“ה

Text: Dovev Rochine, Matnas Neve Yosef, Haifa

‚Shiluvim Koliym‘, the Neve Yosef community center’s youth choir, participated in the Gangneun International Junior Art Festival in South Korea from July 25th to August 1st 2017

The youth choir was chosen to represent Haifa and Israel and made us proud. The festival took place on Gangneun city located on the country’s north-east shore. This tourist haven of 250.000 people is located 160 km east of Seoul, and hosts the festival since 16 years with great success and care for the participant’s experience.

The youth had the chance to meet their peers at the age from 14 to 18 from eight other countries from around the world. Together they performed in daily shows on three different stages. Additionally they paraded, participated in traditional ceremonies, for example in a traditional tea ceremony and visited art exhibitions. Further on they had guided tours around the city and its surroundings, and got the „taste“ of the local culture.

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In the bus for a City Tour

During the four day festival they met and sung with the delegations from Russia, Sri Lanka, Algeria, Japan, The Czech Republic, China, Thailand, and of course South Korea. They marched proudly with the Israeli flag during a spectacular opening ceremony and parade that was enlaced with songs, dances and great joy.

The main stage was located on the central beach and hosted very unique and multi-cultural shows every evening. Shiluvim had a central role at the opening evening with a variety of songs from their repertoire, singing in Hebrew, Amharic, Swahili and English. They moved the audience and finally made everybody stand up and dance, sweeping them away with love and genuine joy. The first show was so good, that the word came out for the first time within the 16 years for a “da capo” and all following shows were packed with new friends and admirers from all delegations and from tourists that came to the festival.

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Together with new friends at a Tea Ceremony

After its big impact, in the following days our choir was asked to perform as the final act that closes the festival in the presence of the city mayor, the city’s leading staff and other VIPs.

During their stay the girls met and learned about other cultures from their new friends, from different countries, and for one week there was no national and political boundaries and walls, only genuine care and friendship that we hope will last for a long time.

Dana Harit, the group manager said: „The youth had a unique experience that opened their mind and soul during four days of peace and pure human brotherhood (or sisterhoodJ). They had the chance to feel how mankind can live together as one and understand how their future can look like if they will take what they gain during these ten days for their future and understand the responsibility they have to make it meaningful and stronger. We represented Israel and the city of Haifa proudly and with great dignity, that will change the perception about Israel to all those who met us, and we got invited already to next year’s festival.“

Shimon Ifrach, the CEO of the Neve Yosef community center said: „It is a great honor and pride for us as the sponsors and educators of this group, and we thank our board of directors, and all our partners and friends who helped us fund this project and delegation. I followed the group from Israel, and we all saw the main shows live on YouTube with great excitement, they moved me as they moved the audience with their powerful performances. I had no doubt the group will make us proud and that they’ll have a big success there that will influence their future success.“

The Shiluvim Koliym project is in its 15th year at Neve Yosef community center.

Musical management : Mr. Hillel Shitrit

Choreography: Mr. Doron Guetta

In Basel, I founded the Jewish state

ב“ה

In 1886 Herzl published his, from today’s perspective, almost prophetic work „The Jewish State. An attempt to find a modern solution to the Jewish question.“

Following the First Zionist Congress, he wrote in his diary on September 3, 1897: If I had to sum up the Basel Congress in one word – which I shall not do openly – it would be this: At Basel I founded the Jewish state. If I were to say it today, I would be greeted by universal laughter. In five years, perhaps, and certainly in 50, everyone will see it.” Herzl’s vision actually became a reality. 51 years later, in 1948, the State of Israel was established. A dream had come true.

Who was this Theodor Herzl and what drove him to advocate Zionism so fervently?

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Entrance to the city of Herzlyia, Israel

He was born on May 2, 1860 in Pest as the son of a partially assimilated family. While his father regularly took him to the prayer services in the Great Synagogue, his mother mainly taught him the history and culture of Austria, and taught him in German. His great uncle maintained close contacts with the „Chibat Zion“ (Love for Zion) organization. Founded in 1881, this organization pursued the goal of motivating and supporting Jews in the pogrom-plagued states of Europe to immigrate to Palestine. One of the first places in Israel to be populated by these immigrants is Zichron Ya’acov.

