David Ben-Gurion's stature as Israel's founding father would seem to be eminently secure, given his crucial, perhaps indispensable, role in salvaging the Jewish people from political oblivion and reinstating it in its ancestral homeland. Tom Segev's A State at Any Cost: The Life of David Ben-Gurion is an effort to tarnish his reputation and reinterpret Israel's founding period.
On May 14, 1948, Ben-Gurion proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel, becoming its first prime minister and defense minister, posts he held until 1963 (with a brief retirement from office in 1953-55). Segev casts Israel's founding father as the destroyer of Palestinian Arab society - deeply implicated in what Segev and his fellow revisionists see as the "original sin" of Israel's creation: the supposedly deliberate and aggressive dispossession of the native Arab population.
The truth is that, far from seeking to dispossess the Palestinian Arabs as claimed by Segev, the Zionist movement had always been amenable to the existence of a substantial Arab minority in the prospective Jewish state.
No less than Ze'ev Jabotinsky, founder of the faction that was the forebear of today's Likud Party, voiced his readiness (in a famous 1923 essay) "to take an oath binding ourselves and our descendants that we shall never do anything contrary to the principle of equal rights, and that we shall never try to eject anyone." And if this was the position of the more "militant" faction of the Jewish national movement, small wonder that mainstream Zionism took for granted the full equality of the Arab minority in the prospective Jewish state.
In December 1947, shortly after Palestinian Arabs had unleashed wholesale violence to subvert the newly passed UN partition resolution, Ben-Gurion told his Labor Party that "in our state there will be non-Jews as well" and all of them will be equal citizens; equal in everything without any exception; that is: the state will be their state as well."
The Haganah's operational plan - adopted in March 1948 to reverse then-current Palestinian Arab aggression and rebuff the anticipated invasion by the Arab states - was predicated, in the explicit instructions of the Haganah's commander in chief, on the "acknowledgment of the full rights, needs, and freedom of the Arabs in the Hebrew state without any discrimination, and a desire for coexistence on the basis of mutual freedom and dignity."
Arab anti-Zionism, Shmuel Trigano argues, has little to do with land, the fate of the Palestinians, or Palestinian self-determination—and everything to do with religion. Citing the historical status of non-Muslims in the Islamic Middle East, he points in particular to two concepts: that of the ummah, a nation of all Muslim believers that transcends ethnic and political boundaries, and that of the dhimmi, protected religious minorities who are allowed to live in Muslim society with legal disabilities:
The concept of the ummah inspired the Arabs to rebel against the [European] colonial powers: not so much for their colonial nature (the colonial yoke of the Ottomans was by and large tolerated), but for their Christianity. A decisive turning point was the rise of nationalism: while the ummah dissolved into nation-states, the pan-Arabism that emerged in its wake provided indirect continuity.
To this situation, . . . an additional factor came to the fore: the creation of a Jewish national home in Palestine, under the British Mandate, as provided by the Balfour Declaration of 1917. The problem derived not from the emergence of a new political force in the midst of the Arab countries, but from its Jewish character: as sacrilegious to the Islamic conscience as the Christian colonial powers had been. . . . In these terms, Jewish sovereignty is understood as nothing short of a rebellion against Islam.
Thus, Trigano argues, the conflict between Israel and its neighbors can be understood in relation to the gradual and long-ongoing destruction of the Jewish communities of the Middle East and, more broadly, to the destruction of Christian and other non-Muslim communities. The latter began not recently, with the rise of Islamic State, but with the bloody anti-Armenian pogroms of the 1890s:
The Armenians . . . committed an act of rebellion against [their status as] dhimmi by fighting for national autonomy. . . . A violent response ensued: several massacres were carried out by the Ottomans in 1894-5. . . . Often overlooked is the jihadist nature of these massacres: not only in their motivation and their legitimation, but also in the nature of the acts themselves and the fact that the surviving women and children (some 150,000) were forcibly converted to Islam. The same pattern was to reappear in the second wave of massacres, this time instigated by the Young Turks [in 1915].
