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Monday, January 23

"American Zionists" and the Issue of Immigrants
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American Zionists and the Issue of Immigrants - An Analysis (24 January 2017) by Professor Lawrence Davidson

Part I - The Immigrant Issue

It is a strange story. American Jews (and I expect it is the case with other Jews too) act in solidarity with other discriminated groups only if they, the Jews, resist Zionist leadership. If they follow the Zionist lead, they usually do one of two things: passively support the discriminatory majority or stay silent. This behavior is particularly true when it comes to the issue of immigrants. 

I can see the eye-rolling and disgust on the faces of the Zionists who might be reading this analysis. Their reaction is to be expected because it is based on a self-image built on ideology rather than on honest knowledge of their own history. When we look at that history, we see that U.S. Zionist organizations have always played to the prejudices of the power brokers. The results, in terms of ethics and values, have been deplorable.   

Here is a telling historical example. In the years leading up to the U.S. entrance into World War II, there was a general consensus on the issue of immigration. Most of the U.S. population was opposed to letting immigrants, most of whom were refugees, into the country.  David Schoenbaum tells us in his book The U.S. and the State of Israel that in 1938, the same year as the Nazi pogrom known as Kristallnacht, 83% of respondents of a U.S. poll said they opposed any adjustment of immigration laws to allow in more European refugees. A year later, a bill to admit 20,000 mostly Jewish refugee children, above the existing minimal quota, failed in both the House and the Senate. 

In part, this anti-immigrant attitude was attitude the result of a Great Depression-era frame of mind which assumed that, even as war loomed on the horizon, unemployment was a permanent problem. And, in addition, the opposition to immigration was a reflection of traditional racism against any peoples whose origins were not the same as the U.S. middle and upper classes - mostly English and northern European.

For American Jews, the immigration of refugees was a particularly important issue. After all, Hitler ruled Germany and he was imprisoning and killing all the Jews he could get his hands on. As a result, much of Europe’s Jewish population was scared and ready to leave. However, often the problem was not getting out of the country oppressing you, but finding a safer country to get into. 

Under the circumstances, one would assume that American Zionist organizations and leaders would be strongly lobbying Congress for greater refugee access to the U.S. However, as Gulie Ne’eman Arad tells us in the book America, Its Jews, and the Rise of Nazism, they were not. Typical of their attitude was a statement made by the Zionist leader Rabbi Stephen Wise during a Congressional hearing in 1939: “I have heard no sane person propose any departure from the existing [immigration] law now in force.” A self-damning statement if there ever was one. 

Along the same lines it is to be noted that a year earlier, in 1938, the Zionist leader in Palestine, David Ben Gurion, had, according to the historian Benny Morris in his book Righteous Victims, declared that “if I knew it was possible to save all [Jewish] children in Germany by their transfer to England and only half of them by transferring them to Eretz-Yisrael [Palestine], I would choose the latter.”

Why was this the Zionist attitude? The reason offered at the time by American Zionists like Rabbi Wise was that an influx of Jewish refugees would spark an upsurge in anti-Semitism in the U.S. - a pitiful excuse in the case of not allowing entry to an additional 20,000 Jewish children. However this assertion was really a cover for a more ideologically dictated position. The Zionists did not want Europe’s Jewish refugees coming to the U.S. They wanted them to go to British-controlled Palestine. 

However, the British had severely limited immigration into Palestine so as to maintain the support of Arabs for the Allied war effort against Germany and Italy. So what did Wise and his fellow U.S. Zionists do? They refused to engage in any attempt to support American immigration reform, and instead agitated in Congress, and the press, for pressure on the British to change Palestine’s immigration restrictions. They did this even though it at once cut off a viable American refuge for European Jews and threatened to complicate the British war effort in the Middle East.  

Part II - Zionists and the Immigration Issue Today

Fast-forwarding to the present, we see that immigration and refugees are again major issues for the U.S. Today it is not Europeans, Jews or otherwise, fleeing from fascist oppression. Rather, it is Mexican immigrants crossing the country’s southern border in an effort to escape the poverty and violence of their homeland. It is also peoples of Arab ethnicity fleeing from wars that were often started or prolonged by the United States.