In 1878 the family moved to Vienna, where he went to law school and finished his studies in 1885. As of 1881 he became a member of the fraternity Albia, but resigned already in 1883, when he found himself increasingly confronted with anti-Semitic currents. Albia still belongs to the fraternities where humiliation of students is mandatory, and from 1882 onwards no more Jewish members were accepted.

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Julie Naschauer

In June 1889 he married Julie Naschauer. The couple had three children. The marriage of Theodor and Julie must be described as tragic. The eldest daughter died of her addiction to morphine, the only son committed suicide. The younger daughter died in Theresienstadt. Julie died in 1907 in the psychiatric clinic of Vienna.

Herzl very soon left his law career and turned to journalism. From 1891 to 1895 he worked as a journalist for the Viennese newspaper „Neue Presse“ in Paris. Due to the increasing anti-Semitism, Herzl believed that the problem of discrimination against the Jews could be removed by a mass conversion to Catholicism. He wrote that he had: … no inhibitions to convert pro forma to Christianity for pushing forward his career and to save his children from discrimination.” In 1893, he even presented plans that had already been worked out. However, he relinquished those plans and believed that his play „The New Ghetto“ (1884) would contribute to mutual tolerance between Christians and Jews. The Dreyfus affair (1884), which ended ignominiously with the public degradation of Captain Dreyfus in January 1885, had a strong impact on his further activities.

From then on he regarded his time in Paris and his experiences there as a turning point in his life. As a journalist, he had followed the Dreyfus trial, which was influenced by anti-Semitism and based on false evidence, and came to the realization that a new task was imposed on him: the salvation of European Jews and their coming home to their own state.

He wrote his book „The Jewish State“ in the last two months of his stay in Paris. In writing this book he relied on himself and – that is how it surely can be formulated – his exaggerated self-esteem. Had he not been so convinced that everything he started would lead to a positive ending, he would never have dared to engage in this project. However, he wrote full of zest, without first reading the writings of the great Jewish enlightener Moses Hess, those of Nathan Birnbaum, who introduced the concept of „political Zionism“, or of Leon Pinsker, who rejected the idea of assimilation and instead promoted Jewish emancipation and the „creation of a Jewish nationality“. It was only much later that he admitted that he would never have begun the project of the „Jewish State“ if he had been familiar with these writings.

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However, he created a kind of guide with very practical instructions for the organization and structure of the state that was to be created. As an Austro-Hungarian good food was probably one of his passions.

In order to prevent the immigrants from giving up any popular food, and referring to the fact that food had been a disaster for the Israelites during their wanderings in the desert and should not be repeated, he wrote: „During the immigration, one has to respect local customs. We don’t dislike salty sticks, beer, coffee, meat as we know it, etc.. Moses forgot to take with him the meat-pots of Egypt. We will not.”

Herzl tried to present and commend his idea of the Jewish national state in Palestine to a large audience at the First Zionist World Congress. It was to be held in Munich. But the Bavarian metropolis refused. The German Rabbinical Conference was afraid that a commitment of the Jews to a Jewish state would weaken the loyalty of the Jews to Germany. It was not until 1861 that the Jews Edict (Judenedikt) of 1813 was abolished, which restricted freedom of establishing a business and the right to exercise a profession. This was perhaps not a completely absurd thought.

And so Basel came to be the host of the 1st Zionist World Congress from 29 to 31 August 1897. The gentlemen appeared, as instructed, in tailcoats and white shirts, the ladies in an elegant dress, without being entitled to vote.

Shortly before his death, Theodor Herzl visited Pope Pius X. He wanted to inspire him with the idea of a Jewish state in Palestine and ask for his support in this project. Pius X rejected this request. He could not prevent the Jews from moving to Palestine, but could never sanction it. Jerusalem was sanctified by Jesus Christ. And since the Jews had not acknowledged the Christian God and Jesus Christ, he, as head of the church, could not recognize the Jews.