When I was growing up to be a "white" person meant to be a person of European descent. This is no longer the case.
To be "white," today, means to be a "bad" person, particularly if you tend to be of the manly persuasion.
In contemporary political parlance, "whiteness" is a signifier of racism, oppression, colonialism, imperialism, privilege, sexism, Islamophobia, transphobia, capitalism, and, most particularly, racism.
The irony is delicious.
"Progressives" -- throughout politics and the academe and, even, corporate America -- consider "white" to be a category of ethnic guilt. In the name of "social justice" they are condemning innocent young kids, particularly boys, of some sort of original sin.
They are, in fact, damaging your children and most of you are A-OK with it.
In this way, the "progressive" movement is deeply religious and increasingly medieval. The movement used to be about open-mindedness. Today it is about hysterical dogma. Mario Savio would not recognize it.
It used to be about social libertarianism and freedom of expression. Today it is about ideological conformity and a Puritanical patrolling of the borders of acceptable thought.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri announced on Sunday that he had directed the Population and Immigration Authority to prepare a legal opinion to be used in the deportation of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions founder Omar Barghouti.
Barghouti holds Israeli permanent residency status, which he obtained after marrying an Arab Israeli woman, with whom he lives in the northern city of Acre.
“I intend to act quickly to deprive Omar Barghouti of residency status in Israel, Deri said in a statement announcing the move. “This is a man who does everything to harm the country and therefore must not enjoy the right to be a resident of Israel.”
The Interior Ministry said that the opportunity became available to push for Bargouti’s deportation after Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber notified his office that it had the authority to revoke the BDS founder’s residency status.
This was thanks to a 2018 amendment to Israeli residency laws that makes breach of trust a crime significant enough to allow the interior minister to strip an individual of his or her residency status. According to an interpretation of the law, boycotting Israel could constitute such an offense.
Israel has barred Barghouti from leaving the county a number of times in recent years by refusing to renew travel documents granted to Palestinian residents of Israel who do not have full citizenship.
Last Thursday there was a ‘Keep Talking’ event at St Anne’s Church Soho. It was an event organised and attended by some truly nasty antisemites. The event shows how the suggested differences between ‘far-right’ and ‘far-left’ are illusions. There is just a sewer of extremism – those who build conspiracy theories, and all too frequently pin the blame on the ‘Jews’.
We can begin with this image, which shows Miko Peled speaking at the Church. On his right (our left) – set apart from the audience- are Ian Fantom and Alison Chabloz.
Ian Fantom is a hard-core conspiracy theorist. He wore this t-shirt, suggesting both 9/11 and 7/7 were staged, to an event he organised in 2016:
In 2010, Ian Fantom co-founded a group called ‘Keep Talking’ that was set up because other ‘9-11 truth’ groups were ‘sabotaged from within’. Conspiracy theories about conspiracy groups. Fantom explains this himself in an article he wrote for ‘UNZ review’. The website UNZ is described as ‘extreme-right‘ and pushes Holocaust denial. The founder of Unz is known to have contributed funds to a ‘quasi white-nationalist’ group.
Fantom co-founded ‘Keep Talking’ with the Holocaust denier Nick Kollerstrom. It was interesting to read that the two of them agreed ‘Keep Talking’ would avoid discussion of Holocaust denial because they didn’t want to be ‘derailed’ by the ‘Zionist lobby’.
At the Peled event, Fantom is sitting next to Alison Chabloz. Chabloz is a convicted Holocaust denier. She was able to attend the event because she was recently released from jail pending an appeal. Chabloz is best known for teasing Jews over the Holocaust through the use of music, creating songs that turn the Holocaust into a fictional joke that she sets to classic Jewish tunes. Other far-right activists were also in attendance. The images suggest that James Thring was present. Thring is a confidante of David Duke and is a regular attendee of the ‘Keep Talking’ events.
St Anne’s Church in Soho has apologised for leasing a room to the controversial Keep Talking Group for a talk by Israeli-born anti-Zionist activist Miko Peled.