In the U.S. we now have a president, Donald Trump, who was elected on an anti-immigrant platform reflecting a bigoted outlook reminiscent of the 1930s. Trump wants to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border as well as a  ban entry into the country of people of certain religious and/or national backgrounds.

Reaction to Trump’s bigotry has divided the American Jewish community. Organizations of progressive Jewish activists such as If Not Now (which puts itself forward as a “Jewish resistance” movement) and the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom (which allies with local Muslims to oppose discrimination and hate), along with a number of Jewish Democratic politicians, have vocally rejected the president’s position on immigrants, refugees and Muslims. However, the reaction of the Zionist organizations has mostly been true to their history. For instance, Morton Klein, head of the Zionist Organization of America, opposes the entrance of Syrian refugees “until we have a better vetting system.” One suspects this is an excuse because the present system is in fact, exhaustive.

Now consider the more general position taken by the influential Abe Foxman, the “director emeritus” of the Anti-Defamation League. Foxman labels active resistance to Trump’s regressive policies, as well as any criticism of the positions taken by American Zionist organizations, as “nonsense.” Despite the fact that he, and other Jewish leaders, know that Trump “legitimized some of the ugliness,” Foxman wants to “enlist” the president in the fight against bigotry. He concludes that to “resist him and fight him is immature.” A similar position toward official bigotry was taken by Stephen Wise and the American Zionists in 1930s.

Part III -  Conclusion

The safety and concerns of American Jews as regards bigotry and hate are not the primary interest of Zionist leaders like Klein and Foxman. Indeed, to the extent that such fears increase support for and dependence on Israel, these concerns are actually viewed as helpful. Nor do the Zionist organizations have any interest in opposing the U.S. government except on the command of the Israeli government. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has great regard for Donald Trump and high hopes that now the U.S. government will put a final seal of approval on Israel’s own bigoted treatment of the Palestinians and illegal absorption of the West Bank. So the American Zionist organizations are not going to actively oppose Trump and will pressure other Jews to either support him or to stay silent.

The truth is that the Zionists have been eroding away the humanistic aspects of Jewish values for decades - casting them aside in favor of worst sort of “identity politics.” As a consequence official Judaism, taking its marching orders from people like Wise and Foxman and Klein has remained stuck in an ethically deplorable rut.

Lawrence Davidson

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"Transfer of power" in the United States
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"Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or an animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way." Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr.

Micah 2: “1 Woe to those who scheme iniquity, Who work out evil on their beds! When morning comes, they do it, For it is in the power of their hands. 2 They covet fields and then seize them, And houses, and take them away. They rob a man and his house, A man and his inheritance. 3 Therefore
thus says the LORD, "Behold, I am planning against this family a calamity From which you cannot remove your necks; And you will not walk haughtily, For it will be an evil time…”

"Transfer of power" in the United States : The White House used to be occupied by Zionists of one tactic and now it is occupied by Zionists with a different tactic (both aiming for the same goals of hegemony and racism).
Obama came to office promising to end the Israeli occupation and left having strengthened it. Let us hope that Trump who came promising to strengthen the Israeli occupation will (through hubris) cause its demise.
The Trump speech was according to Gideon Levy of Haaretz eerily similar to "Deutschland uber Alles" Hitlerian speeches of the 1930's. Only time will tell what Trump and his Zionist coterie will do but it is already inspiring the ultra right factions of Netanyahu and his settler cabinet.

The people are frightened and yet energized. Millions demonstrated in cities across the globe yesterday (women marches). The crowds demonstrating in Washington DC a day after the inauguration were certainly higher than
attended the inauguration. Hundreds were arrested during the inauguration and some disrupted the inauguration with “We the people…”. People demonstrating either they preferred the first kind of Zionist occupation
(Obama) or they support freedom from that occupation (hence lots of Palestinian flags). Stirrings of discontent also give an opportunity of dialog about things and to move to change which can only come from the people.