Herzl died on 3rd July 1904 in Erdlach on the Rax. He was first buried in the Döblingen cemetery. On August 14, 1949, the coffins of Theodor Herzl and those of his parents were transferred to Jerusalem and were interred on Mount Herzl, named after him. In 2006 the coffins of his eldest daughter and his son, and in 2007 the coffin of his only grandchild, were also buried there.

On May 14, 1948, David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister, read the Declaration of Independence. It contained the following words: „In 1897, at the summons of the spiritual father of the Jewish State, Theodore Herzl, the First Zionist Congress convened and proclaimed the right of the Jewish people to national rebirth in its own country. This right was recognized in the Balfour Declaration of 2nd November, 1917, and was re-affirmed in the Mandate of the League of Nations which, in particular, gave international sanction to the historic connection between the Jewish people and Eretz-Israel and to the right of the Jewish people to rebuild its National Home.

(…) The State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights for all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the holy places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

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Theodor Herzl was not able to see the fulfillment of his prophetic dream. He was a man of great vision. Just like David Ben Gurion. And just like Donna Gracia Nasi, even if her plans failed to come to fruition in the end.

©esther scheiner, israel

©Translations international, Herzliya

Corporal Gaya, Commander of a Campaign

ב“ה

Gaya Bertele is the name of a famous pastry shop in Petach Tikva, near Tel Aviv. Many of the cakes produced and offered here have a touch of „homemade cake from Germany“ combined with a touch of Israeli color. Cross-over pastry. The owner of this pastry paradise is Hans Bertele. The name sounds German. And indeed, he is.

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photo credit: http://www.rol.co.il/sites/gaia/

The very fact that Hans has been living as a Jew in Israel for many years was not something the fairy, who stood at his cradle, could have prophesied. Had he gone in the footsteps of his father, he would now be a staunch German, who would possibly take part in all anti-Israel demos in Germany. And who would vote next month for the AfD party [a rightist nationalist party].

Hans was born towards the end of the Second World War to a Christian family. Hans had six siblings. When one of his brothers was almost 16 years old, he was drafted as an assistant anti-aircraft gunner and after a month found himself in British captivity. He was part of Hitler’s last attempt to win the war, which had already been lost, at all costs. A second brother was a pilot who was shot down. Another brother still lives in Germany. The brothers are in touch, but the one in Germany is very anti-Israeli. He has never visited Israel and refuses to do so. He phones and talks to the family regularly and although he should know better, he believes in the one-sided distorted image of Israel, as presented by the media.

His father, Johann Bertele, was a diehard National Socialist. He lived and worked for his conviction to strengthen the cruel ideology of the Nazis. He was rewarded with the post of mayor in a small town in southern Germany. And he proved himself loyal by keeping the place „judenrein“ [free of Jews] and delivering to the Nazi minions any non-loyal persons. In his opinion, his son Hans recalls, „all Jews are pigs, deceptive and greedy.“ Even after the war he did not change his attitude. On the contrary, he longed for the National Socialist period, and until his death he continued to support the theory of races.

Hans Bertele felt uneasy. With his family, with Germany and as a German. He suffered from the cool behavior of so many people, a cold he also felt from his family. The fussiness, the pernickety sticking to the rules. He wanted to get out. Leave this environment and go away as far as possible to decide about his life by himself.

Hans decided to become a confectioner and signed an employment contract with Hilton International, which had two hotels in Israel at that time, one in Tel Aviv and the other, which no longer exists, in Jerusalem. The 1960s, with the exception of the Kibbutz programs, were still problematic for German-Israeli relations. Officially, diplomatic relations were established in 1965, but before that there had already been several unofficial political contacts. Hans went to Israel and experienced that people treated him with a certain degree of reserve. Furthermore, the correct statement that he was Swiss did not help to overcome the gap. The missing Swiss-German accent betrayed him. At the time, Israel was not as open to Germans as it is today. The wounds of the Holocaust had not yet begun to heal. Most families had been victims of the persecution and had relatives who had been murdered. People who had died only because they were Jews.