Peled spoke at the church last Thursday for an event titled “Miko Peled, Journey of an Israeli in Palestine.”
The anti-racism charity Hope Not Hate expressed concern about the event in a series of tweets on Saturday.
St Anne’s Church said on Sunday that it will donate the room hire fee to the Community Security Trust and will review its own booking procedure.
The church apologised “for the offence that has been caused to members of the Jewish Community” and said it opposes “any form of hatred: be it racism, homophobia or antisemitism.”
But Peled denied accusations of prejudice, saying in a statement: “The suggestion that the event in which I spoke in any way shape or form represents hate, racism, homophobia or antisemitism is outrageous and libelous.
Given that Billoo has almost 34 000 Twitter followers, she may not have seen the responses, and she may also not have seen a blog post that highlighted her updated blood libel. But it is also unlikely that she would have cared much if she had noticed the criticism. Like her good friend Linda Sarsour, Zahra Billoo despises anyone who dares to notice contemporary manifestations of anti-Semitism propagated by the left. That includes the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), to which Billoo devoted a Facebook post and an almost identical Twitter thread last year in order to educate her followers about the ADL’s supposedly vicious record and odious history.
If you consider an organization that has been fighting anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry for more than a century as an unmitigated evil that must be denounced and shunned, you shouldn’t be surprised when lots of people doubt that you’re just out to criticize Israeli policies.
In this context it’s particularly depressing that Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib decided to issue a full-throated declaration of solidarity with Billoo. Tlaib linked to a thread in which Billoo attributed her ousting from the Women’s March board to “an Islamophobic smear campaign led by the usual antagonists,” which she identified as mainly “right-wingers, from the President’s son to the Anti-Defamation League and troll armies.” It seems fair to assume that Tlaib intended to endorse Billoo’s take when she wrote: “They won’t silence us for speaking out against human rights violations. They will lie, smear our names and call us anti this and that, but we always be pro- humanity & we have the truth on our side.”
Well, if you think it is “pro-humanity” to endorse the kind of blatant anti-Semitism Zahra Billoo propagates, you probably agree with all the Jew-haters who have thought for centuries that Jews are not quite human.
I can easily imagine that neither Rashida Tlaib nor Linda Sarsour nor Zahra Billoo would think I have any standing to define what’s “pro-Palestinian,” but if they insist that it’s “pro-Palestinian” to update age-old anti-Semitic stereotypes by substituting “Israel” or “Zionists” for “Jews”, their Palestinian cause can only attract vile bigots.
As the perilous scourge of visceral anti-Semitism continues unabated in New York City in the form of attacks on Orthodox Jews as well as their homes and synagogues, our elected officials have stubbornly remained mute on the issue of clearly identifying from whence these attacks are emanating.
This past week a synagogue in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn was vandalized on Rosh Hashanah and a hassidic woman was attacked as well. Video footage shows two minority youth throwing a milk crate and a metal mailbox at the synagogue. They were with at least three other young people of color outside the Throop Avenue synagogue. The impact broke a window.
It appears that the best that New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio could muster up in response to these attacks was to call them a "hate crime" on his Twitter account but he never offered a clear and decisive plan on how to deter these attacks.
Having said this, it is long overdue to squarely confront Mayor DeBlasio as well as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Letitia James and others who are committed to furthering the Democratic party agenda of transforming anti-Semitism into a politically "right wing" phenomenon that will only cease to exist when President Trump vacates office.
In response to this dangerous political chicanery of dismissing anti-Semitic attacks when they are committed by minority youth, I thought a letter to the Mayor and his cohorts would be in order.
He sold his soul to kiss the ring of the bloodsoaked antisemite Al Sharpton, a grotesque display of cynicism that will be a permanent stain on his character and record, all for 0%? For Wales? https://t.co/1OA3sDzowu
Several Jewish groups and UK Members of Parliament have slammed a decision by the University of Nottingham to host Labour MP Chris Williamson, who was suspended from the party in February for claiming it has been “too apologetic” about antisemitism.