Locally here in Palestine, we see Zionism getting a green light to ethnically cleanse more with impunity. Netanyahu want the US to engage in more conflicts on behalf of his occupation (on Syria and Iran). Israeli forces destroyed many homes in the village of Um Al-Hiran in the Naqab (Negev). They killed one Palestinian (a citizen of Israel). See In a related matter, Tzipi Livni (ex foreign minister) canceled a trip to Bruxles fearing questioning for Gaza war crimes.

Resistance in various forms continues. PMNH in collaboration with women committee of the religious ministry and Al-Rowwad Center volunteers planted
trees near the segregation/apartheid wall in Aida refugee camp area. We had three foreign delegations last week. We enjoy working with local and international volunteers. Our fieldwork continues and the museum is busy
almost 18 hours per day seven days a week (we also always have deadlines of proposals for grants and for coursework). We finished courses except one left with the final Wednesday at Birzeit University (in molecular biology.
We started a new project looking at snail chromosomes. The past week we took two trips one to Aboud (near Ramallah) and one to South Hebron Hills today. Professor Zuhair Amr (Zoologist from Jordan) and Mr. Shadi Adawi
(Medical entomologist) are here finishing up manuscripts. We are now publishing one or two papers a month. Here are the last two published articles that migt be of interest:

-Khlaif, N and MB Qumsiyeh. 2017. Genotoxicity of recycling electronic waste in Idhna, Hebron District, Palestine. International Journal of Environmental Studies. 74(1):66-74. DOI: 10.1080/00207233.2016.1236650
(let us know if you like a reprint or PDF)
- Qumsiyeh, MB and EN Handal. 2017. Environmental Stewardship via a Nascent Natural History Museum in Palestine. Ornithological Society of the Middle East

Former Newspaper Editor Who Exposed CIA Found Dead

259 Journalists jailed worldwide. Seven by Israeli forces according to Committee to Protect Journalists (actually the number is much higher)

Come visit us

Mazin Qumsiyeh
A bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at home
Professor and (volunteer) Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability
Bethlehem University
Occupied Palestine

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The U.S sent $221 million to Palestinians in Obama’s last hours
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Officials say the Obama administration in its waning hours defied Republican opposition and quietly released $221 million to the Palestinian Authority that GOP members of Congress had been blocking.
A State Department official and several congressional aides said the outgoing administration formally notified Congress it would spend the money Friday morning. The official said former Secretary of State John Kerry had informed some lawmakers of the move shortly before he left the State Department for the last time Thursday. The aides said written notification dated Jan. 20 was sent to Congress just hours before Donald Trump took the oath of office.
In addition to the $221 million for the Palestinians, the Obama administration also told Congress on Friday it was going ahead with the release of another $6 million in foreign affairs spending, including $4 million for climate change programs and $1.25 million for U.N. organizations, the congressional aides said. The aides and the State Department official weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.
Congress had initially approved the Palestinian funding in budget years 2015 and 2016, but at least two GOP lawmakers — Ed Royce of California, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Kay Granger of Texas, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee — had placed holds on it over moves the Palestinian Authority had taken to seek membership in international organizations. Congressional holds are generally respected by the executive branch but are not legally binding after funds have been allocated.
The Obama administration had for some time been pressing for the release of the money for the Palestinian Authority, which comes from the U.S. Agency for International Development and is to be used for humanitarian aid in the West Bank and Gaza, to support political and security reforms as well as help prepare for good governance and the rule of law in a future Palestinian state, according to the notification sent to Congress.
The $1.25 million for U.N. agencies is to be used as voluntary contributions to the U.N. Peacebuilding Fund; the U.N. Special Coordinator on improving the U.N. response to sexual exploitation and abuse; the Montreal Protocol Secretariat, which oversees the protection of the ozone layer; the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; and the U.N. System Staff College.
The $4 million for climate programs includes assistance for clean energy, sustainable landscapes, cutting greenhouse gas emissions and creating a climate technology center.
The last-minute allocation also contained $1.05 million in funding for the State Department’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan office and the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs.
The Palestinian funding is likely to draw anger from some in Congress as well as the Trump White House. Trump has vowed to be a strong supporter of Israel and has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit Washington next month.
He has also pledged to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, although White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday a final decision on that had yet to be made. Despite speculation in Israel that an announcement of the move is imminent, Spicer said the decision-making process is only in its very early stages.
“If it was already a decision, then we wouldn’t be going through a process,” Spicer told reporters.