But Hans did not give up. Israel became more and more the country in which he found his true self. The typical Israeli, called Sabra, is said to be as prickly as the Sabra cactus, but also as sweet on the inside. The prickly character of the people born in Israel appealed to him. The mixture of seriousness and ease, the love of their country, Israel – a country defended by every member of the Jewish population. That was what he wanted. He wanted to become an Israeli and a Jew.

The way he began then was hard and long. His goal was to be admitted to Judaism. At the age of 26, he completed the process before the Rabbinical Court. A few days later he began his service in the IDF and took part in the Yom Kippur War from 6 to 26 October 1973, which claimed 2656 deaths and 7250 wounded on the Israeli side.

Here in Israel, Hans met his wife Galit. Her grandmother is a Holocaust survivor whose entire family was murdered in Auschwitz. This warm-hearted woman succeeded in doing what many living Holocaust survivors cannot do to this day. She received Hans with open arms. She has never blamed him for what his father had done. Rather, she greatly appreciated the fact that he has chosen the path of straightforwardness, and, above all, she appreciated how strongly he had integrated into Judaism.

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Hans, Gaya and Galit, photo credit. Israel breaking News

 

Gaya Bertele is the name of a young woman. She served with the „Bardelas“ (Cheetah) battalion at the Egyptian border in the desert, the Arava. Bardelas is one of four mixed battalions of the combat corps. As a result of an accident she could no longer work as a group commander and was transferred to the organization center of the battalion.

Gaya is the daughter of Galit and Hans. At school, she heard about the Holocaust, also how the Nazis even attacked Jewish schoolchildren. „But because my grandfather was a Nazi, I have, of course, gained quite different insights. I have heard from my father about the anti-Semitic Nazi ideology. This is what he learned from his father from childhood. Part of my grandfather’s mission was to keep his place “judenrein”. No one who was not 100% Aryan was allowed to live there. That was what my grandfather fought for with all his might. For keeping the race pure and spreading and strengthening the Third Reich.

For Gaya, the fight against racism has top priority. This and the knowledge of the horrors of the Holocaust prompted Gaya to enlist in the combat corps. She wants to contribute actively in protecting her people.

“For me, these are two circles that have united around me. On the one hand, the family of my mother, who belongs to the victim’s side, and on the other hand the family of my father, who belongs to the perpetrator’s side. I have parts of both circles in me. So I protect those people who could not be protected by their families from the Nazis, and at the same time I serve in the army of the people my grandfather hated and wanted to destroy. However, coupled with that, I can continue on my father’s path by following his deep spirituality. That was, after all, the trigger for his joining a foreign people and renouncing the culture in which he grew up.”

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photo credit: IDF spokesperson

„My grandfather,“ concluded Gaya, „would turn in his grave if he knew that his son had converted to Judaism and that I am making a career in the IDF. He would totally sever any contact with us. “
© estherscheiner, israel

© translated by: Translations International, Herzliya

 

Jürgen Todenhöfer’s (JT) Mendacious Pacifism

ב“ה

 

The following text was published by Jürgen Hodentöter (*) on his Facebook page on Sunday, July 23, 2017 at about 8 pm. The same text appeared at about the same time on his homepage as well.

(*)(Todenhöfer – Hodentöter is a play on words, just by twisting and changing some letters of the name Todenhöfer. The medical translation is testicle killer, his aka in German language countries)

Dear friends, no government in the whole world has the right to take away the Muslim Palestinians‘ free access to the Al Aqsa Mosque and to the Dome of the Rock – to „Haram ash-Sharif“, their „Noble Sanctuary“. The symbol of their national and religious dignity. Everything was taken from the Palestinians: their homeland, their freedom, their human rights. Will it soon also include their historical meeting place with God?