Williamson was readmitted back into the party in June, but was suspended again two days later after a backlash from the Jewish community and Labour MPs. In August, he announced he was suing the Labour Party over its decision to re-implement his suspension.
Last week the University of Nottingham announced that Williamson would speak on Monday in a lecture series on “British Politics in Crisis” hosted by the School of Politics and International Relations.
The Union of Jewish Students together with the Nottingham Jewish Society called the decision “unacceptable,” adding that they were “surprised wholly.”
“Williamson has been suspended by the Labour Party over antisemitism and has a consistent history of Jew-baiting and defending antisemitism,” read the statement. “Williamson has been invited to Nottingham to add a perspective of an individual who is an ally of Jeremy Corbyn, yet there are plenty of individuals the university could have invited who are not suspended for antisemitism.”
Emily Austen, a reporter who was fired by Fox Sports in Florida for derogatory comments about Jews and minorities, has been hired by the evangelical Christian Liberty University.
Fox dismissed Austen in 2016 as a sideline reporter for the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team and the Orlando Magic basketball team after she recorded an interview with Barstool Sports in which she said she “didn’t even know that Mexicans were that smart,” and that the “Chinese guy is always the smartest guy in math class,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.
In the interview, she also talked about “Jews in Boca,” including one who was “stingy,” and said Jews “would complain and b**** about everything.”
Liberty, the Virginia school run by Jerry Falwell Jr. that was founded by his televangelist father, announced on Wednesday that it was hiring Austen to appear on “Game On,” a sports TV show it produces.
“This is much more than a second chance at my ‘dream career,'” Austen said in a statement posted on Facebook by “Game On.” “I am here to honor God, share the Gospel through athletics, and promote Liberty student-athletes, coaches and staff and their walks with Christ. I once was lost but now I am found.”
Did you know that there is a metro in Bethlehem, West Bank? Well there isn’t but it doesn’t stop this Palestinian student from preaching lies on college campuses just to spread hatred towards Israel.#Stoptheliespic.twitter.com/8hvteUynYy
“Don’t play apartheid.” In downtown Portland, activists with the Democratic Socialists of America handed out flyers calling the public to oppose racism by boycotting the upcoming @trailblazers vs. @MaccabiHaifaBC game. Maccabi Haifa is an Israeli basketball team. pic.twitter.com/ifCFl5IMEG
Following backlash, singer Demi Lovato has profusely apologized for her recent concert in and praise of Israel, insisting she had no idea that the people who treated her so well on the trip were in fact Jews.
Lovato spent her time in the country, which she billed as a spiritual journey, visiting the Western Wall and Israel’s Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, after being baptized in the Jordan River. But soon after she returned, Twitter user @FreePalestine42069 called her out for legitimizing the presence of Jews in the country.
“Debbie (sic) Lovato is an apartheid-loving Zionist!” the user said in a post that earned seven retweets, including three from Democratic presidential candidates. “She is a war crime (sic) and must be brought to the Haig (sic) right now!”
Lovato immediately apologized, claiming she did not know that Israel was full of Jews and that her visit would spark such a negative reaction.
Sam Kiley, a senior international correspondent based in CNN Abu Dhabi’s bureau, has rewritten the history of Israel’s 1948 War of Independence and the 1967 Six-Day War. In his Oct. 3 analysis (“Any war between the US and Iran would be a catastrophe. And no one could win it“), Kiley absurdly asserts that those fateful wars were “to expand territory”: Close to 200,000 descendants of Palestinians who fled their country in successive Israeli wars to expand territory in 1948 and 1967, now live in Lebanon. A similar number are in Jordan.
The 1948 and 1967 wars were fought to fend off Arab campaigns to annihilate the Jewish state, not “to expand territory.” As CNN has in the past reported, in May 1948: “Forces from Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon invade, leading to the first in a series of Arab-Israeli wars.”