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Chinese President Calls for East Jerusalem as Capital of Palestinian State
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Chinese President Xi Jinping talks during a joint press conference with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi following their meeting in Cairo, Egypt, January 21, 2016. Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday called for establishing a Palestinian state within the pre-1967-war borders amid efforts by Beijing to assert its economic and political clout in the Middle East.
Addressing the Cairo-based Arab League, Xi said the Palestinian problem "should not be marginalized."
"China supports the peaceful process in the Middle East [and] the establishment of a Palestinian state with its capital being eastern Jerusalem," he added through an interpreter.

Xi announced 50 million yuan ($7.6 million) in aid for the Palestinians.

The United States, an ally of Jerusalem, has unsuccessfully attempted to break a long-standing stalemate in Palestinian-Israeli peacemaking.

Tensions between the two sides have been growing in recent months after a wave of Palestinian stabbing attacks on Israelis and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers.

"Maintaining the legitimate interests of the Palestinian people is the responsibility of the Arab League as well as the international community," Xi said.

For the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to end, negotiations should be pushed forward to reach a peace agreement, he said.

The Chinese president had arrived in Egypt Wednesday as part of a regional tour that has already taken him to Saudi Arabia.

Iran will be the final stop in his three-nation trip.

Xi's current visit to Egypt is the first by a Chinese head of state to the country in twelve years.

On Thursday, the two countries signed 21 cooperation deals in different fields including energy, technology, investment, transport, agriculture, housing and culture as well as a 1-billion-dollar grant offered to Egypt's central bank.

Egypt is seeking foreign investment to revitalize its economy, battered by political upheaval since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosny Mubarak.

China and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding to build a nuclear reactor in the oil-rich kingdom.

Xi's visit to Iran comes days after the implementation of a landmark nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, leading to the lifting of international sanctions on Iran.

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Monday, January 16

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That UN Security Council resolution harshly criticizing Israel’s settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories has revealed sharp divisions among Canadian Zionists. Read more.
In addition to causing a major public relations disaster for Mr. Netanyahu, and a series of potential political problems for Mr. Trudeau, the UN vote has also prompted a more open vigorous debate about Israel/Palestine among Jewish Canadians.
It isn’t surprising that anti-Zionist Jewish organizations, like Independent Jewish Voices Canada have “applauded” the UN Resolution.
But the vote has also prompted a great deal of debate within the Zionist Canadian community. Some fiercely and indignantly denounce the UN. But others are a lot more nuanced and some are openly critical of the Israeli government. Take a look.

Here’s the Jewish establishment view…


Avi Benlolo, President Canadian friends of Simon Wiesenthal Foundation.


Mordechai Ben Dat, columnist at Canadian Jewish News.
Shimon Fogel, CEO, CIJA

But here are some liberal Zionist views…

Hart Schwartz, past Chair, Jspace Canada
– Canadian Friends of Peace Now
Mira Sucharov, Canadian professor and frequent blogger at Ha’aretz and Globe and Mail

(Sucharov’s contribution, published in Canadian Jewish News, was of particular note because she even raised a subject that remains almost completely taboo for Zionists – the issue of the Palestinian refugees.)

Will the divisions continue to widen?

It is not new for Jewish Canadians – even Zionists – to have different opinions about Israel. But what appears to be new however is that the differences seem to be widening, and they are beginning to spill out into the public. This has left some leaders of major Canadian Jewish organizations visibly uncomfortable.

David Cape, Chair, CIJA

“I don’t know about you, but I’m frustrated.. [The UN vote and the Kerry speech] risk dividing our own community. ..polarizing this issue along political lines.”