I wrote large parts of my book „You Shall Not Kill“ near the Mount of Olives, in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is an appeal to all sides. Beyond the shade of the age-old olive trees, I looked up to the blue sky over the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque – the symbols of Islam, which can be compared only to Mecca and Medina. In the direction of that holy hill which the West and Israel call „The Temple Mount“. Dark clouds are now gathering, because Israel has been incessantly, increasingly, systematically and provocatively grasping at the Muslims‘ holy sites. Can Netanyahu not see the thunderstorm coming? Does he not understand that he has just kicked a humiliated people even deeper into the dust of hopelessness? That the escalating violence is a consequence of the Palestinians‘ complete loss of rights and humiliation? There will be peace in Israel and the occupied territories only if Netanyahu puts an end to Israel’s occupation policy which is in violation of international law. If he respects the Palestinians‘ right to their own State, and their right to free access to „Haram Ash-Sharif“.

Nations of the world, look at that city! Help me defend the rights of the Palestinians. Yours, JT

 It is followed by a picture entitled „To our politicians. Do not leave the Palestinians alone once again“, that shows photos of thousands of Muslims praying outside the Temple Mount. They refused to pass through control through the security gates. At the airport, in train stations, in big malls, as well as in Mecca and Medina, they accept it without any discussion. But not in Israel.

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The second photo shows the empty Temple Mount. After the short lock-out of only two days, nobody was refused access, but the Grand Mufti, the Waqf bailiffs and other agitators have called for a boycott, which the Muslims of course followed without any criticism. The third photo shows demonstrators being dispersed by the police. When looking at the picture one immediately notices that Photoshop was used to make it look more dramatic, which is somehow legitimate, isn’t it?

The controls had been put in place after three Muslim terrorists had insidiously attacked and murdered two Druze border policemen. Their weapons had been left beforehand in the Al-Aksa Mosque by an accomplice, as proven by a police surveillance video. They came to kill, to kill Jews.

As did the 20-year old Omar al-Abed, who last Friday, one week after the terror act in Jerusalem, infiltrated a house in Halamish and killed three people. One woman survived and is recovering. Her daughter was able to find shelter with her children. He had also come to kill Jews. Shortly before, he had posted on Facebook:  I have many dreams and aspirations, I hope that with Allah’s help my dreams will come true. I’ve loved life, loved making people smile, but what kind of life is this? They (the Jews) kill our women and young people. They soil Al-Aqsa while we stay asleep.“  (attention, upsetting photos).

Or as happened today, when a 21-year old man living illegally in Israel, stabbed and injured a man. When first questioned by the police he declared: „I did it for Al-Aqsa“. He also came to kill Jews.

How does JT write in his post?: “Because Israel has been incessantly, increasingly, systematically and provocatively grasping at the Muslims‘ holy sites.“ He forgets, as do the Muslims, that in 1967, after reconquering Jerusalem, Israel freely, and as a sign of good will, gave Jordan and the Waqf supreme control of the Temple Mount. Agreements should be respected. Netanyahu knows it, the entire government knows it, and all Israelis know it, though sometimes reluctantly. Consequently, we are certainly trying to avoid a modification of the status quo.

If the numbers are correct, JT’s post received 9,854 likes in the first three hours, it was shared 3,596 times and commented on 514 times. The comments are a mixture of pure antisemitism, strictly right-wing propaganda, left-wing agreement, and – very rarely – defense of Israel.

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JT repeatedly showed himself to be the perfect enemy of Israel. Time and again, he visited Gaza, once with his son, once with his daughter, mostly with his assistant. When allegedly neither Egypt nor Israel allowed him to travel there, he chose a tunnel in Egypt, in order to reach Gaza. Of course, this was filmed and posted in a journalistic manner. One of the best-known pictures from the time after the last Gaza operation shows him amidst the bombed houses. His face is probably creased by sorrow, but we do not see that. He may be smiling, happy to have succeeded his coup. As a perfect director, he shows clean toys that were displayed, as if freshly washed and spotlessly intact.

 

In the following video, please listen carefully to the text starting at 3:57.

This is the Todenhöfer way, to present his own truth – as the truth.

On March 12, 2016, he wrote in Facebook: „The inhabitants of Gaza live in the biggest concentration camp in the world. Visitors must clench their teeth, so as not to start crying about the level of poverty, suffering and hopelessness. This hypocritical world should be damned! Speaking about human rights but treating people in Gaza like animals; their politicians are too spineless to say that keeping an entire nation in a cage is a crime“.