In 1967, Israel attacked Egypt preemptively to once again thwart a campaign to eliminate the Jewish state. Before Israel’s preemptive attack, Egypt expelled United Nations troops from the Sinai peninsula and blockaded Israel’s port of Eilat, under international law a casus belli. These belligerent Arab actions were accompanied by explicit calls from Arab leaders to destroy Israel. For instance, as President Nasser declared: “Our aim is the full restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people. In other words, we aim at the destruction of the State of Israel. The immediate aim: perfection of Arab military might. The national aim: the eradication of Israel” (Nov. 18, 1965).
The Washington Post, for example, gives inordinate column space to the tiny fraction of Jews, American and otherwise, who are against the right of Jewish self-determination. In a Sept. 20, 2019 tweet, Mairav Zonszein of +972 magazine cheered that her publication was “all up in The Washington Post opinion pages today,” with two pieces from the same organization appearing on the same day. Zonszein proudly noted that editors of “mainstream outlets” were no longer editing out or tweaking her use of the term “apartheid.”
As NGO Monitor has documented, “972’s articles promote a marginal agenda from the fringes of Israeli discourse, thus presenting a distorted sense of the debate in Israel.” The blog-based magazine “promotes the Durban strategy to demonize and delegitimize Israel” and its writers and contributors have accused the Jewish state of “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “racism.” Indeed, the magazine’s content is completely self-discrediting and its donors are largely foreign and anti-Israel.
A previous editor-in-chief, Noam Sheila, referred to his critics as “the Jewish KKK” and in May 2012, +972 published a cartoon that depicted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raping US President Barack Obama and eating his limbs. In May 2019, they published an article titled, “By going vegan, Israelis can avoid talking about human rights.”
Elsewhere, the Post has published opinion pieces by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), described by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as “a radical anti-Israel activist group that advocates for a complete economic, cultural, and academic boycott of the State of Israel.” JVP, ADL’s report on the group notes, has celebrated Palestinian terrorists like Rasmea Odeh and Marwan Barghouti.
First, the fact that there were, as Shamash writes, no antisemitic incidents reported during the 2018 high holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) may have something to do with the fact that the UK deployed counter-terror police to protect synagogues on those days. (Indeed, all throughout the year, every Jewish institution in the UK is protected by some kind of security presence.)
Moreover, according to CST, 2018 saw the highest levels of antisemitism ever recorded in a single calendar year.
Finally, the writer’s final claim that, compared to the experiences of Muslims in the UK, “levels of antisemitism are almost negligible” is not supported the data.
CST (a charity that fights antisemitism) recorded1652 antisemitic incidents in 2018.
In that same year, Tell Mama (a charity that fights anti-Muslim bigotry) recorded 1072 anti-Muslim incidents.
Now, let’s look at hate crime data (which is distinct from the data recorded by CST and Tell Mama) reported by the Home Office. It does show more hate crimes in 2017-18 against Muslims than Jews in total numbers . But, given Jews’ significantly smaller population (Jews represent .05% of the population), the RATE of hate crimes against Jews was significantly higher than those against Muslims (who represent nearly 5% of the population).
In late February of this year the Palestinian Authority announced that it would refuse to accept tax revenues collected on its behalf by Israel due to deduction of the amount paid to terrorists and their families.
BBC audiences heard nothing about that financial own goal (or the subsequent salary cuts endured by PA employees) until June, when they were informed that the PA “could be bankrupt by July or August”. The BBC’s explanation of that claim included the topic of tax revenue transfers from Israel:
“The financial crisis was exacerbated this February by a dispute with Israel over the transfer of tax and tariff revenues it collects on the PA’s behalf.
Israel announced it would freeze the transfer of about $139m (£109m) – an amount it said was equal to that paid by the PA in 2018 to families of Palestinians jailed by Israel or killed while carrying out attacks.
Israeli officials say the payments incentivise terrorism. But the PA insists they are welfare payments for relatives of prisoners and “martyrs”.
The PA responded to the freeze by refusing to accept any further Israeli revenue transfers, which account for about half its budget.”
Up to its old tricks, the McGill Daily continues to malign Israel on its pages. This is not surprising from a publication which recently peddled in antisemitism by claiming that Zionism is racism and for having an editorial policy of banning Zionist opinions.