– David Cape, Chair, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA)

A worried David Cape, Chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, wrote to his membership in the days immediately following the vote. He noted that the UN vote and Kerry’s speech, “risk dividing our own community. ..polarizing this issue along political lines, and distracting from the real barriers to peace. There is significant diversity of opinion among the Israeli people and the Jewish community in Canada regarding Israeli settlements.”
One thing does seem to be clear, however. An increasing number of Canadian Jews, including many who still describe themselves as Zionists, are openly expressing concern that the settlement enterprise is destroying the hope for a “two state solution”.

“Raise the issue, but lower the temperature”

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11 homes were demolished by the Israeli occupation authorities in one dayin the village of Qalanswe (occupied in 1948
). The pace of home demolitions accelerated recently and are expected toaccelerate more as Israel violaes human rights and international law with international impunity. Donald Trump will follow on the heels of Obama in
giving a green light for further ethnic cleansing. The conditions for revolution are there just like they were in 1936 and 1987:

1) Political factional leadership disconnected from the people’s needs or thoughts and the natives who dislike the existing political factions and want serious change.

2) Most people have given up on political structures and the so called “peace process” (an industry of talk and profit for elites).

3) A colonizer-occupier so self-assured that they have things under “control” they actually do things like killing unarmed demonstrators or demoliting homes or collective punishment. Israel just decided to deport
from Jerusalem 12 family members of a Palestinians who killed four soldiers who illegally occupy East Jerusalem (International law recognizes such acts
as legitimate forms of resistance). This cockiness can accelerate the arrival of uprisings.

4) An international world order that does not see the centrality or urgency for the Palestinian issue and is complicit in the crime (even projecting Israeli flags on state buildings in Europe last week and instituting laws that attack freedom of speech).

These conditions were present before every one of the uprisings (1881, 1904, 1912, 1921, 1929, 1936, etc). In South Africa under apartheid there was also 14 or 15 uprisings before apartheid ended. Let us hope that this
coming one in Palestine will be the last. Netanyahu just sent his jets attacking Syria (a violation of International law). Obama dropped 26,000 bombs in 2016 on seven countries. We do not expect Trump to do any better!
Local leaders also do not give us chance for optimism. Abbas believes in talking and the King of “Saudi Arabia” believes in bombing hospitals and schools in Yemen to serve Israeli interests and keep his throne. And as JFK once said: once you make a peaceful revolution impossible you make a
violent revolution inevitable. It is time to think globally and act locally.

Aِِcting locally, we at the Palestine Museum of Natural History and Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability (
are working hard. It has been another busy and productive week for us locally. Two manuscripts were accepted for publication. We received good news on one grant and submitted two more grant proposals. Israel gave a
permission to Prof. Zuhair Amr from Jordan to come spend two weeks with us in Bethlehem working on research (on land snails, shrews, geckos and ,more). The video of my denial of entry to Jerusalem revceived 5000 views
on facebook and over 2000 views on youtube (
We attended a workshop on Palestine Future (trends to 2030) and agreed to take some action plans. We formed a committee to prepare for a national
network of museums. We received and rejected two offers of large funding that required us to collaborate with Israeli institutions (violating BDS rules). Even though our financial situation is difficult, our motto in the museum continues to be RESPECT (for one self, for others, for nature).

The coming week promises even more: we are expecting more volunteers (local and internationals), we expect three international delegations (visitors), we expect to make two field trips, and to finish two more research manuscripts. Please join us because we are the people we have been waiting for! In other words change comes from us working together.

A poem about life by Mazin Qumsiyeh in English and German

‘James Bond’ of Philanthropy gives away the last of his fortune. “His name does not appear in gilded letters, chiseled marble or other forms of writing anywhere on the 1,000 buildings across five continents that $2.7
billion of his money paid for”

Stay Human/Bleib Mensch
and come visit us in Palestine

Mazin Qumsiyeh
A bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at home
Professor and (volunteer) Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability
Bethlehem University
Occupied Palestine

Please help us grow, any contribution big or small goes along way and is greatly appreciated!
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