Originally, his political homeland was the extreme right wing of the CSU party, he was a member of the Bundestag from 1972 to 1990 – a hardliner with ultra-conservative opinions. From 1987 to 2008, he was a member of the board of the conservative right-wing Burda Publishing House. Since the beginning of this year, he is the editor of the left-wing weekly, „Der Freitag“ (whose publisher is Jakob Augstein). This political balancing act is expressed in his being non-committal, in his deep-felt desire to serve all his followers – those to the right as well as those to the left.

In 2014, he traveled to Afghanistan, lived in Mosul for 10 days and came back to Germany unharmed, which is actually impossible. He was promised security by the ISIS leadership, which is unusual with this band of murderers. In Mosul, he interviewed Abu Qatadah, one of the ISIS extremists. He is German and was born in Solingen as Christian Emde. That was where he was living until he encountered the entourage of the extremist preacher of hate, Pierre Vogel, leaving Germany for Syria in 2012. The interview was absurd. JT gladly leaves the stage to the ISIS propagandist. Nothing much new is learned. Still JT describes him in the video as: „a highly intelligent dogmatist, ideologue, well read, absolutely brutal, completely unteachable and 100% convinced that he is doing the right thing.“ How he could observe that in such a short interview is incomprehensible to me. This again is the truth according to JT. „For me, Abu Qatadah’s ideas have nothing to do with the merciful Islam represented by 99.9 percent of our Muslim co-citizens“. As written on his Facebook page.

JT is always rushing between the war zones of the Near and Middle East. Sometimes he spends the income from the sales of one of his books here, sometimes there. Cameras are always present.

His perception of events becomes increasingly more vague. When Hamas continually puts explosives on the back of animals and uses them as armament, JT uses this for the story of Israel’s disproportional battle against poor unarmed people.

He generously grants Israel the right to defend itself „against the senseless shootings of Hamas and other resistance groups“, thereby serving the old stereotype that Hamas‘ weapons are nothing more than fireworks good for New Year’s Eve. Still, those „fireworks” have meanwhile reached a range of over 100 km! And in the meantime, it is well known that Hamas is not a resistance group. Hamas is a terrorist organization whose aim is the destruction of Israel.

How cynical JT’s advice to trust our Iron Dome and leave our shelters that are 15 seconds away. He says no other measures need to be taken.

If you ever wondered what the tunnels in Gaza are used for, here comes the truth according to JT!

„The people of Gaza have started digging tunnels into the neighboring countries like moles, in order to inhale freedom for a few days or a few hours, from time to time,” he writes. „So as not to always live like subhuman beings, they have gone underground.“

JT should not only be banned from traveling to Gaza through Egypt or Israel. He should be issued a life-long ban on entry and residence. We most certainly do not need people like him here.

This is a most interesting article from last week. Muslim self-racism: The ‘low expectations syndrome’

 

©Esther Scheiner, Israel

©translated by: Translation International, Herzliya

In the country’s south – our desert is alive

ב“ה

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The Negev desert covers about 60% of the State’s territory. Nevertheless, only about 10% of the population live in this barren triangle between the Mediterranean in the west, from about Ashkelon in the north, to the Dead Sea and Ein Gedi in the in the east ,to Eilat in the south.

The biggest city is Beer-Sheva, which should be called the capital of the largest region of Israel. With over 200,000 inhabitants it is one of the country’s most important cities. In the course of the last decades, Beer-Sheva has succeeded in developing into a vibrant city. An industrial zone was established in the south. Ben Gurion University of the Negev is one of Israel’s most modern universities. The city’s goal is to attain 500,000 to 600,000 inhabitants. The size increase is no problem since there are practically no inhabited areas in the surrounding region, and only the south is to be reserved for industry.