On the September 30 edition, the Daily featured a polemic by its Science and Technology editor, Willa Holt, about “Israel’s September Knesset Election”.
How did the Daily depict Israel? With a Palestinian flag, a freudian slip perhaps!
Instead of providing a neutral analysis of Israeli democracy in action, here’s how Ms. Holt described Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu: Netanyahu ran his campaign on violent colonial promises and racist, hypernationalist anti-Arab statements, including a promise to annex the Jordan Valley”
Holt later claimed that: “Both parties (Blue & White and Likud) in question are advancing further violence on Palestinians in the Jordan Valley, which is already under a de facto annexation, which stands in violation of international law.”
If this isn’t opinion disguised as news, then what is? On what basis can these Israeli political parties be said to have advocated for “advancing further violence on Palestinians…”? As well, it goes without saying that Israel disputes claims that its presence in Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) is in violation of international law. Israel claims it has legal standing to presently administer these areas and it asserts ancestral and religious rights too.
Holt concludes by observing the following: “For Palestinians already living under a violent occupation, the election has no positive outcomes. The international community’s inaction in the face of illegal occupation is itself a violation of human rights.”
The accused gunman in the deadly shooting at a San Diego-area synagogue pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and attempted murder.
In addition to entering pleas on Thursday in a San Diego court for firing an assault rifle inside the Chabad of Poway synagogue, John Earnest, 20, also pleaded not guilty to arson charges for a fire a month earlier at a nearby mosque, the ABC affiliate in San Diego, 10 News reported.
One woman, Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, was killed and three people were wounded, including an 8-year-old girl and the synagogue’s rabbi, who lost a finger, in the April 27 shooting at the Chabad of Poway synagogue.
The murder charge has been classified as a hate crime, making Earnest eligible for the death penalty, though prosecutors from the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office have not said whether they will seek that punishment.
Earnest is being held without bail. He is due back in court on December 5, when a trial date will be set.
Earnest also faces more than 100 hate crime-related counts filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and could also face the death penalty in the federal case, the Times of San Diego reported.
Earnest told a 911 operator in the moments after the attack that he did it to save white people from Jews.
U.K. Cleric Abu Usamah At-Thahabi: I Support Chopping Off Hands of Thieves, But Only in the Muslims World, Not Here pic.twitter.com/2qQ8AWhV18
Hannah Senesh, the Jewish woman who died fighting Nazis as a British paratrooper, may seem an unlikely motivation for Japanese-born artist Julie Robertson.
But the 35-year-old Christian artist, who just spent four days painting a 30-by-40-foot mural of the late Jewish poet, learned about Senesh earlier this year and was struck by her bravery. A national hero in Israel, Senesh parachuted into Europe to help anti-Nazi forces in 1943. She was captured and killed at the age of 23, but despite being tortured refused to reveal any details of her mission.
“To be able to hear the story of such a young girl that had such conviction to do something so dangerous, and then she never gave up information when she was captured, that’s my hero,” she told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Wednesday in between finishing work on the mural. “So I really wanted to paint her.”
Robertson, who goes by the name JUURI professionally, painted the mural in the East Village neighborhood of San Diego. She learned about Senesh earlier this year while on a trip to Israel organized by Philos Project, a Christian pro-Israel group. She had been to Israel two other times as part of delegations organized by Artists 4 Israel, a group that brings creatives to the Jewish state.
The Oklahoma City-based artist says she had always wanted to go to the Jewish state because “it’s the starting place of my faith.”
“I’ve always heard about Israel my entire life, but you can’t really know what it is until you go there,” she said.
Shared values and a common history, not soldiers and weapons, guarantee a nation’s security, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Sunday.
Addressing a rally of pro-Israel Evangelicals, Friedman hailed the recently inaugurated Pilgrimage Road, a new archaeological site in Jerusalem’s City of David, which lies underneath the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, as a “once in a century discovery” that proved beyond any doubt the existence of the Jewish Temple in the city.