Parts of the urban area go back to the 4th millennium BCE, as witnessed by excavations. The town was named Beer-Sheva after Abraham and Abimelech, King of Gerar, concluded an agreement:

Genesis 21:27 -31

27 And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and they two made a covenant. 28 And Abraham set seven ewe-lambs of the flock by themselves. 29 And Abimelech said unto Abraham: ‚What mean these seven ewe-lambs which thou hast set by themselves?‘ 30 And he said: ‚Verily, these seven ewe-lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that it may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well.‘ 31 Wherefore that place was called Beer-sheba; because there they swore both of them.

Judges 20.1 mentions Beer-Sheva as the Israelites‘ southern residential border: Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was assembled as one man, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, with the land of Gilead, unto the LORD at Mizpah.

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The northern part of the Negev desert can be considered as being quite fertile. A thin layer of loess, makes it possible to maintain permanent agriculture. By means of targeted and gentle drip irrigation, and the use of desalinated water, the dry desert is being pushed back ever further to the south. Beer-Sheva enjoys more than 200 mm annual precipitation.

BenGurion

 

It is at the edge of the dry desert, which becomes an extreme desert south of Sde Boker, the old age refuge of David Ben Gurion and his wife Paula. Eilat, Israel’s most southerly town, gets only 30 mm rain, if any. Flooding like last winter happens once in a century.

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To the south of the city, Bedouin settlements are coming closer to the outskirts. The industrial zone and the desert natives are struggling for room to expand. 34% of the population in the southern district are Bedouins, who have been living here for centuries. The once nomadic people have gradually become only semi-nomads. Traditionally the tribes live from livestock breeding, though their own nutrition is mainly vegetarian. New additional occupations added are weaving and embroidery for women and jobs in tourism for men. In the 1960s, the State of Israel began attempts to have the Bedouins settle in towns that were built especially for them. This planning may have been well meant but did not suit their traditions. In the triangle between Arad, Dimona and Beer-Sheva, there are still 35 unauthorized Bedouin settlements. Regretfully there are often ugly scenes, when bulldozers come to demolish the sheet metal huts. During recent years the Bedouins‘ acceptance of the new towns slowly increased. When driving along the Bedouin triangle one can see how clean the new settlements look and how in the smaller settlements, as well, they make all efforts not to miss the connection to modern life. Solar collectors assure the electricity supply. Solar boilers guarantee warm water around the clock. Only water itself has to be brought by tanker to the unauthorized settlements, since Israel does not connect them to the communal infrastructure.

There are always NGO activists on location to document what is happening. Time and again loud complaints are made against Israel. Photographs posted on the Internet by the NGOs show an ugly picture of Israel. The fact that there is always another, pleasanter but untold, side, is due to the very nature of the anti-Israel NGOs.

But why did the Bedouins – even during the Ottoman rule – refuse to have their land registered? Although they could see what was happening during the Ottoman period and became first semi-nomadic and later sedentary, they never had documents for their claim to the land. Detractors say that they wanted to avoid paying land taxes. If that is indeed so, they were given bad advice.

Bedouins belong to Israel like any other citizens. They are fully integrated in the IDF, but as volunteers, because they are formally exempt from military service. Thanks to their life in the desert and their special semi-nomadic way of life, they usually serve as trackers. They are simply unbeatable in that field.

7897898010014879801077noThe extent of the Bedouin integration into Israeli life is described in a recently published newspaper article. A Bedouin couple and their three children have been accepted as full-fledged members of a traditional Kibbutz in the north of the country. That would have been unthinkable only a few years ago.

But are the Bedouins the only desert inhabitants who may claim that they have been there „forever“?

 

„Forever“ is what UNESCO has notoriously been trying to use against Israel. No connection to Jerusalem, none to the Temple Mount, and the latest: none to Hebron. Though we read in Genesis, 23:15: 15 ‚My lord, hearken unto me: a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver, what is that betwixt me and thee? bury therefore thy dead.‘ 16 And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the hearing of the children of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant. 17 So the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the border thereof round about, were made sure 18 unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city. 19 And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre–the same is Hebron–in the land of Canaan. 20 And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a burying-place by the children of Heth.

Whose testimony that Hebron is the Jewish Heritage par excellence can be worth more than that of our patriarch Abraham? The Tora’s stories about Abraham point to its creation around 2000 BCE.