“Jerusalem does not only move us spiritually. It literally keeps us safe,” said Friedman. “Let me be clear about an important point: no quantity of bombs or fighter jets or troops really guarantees anyone’s security. What makes a people safe, what makes us all safe, is when we stand for something, when we collectively share values, beliefs, goals and a common history. That’s what Israel’s enemies try to deny it when they object so angrily to the Pilgrimage Road. Because if Israel, God forbids, loses its history, it stands for nothing, and it is no longer safe.”
On June 30, Friedman and other US officials used a sledgehammer to hammer through what they later said was a newly erected cardboard wall in front of the Pilgrimage Road, a now-subterranean stairway that was said to have served as a main artery for Jews to the Temple Mount thousands of years ago.
A small clay bulla, or seal, that was used to sign official letters in the days of the kingdom of Judea waited nearly 2,600 years amid the rubble at the foundations of the Western Wall to be discovered by Israeli archaeologists. For eight years, the rubble has been cleared away, one bucket after another, and taken directly to the site of the Ancient Jerusalem Sifting Project, which is run under the auspices of Ir David Foundation.
Comparatively large finds, such as a chisel used to carve the stones of the Western Wall, turn up immediately. Small discoveries usually come to light only after some time has passed. The dirt that contained the royal seal had been waiting six years to be sifted. A few weeks ago, project volunteer Batya Ofan, dumped it onto a large sieve, washed it down, and uncovered a royal seal from the seventh century BCE bearing the name "Adoniyahu asher al habayit" (translation: Adoniyahu, who is over [oversees] the house) in early Hebrew script.
The Bible uses the epithet "asher al habayit" for only eight people. It was a title reserved for the most senior administrator of a kingdom – in this case, the kingdom of Judea. However, the name Adoniyahu does not appear among those eight. Three different biblical figures – King David's son, a Levite from the days of Jehoshaphat, and a tribal leader from the time of the Prophet Nehemiah - bear the name, but none of them lived in the seventh century BCE. The seal, therefore, introduced archaeologists to a fourth Adoniyahu, who was hitherto unknown.
Archaeologist Dr. Eli Shukron, who once directed the project to excavate the foundations of the Western Wall and oversaw many of the discoveries made there, suggests a possible connection between the seal that belonged to the fourth Adoniyahu "asher al habayit" and another inscription from the same century that was discovered in a burial cave dating back to the First Temple era 150 years ago.
On Yom Kippur in 1967, thousands arrived at the Western Wall for the concluding prayers and to hear the long awaited sound of the shofar.
Prior to the advance of Israeli paratroopers into the Old City of Jerusalem in June 1967, the Western Wall area had been occupied by Jordan and off-limits to Jews.
The 20th century was a transitional time for the land of Israel, and the Western Wall had been under many rulers, from the Ottoman Turks, to British Mandatory rule, to the Jordanians.
Yom Kippur of 1929 followed the devastating pogroms in the land of Israel. Death and destruction was incited largely by the vehement anti-Zionist Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin Al-Husseini. In the aftermath, British authorities allowed the Mechitza (dividing screen between men and women) at the Western Wall, which was prohibited the prior year. Still, the sounding of the shofar was prohibited, due to pressure from the Mufti and his cohorts. That decree remained in effect throughout the years of the British Mandate.
The independent State of Israel was declared on May 14, 1948 and preserved only through desperate defense in bloody conflict. But despite valiant efforts to hold onto it, the Old City fell to Jordanian forces. The Western Wall was then declared off limits to Israelis and Jews.
For the next 19 years, the Western Wall remained that way. When Yom Kippur arrived, the wall stood in solitude, devoid of its faithful. Jews could only gaze from afar — from the Israeli side of the armistice line.
The Defense Ministry has published new archival material describing the drama of the critical hours prior to the outbreak of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
“There is going to be a war tonight,” said IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. David “Dado” Elazar at 4:30 a.m. on October 6, 1973, the day the war broke out, to commander of the IAF Maj.-Gen. Benny Peled and the head of Military Intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Eli Zeira. “There are military signs, moves and reports that should be taken seriously.”
An hour later, Elazar warned Zeira that the military should go on high alert and mobilize thousands of reservists.
At 7:15 that morning, in another meeting with commanders, Elazar concluded: “If no preventative strike will be approved by noon, we will be on immediate alert,” since it was estimated that the war would break out at 6 p.m. Elazar also addressed the issue of evacuating civilians from the Golan Heights to the center of the country.
“I am aware of the political limits of this, but when we are confident that a war is going to break out, it is important that we win as fast as possible,” he said.
The Yom Kippur War came almost as a complete surprise to Israel. A warning notice was given too late for an orderly call-up of the reserves, before the Syrian and Egyptian armies launched a joint surprise attack on IDF positions in the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula.
In the early hours of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, as Israel struggled to beat back invading Egyptian and Syrian forces, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan told his staff to begin looking into drafting teens and elderly ex-reserves soldiers into the fight, fearing the Jewish state may not have the manpower it needed for the battle.
The comments are part of a series of transcripts and reports declassified by the Defense Ministry on Monday, showing the fears, deliberations and painful internal conversations by the Israel Defense Forces’ top brass and senior political leadership during a conflict that even at the time was considered poorly prepared for and managed.
The ministry’s archive released the transcripts from IDF General Staff meetings for the first five days of the war, as well as the final intelligence report given to IDF chief of staff David “Dado” Elazar and defense minister Moshe Dayan on October 5, 1973, one day before the war broke out.
The following day, the Egyptians and Syrians launched their attacks, catching the IDF off-guard. The war was hard-fought and grueling with significant setbacks in the early days, leading to candid expressions of concern by the country’s leaders over Israel’s ability to win it.
“What do I fear in my heart more than anything? That the State of Israel will in the end be left without enough weapons to defend itself… There won’t be enough tanks, there won’t be planes, there won’t be people, there won’t be people trained to protect the land of Israel,” Dayan told the IDF General Staff according to the newly released transcripts.
The then-defense minister told the army to consider conscripting people too old to perform reserve duty or too young to have yet been drafted.
A letter of condolence to bereaved Israeli families written by then-prime minister Golda Meir on the eve of the Yom Kippur War recently was discovered.
In the years following the establishment of the Jewish state, it was customary for the prime minister to have contact with the families of killed soldiers, including sending letters for holidays and official occasions. Meir was scrupulous about the custom and frequently corresponded with bereaved families both privately and officially.
On the eve of the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Meir sent a letter, dated October 5, to bereaved families in which she wrote: “Your pain is the pain of the entire nation… Our main concern is achieving peace for Israel. The memory of our loved ones motivates us to do anything in our power so that there be no more casualties, and we know no more bereavement.”
A day later saw the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, which claimed the lives of 2,500 Israeli soldiers.
Meir resigned in April 1974, amid public criticism and a loss of confidence in the government.
The letter will be offered for sale at the Kedem auction house in Jerusalem in December.
Six years ago we documented the BBC’s correction of inaccurate Israeli casualty figures during the 1973 Yom Kippur War:
BBC Yom Kippur war accuracy failure perpetuated over years
However as was noted at the time, at least two other items of BBC content include the same error, stating that the number of Israeli casualties in that war was “about 6,000”.
That claim is found for example in a backgrounder titled ‘A History of Conflict’ which is undated, but appears to come from around 2005.
It also appears in another side-box of ‘context’ appended to an ‘On This Day’ feature – likewise undated, but apparently from around 2005 at the latest.
Forty-Six Years Since Israel's Yom Kippur War
Retired IDF General Yom-Tov Tamir was stationed on the Suez Canal during the Yom Kippur War. Tamir joins us the in studio to speak of the attack on its 46th anniversary. More: On October 6, 1973, a combined attack by the armies and air forces of Egypt and Syria, breached Israeli defenses and launched a nearly three week war that cost the lives of some 3,000 Israelis and maimed and scarred thousands of others. The surprise pincer attack on Israel's holiest day reshaped the country's history, shaking the confidence of the region's most formidable power.
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