Around 1000 BCE, in King Solomon’s time, Israelite tribes were living in the Negev Desert. This was proven by the excavation of small settlements around Beer-Sheva.

Around the 6th century BCE, the Nabateans originating from Arabia conquered the region and expelled the Israelites. The Nabatean presence is certain from 312 BCE to 328 BCE. Where they came from is only surmised. What is certain is that around 500 BCE they also settled in what is now Petra and in Edom, to the south of the Dead Sea, in present-day Jordan.

The Sicilian historian Dioderus has described the two attempts to destroy the Nabateans in a battle near Gaza in 312 BCE or at least to expel them. In both battles the attackers were beaten and destroyed. Dioderus describes them as follows: „The Arabs have no fixed houses and have neither agricultural nor horticultural activity; they let their camels and muttons graze in the desert which also serves as their safe haven when enemy armies approach; as only the Nabateans know the few water sources and are able to survive in the desert; they also know how to build wells and covered cisterns; their income comes mainly from the sale of asphalt and the trade with incense, myrrh and rare spices that originate from „Arabia Eudaemon“; occasionally they undertake raids into neighboring regions“.

 

Elsewhere, he writes: „They lead a marauding life, robbing the neighboring countries on their raids. […] They plant neither corn nor other fruit bearing trees, nor do they drink wine or build any houses. If anyone breaches those rules, his punishment is death. […] Though there are many other Arab tribes using the desert as grazing fields, they are much richer than the others, despite being not many more than 10,000 people, since many of them are used to carry incense and myrrh as well as selected spices to the sea.“ 

Around 150 BCE the tribes united to become a kingdom with its capital in Petra in present-day Jordan. The reason why they were able to survive for such a long time in the inhospitable desert is due, among others ,to their pioneering invention: flash flood irrigation. In a sophisticated system of supply and draining ducts, walls and trenches, as well as adequate terraces, rain water (when it does rain) is collected in the channels. This system ensures that the water soaks the layer of loess or sand instead of simply flowing away. Once the soil is drenched the remaining water is conducted to the next lower terrace. In good years, this makes rich harvests possible. On flatter terrain, the „Limnic system“ was used. In this system small plots are carefully walled so as to create a kind of basin, which is deeper at the middle, thus collecting the overflow. Drinking water and water for other uses were pumped, sometimes from substantial depths, near the settlements.

In the 1950s, biologist Michael Evenari and his team discovered the remains of this antique irrigation system. At the suggestion of Michael’s wife Lieselotte, the team started the reconstruction of a Nabatean farm in 1959. In 1960 they were able to bring in their first good harvest. Clearly, it is true all over the globe: behind any successful man stands a smart wife.

With this security, the Nabateans were able to increase their wealth. The „incense road“ led from Yemen to Gaza in the west and Damascus in the east. Some of the highly coveted wares that were painstakingly listed by Plinius the elder were cardamom, myrrh, incense.

 

Over a 2,400 km road, traders wanted to be sure that their caravans would reach their destination safely. This security was assured by the Nabateans: in easy daily marches of 35 km, travelers could find either a camel station or a fortified town. Between the different stops there were observations posts, securing the caravans‘ route. But then as today, security had its price: fodder, water, sleeping places, food supply, custom duties, payments for guards and their assistants, everything influenced the final price at destination.

Nowadays the ruined towns of Avdat, Mamshit, Shivta, Nitzana, Chalutza and Rehovot tell us the story of the flourishing Nabatean period in the Negev desert. As was often the case in this region, earthquakes were what put an end to life in those historic places.

 

Whoever walks through the ruins on a hot summer day contemplating their history, can perhaps feel how life changed here when the caravans came and the lanes and squares filled with loud and colorful life. Perhaps they can even smell all those exotic foreign delicacies that were stored here securely overnight.

In the meantime Avdat has been wonderfully restored, and one can truly recognize history here. In Shivta, the second town we visited, there is still a lot to be done, but buildings can already be recognized which are worth reconstructing.

 

 

© esther scheiner, Israel

© translated by: Translation International, Herzliya